when the status quo frustrates.

Wow. Just…wow.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

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

(hat tip Pam)

It’s Banned Books Week!

Monday, September 28th, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polanski arrest worse than Nazi aid

Monday, September 28th, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And let them yodel all they like.

Sounds like a person totally invested in equality to me.

Republicans…

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Even when they’re right, they still are so very, very wrong.

So, a group of second-graders in a New Jersey school comes up with a song about Barack Obama. A teacher overhears them and thinks that this would be fun to sing at their little second-grade concert, so teaches the kids the song, and leads them in it. The song is, quite frankly, a bit childish, but fairly benign.

Republicans find out about it, and get rightly upset. This song was blatantly partisan, and the teacher should not have taught it or lead kids in it. There is a partisan line that they need to follow, and I know I would be upset if some school somewhere had kids sing a song about Former President Bush. (Though, I rather suspect it happened). So, common ground with the Republicans- this was a step to far, and the teacher should be reprimanded.

But, of course, Republicans can’t be reasonable. This wasn’t an isolated event- oh no, this is blatant indoctrination! Obama’s making his own Hitler Youth! Be afraid people! School is already too progressive! This teacher should be FIRED!

Why, oh why, can’t they just leave it at “Reprimand the teacher, let it be clear that this is unacceptable” and go about their business? Why do they have to Goodwin themselves every five seconds?

Pic of the Day

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Totally my new desktop background.

(via)

Renaissance Festival

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

This weekend, because Hubby and I are the height of nerd-tastic, we decided on our anniversary to renew our vows. Of course, we couldn’t actually afford to throw any sort of renewal party, we decided to do the much more fun (and infinitely cheaper) thing and renewed them at the local Renaissance Festival’s Wine, Chocolate, and Romance weekend. Why have a nice ceremony with friends and family when you could get dressed up in psuedo- renaissance garb (in this case, it was my wedding dress slightly modified) and get your vows done with near a hundred strangers :) ?
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What? Boys can do stuff too?

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

The real reason I am briefly reappearing is to plug Harriet Jacobs’s outstanding blog Fugitivus. She’s very introspective– painfully so at times– but that’s what makes her writing sear itself into your brain. Well, mine anyway. But in a good way.

In particular, I wanted to call attention to a page she created called “Stuff What Boys Can Do” which has a terrific idea. Recognizing Lisa’s point about just how dangerous it can be for men to stand up to misogyny in an all-male environment, and how the situation isn’t always an easy cut-and-dried one, she’s attempting to compile a survey of real actions that men have taken, large or small, to support women when it would have been easier not to. I guess the idea is that a list of positive examples might be of some inspiration to men who would like to be strong in this way but aren’t quite ready yet (I feel this way myself much of the time, actually). And also, a large enough list of examples might start to reveal common themes which would allow us men to more easily recognize where and how we might help fight misogyny in our own lives.

Have you already thought of an example? Then get over there and share it!

Happier in real life

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

To be honest, I had a kind of a downer period going there for a while. I mean, I guess it’s natural– you move to a new city, in a foreign country, and you don’t have any friends there, it’s gonna be a little bit depressing for a while.

But I don’t think my internet connection was helping. While it kept me hooked in with the rest of the world, it also was a way to avoid sinking my teeth into the actual possibilities of life going on all around me.

So, I’ve been avoiding the internet a fair amount lately. For the past couple of months I’ve done a wee bit of blog reading and otherwise surfing, but to a purely minimal degree. Instead, I’ve been engaging in actual human interactivity. I’ve been playing a lot of music. Like, in front of people, I mean, not just in the privacy of my own room. I generally am playing somewhere around town in some capacity about twice a week, one of which is a steady (unpaid) gig as the house musician at a local open mike, singing Japanese pop songs, which the locals of course find quite amusing.

With all of this, my happiness level is generally up quite a bit. I think I’ve stumbled onto something here, this whole going out and trying to do real things with real people strategy. I heartily recommend it if you’re not already a practitioner.

So, I don’t plan on posting here all that much in the near future. Not that I’ve been posting all that much in the near past, either. I just wanted to let everybody know, though, “it isn’t you– it’s me”! And that it’s good.

I guess I just needed to get that off my chest.

You’re Fired.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

…if only I had that power. Oh well.

The Obama administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter made public Tuesday.

Wrong!

Bad!

No!

…ignoring me. Yep. Figures…well, my vote WAS meaningless, wasn’t it?

On the brighter side:

Operation Rescue says it’s broke, may shut down

Scott Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., faces charges of murder and aggravated assault in the slaying of Tiller as the Wichita abortion provider ushered at a Sunday morning church service.

Tiller’s killing has also been a public relations nightmare for the group — despite its public condemnation of the slaying — since the name and phone number of the group’s senior policy adviser was found in Roeder’s car when he was arrested. A television crew zoomed in on the scrawled note inside the car in images that made their way to the Internet.

…ALL TOGETHER NOW….”Awwwwwww!” :D

Oh Poker, Thy Name is Misogyny

Monday, September 14th, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really,” he said.

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

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

Now, what just happened..?

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

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

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

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

Tales of Goodwill

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Yesterday, they called me from work, and since I didn’t have a good excuse not to go, I came in.

While I was there, I had this conversation:

Me: “The pricer will just take one minute”.
Customer: “That’s okay- at least my kid’s not with me today.”
Me: “Is he in school today?”
Customer: “Oh yes- it was sad to see him go this morning, but it really makes it so much easier to get stuff done.”
Me: “Well, he’s probably being bored to tears right now- I think the speech is going on.”
Customer: “The Obama speech?”
Me: “Yeah.”
Customer: “Oh no- this is probably the only time that the kid is going to pay attention. See, my son is biracial- Obama is his hero. He wants to be president now too. *laughs* His grades were improving after the election last year, can you believe it?”
Me: Oh, that’s nice.
Customer: “Yeah, I just hope he gets to watch the speech. Some of the schools were cutting it.”
Me: “I think they’re just letting parents opt out.”
Customer: “It’s really weird too- it’s just a speech. I could see Bush giving it.”
Me: “I think Bush Sr. did.”
Customer: “See what I mean?”
Me: “Alright, here’s your item. That’ll be X.XX dollars.”
Customer: “Here you go.”
Me: “Have a nice day, hope your son got to see the speech.”
Customer: “You too, and me too.”

It’s weird to think of all the little ways that Obama means to a bunch of kids around the world. So when Republicans are busy screaming against political indoctrination, they’re also screaming about a little kid getting to hear his idol make a speech specifically for him.

Why Virtue Really Is Its Own Reward And Other Stupid Cliches That Actually Have a Grain of Truth In Them

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

So, as most everyone knows by now, I recently got divorced because my husband left me for his ex-wife. Now, what I haven’t shared globally is that my husband actually left her about a month after he left me. (No, he did not move back in with me, nor did I stop the divorce proceedings–sorry, folks, but one must draw the line somewhere*, eh?) I did give him a hand in moving out, though, for the simple reasons that I was both (a) free and (b) had an SUV in which he could transport his belongings. Now, this moveout took place on a Monday afternoon, when his ex-wife/soon-to-be-ex-roommate was still at work–perhaps not too suspicious in of itself, but when he asked me to park out of sight behind the building and then proceeded to start shifting items at a pace that could only be termed frantic, I did feel I had to ask, “Uh, D?”

“Yeah?” he puffed, wrestling a hamper of haphazardly piled clothes into the back of my Jeep.

“…she doesn’t know you’re moving out, does she?”

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