when the status quo frustrates.

He died to save our economy

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Good ol’ America. Land of the free, best country in the world, everyone wishes they were us.

The thing I like most about America is our restrained consumerism.

A Wal-Mart worker died after being trampled when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island store Friday morning, police and witnesses said.

The 34-year-old worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

We really have our priorities, straight, you know? Like, everyone else in the world’s singularly obsessed with $89 digital cameras and $600 HDTVs, but we keep our focus on what really matters in life.

How do I know that? Because we’re always quick to help a soul in need.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

“He was bum-rushed by 200 people,” said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. “They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too…I literally had to fight people off my back.”

We’re also a nation of sacrifice. Here we are, in the midst of a deep recession-slash-depression, and this thoughtful soul gave his life so that needy multi-national corporations from around the world might see less of a downtick on their 4th quarter earnings reports.

I’m just glad no one slowed down to pick him up. There are only like 20 hours of shopping time on Black Friday and any wasted time could mean a crying kid at home and doom for our economy.

America. We’ve got it alllllll figured out.

Lovin’ Me Some Activist Judges

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Florida Gay Adoption Ban Is Ruled Unconstitutional

A Florida law that has banned adoptions by gay men and lesbians for over three decades is unconstitutional, a judge here ruled on Tuesday.

“The best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption,” the judge, Cindy S. Lederman of Miami-Dade Circuit Court, said in a 53-page decision. She said the law violated equal protection rights for children and their prospective parents.

Florida is the only state with a law prohibiting gay men and lesbians — couples and individuals — from adopting children. The Legislature voted to prohibit adoptions by gay men and lesbians in 1977, in the midst of a campaign led by the entertainer Anita Bryant to repeal a gay rights ordinance adopted by Dade County.

…and…

U.S. Court Allows Abuse Case vs. Vatican

A federal appeals court has permitted a lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse to proceed against the Vatican, creating potential liability for the seat of the Roman Catholic faith for the activities of Catholic clergy in the U.S.

Monday’s ruling, issued by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, marks the first time a court at so high a level has recognized that the Vatican could be liable for the negligence in sexual-abuse cases brought in the U.S.

The ruling is seen as a breakthrough by those allegedly abused by priests. Investigators and grand juries have found several instances where the church failed to report alleged abusers and covered up alleged misdeeds to protect them.

How many Arab-looking folks are gonna get a subway beatdown for this?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

It’s happening! It’s happening! And on the weekend of our greatest deals on HDTVs, too!

That’s right, Al-Qaeda, the pseudo-fictional loosely organized Arabic cabal of Cobra Commander fanboys is finally attacking America again!

The FBI has warned New York area law enforcement of a “plausible but unsubstantiated” al Qaeda suicide bomb attack against the area’s commuter rail systems over the holiday.

…plausible, but unsubstantiated? Meaning, what, it hasn’t been ruled out in terms of astrophysical possibility, but neither has anyone actually been found (through illegal means, no doubt) of cooking up a for-reals plot?

In a memo, the FBI said the plot was “aspirational” and based on a report that al Qaeda terrorists “in late September may have discussed targeting transit systems in and around New York City” using suicide bombers or explosives.

Aspirational? That’s even sillier-sounding than plausible but unsubstantiated. What’s next, saying that they just heard a few guys talking about it over a glass of chablis?

A US official said the FBI report had been issued “out of an abundance of caution” and that “there is nothing concrete to suggest the plot went beyond the talking stage.”

…oh, so it really was just a couple dudes talking about it. With no single shred of evidence of an actual plan. This now counts as a helpful warning for American citizens?

Painting top headlines all over the web today and print tomorrow about terroristic fairy tales helps precisely no one. Without other information to go on, all this vague threat will do is drive up prejudice and fear on the trains while having no chance of actually stopping someone from setting off a bomb.

You’d almost think top law enforcement officials feel they need to justify their singular focus on stopping non-existent terrorist attacks to avoid getting canned by a new administration.

But I’m sure that’s just nonsense-talk.

Horrors. I’ve Been Going About It Wrong The WHOLE TIME!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Well, I couldn’t resist this:

Our mission: To find out exactly what men are looking for in a good girlfriend. Impossible? Not exactly. We simply turned to Lisa Daily, syndicated relationship columnist and author of Stop Getting Dumped, who promises to help readers find and marry “the one” in three years or less. Daily followed her own advice and married her dream man, who proposed at the top of the Eiffel Tower after a six-month courtship. Now, she is determined to help other single gals do the same.

Yes, single gals, you’ve come to the right place. Her name is Lisa; my name is Lisa. (Okay, her last name’s most commonly an adjective while mine’s always a proper noun, but the congruence is still uncanny, right?) She got married to her “dream man;” hell, me too! All you jealous, bitter, cat-feeding spinsters on the wrong side of thirty, you know you all want to know–what’s our secret?

Lisa Adjective says, “about the 10 traits every man is looking for in a serious girlfriend:”

1. She has a life of her own — and it’s pretty good to boot.

That sounded reasonable to me at first. You do want somebody who isn’t massively codependent either on you or his or her parents, right? Someone’s who is interested and engaged in life, has dreams and ambitions, etc?

…er, apparently that’s not what that means.

Ladies, this means that you take care of yourself, pay attention to your personal style and find time to hang with your fabulous friends and family.

Oh, okay. A good life of your own means you need to obsess over your appearance and make the people in your life your number one priority. Looks first, service second, anything else about you or your life that you might possibly value or want a distant third!

2. She never makes the first move. …Daily says that she strongly believes women should never, ever pursue a man. Instead, she suggests waiting for the man to initiate and plan dates. Her reasoning: If the woman is always the one calling, she will never know if he is really interested in her or if it’s just convenient for him…Men simply aren’t programmed to think like that and therefore are better suited to the chase, Daily says.

I agree; shy men should be forced to lead lives of quiet and celibate desperation, because clearly their programming got botched at some point and they may not even really be men in the first place. Women who aren’t obsessing every second over whether or not the man they’re with is REALLY that into them obviously have botched programming too. I think we all need to find this programming person and set him or her straight about “quality control.”

3. She is sexy without being trampy. This means something different at the beginning of the relationship than it does down the road, Daily says. In the beginning of courtship, a woman should refrain from making any comments that are overtly sexual. She also flirts by using nonsexual touch like placing her hand on his forearm or even the knee but only briefly. When the relationship gets more serious, and presumably more intimate, sexual touch and public displays of affection are more appropriate. At this point, it’s okay to play footsie under the table.

This must be where I really blow things. I always forget to pretend I am a sweet, shy virgin who nonetheless is so overwhelmed by these strange, new feelings that I periodically cannot stop my hand from every so briefly and hesitantly fluttering towards that bronzed, muscled forearm before I snatch it away with a blush and downcast eyes. Once he’s managed to plead you into bed, though, then you can brush his foot with yours under the table where nobody can see you do it, on purpose. That is sexy! and not trampy! hear that, you sluts?!

4. She waits to have sex.

I said, did you hear that, you sluts?!

…when women have sex, they release a hormone called oxytocin (also referred to as “the cuddle hormone”), which some scientific researchers believe makes women feel extra warm and fuzzy for their sex partners. Daily warns that if women do the deed too soon, they might make too much of a relationship that barely ever existed outside of the bedroom. When you inflate the significance of a relationship, the man often bolts. Daily’s advice is to wait at least one month into the relationship before having sex with your new man.

I recommend using your pill pack to track the days–oops, I guess it’s not very virginal to have a pill pack, huh? So much for that idea!

Just a brief segue–people, if you have no science background or knowledge, please do not attempt to use impressive-sounding chemical words and/or phrases to make your bizarre bullshit sound remotely scientifically-based. Unless you can draw out the structural model for oxytocin for me right now, on demand, and demonstrate the receptor mechanism (preferably with diagrams using all standard chemistry notation and conventions) that occurs in the brain during uptake, just…please, shut up!

Relationship-wise, I’ve already botched the whole thing so badly that there probably isn’t a point in me reading any more. I hide from my family; I have routinely asked a man if he wanted to go out and called or emailed him whenever I had the urge; I have always had sex whenever it was we both felt like having it, both the first time and every subsequent time thereafter; if I have a “personal style,” that would be news to me unless “whatever I feel like wearing to whatever level of grooming I’m in the mood to engage in” is a personal style.

Nobody ever proposed to me atop the Eiffel Tower, though–if you want that experience, maybe you’d better go the Lisa Adjective route. All the Lisa Noun route’ll get you is a cheap trip to the nearest county courthouse. :)

Spiritual journeys are marked by suffering. Other people’s, primarily.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This morning, they had Michael Lewis on, talking about the long-term effects of Wall Street, as it continues to gently slide into the sewer (or into, uh, some deeper sewer). He mentioned, amongst other things, that the utterly-ridiculous salaries and bonuses that once characterized Wall Street are probably at an end. He also thinks that the ridiculousness of Wall Street bled into ridiculousness in upper management everywhere, leading to CEOs regularly drawing paychecks and bonuses in the range of tens of million dollars—so that’s probably going to crash pretty hard, too. This is, I think, a little naïve, but he’s the economist. If he’s right, I will regard it as “nice.” It’s impossible to muster too much excitement, though—I expect we will still be living in a world where CEOs draw seven-figure compensation at a minimum, whilst their line workers draw minimum wage, and their slaves draw, perhaps, barely enough to minimally survive (unless the harsh realities of the market force their wages down, of course).

And then there’s this,

A few months ago, Lewis visited Princeton University, his alma mater, “to find out what the kids who were going to be investment bankers were now going to do with their lives.” He says he was “so frustrated with how unimaginative young people had become in choosing their path in life that I thought that someone should establish a kind of ‘Scared Straight’ program for Ivy League students.” He’d require them to spend a week with a hedge fund manager in Greenwich, Conn., “just to see how miserable” they’d be after 20 years.

The plunging market has changed many of their plans, Lewis says. “The kids … who thought they were going to be financiers are having to rethink the premise, and that’s a very good thing.” ‘Liar’s Poker’ Author Sees Upside To Market Crash, NPR

So, one of the keen benefits of a global market crash—you know, the thing that’s leaving some people struggling, and lots of people dead—is that extremely privileged white people will really have the opportunity to find themselves.

The Evolution of A Feminist; or, Don’t Like Feminists? Stop Helping Create Them.

Friday, November 21st, 2008

(Cross-posted from Glenn’s site. Note: Feminist-friendly moderation is in effect.)

Pat Robertson said it best: “”Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” More succinctly put, feminism is a favorite whipping girl. Feminism has become that magical word–”mainstream”–but that hasn’t made it popular or generally regarded in a positive light. And of all the folks out there that really hate feminists, men’s rights activists are probably among the most virulent and vocal about it.

The big difference between hating black people or Jews and hating feminist women–the difference espoused by people who hate the latter and not the former, say–is that black people or Jews are born that way. It isn’t a choice; being a feminist is a choice, a philosophy, not an ethnicity. Very true–but this argument leads to another, conspicuously not followed through upon by those who advocate it. As they say, feminist women are, indeed, not born feminist. But this does beg the question, doesn’t it..? –why do they become feminist?

(more…)

Marriage.

Friday, November 21st, 2008

By this time tomorrow, I will be a married woman. This is not a new state for me. I spent ages 19-27 and ages 31-33 married, and a little arithmetic wizardry yields the unpalatable realization that I have spent only six years out of the entire seventeen of my adult life as a single woman, and they weren’t even consecutive years. (It occurs to me also that I spent only one year of those seventeen not being a mother, as well–essentially, I’ve never been an adult who was not also a mother, not since I was eighteen years old. It must be interesting, to be an adult with no children. Since I’ve been relatively happy in the parental state, though, I have no real angst to work through on the subject.)

But I hated being married. Ever since the last marriage ended, I have entertained my friends with any number of reasonably funny jokes on the subject of marriage, both the possibility of me entering into another one in particular and the joys of the marital state in general. I did so with a fair amount of confidence that I was never, ever going to marry again. This was not based upon a hopelessly broken heart and a dramatic declaration to the world that I would nevah love again! nevah! I had no idea if I would love again or not; I was both amenable to the idea of doing so and also amenable to the idea that I might never do so–it was all the same to me. I admit to some stress about my future sex life, but that’s really about it.

So why the h-e-l-l am I getting married? Again?

(more…)

Context-sensitive advertising.

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Scene: the marketing department.

“We should like to advertise our fine retail establishment on the Google!”

“But we sell so many different products! How will we ever register enough ads to cover everything a potential customer could be searching for?”

“A solution! Google will let us advertise with a template that includes anything a user might search for! Surely, then, whatever someone is trying to buy—be it an object, idea, or person—they will be directed to our store!”

“Brilliant! Nothing could possibly go wrong.”

(more…)

Remember.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Kellie TelesfordGabriela Alejandra AlbornozStacy BrownAdolphus SimmonsAshley SweeneySanesha (Talib) StewartLawrence KingLunaLloyd NixonSilvana BerishaRosa PazosJuan Carlos Aucalle CoronelAngie ZapataSamantha Rangel BrandauNakhia (Nikki) WilliamsRuby MolinaAimee WilcoxsonDuanna JohnsonDilek InceTeish (Moses) CannonAliUnidentified Iraqi WomanUnidentified Iraqi WomanValentina FalcoNakia Ladelle BakerHasan SabehKeittirat LongnawaTatiana (Aldomiro Gomes)Moira DonaireRuby RodriguezErica KeelManuela Di CesareVictoria ArellanoOscar MosquedaStefania CoppiMaribelle ReyesThanawoot WiriyananonSally (Salvador) CamatoyThousands upon thousands whose names we have forgotten.

That Time of Year Again

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

This is not exactly a unique observation, but every year the Christmas season seems to be upon us sooner and sooner. Back in Halloween I want to be focusing on ghouls and goblins, not tinsel and Santa Claus. But, unfortunately, the pleasant aspects of Christmas (the feeling of good-will, the push towards charity, et cetera) are not the ones that are pushing into Halloween; it is the unpleasant aspects that keep creeping onto perfectly legitimate holidays and strangling them.

Unpleasant aspect number one: The rampant commercialism. Sooner and sooner, the pressure on FINDING the PERFECT gift for your friends and loved ones from advertisements starts. The heavy implication of these ads are that you don’t really love your loved ones unless you get them the latest, most expensive, shiniest new gadget or bauble. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love giving gifts. I love the moment with my closest friends and family when their face lights up because I got them just what they wanted, or needed. And that’s why I work on some of the gifts months in advance: handmade gifts (that are within my limited available skill set) that my friends will actually appreciate take a long time to make. But, I somehow don’t get that same feeling when all I do is drive to the store and get some sort of weird do-dad that will just take up space and I’ll have to fight a bunch of people-driven mobs to get it (and don’t have the money to get it in the first place).

Unpleasant aspects number two: This has been a problem for awhile now, but now that Hubby and I are married, it’s put into even sharper relief: where are we going to spend Christmas? The various families all want us at their houses*, which are functionally on the other end of the country. The worst part of all of this? I don’t want to go to ANY of the family for Christmas; because by some sort of unspoken contract that I was not a party to, we are only allowed to talk about: the weather, sports, new births, new relationships (on a very shallow level, and no talking about heartbreak), new jobs and food. Oh, and I’m no longer allowed to talk about the weather because I keep using meteorological terms and I brought up global warming once. I’m also forbidden from talking about, in no particular order: politics, books, movies, social movements, college, and the biggest one: religion. Which brings us to…

Unpleasant aspect number three: The annual argument that I go to church with the family on Christmas. Now, I’m a mushy agnostic: I think there might be an omnipotent being that has some sort of designs on humanity, but I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest it. I don’t think the Christian idea of a god exist (since such a being is logically impossible); and don’t put much stock into the Bible as a literal word, but all-in-all, you can believe whatever nonsensical thing you want to believe. The first year of college, I came home and told my parents flat-out that I was not going to church. Last year, in order to keep the peace with my new in-laws, I went to church with them on Christmas. I told myself that it’s because I missed the music,** but in the end I caved because I didn’t want Hubby to get into a verbal altercation on my behalf.*** But, no one respects my desire to not go to church; so every year is another argument about me going to pretend to be religious. And I do mean pretend: my dad told me one year I should just tell mom that I’m believed in Jesus because it would make my mom happy. But, I just can’t see lying about this to my family (and the rest of the church); it would be disrespectful to myself, and to every Christian.

I guess that I don’t like Christmas because it just brings to head all of the problems that I continue to have with my families and our various worldview; and is super expensive. Any one else have this problem with your family? What are some of your strategies for the holiday season?

*I never understand this: every year I either end up offending someone through my liberal hippie-ness, or I end up contributing next to nothing to the conversation while I die a little inside, but I still keep getting invited back, and if I don’t come, they always get upset. It’s very, very weird.

**Which is demi-true: I do like hymns and enjoy singing. There is just something so life-affirming and joyful about traditional religious music. But, it’s always soul-killing to listen to Midwestern Lutheran churches: the only people who would sing “Stand Up for Jesus” unironically while sitting down, who can sing “Hallelujah” like they’re reciting the tax code, and can sing maybe three notes convincingly.

***Not that it really mattered: I refused to say the Lord’s Prayer or take communion and that caused a tense conversation between Hubby and parents, and dirty looks my way. I guess they wanted me to lie about my beliefs? I’m a heathen, and that seems disrespectful to Christianity to partake in rituals that you don’t believe do anything.

Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Last night, I watched “What Would Jesus Buy“, a documentary by Morgan Spurlock that is generally about over-consumption and more specifically about Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. Rev. Billy is an activist/ preacher* who, with his choir, go and delivers a very simple message to people at malls across the country: Stop shopping. Frequently, this message gets him arrested (well, that or all the trespassing).

As to the general point, I think it’s a very good one. People spend WAY to much money on Christmas, have long confused “expensive” with “affection” when it comes to gifts, and companies exploit this confusion to sell lots of stuff that people don’t really need. Now, I’m not to terribly sure about the strategy of going to the Mall of America, or Disneyland, or any other major shopping hub and telling people to not shop is terribly effective, nor is going door to door caroling with anti-consumerism songs; but damned if it isn’t HILARIOUS. But, I think I think my group** is kind of a “choir” audience (as in, preaching to the choir): for the longest time, I’ve been trying to make gifts instead of buy them, and I don’t have the cash (nor the desire to go further into debt) to be shopping junkies; PE and Silky HATE shopping, and Hubby has requested that no one buy him anything this year, but to donate to March of Dimes.***

There were a lot of really poignant moments in this movie, as well. There is a scene, when Rev. Billy is lying on a hotel bed with his wife wondering if he was doing any good at all that I’m sure every activist must of felt from time to time. Spurlock really knows his stuff: his cut pictures were hilarious, but not distracting, and it had the right combination of facts, entertainment, and intimacy. Spurlock is like the anti-Moore: he knows to stay the heck out of the movie. The only criticism I have is that it jumps all over the place a lot: sometimes it’s showing Minnesota, then what looked like New Mexico, and then back to the MOA, and it also meandered around without having a true direction.

*I think the preaching part is sincere, but I’m not actually sure.
**PE, Silky, Hubby and I
***If anyone really wants to get me something for Christmas this year, March of Dimes, Amnesty International, and Planned Parenthood, are my favorite organizations.

Did anybody else follow this?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

This is Slate’s series of articles, structured as back-and-forth letters between a group of conservative “thinkers,” that began the day after Election Day and ran through the following Friday. I found it rather fascinating, in the dust mite sense.

Just in case you haven’t read it, and don’t have time to wade through all fourteen full-length pages of it, I have summarized the meat of each entry below:

Jim Manzi, chairman of an applied artificial-intelligence software company and contributing editor of National Review: It’s finally happened. The middle class has figured out that voting Republican is voting against their own economic interests. The Reagan mantra appears to be losing its hypnotic effect. We must find a new chant to bamboozle them with. Hey, I know–let’s resegregate public schools, start shooting illegal immigrants on sight and concentrate on recruiting the whitest foreign nationals we can find to fill our immigration quotas instead!

Douglas Kmiec, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University: Barack Obama is Ronald Reagan reborn. Also, could we stop obsessing on abortion?

Ross Douthat, author of Grand New Party and a blogger for the Atlantic: No.

Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and author of It’s My Party, Too: I refuse to believe that the middle class figured that out. Issues, schmissues– to all those people the election was just a popularity contest! and Barack Obama, unfortunately, is much hotter than Bush. All we have to do is make sure they don’t associate Bush with us from now on.

Tucker Carlson, author and commentator for MSNBC and The Daily Beast: I agree that it’s all a popularity contest, Christine–it’s not enough to dissociate ourselves from him, though, we need to find somebody even cooler than Obama to be our frontman. Also, we need to give the middle class a new strawman to hate–that was so effective during the Cold War. Our efforts to replace “Communists” with “Islamofascists” appears to have lost a lot of its oomph.

Ross Douthat: ABORTION, hello?? Abortion!

Douglas Kmiec: Reagan was a god. I really think that Obama is his second coming.

Jim Manzi: You’re probably right, Christine; and Douglas, if you think a single damn one of us is going to do anything other than flatly oppose every last line of Obama’s liberal pinko agenda with our dying breaths, you’re quite mistaken.

Kathleen Parker, author and syndicated columnist who also blogs for the Washington Post: I agree with Christine too and I’ll go even further and say that the deciding popularity factor wasn’t even Bush’s lack of cool or Obama’s abundance of it, but McCain’s horrid, stupid, winking, redneck of a MILF vice-presidential candidate. And no, it’s not fucking elitist of me to say so!

Douglas Kmiec: Ross, Obama is my hero. And I’m pro-choice. Here, let me kiss your ass vigorously to make it up to you in the most passive-aggressive way possible.

Tucker Carlson: Doug, you sound like a woman, and there is no worse insult I could possibly lob at you than that.

Ross Douthat: Well, I loved Sarah Palin because she at least was willing to call out abortion for the baby-murdering slut-enabling conspiracy that it is. But I agree with Tucker that we need to find a man who can compete with Obama for sheer coolness, though I must say that I personally thought Bill Clinton was cooler. McCain? L-O-S-E-R!

Christine Todd Whitman: Maybe if I address this post to everybody, Ross won’t realize I’m speaking directly to him?–look, the abortion bullshit is no longer a winning strategy. The only people who can’t get over it are the Jesus freaks, and clearly, they’re not a majority voting bloc, so screw them. Back to the important topic here–how do we repackage Reaganomics so that the middle class will buy it all over again? Honestly, I’m just praying that the Democrats screw up so badly that every last one of the middle class ends up completely bankrupt. They’ll come running back to us then!

Douglas Kmiec: God, I miss Reagan. Have I said that already?