Friday, February 29, 2008

Pelosi urges investigation of Bush's Aides

From the Washington Post:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the Justice Department yesterday to open a grand jury investigation into whether President Bush's chief of staff and former counsel should be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) demanded that the department pursue misdemeanor charges against former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers for refusing to testify to Congress about the firings of federal prosecutors in 2006 and against White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten for not turning over White House documents related to the dismissals.

Pelosi gave Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey one week to respond and said that refusal to take the matter to a grand jury will result in the House's filing a civil lawsuit against the Bush administration.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Representative John Lewis switches to Obama

Civil rights leader John Lewis dropped his support for Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid Wednesday in favor of Barack Obama.

Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Atlanta, is the most prominent black leader to defect from Clinton's campaign in the face of near-unanimous black support for Obama in recent voting. He also is a superdelegate who gets a vote at this summer's national convention in Denver.

In a written statement, Lewis said the Illinois senator's campaign "represents the beginning of a new movement in American political history" and that he wants "to be on the side of the people."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Equitable Insurance Coverage for Mental Illnesses

Although eating disorders are based on genetic components and certain bio-chemical predispositions, they are grossly marginalized as psychiatric diseases in ways inhibit awareness, treatment and outreach.

Two bills have been introduced in Congress that would eliminate the ability of insurance companies to discriminate and cherry-pick which mental diseases deserve treatment coverage. In the House, this would be The Paul Wellstone Mental Health & Addiction Equity Act of 2007 (H.R. 1424), and the Mental Health Parity Act (S. 558) in the Senate. However, the House version is stronger because it includes language specific to eating disorders.

Ask your Representative to sign on
Ask your Senator to sign on
or thank members of Congress that have already done so

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

The timing is perfect. After attending a congressional briefing entitled "Eating Disorders: Science not Stigma"--I made a commitment to amping up ED awareness on The Colonic and making it a strong and continuous focus henceforth--as opposed to a sporadic theme intersecting with other related concepts.

Then I found out that we are currently in the middle of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (February 24th-March 1st). What a fitting kick-off.

The key message for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2008 – “Be comfortable in your genes. Wear jeans that fit the TRUE you.” – ties into NEDA's signature event, the Great Jeans Giveaway.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week highlights the fact that body size and shape are strongly influenced by biological factors – such as genetics, while also calling attention to some of the new discoveries surrounding the role of genetics in the development of eating disorders.

Too often individuals struggle against their natural, genetically influenced size just to fit into that pair of “skinny jeans” in the back of their closets. Fighting your natural size and shape can lead to unhealthy dieting practices, poor body image and sometimes eating disorders.

While you can adopt a healthy lifestyle and aim to be fit for your particular body type, you cannot change your genes. We want everyone to start feeling comfortable in their genes by wearing comfortable jeans. The Great Jeans Giveaway events empower individuals to donate old (or new) pairs of jeans that do not comfortably fit.

While key messaging focuses on helping individuals feel at ease with their natural size, the use of the word “genes” within the message also provides a foundation for addressing the fact that eating disorders are serious illnesses, not choices. Everyday, researchers are discovering more about the influence of genetics on eating disorders and finding that while environmental factors may pull the trigger, genetics loads the gun.

You can also find an event in your area or register to become a coordinator.

Monday, February 25, 2008

eating disorders are not contagious

There are people with disordered eating, and there are people with eating disorders. Eating disorders are not contagious--a person cannot simply contract one. Like all psychiatric diseases, the roots are deeply embedded in childhood and personality traits.

While I understand the concern over pro-mia/pro-ana sites, these sites are not giving people illnesses; people use these sites because they are already ill.

Perhaps one can argue that they sites are triggering and promote relapse. Well then I say to you, try going 20 minutes in this country without stumbling upon something triggering--even without using the internet. In fact, try walking a block.

On another note, I also take issue with the way in which BBC framed the article, "Pro-anorexia site clampdown urged." In fact, it took some scrolling to even see the word "bulimia."

This is only indicative of larger cultural attitudes of the diseases. Bulimia is often marginalized for a variety of reasons: 1) to the untrained eye, it can be easer to spot emaciation than pick out a purger, who is not necessarily underweight, 2) an anorectic can pack more shock value in a photo, 3) an anorectic may appear more ill by virtue of appearance, when actually bulimics are at high-risk of heart failure, among other things, 4) our culture perversely hails the control associated with anorexia, as opposed to the "excess" associated with bulimia. All of these factors contribute to the marginalization of bulimia and higher levels of difficulty in being identified as ill and in need of help.

rationing food rations

The director of the UN's World Food Programme has said it is considering plans to ration food aid because of rising prices and a shortage of funds...

Earlier this month, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the rising price of cereals such as wheat and maize had become a "major global concern".

The FAO estimated poor countries would see their cereal import bill rise by more than a third this year. Africa as a whole is expected to see a 49% increase.

My dislike for Hillary grows and grows

I actually think it is hilarious that the Hillary Campaign spreads pictures of Obama dressed as a Somali elder on a tour of Africa (because he gives a shit about the country)--and the Drudge Report defends him! I guess that goes to show a) how ridiculous the whole "accusation" is, and b) how both sides of the aisle find Hillary so distasteful.

Hillary is trying to exploit conservative Islamo-fascist propaganda and turn it against the real front-runner Democrat. But thank you, Drudge Report, for putting her desperate claim in context with a slew of photos showing the Clintons and Bush himself in local garb.

McCain must be thrilled

Nader joins the presidential race.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

what an obnoxious article

I am not sure why any educated professional would want to further stigmatize divorce, but here it is.

Olivia Zaleski from the Huffington Post writes, "Is Divorce Bad for the Environment?"

Wow, I hate her. Why don't we amp up the guilt on people making healthy decisions for their own lives and families? It's actually very brave to make an abrupt lifestyle change often frowned upon by outsiders.

Perhaps what she is trying to say that the more people in one house, the more environmentally efficient. That is a different point.

Why don't we work on more comprehensive awareness in achieving sustainable lifestyles for everyone--single or married--before we try to think of some quirky frame that is in reality a lame cheap shot. It is clear that some one thought she stumbled upon something clever and cute--when it is really just obnoxious and aggravating.

Perhaps the author thought she was writing a funny article, but cultural humor is simply a way to reaffirm social taboos through an innocent guise. Way to completely undermine progress!

I think that people need to make healthy choices for themselves, personally and environmentally. Statistically, marriage is a failing institution. We need to stop glorifying "holy" matrimony in the first place. Maybe then the masses would not be running into marriages that can't and don't work, whether they separate or remain miserable together.

I guess I must be Exxon if I am advocating delayed and/or no marriage.

By the way, most people downgrade the size of dwelling after divorce.

If you are so concerned about your carbon emission post-divorce, get a roommate.

there is no such thing as clean coal

governors include "clean coal" in energy debate.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Brown University is eliminating tuition for students whose parents earn less than $60,000

Brown's announcement follows similar moves by Harvard, Yale and Stanford universities to waive tuition for lower-income students and cut students' debt burden.

another desperate attack by Hillary

I know that Hillary has to step up her game in Ohio and Texas to break Obama's winning streak--but why is she calling an old talking point a low-blow and false accusation?

The fact that Hillary's health care plan would force Americans to buy health care even if they could not afford it is not, in Hillary's words, a "tactic right out of Karl Rove's playbook"--it's the same old song that Obama and many of his supporters have been singing all along. I can't imagine how she can claim this is some outrageous and unethical blow to her campaign.

Let us also take note that Hillary is pathetically attempting to use Obama's frame of "old Washington politics" to discredit him. Hillary, that strategy only discredits you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hillary targeting Ohio and Texas

Here is Hillary trying to say that Obama is words-not-deeds in Texas.

Here is former Senator John Glenn vouching for Clinton in Ohio.

I'm not quite ooh-ing and ah-ing.

Barack's "Rock"

Newsweek featured an article Who Is Michelle Obama?--an impressive expose of the intelligence, achievements and convictions of Barack's wife.

But it couldn't stop at that. It could not be a piece on the grassroots organizing and ivy-league brilliance of Michelle. It needed to re-framed her story through a traditional gendered lens: "Barack's rock."

Says the article, "She's the one who keeps him real, the one who makes sure running for leader of the free world doesn't go to his head. Michelle's story."

I've heard this classic sexist narrative before--it's the woman, pure and strong, keeping the aggressive and powerful public man together back in the warmth and legitimacy of the private realm.

The truth is, from running literacy programs, to getting out the vote, to recruiting minority students, Michelle is a leader in her own right.

The cultural pride we place on the "woman behind the man" functions only to divert attention from the oppression of woman and to inculcate whimsical notions of female "power" by aggrandizing the influence of women behind the scenes.

And even if this is true, and woman really are pulling strings behind closed doors--again the question remains, why must female power occur behind the scenes, and why is female power generally and culturally mediated through the male?

I happen to think that Michelle Obama is a power house of her own, and I object to her story being run through the same old sexist script.

miss the debate last night?

read the transcript.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

60% of emerging infectious diseases (EID) are from animals

According to the article:

Scientists say conservation efforts that reduce conflicts between humans and animals could play a key role in limiting future outbreaks...

The researchers found that 60% of EID events were caused by "non-human animal" sources...

"We are crowding wildlife into ever smaller areas, and human population is increasing," explained Dr Marc Levy, a global change expert at Columbia University's Earth Institute...

He added that the main sources were mammals that were most closely related to humans.

While I applaud the article's recognition of preserving biodiversity and stressing conservation--I am not sure how the risk of of lethal zoonotic diseases can ever be addressed without addressing the over-consumption of animals.

Although I view veganism as completely reasonable, I understand that others may perceive it as extreme. Fine. I will respect that. But any moderate voice can tell you that decreasing animal products will decrease the spread and frequency of EIDs.

I have a friend who consumes animal flesh only once a day. Others limit intake of x,y, or z. Whatever works for you will help your health and the environment.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

kosher meat is not ethical meat

As a vegan, I have plenty of kosher Jewish friends who claim that kosher meat is ethically slaughtered. PETA has uncovered otherwise. The slaughterhouse in question is located in Uruguay, and is the lead exporter of kosher meats to the United States and Israel.

Click here to watch the footage and sign a petition to Jewish leaders encouraging more oversight of animal slaughter.

Supreme Court Rejects ACLU Challenge to Wiretaps

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to civil rights and privacy advocates who oppose the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The justices, without comment, turned down an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union to let it pursue a lawsuit against the program that began shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks...

"It's very disturbing that the president's actions will go unremarked upon by the court," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security project. "In our view, it shouldn't be left to executive branch officials alone to determine the limits."...

The Terrorist Surveillance Program no longer exists, although the administration has maintained it was legal.

The ACLU sued on behalf of itself, other lawyers, reporters and scholars, arguing that the program was illegal and that they had been forced to alter how they communicate with foreigners who were likely to have been targets of the wiretapping.

A federal judge in Detroit largely agreed, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored and thus could not prove they had been harmed by the program.

The government has refused to turn over information about the closely guarded program that could reveal who has been under surveillance.

ACLU officials described the situation as a "Catch-22" because the government says the identities of people whose communications have been intercepted is secret. But only people who know they have been wiretapped can sue over the program.

Castro steps down

Cuba's new parliament will meet on Sunday to elect a new president.

Bhutto's Party Wins Big in Election

From BBC:

The party of Pakistan's late former PM Benazir Bhutto - the biggest winner in Monday's election - says it is ready to form a coalition with the PML-N party.

If finalised, an alliance of Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the PML-N would have more than half the seats in a new parliament.

The main party backing President Pervez Musharraf suffered heavy defeats.

The president has never looked more vulnerable, the BBC's Chris Morris in Islamabad says.

Hillary will do anything to win--even undermine voters

From Political Wire:

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign "intends to go after delegates whom Barack Obama has already won in the caucuses and primaries if she needs them to win the nomination," Roger Simon reports.

"This strategy was confirmed to me by a high-ranking Clinton official on Monday. And I am not talking about superdelegates, those 795 party big shots who are not pledged to anybody. I am talking about getting pledged delegates to switch sides."

The reason: "Pledged delegates are not really pledged at all, not even on the first ballot. This has been an open secret in the party for years, but it has never really mattered because there has almost always been a clear victor by the time the convention convened."

Yes...undermine the intent of voters in a last-stitch effort to save your losing campaign. If Hillary steals the nomination through superdelegates and yanking non-superdelegates--it goes to show how un-representative our "democracy" is.

Not to mention what that would do to the spirit and cohesion (however much there is) of the party.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Obama & Clinton to reinstate science policy

Obama and Clinton voew to reinstate science-related policies...

But it is a sad state of affairs for the Republican Party when neither McCain nor Huckabee will send representation to a science conference. Not sure what sort of backwards logic could posit science as a political faux pas. Let's just say, the two presidential hopefuls must be catering to an anti-intellectual, anti-empirical, and anti-progress crowd.

the beef recall: maybe we'll care about animal welfare if negligence jeapardizes ours

The largest beef re-call in history is taking place because animal abuse and negligence is threatening human health. Unfortunately, animal abuse alone does not kindle outrage--it has to threaten us to pique widespread ethical concern.

In January, the Humane Society of the United States accused Westland/Hallmark of abusing "downed" cattle. The Humane Society released video that showed workers kicking cows, jabbing them near their eyes, ramming them with a forklift and shooting high-pressure water up their noses in an effort to force them to their feet for slaughter.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I hate superdelegates

The LA Times posted a great article on superdelegates--some of whom are elected officials, some of whom simply worked for the party,and all of whom obscure democracy.

How powerful are superdelegates? In California, 370 regular delegates were allotted based on the votes of more than 4.5 million people in the state's Feb. 5 primary. That means each of California's 66 superdelegates will cast a convention ballot equivalent to a regular delegate picked by more than 12,000 primary voters.

"This is a device to try to reduce the influence of one-person, one-vote," said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the watchdog group Public Citizen. "It's anti-democratic. It's specifically designed for the purpose of having the insiders . . . have some sort of final decision over who the nominee is going to be, regardless of what the voters want."

I am going to be very angry if Obama wins the most delegates (because he had the most votes), and Hillary steals the narrow margin of victory with superdelegates.

If anti-representative systems of election are preferred, fine.  Then don't call our country a democracy. 

Hillary won't release her tax returns

Hillary will only disclose obligatory tax filings, similar to those in Congress, which simply release broad financial categories of investment sources, and according to ABC News is "...only a fraction of the information available on tax returns."

If she wants to win the trust of voters, she should follow the tax-disclosure footsteps of Barack Obama, not Bill.  Hiding the specifics of her money will only raise eyebrows.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

to my friends and family in the valley

Leda's Bake Shop now has an mouth-watering vegan selection!

818 386 9644
13722 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

veganism & class privilege: myth or reality?

The current issue of VegNews featured a great article, Privilege or Necessity?, which explores the viability of veganism in poverty.  

Often considered snobs or elitists, the average vegan is white, middle-class and college educated. 

But the truth is, many poor countries have staple foods that are plant-based:
  • Bangladesh--rice, wheat, lentils, beans
  • China--rice, soybeans, green vegetables
  • Ethiopia--teff, lentils, beans, potatoes
  • India--rice, wheat, beans, peas
  • Jamaica--yams, platains, legumes
  • Nigeria--rice, millet, beans, cassava
  • Turkey--eggplant, lentils, beans, tomatoes
  • Vietnam--rice, tofu, beans, sprouts

So then what gives?  In the United States, it really comes down to an accessibility issue.  Poorer communities may rely on local liquor stores for food that don't carry soy milk or quinoa. Veggie-friendly stores like Whole Foods tend not to market to poorer communities.  

The article poignantly addresses a relationship issue: the relationship with food, cooking, and convenience.  Plant-based foods need preparation, whereas fast-food can be much more appealing to those with long hours, heavy commutes, and the like. 

Education is also a crucial factor, as most people learn about the environmentalism and animal issues in college.

But despite popular opinion, cost is not the issue.  A plant-based diet (fruits, veggies, grains, beans) can actually be more affordable than meat and dairy products.  Poorer vegans may even be at a health advantage, because they are not buying heavily-processed and pricey vegan meats.

Friday, February 15, 2008

U.S. to appoint energy envoy

Sounds like a smart move:

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she will appoint a special US energy envoy to monitor the use of oil and gas for political ends.

Ms Rice said the politics of energy were "warping diplomacy in certain parts of the world".

Except that it sort of matters who will be appointed.

way to go, House

The House broke for a 12-day recess without renewing FISA--despite all of the Bush's bullying.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I had the opportunity to meet Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a group for questions.  

Two things really stuck out for me.  The first was a question that opened with the following, "As an activist for women's rights..."

Justice Ginsburg clarified that she does not see herself as an activist for women's rights, but as an activist for equal rights--for men and women, across races, and across religions (I was hoping for sexual orientation and gender expression...maybe in the next few decades).  This really hits the core of my preference for the frame of humanism as opposed to feminism. 

The second was her response to my question: was appointment something that you aspired toward, or was it something that you happened upon as your career developed?  Justice Ginsburg explained how in her day, women would not even think to have such dreams, and although she graduated top of her class from Columbia law, she could not even get a job.  In order to get litigation experience, she actually volunteered for the ACLU.  Surprisingly small in frame and faint in voice, Justice Ginsburg delivered a powerful story, and thanked the re-birth of feminism for the change in direction that lead President Jimmy Carter to appoint women in the courts.  

It was really very uplifting, and from this I just extracted what I keep telling myself: just do your thing and see what the hell happens.  It will be great. 

there's another one

No you can't

never too late to get healthy!

so get started now.

It is never too late to reap the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle, research has concluded.

Scientists found 70-year-olds who take regular exercise, eat well, and do not smoke greatly increase their chance of living until 90.

The researchers estimate that longevity is only at most 30% down to our genes - the rest is down to lifestyle factors.

first order for cloned pet

hmmm, the first commercially-cloned dog:

A South Korean company says it has taken its first order for the cloning of a pet dog.

A woman from the United States wants her dead pitbull terrier - called Booger - re-created.

RNL Bio is charging the woman, from California, $150,000 (£76,000) to clone the pitbull using tissue extracted from its ear before it died.

The work will be carried out by a team from Seoul National University, where the first dog was cloned in 2005...

She is said to have been particularly attached to the dog, after it saved her life when another dog attacked her and bit off her arm.

Not sure how I really feel about this--I don't want to say it's creepy simply because it is new, and different, and a bit sci-fi. But the truth is, this raises all sorts of questions as to what is a living creature? Is it one, unique and mortal body, or is it simply a genetic and mappable composition?

I view living things with cognition as a combination of nature versus nurture. You can clone the nature part, but that is not addressing the past experience and memory that fully characterize that creature as itself. Will the cloned dog even recognize the owner? I really am not privy to the details, but my guess is no.

Seems to me that the consumer went through a traumatic experience, and cannot detach herself from the dog. But the truth is, the cloned dog did not save her arm--it's a copy of the dog who did. I doubt she will feel satisfied. I really hope she didn't take money out on her house to pay for this.

Robots could reduce animal tests!

Great news:

US scientists are taking the first step towards testing potentially hazardous chemicals on cells grown in a laboratory, without using live animals.

Two government agencies are looking into the merits of using high-speed automated robots to carry out tests.

The long-term goal is to reduce the cost, time and number of animals used in screening everything from pesticides to household chemicals.

The move follows calls for scientists to rely less on animal studies.

Robots would be able to carry out hundreds of thousands of chemical tests a day to identify chemicals with toxic effects.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Senate votes for expansion of spy powers

After more than a year of wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a major victory on Tuesday by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers and to give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush’s program of eavesdropping without warrants...

The measure extends, for at least six years, many of the broad new surveillance powers that Congress hastily approved last August just before its summer recess. Intelligence officials said court rulings had left dangerous gaps in their ability to intercept terrorist communications.

The bill, which had the strong backing of the White House, allows the government to eavesdrop on large bundles of foreign-based communications on its own authority so long as Americans are not the targets. A secret intelligence court, which traditionally has issued individual warrants before wiretapping began, would review the procedures set up by the executive branch only after the fact to determine whether there were abuses involving Americans.

What angers me just as much as this legislation is the fact that neither Obama or Clinton were there for this vote.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

diet sodas: not so "diet" afterall

Casting doubt on the benefit of low-calorie sweeteners, research released Sunday reported that rats on diets containing saccharin gained more weight than rats given sugary food.

The study in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience found that the calorie-free artificial sweetener appeared to break the physiological connection between sweet tastes and calories, driving the rats to overeat...

Researchers have puzzled over whether diet soda is a marker for poor eating habits or diet soda ingredients cause people to put on pounds, she said. "This rat study suggests a component of the artificial sweetener may be responsible for the weight gain."

Steffen's own recent research has shown that people who drink diet soda have a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of symptoms including obesity -- than do people who drink regular soda. Her research was published last month in the American Heart Assn.'s journal Circulation...

One interpretation of the trends is that people have been turning to lower-calorie foods to control an increasing problem with weight gain.

An alternative interpretation is that artificial sweeteners lead to biological or behavioral changes that cause people to eat more.

Basically, don't ingest weird toxic chemicals. I gave up artificial sweeteners a while ago, and every once in a blue moon when I go for one, my body physically feels bad afterward. There are studies that link synthetic sugars with an array of health-related consequences that I should expose on a future blog post. There is also a psychological component to all of this. One who lives a dietary lifestyle revolving around synthetic sugars develops phobias of natural sweeteners, calories, et cetera that fuel obsession and form restrictions. Even with out developing an eating disorder, such dietary lifestyles create disordered eating. This phobia of natural sugars escalates into binaries of "good" and "bad" food, that likewise posit the individual as "good" or "bad," depending on recent intake. "Bad" thoughts escalate into guilt and poor self-image, which only refuel obsession and binaries of food.

Again, these tendencies do not indicate conventional "eating disorders"--but they are indicative of disordered eating. And while our culture reinforces and rewards such behavior, it is ultimately unhealthy and interferes with both physiological and mental satiation.

terrorists have caught onto our sexism

Now that terrorists have realized that our culture just assumes that women are innocuous and maternal, "terrorists increasingly favor using women as suicide bombers to thwart security and draw attention to their causes, a new FBI-Department of Homeland Security assessment concludes."

Why would ever expect a woman to be a terrorist? Culturally ingrained sexism subconsciously posits women as the loving counterpart to men. Men are big and bad, women are loving and sweet and tame the big bad man's heart.

Truthfully, such a report can also be propaganda in fueling support for the war against terror. OMG, they are sacrificing the women! Those animals! This is similar to the way that war on terror was framed as feminist; save the oppressed veiled women!

Sorry, Dubya is not a feminist. Or a humanist. But whether or not use of women as suicide bombers is a legitimate increasing danger or not, the truth remains that a female suicide bomber evokes stronger emotional reactions than a male, because of what we believe women are--and what we believe they aren't. Men.

the positive side of the Federal Marriage Amendment

While the Federal Marriage Amendment--which is a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman, and preventing same-sex and unmarried couples from accessing rights available to married heterosexual couples--usually angers me, I have to say that now, it actually quite pleases me.

What this proposed amendment and all of its supporters screams loud and clear is that, without it, any restrictions of prohibitions against same-sex and unmarried couples are unconstitutional. Of course any one with a brain already knew this...but it's nice to get the admission from the opposing side.

So please, save your legally-enacted homophobia for when you actually pass an amendment to our Constitution. Until then, shut the fuck up and stop restricting marriage, civil unions, adoption, and other forms of rights available to partners.

Stickin' it to McCain, Obama style

McCain parody of "Yes We Can" Obama video.

In case you missed the original, here it is again.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

political gender change is a website that hosts photo shop competitions in various genres, from toothpaste to politics (not to mention distasteful exploitation of anorexia).

I found the "political gender change" competition to be clever and amusing--but could not help but reflect on why this is so entertaining. The social categories of "male" and "female" are understood in such direct opposition to one another, that any sort of switch becomes hilarious and awkward.

Just another reminder that we are raised to be so different, so "complementary"--and so locked in place.

But it's still worth a gander.

Skinny Bitch: helping veganism, or giving it a bad name?

Sipping on a smoothie over books, I overheard a giddy student exclaiming to her friends how the book Skinny Bitch "changed her life" and prompted her to veganism.

Maybe I should be happy about the vegan cookbook's success--but I'm not.

Veganism is not about being "skinny". Being healthy is not about being "skinny". What our culture promotes as "skinny" is generally unhealthy.

The gendered implications also bother me. Why is it called Skinny Bitch? Because when you are a "skinny" woman in mainstream culture, you are "better" than other "non-skinny" women and therefore entitled to your bitchiness. You are also a bitch because other "non-skinny" women are jealous of your weight, and whisper "bitch" behind your back. This book feeds off of the division and competition among women to be the envied, "skinny bitch".

I won't even get into why women are divided and compete with one another--because this is how they win the big heterosexual male and access resources/social privilege/"fulfillment"--but will say I'm not a fan.

Friday, February 8, 2008

like we really need a study to explain retail therapy

sadness is correlated with higher spending oneself? who knew?

I don't think the study really gets into the meat of what is going on. More specific than higher spending when down, I am narrowing my discussion to retail therapy--the act of purchasing clothing/accessories to soothe oneself--and how this ties into other forms of bodily regulation.

Shopping when down occurs for the obvious reason for distracting oneself, but it is also a way to redirect self-validation. For instance, if something internal is going awry, it's easy to pretend that amping up the external will be fulfilling in some way. It is as though emotional wounds will heal if the exterior is perfect. As if looking great will make these other things disappear.

And this is how retail therapy can translate into fanatical or compulsive exercise; just replace Marc Jacobs with the gym. Instead of looking perfect in a little number, what will really make all your problems go away is washboard abs, or less fat, or tighter arms. Or whatever. But all of this is just punishment. Something is complicated and/or hurtful inside, so you better beat down the outside until you are good enough to achieve happiness.

Taken to extremes, these larger patterns can develop into body dysmorphic disorder, wherein feelings translate to literal changes in the reflection one sees of oneself. A sort of mind warp, emotions completely control the perception of self in ways that exacerbate aforementioned conditions.

Not to say that buying that great pair of shoes during a career dilemma is going to end up with BDD. In fact, there are only certain personality types that are pre-disposed or likely to develop such extreme conditions (cough, cough, perfectionists). However, the act of sprucing up the outside to compensate for the inside ties into this concept of "you are as good as you look." And no matter what you do to get yourself out of a funk, remaining aware of yourself and where your security comes from is always healthy. Plus, it is worth remembering that while a shopping spree might be fun or distracting, you need to go back and do the work to straighten out the real kinks in your life...maybe tomorrow after you have had some rest.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

high heels may improve your sex life?

Wearing higher heels - although perhaps not stilettos - may improve your pelvic floor muscles and in doing so boost your sex life, a study suggests.

...The pelvic floor muscles are an essential component of the female body. As well as assisting sexual performance and satisfaction, they provide vital support to the pelvic organs, which include the bladder, bowels and uterus.

"Women often have difficulty in carrying out the right exercises for the pelvic zone and wearing heels could be the solution," she said.

"Like many women, I like high-heeled shoes," she added. "It's good to know they have potential health benefits."

Apparently optimal height is 2 inches.

While I have internalized gendered relations of power to the extent that I myself love heels (despite my knee condition, sway back, shortened Achilles tendon, et cetera) --let's get real. There is an undeniable sexist component to the fact that idealized and culturally praised female footwear is a) much higher than two inches, b) subjects the wearer to pain, discomfort, or future discomfort, and b) the wearer finds this all very worth the joy of looking "great."

Can't help but think of Marilyn Frye and the whole we-contribute-to-our-own-erasure.

Why? Because women always need either implicit or explicit sex appeal to access social privilege/cultural praise.

And for some of us, this feels highly redeeming and very much worth it. I happen to be in that "some of us" group. Although I will say, if you know how to shop, you can get some damn comfortable heels.

Bush OKs waterboarding

The White House today said President Bush authorized his CIA director to confirm the use of waterboarding by U.S. officials on three suspected terrorists to gather intelligence and that the interrogation technique is not torture.

Although Mukasey did not want to reveal the "contours of generally worded laws" that circumscribe U.S. interrogation policies to our adversaries...the contours are pretty fucking clear. Alleged terrorist, your ass is getting waterboarded.

religion, the presidency, and public appeal

Atheist Revolution had some insightful statistics:
  • 78% of Americans have favorable views of presidential candidates citing the Christian bible when speaking about their political positions.
  • 75% of Americans believe that it is appropriate for each President to be sworn into office on a Christian bible.
  • 60% report that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who "speaks publicly about following the example of admirable leaders from the Bible and who consistently uses the Bible for guidance in both public and personal matters."
  • 50% would not vote for an atheist.
But for me, the real question is--which and how many presidential candidates throw out the god card just to win?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Older women more likely to be depressed--wonder why?

According to Yale researchers, older women are more likely than older men to suffer from depression.

Perhaps towards the end of the line, large portions of women are realizing that seeking fulfillment through the culturally sanctioned nuclear family, and under heteronormative compliance, betting one's happiness on the husband and kids--is ultimately a failed mission. Maybe if women were culturally nurtured to please themselves instead of others, this would not be a general trend.

I can't help but think of the image of the ever-giving, ever-sacrificing mother. Yes, drain your spirit and life for every one other than yourself. Continue to put yourself last, because that is when you are of worth. We socialize you to over-emote, hold it in, and then neglect yourself. On top of that, we think that everything is your fault. Then we study these statistics and think "hmm?"

Can't help but wonder how these finding will changes as gender roles continue to slowly change over time?

I will write a follow-up blog in half of a century. We will see where lifestyle-rebellion lands me.

FDA Reports Poison Fish From Gulf Of Mexico

Several outbreaks of ciguatera fish poisoning have been confirmed in consumers who ate fish harvested in the northern Gulf of Mexico, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The FDA said that fish such as grouper, snapper, amberjack and barracuda represent the most significant threat to consumers. They feed on fish that have eaten toxic marine algae. The toxin is stable in the tissue of living fish and does them no harm. But larger carnivores have higher concentrations of the toxin in their tissues. As a result, the greatest risk of poisoning for humans comes from the largest fish.

Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning include nausea, vomiting, vertigo and joint pain. In the most serious cases, neurological problems can last for months or even years. Several outbreaks of the illness were confirmed in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, the FDA said, without citing an exact number.

I feel so violated when food is contaminated--not that it necessarily occurs under malicious intent. But still, the betrayal of it all. A person is trying to nourish oneself, and shit hits the fan.

Kansas Supreme Court protecting abortion record

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court temporarily blocked a grand jury Tuesday from obtaining patient records from a physician who is one of the nation's few providers of late-term abortions.

The grand jury is investigating whether Dr. George Tiller has broken Kansas laws restricting abortion, as many abortion opponents allege. The grand jury subpoenaed the medical files of about 2,000 women, including some who decided against having abortions.

Tiller's attorneys asked the Supreme Court to quash the grand jury's subpoenas, and the court agreed to block their enforcement until it considers the issue.

Chief Justice Kay McFarland said Tiller's challenge raised "significant issues" about patients' privacy and a grand jury's power to subpoena records.

I am glad that the Kansas Supreme Court is upholding the Constitution thus far...but I feel like this is going to get ugly.

PETA spoof on green candidates

Find more PETA videos at

kind of cute. kind of clever. kind of lame. kind of entertaining.

pig brain tissue may be source of illness

I posted last month about the illness circulating in pig slaughterhouses...

Recent developments indicate that the source of the illness, which can lead to paralysis, is likely caused by inhalation of pig brain particles in compressed air systems which remove the brain from the head.

That is just delightful.

youth appeal: Obama v Hillary

I do not need words for this post. I think these videos speak to the greater youth appeal of Obama as compared to Hillary--not to say that there are no young people who like her.


While both videos lack policy-related substance, it is clear which one is inspiring, and which is lame.

Monday, February 4, 2008

weightist lawmaker proposes discriminatory legislation

Representative John Read of Gautier, a Republican from Mississippi, actually proposed banning restaurants from serving obese customers. Apparently, we are supposed to feel better about this because Gautier never thought this would become law.

Let's see, this elected official's idea of "shedding light" on a health crisis is to legally recognize a policy of discrimination, violate our right to privacy and equal protection under the law, publicly humiliate and punish the "obese," and essentially declare that the government should regulate your body. What better way to fan the culturally-sanctioned stigma against our obese friends?

Not to mention the arbitrary lines that separate over-weight from obese, and health from dis-health.

If your state is chronically suffering from poor dietary habits, why not introduce a comprehensive nutrition program into schools, libraries and community centers? Why not amp up the recreational programs at parks and other facilities? Why not help businesses that will help combat the problem?

Instead, we should dehumanize people in ways that are, besides unconstitutional, absolutely idiotic. As if refusing to sell someone fried pork drenched in butter-gravy splooge in a local eatery would prevent that person from going to market and preparing their own meals. This flagrantly-flawed plan shows all too well its intentions--mockery.

got to love Bush and his $3.1 TRILLION plan

Just what I want to hear as my professional life/taxation are slowly creeping closer...

President Bush unveiled a $3.1 trillion budget on Monday that supports sizable increases in military spending to fight the war on terrorism and protects his signature tax cuts.

...Bush projects that the deficits, which had been declining, will soar to near-record levels, hitting $410 billion this year and $407 billion in 2009. The all-time high deficit in dollar terms was $413 billion in 2004.

Democrats attacked Bush's final spending plan as a continuation of this administration's failed policies which wiped out a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion and replaced it with a record buildup in debt.

toxic baby products

Baby shampoos, lotions and powders may expose infants to chemicals that have been linked with possible reproductive problems, a small study suggests.

The chemicals, called phthalates, are found in many ordinary products including cosmetics, toys, vinyl flooring and medical supplies. They are used to stabilize fragrances and make plastics flexible.

It's not enough for your food to be organic--anything that touches your body (and goes into any orifice) should be toxin-free.

Maria Shriver Endorses Obama

Maria endorses Obama, which is a nice in comparison to Arnold's endorsement of McCain.

I would love to be a fly on the wall in that marriage.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

now you can shout The Colonic a holler

Beloved Readers,

Feel free to send me an email with comments, questions, concerns, ideas, and the like at

The Colonic

Hillary is just an upgraded version of the same old story

I understand that America is caught up in the "first female president" frenzy--and as an advocate of humanism, full integration of women (and minorities) into the political realm is quite exciting.

Of course I would not deny the factual result of a Hillary victory--yes, she WOULD be the first female president.

But let's look at this situation for what it is: a modern version of the same story. That is to say, Hillary is adhering that age-old feminine script--accessing power through the male.

As an oppressed collective, female privilege has historically been mediated through the male, so while a female president is beyond impressive, let's get real--she's only an option because of Bill. She won the New York senatorial seat because of Bill. Her political clout is because of Bill.

I am not trying to say that without Bill, Hillary would never have entered politics. But I can bet money she would never have been a front-runner for the presidency.

So like I said--females accessing power through the male. Then again, I suppose it is better than remaining powerless. And I hope this can normalize the overall result of empowered women. Hopefully some day, we can skip the middle-man.

Friday, February 1, 2008

rethinking the meat-guzzler

Great read from the New York Times on the environmental/agricultural devastations of meat over-consumption.

religion, the christian hierarchy, and the presidency

As much as presidential hopefuls like to whine about the discrimination they face because of their faith--ooh, people hate on me because I'm Mormon; ooh, I'm seen as a former minister, not governor--the truth of the matter is, I don't know where this alleged attack on religion is coming from. The way I see it, you HAVE to prescribe to religion in order to be a viable candidate. If I hear Hillary or Barack, the liberals, reference god or faith one more time, I will vomit.

I actually think that candidates even enjoy saying that they are judged for their faith, simply so they can keep reiterating their own religiosity and instill in the public how their holy crap smells like roses after all.

When candidates whine about religious discrimination, they are really complaining about the Christian hierarchy which gives higher appeal to certain types of Christians. But as long as you love Jesus, you still reap the benefits of the Christian advantage.

Once you move out of Christian pool of privilege, then you really feel the heat of discrimination. Americans will surely get a woman or black Christian president before a male Jew. But even so, all monotheists share the God Lover advantage, and therefore will always experience public favor over say atheists, who revoke the God Lover advantage by revoking God.

However, in terms of the presidency, it can be argued that at this particular historical moment, an atheist could one-up a Muslim...but only the context of alleged Islamo-fascism.

While the presidency is off-limits to non-Christians, Congress is slowly becoming a different matter. There is one openly-atheist member of the House: Representative Pete Stark (D-Cal), a member since 1973. And in 2007, the first Muslim Representative, Keith Ellison, was sworn in on Thomas Jefferson's Koran.

Although it is worth noting that, according to the Secular Coalition, "If the number of nontheists in Congress reflected the percentage of nontheists in the population, there would be 53-54 nontheistic Congress members instead of one."

Global Warming responsible for decline in snowpack

The persistent and dramatic decline in the snowpack of many mountains in the West is caused primarily by human-induced global warming and is not the result of natural variability in weather patterns, researchers reported yesterday.

...Many in the West and the Southwest depend on the snowpack's springtime melt for power, irrigation and drinking water. When the snow fields melt earlier and more suddenly, dams are able to capture less of the water and must release more of it to flow on to the ocean.