Monday, December 31, 2007

New York drops a Green Ball Tonight!

The 1,415-pound ball will be covered in more than 9,500 energy-efficient light-emitting diodes that will illuminate the ball’s over 600 crystals and set the sky a blazin’.

Rowling dabbles in the possibility of an 8th...

JK Rowling drops hints of possible eighth Harry Potter book

sometimes I think the world is getting better...then I remember that Huckabee is a candidate with people intending to vote for him

On NBC’s Meet The Press this morning, host Tim Russert asked former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee if he believed “people are born gay or choose to be gay?” “I don’t know whether people are born that way,” responded Huckabee, “but one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice.”

First of all, I don't believe in a gay gene. But that is irrelevant to the self-righteous ignorance of this bible-beating fuck head.

I am starting to sound like the Rude Pundit. Let's talk facts--no venting.

Here's a fact:
In 1997, Huckabee requested an amendment to a state Senate bill stating “that it is Arkansas public policy to prohibit sodomy to protect the traditional family structure.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/23/1997]
Protect the traditional family? Here's another fact: the traditional family is a FAILING institution. No doubt because social and unfortunately political institutions enforce and regulate rigid, arbitrary and oppressive criteria of sexuality, family, and children through cultural coercion and other cow-herding tactics.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

ew, cow milk

State is seeking cause of bad milk

Suicide Food

I added this blog to my list of links the other week, but I feel that I owe it an actual post. Suicide Food displays ads that portray animals as happy or involved in their own death and consumption. What is more, the animals in these ads happily participate and/or welcome the process. I think this speaks to one of two things I blogged that society expects of a person: mindlessly consume animals (the second, being heterosexual).

More importantly, society justifies its large-scale consumption of animals to such an extent that the process is taken for granted. This becomes so standard that we imagine animals as happily participating. We are so detached from animal exploitation, death, and cruelty, that consumers will smile and respond positively to ads portraying animals as participating in their own unhappy ending.

The collection on Suicide Food is a cultural testament to the fact that our society does not value animals, or appreciate what we take from animals. If we were truly thankful, we would not exploit/abuse animals before we slowly and painfully slaughter them. We would not pump them so full of hormones that their limbs would deform and/or break. We would not pack them so tightly into trucks that some animals would suffocate under the pressure. We would not hurt animals pre-slaughter for amusement. We would not preach on the food pyramid and in dietary guidelines that a person has to consume animals to be healthy. We would ESPECIALLY not mock the death of animals by pretending that it is something cute for an ad.

We would not treat animals, their ecosystems, and the environment as dispensable--because none of them are.

Nice move, Prince Charles

Prince Charles pledged $541.2 million dollars to Norway's efforts of halting deforestation around the world. Norway's Prime Minister, Jens Sloltenberg accepted the offer, and extended invitations to all other countries to help fight the good fight.

Deforestation in developing countries is estimated to contribute a fifth of total global greenhouse gas emissions through the release of carbon dioxide, and Norway believes the fastest and most cost effective way to help end global warming is to halt this damaging process. Furthermore, in April, Stoltenberg set a goal to make Norway totally carbon neutral by 2050 by offsetting Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions by investing in environmental projects throughout the developing world.

women, public space, and the gym

I enjoyed this post over at Bitch Ph.D. on women in public spaces, specifically focusing on the gym. I certainly notice the lack of women in the weight-lifting section, and I can personally testify to feeling anxious when in that area myself. That is to say, feeling out of place, silly, and/or unwelcome.

Now I am more interested in being able to lift my own body weight, so I no longer wander to the lifting corner--but I still experience the gym in highly gendered ways. I actually have a funny anecdote on the matter.

"Monika," I once asked. "Where do you feel like a piece of meat the most? I feel like the biggest piece of meat at the gym."

"I feel like the biggest piece of meat at temple," she responded.

You know, I laughed--but there really is nothing funny about the fact that women face discomfort while working out or worshiping.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Romney & Huckabee....gag me

My new favorite blog, Atheist Revolution, had an interesting post regarding the fundamentalism of Romney versus Huckabee--ultimately finding Huckabee's more atrocious, but from a different approach.

Romney made a horrifying religious speech earlier this month, of which this paragraph I found most alarming:

"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."

Also in the world of incompetent presidential candidates earlier in December, Huckabee refused to retract his 1992 statement that AIDs patients should be ISOLATED. Let's re-examine some of the highlights from his original rant:

"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague."

"It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."

And by the way:

"I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk."

But instead of focusing on the egregious ignorance of a presidential hopeful (because in the early 90's it was medically understood that AIDs is not transmitted through casual contact) and his related homophobic slurs...what deserves equal attention is Huckabee's use of the term plague and its biblical connotations.

As summed by Atheist Revolution, "I do not see this as accidental but rather as evidence of the degree to which his thinking is dominated by a biblical world view."


Friday, December 28, 2007

the power of facebook can affect laws?

I think that the article Power of Facebook affects laws by Internet law professor Michael Geist is over-ambitious in its claim.

Sure, he explains one incident where 25,000 people organized on Facebook to interfere with the implementation of unfair copyright reform in Canada--but that is one incident. Plus, I am not sure if that same model can translate into American adolescent political culture.

Although the professor has a point; Facebook is an "incredibly effective and efficient took that can be used to educate and galvanize grassroots advocacy, placing unprecedented power into the hands of individuals."

But just because it CAN be all that and a bag of potato chips, doesn't mean that it IS. In fact, despite the potential and undoubted success for a minority of cases, I doubt that Facebook will ever amount to anything so mind-blowing, because groups and causes are just like anything else in American culture--crap that sits on the shelf of complacent people.

Except now the shelf is a virtual profile page. Plus, the people who are politically active on Facebook to any impressive degree likely were already so without Facebook.

Until there is a massive overhaul in our political culture, Facebook will never affect change on a profound level.

Bush to Veto Pentagon Funds Over Iraq Provision

I truncated the original article

WASHINGTON — President Bush will veto a huge Defense Department bill because of concerns by the Iraqi government that Iraqi assets in American banks could be vulnerable to claims from victims of Saddam Hussein the White House said Friday in Texas.

Mr. Stanzel said the president objects to a section in the National Defense Authorization Act that would permit plaintiffs’ lawyers to freeze Iraqi funds and expose Iraq to “massive liability in lawsuits concerning the misdeeds of the Saddam Hussein regime.” At least one pending lawsuit reportedly seeks $1 billion or more.

The White House’s initial explanation on Friday was that the language in the bill would unfairly expose the democratically elected government of the new Iraq, “a friend and ally of the United States,” to lawsuits arising from “the crimes and atrocities” committed by Saddam Hussein, the despot who was overthrown in the American-led military campaign, convicted of crimes against his countrymen and hanged in late 2006.

“Despite the administration’s earlier support for the Department of Defense authorization bill, it appears that President Bush plans to veto this legislation, which is crucial to our armed forces and their families,” the Democratic leaders said in a joint statement.

Senator Carl Levin the Michigan Democrat who heads the Armed Services Committee, said it was “unfortunate that the administration failed to identify the concerns upon which this veto is based until after the bill had passed both houses on Congress and was sent to the president for signature.” The senator said he was “deeply disappointed” at Friday’s developments.

The bill is important to members of the military and their families, since it provides for a 3.5 percent pay raise for the troops and contains measures intended to improve the much-criticized health-care system for veterans. (Money for the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is provided for in separate legislation.)

bad news from Planned Parenthood

Today's Planned Parenthood newsletter reports some very repulsive news from Colorado, where a new clinic is being built.

Protesters are
are now marching and carrying signs outside the homes of the construction and security workers who are building the new clinic — now, as in during the holidays.

Talk about an invasion of privacy.

Anyway, Planned Parenthood--like so many other incredible organizations--needs funds to support the cause. You can donate here. A donor is matching all contributions made before December 31st.

Albuquerque Has Renewal of Attacks on Abortion

A rash of attacks on abortion and family planning clinics has struck Albuquerque this month, the first such violence there in nearly a decade.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

genetic mapping--a wee bit reminiscent of eugenics, no?

Understanding the genetic components of diseases is certainly the primary step in disease treatment and prevention. At the same time, this mind-frame that "everything is in the genes" is actually a bit alarming.

Sounds a lot like the eugenics movement of the 20's/30's that medicalized the prostitute, the drunkard, the criminal, et cetera--and deemed them all feeble-minded. Let's not forget the 1927 Supreme Court ruling, Buck v. Bell, that allowed for the compulsory sterilization of such persons.

I have heard all of banter that alcoholism is genetic, eating disorders are genetic, sexuality is genetic, and the like. But when you really think about it, genetic composition dramatically predates alcohol, and I have a hard time imagining our early ancestors taking out emotions on food; they were busy trying to fight off animals and stay alive.

I suppose tendencies toward addiction can conceivably be genetic, but as for particular substances--I should think not. It would make sense that a person coming from a line of drug-abusers would be raised within a certain environment that would frame a developing mind for the habit--as opposed to an ominous genetic composition.

As for sexuality--positing sexuality as a genetic product makes absolutely zero sense, because it fails to explain the variability of sexuality throughout cultures and across time, and contemporaneously.

This tendency to geneticize and medicalize personalities and behaviors is treading on thin ice in my book. The idea of genetically crafting some super-immune ideal human is eerily similar to racial purification. Engineering babies gives me the heeby jeebies. While I agree that genetics are crucial in shaping a person, I do not believe that genetics determine a person.

I need to dig up an anthropology reading by Jonathan Marks calling for the abolishment of racial categories...but in the end, he proclaims that even without biological differences....we would still have differences based on culture, religion, language, education, family, et cetera.

Also, I think that this idea that everything is in the genes is implying a sort of essential self, that I absolutely do not believe in (I am NOT proclaiming the opposite, free will). The idea of a pre-set, genetically determined self undermines the dramatic changes a person can undergo through aging, maturation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and internal work.

As soon as crucial elements of a person become genetic, people become susceptible to hierarchies of value. And that my friends, is pseudo science.

how I became an atheist

After spending some time perusing atheist blogs, I have noticed quite a few posts explaining how the blogger became an atheist. I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon.

I grew up in a bi-religious household, and the matter of religion was quite contentious in my family--to the point of hostility and division. At the age of twelve, I decided that I was Jewish, and subsequently prepared for my bat mitzvah. Prayer was very important to me. At first I prayed out of guilt, but then as a form of self-reflection and expression.

I never felt the need to attend temple--I was of the "the kingdom of god is within you" camp. My religiosity was internal, and channeled a few times a year through the big Jewish holidays. At the same time, being "good" was always at the forefront of my mind--to the point of anxiety.

As I grew older, I began to contemplate the subjective nature of religion: how I am of one because I was born in a particular place under particular circumstances, and had I been born elsewhere, I would have turned out completely differently. I humored myself with the fact that, in warfare, both sides proclaim the backing of God. And both sides will die believing such. How could a preaching Christian expect one to convert, if that same Christian would never consider conversion? And this is how institutionalized religion fell out of favor with me. And this is how self-righteousness became silly to me.

Somewhere in the year 2005, perhaps as my world view made a 180 in discovering that I need not conform to social constructions and arbitrary delineations of femininity, I suddenly came to a new conclusion:

The only reason I ever had for believing in god was the fact that I had been constantly told that I must. That was it. What a feeble, irrational reason. So I just stopped. And as of that moment, the incessant weight of behaving properly in the eye's of god, the constant worry and self-scrutiny (which was, by the way, heavily co-mingled in feminine constructions of purity), the internal debates of how I ought to behave--suddenly stopped as well.

What was funny to me was how my prayer continued despite my unflinching atheist sentiments. I knew that I was not attempting to communicate with god, but that the coerced and guilt-ridden obligation of prayer had become an avenue of self-introspection and reflection. I decided that, although this was occurring in the form of prayer, this was actually my round-about way of communicating with myself. As time progressed, this faded.

Now I can honestly and directly engage my own critical thinking and rational expression, and do not need to mediate this through a fallacious third party. But I feel terribly sorry for those who do. Being intellectually and ethically self-reliant is both empowering and rewarding.

Realizing my own atheism has been as liberating as understanding that my genitals do not obligate me to a specific lifestyle, bundle of goals, or set of behaviors. Suddenly, anything and everything is available for my exploration and mental digestion. And that, my friends, is praiseworthy.

great quote

"Truth is not a democratic construct, so the fact that the majority of Americans believe in something like angels has no bearing on whether angels actually exist."--Atheist Revolution

buying your way out of a relationship: some dads just miss the point

I generally like to avoid venting about my personal life--but my story is really anecdotal of a larger point, and so I will share.

When my dad asked me to watch some youtube videos with him, my first inclination was to stay yes--but instead, I decided to stand up for myself. I reminded him that whenever I ask him to do something with me, he says no. But whenever he asks me, I generally say yes. I made the point that a relationship works both ways, and both people do things to spend time with one another.

My dad said, "Fine, don't watch the videos."

Okay, I would love to watch videos with my dad--that is not the point. The point is that spending time with my dad happens on three occasions: me doing something with him that he asks me to, me talking to him about what he wants to talk about, and eating with him.

No wonder he doesn't know me.

Well, he absolutely could not connect the dots and grasp what I was telling him, and so I said, "What have you done with me recently that I have asked you to?" He gave me that "are you kidding me look?" And so I clarified, "Besides paying for me."

And I hit the nail on the head. Just because he foots my bills all the time, in his eyes, he has won father-of-the-year and bought himself out of actually doing something with me.

I am deeply saddened that my father's idea of successful parenting is creating a proactive person, instead of caring to understand and get to know that proactive person.

I am thankful for my private school tuition, my nice car, my ability to live beyond comfortably, my easy access to whatever I need, the luxuries of personal maintanence and leisure, my ability to persue activism because I don't have to work, my ability to do really well in school because I don't have to work, my ability to take an unpaid internship, et cetera--I genuinely appreciate all of these things. But that doesn't take away from the relatability I wish I could have with my dad.

I don't know what it is like to actually have a meaningful relationship with my father, so I cannot say what I would give up to have one. And there is nothing I could even give up to buy back my relationship with him, so the argument is moot.

In the end, I am sad for two reasons. First, if my dad does not know me, I feel his love for me is unfounded and based on very external, shallow, and/or (consciously or unconsciously) obligatory reasons. Maybe this is why I try so hard to keep topping myself, and to attempt to win some legitimate love. Secondly, I am sad because my dad is getting older, and I am getting older. I am leaving for the semester, and soon enough I will be away in law school, and soon enough I would like to move out of Los Angeles. It's not like I have all the time in the world to try to catch up with him.

And the funny thing is, he thinks he knows me so well.

ahhhhhh don't even get me started on this poor girl

I am deeply saddened to see some poor 13-year-old girl featured in the Health section of BBC, proclaiming her weight-loss goal to look good in a bikini. And here we are, affirming her fixation with her outward appearance with a year-long research program and news coverage.

She proclaims, "This month I lost 6cm off my waist."

I am just wondering--if the purpose of the the program Watch It! is to teach kids from ages 8-15 the health- and internal-importance of physical activity, nutrition and emotional well being--why the fuck are we humoring conversations about this young girl in a bikini and looking good in jeans? Why is this even part of the discussion?

I wonder--does society pretend to care about health so it can regulate female bodie?...because there is a fucking huge difference. Not to mention, even healthy bodies are not all naturally "thin" by whatever skewed scale we have.

If we are trying to teach kids health and confidence, why are we reiterating that their worth boils down to how they look in clothes? Is this poor girl really doing anything positive for in internal-self by dwelling on how much weight her gym teacher thinks she lost? Or what shirt she will fit into next Christmas--which is, by the way, all the article talks about.

FUCKING HILARIOUS that the article fails to mention that if one is in touch with oneself, emotionally healthy, eating well-balanced meals, receiving appropriate nutrients, and fulfilling cardiovascular needs--THEN ONE NEVER HAS THE NEED TO BE ON A DIET. If you are in tune with yourself, understand your body's needs, do not eat emotionally, understand when you are full, and the like--your body will remain at its natural set point.

But we don't talk about these things. We only fuel obsession. We only fuel self-regulation and restriction. We only fuel that internal value is predicated upon external value. We never teach self-fulfillment.

So you "flabby" little thing, you--we don't like you when you are healthy or when you feel good about yourself. We only like you when you are so obsessed with how you look that you will NEVER stop obsessing, and you will ALWAYS be on a diet, and you will ALWAYS feel bad when you eat a morsel, and you will ALWAYS have to compulsively exercise, and you are SO OBSESSED with your appearance that you weigh yourself all the time, and you will ALWAYS be neurotic about what you eat, and you will NEVER sit and eat with your friends comfortably, because you will ALWAYS be worried about how much and what you are eating, and you will ALWAYS LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR FROM EVERY ANGLE, every day, and you will double and triple check in different mirrors and in different lighting--because we ONLY like you when you lose weight. And universe forbid you stop, because we won't like you, and you won't have a phony reason to mask your perpetual insecurity as confidence.

Fucking disgusting.

I don't see what is so different about the food pyramid for older adults...

It would make sense to assert that older people (and younger people) have different dietary needs than a young or middle-aged adult. I'm with you on that.

But the differences in the food pyramid for older adults sounds exactly like what everyone needs:

Whole, enriched and fortified grains and cereals such as brown rice and 100
percent whole wheat bread.Bright-colored vegetables such as carrots and
broccoli. Deep-colored fruit such as berries and melon.Low- and non-fat dairy
products such as yogurt and low-lactose milk.Dry beans and nuts, fish, poultry,
lean meat and eggs.Liquid vegetable oils and soft spreads low in saturated and
trans fat.Fluid intake. what the fuck is different? By the way, let me remind everyone that it is meat/dairy industry propaganda to assert that one needs meat and dairy to be healthy. CRAP. In fact, veganism reduces the risks for a variety of diseases that I am too lazy to properly cite right now.

By now, hopefully we have all learned not to blindly buy into whatever governmental agencies tell us...

climate change is raising the tab for natural the billions

Total economic losses from natural catastrophes in 2007 rose to $75 billion from $50 billion the year before as extreme weather conditions driven by climate change wreaked havoc across the world

This article lends credence to my point: it doesn't fucking matter who you blame for climate change--humans or the natural process of things (although, let's get real, we need to hold ourselves accountable)--the fact remains that the global climate is changing, and that we, as inhabitants of the globe, are facing bleak consequences. And I'm referring to more than the cost in dollars.

Let's stop arguing over the "why" and figure out the "so what"--as in, "so what do we do now?"

forgive my laughter...but the thought of brawling priests makes me chuckle

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests attacked each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning on Thursday.

Bhutto and veiled women

While Bhutto's assassination may wreak even more havoc in Pakistan, it is also sad to witness the death of a strong female leader who gave voice and political viability to veiled women. As a former prime minister and opposition leader, Bhutto empowered the veil and sent a clear message to Westerners and, more importantly, other women in similar garb--silence and covering are not one in the same.

a shit-ton of atheist resources...

I have been perusing these and am too lazy to go through the whole shebang. I expect some things are great, and some are sub-par...that is the nature of random internet sites. The few I have clicked on have been helpful.

But if you are of a minority group which understands that one does not have to give into religious coercion (familial, cultural, social, public, political, governmental...) then perhaps you'd like to give this a gander. Or perhaps you are a thinking theist and want to get down with some atheist resources.

the "two prongs" of atheism

The two prongs of atheism: Faith is Irrational, and Religion is Harmful

I like this explanation of atheism

a little reading on atheism...

Actually, here is more or less the whole thing. I tried to cut out banter...but then I stopped:

Atheism does not have a centralized organization, so there’s no creed or dogma that might state what atheism is for all people at all times. If someone calls themselves an atheist, you really don’t know from that what they do or don’t generally believe. All you know for sure is that they aren’t theists.

The word atheist is derived from the Greek, a-none, no or not and theos-god or gods, so in the strictly grammatical sense atheist means without god. That isn’t especially enlightening, so let’s examine the common perceptions of the term.

In general, an atheist is one who does not identify themselves with any theological concept. In theology, all you know from someone calling themselves an atheist is that they don’t accept theism. You don’t know why, to what degree, or what they do believe.

There have been attempts made to define more precisely the varying degrees of atheism. You may see terms like hard atheist, fundamental atheist or militant atheist. These terms refer to those who are engaged in open and sometimes hostile opposition to all religions. They tend to be aggressive and outspoken. They will maintain with apparent certainty that gods don’t exist. While they may be the most visible (and audible) atheists, they are not the majority, anymore than the average Christian is like Elmer Gantry.

The rest of us who espouse atheism but aren’t militant and don’t declare absolutely that gods don’t exist are often referred to as soft atheist or agnostic atheists. This may seem to infer that we aren’t as convinced of our atheism as hard atheists. That’s not necessarily true. If we truly reject the religious notion that some truths are absolutely true for all people at all times, we can hardly turn around and make absolute statements about the non-existence of gods.

What we can and do say is that for the gods thus far proposed by humans throughout the history of mankind, no credible evidence has ever been presented that can be examined and qualified outside the realm of faith. All religions require the acceptance of their teachings based on faith and hope. As skeptics, we ask for something more, some convincing evidence like that provided to explain how gravity works or why there’s lightening. The fantastic stories about the lives and activities of all the various gods men have believed in over the years are simply unconvincing. Every religion maintains that their god is the only true god without, as far as we can tell, any sensible reason to believe that. At the same time, we cannot in all honesty say that someday we may not encounter a being or beings that to us appear as gods. So to say with certainty that gods can’t exist is not something we think is supportable.

Just because we aren’t as militant as hard atheists doesn’t mean we aren’t aware of and don’t oppose the harm done to mankind by religion. Religious belief discourages questioning, doubting and skepticism. Some of the greatest harm done to believers by their leaders has been made possible by their conditioning not to question authority, not to think for themselves. Atheism encourages thinking without bias and undue influence and questioning those who try to tell you how to think, even atheists. I wouldn’t think of asking you to accept everything I say without question. I am not offering absolute truths.

Atheism doesn’t imply an anger toward the gods or their followers. No doubt there are those who have adopted an atheistic attitude based on their disappointment with religion on an emotional level. Perhaps they perceive an abandonment by god. They are still theists, as they accept the existence of gods, they just aren’t happy about it. To those of us who don’t give any credence to the notion that gods exist it makes no sense to hate something you don’t accept as real. It would be like hating the Joker because of all the grief he’s caused Batman.

If gods exist, either they or their followers ought to be able to provide us with evidence of that. We should not be required to take them at their word. If you were to buy a car from me without ever having seen it, based solely on my word that it exists and is worth what I say it’s worth, I might call you gullible. Why should the standard be lowered for something as important as a god?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

7 medical myths that even doctors believe

According to the New York Times, here they are:

  • People should drink at least eight glasses of water a day
  • We use only 10% of our brains
  • Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death
  • Shaving hair causes it to grow back faster, darker, or coarser
  • Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight
  • Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy
  • Mobile phones create considerable electromagnetic interference in hospitals


Natalie Portman is working with Te Casan on a vegan shoe line, available for pre-order on January 15th.

Natalie is a vegetarian, not a vegan, but she is committed to not wearing animals. It's nice to have a gorgeous face with a gorgeous brain in Hollywood.

Senator Named PETA's Person of the Year

Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia has been named PETA’s “Person of the Year.” Byrd has been recognized with the award for his passionate defense of animals throughout six decades of public service.

the Pope puts environmental degradation on blast

Pope Benedict XVI used his Christmas homily to speak out against the destruction of our environment and human selfishness during the midnight mass at St Peter’s Basilica. During the homily, he stated, “Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others - for his neighbour, for the poor, for God.” Continuing, he added, “What would he (God) say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation?

I guess this is nice for all those scary-ass religious people who say that "man is not strong enough to destroy the world."

By the way, let's note the sexism and exclusion of women in contemporary religious discourse. Of course, I could qualify "religious discourse" to a specific version of a specific religion...but I think the problem is far too pervasive for me to dignify the topic with my academic objectivity or politically correct diction.

But what am I thinking? Women are so pure and saintly that they could never do anything proactive besides pop children--which is questionable--and certainly nothing as horrific as destroying the world. For Pete's sake, we never even leave the house!

Someone please tell me: what is the point of sex-differentiated language, if not to embed (consciously or unconsciously) specific cultural agendas or implicit social ideologies?

is cremation toxic?

This is an interesting article on the alleged hazards of cremation--that I take particular interest in because I am a staunch advocate of cremation as opposed to burial.

The reason is quite simple: why are we wasting space and resources on dead corpses? Yes, yes...vomit religious rhetoric all over me--it is still dead space (ouch, no pun intended). By the way, your grave will only be visited by one--two--generations more, tops. Then, you will be a lonely old decaying carcass, not even good for letting people cry on you. By then, you won't even be wasting space for a bad reason--you'll be doing it for no reason.

Back to the controversy of cremation. Allegedly, the mercury in amalgam dental fillings--an alloy of mercury with another metal such as silver, copper or tin--releases into the atmosphere upon cremation.

When a body is burned, mercury from such fillings vaporizes. Once released into the atmosphere, mercury returns to Earth in rain or snow, ending up in lakes and other bodies of water where it can lead to elevated levels of mercury in fish. In humans, mercury damages the nervous system and can harm childhood development. Power plants, especially those that burn coal, are by far the largest source of preventable mercury releases; Environmental Protection Agency regulations have been adopted to reduce those emissions.

But the EPA does not regulate crematories because they are responsible for less than 1% of mercury emissions per annum.

There are two solutions to the problem: Install a filter on the crematory's smokestack or extract teeth of the deceased before cremation.

By the way, the cremation industry claims there is no danger. Personally, I am sure burning mercury into the atmosphere is problematic, but I don't give a shit if you yank my teeth out or filter my ashes on the way out the chimney--I will be fucking dead and my last departing wish is to have the least detrimental impact possible.

Even without the preventative measures, I wonder what is worse environmentally: all the wasted resources of graveyard maintenance, or the emissions of cavities in burning corpses?

whoa...more dead tigers in the news...dead tigers international!

BEIJING (AP) — China has closed an understaffed zoo where a rare Siberian tiger was found beheaded and skinned last week and where seven tigers died in the last four years, state media reported Wednesday.

Fucking zoos. For more anti-zoo banter, see the post on dead American tiger below.

escaped tiger mauls person to death

Very tragic that someone was killed by a tiger that had escaped from the San Fransisco zoo...

But how about don't put the tiger in the zoo in the first place? It's not like the tiger realized it was going "off-limits"--because in it's natural environment, there are no artificial enclosures that would render arbitrary grounds impermeable...

But then again, maybe the tiger did realize that it was escaping because it did not want to be locked up in a fucking fake habitat in the first place. I'm not familiar with the S.F. zoo to know how crappy or relatively un-crappy it is...but I think the following quote I pulled from the newspaper is telling:

"[The tiger] seemed well adjusted and was not pacing," he said.

Yes, because zoo life is unnatural and traumatic and not all animals can transition to proper "adjustment."

But clearly, even an animal that seemingly has adjusted is still not willing to stay put like a doll and smile for gawking passers-by. Yes, I am aware that animals do not smile...but what I mean to say is remain complacent and jovial in their own oppression.

Sort of like women.

Isn't it nice that we shoot animals that do not give into their own oppression? Sounds a lot like the social and physical punishment we inflict on women who transgress social barriers of culturally sanctioned, heteronormative femininity.

Of course, we do the same thing with men that transgress social barriers of culturally sanctioned, heteronormative masculinity.

Well, the tiger is not the only one who must be wary of borders...

Monday, December 24, 2007

the tough part of veganism

I get this question a lot: has it been hard to maintain a vegan dietary lifestyle?

And the answer is no. It really isn't hard. In fact, it gives me great joy, and I have discovered new yummy foods, places, and a happy, friendly, vegan subculture.

Don't get me wrong--my wandering eye does happen upon a chocolate chip cookie or a warm brownie...but then I just think to myself, "I could eat that tortured animal of a morsel, or I could go to (insert place here) or bake (insert yummy here) and have something just as scrumptious, if not more. And healthier, too."

In fact, I am quite convinced that the vegan cupcakes at Real Food Daily--specifically with vanilla frosting--top Sprinkles any day--ANY DAY.

What is hard for me is the dilemma that my feelings about the origins of food should extend to my feelings about the origins of my things--specifically shoes and bags. That new Marc Jacobs leather wallet and matching handbag I had my eye on? Well, I put the idea to rest, because a) that is a tortured animal, and b) I don't even need it--I want it.

Then it happened to be that I needed work shoes and winter boots. I got very excited to discover vegan clothing online--but honestly, I have yet to find something tasteful and nice-looking (No offense. My fashion is particular--especially with shoes). I feel like I need to be hired as a vegan fashion consultant. This also has inspired me to think about getting involved in vegan clothing/accessory production. However, I'm hoping that I just haven't found the right places yet.

But I still needed work shoes. And so I went out with my mom and low and behold, my feet are cow-clad.

I feel hypocritical and shallow (eww--not wearing ugly, tacky shoes), but I also feel like I am a growing vegan, and a 100% switch does not happen over night. I am blogging honestly about it because, well hey, this is The Colonic, and we believe in honest discussion, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

In sum, eating vegan--ACCESSIBLE, EASY AND FUN...dressing vegan--INCONVENIENT, NOT ACCESSIBLE, VERY DIFFICULT. At least for me and in relation to my views of fashion and previous wardrobe lifestyle.

If any readers have vegan-friendly suggestions for shoes and handbags, please share. Similar experiences are welcome.

Just an end note, I realize that society assumes/expects 2 things of everyone: that one is straight, and that one consumes animal products. It's plastered everywhere. And it really makes me wonder these days, with all of these vegan thoughts on my mind, "why is it assumed that my shoes should be leather?" Yes, it is durable--but so are many other things. Nearly all restaurants expect animal consumption--and vegetarian options may exist, but vegan are far fewer in number. Strange. Let's all be heterosexual and eat beef with cheese, and shell out the cash from out leather wallets!

I mean...if free will were to exist (I am humoring you, I don't necessarily believe in free will), I believe that it has the precondition of options.

updating The Colonic

I am very proud to announce that I just added a counter to The Colonic. Sure, I have no record of the hits that I have already accumulated, but I am still really excited to gauge my traffic! I really like the site I used, so check it out if you need a counter on your blog. You can change the size, colors, placement, visibility, et cetera. It's fun.

christmas tree, oh christmas tree

Because I am, like many Americans, from a diverse family of different religious practices, I get jiggy with Christmas like the other 225,000,000 Christians in the United States (although from a comment on my Christmas legislation post, apparently I am thin-skinned and can't handle the holiday...but that's neither here nor there).

I thought I would take this opportunity to say just how proud I am of my family on Christmas, because we do not selfishly chop down a gorgeous, living, much-needed tree for our own evanescent merriment--we use a gorgeous, tall-as-the-ceiling, life-like synthetic tree.

And guess what? I never even realized the damn thing was fake until someone told me. And guess what? It comes apart and can be stored easily. And guess what? We don't participate in the large-scale massacre of trees that takes place this time of year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Transgender Basics

Great video on transgender basics.

hahaha--too funny

I got this from an old friend, Oh Kermie. It's a good laugh. - Watch more free videos

luxury condominiums--the new american dream

The American dream of owning a house, or should I say McMansion, is in desperate need for an upgrade.

In many cases, the point is simply, "Look at me. I'm rich. I'm a celebrity. I can have and do have whatever luxury I want."

I would like to suggest, however, that if you truly have a fuck-ton of money, what could be more envy-provoking than erasing your carbon footprint? What could be hotter than powering your home with photovoltaic panels? What is sexier than reducing waste and optimizing space?

What would make a better edition on Cribs than a high-rise, high-end condominium--which by the way, can still cost up in the millions--with higher percentages of population density and shared spaces--also known as efficiency.

With impeccable grounds, security, pools and spas, gyms, conference rooms, and multi-media rooms, one would have a variety of luxurious amenities at hand, while still maintaining a reasonable and healthy lifestyle for oneself, others, and the planet. This is an ideal that is livable. This is an ideal that works in the interest of humanity. In light of Global Warming, we cannot all have a me-me-me lifestyle. It's more like we-we-we.

After all, despite whatever pollution, New York is one of the most environmentally efficient cities because of the its population density, proximity of necessities within the city, and public transportation.

I know that homes are allegedly ideal for children--but think of of the environmental and social potential if communities were fostered in tall buildings, instead of long streets. If these amenities are so important, surely a playground and tennis court shared among residents of a building could foster bonds and friendships just like the suburbs.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I retract my retraction of the Sexual Manifesto

I retracted my Sexual Manifesto not too long ago, conceding that abolishing the faulty classifications of sexualities (LGB) would, in our society, ultimately put people back in the closet and impede the LGBT movement.

But I am once again deliberating the matter because the categories of LGB posit essential men and women themselves--a "reality" which I believe is based on social constructions, not biological fact.

The category bisexuality in particular posits two sexes, presumably in opposition to one another. This, we all know (or should know), is crap.

Then again, if people are sexually attracted to constructions of specific types of people, I suppose it is fitting to have classifications that describe such. But in so far as these classifications perpetuate conflations between sex and gender, essentialist male and female typologies, and rigid slots of sexual orientation--will any greater understanding be achieving?

I guess the idea of the butch-femme lesbian couple teases apart sex and gender. Mayve the transvestite does as well.

Perhaps these are justices that only the pansexual and sapiosexual can achieve.

But that just brings me back to the point of my manifesto--can't we all just be sexual? What is with object-based differentiation and classification?

If we say nothing, that only aids compulsory heterosexuality and social institutions predicated on such.

Friday, December 21, 2007

being pretty--blessing or curse?

Is being pretty the greatest blessing or the biggest curse?

Perhaps I should rephrase--being perceived as pretty in accordance with dominant cultural norms and ideologies.

The topic is fairly taboo, but the truth is, at some point, a pretty person comes to correlate affection with appearance. Either consciously or subconsciously, one feels immense pressure to keep being pretty--in fact, somehow get prettier--to maintain that love and affection (which, by the way, comes from family and friends, too--not just heterosexual males and other outsiders if we're talking women).

What does this do? Often women (I will qualify this discussion) do not know how to accept affection for who they are, but only for what they look like...or they cannot separate the two...or they wonder what people see: their outside or their inside. Perhaps the viewer cannot distinguish, either.

It seems paradoxical, but being pretty drives insecurity--because once you are used to it, you can't imagine life not being pretty. You would let every one down. You would let yourself down. You would not be loved in the same ways. You would have to figure out how much people loved you for who you are. What if you became un-pretty? What if there were others are far prettier? You have to keep it up.

Then of course, when you are constantly told you are pretty, you begin to look at yourself in ways that are narcissistic, unhealthy--and ultimately tragic. Although you admire yourself, take pride in your looks, you also begin to regulate yourself and examine every detail for perfection. You can't stop being pretty, remember? If you receive attention for your looks, well then you have to look the best, remember? Suddenly you become obsessed with yourself in ways that are both pompous and cruel; policing your own body in every way is self-destructive.

By this time, all the attention you receive for what you look like completely undermines anything else you do, in a way that severely confuses the pretty person. You can never escape it. Sometimes, you can even try and make yourself ugly, or to just stop being pretty--and it won't work. You can even wish that you were ugly so that you would know people actually love you and see you.

But then again, you recognize that if you were ugly, you would very likely live your life constantly wanting to be pretty and access all of the social privilege that comes along with it. Or maybe you would feel invisible. Or maybe you would feel like you are never truly loved. Or maybe you would have never conflated physical attention with self-worth, and so you would have come to know yourself in much more fulfilling ways.

There really is no answer, but to somehow transcend appearance all together--which, no matter what you look like, can be difficult. If possible, it does force one to focus and search for internal and more meaningful outlets and interests.

I hope my readers can consider this post when, in line with cultural norms, they might feel the inclination to call a little girl "pretty." Why not clever, or witty, or funny, or interesting, or energetic--something internal? Why would a person ever want to deliver a message of external emphasis to a developing mind? Conflating ideas of worth, appearance, and love in small children is just as destructive as conflating ideas of worth, sin, and god.

I am now opposed to wearing fur--but what do I do with the fur I had from before?

I struggled with this question. I don't want to wear it; the animal is dead--the fur should not be wasted; even if I give it away, it would still promote wearing fur...jgifojtlrejgkrljkghfdjk

Well, rest assured, PETA has a great answer.

According to PETA, and I absolutely agree, the ONLY people who should be wearing fur are the homeless, because they NEED to stay warm.

To donate your unwanted fur garment to PETA for future giveaways to needy people who can’t afford to protect themselves from the elements, simply mail them to:

Attn.: Major Gifts
501 Front St.
Norfolk, VA 23510

Sunday, December 16, 2007

this is what i'm saying about tap water

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two reservoirs that supply drinking water to parts of the city have been shut down and will be drained after a rare sunlight and chlorine reaction tainted the water with a cancer-causing chemical, utility officials said Friday.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plans to drain 600 million gallons from the reservoirs, the Elysian and the Silver Lake, early next year, said a water department spokesman, Joseph Ramallo. The reservoirs will be out of use for three to four months amid drought conditions.

Yes...bromate has been found in a supply of our drinking water. Bottled water, any one?

My advice: if it tastes bad, DON'T DRINK IT

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What is wrong with Congress? CHRISTMAS LEGISLATION?

H. Res.847

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

December 11, 2007.

Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans and many other cultures and nationalities, is celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States and the world;

Whereas there are approximately 225,000,000 Christians in the United States, making Christianity the religion of over three-fourths of the American population;

Whereas there are approximately 2,000,000,000 Christians throughout the world, making Christianity the largest religion in the world and the religion of about one-third of the world population;

Whereas Christians and Christianity have contributed greatly to the development of western civilization;

Whereas the United States, being founded as a constitutional republic in the traditions of western civilization, finds much in its history that points observers back to its Judeo-Christian roots;

Whereas on December 25 of each calendar year, American Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ;

Whereas for Christians, Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of God's redemption, mercy, and Grace; and

Whereas many Christians and non-Christians throughout the United States and the rest of the world, celebrate Christmas as a time to serve others: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
      (1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world;
      (2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide;
      (3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith;
      (4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;
      (5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and
      (6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.

What the fuck does this have to do with anything--NOTHING in a government that separates church and state--which in and of itself is Christian-centered phrasing (church).

See who voted for this crap.

Extinction threat to wild salmon

Wild salmon on Canada's west coast are being driven to extinction by parasites from nearby fish farms, a study claims.

Wild pink salmon around the Broughton Archipelago are declining rapidly and will die out within 10 years if no action is taken, say researchers.

They say the data, published in Science, raises serious concerns about the global expansion of aquaculture.

Scientists say commercial open-net salmon farms are a "haven" for sea lice - naturally occurring parasites that attach to the skin and muscle of salmon.

"Salmon farming breaks a natural law," explained study co-author Alexandra Morton, director of the Salmon Coast Field Station, located in the Broughton Archipelago.

"The most obvious thing to do is to move the farm out of the way of the wild fish," Dr Krkosek told BBC News.

"Don't put them on the migration route, and don't put them near the spawning rivers. Another option is to move to closed containment technology where the net pen is replaced with a physical barrier that prevents the exchange of parasites - that would solve the problem too."

By the way, animals like bears rely on the pink salmon for the extinction of salmon because a huge issue when considering it is one part of an inter-connected ecosystem.

You know, I have been deciding about whether or not to continue eating fish in my new vegan lifestyle (vegans by definition don't eat I would be somewhere between a vegan and a pescatarian)

I feel like I could and would kill a fish to eat it, and that fish are not animals and do not have the same sensory perceptions as, say, a pig. But fisheries are generally sooo unsustainable, that for environmental reasons, I am compelled to stop eating fish.

I don't have the source, but approximately 75% of fisheries over-fish. Let's not forget bottom trawling, which scraps the ocean floor, removing EVERYTHING--including coral that is 100s of years old--for some fucking fish. It's like cutting down the forest to catch rabbits.

On top of that, we now learn the way that fish farms severely disrupt and endanger the surrounding environment.


Vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, and legumes, my friends...

Mass deaths of rare croc in India

At least 21 endangered crocodile-like gharials have been found dead over the past three days in a river in northern India, wildlife officials say.

Tests are now being carried out on the water for the presence of any liver-damaging toxins.

Some experts believe the gharials are unable to cope with the change in their water habitat when they leave the zoo.

Other factors such as fishing and pollution of the river by industrial effluents are thought to have contributed to the decline in the number of the reptiles.

The obvious conclusions would be DON'T POISON THE WATER, AND DON'T PUT ANIMALS IN ZOOS.

Let's just talk about zoos quickly, because I would hope that I do not need to explain why poisoning water is a no no. What are zoos? The displacement and imprisonment of animals, which ultimately tarnishes the animals ability to live naturally in its own habitat--and for those animals who are never released back into the wild, they generally live a heavily restricted and sub-par life, which is many times abusive.

Why do we have zoos? Because the general collective is so self-serving that it would rather have nature captured, compartmentalized, and locked up, just so families can walk by, remark on an animal, and leave.

That is so selfish: lock something up, ruin its natural existence, and disrupt an ecosystem so I can look at it on an occasional whim.

If you want to see a fucking animal, google it.

It goes without saying that human intervention to stop a species from going extinct is wonderful and completely different. In that instance, the purpose is to save, not lock-and-gawk.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Paris gets naked for clean water--that's hot

20% of sales of Paris' new champagne will go to organizations helping people develop clean sources of drinking water.

And, she gets naked and smears herself in gold to advertise.

whoa--just as I was planning to write on my views regarding the death penalty...

New Jersey will become the first state in the modern era of capital punishment to repeal the death penalty.
Nice move, New Jersey. While I am of the opinion that some people just need to be executed for stability and/or progress, I do not believe that the government should have the right to decide who lives and who dies (with inevitable warfare in the name of defense a separate matter). I guess you can say that my belief that some people are just too counter-productive to live is more theoretical and/or philosophical, because when it comes down to reality and implementation, I do not trust the federal or state government to regulate execution, nor do I wish to give either that power.

(Oy vey...I feel like some anti-choicer is going to parallel this to abortion, although the two are apples and oranges. I will address this in another post when I have some more time)

Plus, execution is not even economically feasible, given the appeals process...

speaking of enacting standards of's a watered-down Energy Bill

On Thursday evening, the Senate, by a vote of 86-8, passed an energy bill that will raise fuel-economy standards by 40% and dramatically boost production of ethanol and other biofuels. But it is merely a shadow of the bill Democrats wanted just last week, which would have required utilities to get 15% of their electricity from renewable power. They also had proposed a nearly $22 billion tax package that would have allowed Congress to extend existing production and investment incentives for wind and solar power, raising money from Big Oil to help offset the spending.

Earlier in the day, the Senate voted not to move debate on the bill forward. But after an afternoon of deal making, Democrats were able to win support for the measure by dropping the tax package, which would have raised taxes on BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell. The renewable electricity mandate was omitted after the Senate blocked the bill on a procedural vote last week.

Under the new legislation, the fleetwide standard will be raised to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, up from 25 mpg today.

The bill also includes a provision to increase biofuel production to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. Of this amount, 21 billion gallons must come from biofuels other than corn-based ethanol. Last year, total ethanol production in the United States was about 5 billion gallons, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, an industry group. source

Bali talks extended to Saturday

Officials at the United Nations climate conference in Bali, Indonesia extended closed-door talks into Saturday, as they neared resolution in a dispute over targets for greenhouse-gas emissions cuts.

Of course, the United States (or should I say the administration representing the United States) does not think that the goal of reducing emissions by between 25 percent and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 should be binding--because that would mean that effective efficiency standards need to be enacted.

trjilhngldngfkdngfsd. what idiots.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Red, Processed Meat to Certain Cancers

"People who eat a lot of red and processed meats have a higher risk of developing several types of cancer, including lung cancer and colorectal cancer, according to a new study from the National Cancer Institute.

People who ate the most red were 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with bowel, liver, lung and esophageal cancer during the eight-year study, compared to those who consumed small amounts of this type of meat.

The researchers also found that people who ate the most processed meats, including bacon, ham and lunch meat, had a 20 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer and a 16 percent higher risk of lung cancer."

Okay more fruits, vegetables, and legumes

face transplant?

"A French woman who two years ago became the first person to receive a face transplant has recovered with remarkably good aesthetic results and has gradually regained normal skin sensation and control of her facial muscles, doctors reported yesterday in the first detailed account of her progress.

Isabelle Dinoire, who at age 38 lost her lips, cheeks, chin and most of her nose when she was mauled by her dog, now blends into crowds and attends parties comfortably with the face she got from a 46-year-old brain-dead donor. Surgeons attached the face like a mask in a landmark 15-hour surgery."

woman sentenced in baby swinging

Not like a woman swinging her four-week-old baby at her boyfriend, ultimately fracturing the infant's skull is good news--it is quite disturbing--but I do read this and think to myself, "yep, all that maternal instinct crap is bull shit."

Not that I am solely using this isolated example to make my greater point...but I do come across the same conclusion in one way or another virtually every day..."yep, all that maternal instinct crap is bull shit."

It's called: we-brainwash-daughters-to-make-them-think-they-feel-a
-when-really-we-are-forcing-miserable -families-undermining-female-autonomy-and-facilitating-chronic
-overpopulation-and-consumption syndrome.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Bald Woman in Mass Culture

Hair is ideologically loaded with gendered relations of power. The socio-political implications of the female shaved head are complex and nuanced, with no single reading available at any given moment. The presence of hair on women can indicate many characteristics, including age, economic standing, intellect, marital status or religious considerations (Koppelman); but more relevant to heteronormative female gender, it can represent beauty, “femininity”, and vanity (This Magazine). While hair is embedded with race-, class-, and sex-based significance, the absence of hair on the female body is a jarring upset to the white, heteronormative collective. Female baldness is largely perceived as a boycott of demands on beauty, but can also represent punishment, illness and/or rebellion (Koppelman). Cultural representations of women with shaved heads are rich with meaning, and changes in these representations over time indicate parallel shifts in social perceptions. In order to locate the most mainstream and widely held public perceptions of women with bald heads, mass culture—otherwise known as popular culture—serves as a critical tool in analyzing values that drive mass consumption, and includes media such as radio, movies, comic books, detective stories, science fiction, and television (Macdonald). The films G.I. JANE and V for Vendetta will guide the discussion of changing portrayals and perceptions of the female shaved head, utilizing other supplemental materials from mass culture as well.

Although both films are highly political and militaristic, and respective female protagonists undergo intense periods of transformation accompanied by the loss of their hair, G.I. JANE and V for Vendetta assign different meanings to the shaved head, reflecting changes in mainstream perceptions that are, despite the possibility of progress over time, ultimately less challenging of traditional and gendered relations of power. In G.I. JANE (1997), Lt. O’Neil shaves her head to mark her transformation from feminine to masculine, highlighting her degradation as a female and access to military resources only as a man. In V for Vendetta (2005), Evey Hammond suffers the loss of her hair in a feigned prison bout, calculated to challenge her fear and political paralysis—undoubtedly commingled with her femininity—and although she is able to achieve fearlessness, she never achieves revolutionary agency. While in G.I. JANE, hair operates as an ultimate indicator of gender, in V for Vendetta, hair does not determine masculinity or femininity.


Viewed in harmony, the complexities of sex, gender, sexuality, and race unfold to highlight Lt. O’Neil’s transition from a white, straight, female to a white, straight man in the film G.I. JANE. O’Neil (Demi Moore) first arrives in SEAL training with her hair in a bun, is placed in separate quarters, and undergoes training as an “other.” Her frustrations culminate to a point of intolerance, where she demands equal treatment. It is at this moment the audience watches O’Neil shave her own head, do one-armed push ups, and share both private and public space with males. While in the beginning the other men were bothered by her tampons, later the audience watches as the doctor explains O’Neil’s onset of amenorrhea. While early on in the film, the audience understands white, male military power through the phallic cigar-smoking tendencies of men in uniform, by the time O’Neil is dismissed for being too successful—and therefore too masculine—she too smokes a cigar on the patio. Accordingly, this is a film about privilege—who has it, who does not, and why. G.I. JANE presents itself as a movie about men and women, but it is really about white, heteronormative men and women. It is a particular version of maleness that has the privilege and power of the United States military, and only a particular version of femaleness can dare take on a phallus, become male, and win inclusion. Abandoning her hair is the primary way in which Lt. O’Neil accomplishes this.

As soon as G.I. JANE begins, it both complicates and confirms traditional ideas of power and politics. The film revolves around the arrangements of Senator Lillian DeHaven, who is able to secure the spot of one female to undergo Navy SEAL training, with the understanding that if the trial woman passes, the training will become open to women in general. The Senator is marked by her strong personality, her tough politics, and her no-bullshit demeanor—culturally hailed as male aggression. Thus, her whiteness and her masculine approach grant her access to power, but at the same time, the audience is constantly reminded that the Senator is a woman. In one scene, DeHaven primps her hair in the mirror, while in another she is getting it colored. Accordingly, the implications of female political power must be subdued by reminders that DeHaven is in fact woman and therefore, never a man. Interestingly, the trope for the Senator’s femaleness—her hair—operates to further dramatize the famous head-shaving scene of Lieutenant O’Neil and mark her transformation from feminine to masculine.

While gender and sexuality are dominant themes in the movie, the significance of genitals are powerful in Lt. O’Neil’s transformation and supplement O’Neil’s loss of hair in establishing her masculinty. After O’Neil makes her transition into maleness, she is able to shift the power dynamic with her superior in an intense physical fight by saying, “suck my dick.” Her previously disapproving comrades cheer her on, revealing two factors: primarily, O’Neil now legitimately has a dick, because she has lost her hair and become a man. Secondly, a man sucking another man’s dick is the greatest insult. After this triumphant moment of O’Neil’s enactment of brother humiliation, she is now invited out for beers with the men. Because hair can function as a source of identity among members of a group, O’Neil has physically won her way in with the guys (Synnott). Therefore, her hair serves as a critical precondition to her inclusion in male camaraderie, and O’Neil is able to manipulate her hair to achieve power (Weitz). Although the meaning of Lt. O’Neil’s hair is more traditional in that lack of her signifies masculinity, the message of the film in regard to gendered relations of power is ultimately more radical because O’Neil’s gender is not fixed and she is able to transcend her femininity and hold power as a male.

V for Vendetta

Released almost a decade after G.I. JANE, V for Vendetta is more traditional in its reading of female baldness, despite its image as a politically radical film with explicit critique of homophobia (while G.I. JANE merely accepts and perpetuates homophobic discourse). Setting the stage for the final message, Evey explains as the film begins, “It is not an idea I miss—it is a man. A man that made me remember the fifth of November”—alluding that Evey’s political awareness, participation in revolt, and belief in freedom are mediated through V. Thus, her access to resources of personal growth are channeled through the male. Her diction is relevant, as Evey does not miss a person—she misses a man, and her sex-based differentiation highlights the explicit division of men and women throughout the film, as well as the exclusion of women in positions of authority (except for one female doctor who, in the end, is the only person on V’s revenge list to have lived a life of misery and remorse).

While in G.I. JANE, Lt. O’Neil’s voluntarily shaved head marks her in-group identity and allows her to become masculine, Evey’s forced head shave is an act of punishment which characterizes a period of intense personal growth—but never stimulates any revolutionary autonomy in Evey herself. Unlike Lt. O’Neil, Evey does not become like a man wielding authority, she remains a woman who, although becomes fearless, holds no real power. More importantly, Evey’s portrayal as a heroine in the film is misleading because—while she does grow and learn that some things are more important than life, she does not understand that V’s plan to restore freedom is greater than his life. Evey is actually counter-revolutionary when she implores V towards the end of the film to escape with her rather than carry out his plot. Overcome with emotion and love, Evey continues to embody culturally praised, heteronormative femininity, despite her lack of hair. While she finally commits one empowering act—pulling the lever on a train to send explosives to parliament—this was all at the orchestration and request of V. Therefore, Evey’s only access to revolutionary agency is mediated through V. Furthermore, it is unclear whether Evey pulls the lever for the cause, or in honor of V, who is dead by this point. Although the film is progressive in that Evey can be a woman without hair, she is never a woman with power, nor does she become masculine to take it.

The juxtaposition of men and women create firm identities for each, with hair functioning as an accessory, but never an ultimate indicator of gender. Evey and V are introduced to the viewer for the first time in distinct sexual opposition to one another. The audience meets Evey in a black bra putting on lipstick, after which the scene switches to V who is adjusting his mask and weapon-related gear. As Evey makes her way through the city at night, she is confronted by fingermen (fascist police), who use their patriarchal power of state over Evey’s body, offering rape as punishment for her curfew break. Vulnerable to exploitation and void of measures of feasible resistance, Evey is paralyzed by her own “femininity,” soon to be rescued by the opposite of male tyranny, a male revolutionary. In either case, the power-brokers are men, and Evey is subject to their whim. Hair is not relevant to power, because while both V and Evey have long hair, only V is powerful. That is to say, masculinity and femininity are more than just hair in the film.

While hair is not essential in maintaining femininity, it is still very meaningful to Evey. Unlike Lt. O’Neil, who willfully shaves her head and takes ownership of her baldness, Evey cries as her hair is buzzed in an act of punishment and dehumanization (Sentient Developments). Throughout the film, the division of men and women, the emphasis on Evey’s femininity by portraying her as sexy and sexually desired, and Evey’s subsequent categorical belonging to “female,” creates such cultural meaning around her hair that, in response to learning that V orchestrated her torture, she questions in disbelief, “You cut my hair? You tortured me?” Her language and order of delivery are powerful because they posit the destruction of her feminine identity as more hurtful and ridiculous than the destruction of her physical body. Thus, despite her newly-gained transcendence of fear, the loss of hair remains a humiliating act, revealing just how deeply revered gender conformity is, as well as the gendered symbolism of hair.

V for Vendetta can be seen as a more progressive reading of the female shaved head because Evey is still feminine after she loses her hair, and thus femaleness is stretched to include more women. Watching as Evey returns to see V for the last time, the audience does not know where she has been or what she has been doing—only that she has survived. The viewer understands her strength, but sees her return in a skirt and delicate v-neck, button-down sweater. Despite her changes, the audience must not forget that she is female, and she is in opposition to maleness. V for Vendetta may be more progressive in its reading of the bald female head, but the ultimate message of the film is more traditional, because Evey is distinctly marked as female and never holds power—and she never transcends her femininity to gain power. Thus, her femaleness is still equated with powerlessness.

Public Reaction

Public reactions to the films are indicative of their ultimately radical versus traditional messages. Critic Jerry O’Brien claimed that G.I. JANE is an “insult to all of the men who achieved their SEAL badges when you imply a woman can do it,” and that training will be “lightened” because of the film (Twohy). O’Brien’s fear is telling because his concern blatantly contradicts the point of the film O’Neil must compete with the physical capabilities of the men around her, and she does not accept differential treatment. His comments indicate a deep-seated phobia of women entering, and therefore jeopardizing and weakening, male space, the implication of femininity as insulting, as well as the belief that women are inherently weak and unable to compete physically with men. Natalie Portman reaps quite the opposite. Despite the profound socio-political commentary embedded in the film, Portman’s head is the main talking point, and in the process, became both tokenized and sexualized. What Portman’s head looked like was of larger interest than what it meant—perhaps because it really meant nothing in the film.

While G.I. Jane kindled anxieties revolving around essentialist views of men and women, V for Vendetta simply focused on Natalie’s head—revealing that G.I. Jane is perceived as a more radical film because a female usurps male power, not by virtue of a bald head alone. V for Vendetta is received more smoothly because, although it contains far-reaching political commentary, the roles of men and women are not challenged. Interestingly, although female power operates more radically in G.I. JANE, the meaning attached to the female bald head is more traditional in that a shaved head is automatically masculine. To the contrary, female power and gender roles operate according to a traditional script in V for Vendetta, but the meaning attached to the female bald head is more progressive in that it can still be feminine. Because of the latter in both instances, popular culture has become more tolerant and inclusive of female shaved heads, although the ultimate portrayal of femaleness as powerless remains the same.

What does this mean in terms of the female shaved head in relation to power in mass culture, and therefore in popular consciousness? Are there ways in which expanding femininity to include appropriately enacted female baldness can also expand female power? Both G.I. JANE and V for Vendetta portray femininity as ultimately without power—although being considered a legitimate female is a source of privilege, and therefore is a form of power in that it gives legitimate women access to powerful men. In so far as female privilege is accessed through sexuality and femininity, and the female shaved head under certain circumstances has now become sexual and feminine—V for Vendetta does imply more power for women. However, in so far as access to power remains contingent upon sexual appeal and femininity, and therefore does not challenge the pervasive existence of female power by mere virtue of sexuality and only in opposition to other male sources (the state, military, police, et cetera) of power—V for Vendetta does not reflect expanding power allocated to women through time. Based on the latter concept of power, V for Vendetta actually regresses from the cultural accomplishments of G.I. JANE, which grants women access to an alternate source of power—traditionally male (military) power. While the basis for achieving female privilege may be widened in V for Vendetta by proclaiming the bald head feminine, the source of female privilege and its roots in sexism are never challenged.

Beyond the Films

In so far as Lt. O’Neil actually becomes masculine and possesses power, G.I. JANE is more radical than V for Vendetta. V for Vendetta reveals more ways to look like a woman, but still gives the power to men. That Evey Hammond’s bald head is an acceptable form of femaleness is mirrored in the real life experience of actress Natalie Portman, who is heralded as beautiful with or without hair. The exotification of the female shaved head can also be seen on America’s Next Top Model, where Tyra Banks claims that bald women must use their facial features—and therefore not rely on their hair—to make them feminine and sexy (This Magazine). At the same time, most women, like Evey, cry upon undergoing the shave. Implicit in this cultural commentary is the fact that achieving femininity is compilation of performances and behaviors that can be enhanced by, but are not solely dependent upon, hair. Furthermore, if enacted properly, the female shaved head can accentuate a woman’s beauty. Cosmetologist Hosea Hicks concedes that while hair can be trendy, lack of hair can be a style in and of itself (Hicks). While a seminar offering beauty techniques for cancer patients concedes that bald women can still be fashionable, it also teaches women how to scarve their bald heads (Caustro). Therefore, a bare female head can be beautiful, but it is also still threatening for some women.

But the bald head is still not safe. Britney Spear’s buzz captivated the nation, with the public equating Britney’s shaved head with a psychotic breakdown. That Britney removed her own hair during a time of personal duress positions the female shaved head as a pathological, compulsive, or otherwise irrational and unsubstantiated action. Such cultural understandings are made clear in Allure Magazine’s May 2007 issue, which included shaved heads in a laundry list of “beauty breakdowns” (The Colonic). The cultural battle wages on, with allegations of feminine degeneracy being challenged and analyzed by informal cultural mediums such as blogs and Facebook groups, and by recent films and television shows in popular culture.


“Allure Magazine is Gravely Mistaken.” The Colonic. May 2007. October 2007<

“Bald As I Wanna Be.” This Magazine. 2006. Oct. 2007 <>

Caustro, Paddy. Seminars Offer Beauty Techniques for Cancer Patients. Los Angeles Times 24 Feb. 1989: 4

Hicks, Hosea. “What Hair Is.” Columbus Times 14-20 Sep. 2006: 9

“I’ve Seen the Future and the Future is Bald.” Sentient Developments. 2006. 26 Oct. 2007<>

Koppelman, Connie. “The Politics of Hair.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 17.2 (1996): 87-88.

Macdonald, Dwight. Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America. New York: The Free Press, 1957.

Synnott, Anthony. “Shame and Glory: A Sociology of Hair.” The British Journal of Sociology 38.3 (1987): 381-413.

Twohy, David. “No ‘Gender-Norming’ in ‘G.I. Jane.’” Los Angeles Times 15 Sep. 1997: 3

PETA goes after the Olsen twins

PETA has launched a new campaign against "Hairy Kate" and "Trashley Trollsen"--who not only wear fur, but are including fur in their new clothing line. The site is very gimmicky and funny-looking, but also includes a traumatizing video on animals being killed for fur.

ah...the glory

I would just like to say that it is a glorious day when one is able to refer to one's own blog in an academic paper.

Monday, December 10, 2007

food and privilege

I am not feeling well at all today; I have a cold and little physical energy. This is all swell timing because this is my week to study for finals and complete final projects.

By 1 o'clock, I could still not effectively get out of bed, and I felt my weak body craving wholesome goodness so that I would be able to replenish myself.

So I got in my car and made my way to a favorite cafe, complete with extremely fresh and a lot of organic ingredients. Not to mention it is impeccably clean, has great ambiance, uplifting decor--the whole experience is just a very pleasant way to feed your body healthy food and lift your spirits.

As I ate my vegan vegetable soup, organic baked bread, and munched on my fresh and colorful salad...I really could not help but think about how fortunate I am that I a) am able to rest when I am sick--instead of dragging my helpless body to work b) can readily access incredibly healthy food to help me feel better c) can pay to sit in a great (and pricier) cozy spot to eat it--instead of say, spending energy I don't have to cook for myself.

Undisrupted access to healthy, organic, and fresh foods is certainly an extension of class privilege--not having to think twice about the availability and preparation of highly nutritious foods is a luxury. We should all know that; I am sure we do.

It's just that I could not help but think about this as I ate. Which is a good thing, because I am SO APPRECIATIVE that I have the luxury to be so selective about what I put into my body.

I owe a lot of my gratitude to adopting a vegan lifestyle. Surprisingly, minding the origin and health of my food has really forced me to have a deeper connection with my body. By paying attention to what goes into my body, I have a much greater sense and appreciation of it. I am so thankful to find, afford, and eat healthy vegan food. It really is a nice sense of awareness, although it makes me sad because mine is a minority experience, with deeply entrenched class relations (although you can find vegan and healthy eaters across all classes--it's just easier with more money).

the story of stuff: the materials economy

Although over-simplistic in many ways, The Story of Stuff is a very easy-to-follow and an informative explanation of the materials economy--how we get the things we have. From extraction, to production, to distribution, to consumption, to disposal, Annie Leonard describes how a linear system cannot operate indefinitely on a finite planet, and how in the process, we devastate our world, exhaust our resources, and diminish our health. I enjoyed watching it, and think you should as well.

But I would like to address the over-simplification.

Most importantly, there is NOTHING wrong with CONSUMPTION--the problem is with OVER-CONSUMPTION. Personally, I love consumption. If I had to craft my own tampons or knit my own warm clothing or harvest and grow all of my foods, I would not be able to live my life and pursue my own professional endeavors. Consumption creates jobs and time. Over-consumption hampers mindfulness, destroys the earth, et cetera, et cetera.

BUT JUST BECAUSE WE IRRESPONSIBLY OVER-CONSUME, DOES NOT MEAN THAT THERE ARE NOT WAYS TO SENSIBLY AND SAFELY CONSUME. Therefore, the argument needs to be qualified, and over-consumption must be addressed instead of irrationally waging a war against consumption itself--unless we all want to go back to colonial times or earlier--which I don't, nor do I have to in order to help the planet.

Secondly, there is the single view of the corporation as the big, bad, dollar sign. But I have news for you, corporations are highly problematic in many ways that need reform, but corporations still make contraception, tampons, nyquil, paper, pens, and every other essential everyday item and instrument of health care, education and communication needed to live in the modern world.

Thirdly, although there is incredible information on how ideologies of over-consumption are crafted and maintained, that is really only part of the explanation. A brief example (I have finals and cannot blabber): Women are generally larger consumers than men, given all of the cosmetic crap and services (hair, nails, etc.) they consume, and Leonard can talk all she wants about the Eisenhower administration's hand in creating the lifestyle philosophy of buy more more more--but that still does not explain why women would BELIEVE that they NEED these things to be BETTER, or why they would COMPLY to blatantly having to spend more resources than men on appearance--THIS IS WHERE SEXISM COMES INTO PLAY. Why are there different consumption patterns in different economic brackets? Classism can offer insight. After all, there are different cultures of spending that a single read of over-consumption cannot explain, nuance, or complicate.