when the status quo frustrates.

Don’t let the disclaimer at the bottom of the page alarm you, everyone knows that engineers always give the best medical advice.

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

What’s the difference between these two sales pitches:

Good news about looming disaster…it’s easy, inexpensive, fun to get prepared.

WARNING!!! The purest filtered/distilled water may be more dangerous than cigarettes[!]

Answer: the first comes from the WorldNetDaily website, also home to such fearmongering ads as “How the UN will be the death of Isreal and the West” and the “Nukealert 24/7 radiation moniter and alarm” for your keychain. I guess so you can stop lugging that gieger counter around and people have to actually talk to you to discover your raging paranoia.

The second comes from Popular Science. Which really should never allow itself to be compared to WND, but it is the End Times and here we are. And they should be especially embarassed that the WND article/advertisement is more persuasive.

The ad claims that “energized water” will cure what ails you. In a freaking science magazine. The original ad must be seen to be believed.

Better scientists than I have focused on the claim that “Your hydrogen bond angle is 10° greater than ordinary water (114°)! Now we can measure the ability of the blood to reach extremities! Nothing comes close to your water!” So I’m just going to say that if you changed the average angle of the bonds between the molecules of a glass of water by 10 degrees, I’m pretty sure what you’d have in the end would not be behaving like water anymore. 10 degrees is a lot of degrees and the structure of water is kind of unique and leads directly to its some of its more interesting, you know, water-like properties.

But that’s the sort of nitpicking I’ll leave to the chemists, and their claim that people are flushing cancer germs down the toilet where they eventually end up in your drinking water, which is why you get cancer, to the doctor bloggers. There’s more fun to be had in this retro-style text-heavy advertorial:
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Giant ice shelf sick of being stuck to Canada, decides to float around a bit. Perhaps we should be concerned.

Friday, December 29th, 2006

When the northern fringes of your country start to break up and drift away, even if they were just ice shelves, I think it is safe to say that you are doomed.

A giant ice shelf has snapped free from an island south of the North Pole, scientists said Thursday, citing climate change as a “major” reason for the event…

The ice shelf was one of six major shelves remaining in Canada’s Arctic. They are packed with ancient ice that is more than 3,000 years old. They float on the sea but are connected to land.

The good news is that this isn’t some pissant island full of people who should have known better than to not live in America or the EU. This is a floating piece of ice the size of Manhattan which may decide to drift south and fuck with commercial interests:

Within days of breaking free, the Ayles Ice Shelf drifted about 30 miles offshore before freezing into the sea ice. A spring thaw may bring another concern: that warm temperatures will release the new ice island from its Arctic grip, making it an enormous hazard for ships.

“Over the next few years this ice island could drift into populated shipping routes,” Weir said.

Which is probably a good thing, since we’re not going to see action on climate change where it matters, in the corporations and by extension the freakin’ government, until the apacolypse starts cutting into their business plan.

Cancer is gods way of saying maybe you should have cleaned under the beds more often.

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Via Feministing, the patriarchy always knew what was best for us. Sure, housework sucks, but it beats the alternative:

Women who exercise by doing the housework can reduce their risk of breast cancer, a study suggests.

The research on more than 200,000 women from nine European countries found doing household chores was far more cancer protective than playing sport.

Dusting, mopping and vacuuming was also better than having a physical job.

But what if it’s your job to clean? Do you still get the benefits of housework and the paycheck?

Good news for the more mature woman – your ancient, confused body can no longer tell the difference between a stairmaster and lugging a vacuum up the stairs, and you can reduce your cancer risk with moderate exercise.

The pre-menopausal women, however, have no choice. You will not be able to outwit your body; not even if you drag a Swiffer around the track with you.

All forms of physical activity combined reduced the breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women, but had no obvious effect in pre-menopausal women.

Out of all of the activities, only housework significantly reduced the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal women getting the disease.

Better safe than sorry, I say. Starting today, not only will my house be spotless but I’m going to exfoliate with Oxyclean.

In other news, a team of international experts is starting a study to explore the role of bikinis and making out with other hot chicks in the prevention of oesteoperosis.

House go boom; sleepy suburb atwitter

Friday, December 29th, 2006

This was my parents’ house, as of the afternoon of 12/26:

You know you live in a very boring suburb when a house burns up and that story remains the local paper’s breaking news headline for 3 days and counting.

Fortunately for my parents, now that their cat returned late last night, everyone is safe and sound. On that note, I’ll be taking the cat for the next several months (despite the sneezums she will induce), so I look forward to joining the internet’s version of Skull and Bones: Friday cat bloggers. Pot-bellied Calico Fiona will make her appearance here next week.

I came up from Austin the day after the house was burned to a crisp by an errant plumber’s welding mishap, and it’s been fascinating to watch the surburbanites mobilize to assist my parents. Many people have been extremely kind and/or generous, and for that we are grateful. But I’ve also been struck by how _desperately_ people in their neighborhood seem to need to be involved, as though this rare intrusion of real adversity has given them an exhilerating whiff of the less-insulated life, where things worse than waiting 30 minutes for AAA to come fix your SUV’s flat tire can happen to you.

I’m not trying to disparage people who’ve been helpful, and I’m sure most of them have faced tough times of their own at some point. But so many people seem so thrilled to shake off the slumber of daily suburban life and pitch in on a meaningful effort, I wish these suburbinites would find ways to do so more often; our drowsy nation would be much better off if they did.

Don’t let the fact that you’re disturbed on multiple levels dissuade you from buying some stuff

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

My boyfriend is bugging me about getting cable television and after three blissful TV-free years, I’ve been a little loathe to call Time Warner. But Slate.com has reminded me of what I’m missing, and that when I turned off the tube, I cut myself off from one of modern life’s greatest pleasures: bitching about woefully misguided commercials.

The ad that troubles me most at the moment: This spot for Alberto VO5, in which two young people—apparently subjects of a repressive government somewhere in Asia—use hair products as a tool of rebellion. This ad is actually sort of cute, with the couple bonding over their shared love of the wet look. But I’m a little iffy on using totalitarian regimes to sell styling gel. The ad suggests we should just airdrop VO5 over North Korea, and then sit back and watch the freedom (and fauxhawks) bloom. (Side question: What about Zimbabwe? Does Alberto make a product that both promotes liberty and works on afros?)

This is the ad in question, a UK VO5 ad of astonishing inappropriateness that must be viewed and goggled at by all who wish to feel smug about how they don’t use Alberto VO5′s shitty, shitty hair products. I should send this to my mom, maybe then she’d spring for some conditioner that doesn’t feel like you just coated your hair with liquid fabric softener.


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Carey Roberts attempts to award actual hero with meaningless, spittle-flecked antifeminist award, readers put kibosh on recognizing actual heroism when selfish, unreasoning, murderous rage goes unsung

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Congratulations to Mark Inglis, winner of the Carey Robert’s 2006 Political Incorrectness Award! We’re sure it will take it’s rightful place among the other, not completely made up awards that such a courageous man has certainly won in the past, provided Mark never reads the comments at the bottom of the post.

This being a Carey Roberts award, it is earned by showing them feminists a what-for. Why, back in 19-dickity-two when Carey saw his first fem-bot (they were called mechano-wenches and were quite the fairground novelty back then) no such award existed. So Carey tied an onion to his belt, which was the style at the time, and then he made up the award, which was first awarded to the Queen of Minnisota for her excellent tamales.

This year, Mark was up against such luminaries as Christian Hoff Summers and Harry Mansfield. Both of them wrote books that maybe a dozen or so people might have read. It was a tall order for Mark to beat them, but he really gave them Marxist rad-fems the 23 skiddoo:
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Question 133: if your customer has a notable rack, when is the proper time to make a joke about “headlights”?

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

a) while she is examining the headlights of the vehicle
b) after she has agreed to buy the car
c) after she has left the showroom floor
d) all of the above

Via Twisty, someone, somewhere has finally clued into the fact that women also drive and purchase cars, and would prefer not to be treated like children while doing so. Twisty gets to the heart of the matter:

AskPatty.com isn’t just a handy website of “automotive advice for women.” Here men , too, may take advantage of the perpetually shocking information that women actually buy cars by learning from an actual fake woman (’Patty’ appears not to exist, at least in human form) how to communicate with the alien sub-species. AskPatty.com sells car dealers a book called How to Get Rich Selling Cars and Trucks to Women, a training course, and an exam. Dealers who pass the exam get ‘certified’ as ‘female-friendly’.

…A search produced the disheartening result that there are no certified female-friendly auto dealers — not even, alas, Aston Martin, Lotus, or Porsche — within 100 miles of the Twisty Bungalow, or I would certainly have gone out and bought a car just so I could report back on the experience.

…God forbid the readers of the Clarion-Ledger should think DeVere is one of the Humorless Hairyleg Army. Comfortingly, AskPatty.com was founded by and is currently CEOed by a dude.

And is immediately spammed by askpatty.com, where their eMarketing Manager takes a break from effective marketing to reinforce every stereotype about Marketing that has ever been featured in a Dilbert cartoon:

Thank you for posting about Ask Patty! I want to let you and your readers know that although Patty is a figurehead, we do have 24 automotive expert women who are real and will answer any automotive-related question you might have.
On our panel there are women who work in all aspects of the industry, including dealerships, sales, financing, auto care and maintenance, as well as certified technicians. So send in your questions and we would be glad to help!
Also, if you don’t find a dealer near you that is Female Friendly certified, let your local dealership know about us. We are certifying dealers continuously and would be more than happy to pass along information to newly inquiring dealers.

Thanks again!
Breanne Boyle
eMarketing Manager
AskPatty.com, Inc.

Now, let’s ignore for a second that painting something unisex, like car advice, with pink and purple and girling it up is not going to help evaporate the sexism that runs around the automotive industry. In fact, it may just make it worse. My dad, a former mechanic who knows that ignorance of cars is rampant in both genders, absolutely hates my sister’s turquoise tool set (“Barbies first tool kit,” he calls it) and was very pleased when someone gifted her with a superior, grey toolset that was a smidge less flamboyant. There’s a reason tools are metal-colored, you know: it’s because if you’re using them at all properly they’re going to be filithy and scratched in a manner that makes a shiny pink frufru coating kind of silly. Having a set or girlie tools advertises to all know know what they’re doing with a tool that you have no freaking idea what is going on. Get a used set of tools if you want to impress people. If you need to, lay them next to your pink set and stare at them until you are satisfied that they are the exact same thing.

And I don’t think I’m the only vagina-American out there who would scoff at a certified “female-friendly” auto dealership or repair place. My local Monro Muffler and Brake features a “Ladies Day” every week (I think it’s Wednesday) – they even have a banner! And that’s fucking hilarious because when I was 17, I went to a different Monro for an exhaust system problem and their mechanics pointed and laughed at me through a window while I was staring at them then called me back to look at the car. The bigger of the two Monro Muffler and Brake employees began whap on a pipe with a wrench, causing a gasket of some sort that was clearly missing a fastener to spin around the pipe, making a shrrring! shrring! sound. Without even trying to maintain a straight face, the guy told me that that sound was my catalytic converter which would need to be replaced right away or else it would explode! I insisted on taking the car back and, the ignorant 17 year old that I was, had to resort to a higher male authority (“I wanna talk to my dad first”) before I could wrest the car from their evil clutches. Considering the area that we lived in, the mechanic (and I use that word in the loosest possible sense) probably thought that my dad was a lawyer or businessman or something, and instructed me to tell him exactly what I told you probably in the hopes that I would return a few hours later with my frightened father’s credit card. So I did, and dad said exactly what I thought he would (“Bullshit.”) and I decided that I would have to abandon my dream of getting my tiny little problem fixed quickly. I turned the car over to the septuagenarians who ran an autoshop near the Monro Muffler and Brake, and when they were damn well good and ready they replaced the pipe and the gasket that were giving me problems.

The point of this still-hilarious story is that my experience was so bad, and reflected not only deeply ingrained sexism but also deeply ingrained (and probably even unofficially encouraged by corporate) dishonesty, that nearly a decade later I can only interperet “Ladies Day” as a cynical attempt to get women to feel a bit more comfortable with how badly they’re about to be reamed by the assholes in the store. I don’t, for a second, think that the smug, condensending sexism that I experience at (mostly franchise) auto repair shops reflects how they treat women, exclusively. It’s just a little extra icing on the cupcake they serve anyone, male or female, they think is an easy mark. Of course, the sexism declares all women easy marks where men may get a cursory once-over before the reaming, but still.

So when I read this
:

To be certified, members of a dealership’s sales team must read a book on how to communicate with women, titled How to Get Rich Selling Cars and Trucks to Women, and take a training course. Then they must pass a 134-question test, which takes about an hour to complete.

my first reponse isn’t “Well, thank god things are finally going to change!” it’s “134 questions in about an hour??!!? I got more time per question on the GRE.” Somehow I doubt that askPatty’s exam is a probing examination into the success of the course in changing the attitudes and assumptions of the men that lead to their industry-wide piss-poor reputation as a bunch of sexist dishonest fucks. Between that and the title of thier text, I am going to have to assume that a “certified female-friendly by askPatty.com!” certificate on the wall means exactly jack-shit. In the meantime, I will continue to use the only method worth a damn for finding a reputable dealer or auto repair place: word of mouth and reccommendations from trusted mechanics.

Because Christmas is for everybody!

Monday, December 25th, 2006

Even the naked family looking to shed clothes with their infant child:

Welcome the newest addition to your family and celebrate a nudist lifestyle at the same time with this keepsake ornament. Enjoy the memories for many years to come.

Can’t make this stuff up.

Ain’t no party like a googlebomb party

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

Feminists for Life.

Amanda writes about Feminists for Life a lot.

I am not a member of Feminists for Life.

I think that Feminists for Life is a very sneaky name.

If you squint and tilt your head, you see that the corpus callosum actually looks like a mop head, which is why women love to clean.

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

Hey, look, it’s the neuroscience merry-go-round! I can never ride this one enough!

Men may not be from Mars and women may not be from Venus, but that doesn’t mean the sexes have the same wiring. Dr. Ruben Gur and his wife, Dr. Raquel Gur, two of the world’s premier experts on gender differences in the human brain, have been studying men and women for more than 30 years. The neuroscientists were the first to show, with brain imaging methods, that the sexes may not have the same hard wiring, after all.

Quick, everyone, to the television studios! We must use our power to reinforce some kind of stereotype!

For TODAY, Dr. Nancy Snyderman asked the doctors to use their MRI test on her and her husband, Doug, to see if their brains work differently. The results were, well, mind opening.

It turns out that Dr. Snyderman was able to decipher someone’s emotions from his facial expressions much more easily than Doug. His brain had to work harder.

As we can easily conclude from this rigerously controlled scientific demo, Dr. Nancy and her husband’s brains have clearly been different since birth, because as we know as soon as you’re born brain development stops. Those women and men – so naturally different. That’s evolution for ya.

Here I was hoping against hope to say “That NOT what the doctors are saying, you lazy MSN fucks!” but unfortunately

HOLLY FIRFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For thousands of years, men and women have baffled each other by their differences.

DR. RUBEN GUR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: We are still the same animals. We haven’t changed physically since we were roaming the savannahs. We haven’t really changed in our brain. So all those differences that we were evolved into are still here.

FIRFER: These differences are the results of the hard wiring of our brains. Why is it that women seem to do all the talking and why are men considered the strong, silent types?

Dr. Ruben Gur of the University of Pennsylvania has been studying gender differences in the brain for more than 20 years. He says while men’s brains can be 10 to 15 percent larger in size, some research suggests women have more fibers that connect the two sides of the brain together in an area called the corpus colosum (ph). That would mean…

GUR: That there is more tissue available for transferring information between the two sides of the brain. That’s why we think that women have better inter-hemispheric communication.

The brain is so mysterious and interesting- we’d be more afraid of it if the research didn’t consistently allow us to spin theories that reinforce our existing gender stereotypes. Oh, wait, what just fell on my lap? Why, it’s a copy of The Mismeasure of Woman (Tavris, 1992). Let us quote extensively from it:

This is difficult for thise of us who are not expert in physiology, neuroanatomy, or medicine. We are easily dazzled by words like “lateralization” and “corpus callosum.” Besides, physiology seems so solid; if one study finds a difference between thre e male brains and three female brains, that must apply to all men and women. How do I know what my coprus callosum looks like? Is it bigger than a man’s? Should I care?

For some answers, I turned to researchers in biology and neuroscience who have critically examined the research and the assumptions underlying theories of sex differences in the brain. The first discovery of note was that, just like nineteenth-century researchers who kept changing their minds about which lobe of the brain accounted for male superiority, twentieth-century researchers keep changing their minds about which hemisphere of the brain accounts for male superiority. Originally, the left hemisphere was considered the repository of intellect and reason. The right hemisphere was the sick, bad, crazy side, the side of passion, instincts, criminality, and irrationality. Guess which sex was thought to have left-brain intellectual superiority? (Answer: males.) In the 1960s and 1970s, however, the right brain was resuscitated and brought into the limelight. Scientists began to suspect that it was the source of genius and inspiration, creativity and imagination, mysticism and mathematical brilliance. Guess which sex was now thought to have right-brain specialization? (Answer: males.)

It’s all very confusing. Today we hear arguments that men have greater left-brain specialization (which explains their intellectual advantage) and that they have greater right-brain specialization (which explains their mathematical and artistic advantage). Newsweek recently asserted as fact, for instance, that “Women’s language and other skills are more evenly divided between the left and right hemisphere; in men, such functions are concentrated in the left brain.”

But fundamentalists Smalley and Trent asserted that:
“most women spend the majority of their days and nights camped out on the right side of the brain [which] harbors the center for feelings, as well as the primary relational, language and communication skills…and make an afternoon devoted to art and fine music actually enjoyable.”

You can hear the chuckling from men who regar art museums and concert halls as something akin to medieval torture chambers, but I’m sure that the many men who enjoy art and fine music, indeed who create art and fine music, would not find that last remark so funny. Geschwind and Behan, of course, had argued that male specialization of the right hemisphere explained why men excel in art and fine music. But since Smalley and Trent apparently do not share these prissy female interestes, the relegate them to women – to women’s brains.

The two hemispheres of the brain do have different specialites, but it is far too simple-minded (so to speak) to assume that human abilites clump up in opposing bunches…

These qualifications about the interdependence of brain hemispheres have not, however, deterred those who believe that there are basic psychological differences between the sexes that can be accounted for in the brain.

(pp. 48-49, italics hers, boldface and typos mine.)

That was delicious. Here, have more:

It is sobering to read, over and over and over again in scholarly papers, the conclusions of eminent scientists who have cautioned their colleagues against generalizing about sex differences from poor data. One leader in brain-hemisphere research, Marcel Kinsbourne, observing that the evidence for sex differences “fails to convince on logical, methodological, and empirical grounds,” then asked:

“Why then do reputable investigators persist in ignoring [this evidence]? Because the study of sex differences in not like the rest of psychology. Under pressure from the gathering momentum of feminism, and perhaps in backlash to it, many investigators seem determined to discover that men and women ‘really’ are different. It seems that if sex differences (e.g., in lateralization) do not exist, then they have to be invented.”

These warnings have, for the most part, gone unheeded…Because these speculations fit the dominant beliefs about gender, however, they recieve far more attention and credibility than the warrant. Worse, the far better evidence that fails to conform to the dominant beliefs about gender is overlooked, disparaged, or as in Bleiers’s experience, remains unpublished.

(pp 52-53, italics hers, boldface and typos mine)

Fifteen years old. This book is fifteen years old. That means that it’s been more than fifteen years since scientists like the Gurs have been called out (by other, better scientists, no less) on the irresponsibility of taking minute differences in brain function, which clearly we still don’t understand, and chalking those wacky differences between men and women up to some extra brain mass here or some more fibers there. But hey, if it gets you on the Today! show, who the fuck cares, right? That kind of press looks great on funding applications.

I was promised sluts “galore” but this is just a bunch of non sequiturs that spans only the last two months of ’06

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

A quick google search for “sluts galore” and maybe some stolen images would have really rounded out Ilana Mercer’s “Things that have irritated me this week” column at WorldNetDaily. At the very least, it would have distracted me from the text, which had very little to do with sluts, galore or not galore.


Tangled_up_in_yellow.gif
Above: Ilana starts each column with a stream of consciousness prewriting exercise, which is then published as is.
Picture by Travis Parkin Giclee

At first, I thought Ilana was angry because Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends were getting attention and lucrative television deals despite not being at all like Audrey Hepburn or even Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti. And truthfully, who wouldn’t be enraged by such a travesty? However, it turns out that it’s the fact that Barack Obama’s mother misspelled his own name on his own birth certificate that has her panties in a wad, and upon learning this I became sorry that I used up all my rage on Hefner’s bunnies.
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Bush to Americans on the war in Iraq: Why are you hitting yourself? [smack!] Why are you hitting yourself? [smack!]

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Lately, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what to do about this whole war mess we’ve elected to create. I dunno about you, but I feel intense pressure to make the right strategic decisions, not to mention figure out how to make the best possible contribution to the effort.

As hard as the choices and sacrifices are, though, I’m sure you’ll agree the worst part about bearing responsibility for the catastrophe in Iraq has been the quiet suffering. Nobody seems to want to acknowledge how much of it falls to each of us to correct.

Fortunately, Herr Leader stood up and acknowledged our crucial role in determining the outcome of this war:

Americans will face “difficult choices and additional sacrifices” in the coming year in Iraq, President Bush said Wednesday in a press conference where he also promised to work with both parties in Congress to formulate a new plan for success in the war.

I feel so close to the process, so respected and listened to by our wartime president, that I don’t know if I can bear to see if my choices will turn out to be the correct ones. But it’s good to know it’ll be up to us to decide how this turns out — and whatever the war’s outcome, it’s reassuring to know he’ll make sure we receive all the credit.

As for what we ought to sacrifice, while I’m certain the choice will be ours, Herr Leader has offered a gentle suggestion:

The government plans to dust off the military draft machinery and conduct a comprehensive test in 2009.

The Selective Service System says it’s only a test and that it is not gearing up for a draft. The agency is calling the dry run a “readiness exercise.”

It’s sweet of Herr Leader to make sure we know it’s “just an exercise,” so as not to give the impression he’s leading without our consent, but I feel our blood and the blood of our children is the least we can offer for the war we chose and continue to choose.

God bless the democratic nature of this country.