Saturday, December 26, 2009

fat rolls and "roll models"

Forget cutting carbs. I'm talking about cutting self-criticism and becoming a true "roll" model.

This post was inspired by the image above, taken from Glamour, as part of a "body image revolution." The photo struck me because I have seen healthy, normal-sized models--even plus-sized models--but I have never seen an unedited fat roll on any type of model. The fat roll is actually what makes this image so provocative.

You know. Pooch. Muffin Top. Roll. Whatever you want to call it. Many of us, men included, spend our lives fighting against the roll, hiding the roll, being ashamed of the roll. This picture champions the opposite. Roll with the roll. Love the roll.

While critics of the media cast the "thin hype" as a top-down phenomenon (we are victims of what we see), there is a bottom-up mechanism that is absent from mainstream discourse. Two scholars come to mind. Of course, this has Foucault written all over it (we self-regulate, and self-discipline. Think panopticon). More strikingly, feminist scholar Marilyn Frye remarks on the way that we participate in our own oppression: "We acquiesce in being made invisible, in our occupying no space. We participate in our own erasure."

While men, women, gender queer, and trans people suffer from body image issues, this post focuses on women, simply because I am speaking from my own experience. In reclaiming our bodies, I think that one of the most helpful tools is considering the ways that our choices and self-regulation oppress other women by promoting a standard and encouraging destructive behavior. In this way, we judge and punish ourselves, and in doing so, judge and punish the bodies of other women, whether we do so knowingly or not.

Forget cutting carbs. I'm talking about cutting self-criticism and becoming a true "roll" model. What's a roll model? It means loving your healthy self and eating delicious things openly, and providing younger girls with better alternatives than deprivation and weakness. It means eating well-balanced meals, and indulging in life and desserts. It means being fit and active and having the energy to lift weights or swim or bike or kick box or whatever gets your goat. It means being truly focused with your friends and partner because you are not freaking out about what you are eating, or missing the gym to enjoy a night out. It means having energy to focus at work or to accomplish your goals because you have eaten enough food. It means appreciating your life, and letting it rub off on other people. It means you can be sexy and attractive and have some flesh on your body.

I am by no means advocating being "fat"--whatever that means. I am promoting being healthy--whatever that means. Being healthy looks different on each body. I feel for women who are naturally very thin and are constantly being accused of having eating disorders. After all, being active and fit looks different on each body. While I can't say what this means for each individual woman, I can tell you that for the vast majority of is, this means fat on our bodies. Millions of years of evolution don't care about your modern feminist agenda; even if you want to be a professional workaholic without children, your body has typically evolved to carry some abdominal fat to protect the fetus, plain and simple.

For women to reclaim our bodies, we need to reclaim the roll. I know there is that special moment in nearly every relationship where, in the midst of a cuddle or what not, the fat roll makes its debut. For a lot of us, this is a really mortifying moment. It totally kills the mood. We are embarrassed. Millions of thoughts begin to race, and we lose focus on our partner.

I'm saying that we need to reclaim that moment, and understand that fat is a part of our healthy bodies, and respect that part just as we respect the rest of us. If your partner finds this off-putting, I really hope that you do not emotionally or legally bind yourself to that individual. Call me crazy, but I think your partner should enjoy your healthy self--not some restrictive, self-deprecating, and calorie-obsessed version of you that can't concentrate in a romantic moment if you see a fold of flesh.

Beyond just you, young girls need to look around and see that they can eat and enjoy food, that they can be strong and active, and that they can be themselves, as well as successful, happy, and loved. When you are proud of your pooch, your life becomes more enjoyable, and you can potentially help another woman cope with body image issues. So I'm saying eat a fucking cupcake, and enjoy your life.

While women play the largest role in learning to love their rolls, their partners have an impact as well. It continues to amaze, disappoint, and sadden me to hear the way that (I am going to be heterosexist here) men talk about female bodies in discussing their attractions. The following conversation took place with a particularly (insert pejorative adjective here) heterosexual male earlier on in the semester:

Him: So-and-so is really hot.
Me: What does she look like?
Him: She's skinny and...

I was really blown away that "skinny" was the first attribute listed. Why skinny? Why not healthy, or active? It's really disgusting to me to think that a male would know or have reason to know that he was dating a woman who was depriving herself, and find this attractive. My mind goes back to an article I read a couple years ago by a man, reflecting on his college years. He talked about a severely restrictive and underweight former girlfriend. After their breakup, he began dating a healthier girl and curvier girl, with whom he loved eating pasta (which the previous girl would never eat). The former and underweight girl, feeling jealous I suppose, commented, "Oh, I didn't know you liked fat girls." The man shared in his article, "It's not that I like fat girls. I like happy girls."

That was really meaningful to me. If men want to be part of female empowerment, they need to understand that affirming unhealthy bodies is destructive to women. Even more to the point, I think some men need to seriously think about why they are attracted to a woman who is depriving herself and punishing herself to maintain a weight that is not natural or healthy for her. This is not to say that men should not be attracted to thin women. There are women who are naturally thin. I am talking about rewarding and affirming women who engage in self-destructive behavior to maintain their weight. Note that self-destructive behavior need not include a diagnosed eating disorder, but disordered and restrictive eating in general, coupled with destructive and self-deprecating thoughts and behavioral patterns.

Aside from loving your own body, and finding a partner that loves your healthy body, the other important part to this movement is changing the way we interact with our friends. The number one thing you can do to help your friends is to stop entertaining them when they deprecate their own bodies. This means cutting off friends who talk about how fat they are, or how many calories or carbs they ate. This is not helpful or productive for anyone. If your friend is seriously being unhealthy, then that is a legitimate conversation that has nothing to do with weight. It has to do with lifestyle. The irrational obsessions of "does this make me look fat," or "I gained so much weight this week" need to stop if women are ever going to be free of this obsession and live in the moment.

Their are many of us who have lead unhealthy lives, and we are in the process of getting on the right track. During this process, we may experience frustration about our bodies. It seems hard and counter-intuitive to love your current body when you know you are undergoing a process that means your body will be changing (presumably losing weight). In this context, it's hard not to obsess. This is when it's helpful to know that your body may change, but to realize that you love your body where it is today.

Their are also many of us who internally obsess over destructive thoughts about ourselves, and can't seem to stop them. This calls for the "fake it til you make it" approach, where you pick a one-liner and repeat it in your head until you force destructive thoughts out. This can be anything as simple as, "I love my body" over and over and over again. The goal is to stop entertaining your own destructive thoughts, the destructive thoughts of your friends, and the destructive thoughts of your partners, and hope that you can be a roll model along the way.

(Note that men also experience pressure to self-regulate their bodies. See "rethinking the beef cake: weightlifting and the regulation of male bodies")

Monday, December 21, 2009

the new BFF: interspecies friendships

I was perusing one of my new fav sites, Animal Intelligence, and really enjoyed the following video

"sorry vegans: brussels sprouts like to live, too"

The best part about stumbling on the article "sorry vegans: brussels sprouts like to live, too" is that I'm a vegan and I had literally just washed the olive oil off my hands from munching on baked brussels sprouts before I touched my keyboard to hit up the New York Times. Funny.

Now back to the article. The overall science included in the article is fascinating:

Just because we humans can’t hear them doesn’t mean plants don’t howl. Some of the compounds that plants generate in response to insect mastication — their feedback, you might say — are volatile chemicals that serve as cries for help. Such airborne alarm calls have been shown to attract both large predatory insects like dragon flies, which delight in caterpillar meat, and tiny parasitic insects, which can infect a caterpillar and destroy it from within.

...Dr. Hilker and her colleagues, as well as other research teams, have found that certain plants can sense when insect eggs have been deposited on their leaves and will act immediately to rid themselves of the incubating menace.

...“Plants are not static or silly,” said Monika Hilker of the Institute of Biology at the Free University of Berlin. “They respond to tactile cues, they recognize different wavelengths of light, they listen to chemical signals, they can even talk” through chemical signals. Touch, sight, hearing, speech. “These are sensory modalities and abilities we normally think of as only being in animals,” Dr. Hilker said.

This is all great stuff (and so Avatar, if you've seen it). Although I have to say, the delivery is quite poor. The fact that the article is addressed to "ethical vegans" seems like the author is giving those who abstain from animal consumption the middle finger, as if our compassion for animals and environmental impact is now irrational because plants sense danger and can communicate.

First, let's get real--I'm not going to starve to death. Second, I am not convinced that some sort of chemical sensory perception and communication is the same as experiencing emotions, socializing, etc. Third, assuming arguendo that plants are on equal footing as animals, plants are not slowly tortured to death the way animals are to obtain flesh, lactation, and the like. Lastly, the environmental impact of farming animals is much larger than harvesting crops.

It's nothing new that ecosystems are inter-connected and inter-dependent. Shall I prance around and eat foie gras now because plants communicate with one another? I'm not really sure what the author is asking for, nor did I appreciate her method of framing what is otherwise extremely interesting scientific understandings of plant sophistication.

At the end of the day, ecosystems are alive. Make conscious choices, try to take only what you need, appreciate it, and give back as best you can.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Monsanto's Roundup Ready 1 Patent to expire in 2014

After the Roundup Ready 1 soybean patent expires in 2014, Monsanto will allow farmers to use it as a generic--instead of producing the heavily anticipated, more expensive, Roundup 2. I'm very curious what went on behind close doors with this decision. Perhaps it has something to do with the antitrust litigation Monsanto is facing. Perhaps not.

Hopefully this will end the litigation threats and seed-saving drama of small farmers whose crops have been contaminated by Roundup simply because these genetically altered seeds are in the air and blow around.

But it certainly is getting harder for seed companies to avoid using the Roundup Ready bacterial gene, which makes the plants impervious to the widely used herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto sells as Roundup.

That allows farmers to spray their fields to kill weeds without harming the crops. More than 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the United States contain it. So do about two-thirds of the nation’s corn and cotton crops, though those are protected by different patents that expire later than the soybean patent. full article

Delicious. I need to look into whether organic products can be treated with Monsanto and still maintain certified organic status. Will get back to you on that one.

Monday, December 14, 2009

doing good with your dooty

Just as fruits and veggies can be composted to eliminate waste--so too can your poo! Waste management is an energy-intensive endeavor, not to mention the water required for a flush. Joseph Jenkins has a simple solution.

Poo in a bucket.

Not just any old bucket. A bucket with a toilet seat on top. Then toss on some saw dust for odor elimination. Tests reveal that after the appropriate composting time has elapsed, fertilizer made from human manure has no trace of fecal bacteria.

Read the full article

Thursday, December 10, 2009

happy channukah to myself

I have been meaning to make an eco-friendly holiday gift list...but law school finals have been a shock to the system (note my lack of posts).

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my life post veganism. Actually, I find that I am happier and calmer than I have been since I was youngin'. I wouldn't say that is the exclusive result of being a vegan--but I definitely think that becoming a vegan has been significant part of a bigger project to live, let live, and love life.

In celebration, I really wanted a fun vegan charm necklace. I found the perfect one, inspired by an E.E. Cummings poem, made by Vaute Couture (from recycled aluminum). Check it out. Note that there are two other styles.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ocean acidification: the other carbon problem

Whether or not you legitimate claims of human-made climate change, there is another carbon problem--ocean acidification.

The ocean is praised as a carbon sink, or place that carbon can go instead of the atmosphere. But as we continue to pollute and the ocean continues to absorb carbon, the ocean becomes more acidic. The acidity is starting to dissolve seashells. This has major effects on underwater ecosystems, and people who depend on them.

At this rate, we will profoundly alter the ocean's chemistry, and who knows what sea life will adapt.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

cashew cheese and Stella McCartnies: reflecting on two years of veganism

Wednesday was my two-year veganversary. Last year, commemorating my one-year mark, I came out of the shoe closet in a very honest post, Soy Milk and Manolos. I admitted my true vegan plight: my wardrobe is abusive to the environment.

That post was actually clever and humorous at times. However, since I'm in law school now, I have lost most of my wit in general--so forgive the dry account of the last year of my life.

At this very moment a year ago, I was wondering whether or not I could become a leather-free consumer. I was coming to grips with a very classist reality that certain high-fashion purchases felt very important to me. I was also wondering why I felt the need to purchase multiple over-priced variations of the same thing. To top it off, the miles my garments had traveled across the world to reach my department store become a bother as well.

I have not purchased any new leather, wool, or silk in over a year. I still wear my old stuff, and I still conveniently consider my mom's wardrobe second-hand and acceptable. That being said, I notice that I consume less. I realize I am inclined to make purchases when I am stressed, as if having the power to buy something will somehow make me feel more in control of my life, or more relaxed, or happier. It's just not true. It becomes one more thing tossed in the jungle that is my closet. I'll think it's ugly tomorrow anyway. No more "retail therapy" for me.

Correction: now I buy organic, colorful fruits and vegetables to channel my need to purchase and control. I find that examining all of the fruits in the bin for the brightest findings is a calming way to reconnect with myself.

I'm also discovering more and more vegan, eco-friendly, high-fashion alternatives. Stella McCartney, olsen Haus, and Vaute Couture to name my favs.

But something else has been happening in the past year. When I first became a vegan, I ignored the wardrobe issue. As I began tackling the wardrobe issue, I ignored the face/body/hair product issue. I by no means pile on loads of makeup--however I am addicted to cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing, and conditioning. I do enjoy mascara, a good eye brow pencil and gel, and definitely rock the red lipstick on weekends. Perhaps you have read my mani/pedi experiment a few posts down.

And so, to be completely corny and not at all clever, a new chapter of my vegan journey begins. Looking forward to sharing my findings.

economies of scale and eating local

Very interesting article in Forbes magazine, "The Locavore Myth" (hat tip to Veg News). The article opens by considering other factors in calculating the energy cost of food production beside transportation (water usage, fertilizer types, processing methods and packaging techniques).

Perhaps more interestingly, the author then considers economies of scale in determining the energy cost of food transportation:

To choose a locally grown apple over an apple trucked in from across the country might seem easy. But this decision ignores economies of scale. To take an extreme example, a shipper sending a truck with 2,000 apples over 2,000 miles would consume the same amount of fuel per apple as a local farmer who takes a pickup 50 miles to sell 50 apples at his stall at the green market. The critical measure here is not food miles but apples per gallon.

The one big problem with thinking beyond food miles is that it's hard to get the information you need...This is an opportunity for watchdog groups.

This adds an interesting twist to the dilemma of organic v. local. I go for organic when I have to pick one or the other, and perhaps that might be the more eco-friendly decision, depending on the shipment. But who knows at this point? No one, really.

And so I appreciate the author's conclusion: skip meat instead.

Until our food system becomes more transparent, there is one thing you can do to shrink the carbon footprint of your dinner: Take the meat off your plate. No matter how you slice it, it takes more energy to bring meat, as opposed to plants, to the table. It takes 6 pounds of grain to make a pound of chicken and 10 to 16 pounds to make a pound of beef.

vegetarian food pyramid

The American Dietetic Association has released a vegetarian food pyramid that is vegan-friendly. The image above was taken from the site. Click here for more details.

hat tip Veg news

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Copenhagen gone bust

If your week was boring, he is something to ruffle your feathers. At the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (APEC), world leaders "announced on Sunday morning that a legally binding deal on climate change would be impossible to achieve at the U.N. summit on global warming in Copenhagen next month."

What's going on?

The reason is simple: the deadlock between developed nations and developing ones. Developing nations refuse most responsibility for climate change, arguing that warming is primarily the fault of rich industrialized countries, and want the developed world to take on strict short-term emissions reduction targets. Developed nations, led by the U.S., argue that fast-growing developing nations like China and India will emit the vast majority of future carbon emissions, and that any deal that exempts them from action — as the Kyoto Protocol did — is a farce. Despite months of negotiations in Barcelona, Bangkok and other world cities, that gap remains vast.

At the same time, the failure of the U.S. Senate to pass carbon cap legislation leaves American negotiators in a difficult position at Copenhagen. Read the full article

ocean absorbing less emissions

Oceans are becoming less efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide, and can no longer be considered a permanent "carbon sink" for heat-trapping gases.

The slowdown in the rise of the absorption rate resulted from a gradual change in the oceans’ chemistry, the study found. “The more carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs, the more acidic it becomes and the less carbon dioxide it can absorb,” said the study’s lead author, Samar Khatiwala, a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“It’s a small change in absolute terms,” Dr. Khatiwala said. “What I think is fairly clear and important in the long term is the trend toward lower values, which implies that more of the emissions will remain in the atmosphere.”

...Yet much work remains to be done to confirm the results and to expand upon them, Dr. Khatiwala said. read the full article

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

going nude: an un-manicured social experiment

Before this experiment began, I did not remember the last time I saw my own bare fingernails. Yes, I had a more grungy phase where I let my nails chip and found this to be rebellious--but that's about it.

Ever since I posted about the toxic chemicals used in nail products--including harsh effects on both human health and the environment--in the pedicure predicament, I knew the time had finally come to address the elephant in the room. And so began my cuticle cold turkey.

Before I get into my thoughts of being mani/pedi-free (and nail polish all together) for three months now, I thought I would address the need for poisonous pedicures in the first place.

1. Classism. Whether or not one chooses to use words such as "lady-like" or "classy," the fact of the matter is that outsourcing your manis and pedis makes a statement about a) your extra resources and b) your extra time.

2. Sexism. Related to classism, gendered relations of power create a standard wherein culturally praised "femininity" entails specific (costly and waste-producing) hyper-grooming (I say "hyper" because I think a certain degree of grooming is inherent in any social creature, including animals). While regulation of the body may be mirrored in men (see re-thinking the beefcake: weight lifting and the regulation of male bodies) the manicure mandate has no hegemonic male counterpart. While men may receive manicures and pedicures, I believe there is a different social psychology behind it that can be debated later, if my readers so desire.

3. OCD. I think the ocd/conception of hygiene/need to control element of this issue is likely related to class, but it creates its own life force all together. Most of my manicure compulsions have to do with control, perfection, thorough removal of cuticles and dead skin, completely evenly filed nails, no flaws expressed through the chipping of nail polish.

4. Let's not forget, happy colors make people happy. I do believe this is similar to sunny weather.

Throughout my experiment, I have found that all four factors have come into play. I made a rule that I couldn't tell many people about my experiment, because then it was like I was just making excuses for the deplorable condition of my nails. It's been interesting to track my own thought process over the months. In the very beginning, I was dreading bare toenails more than bare nails. I think it had to do with the idea of making my feet "cuter." You know, because they are so gross and germs jump all over them when you walk in flip flops...or perhaps because my mother always respected women with painted toe nails in open-toe shoes. Who knows.

But surprise, surprise--once I finally took off the polish, I realized that I had really cute, fresh, happy-looking feet, even if my toes were not painted. In fact, I was very fascinated by the look. This even forced me to get over my foot phobia and touch my own feet (raw shea butter to cope with the lack of pedicures).

This lasted for a good 2 months. Now we're in month 3. I have to say, life is more peaceful without having to worry about chipped nails and making appointments and scheduling the gym around my appointments. But the whole fascination with the natural is getting old. I got a cuticle infection on one of my fingers because, let's get real, I'm not very skilled at cuticle removal. I occasionally and increasingly envy a good cherry red polish with a perfect file. And now, all sorts of thoughts are creeping in.

What about all of my job interviews coming up? What about when I meet people I want to impress? What about when I'm stressed studying for finals?

I'm thinking about breaking. What kind of break? Should I bring my own eco-friendly products? Should I go for the maintenance, but not apply a polish? Will I eco-justify an occasional mani-pedi as better than a biweekly visit?

I haven't decided. I'm letting the chips fall where they may. But let me just say, I never thought I would make it this far, and am definitely happy that I have broken the "need."

In any event, if you are addicted to nail polish, I encourage you to take the challenge and let The Colonic know how it goes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

it doesn't get much cooler than this

How cool is this? I have never seen brussels sprouts on the stalk. Who knew they even grew this way?

I am so excited to bake these. Word on the streets is it's easy and yummy to throw the stalk on the BBQ.

By the way, I happened to purchase this beauty at Trader Joe's--which is nice, seeing how frustrated I have been that most of the vegetables at TJ's come wrapped in plastic.

strange humor

I was watching a youtube clip from The Little Mermaid, and I realized that this scene is actually very traumatic.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

hot for Vaute

I always say that the hardest thing about being a vegan is not eating--it's dressing. Well-made, high fashion pieces are harder to come by in the world of the animal-friendly and eco-conscious.

Enter Vaute Couture. Beyond striking, this collection of coats is made for cold weather (wind resistant, snow resistant, heat retaining, and soft for sensitive skin). You can also get your coat of choice in a recycled version.

Will give you the final verdict when I get mine in the mail.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

party favors with a purpose

My roommate came home from a baby shower the other night and, as she caught me up on the chocolate bar and drinking games, set down a party favor on the counter.

I can appreciate the cultural need to send guests home with some sort of gendered doo-dad--but honestly, does it need to be something that is headed straight to the landfill? What about a party favor with a purpose? Perhaps a reusable water bottle with ballet slippers on it? A rosy coin pouch? A pink pill holder? There is room for creativity and personality here.

Resources: limited. Landfill space: limited. Room in your friends closet: limited. So what's with all of the worthless junk? How about handing out something that can be used (and better yet, re-used).

tell Obama to attend Copenhagen in person

Tell Obama it's game time, and he needs to attend Copenhagen in person. Sign the petition here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

would you like water or air pollution with that?

In response to respiratory illnesses caused by yellow smoke emissions from coal-fired power plants (and several lawsuits), Allegheny Energy tried a new approach: installing scrubbers to clean the plant's air emissions.

The "victory" was short-lived.

Each day since the equipment was switched on in June, the company has dumped tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater containing chemicals from the scrubbing process into the Monongahela River, which provides drinking water to 350,000 people and flows into Pittsburgh, 40 miles to the north.

...Much power plant waste once went into the sky, but because of toughened air pollution laws, it now often goes into lakes and rivers, or into landfills that have leaked into nearby groundwater, say regulators and environmentalists.

...The Environmental Protection Agency projects that by next year, roughly 50 percent of coal-generated electricity in the United States will come from plants that use scrubbers or similar technologies, creating vast new sources of wastewater.Yet no federal regulations specifically govern the disposal of power plant discharges into waterways or landfills.

Read the full article

Sunday, November 8, 2009

are you eating beef that's eating poop?

A coalition of food and consumer groups that includes Consumers Union and the Center for Science in the Public Interest has asked the Food and Drug Administration to ban the practice. McDonald's Corp., the nation's largest restaurant user of beef, also wants the FDA to prohibit the feeding of so-called poultry litter to cattle.

Members of the coalition are threatening to file a lawsuit or to push for federal legislation establishing such a ban if the FDA doesn't act to do so in the coming months.

Farmers feed 1 million to 2 million tons of poultry litter to their cattle annually, according to FDA estimates.

Using the litter -- which includes feces, spilled chicken feed, feathers and poultry farm detritus -- increases the risk of cows becoming infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union. full article

hormonal milk is not safe, says cancer expert

Special thanks to Organic Consumers Alert for the tip:

The Cancer Prevention Coalition is criticizing a widely publicized recent report, "Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin" (rBST) which claims that milk from cows injected with this genetically engineered hormone is safe.

The report was authored by eight paid consultants to rBST companies, including Elanco and Monsanto, points out Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. "All of these consultants were paid for their so-called 'safety assessments,'" he says.

What's the big deal? Well...

* rBST makes cows sick. Monsanto has been forced to admit to about 20 toxic effects, including mastitis, on the label of Posilac, the rBST product that when administered to cows makes them produce more milk. Monsanto's Posilac product was acquired by Eli Lilly in 2008.

* rBST milk is contaminated by pus, due to mastitis, an infection of the udder commonly induced by the hormone, and also by antibiotics used to treat the mastitis.

* rBST milk is chemically and nutritionally different than natural milk.

* Milk from cows injected with rBST is contaminated with the hormone, traces of which are absorbed through the gut into the blood of people who consume this milk or products made from it.

* rBST milk is supercharged with high levels of the natural growth factor (IGF-1), which is readily absorbed through the gut.

* Excess levels of IGF-1 have been incriminated in well-documented scientific publications as causes of breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Additionally, IGF-1 blocks natural defense mechanisms against early submicroscopic cancers. full article

Does Monsanto sound like a familiar name you've read about on The Colonic? Recall a recent blog post regarding Obama, Monsanto, and the FDA.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maine votes against equality

Maine voters repealed the state's same-sex marriage law:
With 87 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, 53 percent of voters had approved the repeal, ending an expensive and emotional fight that was closely watched around the country as a referendum on the national gay-marriage movement. Polls had suggested a much closer race. full article

Sunday, November 1, 2009

many apologies

Dear readers,

The Colonic is really slacking. I've been slaving away doing legal research for a predictive memo.

Perhaps if I had the time, I would tell the story of how I was pied with dead animal flesh this weekend. While this was particularly offensive and disgusting for a vegan to endure, I imagine anyone would be disheartened to get baconed.

Slaughtered pig aside, the gravamen of the offense was the utter disregard of my boundaries and sense of bodily security.

Back to work.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

that's why a bear can rest at ease.

Obama pushes for coal

Finally Barack Obama takes a break from health care reform and shouts a holler to energy legislation...of sorts.

On Friday, Obama spoke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on energy and the environment, and called for “the best use of resources we have in abundance, through clean coal technology, safe nuclear power, sustainably grown biofuels and energy we harness from wind, waves and sun.” full article

Wow. Wait to start with a bang. "Clean" coal and "safe" nuclear?

Naturally, The Colonic is not surprised, seeing how Mr. Yes We Can rejected FOIA requests for Secret Service logs revealing the identities of big coal executives visiting the White House.

Can we be fair and say that Obama is pulling the strategic political strings by touting clean coal and nuclear, and tacking on renewables at the end?

Maaaayyybbbeee. But probably not. Change We Can Believe In handed the FDA over to Monsanto, attempted to suppress the democratic process of FOIA requests to hide his meetings with coal companies, and has done nothing of substance in to merit a leadership role in time for Copenhagen.

campaign viability: the cost of coaliton-building and casting a wide net

Campaign strategy presents a terrible conundrum: how wide can you cast your net before you start to repel your original campaigners?

Coalition-building is a good-faith attempt to strengthen the movement. Obviously, a minority of people will have limp impact. So here we go, re-framing our issue to appeal to different life perspectives and interests.

The benefit? Bigger numbers, more money, more interest, more impact. The cost? There is potential for the message to become diluted, modified, redirected, or otherwise misrepresented.

Exhibit A: Me.

Yesterday I participated in a Washington DC event for the International Day of Climate Action (I somehow thought this would be bigger and better than VA Power Shift--I was wrong, and sorry). Aside from the fact that I rolled up to extremely disappointing numbers (I'm guessing the thunderstorm was a large deterrent for many), the only speakers that I was able to stomach really angered me.

The first offense was relating the climate and environment to a biblical story. Wherever the delicate line is--appeal to the theists without offending the secular-minded--was definitely crossed.

Aside from pulling the religious card, the next offense is harder to articulate into words. Statements were thrown around such as "love is the solution...blah blah blah...start the revolution." GAG ME.

Yes, my interest in the environment is motivated by a love for life, but ultimately, my goals and passions are pragmatic. I am at this event for a very specific reason--public attention, networking, and political mobility--and I do not appreciate counting rainbows in the sky instead. It gets nothing done (maybe it motivates some?), and it's off-putting to the more goal-oriented, objective participants.

Sorry, love is not the solution. It's offensive to say that people who don't recycle or don't actively try to reduce their waste don't love. Lots of those people even love me.

The solution is recycling, reducing, reusing, eliminating waste, getting organized, and staying organized.

I suppose my main problem with the event is that I felt it was misrepresenting the real goal by dressing it up in some Noah hoo ha and fuddy duddy love junk--both of which are not all-inclusive perspectives. I felt silly being there. That is not why I care about the environment. Those statements do not motivate me. In fact, they prompted my departure. I do not care to participate in things that misrepresent me and my beliefs.

Of course, I suppose casting a wider net may deter original campaigners at some point or another, but if those original campaigners were ever truly dedicated, they are not going to up and leave. Instead, they create their own individual strategies and are more likely to cherry pick and criticize when appropriate.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

step up for Kuwaiti women

Kuwaiti women will be able to obtain their own passport without the consent of their husbands, following a ruling by the country's constitutional court.

Women activists welcomed the passport ruling but say they still need equal access to government housing and the right to pass citizenship to their children. full article

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

hot news on the cooling climate

Not much time tonight folks (what else is new?) but I thought I'd drop a quick link to address the climate cooling murmurings. Relatively stable temps are more complicated than they appear:

Scientists say the pattern of the last decade — after a precipitous rise in average global temperatures in the 1990s — is a result of cyclical variations in ocean conditions and has no bearing on the long-term warming effects of greenhouse gases building up in the atmosphere.

...Mojib Latif, a prize-winning climate and ocean scientist from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, in Germany, wrote a paper last year positing that cyclical shifts in the oceans were aligning in a way that could keep temperatures over the next decade or so relatively stable, even as the heat-trapping gases linked to global warming continued to increase. full article

Monday, October 19, 2009

recycling is so last season.

Biodegradability, so hot right now.

As the difficulty in securing a landfill permit is rising, it makes more sense to compost your food and use biodegradable and/or reusable containers/items where possible.

Read more about the zero waste movement.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

the EPA to strengthen Clean Water Act enforcement

Since the EPA has been under heat recently for NOT punishing tens of thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act in the past 10 years, it's trying to make a comeback and vow for better enforcement.

The agency has not settled on a list of potential targets, but is likely to focus on mining companies, large livestock farms, municipal wastewater treatment plants and construction companies that operate sites where polluted stormwater has run into nearby lakes and rivers.

...One witness described the impact of those lapses. Judy Treml, of Wisconsin, told lawmakers that her 6-month-old daughter was hospitalized after drinking water that had become contaminated when a nearby farm covered its land with manure, which then seeped into her family’s well. One of the problems, lawmakers said, is that such pollution often goes unpunished or is outside the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. full article. full article

Thursday, October 15, 2009

tell your senators to protect a strong EPA in the climate bill

"I urge you to take the pledge to vote only for a climate bill that retains the EPA's ability to regulate CO2 and doesn't give massive subsidies to the coal industry. This is a rare opportunity to stand up for our planet, and we cannot afford a bill that is too weak. Please stand up for a strong climate bill and take the pledge."

Sign the pledge

Adam's Morgan gets vegan pizza!

So...I hate Adam's Morgan. But now I think I'll go because Duccini's now has vegan pizza! If you're in the DC area, you should check it out.

Shout out to Compassion Over Killing for working with Duccini's to add veg-friendly options to the menu.

Monday, October 12, 2009

victory for farm animals and meat eaters in Michigan

Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a bill into law today that will extend "modest but meaningful" protection to farm animals. Michigan Humane Society reports:

HB 5127 phases out veal crates for calves within three years, and battery cages for laying hens and gestation crates for breeding sows within ten years. The state has more than ten million laying hens, approximately 100,000 breeding pigs, and is ranked by the Cattleman's Beef Board as a top veal-producing state (no official numbers are available). full article

On the one hand, farm animals will experience better (emphasis on better) treatment. On the other hand, giving animals room to minimally stand up, lie down, and turn around and extend their limbs means that an omnivore's future dinner is less crammed up against its feces, wading in bacteria and the like.

B.T. dubz, the bacteria becomes even more delicious when animals are wading in the feces of other animals. Mmmm, cross-contamination. gets better...your ground beef most likely contains flesh from thousands of cows that have been joined together by one factory-farming, meat industry mish-mash grinding splooge machine.

The skeptic reading my post says, "but we're not all (immediately) ill. It can't be that bad."

Well, lucky you...your splooge meat is treated with a chemical antibiotic McFlurry of nastiness. But there are no warning labels anywhere for you to read.

For more info, check out Food Inc.

Schwarzenegger makes moves in LGBTQ legislation

Schwarzenegger signed 3 LGBTQ rights bills into law, despite heavy pressure from anti-equality mongers. Equality California sums it up:
  • The Harvey Milk Day bill, authored by Senator Mark Leno, will honor the slain civil rights leader with the nation’s first “day of special significance” for an openly LGBT person in the country;
  • The Family Protection and Marriage Recognition Act, also authored by Senator Leno, underscores that same-sex couples married out of state are entitled to full recognition in California, and
  • The LGBT Domestic Violence Programs Expansion Bill, authored by Assemblymember John A. PĂ©rez, will expand funding for LGBT domestic violence programs in California.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

feeding your mental health

This article embodies the spirit of one of my favorite quotes, "Food is the foundation, but it's really about life"--FRESH the movie.

What we put in our bodies is about much more than just "eating." The New York Times reports:

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet — packed with fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil and fish — is good for your heart, many studies have found. Now scientists are suggesting the diet may be good for your mental health, too.

...Over time, those who had scored between 5 and 9 on the Mediterranean diet were 42 percent to 51 percent less likely to develop depression, the study found, than those who scored between 0 and 2. full article

As a vegan, I can tell you that the way that I eat has definitely changed more than my pantry. Aside from experiencing an increase in energy, conscious eating with an awareness of where my food comes from has added more mindfulness and happiness to my life. Yes, I will kiss a perfect tomato when I find one, take pride in the color combination of my chopped vegetables, make scrumptious wholesome foods for friends and fam, and smell my whole grains before I eat them. And since this transition, I am a more balanced, more peaceful and less stressed person.

I could get technical and list studies of how overhauling dietary lifestyles can modify misbehavior in children, but it's really late for me, so feel free to google that one.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

more water contamination

For this post, I will lay off of the coal industry and its contamination of water, and instead focus on weedkillers.

Atrazine — a herbicide often used on corn fields, golf courses and even lawns — has become one of the most common contaminants in American drinking water.

For years, the E.P.A. has decided against acting on calls to ban the chemical from environmental activists and some scientists who argued that runoff was polluting ecosystems and harming animals.

Atrazine in drinking water has been associated with birth defects, low birth weight, and reproductive problems. The EPA will announce Wednesday whether new evaluations of links between atrazine and cancer are necessary, and whether restrictions should be modified. full article

the silver lining of the economic crisis

The New York Times reports
As a result of the economic slump, global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, are expected to decline by 3 percent this year, the steepest drop in the 45 years according to figures compiled by the agency. That compares with an average growth of 3 percent a year over the last decade. full article

Thursday, October 8, 2009

weightism and politics

Is the New Jersey governor's race using weightist undertones as a new campaign strategy?

Opinions differ on whether or not incumbent Jon Corzine is taking jabs at opponent Christopher Christie's weight. The ad says that Christie "threw his weight around" to get out of tickets, and shows Christie "stepping out of an S.U.V. in extreme slow motion, his extra girth moving, just as slowly, in several different directions at once." full article.

Bottom line: weight is a socially acceptable form of discrimination (along with, I'd say, regional accent). Are commentators projecting weightism onto the ad, or is "he's fat" really the implied message? You decide.

VA Power Shift details

Great news! The VA Power Shift planning process is moving right along, and it's going to be an awesome weekend. Although the official site has not been updated with confirmed speakers and workshops, here's some panels/workshops that you can expect:
  • campaign planning
  • working as a coalition
  • structures for smooth leadership transitions
  • event planning/fund raising
  • history of environmental justice
  • mountain-top removal
  • population growth and reproductive justice in the developing world
  • lobbying
  • VA state level politics
  • and way way more
  • Did I mention we're having a nonviolent direct action on Sunday?
  • Keynote speakers have not all been confirmed, so stay tuned.
Within short time, the exact schedule will be posted online, so you can pick and chose when you would like to come if you're on a tight schedule.

REGISTER HERE. Also, group discount rates are available for groups with at least 15 people (email me and I'll get your group hooked up). Individual registration is $20, but PLEASE EMAIL ME if you are having financial difficulty and we can work something out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Obama, thanks for nothing

Oh, fab:

President Obama's top climate and energy official said Friday that there was virtually no chance Congress would have a climate and energy bill ready for him to sign before negotiations on a global climate treaty begin in December in Copenhagen. full article

I can't blog right now because I am too emotionally charged and will resort to obscene statements. But, when I come back, it's high time to discuss "health care reform" v the environment, and get a few things straight.

In the mean time, go register for your Power Shift Regional Summit.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

dairy cows have it the worst

Law school is really taking a toll on The Colonic. My apologies. Hopefully, I'll get into a better swing of things.

Before I hit the books, I thought I would clear up the air about dairy cows.

There is a belief that dairy is a happy-cow sort of product. No killing, just milk extraction. Actually, dairy cows have it the worst. I like PETA's explanation of the double-whammy that dairy cows face:

Cows on dairy factory farms often spend years in intensive confinement, forced to stand in feces- and urine-soaked mud as they’re repeatedly impregnated and pushed to produce huge amounts of milk that strain their bodies.Eventually, their bodies give out from the strain, and their “thank you” is to be loaded on a truck and sold for slaughter.

…Our investigator witnessed lame cows struggling to stand and walk as they were herded to the milking machines; cows who could not stand on their own being kicked, jabbed in the spine with a blade, and electro-shocked; and dying cows who were denied even a mercy killing to relieve their pain.

Ethical treatment of animals aside, this is a repulsive breeding ground for bacteria and other health disasters.


*A note about PETA: I only support PETA in it's undercover footage and a small handful of publicity stunts (pregnant women in pig cages was awesome). Their ads are generally either sexist, transphobic, weightist, or some humiliate some other minority.

Boxer & Kerry drop a climate bill

Finally, we're making some moves (and riiighttt before the Power Shift Regional Summits, no less).

I don't have time to get too crazy right now, but here is a quick summary:

"Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act," comes in at 821 pages, starting with a mandate by 2020 to curb the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels. It omits many details, leaving negotiations with Democrats and Republican moderates to fill in the blanks.

But the measure offers specifics on several critical issues, ranging from incentives for natural gas and nuclear power to how Congress can promote tree planting and sustainable farming practices as alternative compliance options for industry.

The bill's sponsors also sought to change the legislative lingo surrounding the bill, dropping references to "cap and trade." Instead, Boxer and Kerry released a summary of their bill that labeled greenhouse gas trading provisions as a "Pollution Reduction and Investment" program. Boxer also touted a proposal allocating emission allowances that is aimed at fiscal conservatives who think past climate proposals cost too much.

"The bill does not add one penny to the deficit," Boxer said. "We're very excited about that." full article

coal company settles lawsuit regarding toxic mine

I've been posting a lot about coal mining, its contamination of water, and public health. Finally, some relief:

A coalition of environmental groups emerged victorious today when Patriot Coal agreed to test a new way to remove selenium from coal mine run-off.

The West Virginia-based coal company agreed to the deal to settle a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy which made allegations that the company had violated the Clean Water Act.

The company will test a reverse osmosis process that could cost up to $350,000 and also agreed to pay the environmental groups’ legal fees and a $50,000 fine. By striking the deal, they bought themselves more time to make the change; they now have until April 5th, 2010, nearly a full year extension. full article

Monday, September 28, 2009

Power Shift regional summits

If you've been missing Power Shift because it has been too difficult to travel to DC, check out the regional Power Shift summits. I'll be hitting up the Virginia summit.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

speaking of renewable energy going nowhere fast...

Here's an uplifting (sarcasm for upsetting) piece from the New York Times regarding this week's global meeting of world leaders and their discussion on climate change:

The negotiations for a new international agreement to curb emissions of greenhouse gases have stalled, making an agreement in Copenhagen by December difficult.

...In speech after speech, presidents and prime ministers of countries large and small spoke with soaring promises about the importance of confronting the problem for future generations. But when it came down to the nuts-and-bolts promises of what they were prepared to do in the next decade, experts and analysts were disappointed that there were no bold new proposals, particularly from the United States. full article

Senate Dems do something for the environment

Since I have yet to post my official blog on my opinions about health care reform dominating political discourse and the public forum--putting the environment on the back burner--suffice it to say that I am happy to hear (small) moves are still happening (slowly, and without visibility).

CREDO recently had a call-to-action because:

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has proposed an amendment to EPA's fiscal 2010 spending bill that would strip EPA of the ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants and polluting industries.

I know. Imagine my anger. But now CREDO has shut the campaign down because Senate Democrats were able to prevent it from hitting the floor. woot woot.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

states can sue utilities over emissions

A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit gave 8 states (California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin) the green light in their law suit against several large coal-burning facilities (American Electric Power, Southern Corporation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Xcel Energy and Cinergy Corporation).

The states allege that the emissions of the defendants are creating a public nuisance due to emissions contributing to climate change.

What's the big picture? States can sue utility companies over emissions. Woot woot. With that thought, I gladly go to torts class. Read the full article.

This will be a great case to follow.

Friday, September 18, 2009

DNC governing body gets first trans member

I've been thinking that The Colonic needs to include some more positive news. Well, here it is--positive news:

The Democratic National Committee voted last week to welcome a transgender woman to its ranks, the first time that a major U.S. political party has appointed an openly transgender person to its national governing body.

Transgender activist Barbra Casbar Siperstein, president of the New Jersey Stonewall Democrats, a statewide LGBT organization, was among six new LGBT people nominated Sept. 7 by DNC Chair and Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine for at-large seats on the 447-member DNC.

The six LGBT nominees were among 75 at-large DNC nominees that the full DNC approved Sept. 11 during a meeting in Austin, Texas. The additions bring the total number of LGBT people sitting on the DNC to 25, up from 15 in 2008, and boost the membership of the DNC’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Americans Caucus to its highest level since the party officially recognized the caucus in 1998. full article

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sara Bareilles repping the LGBT cause

Sara Bareilles is dropping a new album, and repping the cause:

Bareilles is scheduled to perform October 26 at New York's Feinstein's at Lowes Regency. The event is a benefit for Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund, which aims to further gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender activism, and Broadway Impact, a grassroots organization that supports marriage equality. full article


DOMA repeal introduced. Take action here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

call in for a clean climate

Call your Senators today and tell them to pass a strong clean energy bill. Take action here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

House Dems and the Respect for Marriage Act

Great news: House Democrats are taking on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which reserves marriage for "heterosexual" couples.

Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis appeared along with same-sex marriage advocates at a Tuesday morning news conference to announce the introduction of the bill, called the Respect for Marriage Act. full article

The bill already has 90 co-sponsors.

Point of clarification: I included "heterosexual" in quotation marks because the term really isn't so straight forward. If marriage is between a "man" and a "woman," that doesn't really say much in terms of biology versus gender performance/identity. In other words, if I am a trans woman whose life partner is a woman, unless I have changed my legal gender status, my relationship can operate as "man" and "wife" legally--although not so much on an everyday basis. Alternatively, if I am a trans man married to a woman, and have changed my legal gender status, I can function as "heterosexual"--but if I have not changed my legal status, I cannot function as "heterosexual," despite the fact that I pass as "hetero-" with my partner.

If I am in a same-sex female partnership, but my partner has a male gender identity, this nuances the discussion of "male" and "female" because my partner identifies as male, while being biologically female.

Clearly, I can enumerate many different scenarios. My point is, and I constantly revisit this on my blog, it is not enough to say female/male "sex" or "gender." Social conservatism insists on a specific relationship between a certain set of genitals, and a certain gender performance, i.e. biological vagina and feminine gender identity (as opposed to biological vagina and masculine gender identity); it does not allow for mix and match.

The Colonic, on the other hand, does allow for mixing and matching. So when I hear "heterosexual," there is more at hand.

woot woot

The Colonic has hit (and exceeded) 100 fans on Facebook! If you're not a fan, you can become one here.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Here's a picture of life near a coal companies in West Virginia:

In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

Despite lawsuits, state regulators have not punished these companies for breaking pollution laws. read the full article

In case you missed my post urging action against Verizon for sponsoring a large pro-coal rally, check it out. Again, if you use Verizon, this is a great time to drop it like it's hot.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Please check out this truly chilling clip posted on the New York Times about coal mines,water contamination, children with cancer, and multiple deaths of young people in a single small neighborhood.

Unfortunately, I can't embed the clip, so follow the link.

If you didn't catch my post about Verizon and its sponsorship of a large pro-coal rally, please take a look now. If you use Verizon, now would be a great time to switch cell phone service.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I think only vegans would find this funny...

Rush Limbaugh gets jiggy with the Humane Society

Turns out their is a softer side to Rush Limbaugh--he's an animal lover. Actually, I would say he is a pretty dedicated animal lover since he has actually recorded 2 public service announcements for the Humane Society, sparking outrage from sports groups around the country. Bud Pidgeon, president of US Sportsmen Alliance commented:

"It is our hope that once Mr. Limbaugh hears from American sportsmen and women he will understand how his endorsement aids [the Humane Society] in its quest to to destroy American freedoms such as hunting, fishing and trapping." full article

The announcements, however, have nothing to do with hunting. One encourages the religious to be stewards of god's creatures, and the other is against illegal dog-fighting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

jailed for wearing pants

All I have to say for this one is "you go girl."

The New York Times reports:

A Sudanese woman who wore pants in public was fined the equivalent of $200 but spared a whipping on Monday when a court found her guilty of violating Sudan's decency laws...Mrs. Hussein vowed to appeal the sentence and even walked into the court in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, wearing the same pair of loose-fitting green slacks that she had been arrested in.

But Mrs. Hussein refused to pay at all, facing instead a one-month prison sentence.

Mrs. Hussein said flatly: “I would spend a month in jail. It is a chance to explore the conditions in jail.” read the full article.

On Monday night, she was taken to jail, and demonstrations have erupted since. Love the sense of pride, bravery, and adventure she took in handling this issue.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

what does Verizon have to do with dirty coal?

That's right. Verizon Wireless is funding an anti-environmental rally.

Verizon and Massey Energy (known for having to pay the EPA $20 million for over 4,500 violations of the Clean Water Act) are sponsoring the "Friends of America" event this weekend at a coal mine is West Virginia. The point? To rally against the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which includes provisions for cap-and-trade. The event will be filled at maximum capacity.

Enjoy the following invitation from the CEO of Massey:

"Hello I'm Don Blankenship and I'd like to invite you to a Labor Day rally in West Virginia. We're going to have Hank Williams and have a good time but we're also going to learn how environmental extremists and corporate America are both trying to destroy your jobs."

It gets better. Before this campaign was launched, CREDO Action reached out to Verizon:

Becky Bond, our Political Director, then sent a cordial follow-up to give Verizon Wireless a heads-up that our campaign had launched. Verizon replied as follows:

"This is how our response is going over with the activists. Becky once lived in a tree for a while. At least now I know where the emails are coming from."
— James Gerace, VP of Corporate Communications at Verizon Wireless

What can you do?
1) If you use Verizon, drop it like it's hot. Then tell your friends and fam.
2) Sign the petition here

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

protecting our trans communities: CA and the Equal ID Act

Nice work, California:

California State Senate joined the Assembly in passing the Equal ID Act by a 22-14 vote. The bill, AB 1185, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced by Assemblymember Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), expands legal protections for transgender people born in California. If signed by the Governor, the new law would allow qualified transgender people born in California to return to the county of their birth and obtain a court order reflecting their correct gender and an accompanying name change, if applicable. The court order is then used to obtain a corrected California birth certificate. full article

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

more on male privilege

Aggravating incident on the day:

Someone told me today that he finds it irritating that our text book uses default female pronouns.

I told him that I was sorry that his male privilege was being disrupted.

Monday, August 31, 2009

speaking of female sexuality and culture...

Just imagine me, fra la-la la-la, minding my own business trying to fax something at FedEx Kinko's, and wham--obnoxious cultural representations of my sex/gender on a lame greeting card.

Let's take a look at the messages: naggy, needy, housework-oriented, more romance/less sex, and the like.

And one of my biggest pet peeves, the whole "take me out."

Why couldn't the button say "let's go out" or "night on the town" or "date night" or anything that does not imply that the man is active and the female is passive?

Rescue me. Take me out. Pay for me. Take care of me. I'm your dolly.

I know some readers are shaking their heads at how I am blowing a trivial card out of proportion. But I think we all know that this greeting card does not exist in isolation--it is microcosmic of larger hegemonic institutions of gender and heterosexuality.

It seems to me that if two presumably competent and consenting adults are engaged in some sort of relationship with one another, there should be equal partnership.

Oh right...but men and women are separate but equal. How could I forget?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

female sexuality: a no-win situation

Operating within mainstream cultural frameworks, female sexuality (in this context meaning biologically female with a "feminine" gender performance) never wins. Consider the options:

1) As a female, your sexuality is repressed and/or heavily regulated (I won't even get into the whys and the hows)


2) As a female having and acting out on sexual desire, you are "shamed" through pejoratives and other degrading remarks.


3) As a female, an expression or discussion of sexuality is an attempt to gain (male heterosexual) attention.


4) As a female, whatever your sexual preferences are, they are undermined as your authentic desires and instead cast as having been shaped by an all-pervasive male sexuality and patriarchal order.

I am not denying that some or all of these factors may be applicable to varying degrees in varying circumstances, but I resent the fact that all of these factors are active within the hegemonic mind at all times.

Give a girl a break.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

oh no, ozone woes

New scientific studies link nitrous oxide to the depletion of the ozone layer.

The New York Times reports:

Most of the nitrous oxide in the atmosphere emerges naturally, through the action of bacteria in the soil, the researchers say. But the gas is also produced by human activity, through the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers, the application of livestock manure to fields, the burning of biofuels and in other ways.

Though nitrous oxide is not regulated under the Montreal Protocol, the 1987 agreement to limit emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals, the researchers say it is emerging as the leading artificial cause of ozone loss.

The researchers, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, report their findings in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. get the full article

I know a way to cut back on nitrogen-based fertilizers...the government can stop subsidizing corn and encouraging its over-production.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

loco for local

Today was my first time at the Foggy Bottom Farmer's Market, which takes place every Wednesday from 2:30-7:30.

What a treat! I bought fresh vegetables, fruit, baba ghanoush, bell pepper hummus, and sunflower flax seed bread for the entire week for the fabulous price of $30.00. Not to mention I bought them from the farmers who had grown them.

Since I find hand-selecting all of the fresh and wholesome things that enter my body to be intimate and fun, the entire process is a joyful and therapeutic experience of mindfulness and connection to oneself.

Just look at this bread. Have you ever seen bread so beautiful?

It's nice to know that my food hasn't traveled across the country or world, and that I can support small communities and businesses while feeding myself all sorts of deliciousness.

Can't wait until next Wednesday.

those extra pounds: eating disorders, self, and others

One of my readers emailed me a great article about the potential strain of orthorexia on the sufferer's health, as well as on relationships with others.

(I just want to say that I love when my readers comment and/or contact me. So thank you.)

I know that the article focused on orthorexia (obsession with "healthy" and "pure" foods to the degree of nutrient deficiency and/or caloric deficiency and/or disordered eating patterns and/or other extreme behavior), but I would like to broaden the discussion back to eating disorders as a general term.

This specific discussion pertains to restrictive eaters who need to put on some weight in the recovery process (and also chronic dieters who are underweight). Often, it's the last 5-10 that are the most unbearable--when you can "get away" with certain types of restrictions and not "have an eating disorder."

So, I'd like to kindly remind everyone to think about what those last 5-10 lbs are. They are:
  • dinners with friends and loved ones
  • trying different kinds of foods, tastes, and textures
  • focusing in class/work because you are full instead of thinking about food because you are still hungry
  • eating cupcakes because frosting is your favorite treat ever
  • skipping the gym sometimes to play with your little brother
  • having a couple cocktails on the weekend to unwind
  • muscle because you are strong and healthy enough to have great workouts
  • mindfulness because you are in the moment instead of calculating calories and cardio and being hungry
  • love for yourself because you want to be full, to enjoy, and to be alive
  • and one of my all time favorites, those extra pounds let others--specifically young girls and women--know that they can be happy, successful, fun, and beautiful with a natural and healthy body.
Much love,
The Colonic

Monday, August 24, 2009

Traitor Joe's strikes again: the seafood scandal

I have been blogging about excessive waste of plastic used to package vegetables at Traitor Joe's, but now I have stumbled upon other very disturbing TJ practices.

Trader Joe's sells extremely unsustainable seafood. In fact, it sells 15 of 22 redlist seafoods. What is the redlist of seafood? This includes seafood that:
  • They have a life history that makes them very vulnerable to fishing
  • They are commonly sourced from overfished and depleted stocks, or are being fished at such a high rate that stocks are being depleted rapidly
  • The fishing methods used to catch the fish are often highly destructive to other oceans creatures and/or habitats. more info
Greenpeace has launched a campaign against Traitor Joe's, demanding more sustainable seafood policies. Here is the quirky sum, written from the witty 1st perspective of Trader Joe himself:

Did you know that Chilean sea bass is one of the most sought-after fish in the world? They are so scarce, I have to hire pirates to help me catch them and secretly put them on store shelves. Unless people stop eating Chilean sea bass, it may become commercially extinct within five years. Whoa! Maybe I can sell more and more and the fish will become commercially extinct in 3 years. That's the Traitor Joe way of doing business.

Another one of my favorite fish to sell is orange roughy. They live in deep cold waters, hiding among seamounts and canyons. The way to catch orange roughy is to use a big bottom trawl. It scoops up and destroys everything in its path. So, when you buy an orange roughy, it comes with a side of tree coral, deep-sea sharks, dogfish and deep-sea catfish. Now, I say that's getting your money’s worth! more info

Tell Traitor Joe's that you do not stand for unsustainable fishing practices--and remind the store manager next time you're in.

Aside from the sheer disregard for our scarce natural resources, TJ deceives consumers through attempting to greenwash itself. If a store knowingly acquires fish from methods including bottom trawling (when a net scrapes the bottom of the ocean floor, collecting/destroying coral reef and other sea life in the way...not to mention the coral may be 100s of years old...), that is a spit in the face of sustainability.


Download the flash player

Trader Joe's blows: a follow-up

I was impressed that TJ's got back to my complaint regarding superfluous plastic waste in a mere matter of days. Check out the response I received:

We are currently evaluating the information that is available concerning our packaging.

We evaluate every product for packaging requirements and we continue to explore economical Earth friendly alternatives that can deliver freshness and shelf life without preservatives. We are also using compostible [not my typo] packaging for much of our packaged produce.

We are always working to balance our desire to use as little packaging as possible with our efforts to keep our products safe, fresh and cost effective. Since our company philosophy is based on providing quality merchandise at value prices, we must consider cost in the type of
packaging we choose.

We have forwarded your comments and concerns to our Product Steering Committee. At Trader Joe's, we are always striving to improve, and your comments give us the opportunity to do just that.

Hmmm. In terms of using biodegradable packaging for vegetables, I was skeptical. So I went to Trader Joe's (which is conventiently next door to my new apartment) and took a survey.

My findings? There is no reason to believe that the plastic is cellophane or any other compostable material. I believe if this were the case, the packing would be marked in some way.

I am thinking that the response refers to the cardboard-esque material used in conjunction with plastic in the packaging of vegetables.

Replying that the paper products used in packaging are compostable does not address my concern about the plastic being used unnecessarily.

Let Trader Joe's know you are concerned about waste produced by wrapping vegetables in plastic.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mexico City gives plastic bags the boot

Finally, some good news. Last week, Mexico City outlawed stores from giving consumers plastic bags in which to carry their purchased goods. Now, these bags must be biodegradable.

Here's some more background info from CNN:

Mexico City becomes the second large metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the bags. San Francisco in March 2007 enacted an ordinance that gave supermarkets six months and large chain pharmacies about a year to phase out the bags. Los Angeles is set to impose a ban if the state of California does not enact a statewide 25-cent fee per bag by July.

About 90 percent of the bags used in the United States are not recycled.

Bans and other restrictions on plastic bags are in place in several countries.

China has adopted a strict limit, reducing litter and eliminating the use of 40 billion bags, the World Watch Institute said, citing government estimates. Although compliance has been spotty, violation of the law carries a possible fine of 10,000 yuan ($1,463), World Watch said.

In Tanzania, selling the bags carries a maximum six-month jail sentence and a fine of 1.5 million shilling ($1,137).

Mumbai, India, outlawed the bags in 2000 and cities in Australia, Italy, South Africa and Taiwan have imposed bans or surcharges. Ireland reported cutting use of the bags by 90 percent after imposing a fee on each one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

if it walks like a duck: sports and the regulation of female bodies

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a's a duck.

Substitute woman for duck, and one has illuminating insight as to what our culture finds appropriate femaleness, as well as the absence of wiggle room.

Just ask South African athlete Caster Semenya. Muscular body? Deep voice? Stellar athletic performance? Must be a man.

Top it off, Semenya now needs to take a "gender verification test."

News flash: gender is not a more sophisticated or politically correct term for sex. Sex refers to chromosomes and genitals, and gender refers to social performance. Therefore, a person whose biological sex is male may have a female gender performance.

This brings about another issue: how do members of trans communities participate in sports teams? I will guest post this on the Trans Blog Group and hopefully get some feedback.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hey USDA, keep GE trees away

You have to wonder, in whose interest does the USDA operate?

Here’s a great idea: Let's bring into our country a genetically-engineered, non-native tree that is known to be wildly invasive, explosively flammable, and insatiably thirsty for ground water. Then let's clone thousands of these living firecrackers and plant them in forested regions across seven Southern states, allowing them to grow, flower, produce seeds, and spread into native environments.

Once this eucalyptus tree is released into the wild, who knows how far and wide the seed will contaminate, dominate, and who knows what else. Despite the potential for catastrophe, the USDA welcomed ArborGen's genetically modified tree into the United States after New Zealand, which has outlawed genetically engineered crops, gave it the boot. The tree is one final approval away from being released into the wild.

Why did ArborGen make this freaky tree to begin with? The eucalyptus has been modified to create more cellulose, which can then be used to create more ethanol.

This has happened with practically no media coverage or public participation. It is happening solely because a handful of global speculators hope to profit by making ethanol from cellulose-enhanced eucalyptus – never mind that their self-aggrandizement would put America's native forests in danger of irreversible contamination by these destructive, invasive Frankentrees. full article

Take action here

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

why TRADER JOE'S blows

If the image to the left was in an opening scene of a film, it might be foreshadowing a landfill or perhaps the biopsy of a sea animal revealing a digestive track filled with plastic.

This is not a horror movie. This is your friendly neighborhood Trader Joe's.

Don't get me wrong--the prices at Trader Joe's are out of this world. But all of the plastic used to wrap the vegetables will be staying on this planet forever (not to mention interfering with the natural decomposing of other biodegradable products in the landfill).

It has come to the point where I buy everything from Trader Joe's besides produce, and journey elsewhere for my vegetables.

However, I am still deeply bothered by this egregious waste of plastic and disregard for natural resources. Today, I decided to locate the manager of a nearby Trader Joe's and finally get my question answered. "Why are all of your vegetables contained and wrapped in plastic?"

He explained to me that since Trader Joe's does not have scales at the register, everything needs to be pre-weighed and packaged so it can be scanned at check-out.

Are you kidding me? Get a grip, get a scale, and get this unnecessary plastic out of my face. You can let Trader Joe's know how you feel about this by sending a comment here.

Lastly, I would just like to offer this gentle reminder: there is no need to use plastic bags when collecting unwrapped vegetables from whichever super market you shop. You can simply place all of your vegetables in a reusable bag, and your produce is weighed appropriately at the register.

As a person with OCD tendencies, I do sympathize with the undeniable need to separate and control that many shoppers may experience. In such a case, I would suggest re-using the plastic produce baggies.