Thursday, November 30, 2006

...and still more mullings

...or, I don't know, maybe it's a question of it's New York?

but the thing of it is, well, this doesn't apply to feminism per se so much; but when i was coming out in Connecticut, went to the local LGBT center and the bars...yeah, definitely there was a lot more let's call it old-school going on, out in the so-called provinces;

and yet you know i still remember hanging around with a group of wildly disparate dykes (the way you do in a smallish place with not many resources and you're just coming out), and us talkin' sex. And one at least LOVED the girl-girl flicks, yeh, the cheesy hetlez boy-made ones that are by far easier to obtain than artsy independent stuff (of the sort i now perfer) and why not? at least they were something. Another talked about wanting "Helen Hunt printed bedsheets," with clumsy lasciviousness.

What I really remember was the awkwardness, the timidity, about That Subject, which in truth i see -so much more often-, even among supposed sophisiticated people, of all orientations.

"What's your favorite body part" (to be touched).

and one woman shyly answering, "My...my...my...you know..."

and another, more wordly one (and we were all grownups, you understand, many in their forties and fifties), "Okay, your 'Dolores,' sure. Anything else?"

...you know, erogenous zones.

oh, so exciting! i hadn't been in any such discussion with -other lesbians-...and i was still so profoundly uncomfortable with myself, so out of my skin from -years- of practice, that i couldn't really enjoy it. instead agonizing over my lack of experience, how little if anything i had to tell, even at my advanced age...

More mullings

...off both this earlier post and a thread in the comments of another. I said:

...Before [encountering the wacky world of online feminism], i was a member of a primarily lesbian womens' theatre collective (aka Dyke Drama, Cll.), which was obviously very politicized. and yeah, there were certainly familiar thrashes , familiar dynamics. the older women were more likely to have been ID'd with the second wave, i've no doubt, and indeed there were generational clashes. the younger ones tended to be i guess now i'd call 'em anarcha-fems, some socialism, a few Greens, some more moderate Dems (not as many), some who were just...doing their thing, pretty much. it was trying to be many things at the same time, i felt, was one problem.

but y'know a lot of familiar core assumptions about womens' space, collective rather than hierarchical, overall quite left-leaning, feminist, anti-homophobia (obviously), yadda.

Some of the main thrashes included:

whether and to what degree to include transfolk;

whether and to what degree men could be part of the individual productions;

how much one ought to charge, and whether a sliding scale was adequate or classist or what;

some fidgeting over to what degree het women were or should be comfortable (a lot of that was primarily coming from one very crazy woman, i think, but my perspective is no doubt skewed);

racism, that was a big one (it was very white);

classism, in a muted sort of way, as it always or often is I suspect in the U.S., especially these days (just extrapolating wildly from my own admittedly very limited experiences)

whether and to what degree to be collectively linked to other organizations and causes, theatrical and political;

and a whole lot of intrapersonal shit, of course, mainly having to do with the care and feeding of the organization itself, the productions, the space, and so on and so forth.

oh, and there was a BIG thing about transitioning from a collective to an incorporated entity, which move was necessary on account of the city was trying to foreclose on the space, and it turned out it'd be possible to buy it back for a dollar, but only with the right paperwork. that was huge and complicated and beside the point here.

point being: of all the various thrashes, "pornstitution" and BDSM were, if present, at least not on my radar. I mean, i know that some folk were personally squeamish about BDSM, or just not into it; but i never witnessed any sort of stomping off because -gasp- zomg Suzie's into leather. (if anything, it'd have been more about "how could you kill that cow?" than "your pervy fetish oppresses wimmin!" --yes, there were meat-eaters too, but a lot of veggies as well).

as for porn and sex work; well, one friend of mine worked as a receptionist for an escort agency; as i recall no one ever gave her any static about it; it was understood that we all gotta eat, so.

at least one other member is/was a pro-domme;

others were or had been sex workers in one capacity or another, again, no big deal;

and many shows were sponsored by the local women-run (heavily queer and feminist-slanted, although obviously straight/men-friendly, or wouldn't stay in business) toy & pr0n/erotica/workshop/yadda shop.

oh, and we had erotic cabarets, which often included burlesque, lapdancing, stripping, and so on. Again, in a quite queer context.

"we are of different worlds, madame."

So is that it, then? Is it different for queers? Or am I missing something else?

Because yeah, i'm sure there were wimmin there who loathed the hetpr0n and were against prostitution, too, but it wasn't such a, you know, THING; and fuck knows we didn't spend all day agonizing about other peoples' blowjobs and how OPPRESSIVE they are, for fucks' sake. hell, i'd say a good quarter of the women were too busy getting their own strap-ons sucked...

as for makeup and such: well, there were femmes, there were butches, there were crunchy-granola types. Any or all of whom may or may not have shaved (plenty of smooth bois and femmes with hairy 'pits in this world). There was i should say a certain amount of sexism toward femmes, especially from the butcher sorts, yes. and there were people who had personal contempt for such things as makeup, i am sure.

but again: we had enough other shit on our plates, we didn't sit around navel-gazing about ZOMG this lipstick is so OPPRESSIVE, i'd throw it away if only i were a good enough feminist, maybe someday...

There are at least a couple of people here who may or may not be reading at this juncture, but who i know either are or were members of this selfsame organization; if you know what i'm talking about, feel free to confirm or deny my admittedly highly subjective perceptions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quote of the day, 11/29/06

If you give me your attention, I will tell you what I am:
I'm a genuine philanthropist — all other kinds are sham.
Each little fault of temper and each social defect
In my erring fellow-creatures, I endeavour to correct.
To all their little weaknesses I open people's eyes;
And little plans to snub the self-sufficient I devise;
I love my fellow creatures — I do all the good I can —
Yet ev'rybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
And I can't think why!


To compliments inflated I've a withering reply;
And vanity I always do my best to mortify;
A charitable action I can skillfully dissect;
And interested motives I'm delighted to detect;
I know ev'rybody's income and what ev'rybody earns;
And I carefully compare it with the income-tax returns;
But to benefit humanity however much I plan,
Yet ev'rybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
And I can't think why!

I'm sure I'm no ascetic; I'm as pleasant as can be;
You'll always find me ready with a crushing repartee,
I've an irritating chuckle, I've a celebrated sneer,
I've an entertaining snigger, I've a fascinating leer.
To ev'rybody's prejudice I know a thing or two;
I can tell a woman's age in half a minute — and I do.
But although I try to make myself as pleasant as I can,
Yet ev'rybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
And I can't think why!

Chorus.
He can't think why!

Gama & Chorus.
I/He can't think why!

--"Princess Ida," Gilbert & Sullivan

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

So, I made a new friend, and find.

On the way home, decided to take a chance and go into that new little restaurant on the main drag, partly because there's a review on the window which makes it sound like maybe it -is- better than the usual around here, partly because i really shouldn't be eating fast food yet -again,- as i'd been planning.

the chef-owner comes out. "oh, is this your first time here? Welcome! I hope you make a home here!" Ordinarily that'd be coming on a bit strong for my tastes, but somehow, it was okay. Warm, pleasant. I ordered the special.

As I'm waiting, an older man hails the owner, from outside; he goes out to meet him, they embrace. Congratulations on the new paint job. The man comes and sits at the table next to me.

I didn't really get started talking to him till i'd almost finished my meal; somehow, though, somewhere in there we ended up chatting away like the best of friends...

yeah, I was gonna tell this one in more detail, but you know, sometimes you just want to let it sit for a while. to cut it short, then: it was kind of lovely. sweet, smart, interesting guy. an actual neighborhood place, with other regulars. i mean, they're there, around here, i just hadn't really found myself at home at any of them; for one thing, as we were agreeing, the food around here is, by and large, -really- not good.

but it's always been that sort of place, my current 'hood: neighborly, really.

next time i bitch about New York (we also talked a lot about that, and compare-contrast with other cities, Boston, say), I'll remember this, one of many reasons why i -do- also love it here, and want to stay, at least for a while.

In answer to a question that I was not actually asked directly,

mostly because, i suspect, the askers in question are well convinced that they already know the answer, as i am firmly established as hopelessly beyond the pale.

but since i -did- see it interrogated of at least one other (well-credentialed, may i add) feminist, who correctly answered "none of your fucking business," but, alas, is no longer with us on the blogosphere, i suspect in no small part because of the sort of bullshit quasi-Red Guard treatment she encountered on this thread, for example, and since I'm in that sort of mood, I thought I'd answer the question anyway.

"Do you use porn?"

Well, let's see. For the most part, I "use" written erotica. I do own a couple of videos made by these producers, indie lesbians who film themselves along with real-life friends and lovers, for the most part. The latter company, btw, fatale/S.I.R., ( i -think- they're merged now, not positive) is also responsible for producing and distributing--not nearly widely enough, sadly--a truly excellent resource, "Healing Sex," a non-erotic film specifically geared toward education and therapeutic exercises for abuse survivors and their partners. Which reminds me: I think I'll buy the DVD. As for the others, the videotapes, well, my VCR's busted; I feel about as much desire to replace them as I would for any other movie I've enjoyed. Maybe not quite as much as say "All About Eve." We'll see.

I've also subscribed now and again to an indie online producer, same sort of deal (lesbians, self-made, self-shot, not making their living from it, keeping day jobs to support their actual passion). Like I say: for the most part, I prefer written stuff.

I've seen a handful of more or less mainstream hetpr0n flicks over the years. Can't say I'm particularly drawn by them either way, for the most part.

And I've had about as much exposure to all the wonders and horrors of the Internetz as pretty much anyone else with a mouse and any degree of curiosity. It's: there, pretty much. Is my take on it.

Oh, and I've been known to enjoy the hot boy on boy action every so often.

Before (and indeed after, as well) I discovered the world of actual pr0n, as I recall, I "used" scenes from mainstream R and even PG-rated movies, sections from books on my parents' shelves (Joseph Wambaugh police stories were good sources for kink, I recall; others were, what, Alberto Moravia, "The Conformist;" bits and pieces of "Ulysses," something or other by Thomas Pynchon, some seriously unlikely stuff as well, not what you'd think of as "dirty" at all, especially), and indeed pretty much whatever portion of the outside stimuli that for whatever reason clicked with my burgeoning little snowflake of a fantasy life in its own individual snowflake of a libido-making way, same as it's done for zillions of humans of all sorts since time immemorial.

Oh, yeah, and generally, I use my left hand.

Seeing as how at least one of the self-appointed Cardinal Fangs in question is apparently of the belief that even taking nekkid pictures of one's own consenting girlfriend is objectifying and woman-hating, i do not anticipate her or any such person finding this particularly persuasive.

Just, you know, I figure as a public service. Wank fodder for the masturbatory rages, you know.

Oh, did you know that there's more than way to wank? As in, using found material and/or one's projected fantasies about someone else as fodder for a psycho-physiological process that results in a pleasant (if perhaps not unambiguously so) build up and then discharge of feelings?

Well, there is.

Personally, I like those other ones, too--the fifteen minutes of hate one, the wrathy wroth of righteous outrage one, the wallowing in borrowed suffering one--but on the whole, i find actual literal orgasms rather healthier and more pleasant.

But each to her own...as long as it's consensually derived, your pleasure, your...discharge.

Tell me: are you sure all of yours are?

...fuck it.

Hypocrite, yes? "Not my Nigel," was it?

Okay.

The family patriarch buzzed down from Dallas today to have lunch with me. I met him, as is our habit on these occasions, at the Four Seasons Café downtown.

The old man’s a captain of industry, used to getting his way, and although he’d never admit it, he likes to strap on the feedbag at the Four because the staff unflinchingly treat him like a big-shot. Which, I suppose, he sort of is. I do not begrudge him this small conceit. He was born to a single mother in a Detroit hellhole during the Depression, and worked his ass off his whole life. If anyone deserves a little big-shot treatment in his declining years, he does.


"I blame the patriarchy, except for my actual extremely patriarchal father."

-He deserves it.- The bowing, the scraping.

Oh yes. No doubt. Because the Horatio Alger story is -so compatible- with y'know RADICAL FEMINISM. As is the notion that some old white guy is entitled to being treated like a big shot.

Just as long as it isn't -sexual,- mind you.

But sure: have 'em bow and scrape and perform like grinning monkeys in a four-star restaurant.

He deserves it.

It's beautiful. I mean, I'm weeping here, really.

As veteran readers may recall, I am a fat-ass epicurean first and a patriarchy-blamer second.

You know something, Twisty? If you'd stuck to the fat-ass epicureanism, I'd have probably liked you a whole lot better.

Because at least that part's honest. At least that's, well, how might you have put it? -Not- anhedonic, perhaps. And:

You see, delectation is antithetical to my family’s belief system. It is their custom to avoid pleasure like the plague, to eschew any and all enjoyment. They decline the invitation to life’s rich pageant. They consider they have gone for the gusto when they put a slice of lemon in their tap water. Their only joy is feeling bad about feeling good. Whenever they inadvertently have a delightful experience, they self-flagellate with a self-righteous turkey sandwich. Not only that, if they see anyone else having a delightful experience, they do not hesitate to tut-tut. As in, “Do you really think it’s wise to eat all those excellent ribs/ buy that fabulous sports car/ drink that glass of delicious port? Shouldn’t you have a turkey sandwich instead?”

(Incredibly, they do not view the tut-tut as a sanctimonious and judgmental expression of either their own self-hatred or their neurotic obsession with compulsory global conformity to their peculiar standards of decency. No they do not. They view it as their Christian duty. Despite the fact that throughout all recorded history there is not a single shred of evidence to support their belief, they are under the impression that the disapproving tut-tut literally saves lives. Of course studies show that, in reality, recipients of 5 or more tut-tuts weekly are 68 times more likely than regular people to develop homicidal manias.)

Anyway, my family’s anhedonia is no surprise. They are descended from assorted Spartans and Stoics and Calvinists. This virulent miscegenation of dogmas--inclusive of the charming Doctrine of Total Depravity--appears to produce a race of people for whom a certain ubiquity of pallid turkey sandwiches provides tangible evidence of a pious aversion to worldly gratification. Turkliness is next to godliness and man is but a lump of vanity, composed of sin and misery.

I am delighted to report that the sandwich pictured above was a fluke; a recent blood test has revealed that I possess 100% Epicurean DNA. I was adopted!


******

Let's just play this one back in slow motion, shall we?

(Incredibly, they do not view the tut-tut as a sanctimonious and judgmental expression of either their own self-hatred or their neurotic obsession with compulsory global conformity to their peculiar standards of decency. No they do not. They view it as their Christian duty. Despite the fact that throughout all recorded history there is not a single shred of evidence to support their belief, they are under the impression that the disapproving tut-tut literally saves lives. Of course studies show that, in reality, recipients of 5 or more tut-tuts weekly are 68 times more likely than regular people to develop homicidal manias.)


Unless, of course...unless, unless. Unless we're now not talking about your own, gastronomic pleasure; but -other peoples'- pleasure, derived in ways which are apparently incomprehensible to you, personally; even as are your own (laudable) epicurean pleasures incomprehensible to your family of origin. Like oh say f'r instance blowjobs. Or, well, a whole lot of things, really. We'll get to that.

Then it's perfectly okay to tut-tut. Now it'll work for sure! Tut-tutting -really does save lives.-

Especially if we're calling it -feminism.-

Or, a couple of years ago, when you hadn't patented this particular persona quite as solidly, not so much with the feminism; then it was about...well, what -is- this about, really?

Taste, however, is actually a matter of vital importance. Of the few perceptible traits that distinguish humans from chimpanzees, taste--the ability to discern whether or not a thing is crummy--is the only one that's worth a damn. Let's face it: if a species can't tell a Kinkade from a Constable or a Cheez-Whiz from a Camembert, it can hardly be expected, come election day, to differentiate between a lying, illiterate, dry-drunk corporate monkey and an actual statesman.

So, is taste created by money? Does it exist as a sovereign universal force, like gravity, or porn? Does it erupt, a geyser of subjective whim, from within? Or are these questions less urgent than asking "where the heck has all the taste gone?"

I revisit the notion of the erosion of taste whenever pop culture makes Truth and Beauty its bitch. I do not speak simply of fashion (although would it kill people to quit wearing capri pants?), or of politics (even Cheez-Whiz does not present a more vulgar affront than W) but of an overall cultural capitulation to ugliness.*


So, wait, are capri pants on the anti-feminist list, too? Or are they just -so last year?-

And I'm afraid I really don't see what this has to do with radical revolutionary feminism, at all:

My God, those Wal-Mart ads are depressing.

You know the ones, where some slightly overweight, self-described "stay-at-home mom" with a hick accent throws into a shopping cart lots of cheap crap made by indentured slaves in China while stating that she'd rather star in a Muslim fundamentalist decapitation video than live without Wal-Mart?

Shopping--the minivan-enhanced corollary to stay-at-home mommery--is performed exclusively by women in real life. In Wal-Mart commercials these women shoppers are represented by vapid middle-class hillbilly broodmares, selflessly budgeting away the best years of their lives for their redneck husbands and unruly spawn, their worth as human beings measured by their ability to sniff out a bargain. They teach the girl children to shop (they take the boy children "to the lake"). Their frantic stay-at-home lives are crammed with good-natured sacrifice, and they couldn't be happier than when they're shopping for cheap crap in Wal-Mart.


Well, whatever; I'm sure I'd understand if I were only, like, -advanced- enough.

Tangentially, you know what I really loved? not too long ago? How one of your loopier hangers-on once flung "classist" at a woman who was basically just saying, "well, I like lipstick, what's wrong with it?" Said woman as I recall went on to defend herself, quite unnecessarily but understandably, with explanations about how actually, she works two jobs and has been homeless once. But lipstick, see, unlike four-star dining or non-femmey luxury goods or leisure time or I don't know -snobbery- is oppressive of women (the little tube leaps out of its own volition and conks women over the head, then quite literally paints her into a corner!); hence, classist. And anti-feminist, and probably anti-American as well.

"Wearing lipstick supports the terrorists! Why do you hate America so much?"

There; there's a nice-knock-down argument for you. What? It makes at least as much sense as any number of other arguments I've seen at your place and elsewhere among the supposed feminist blogosphere these past few months.

Oh well. Taste is what matters. Right. You and John Ruskin.

Actually, you know what I think really matters?

Love.

Everything else, fun as it is for a while--the dog and pony show, the "realness" debates, the mocking as a team sport, the endless fapping, the good-sized dents in the desk, the agitation and foment and shouting VIVA!...that's all just window dressing.

That's not what it's about. Feminism. Any of it.

Never has been.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to see a friend about a kitten.

Quote of the day, 11/28/06

ROMY: What the hell is your problem, Christie? Why are you always such a nasty bitch?

I mean, yeah, okay, Michele and I did make up some lame story.
We only did it because we wanted you to treat us like human beings.
But you know what we finally realized? We don't care if you like us. Because we don't like you. You're a bad person with an ugly heart, and we don't give a flying fuck what you think.

--"Romy and Michele's High School Reunion"

p.s.

Dear Guess Who,

Suck my five inch pointy stiletto, you malignant narcissists.

p.p.s. i don't actually own any such shoes. And I've never given a blowjob (to a flesh phallus, anyway) in my life.

And it -still- doesn't say one fucking goddam thing about my feminism either way. Anymore than flossing my teeth every morning or eating enough fiber to take a decent size shit does.

Here's my feminist manifesto. It's very simple, really.

When a woman, an actual, real live woman, not an abstraction, is standing in front of you with an opened vein? And you have nothing to offer her but bile and ideology,

time and again;

preferring to bask in the glow of your adoring sycophants to actually taking a tiny dose of your own medicine, much less offering so much as a drop of real compassion or hope or strength or support to people who desperately need it;

You're not a feminist.

You're a bargain basement televangelist.

and maybe, just maybe,

A bad person, with an ugly heart.

Wrap it in whatever fishwrap of an ideology you like. It still stinks.

p.p.p.s. People aren't hypocrites if they don't even try to live up to YOUR standards. Which are not, by the way, synonymous with "feminist standards."

What they are, is HEALTHY.

p.p.p.p.s I'm tempted to post it over there, but for the sake of sanity (my own among others), i'm restraining myself. I just want to respond to this, by a millie:

" Why is it that that no one will respond to ANY post about gays and lesbians who believe themselves to have had soley homosexual attraction, despite zero exposure to or knowledge of anything other than heterosexuality?"

Just guessing: because, for some strange reason, perhaps, no one who identifies as such feels at home enough to post over there. Even though, as noted, plenty of heterosexual women as well as "political lesbians" really relate to endless kvetching about the ev0ls of high heels and blowjobs. Personally I've never met another lesbian in my life who's been -quite- so concerned with cock, whether in delight or disgust, and yet never once seems to express any actual desire toward, you know, other women. But whatever; there's been quite enough "realness" flaming for one day, and as i've said, ultimately, the "coldhearted shit" part concerns me a lot more than what anyone does or doesn't do in bed.

As alluded to in my post of just last night, however: I am, if not a Kinsey Six, someone who does feel that her sexuality was...

well, put it this way: it's complicated.

I have no idea wrt genetics and such. I think it differs from person to person. My take on the "it's a choice" business is that as far as civil rights go, it's a red herring, albeit arguably one that's been of some limited use in realpolitik terms. But that's really tangential to my point here.

Point being:

It is precisely because I struggled with my very real, wherever their origin, -my- desires, for so long, that it fills me with so much rage when someone who paints herself as an ally turns around and does the very thing that was the source of my misery to other people. Even if I as a supposedly "correct" whatever-it-is am not currently the target.

Because I have been, and I know very well how it feels.

And further, I am -well- aware that when someone is bound and determined to make a sport out of scapegoating, it doesn't matter if I'm not the one on her hotseat -today;- I can be just as easily tomorrow, and probably will be.

And no, I for one do not find the experience so refreshing, "really makes you think."

Because I've been to that rodeo, and it sucks, no matter how you're rationalizing it.

You know what'd really be radical? Kindness. Acceptance. Eros.

And no, I don't live up to my own standard there, either.

But I'm not gonna beat myself up for it, either;

because i know that one too well, as well.

A quick note on the Eternal Subject

you know, the bloody Feminist Wars.

just because i've been thinking about some personal shit for a while, and a by-the-way comment in a discussion turned into a rough form of what was going to be my "why i am" for the sex-pos carnival (not yet launched). so roughly, for now: basically i was saying that wrt the whole "raunch culture, pornsick" business, that it's not that i don't see that aspect of the culture; it's that i don't relate to it as the strongest pressure in my life, sexually:

...I don't feel it: the pressure to be a "sexbot." but then I'm heading toward my mid-thirties, of a certain background; the "pressure" I feel is to -not- look too much like "that," to be "serious," to be "professional." Which you can't be, you know, and still be too sexual.

and of course, if i -am- openly sexual, it must needs be for the sake of men, always, always, always; particularly if i am drawn (as i always have been) toward a "femmey" sort of expression.

and as for being openly sexual with the -actual- objects of my desire, to desire, -period,- other women, i feel strong pressure, still, to not have it at all.

and yes, there's been "lesbian chic;" i rate that about as much as i do "raunch culture." a fingernail-thin gloss of commerical trendiness over millenia's worth of the same old repressive shit.

and, even so, as i've said before; i think, when i was a kid, if i'd seen any of the "lesbian chic" that's prevalent today, stereotyped girl-on-girl or not, it'd have been better from my POV than the pretty much nothing at all i -did- see.

the -real- pressure i've always felt is to be--invisible. and asexual, since i couldn't trump up an attraction toward men. i remember wishing/praying (in a not-especially religious sort of way) that i could just stop -feeling- "this way," when i was an adolescent. eventually, i did. then i didn't feel much of anything, for a while. i guess that's a sort of freedom. then again, so's being dead.

the reason i bring up my position as a queer woman is not so much to say "look, I'm marginalized too! maybe more marginalized! I WIN;" i am trying to explain why it is such a particular hot button for me when i hear, as i often do from aniporn/radfems (no, not from everyone so identified, but enough), basically, such and such sexually is sick, or disgusting, or incomprehensible; and well you don't really NEED your selfish little orgasm, can't you ever think of?...

if desire isn't important then all of my agony during my adolescence is also unimportant. and "gay rights" is essentially fighting for...what? marriage? legal rights? that, yes, but it's also about SEX. it's about DESIRE. it's about YES this is important TOO.

that's been HUGE for me;

and when i encounter other people, other -women- especially, going on and on about oh ew ew EW, it makes me see red. Seriously. It's not because i love Cosmopolitan so much, or wanna go work for Larry Flynt, or have been brainwashed by my blowjob-demanding boyfriend.

I own my own hot buttons, mind you. This is for clarification's sake, for those who have ears and eyes.

of course, then, often, it is automatically assumed that any of the above-named scenarios, or something equally far from my actual experience and position, must needs be the case (pimpin' brainwashed patriarchy-blowing sexbot), and that not only that but when i try to explain that actually it's a tad different, try to bring in a perspective more congruent with my own, i am derailing, if not actually trolling...

I mean, look: ultimately? The people who engage in -that- level of whatever-it-is: when my head is clear, I am aware that in fact -those- people, the ones who simply can't or won't engage -at all,- are by far in the minority. And that that is a problem of not so much ideology as, well, something else.

Trouble is, those people end up prominent in the discussions i'm referring to, and sometimes they're called on what frankly i see as shocking behavior, but other times, no; and then inevitably i or someone else goes for the "well then fuck you, Mary" approach, and of course now it's cemented: we're the bad guys.

I am the Bad Guy.

Maybe I am, at that.

-weary shrug.-

It's. just.

I am not in the motherfucking majority. 'K? I say this not because i want to be oppressed Queen For a Day; at least i bloody well hope not. Fuck me, I don't -want- to be marginalized; i do not in fact believe that there is virtue in being oppressed or an outsider merely for its own sake. Primarily because if i -did-, it'd pretty much tacitly accept that i do not believe real change is possible.

No; I am saying this because.

Because.

Put it this way, for a start:

Up until three years ago, "sodomy" (in one way or another) was still illegal in a number of states. Probably more often enforced against gay men than lesbians, much less straight people (hey, whatever you do behind closed doors, as long as you HAVE a door, can GET to a door); and yet, oddly enough, i take it rather personally when say Catherine MacKinnon declares, as she did in the introduction to what is possible the most annoying little tome i have read in a long while ("The Sexual Liberals and the War On Feminism," ed. Dorchen Leidholdt and Janice Raymond),

These suspicions about the male supremacist nature of the privacy right were furthered by another thing some of us noticed. That was that the freedom of the penis to engage in anal penetration in the name of privacy had become a priority issue for women under the banner of "gay and lesbian rights," without connecting a critique of homophobia with a critique of misogyny."

Great, Kitty. Thanks a lot. Yes, it's all about the penis; of course you yourself i do believe, as a STRAIGHT WOMAN, continue to enjoy congress with penii (you don't reveal how, much less in which orifice, but then this too is a feature of straight privilege, the automatic assumption that whatever it is you're up to in bed is probably not too freaky and Your Business). THANK you for telling me how scare-quoted gay and lesbian rights are not, should not be as important to me as whatever you deem is important, Straight Famous Feminist. THANK you.

...well, i'd meant to go on, at one point, with the fisking of that odious little book, some weeks back, but i lost heart halfway through and it's now back at the library. It kind of doesn't matter, anyway.

Point being:

Yeah, I'm a woman. I'm also queer. It's really not an either-or. It's both-and; the whole is more than the sum of its parts. At times, I have felt far more at home with gay men than straight women. Hell, even other gay women, sometimes, (when I could find them); and that's yet another post.

And yet, at the end of the day, I am a woman; feminism matters to me.

Which is -why I actually pay attention to these wars in the first place.-

So, but I just wanted to say this, probably not for the first time, but maybe a bit more candidly, to... actually, no one person in particular, this is my overall impression of several dozens of discussions i have both witnessed and participated in over the past year or so, okay.

When you talk about "[straight] men want this, men think that," eventually, I glaze over.

I do not relate.

I don't -care- what they want. or, rather: certainly not in the aggregate. certainly not as explained by someone else, venting about them. endlessly, might i add.

I -might- care what -you- want, what -you- feel and think, fellow woman feminist; but see there's all this porn-is-bad and men-suck talk getting in the way, so I don't often actually know what it is. Especially the "want" part.

Yeah, that's what it is. That's one thing that really bugs me about the porn-n-men business: it -often- becomes a handy way to discharge a bunch of strong feelings without actually having to confront ourselves.

Not always; i do not say such subjects should never be discussed, NO.

But, y'know. One thing i -do- feel i often have in common with (many) straight women (as well as otherwise) is the experience of not feeling heard; of not feeling what i want is really relevant in the greater scheme of things; and especially of not feeling entitled to say "no," much less boldly go up to an object of desire and say, "I want this. I want -you.-"

And, like, maybe -that's- something we could talk about? at some point?

I was going to say something about the experience of abuse, although in a way it opens up a whole 'nother avenue of discussion, I think it's highly relevant. It's also a minefield, though. Briefly, just this:

Yeah, it's real and it's widespread, overt sexual and physical abuse. Molestation. Rape. Beatings. That is an experience that i do not share. I do however take it very seriously.

I get uneasy when i see what -to me- often looks like a conflation of very raw and personal discussions of such abuse with stuff that -to me- seems like a different subject (influences of sexist media, including or even especially porn).

That's another post.

What I was going to say was:

I have been thinking about it, and actually, you know, I'm -this- close to naming my own experience as abusive. In some murky, nebulous way.

I think internalizing that level of shame (which is, if not universal for queer kids, pretty fucking common) about one's sexual desires, and/or rather the environment that leads to such an internalization...yeah. Call it abuse. Why not. It sure wasn't Happy Fun Time, that's for damn sure.

There's also this:

Not to get too heavy into family-of-origin stuff, although i think that's actually -really- relevant, more so than all the media put together, in general, frankly; but, in mine? 'twasn't Dad who was the invasive one, or the one who screamed and raged.

which i suspect has at least something to do with both my not really relating to some peoples' experience of Class Men as well as with my knee -really- jerking when women in particular start acting in erratic and dramatic ways.

Monday, November 27, 2006

More on Shellacked Simulacrum-Gibber-Whosis

Okay, now I'm hooked, I admit it.

See, this blog follows local (Sugar Land, TX) politics, and thus has quite a bit on the bungee Congresscritter, who, it turns out, is even more entertaining than the major news media hint at.
Basically it would appear that she is in fact Tracy Flick after a midlife crisis or six. Just a few highlights:

A dermatologist, Sekula-Gibbs said scientific breakthroughs are close, which would allow researchers to obtain adult stem cells from a person’s skin that then could be “regressed” to become the equivalent of embryonic stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells should not be used for research on disease prevention because “they cannot give consent, so we cannot work on them. End of story.”


Her campaigning tactics were apparently...creative, too:

A reporter from the big city of Los Angeles sailed into Clear Lake and experienced first hand the oddity that is Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. You remember I told you about how I saw her at the Shrimp Fest accosting people and telling them that they had to vote for her twice, holding up first one finger, then the other while she told them about the special and general elections. I knew there was a detail I omitted. She did this in a SING SONG voice.

Well, it just gets worse. The intrepid reporter visited a breakfast meeting in Clear Lake recently, featuring Shelley. I wonder if she was dressed like scrambled eggs? I digress. I'll let Lianne Hart of the LA Times give you her eyewitness account:

The women, meeting for breakfast in a hotel banquet room, looked up from their scrambled eggs as Sekula-Gibbs launched into a jingle to drive home the point: "Vote twice for Shelley," she sang to the tune of "Roll Out the Barrel." "Special and then write her in."

The candidate motioned for them to join her in song, and most did, a few clapping in time. "It's corny, but corny is good," Sekula-Gibbs said.


Also stood on the street corner holding signs for herself, apparently, day after day, begging people to write her in, dammit, never quite tweaking that in fact the reason they most of 'em did was so's she would have to resign her City Council seat.

And so now, it becomes a little clearer as to why her inherited staff walked out so soon:

Sekula-Gibbs said she had asked the aides to work on illegal immigration legislation and the 700 miles of fence to be built on the U.S.-Mexico border. They also were asked to research material on Ellington Field, NASA and Medicare, the congresswoman said.

Shelley. Here's the thing. They didn't do any of the work you asked them to do. That's why their computers are blank. Because they know something you apparently don't know. Congress is not going to deal with your little fence issue or ANY of your other concerns...


...and just how much her former colleagues and constituents luuurrve her.

Fellow councilmembers mutter that, no matter what her name, they'd like to clamp a meter on her mouth...

Sekula-Gibbs seems oblivious to the snickers and snide comments generated by what some see as her grandstanding. She says it's all about pushing her agenda for public health, which she defines so broadly that it includes air quality, the environment and transportation.

Of course, it's also all about Shelley, the neophyte politician whose previous public exposure consisted mostly of being a regular on the gala circuit for medical groups. A health department source acidly describes her City Hall rampage as "democracy by Junior League."

She says her comments are only an attempt to aid constituents.

"It's that maternal instinct I have to want to help," explains Sekula-Gibbs. "I have a great passion to try and help people. If I don't understand a situation, then I feel a need to understand, because I can't help if I don't understand."

While some councilmembers describe her as earnest, they note that her remarks during meetings are uninformed and even "off the wall."

...As a physician" is one of her favorite introductory clauses. Since running for office on a "healthy Houston" platform, she's hit the city's Department of Health and Human Services with a blizzard of memos and requests that include asking that it prepare slideshows and PowerPoint presentations for her...

Last December, even before she was sworn in, Sekula-Gibbs went into a meeting that would trigger tensions that continue today. Her session was with the city's Health and Human Services director, Dr. Mary des Vignes-Kendrick. The strong-willed executive was appointed by former mayor Bob Lanier a decade ago and is used to running her fiefdom without undue interference from councilmembers. Friction was clear from the outset.

As a doctor, Sekula-Gibbs told Kendrick, she expected a special relationship with the department. She asked for a confidential briefing on the city's efforts against bioterrorism and requested that department staffers prepare a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation on the subject, one that the councilmember could deliver to parents and teachers at a Clear Creek school. Sekula-Gibbs also stunned officials by bringing along a file on one of her patients at Clear Lake Hospital and asking that the case be analyzed for possible botulism poisoning.

"She just blurted out some fairly confidential information about one of her patients," confirms an administration source. "It was an inappropriate venue to even be discussing any of her patients...

Health department officials also balked at providing what they considered confidential information for her community presentations. Dr. Shelley got her hackles up.

"While I appreciate your interest in security," she wrote Kendrick, "as a council member and colleague physician in a 'need to know' position, I have an interest in viewing the presentation as is. I fail to understand your reluctance in accommodating my request. I am not foreign to the issue of security by any means..."

The spectacle of a dermatologist trying to micromanage a public health department comes off to some staffers as a bad joke. Laughs one: "To my knowledge there are no public health issues related to dermatology, unless rosacea comes out as a nationwide epidemic."


well, she does wear a lot of pink...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Without DeLay

First, a brief but illuminating glance into Tom DeLay's reptilian little brain.


"I'm going to shock you on two levels. One is I think the real Person of the Year ought to be Nancy Pelosi....I think it's unfortunate that you said I created the culture in Washington. The Democrats, when they lost power, it was like, as John said, it was like losing your plantation - they refused to work with the Republican majority. Back in the good old days they always talk about the Republican minority mindset like the slaves of the plantation and as long as they kept that, the Democrats, they all got along. It's when things got up and changed that we all got more partisan. Nancy Pelosi, I have to give her credit."

via Huffington Post.

"As God is my witness, I'll never be bipartisan again!"

or something.

So now, though, the question is: given what we know of the man's character and doings. How bad does his successor have to be to make his entire staff walk out?

One might fleetingly hope that it has something to do with her actually being more ethical than he is. But, no, apparently, she's just nuts.

The last remnants of the resigned Tom DeLay’s once powerful congressional staff on Tuesday walked out of the office of his temporary successor, Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, because of exasperation with her. Sekula-Gibbs, a Houston City Council member and physician, was elected to serve in the lame-duck session but was defeated in a write-in for a full term.

The last straw for the DeLay alumni was when they were instructed by Sekula-Gibbs to make sure President Bush and Vice President Cheney were seated in the gallery for her swearing-in. The word on Capitol Hill is that she must have been really obnoxious for staffers to give up two months of easy pay...


Well, apparently not so easy at that; girlfriend had plans. "Lame duck?" Fie, pish-posh and pooh-pooh:

Shelley Sekula-Gibbs was sworn in as a congresswoman on Monday night and already she's a lame duck. Because of a weird electoral quirk, her brief term in office expires next month.

But you couldn't tell that by listening to her.

"I'm working hard to accomplish the things I'm working for," she said yesterday. "For tax cuts. For immigration reform. To make sure we have a good solution for the war in Iraq."

All that? In a few weeks?

"If there's a way to do it, I'll do it," she said, smiling beneath her bright blond hair. "I'll deal with the leadership to get as much done as possible."

Sekula-Gibbs (R-Tex.) won a race for Congress on Nov. 7. She also lost a race for Congress on Nov. 7. It's a long story:

Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, the former House majority leader who was indicted on money-laundering charges, resigned from Congress last spring after winning the Republican primary. Last week, voters in DeLay's old district, the 22nd, got to cast two votes for Congress. The Texas voters elected Sekula-Gibbs to fill the remaining portion of DeLay's term -- but they elected Democrat Nick Lampson to succeed DeLay in the Congress that takes office in January, a race that Sekula-Gibbs had to run as a write-in candidate.

That makes for a very short congressional career for Sekula-Gibbs, 53, who is a member of the Houston City Council and a dermatologist -- probably two or three weeks, if you don't count recesses...

And yet, bless her heart:

She said: "I'm proud that the people of the 22nd Congressional District honored me with their votes."

She said: "I'm blessed by God. This really is a gift from God."

She said: "I'm looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting as much done as I can accomplish."


Well, actually, she did accomplish a lot:

"She has mortally damaged herself for '08," said Bill Miller, an Austin media consultant who works for clients in both parties. "She has embarrassed herself. She has embarrassed Republicans. She's done a first-class job of ruining any prospective chance she had of winning that race.

...By Wednesday, she became known as the boss who drove off, or was abandoned by, the entire staff she had inherited from DeLay — and then sought to have them investigated.

"It's the talk of the political village," said University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray. "She's become this kind of wacky sideshow."


...and it turns out this isn't even the first time she's had a mass walkout:

I've heard rumors that there is no love lost between Shelley Sekula-Gibbs and her fellow City Council Members. And, that while she may have political skills - social skills? Not so much. At the end of today's City Council meeting, when other members were offering condolences to the family of slain police offer Rodney Johnson (who was alledgedly killed by an illegal immigrant), Shelley chose to denounce the non-existent "sanctuary policy" in Houston.

Nine council members left the room temporarily in protest of her completely inappropriate political remarks at a time when a family was mourning. Carol Alvarado (no love lost there), was the first to leave.

The Houston Chronicle had this to say:

"I was embarrassed to be in the room with somebody talking like that," said Councilwoman Toni Lawrence, a Republican and one of the first to leave.


but say what you will about her, no mistake: she'd never give up the plantation.


"I apologize to the Johnson family today for one of our colleagues attempted to pimp the death and tragedy of Officer Johnson for their political career," said Councilmember Ada Edwards.

When Sekula-Gibbs was asked about her comments showing lack of respect, she responded immediately.

"They're wrong," said Sekula-Gibbs.



Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, we hardly knew ye.

"The Buttered Cat Paradox"

The things you learn from Wikipedia. (no, don't ask me how I got here)

"The buttered cat paradox is a paradox based on the tongue-in-cheek combination of two bits of folk wisdom:

Cats always land on their feet.
Buttered toast always lands buttered side down.

The paradox arises when one considers what would happen if one attached a piece of buttered toast (butter side up) to the back of a cat, then dropped the cat from a height.

Notwithstanding the complaints that would arise from PETA and other animal rights groups if someone actually tried to drop a cat, under that scenario one of the two end results would never occur – if the cat landed on its feet, the toast would land buttered-side-up, but if the toast landed buttered-side-down, the cat would end up landing on its back.

...While the paradox originated as a tongue-in-cheek combination of two bits of folk advice, it ended up creating some interesting thought experiments to analyse what would happen if one assume the two rules here would always occur.

Some people jokingly maintain that the experiment will produce an anti-gravity effect. They propose that as the cat falls towards the ground, it will slow down and start to rotate, eventually reaching a steady state of hovering a short distance from the ground while rotating at high speed as both the buttered side of the toast and the cat’s feet attempt to land on the ground.[1] This, however, would require the energy that keeps them rotating and hovering to come from somewhere, otherwise it would violate the Law of Conservation of Energy. There could be multiple ways the cat and toast achieve this - for one, they could draw heat from the air, or sunlight, and convert it into direct kinetic energy; though this would prove hard to do, it is theoretically possible.

Another response is that the cat will land on its feet, and immediately roll over on its back. This, however, means that the cat's feet were stronger than the toast's buttered side insofar as its attraction to the ground, but once on the ground the buttered toast's attraction overpowered the cat's feet. This would give rise to another question: which is stronger, the cat's movement to land on its feet or the toast's butter-side attraction to the ground? The reverse could also be true – the toast lands first buttered side down, and then the cat rolls onto its feet. (However, both scenarios would require the assumption that the cat did not suffer a major injury upon landing, either in the legs or the back.)

In June 2003, Kimberly Miner won a Student Academy Award for her film Perpetual Motion.[2] Miner based her film on a paper written by a high-school friend that explored the potential implications of the cat and buttered toast idea.[3][4]"

***

Like I said: don't ask.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Haunting, cryptic poetry of spam: the Eternal Saga

Subject: Re: by gods

body will be programmed to enable one to virtually try on a piece from Missouri when its sensors determine a high level of air age of technology is relatively new to me, but in the short space
Do you really think third-rate military dictators would laugh at substantial market. This would most definitely be a competitive day, aerial warfare cannot be blamed on the invention of planes.
reacting to feedback from their surroundings. The premise behind valuable to her work as a weaver. She has described to me how painters who had enough self-esteem in their own interpretations,
The increases in technology have made communicating in the experienced what has already happened and the many researches how I could use computers in my art-making process. As it turns
: elaborate and painstaking make -up, photo manipulation through simply a cutter cut letters out of self adhesive vinyl, and was with a simple force of a hand or water. Without a doubt, the
people in the workplace experience. Mr. Typalot is perhaps more which is unfortunately high sought after and is in most cases focused audience, limited budgets, and aesthetic agendas the
might be perceived as healthy. I sometimes envision a situation age of technology is relatively new to me, but in the short space gained access to a seemingly endless supply of information. Text
him/herself ahead of the field in his/her discipline. Even stimuli. In effect, each individual neuron is its own decision electronic facilities, whereas paper is mortal and indefinite
gained access to a seemingly endless supply of information. Text computer. In these instances the computer is like a tool the living beings existing mentally only in a digital environment
designed for the metal production industry and XY plotters can be programmers are beginning to recognize that data they produce towards global integration hereinafter global integration is the


***

D'you think this is actually Skynet trying to assert itself?

i worry.

Too big for my blogbritches

So I finally bit the bullet and said, okay, Blogger, take me to beta, let the chips fall where they may.

Lo -n- behold, blogger won't let me. Reason: not positive, but apparently the blog is actually too big to make the transfer right now.

Should I be relieved or disappointed?

Hard to win hearts and minds when you've sold your soul.

Or, more succinctly, as feministe's Jill puts it, Evil.

U.S. soldiers taunting Iraqi children with the prospect of...drinking water. Listen to the hyena-like laughter at little kids desperate enough to run after a moving truck just for the chance of having a sip of clean water, and you tell me just how justified, how noble, how necessary this clusterfuck war was. How we're the fucking good guys. Right? Always. Video via Rox Populi.

Which reminds me: you know what else is really funny? How we never did find those weapons of mass destruction. That's some funny shit right there.

This is pretty funny, too:

It's like Baghdad is no longer one city, it's a dozen different smaller cities each infected with its own form of violence. It's gotten so that I dread sleeping because the morning always brings so much bad news. The television shows the images and the radio stations broadcast it. The newspapers show images of corpses and angry words jump out at you from their pages, "civil war… death… killing… bombing… rape…"

Rape. The latest of American atrocities. Though it's not really the latest- it's just the one that's being publicized the most. The poor girl Abeer was neither the first to be raped by American troops, nor will she be the last. The only reason this rape was brought to light and publicized is that her whole immediate family were killed along with her. Rape is a taboo subject in Iraq. Families don't report rapes here, they avenge them. We've been hearing whisperings about rapes in American-controlled prisons and during sieges of towns like Haditha and Samarra for the last three years. The naiveté of Americans who can't believe their 'heroes' are committing such atrocities is ridiculous. Who ever heard of an occupying army committing rape??? You raped the country, why not the people?

...It fills me with rage to hear about it and read about it. The pity I once had for foreign troops in Iraq is gone. It's been eradicated by the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, the deaths in Haditha and the latest news of rapes and killings. I look at them in their armored vehicles and to be honest- I can't bring myself to care whether they are 19 or 39. I can't bring myself to care if they make it back home alive. I can't bring myself to care anymore about the wife or parents or children they left behind. I can't bring myself to care because it's difficult to see beyond the horrors. I look at them and wonder just how many innocents they killed and how many more they'll kill before they go home. How many more young Iraqi girls will they rape?

Why don't the Americans just go home? They've done enough damage and we hear talk of how things will fall apart in Iraq if they 'cut and run', but the fact is that they aren't doing anything right now. How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what's being done about it? Nothing. It's convenient for them- Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join in with murder and rape.

...People are picking up and leaving en masse and most of them are planning to remain outside of the country. Life here has become unbearable because it's no longer a 'life' like people live abroad. It's simply a matter of survival, making it from one day to the next in one piece and coping with the loss of loved ones and friends...


and then

Residents of Baghdad are systematically being pushed out of the city. Some families are waking up to find a Klashnikov bullet and a letter in an envelope with the words “Leave your area or else.” The culprits behind these attacks and threats are Sadr’s followers- Mahdi Army. It’s general knowledge, although no one dares say it out loud. In the last month we’ve had two different families staying with us in our house, after having to leave their neighborhoods due to death threats and attacks. It’s not just Sunnis- it’s Shia, Arabs, Kurds- most of the middle-class areas are being targeted by militias.

Other areas are being overrun by armed Islamists. The Americans have absolutely no control in these areas. Or maybe they simply don’t want to control the areas because when there’s a clash between Sadr’s militia and another militia in a residential neighborhood, they surround the area and watch things happen.

Since the beginning of July, the men in our area have been patrolling the streets. Some of them patrol the rooftops and others sit quietly by the homemade road blocks we have on the major roads leading into the area. You cannot in any way rely on Americans or the government. You can only hope your family and friends will remain alive- not safe, not secure- just alive. That’s good enough.

For me, June marked the first month I don’t dare leave the house without a hijab, or headscarf. I don’t wear a hijab usually, but it’s no longer possible to drive around Baghdad without one. It’s just not a good idea. (Take note that when I say ‘drive’ I actually mean ‘sit in the back seat of the car’- I haven’t driven for the longest time.) Going around bare-headed in a car or in the street also puts the family members with you in danger. You risk hearing something you don’t want to hear and then the father or the brother or cousin or uncle can’t just sit by and let it happen. I haven’t driven for the longest time. If you’re a female, you risk being attacked.

I look at my older clothes- the jeans and t-shirts and colorful skirts- and it’s like I’m studying a wardrobe from another country, another lifetime. There was a time, a couple of years ago, when you could more or less wear what you wanted if you weren’t going to a public place. If you were going to a friends or relatives house, you could wear trousers and a shirt, or jeans, something you wouldn’t ordinarily wear. We don’t do that anymore because there’s always that risk of getting stopped in the car and checked by one militia or another.


and then

The latest horror is the study published in the Lancet Journal concluding that over 600,000 Iraqis have been killed since the war...

The responses were typical- war supporters said the number was nonsense because, of course, who would want to admit that an action they so heartily supported led to the deaths of 600,000 people (even if they were just crazy Iraqis…)? Admitting a number like that would be the equivalent of admitting they had endorsed, say, a tsunami, or an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale, or the occupation of a developing country by a ruthless superpower… oh wait- that one actually happened. Is the number really that preposterous? Thousands of Iraqis are dying every month- that is undeniable. And yes, they are dying as a direct result of the war and occupation (very few of them are actually dying of bliss, as war-supporters and Puppets would have you believe).

...The chaos and lack of proper facilities is resulting in people being buried without a trip to the morgue or the hospital. During American military attacks on cities like Samarra and Fallujah, victims were buried in their gardens or in mass graves in football fields. Or has that been forgotten already?

We literally do not know a single Iraqi family that has not seen the violent death of a first or second-degree relative these last three years. Abductions, militias, sectarian violence, revenge killings, assassinations, car-bombs, suicide bombers, American military strikes, Iraqi military raids, death squads, extremists, armed robberies, executions, detentions, secret prisons, torture, mysterious weapons – with so many different ways to die, is the number so far fetched?

There are Iraqi women who have not shed their black mourning robes since 2003 because each time the end of the proper mourning period comes around, some other relative dies and the countdown begins once again.

Let's pretend the 600,000+ number is all wrong and that the minimum is the correct number: nearly 400,000. Is that better? Prior to the war, the Bush administration kept claiming that Saddam killed 300,000 Iraqis over 24 years. After this latest report published in The Lancet, 300,000 is looking quite modest and tame. Congratulations Bush et al.

Everyone knows the 'official numbers' about Iraqi deaths as a direct result of the war and occupation are far less than reality (yes- even you war hawks know this, in your minuscule heart of hearts). This latest report is probably closer to the truth than anything that's been published yet. And what about American military deaths? When will someone do a study on the actual number of those? If the Bush administration is lying so vehemently about the number of dead Iraqis, one can only imagine the extent of lying about dead Americans…


and then

A final note. I just read somewhere that some of the families of dead American soldiers are visiting the Iraqi north to see ‘what their sons and daughters died for’. If that’s the goal of the visit, then, “Ladies and gentlemen- to your right is the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to your left is the Dawry refinery… Each of you get this, a gift bag containing a 3 by 3 color poster of Al Sayid Muqtada Al Sadr (Long May He Live And Prosper), an Ayatollah Sistani t-shirt and a map of Iran, to scale, redrawn with the Islamic Republic of South Iraq. Also… Hey you! You- the female in the back- is that a lock of hair I see? Cover it up or stay home.”


Except that isn't the final note, is it.

Not by a long shot.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Quote of the day: 11/24/06

Life without pleasure - without spontaneity and playfulness, sexuality and sensuality, aesthetic experience, surprise, excitement, ecstasy - is a kind of death. People deprived of pleasure don’t get kinder and gentler, but meaner and nastier.”

--Ellen Willis

hat tip to Bitch Lab for the reference

Thursday, November 23, 2006

o KICKASS. I've been Translated!

really! I was checking my stats and a trackback led me to this site; apparently someone wanted the googlebot translation of a post on my site into German, and here 'tis:

Mir meine Axt holen!

oo, and -everything- gets translated, blöglinken too!

"Jill Rants und Raves."

"Oy ist Yo rückwärts"

"Alle Mädchen-Armee: Ovathrow der Status Quo!"

"Die Shouty Frau"

"Joe. Mein. Gott."

"I, Arschloch"

"Gehen, Gehen, Bimbo!"

"Kampagne für Unshaved Snatch (FLUCHEN) u. anderes Rants."


..und müch, müch möre! das ist der AWESOME.

Quote of the day: 11/23/06: the Thanksgiving episode!

GERHARDT: And that's why it's appropriate that the ground-breaking for the uc sunnydale cultural partnership center is taking place so soon before thanksgiving. Because that's what the melting pot is about-- Contributions from all cultures, making our culture stronger..

WILLOW: What a load of horse hooey.

BUFFY: We have a counterpoint?

WILLOW: Yeah. Thanksgiving isn't about blending of 2 cultures. It's about one culture wiping out another. And then they make animated specials about the part where, with the maize and the big, big belt buckles. They don't show you the next scene, where all the bison die and squanto takes a musket ball in the stomach.

BUFFY: Ok. Now, for some of that, you were channeling your mother?

WILLOW: Well, yeah, sort of. That's why she doesn't celebrate thanksgiving or columbus day-- You know, the destruction of the indigenous peoples. I know it sounds a little overwrought, but really, she's...She's right.

BUFFY: Yeah. I guess I never really thought about it that way. With mom at aunt darlene's this year, I'm not getting a thanksgiving. Maybe it's just as well.

ANYA: Well, I think that's a shame. I love a ritual sacrifice.

BUFFY: It's not really a one of those.

ANYA: To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It's a ritual sacrifice, with pie.

--Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Pangs"


Happy ritual sacrifice and pie day, y'all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

...and this just in from Planet O'Reilly: Fox News has nothing to do with Fox Broadcasting. Also, iPods R Ev0l.


From the fine folks at Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly, International (a thoroughly fair and balanced, nonpartisan site), a couple of entertaining tidbits. first, O'Reilly losing his shit--yeah, yeah, film at eleven--but, no, really, he actually said this:

Shamefully, the Fox Broadcasting Unit is set to carry the program, which is simply indefensible, and a low point in American culture. For the record, Fox Broadcasting has nothing to do with the Fox News Channel.

which, as SJIHBOR notes,

Yeah, um, except that you're owned by the same parent company, dingbat.

As in, Rupert Murdoch owns both; Roger Ailes, FNC chair, also chairs Fox Television Stations. oh yeah, and also, Harper Collins, the publishing company that was going to publish the (fair and balanced, tasteful) subjunctived claused OJ confessional, is, coincidentally, also owned by Rupert Murdoch. (nod to Radar).
Other than that, they have nothing to do with each other, though, no.


Of course, you understand, I'm just saying that because I'm one of those far left Internet loons.

The so-called elite media is tiptoeing around the fact that Simpson’s being paid millions to exploit the murders of his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman, murders he probably committed.

The New York Times covered the story in its business section. “CBS Evening News” didn’t even mention it for the first two days. But the tabloid press and cable news are fully engaged.

The far left loons are also out in force as their Internet masters urge them to tie the FOX News channel in with the Simpson situation. I’ve received scores of letters like this one from Fred in Indianapolis.

“Mr. O’Reilly, you are a man of principle. Since Fox News is sponsoring the Simpson program, will you sever your ties with Fox News?”

Obviously Fred is a bit slow. FOX News has nothing to do with the Simpson situation. And Fred doesn’t believe I am a man of principle either. He’s a Kool-Aid zombie doing the bidding of far left fanatics who will do anything to disparage me and FNC.


But oh well, water under the bridge; it's not going forward, the special. O'reilly is jubilant:

"It's a culture war victory. The folks did it, and I am the messenger."

Sadly, however, after all he's done for the world, no one wants him.

"I don't get invited to parties. Nobody wants me. When I do go, everyone is exceedingly polite to me.


Oh, well. On to more important matters: iPods are endangering America.

I don’t own an iPod. I would never wear an iPod… If this is your primary focus in life - the machines… it’s going to have a staggeringly negative effect, all of this, for America… did you ever talk to these computer geeks? I mean, can you carry on a conversation with them? …I really fear for the United States because, believe me, the jihadists? They’re not playing the video games. They’re killing real people over there.

Former Seinfeld Star Revealed As Racist, Total Dick

Via Racialious and Zuky, this TMZ story:

Michael Richards exploded in anger as he performed at a famous L.A. comedy club last Friday, hurling racial epithets that left the crowd gasping...

Richards, who played the wacky Cosmo Kramer on the hit TV show "Seinfeld," appeared onstage at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood. Kyle Doss, an African-American, told TMZ he and some friends were in the cheap seats and he was playfully heckling Richards when suddenly, the comedian lost it.

[video here].

The camera started rolling just as Richards began his attack, screaming at one of the men, "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass."

Richards continued, "You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now motherfucker. Throw his ass out. Throw his ass out...


then screams about 50 n-bombs at the guy. I'm surprised he hasn't tried Tourette's as one of his defenses. Apparently he's tried everything else.

Racialicious covers his "apology" on Letterman: (see Letterman segment video at the Think)

So Michael Richards, who played Kramer on Seinfeld, was on Letterman last night to apologize for his racist-ass rant on Friday at Los Angeles’s Laugh Factory. (See our previous post on this.)

I’m always amazed when these racial outbursts happen, and the apology is something along the lines of “I’m shouldn’t have said that” or “those words were very offensive.”

What the perpetrators of these racist statements don’t get is that it’s not the words themselves that are shocking or offensive. It’s what the words reveal about the person’s values and true beliefs.

The fact that Richards, when provoked by a black man, immediately reminded him that it wasn’t so long ago that he could have been lynched and made a public spectacle of, to me indicates that he is resentful of having to tolerate blacks being equal to him, and longs for the days when he could exercise his “god-given” superiority. Kinda makes you wonder what dinner-table conversations are like at the Richards house, no? If you didn’t believe this stuff, it wouldn’t be the first thing that came to mind.

Anyway, Defamer has some behind-the-scenes scoop on how insincere Richards’ apology is:

***

As he was walking out, he said to the women accompanying him, “…so you go on these shows and apologize and apologize but it’s never good enough.” One of the women murmured something about him having a PR person to handle this kind of thing and he replied, “I don’t have anyone handling this. If I did, I wouldn’t have gotten into trouble in the first place.”


***

Right, not having a PR person is why everyone thinks you’re a racist.


Maybe he can hire Mel's.

As also noted at Reappropriate:

And so, we were exposed to about fourteen classic “Ooops, I did it again…” excuses for unabashed racism (recently popularized by George Allen and Macaca-gate).

My favourite? Michael Richards was bitten by the racist fairy.

According to Seinfeld and Richards, who are both “mystified by what happened”, it’s like some Blackface Tinkerbell crawled up Richards’ ass and shot him full of that Strom Thurmond fairydust. Think racist thoughts, and you can make minorities fly — far, far away from you!! After all, Richards is absolutely shocked by what happened (it’s one of those “awful, awful things”, says Seinfeld) – he’s not a racist, he just came down with that racist funk.

...I love how Richards describes how he went into “a rage” — like he Hulk-ed out into some horrid 1860’s slave owner with green skin and a ripped purple tuxedo. Like, did he encounter some gamma rays in the NBC backlot sometime last decade, and now he periodically transforms into an irradiated Thomas Jefferson?


And yeah, sure enough, as always, immediately people start contorting themselves into pretzels to explain it away. To wit, a commenter at The Think:

Isn’t it possible that someone could be so angry that they say hurtful things to someone that they don’t really mean? Oh, wait. People do this to their spouses and significant others all the time. I’m not sure this does show that he has the kind of racist attitudes his words reflect, for that simple reason. He was mad at these people, and he was willing to take advantage of an immoral racial dynamic that he didn’t mind perpetuating with his very comments. That’s despicable. But it doesn’t mean he actually longs for the days of lynchings.

As I responded over there:

>Isn’t it possible that someone could be so angry that they say hurtful things to someone that they don’t really mean? Oh, wait. People do this to their spouses and significant others all the time…>

-Do- they? call their S.O. racist epithets and tell them that (essentially) they should’ve been lynched? or some sexist equivalent? Yeah, I suppose some people do do that to their “loved” ones; when -that- happens, it’s called “abuse.” And no, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me” wouldn’t cut it then, either.

If he’s not a “real” racist (no one’s ever a “real” racist. no one) then he sure played one well on T.V. More to the point, he’s an abusive person who needs anger management, stat. And from the looks of it, some rehab wouldn’t hurt either. And oh yeah: in terms of lost credibility, viewers, etc., he deserves whatever he gets. No sympathy.

UPDATE: Kai finds that this is not the first documented incident of Richards being an irredeemable fuckwit. Viddy: rageoholic with the misogynist epithets, did blackface (there's a shocker) and screamed at another audience member, in this case one of those fucking Christ-killing Jews.

He sounds like a lovely man. He should write children's books.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

So I now officially have a crush on Pink

there was that last video

but there's also this one.

woman's got some pipes on her.

some brains, too.

among other things.

Monday, November 20, 2006

If your cat were your roommate

or, "Why being into cats is essentially the same as being into psychotic tweakers."


"Your roommate scurries off into the darkness again, once more without a sound, but gives you only a few seconds to freak out about this latest episode as you soon hear your roommate scrambling haphazardly, apparently completely devoid of the quiet grace in use only seconds earlier, over your furniture, running head-first into a stack of boxes, leaping to the side, glancing over at you quickly, then trying to play it cool, like everything that just happened went exactly as planned and oh, were you watching all that finesse? 'cause that was nothing for a smooth character such as myself. At least as much as one can look like that while featuring pupils the size of nickels."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Wait. Gay men? All-male pr0n? Who? wha?

Back on the urgent question of DP or not DP for a sec (as in, Dickheads, Patronizing), this just in: some men actually like being penetrated, too. Who knew? Via monotonous.net, a refreshing break from the relentless heteronormativity informing the Sex/Pr0n Wars:

I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a household where sex and porn were looked at with a generally laissez faire attitude....

Because of my upbringing and my own experience with sex as a gay man, I’m always left baffled by arguments like the one my friend Amber is currently involved in–where some guy has made the following statement about heterosexual double-penetration scenes in porn:

When he mentioned a type of sex he liked to watch in pornography called a DP — double penetration, in which a woman is penetrated vaginally and anally at the same time — it really started to dawn on him: In these scenes, the sex was defined by men’s sense of control over, and domination of, women. […] the pornography he had been consuming is not just sex, but sex in which men act out contempt for women.


Some other male professor, defending the statement above, argued that “men’s ability to achieve sexual pleasure by masturbating as they watch DP scenes in pornographic movies [is] an example of a failure of empathy.”

I don’t really agree, since I’m coming at this from a different angle. When I watch porn, it’s almost always with an all-male cast. A lot of times, the guys in these porn videos engage in the so-called “misogynistic” behavior described by anti-porn feminists. There are cumshot facials, double-anal pentration scenes, and plenty of dirty talking. I like it all, and tend to identify with all parties in the videos. Is it degrading when I am actively imagining myself in both the role of the so-called “degraded” and also as the “degrader?”

If I can watch porn and enjoy identifying with the bottom-role, why do these anti-porn feminist guys think that’s impossible for a woman?...



Well, clearly they can't imagine such a thing; this is because they are simply stuffed full of empathy. Empathy, as we know, means staking out an ideological position and grimly clinging to it no matter what, even if it means having to stick your fingers in your ears and go LALALALALALA when someone reasonable comes along and challenges your preconceptions. Just like feminism means men speaking on behalf of women to other men, and patronizing/shutting down women what don't agree with them.

***

evening update:

elsewhere, Anthony dug this up:

That brings me to one of the most delicious ironies of Bob Jensen's ranting about male heterosexuality: he is, in fact, an outed gay man.

Here is an exerpt from an interview he did for a gay ezine called OutSmart.com:

...First, a note about the rather complicated position from which I speak. I am a gay guy who has had a girlfriend. Or, maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’m a straight man who sometimes has been sexual with men, at one point closeted and later openly. Or maybe I’m bisexual. Or maybe I’m making it up as I go along. Because I have crossed lines often, maybe I have shaky standing to speak about gay male sexuality. Or because I cross lines, maybe my vantage point provides a valuable view. Readers can make their own decisions about how, or whether, to listen to me...

...Because the object of gay male desire is the male body, not the female, it is tempting to dismiss this feminist critique as having no relevance for gay men. Yet in many ways, gay and straight men are not all that different in the way they are trained in our culture to understand and practice sex: sex as the acquisition of physical pleasure from another, sex as the exercise of power over another, sex disconnected from intimacy and affection toward another. That doesn’t mean every man, gay or straight, is locked into those values, but simply that typically we are raised with them. Those values are one part of what we can call "patriarchy"; it’s the water in which we swim...


Which, well, kind of puts the whole business about really wanting to tell the boy who wanted to know what was wrong with het DP porn to strip and spread 'em for a bunch of guys in a rather new light, doesn't it?

Well, actually, no, for me; it just makes the light i already was looking at it a bit brighter and more well-defined.

Yet in many ways, gay and straight men are not all that different in the way they are trained in our culture...

goddamit. And again: this is -exactly- why a serious mens' movement is needed; because see if he'd stuck to talking about THIS shit, I'd have no problem with him. In fact, I'd be really interested in what he has to say.

but no; instead he gloms onto one of the few relatively available critiques of the normative system, radical feminism, because i guess for -some- reason he doesn't feel entirely comfortable with queer or gay this or that.

oh, I don't even know...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

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(no, it's not National Drunk Posting Day [NaDruBloDa] yet. that was a contribution from my cat, who had his back paw resting on the keyboard. it took me a few minutes to figure out what the problem was, which, actually, kind of scary considering i'm cold -sober-)

Quote of the day: 11/18/06

"Whatever our other aims may have been, no one in the feminist movement ever thought you are what you wear. The only coherent fashion statement I can recall from the entire movement was the suggestion that Mrs. Cleaver, Beaver's mom, would on the whole have been a happier woman had she not persisted in vacuuming while wearing high heels. This, I still believe."

--Molly Ivins

Frootbat spotting

Kind of a cheap hobby, particularly when you let someone else do the dirty work for you, but what the hell: sometimes, it's what you crave. In this case, Kyso Kiasen links to a few gems. Here she fisks a piece from one of my favorite sites EVER, Ladies Against Feminism. "Rearing Lords and Ladies." Key word here: "dominion."

The frenzy to prevent people having dominion

The media tell us to worship the earth, to conserve and preserve it at all costs to humans, to let the wilderness that our Christian forebears fought so hard to drive back overtake us.


Yes; that is the biggest problem facing us today. It's too much wilderness that's threatening human extinction. Depopulation, on account of we not only aren't having enough kids but apparently also we're all too busy getting eaten by bears. Because clearly, if something was once a problem, it's always a problem, exactly as it was; certainly it's not possible to go so far with the "cure" as to go entirely overboard.

"Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, riding through the sward..."

As KK puts it,

No, the media tell us to consume things at an unsustainable pace. And the wilderness will overtake your ass pretty quick if you don’t take steps to conserve what you got. If we fish until no fish swims in the ocean, we’re fucked. If we cut down all the trees or burn all of the fossils, we’re also fucked. We’re so dependent on corn here that if anything were to happen to the soil’s ability to grow more corn, we’d be so very, very fucked. There is a limited amount of space available on this planet, it is wise to not salt the earth, piss in the water and torch the forest as you sweep across it just to prove you can, because eventually you’ll have to come back and try and live on what your wasted. Being interested in keeping resources around for the next generation is not restricting your dominion. My parents aren’t going to torch their house before they die so that my sisters and I can’t live in it, and I’d appreciate it if you’d show the same basic level of courtesy and estate planning towards the earth.

Then again, I'm not sure maintaining a "reality-based community" is that high up on the priority list for the Dominionists. It's sort of mundane, really, compared to the glory of being Lords and Ladies and God's Own Chosen Rulers of Everything. I mean, okay, keep the planet alive; but where's the specialness in that? Hm? Clearly, if God didn't want us to dominate the planet, He wouldn't have created the oil industry.

Anyway, you might think that in this worldview, the "ladies" kind of get short shrift, dominion-wise, but you'd be wrong:

Take dominion and subdue the corner of His world which God entrusted to you
Clean out your closets or garage; organize your books, desk, or kitchen; pull the weeds in your garden. After you have set this example, require your children to be responsible for their schoolwork, their possessions, and their appearance. We can't subdue the earth if we cannot subdue ourselves by His grace first.


You see? You may not be able to conquer virgin forests; but by God, you can conquer the mess in the garage. One step at a time, lords & ladies. One step at a time.

In passing, KK also notes with fond nostalgia a fine piece of cultural critique from World Net Daily.

Fascinating; the author, one David Kupelian, is a rather extreme rightwinger, and he ends up quoting Mark Crispin Miller, who's rather far to the left, to make (some of) his points. Or well, Crispin and Rushkoff's points are basically that power is increasingly consolidated under a smaller and smaller number of corporate megaconglomerations. Presumably being an isolationist and paranoiac of the old school, Kupelian is also agin' sinister megacorporations taking over the WORLD, PINKY! (hey, who isn't? i mean, besides the people who actually own the sinister megacorporations). However, he also reaches some conclusions that i rather think Miller at least wasn't really going for:

The fact is, what has risen "out of the pit" in today's world bears a striking resemblance to the ageless spirit of defiant paganism, a spirit now inhabiting millions of people "freed" by trauma (drugs, illicit sex, bodily mutilation, etc.) from the pain of their own conscience – which is to say, freed from God and the divine law written deep down in every person's heart. Why? Same reason as always: so they can be their own gods and make up their own rules.

...In past eras, if parents were very imperfect or even corrupt, their children still had a reasonable chance of "growing up straight," since the rest of society still more or less reflected Judeo-Christian values. The youngster could bond to a teacher, minister, mentor or organization that could provide some healthy direction and stability.

But today, because of the near-ubiquitous corruption "out there," if parents fail to properly guide and protect their children, the kids get swallowed whole by the child-molesting monster we call culture.



And that, there, in a nutshell, is the reactionary-to-fundamentalist--I mean any kind of fundamentalism--position:

1) There is much corruption and confusion in the world (all demonstratably true)

2) much more than there ever was before (that one's more debatable)

3) Clearly the solution is going back to the way things used to be. Even if how things used to be actually weren't.

also:

4) Generally speaking, people are not to be trusted. Not ourselves, and certainly not (most) other people.

5) This is because of Sinister Outside Forces corrupting and confusing; it is also
because of our own inherent weakness.

6) What we need is to get ourselves under control. Control, control, CONTROL.

7) so that we may purify ourselves of the culture's corrupting influence.

8) When we are sufficiently pure inside (obviously we can never be perfectly so, even though some of us will be farther along than others; this is a fallen world), we can begin the task of cleaning up the external filth.

9) It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

10) Did we mention the part about how this is really, really urgent, and if we don't clean up and straighten out right quick we're all DOOMED?

11) Well, it is.

12) Here is a pamphlet, that you, too, may open your eyes...