Friday, May 30, 2008

Bahrain names Jewish ambassador


Bahrain's king has appointed a Jewish woman as the country's envoy to the United States.

Houda Nonoo said she was proud to serve her country "first of all as a Bahraini" and that she was not chosen for the post because of her religion.

She is believed to be the Arab world's first Jewish ambassador.

Ms Nonoo, 43, has served as a legislator in Bahrain's 40-member Shura Council for three years and is head of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch.

...Bahrain has one of the world's oldest and smallest Jewish communities. It was, at one time, home to as many as 1,500 Jews. Today the community has a synagogue and numbers around 50 people.

Bahrain is a close US ally but has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

It has a Shia Muslim majority, roughly 65% of the population, but the ruling elite is Sunni.

Tony Blair Faith Foundation

Gag me. If there is an interest in promoting tolerance and peaceful coexistence to eliminate poverty and challenge conflict--why must be it be presented through a framework of "faith"?

These are issues that can be explored through diversity and reason.

Blair remarks, "Religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st Century as political ideology was to the 20th Century."

That is alarming. If religion became any more significant, I might consider purchasing my own island.

Oldest live birth

From BBC:

A fossil fish uncovered in Australia is the oldest-known example of a mother giving birth to live young, scientists have reported in the journal Nature.

The 380 million-year-old specimen has been preserved with an embryo still attached by its umbilical cord.

The find, reported in Nature, pushes back the emergence of this reproductive strategy by some 200 million years.

Until now, scientists thought creatures from these times were only able to develop their young inside eggs.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Saturday's DNC Rules Committee Meeting

Despite the fact that all hell will break lose on Saturday when the DNC rules committee attempts to figure out what to do with Michigan and Florida, Taegan Goddard offers some pre-game analysis:
  1. While the room will be packed with lawyers, everyone should realize the decision will be less about actual rules than the politics and perceptions of the Democratic primary process. There is no way the DNC will let a rules committee decide the victor of the nomination.
  2. Don't expect many fireworks. The Obama campaign is urging its supporters to stay quiet and protests by Clinton supporters could backfire and cause the committee to reject the challenges entirely.
  3. The most likely outcome is that the rules committee will reinstate 50% of the Florida and Michigan delegates. According to a memo, party lawyers don't believe they have the authority to do any more than that.
  4. The twist, as First Read notes, are the "uncommitted" delegates from Michigan's primary. "If the Rules committee decides to accept the January primary results then it's not clear, via the DNC charter, that it's within the party's rules to assign uncommitted delegates to Obama."
  5. Although she will probably have succeeded in changing the "magic number" for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton will still likely be disappointed by the committee's decision. The math doesn't work for her now and won't work for her after Saturday either.
  6. Political junkies will be dissapointed because, despite the hype, the decision will not materially influence who will win the Democratic nominatio

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

since I just blogged about male privilege, here is another real life example

Male privilege means that, as a female, whenever I offer assistance in efforts involving physical strength, I will be mocked.


Detroit mayor vetoes resolution to impeach him

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

male privilege

I was recently asked to explain male privilege, and while I have mentioned it in blogs, I have never really explored the concept on The Colonic. Male privilege is characterized by normalized feelings of entitlement and access among men, coupled with socio-political structures of power that are overwhelmingly dominated by men, and generally represented with male imagery and language.

What keeps male privilege in tact is obviously male participation, but more curiously, constant female participation. While a group would clearly maintain a climate that favors its own group's advancement, it is bizarre that the oppressed class actively participates and upholds its own disenfranchisement. I will not dwell on the matter, but it is obviously correlated to ingrained female gender roles that have been both romanticized through history, literature, and culture, but also hailed as biologically determined and/or religiously mandated.

In an older post (actually, a favorite with a fun follow-up), I focused not on how omnipresent male privilege is, but on how women unknowingly reaffirm it. I vaguely describe male privilege as:
I am male, and I deserve access to all women unaccompanied (or "claimed") by other men at all times. Unclaimed women, you are always my business, and you are always available for my pleasure.
This is only one of many aspects of the overall social condition of male privilege. In terms of dominant cultural scripts (that is to say not everyone, but certainly more common ideologies reaffirmed through social institutions), men are given the privilege of only considering themselves, and the privilege to not think twice about it. As their counterpart, women are generally socialized to consider all others first. While these two life philosophies are at odds with one another, our culture strangely enforces compulsory heterosexuality, and then squawks about the divorce rate.

Other examples, taken from a fairly comprehensive check list, are quite compelling. I find the first most poignant, "I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege." I tried to cherry-pick from the list:
  • If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.
  • If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.
  • If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent.
  • If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.
  • If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.
  • My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.
  • When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
  • As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters.
  • As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.
  • As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often.
  • If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.
  • I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented, every day, without exception.
  • If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.
  • If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.
  • I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.
  • The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time.
  • If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.
  • My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.
  • I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.
  • The decision to hire me will never be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.
  • If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks.

Keep in mind these examples may apply to varying degrees to varying populations of men (these do intersect with white privilege and class privilege--but of course, all groups unite in their oppression of women).

And of course, there is dispute as to how privileged men really are (e.g. "men have the privilege to grow in a society that encourages boys to be tough, dads and moms buy war toys, 64% of adolescent boys hit or beat-up another kid in the past year").

I will never deny that sexism and male privilege ultimately harm men--this is why I consider myself as a humanist and not a feminist (and because people are more than genitals). However, what distinguishes the harm done to men and women is this framework of entitlement and access that men so freely experience, and therefore, they are greatly privileged. Hence the term"cocky." Entitled, with a phallus.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quitting is contagious

Easier to quit smoking in groups, and when friends quit, they decrease smoking among their friends. Influence works both ways.

This really is not rocket science. It's called support.

House Judiciary Committee subpoenas Rove

From the New York Times:

The House Judiciary Committee pressed its investigation of possible political influence in Justice Department prosecutions on Thursday by issuing a subpoena to Karl Rove, the former chief political operative at the Bush White House.

Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the committee chairman, said the subpoena was necessary because Mr. Rove had explicitly declined an invitation to appear voluntarily. Mr. Conyers and fellow committee Democrats say they want to question Mr. Rove about the dismissals of several federal prosecutors and ask whether he knows anything about the decision to prosecute former Gov. Donald E. Siegelman of Alabama, a Democrat.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Climate quote

"Some people think that cutting carbon means denying ourselves the things that make life enjoyable - no shopping, no fun - but I see it differently.

Tackling climate change isn't about self-denial, it's about reinvention; reinventing towns and cities, redesigning the way they work, and changing the way we all manage our lives." (source)

The secret lives of married men--and women

In his article featured in the Huffington Post, The Secret Lives of Married Men, the author describes the Spitzer situation as no surprise, but instead a common need for sexual variety felt by married men. Then he quotes a psychologist that explains how honest and open relationships are happier than those ridden with guilt and lies, or those truly monogamous ones that are crippled with resentment and boredom.

That is all fine and dandy, but I am offended that this is labeled as simply a male desire. While true statistics of infidelity will never be available, if there is a disparity, it is only because women are socialized to suppress and be shameful of sexual desire and fantasy. Not to mention this is coupled with a sense of self that is predicated on satisfying others and never one self. Therefore, a typically socialized female could in theory be less likely to act out her desires for sexual variety, as she had traumatized her sexual exploration long ago, and may be more compelled by the romance of "happily ever after" than her need to tap someone else.

But this is one scenario for a woman who has absorbed the typical female script, and regardless, lots of women cheat.

The need for sexual variety is valid in all sexual beings, despite genitals or gender identification.

Also, the author finishes his slanted piece by romanticizing himself as a polyamorist, which he confuses with the practice of getting lots of ass aside from his spouse. Polyamory is characterized by multiple meaningful relations--it's not a pretty word for swinging.

16% of science teachers are Creationists

Despite a court-ordered ban on teaching creationism in school, 1 in 8 teachers are teaching god, Adam, Eve, a snake, and a magic apple as science. Read more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Supreme Court upholds child porn law

Rejecting arguments that the law could be used against mainstream movies, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld a law that criminalizes the advertising and promotion of child pornography.

The 7-2 decision marked the first time the court endorsed a federal statute aimed at sexual materials on the Internet.

Other laws had been struck down as too broadly written and potentially affecting materials protected by the First Amendment. Dissenting Justices David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg insisted that Monday's ruling undermines those precedents

The 2003 law before the justices was intended to curtail the exploitation of children by making it a crime to advertise, promote or solicit materials purported to depict children engaging in sex acts.

The law was challenged by Michael Williams, a Florida man who was caught in 2004 in a federal sting after putting out a message in a chat room that said, "Dad of toddler has 'good' pics of her and me for swap of your toddler pics, or live cam." He was convicted of possessing and promoting child pornography and received two 5-year sentences.

Williams said the law was too broad and could affect the marketing of movies that depict -- but don't really show -- adolescent sex. Williams' case was backed by the American Booksellers and other publishing groups. (full article)

what sexism, Hillary?

Hillary is complaining about all of the sexism she has faced in her campaign, and I don't doubt that she has. But let's get real. Hillary entered this race as an extremely viable candidate, and in the beginning, she was the projected nominee. The tables turned, and while she has put up a fight, it's over. It reflects poorly on women in politics when they cannot accept a loss, and instead place unsubstantiated blame on sexism.

While I think sexism is both rampant and horribly normalized in this country, Hillary did not lose because she is a woman. She lost because Obama is the better candidate for reasons beyond his penis.

If we wanted to pretend like our country slides only in favor of the white man in all instances, then the all-American, sweetheart-looking John Edwards would have easily swooned Democratic voters. But he didn't. Instead, a white woman and a biracial man came full speed ahead.

paper money violates disability laws

Based on the Rehabilitation Act of 1973:

NEW YORK ( -- A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the U.S. Treasury Department is violating the law by failing to design and issue currency that is readily distinguishable to blind and visually impaired people.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a 2006 district court ruling that could force the United States to redesign its money so blind people can distinguish between values. (CNN)

Senator Kennedy has malignant brain tumor

so sad

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Blaming the media will only make your life worse, Hillary

Hillary is blaming the DC punditocracy for discounting her nomination potential--but why would any sane person blame the media for anything? You think spitting fire at the media is going to give you happy-go-lucky coverage?

Way to evade responsibility for your own losing campaign!

great. blame global warming on obese people.

Obesity as a cause of global warming?

get well

I really hope that Senator Kennedy is okay, and am very thankful that I was able to watch him address the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on the floor only a few weeks ago.

Over the next few days, Senator Kennedy will continue to undergo evaluations to determine the cause of his seizures.


While cofounder Joan Blades and feminist author Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner initiated a truly successful movement with their creation of MomsRising--the language still chokes me up.

Two years and 150,000 members later, MomsRising is at it harder than ever--even winning paid sick leave in New Jersey, and organizing constituent meetings with members of Congress in over 44 states regarding the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The list of national campaigns continues.

The strategy behind the organization is compelling: reframe progressive policies through the lens of motherhood, and unite women across cultures, economic brackets, and political orientations. This potential has been long-sought throughout feminist discourse, and with the correct framing, perhaps it is more realistic.

Despite all of these successes, I still cannot get over re-enforcing family issues as mothers' issues. Do we really want to drive home the fact that women are responsible for children? What about fathers?

Perhaps this is the cultural climate in which we live, but it still kills me every time. The real discussion is ignored when we continue to explore issues of women and poverty by rooting them in the family un-friendliness of the workforce.

No. The real problem here is that women are given the burden of motherhood. Strangely, it takes two people to make a baby, but only one is expected to deal with it on the day-to-day. As long as we fail to distribute parenting equally, women will always be disadvantaged.

Clearly, the distribution has somewhat improved, but when we keep calling family issues mom issues--that is evidence enough for me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Polar bears will be protected

Polar bears are now endangered species. Funny how that is cause for celebration--but it is. While it is sad their existence is threatened by global warming, now they will be federally protected.

Woot woot. Polar bears are my favorite animal (and they were even before global warming was a top national concern, thanks).

Viagra aids muscular dystrophy

Looks like the increased blood flow has other benefits, namely fighting heart failure in patients with muscular dystrophy.

NARAL endorses Obama

Despite a history of supporting Hillary, NARAL Pro-Choice America has endorsed Obama.

NARAL president Nancy Keenan said, "Today, we are proud to put our organization's grass-roots and political support behind the pro-choice candidate whom we believe will secure the Democratic nomination and advance to the general election. That candidate is Senator Obama."

No point in staying on a sinking ship.

young evangelicals voting for Obama?

Good read. Here's a snippet:

According to a September 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 15 percent of white evangelicals between 18 and 29, a group traditionally a shoo-in for the GOP, say they no longer identify with the Republican Party. Older evangelicals are also questioning their traditional allegiance, but not at the same rate.

But, Howard Dean, don't count your chickens quite yet. College-age and 20-something Christians may be leaving the GOP, but only 5 percent of young evangelicals have joined the Democrats, according to the Pew survey. The other 10 percent are wandering the political wilderness, somewhere between "independent" and "unaffiliated."

Edwards endorses Obama

Edwards endorsed Obama.

Seems late (considering West Virginia), but I like this article: Edwards did not go back on his word that he would not endorse until the party had a nominee--he is saying that we have the nominee.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Apologies for the meager blogging. I am in the midst of moving and job-switching. Ha, job. As if I'm paid.

Will be back on track soon.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Alas! Decent vegan bags

Found this great Canadian company, matt & nat. It's no Marc Jacobs, but it's also not tortured dead cow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Clinton lends her campaign $6.4 million

Hillary can't keep up with the heat, so she has to loan herself millions of dollars on multiple occasions.

The campaign said Clinton made three separate loans leading into the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, of $1 million, $5 million and $425,000. Earlier this year she loaned the campaign $5 million -- a move that triggered a wave of contributions from small donors over the Internet (Washington Post).

George McGovern Drops Clinton

Former South Dakota Senator George McGovern, has dropped his support for Clinton stating:

"Barack Obama has waged a very effective campaign. He's an unusually capable and talented man. I didn't frankly know him when I endorsed Hillary last October...I have been very impressed with him, and I'm sure she has been, too" (Washington Post)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

alcoholism gender gap is closing


ahh, religion and molestation meet again

From the Associated Press:

The leader of an apocalyptic sect in northeastern New Mexico was arrested Tuesday and charged with felony sex crimes against children.

State police arrested Wayne Bent, 66, on three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Peter Olson.

His son constructed an intelligent thought, remarking:

"I don't question that there are things that have happened here that are shocking to people's cultural norms, but ... the things that have occurred here are not illegal," he said.

Oh, but here goes his thinking cap:

"He will do what God instructs him to do."

It gets better:

Wayne Bent has acknowledged having sex with followers — including his daughter-in-law — and lying naked with virgins. He said the virgins asked for sex, but he refused.

But this all proves he is the messiah!

"Jesus had not committed any crimes, so the authorities had to invent some crimes to crucify him over. It is the same for me also. I have committed no crimes, but many crimes are being imagined and concocted in the minds of men to try and kill me again."

75 students arrested in drug raid

frat boys, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, weapons--and a lot of kids who just got their lives fucked.

bring a travel mug to Starbucks

Bring your travel mug to Starbucks, and it will donate 10 cents to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

And if you are getting coffee elsewhere--bring your travel mug there as well. The less trash, the better.

Monday, May 5, 2008

female soldiers barred from combat?

the new Messiah is a shark!

Check out the female hammerhead shark, which can reproduce without having sex.  This has previously only been seen in bony fish--never in cartilaginous fish such as sharks.

spider sex!

From BBC:

Spiders "talk" to potential mates using a type of light not visible to the human eye, scientists report.

A team found that male jumping spiders (Phintella vittata) are using ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to communicate with females.

While UVA rays are often used in animal communication, this is the first evidence that UVB light is also being used, the researchers said.

The study is published in the journal Current Biology.

The team found that male spiders were reflecting the ultraviolet B rays from their bodies.

The researchers discovered that females were more likely to mate with males that could "talk" to them with UVB compared with spiders sitting in chambers where UVB light had been blocked with filters.

perhaps things are not as dismal as I fear...

Two California superdelegates who identify as Clinton supporters  "would reconsider their support if rival Barack Obama maintained his lead in elected delegates and the popular vote after the last contests on June 3," (Los Angeles Times). 

Sunday, May 4, 2008

for all those flipping out over Reverend Wright

How about Reverend Hagee, pastor of a Texas mega-church?

Yes, the same whack-job who blamed Hurricane Katrina as punishment for all the gays--and also stood next to John McCain to give his holy endorsement so that his heard of religious extremists could blindly follow to the voting booths.

Let's glean a lesson from all of this. Obama has to say he belongs to a Church to be electable. McCain has to be endorsed by pastors to remain electable to the base of uber-Conservatives.

To all of the Democrats flipping out over some sound-bytes of Obama's preacher and using that as Hillary-fodder--take a look at the bigger picture: elected officials, and especially presidential hopefuls, need the bible-beaters with huge congregations behind them to give them a Christian stamp of approval and broaden their voter base.

It's quite simple. Get over it.

I could turn this into why does a presidential hopeful need a Christian stamp of approval to win, but that's a whole other issue./

Christian Nation, Prison Nation

I just read an insightful little post from Atheist Revolution, exploring the irony that our "Christian" nation is also the world's largest prison nation. Although the US has less than 5% of the world's population, we have nearly 25% of the world's prison population.

Since "real Christians" do not commit crimes, they insist, it must be the atheists and false Christians who are filling our nation's prisons.

Of course, those who bother to investigate this possibility soon find that godlessness is unusually rare in correctional facilities. Contrary to the often repeated claims that atheists are simply immoral monsters, the data show that we are underrepresented in prison.

This seems to be a case of trying to have it both ways. The Christian nation crowd argues that America is deeply Christian while at the same time decrying our insufficiently Christian culture and its alleged effects.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

protect polar bears

The Bush Administration has until May 15 to decide whether to place the polar bear on the Endangered Species list.

Tell Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne that the polar bear, and its fragile Arctic habitat, requires protection from the effects of global warming.

Sign the petition today.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I wanted to share what makes a good friend.

A good friend is someone who will set an alarm clock to wake up in the wee hours of the morning, to be able to call you and make sure you got up for something important.  

Actually, It take that back.  That's not a good friend--that's a best friend.