Friday, March 31, 2006
Franken's confidence in Powell very misplaced
But why would anyone trust Colin Powell in the first place? Colin Powell accepted a very important job in the administration of a person with a history of dishonesty, ignorance, and callous disregard for people. That means Colin Powell set his standards very low. Then there is the matter of Powell's bigotry, which should have been a hint about his character. Or how about his participation in the minimizing of the My Lai massacre and other atrocities of the Vietnam war? Powell, like George H. W. Bush (who was later elected president of the United States, while the person who challenged his lies about the dike bombing was turned into public enemy number one by the Nixon administration), worked hard to make the American people believe that the war crimes being committed did not exist.
How come Al Franken doesn't know about Colin Powell?
Bush told repeatedly that aluminum tubes were not for building a nuclear weapon
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Brave Golovin retires; the brat goes to the finals
Every once in a while, there is a tennis match so thrilling, you don't want it to end. It happened in Miami tonight, at the Nasdaq-100, though if anyone had told me, toward the end of the second set, that this was going to be a thriller, I would have fallen over laughing. Maria Sharapova was up 6-3, 5-1 against Tatiana Golovin. I was thinking about what I was going to do next, since it seemed obvious I wouldn't be watching tennis. Golovin then won two games, and broke Sharapova, while saving four match points, when she tried to serve for the match at 5-3. It wound up 6-6, and Golovin won the tiebreak. It was one of those rare but amazing tennis moments when it really isn't over 'til it's over, and in this case, it wasn't 'ova.
When Golovin went to serve at 4-5, Sharapova asked for an emergency bathroom break. No one asks for an emergency bathroom break, and the umpire denied her request. Sharapova appealed to the tournament's higher power, and was given the break. When she returned to the court, the crowd booed her. When it was announced that Golovin had won the first set, Sharapova immediately challenged the last call, but the scoreline was confirmed.
Sharapova seemed unsure of herself in the final set, but went about breaking Golovin, and then getting some of her fire back. When Sharapova served at 4-3 with a 0-30 score and it looked like Golovin was about to even things up, Golovin lunged for a ball and twisted her ankle all the way over. She called for the trainer, got ice and a wrap, and cried tears of pain. Meanwhile, Sharapova stood at her end of the court, shadow-swinging, and not once going to check on her opponent, whose tears were flowing and whose face was contorted in pain.
To everyone's shock, Golovin re-entered the match, but after hitting only one stroke, the tears of pain came again, and she retired, sending Sharapova to the finals.
The Nasdaq-100 is the biggest Tier I tournament in the WTA tour. A win over Sharapova in Miami would have been the biggest win in the career of Golovin, who has held match points against major players since the beginning of the year. The wonder child of the tour in 2004 (she jumped the most ranking points in the shortest time in history), Golovin's 2005 season wasn't that good because of two chronically injured ankles. Now she has done it again, and I doubt she will be in Charleston in early April, when I hoped to see her play again.
No one knows who would have won tonight if Golovin hadn't been injured, though the crowd was totally behind her. One way or the other, though, her ascent from 3-6, 1-5 will be talked about for weeks to come. She played some of the best tennis I've seen lately. Tonight's story had a sad ending, but no one will forget Golovin's spirit and her fantastic forehand. Nor will people forget the behavior of her opponent.
New charges of sexual and physical abuse by nuns and priests
In New Orleans, however, there are now multiple claims that both nuns and priests, as well as other staff members, at a group home beat and sexually abused residents over a long period of time. The nuns allegedly practiced voyeurism, "inspecting" girls as they emerged from the showers; it is unknown what other forms the sexual abuse took. Naturally, there are people rushing to say that these nuns are practically saints and that, though they delivered "appropriate discipline" (this is the code term for whacking kids around and whipping them, for those somehow not in the know), they were loving and caring.
There is not a lot of reason to believe that a proper investigation will take place. Most people cannot imagine nuns participating in any form of sexual abuse. And then there is the matter of Orleans Parish Archbishop Alfred Hughes, who covered up Cardinal Law's abominations, but was named New Orleans' archbishop, anyway. He does not exactly have a good track record in this area.
A couple of years ago, I was at a conference and met a woman who was writing a book I have been waiting for a long time--a book about all of the abuse committed by priests, nuns, and brothers that we do not hear about. Sexual abuse by nuns would certainly be in that category, but the very large and largely ignored category is physical abuse by nuns, priests, and brothers. For years, these members of the church have whipped, slapped, and pushed around children and adolescents, probably with the blessings of many parents.
When I taught at Tulane, one of my students confided in me that when he had attended a prestigious Catholic academy in Mississippi, he and others had been whipped with instruments that sounded like they were borrowed from GoGo Yubari. This was a fine student whom I had no reason to doubt. I reported it to the media in Mississippi but never heard anything else about it.
Between the Catholic church's massive cover-up system and our culture's condemnation of those who come forward to accuse their childhood abusers, there are probably thousands of adults were were beaten and whipped by priests and brothers, or beaten, whipped, and sexually abused by nuns. In my own practice, I have heard multiple reports of extreme psychological abuse by nuns. Many victims do not think they are victims because they believe that whipping and beating are "appropriate" forms of "discipline." All of these factors come together to protect the sadistic abusers who work in churches, group homes, schools, and orphanages.
Why are parents reinforcing harmful gender roles?
And if you are a young (or even not so young) woman or man who believes these things, can you say "feminism"? "Rigid gender roles"? For girls and women to still think they are supposed to wait for boys and men to initiate dates is perfectly ridiculous and socially harmful, yet it is very common. And if you still believe that dating is a form of socially acceptable prostitution, you really need to do some deep thinking. While it is true that men still make more money than women (big surprise), most women can nevertheless afford to either pay for inexpensive dates or split the bill of an inexpensive date.
In discussing her book, Self-Made Man, on television this morning, Norah Vincent said that when she passed as a man, the things men said when there were no women in the room were shockingly dehumanizing toward women. She also said that most of these things were said out of a great sense of insecurity because, in this culture, men are still the ones who have to risk rejection over and over.
Obviously, men have a long way to go in building self-esteem if they have to insult and degrade women in order to feel better about themselves. But it is crazy that they are still expected to be the ones to do the asking. It is hard on men, yes, but it imprisons women, once again reminding us of our second-class status in society.
What bothers me most, though, is that parents are raising their sons and daughters to believe that roles which give power to men and take power away from women are acceptable. Someone please remind me what century we are in.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
A garden visitor
What can you do with $71 million?
You can buy enough medicine to treat 540,000 AIDS patients for a year.
You can feed 12,157 poor children in Nairobi for a year.
You can give ten years of care to 284,000 rescued animals at Best Friends Sanctuary.
Or you can just let Halliburton steal it from you.
Duke lacrosse team case gets uglier every moment
The alleged incident is like a mini-movie of everything that is wrong in America. The victims were female; the perpetrators male. The victims were black; the perpetrators white. The victims were exotic dancers (read "sluts"); the perpetrators were holy athletes.
But these generalizations only begin to tell the ugly story. The team members have formed a tight circle of silence, and it turns out that 15 of them have police records. The coach, as Justice 4 Two Sisters points out, is nowhere to be seen or heard, and the national media is ignoring the story.
From Black Feminism:
I’ll put the race issue aside. This is also the result of universities allowing a negative athlete culture. More than a few studies have shown that athletes and frat boys are more likely to rape than other men, in part because all-male environments encourage aggressive and violent displays of manhood. I suspect that campuses that force athletes to live with everyone else (shout outs to AU) have less of a problem with Athletes Gone Wild.
Moving beyond identity politics
It seems to me, however, that it has always been the women's movement that has worked on behalf of the oppressed groups of which many of its members belong--the civil rights movement, the disability rights movement, the gay rights movement. But I usually don't see that kind of activism from other groups. Until people understand that if there is one oppressed group, we are all oppressed, nothing will change. And of course, I extend that to include members outside of my species.
Attention male bloggers...
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Predatory behavior pays off for Foxx
I learned today that Williams has been hanging out in Miami with Foxx. Why am I surprised? Sexual abuse and humiliation are all the rage now. And the perpetually injured Williams sisters, who are dressed obscenely in furs at all the right clubs, have become more a part of the celebrity scene than the tennis scene.
I used to really enjoy the Williams sisters, especially their independence and their refusal to say what they were "supposed" to say to the press. I liked Venus's composure and Serena's wit. I confess to having grown tired of their always appearing together in Grand Slam finals, but that wasn't their fault; they were just too good. Now, Serena is out of shape, both sisters are too injured to play much, and the fur-wearing has put me over the edge.
All the same, I was sorry to hear that Foxx's inappropriate behavior was rewarded.
Rove or Hadley?
Newly released documents show U.S. role in bloody Argentine coup
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
And They Cook, Too
I encourage everyone to buy copies of this spiral-bound, easy-to-use book, for there is surely no better cause than Doctors Without Borders.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Judge rules that school was within its rights to terminate teacher's contract
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Sad stories of cats and bunnies
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the wonderful animal rescuers at Best Friends have rescued 1,000 rabbits from a back yard, where they were living in very poor conditions and multiplying like mad. As of now, there are still 50 babies being born each day. Best Friends could use some help from you.
Insurance company designates apartment building as terrorist target
What has gotten into the FBI? you may be asking, but the FBI had nothing to do with this. The designation was made by Utica National Insurance, who used a computer model to determine that the Lucerne is a likely terrorist target. Utica's action is legal, but, as UAA's Gary Kaskel says, "The scary part about this is if other insurance companies follow their lead, it makes Manhattan uninsurable."
As a matter of fact, sir, I DO question your morality
The statement is so ludicrous--questioning one's right to criticize an ignorant, lying, democracy-bashing war criminal--one need not respond to it. But as long as Boone is opening his filthy mouth again, forcing me to think about him, then I will remind my readers that Boone, in addition to stealing black music and torturing it to death, was an extremely rigid parent whose family members, not surprisingly, had a variety of psychological problems. Years ago, I read the autobiography of one of his daughters, who--still too much in denial to totally realize what she was describing--wrote that her father used to take off her underwear, put her on his lap, and spank her--when she was 17 years old. That is a reportable crime and just one more reflection on what really goes on in the homes of the compulsively religious.
You may recall that a couple of years ago (has it been that long?), Boone called CBS "the enemy within" for releasing information about Abu Ghraib.
Weren''t "Tutti Frutti" and the "metal" album bad enough? Talk about torture.
Cynthia Tucker never lets me down
Their callousness about other people's children aside, it's not just Cheney and Bush whom I hold responsible for the deaths of more than 2,300 hundred Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. It's also men like Sen. John Kerry and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vietnam veterans who had seen young men die in combat. They knew better than to take the nation to war on the wings of a lie.That they did was not only unjust; it was immoral.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
On Sasha Cohen
It was heartbreaking to watch Cohen not be able to pull off a gold-medal skate at the Olympics, and perhaps even more heartbreaking to see her not pull one off at the recent Figure Skating World Championships. Cohen is 21; her skating career does not have to be over. In terms of artistry, she is the best female figure skater I have ever seen. Peggy Fleming, who served as a commentator for the World Championships, said that Cohen was one of the best skaters she had ever seen in her life, but perhaps, Fleming said, Cohen is simply not a competitor.
Perhaps. Olympic gold medal-wise, she has company. Neither Irina Slutskaya nor Michelle Kwan won Olympic gold, though both broke records in the other titles they won, and Slutskaya did so under rather amazing circumstances. Cohen won the U.S. Nationals in 2006, but that is the first gold she has won. If she retires without winning a world championship, it will be a bizarre footnote in figure skating history forever.
Cohen obviously has something big going on mentally that causes her to do poorly at big moments. When she brought the house down with her Olympic short program, I felt myself gearing up for what might happen in the free skate, and sure enough--Cohen made a major mistake.
During the free skate practice at Worlds, Cohen's coach had her use some of her time doing visualization exercises. That is not a bad idea, but what Cohen needs is a really talented hypnotherapist. Mauresmo needed it, too, but she managed to pull herself out of her slump some other way. Cohen may not be that lucky.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
What's wrong with The L Word?
The Showtime soap opera, which will end its third season tomorrow night, is heavy on icing and short on cake. If you haven't seen it, here's a tiny capsule: A group of hip Los Angeles lesbians and their friends deal with interesting problems and experience a lot of drama doing it.
About representation: First, the characters are not exactly all well-off. One lived more or less on the street until she got her act together, and is now a chic hairdresser. One waits tables while she writes. The others are a social activist, an arts administrator, a nightclub owner, a deejay, a computer specialist, a wealthy arts patron, a chef, and a journalist. There was a professional tennis player, but she died a couple of episodes ago. Not all of the women are white. One is black, one is biracial, and one is Hispanic.
Among the major characters, one is heterosexual, one is bisexual, and one thought she was bisexual but now appears to be identifying as lesbian, but not really, for she has become involved with a woman-to-man transsexual who was introduced to the show this season. Oh, and there's one who thought she was straight, then had an 8 1/2-year relationship with a woman, and is now seeing men again.
I like these ambiguities because I think they represent real life more accurately than many people like to think. The shades of sexual preference displayed on The L Word comprise one of the show's greatest strengths, in my opinion. Another strength is the show's wonderful soundtrack (unfortunately, that compliment does not extend to the theme song, though, in the first season, the show made good use of the old standby "Love Was Made For You And Me"), and another is its clever use of guest stars, which have included Rosanna Arquette, Sandra Bernhard, Ossie Davis, Anne Archer, Helen Shaver, and the great Dana Delany.
The show can also be very funny. A prime example occurred this season when an episode's introductory piece showed a young version of Bette, portrayed on the show by Jennifer Beals, wearing Beals' signature gray off-the-shoulder sweatshirt from Flashdance. Unfortunately, however, this kind of attention to detail does not extend to the show's content, which is often sloppy. Right now, for instance, there is a sub-plot about a sexual harrassment suit that, in real life, could not possibly be filed because the parties involved do not qualify for consideration under the sexual harrassment laws.
The show is loaded with sex, most of it gratuitous. There are few, if any, stable characters, but that is to be expected in a soap opera. The problem with The L Word, however, is that between season two and season three, the writers made such radical changes in some of the characters, they were almost unrecognizable. Alice, who had been pretty sensible, was turned into a raving, jealous lover close to emotional collapse. Tina, who many of us never liked because she was boring, suddenly became spiteful, and Bette-and-Tina the couple, previously very intelligent, were rendered ignorant and ridiculous. Helena, the morally challenged spoiled brat, suddenly became a nice person. To make things even worse, there was a lapse of six months, apparently during which the characters took heavy drugs that made them mentally unfit.
Adding to the downward spiral, the focus was taken off of Jenny, played by the edgy and talented Mia Kirshner, who was left with little to do but react to Max, the transsexual. Some people think that the character of Max is a "tack on" role, added to the show to make it more politically correct.
As in all soap operas and much of life, the people on The L Word fall in love at the drop of a skirt, and then wonder why their relationships do not work out. There is also a rather nasty attitude toward men running through the series. Kit, played by the wonderful Pam Grier, was involved with a contemporary snake oil salesman who cheated on his wife. Jenny's fiance, Tim, at first portrayed as accepting and sensitive, turned out to be not-so-nice, even when we factor in the pain Jenny put him through. Alan Cummin, of all people, was also added to the cast this season, and he plays a reprehensible, self-absorbed gay man. Bette's and Kit's father, played by Ossie Davis, was homophobic and judgmental. There was even a man who wanted to be a lesbian.
Now Tina has a new male friend (the rumor was that he was to be played by Billy Campbell, but that, sadly, did not turn out to be true), about whom we know nothing except that he wants to have children with a woman he just met. And Kit also has a new lover, a much younger man who creeps me out, but that is just a matter of personal taste, not a pronouncement about his character.
Is The L Word unrealistic? You bet. Is it fun to watch? Sometimes. Now that the writers have killed one of the most popular characters, though, they will have to work hard to fill the void. Dana was someone you could count on to be funny, naive, and admirable. I miss her already, and her absence will change the flavor of the show.
The L Word works best when it is funny, artistic, or both. One of the most memorable episodes involved a visit by Bette, the arts administrator, to rich arts patron Peggy Peabody (a hilarious riff on Peggy Guggenheim) in her hotel room. ("I was a lesbian once," Peabody says, "in 1974." "Just one year?" Bette asks. "It was all I needed.") Peabody shows Bette a painting that causes her to faint. Another memorable episode was the recent one in which Dana died, and the camera went rhythmically back and forth between Dana's taking her last breaths and her friends making love, shopping, traveling, and doing all of the things that we do while someone is dying.
The show has been given a fourth season by Showtime, and the producers and writers have an opportunity to turn it into something more cohesive than it is now. The L Word has never seemed to know what it was, and it seemed to be trying to be everything--a drama, a political statement, an artistic project, a piece of good-looking camp. I personally lean toward good-looking camp with a twist of art, but at the very least, the characters need to be given reasonably consistent personalities, some of the sex needs to be cut, and the storylines need to be reined in. The characters themselves are interesting and were developing just fine, thank you, until this third season frenzy came along. Alas, there is no returning to the way things were--Dana and Marina are gone, and Bette and Tina are breaking up--but it is still possible to sharpen the focus of the major storylines, make the characters' motivations believable again, and give Jenny something to do.
So much for diversity
According to the study, done by the University of Minnesota's department of sociology, atheists make up 3% of American society, a number I suspect is lower than the real number. Also, the study did not take into account the vast number of agnostic (a term that is chronically misused, by the way) persons in the U.S.
Take my car...please
There are thousands of post-Katrina junked vehicles in New Orleans. FEMA has made it clear that if the city does not get rid of them by June 30, it will reimburse cleanup expenses at the rate of 90% instead of 100%. The city looked at a number of bids for removing the cars and trucks, which ranged from $350 per vehicle to $1,000 per vehicle. One company even informally offered to pay New Orleans $100 per vehicle in exchange for crushing the cars and getting to keep the scrap metal.
Which company got the contract? If you guessed the one that wants $1,000 per vehicle, you know your New Orleans government culture.
When the news got out about the contract, people had a fit, of course. The Times-Picayune is opining that perhaps the selected contractor was a favored one, and the city figured that FEMA, having wasted millions of dollars on post-Katrina stupidity so far, might as well waste more money. This is a viable theory, and one I like. In fact, no other theory makes any sense.
Now that he has been confronted, Mayor Nagin, who was silent at first, says that the city could not negotiate with the company that wanted to pay New Orleans because FEMA's rules forbid the city from making money from the cleanup operation. Fair enough. But he still has some explaining to do about the city's choice of CH2M Hill, a company whose expertise, by the way, is in conducting water and wastewater projects.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Women candidates--aren't they just the cutest things?
If the Democrats have their way, the 2006 Congressional elections will be the revenge of the mommy party.
That's the lead in Robin Toner's New York Times story, "Women Wage Key Campaigns for Democrats." The article is about all of the Democratic women who are running major campaigns in about a dozen House races. The idea, of course, is that every time voters are disgusted, they are likely to turn to female candidates for change.
That, of course, is not altogether true, since the American people, even at their most disgusted, have not turned to a woman candidate for president. That is, after all, a big job. Nor am I sure that people still believe that women will be honest and not make the same back room deals that men have made for years.
But all that aside, the mommy party? The news media cannot write about women without saying something cute and offensive. Women are important candidates...hurry, let's say something dismissive of them.
If you want to write to Toner, please be my guest.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Boys don't do that
"Stop it, James!" his sister said sharply. "Boys don't do that."
On female beauty
North Dakotans "whinier" than most, it turns out
Well, it turns out that--using the email's own criteria--the real crybabies are North Dakotans. In an editorial in today's Times-Picayune, Mark Folse explains:
In reality, North Dakota didn't hesitate to belly up to the federal trough for aid after their ice storm, as they've done every single year for the last decade. North Dakota is tied with Louisiana, Texas and Ohio for ninth place among states with the most major federal disaster declarations.
In fact, North Dakota has the longest streak of consecutive major disaster declarations of any state in the Union, receiving $711 million in federal disaster assistance in the last decade.
Please pass this information along the next time you hear about how the stoic citizens of North Dakota built the storm-proof cabins in which they were born.
Uncle Bucky makes out like a...Bush
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Making Mississippi safe
But here is some good news for Mississippians: the law that forbids the sale of sex toys has been upheld. You may be homeless, starving, and too sick to live, but at least you don't have to worry that your neighbor is buying batteries for her vibrator. And don't feel bad for her--she can always pass the time gambling, or--if the frustration becomes overpowering--she can just shoot someone.
Hail Dixie Chicks!
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Sudden increase in tracking down Vietnam deserters appears tied to Iraq war
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Cool technology helps students cheat more efficiently
Now, college students are using their cell phones to take photographs of their tests, then text messaging the answers to friends who have yet to take these tests.
Cheating has always gone on in schools, but I wonder if it has always gone on to the extent that it does now. Maybe. The penalties for cheating generally do not fit the crime, i.e., students are allowed to stay in the class or in the school. Cheating on tests is apparently in that same murky moral territory as sexually assaulting women, stealing to support your drug habit, and beating up people who make you angry--enough of your peers are willing to "let it go."
I have written before about the number of people who ask me to commit insurance fraud every year. When I explain to them that it is dishonest, they shrug. When I tell them it is a crime, they laugh. When I tell them I do not commit criminal acts and do not wish to lose my license, they shut up.
The line keeps getting moved. Just as the television idiot Soledad O'Brien was oh, so shocked to hear that sexual assault is a crime in the U.S.; just as the people of California did not appear the least bit reluctant to elect as their governor someone who had been accused of multiple sexual assaults, including one on a minor; just as the American people and their representatives do not seem to find anything strange about two stolen elections and an illegal war--cheating in school is just part of the way we do things.
The irony, of course, is that the right wing is screaming about morality all the time, while they support the most immoral government imaginable. The messages are no longer mixed; they have been obliterated into a fine dust that is choking the hell out of anyone who is still sane.
Liberal and feeling really depressed?
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Celebrating new life the sweet way
Richard Clarke is a liar, Paul O'Neill is a liar
That lizard's mighty cute, but does he earn six figures?
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Bush cuts cancer detection program for low-income women
But there is certainly another way to look at the problem, and that is the Bush way. By cutting $1.4 million from the program in his budget, he has seen to it that 4,000 fewer women will be able to get screenings.
Aside from the fact that this budget cut is just another little stab in the Bush war against women and low-income citizens, it is also counter-productive in that it significantly raises overall healthcare costs.
Monday, March 20, 2006
McCain hires player in DeLay money laundering scheme
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
3 years in Iraq--piece of cake
We have been here before. The thing in Vietnam was the Vietnam "conflict." Because no matter how many soldiers die, or how many soldiers are wounded, or how many soldiers contract lifetime diseases, or how many families grieve, or how many prisoners are tortured, or how many innocent civilians are left homeless or bombed into smithereens, it isn't really a war unless someone who isn't really president says it is.
In defense of Congress
Put in perspective, doing nothing about an illegal war or illegal White House eavesdropping is merely business as usual for the United States Congress. And why shouldn't it be? Congress is not an organism that sprung from the ground of Washington, but an organization that represents the American people. And the American people do not care about much of anything. The average American does not know who is in power, where the states are located, what is in the Constitution, or who is an Arab.
The average American is not concerned with the fact that he and his children are eating poisoned food and drinking poisoned water, that his daughter is not likely to earn the same amount of money as a man doing a comparable job, or that American soldiers are sexually assaulting American soldiers. The average American does not care that the toys she buys for her children were quite possibly made by people tortured for their religious beliefs, or that by ordering scrambled eggs or a hamburger, she is participating in unrelenting animal cruelty.
If Americans do not care, why should their representatives care? I say Congress is doing exactly what it was elected to do--very little of anything.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Sexual assault of a minor--okay, homosexuality--not okay
Deviance is apparently in the eye of the beholder, for it turns out that Fox was charged last year with not informing the state of Pennsylvania that he had changed his residence. You see, in 1995, he pleaded guilty to a charge of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl.
More on factory farming
Not only do most Americans seem either unaware of the realities of factory farming or accepting of them, they do not even respond to the reality that extreme animal cruelty is not the only problem: Factory farming poisons consumers.
It's getting harder to live in Missouri
An essential post-Katrina read
Another media myth examined
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Big surprise at Pacific Life Open
If you're Elena Dementieva, you upset Justine Henin-Hardenne! In one of the freakiest semi-finals I've seen in a while, that's exactly what happened. Henin-Hardenne served for the match at 5-2 and couldn't close. She served for the match again at 5-4 and couldn't close. Dementieva brought it to 5-all and broke Henin-Hardenne to win the set. The third set was typical Dementieva--it takes her two sets to get loose, and by then, she's very dangerous.
Dementieva had to serve for the match twice. She was unable to close at 5-4, but did it at 6-5. Half of the games were breaks. Dementieva couldn't hold her serve because, well, Dementieva can't hold her serve. Henin-Hardenne couldn't hold hers because she got tight, as she sometimes does in long matches, and Dementieva was gunning for her.
Commentator Mary Joe Fernandez is correct when she says that with Dementieva, the entire tennis paradigm is backwards: She knows she is going to lose her serve, so for her, the winning points come in breaking her opponents.
I believe that one day, Dementieva is going to overcome this service bugaboo and win a Grand Slam. She may even win one without overcoming it; she has twice been a Grand Slam finalist.
In the other semi-final, Martina Hingis--whose serve is badly in need of help--was overcome by Maria Sharapova, who brought her very best game to the court. However, it took Sharapova something like 2 hours and 40 minutes to beat Hingis in straight sets, and the score--6-3, 6-3--does not reflect what went on. Hingis is the same genius she always was, and she is even hitting the ball harder, but if she doesn't get some help with that serve, tournament wins may elude her. I hope she gets a service coach (Nick Bollettieri, could you give her a call, please?) because I would love to see Hingis win some tournaments and at least one more Grand Slam. Her game still outclasses everyone else's.
More post-Katrina updates
Presumably because of a stupid Web rumor, the Attorney General of Louisiana is now opening an inquiry into the Katrina spending of the Humane Society of the United States.
In better news, a group of students from Madison College in Clinton, New York have cleaned up the White Kitchen Preserve in St. Tammany Parish, and now the bald eagles and their nests are again in full view.
Another student, this one from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, found $30,000 in the wall of a house she was gutting in Arabi, Louisiana. The money was given to the owner of the house, who believes it must have belonged to her father.
40 undocumented immigrants, in New Orleans to do post-hurricane work, were arrested Friday by federal agents. At least a dozen had violent criminal backgrounds, according to federal agents.
And finally, clergy from more than a hundred cities are calling on Congress to stop their bickering about the post-Katrina budget and get some money to evacuated citizens who are trying to return to New Orleans.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Arizona citizens mobilize to defeat factory farm control
We are not men, we are not men, we are not men, we are not...
Metaphor-challenged Dunleavy speaks
If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow Neo-Nazis into their parade? If African Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade?
And I thought they just wanted to march in the parade because they were Irish.
Women's History Month--Honoring Bella Abzug
A socialist Zionist by the age of eleven, Abzug began giving speeches at New York subway stations. At age thirteen, she broke the rules and said Kaddish for her father in a synagogue. The young Bella studied the violin, taught Hebrew, and led a rebellious intellectual and social life. As an attorney, Abzug worked for blacks in the South, union members, and Hollywood personalities caught up in Senator Joseph McCarthy's Communist witch hunt.
Abzug was a co-founder of Women Strike for Peace, The National Women's Political Caucus, and the Women's Environmental and Development Organization. She was elected to four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was narrowly defeated (less than 1%) by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in her bid to be elected to the U.S. Senate. She wrote the first law banning discrimination against women in obtaining credit, credit cards, loans, and mortgages, and introduced bills on comprehensive child care, Social Security for homemakers, family planning, and abortion rights. In 1975, Abzug introduced an amendment to the Civil Rights Act to include gay and lesbian rights.
In 1976, President Jimmy Carter appointed Abzug chair of the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year. He later appointed her co-chair of the National Advisory Commission for Women, but when the commission pointed out that his administration had cut the budget for women's programs and that his anti-inflation program hurt women and children, Carter--in a fit of pique--removed Abzug from her position.
Abzug began wearing big hats as a young woman when she realized that no matter how important her role was, she went unnoticed when she entered a meeting or gathering. "I began wearing hats as a young lawyer," she said, " because it helped me to establish my professional identity. Before that, whenever I was at a meeting, someone would ask me to get coffee."
Abzug died in 1998 at the age of 77. Throughout her entire life, she fought for women, minorities, workers, and the poor. She was a colorful speaker, but of all the quotable things she said, perhaps none stands out so much today as this:
I am not being facetious when I say that the real enemies in this country are the Pentagon and its pals in big business.
Newcomb College--still a chance to survive
Meanwhile, 16 plaintiffs were turned down by a U.S. District Court judge when they requested a temporary restraining order against the board. However, the judge did tell Tulane not to do "anything that couldn't be undone in short order." On March 30, a hearing will be held to decide whether Tulane is violating the terms of Louise Newcomb's contract with the university.
Though I am not an attorney, it seems to me that the plaintiffs have a very strong case against the university. Louise Newcomb endowed a college for women, not half of a hyphenated name. At any rate, to kill Newcomb dishonors Louise and Sophie Newcomb, it dishonors a 120-year tradition that was also a first, and it deals a blow to women.
Censuring the president...or the would-be president?
Thursday, March 16, 2006
While that money went down the hole, FEMA refused to authorize blue roofs for people whose roofs were made of slate, tin, or any other solid material. Fortunately, another agency stepped in to patch the holes in those roofs.
The sheriff of St. Bernard Parish submitted a request to FEMA for as many as 60 security guards over the next three years to patrol several tent cities and trailer sites. FEMA "turned down" his request, saying they never received it.
About 50% of the traffic lights in New Orleans are still not working.
And the Louisiana Insurance Rating Commission has approved a 49% rate increase for the Farm Bureau Insurance Companies. This increase effects 70,063 policy-holders in the state. Another 61,151 customers with a more limited dwelling package policy will experience an increase of 48%.
The death of Newcomb College
There was nothing anyone could do, but Newcomb College continued, though in a different form. Now the attempts to kill Newcomb have succeeded: As of July 1, the college will be shut down as part of Tulane president Scott Cowan's plan to restructure the university following $150 million worth of property losses and $153 million worth of income losses from Hurricane Katrina. The Tulane Board of Administrators unanimously approved Cowan's plan.
Women all over the country have protested, but to no avail. It is very sad to see a women's college with such a rich history shut down. Many people are familiar with Newcomb Pottery, a vital part of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19th Century. Lovely Rogers Memorial Chapel is located on the Newcomb Campus near a beautiful garden where I used to enjoy sitting. The feel of the entire Newcomb Campus is one of serenity and beauty.
Newcomb is not the only program to get the controversial ax. Tulane is also eliminating all but two of its engineering degrees.
Air America offers job to Linda Laroca
Missouri House bans contraception for poor women
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Plaza Hotel items go on auction
The Plaza, where this little girl (based on this little girl) lived, was closed last summer so that it could be converted into a combination hotel/retail/condominium site. If this keeps it in business, then I suppose I must be thankful, but it is nevertheless very sad to know that people are buying bellmen's uniforms, bar stools, and who knows what else from the Christie's auction.
Robert Smith had a good feature today on NPR about the auction house's re-enactment of Truman Capote's Black and White Ball.
I have never stayed at the Plaza, but have enjoyed strolling through and around it on several occasions, and have also enjoyed tea and cocktails there. I have no idea why all of these wonderful its and pieces must be auctioned, and prefer not to dwell very long on the possible reasons.
Newt Gingrich's comment reflects America's hypocrisy about animal cruelty
I don't think any animal should be tortured or any animal should be abused. But it doesn't offend me if I'm eating chicken nuggets, and I realize that puts me at odds with some of the more aggressive animal rights people.
No, Newt, it doesn't put you at odds with "more aggressive" activists; it puts you at odds with rational human beings. Unless you are eating chicken nuggets made from the meat of free-range chickens--and I very, very seriously doubt that you are--you are participating in some of the very worst cruelty and torture factory farming has to offer.
Gingrich, unfortunately, is typical of most Americans who say they "care" about the treatment of animals. Most Americans buy and eat factory farm meat and factory farm eggs, and do not bother to learn whether their cosmetics or other products may have been tested on animals. Many others who say they "care" about animals do not get their pets spayed and neutered or let them run free in the streets.
This is a strange kind of caring.
Martina Hingis puts Davenport out of Pacific Life Open
I didn't get to see the match, but apparently, Hingis outfoxed even the tour's best returner of serve. Now she will face Dinara Safina in the quarterfinals, and it is entirely likely she will wind up in the finals again, as she did in Tokyo.
Since re-entering the tour, Hingis has recorded victories over both Maria Sharapova (who got back at her in the Tokyo final) and Davenport. Her first serve has improved, her topspin has improved, and her fitness has improved. Her biggest problems have been her second serve and her endurance. If she continues to improve, we will see a better Hingis than we saw in her "heydey," and she will get to the top 10 and maybe then some.
Republicans call for teacher pay raise, then rage against it
Now, faced with a surprise budget surplus, the governor is calling on the legislature to use it for a pay raise for teachers and for higher education support. She is doing a public plea via radio spots, and the state's Republicans are having a fit again. How dare she try to raise teachers' pay through the budget!
Maginnis's guess is that the Louisiana Republican Party is upset that its members did not think of this idea first. Blanco is obviously taking the message to the people in order to shame the legislature into passing the measure. The raise that Blanco has it mind has been badly needed in Louisiana for a long time, since the state lags behind other Southern economies in paying teachers.
Naturally, there is post-Katrina talk about being very careful where Louisiana invests extra money, but there are a number of reaons people will not come to Louisiana to live, and one of them is the generally poor education system. Giving teachers a pay raise is a good step to take, now more than ever.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Unrelenting expressions of misogyny
I, too, honor freedom of speech, but how sad and frightening that the freedom taken is the freedom to humiliate, objectify, and threaten women and girls. And just as sad, those who could take that same freedom of speech to object to the abuse and sexism remain silent. Men and women.
Voices from the Storm
How do you like democracy so far?
New national security guidelines reflect significant semantic changes
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Here's how it works
If people on the left don't figure out they are losing the language war, they are even more doomed than they seem to be already.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Contraceptive issue becomes hot in Connecticut
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
A few words about TV programming
Has anyone else noticed that one of the big messages coming out of Desperate Housewives is that men are really, really stupid? Especially the men who become involved with Susan, who lies, cheats, meddles, and generally wreaks havoc wherever she goes. Men do anything she wants, no matter how much she mistreats them. I still like the show, and it doesn't matter what the stories are because everything about Desperate Housewives is so outrageous.
Then there is The L Word, which is having a very bad season 3. I almost stopped watching it, the third season has been so bad, but there are some signs of redemption. Unfortunately, there is now a storyline--the "sexual harrassment" suit--that has nothing to do with reality or with the law. But the producers of that show, for all their cleverness, often pay little attention to fact and detail. I suppose they assume their viewers do not know any better, but this one does, and I suspect a lot more do.
Those of you who watch The L Word are probably feeling pretty sad about the death of Dana. I am. And though I usually cannot stand to hear a group of actors sitting around talking about their show, the commentary by the show's actors on how sad and/or angry they felt over Dana's death was fascinating. Today, I discovered this incredible interview with Daniela Sea, who I now think is one of the most interesting people I've heard about in ages.
And finally...I have written before that it troubles me that in Medium, Allison Dubois is always referred to as "Mrs. Dubois" and not "Ms. Dubois." But what is really strange is that Allison's husband on the show is Joe Dubois, and her brother is Michael Dubois. Hello? Either a Dubois married a Dubois, or there are some really careless people working on this show. The real Allison Dubois, by the way, does have a husband named Joe. I don't know if she uses her family name or his name, but I'm willing to bet that both of their family names are not "Dubois."
A little medical wisdom from Dr. Richard Dobbins
Dobbins also questioned the need for emergency contraception in rape cases, saying that most women either are not fertile during assault or do not become pregnant because the trauma prompts a hormonal response that prevents ovulation.
More here, if you can take it.
10% off for Jesus
Of course, I am still baffled that church people are rushing to Quiznos instead of fighting against the cruelty of factory farming.
Attention: conservative callers, ranters, and others who prefer ignorance...
Now that the usual arguments that Bush is God have failed, conservatives are going for the "well, okay, he's not handling the 'War on Terror' well, but...but...but none of this would have happened if Clinton had done his job" tactic. At no time do they consult recent history to discover that Clinton was more interested than the Pentagon in attacking bin Laden. Or that his funny little quirk about killing innocent people kept him from launching some planned attacks.
I, for one, am glad Clinton was stopped by the Pentagon, and glad that--on some occasions--he stopped himself. Killing bin Laden accomplishes nothing other than creating a new martyr. But for the sake of reality, could you people invest in just a slight bit of fact-checking before you pollute the airwaves and newsprint with total lies?
...we should guard against a conventional wisdom that seems to be taking hold in some quarters, which says there's something praiseworthy about having initially been taken in by Bush's deceptions, even though the administration's mendacity was obvious from the beginning.
According to this view, if you're a former Bush supporter who now says...that "the administration lies...," you're a brave truth-teller, but if you've been saying that since the early days of the Bush administration, you were unpleasantly shrill.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Why I probably will not care who is on the 2008 ticket
Now everyone is abuzz about the 2008 presidential election. We are hearing the words "shrill" and "strident" a lot because a woman is being considered for the ticket. No Democrats, not even the pro-Clinton ones, do anything to stop the sexist bashing of Senator Clinton, just as they have never done anything to stop the sexist bashing of any female party members.
It is very sad for me to hear so much excitement about a Gore/Warner ticket, or a Kerry/Feingold ticket or an Edwards/Clark ticket, or any combination of two white males you can think of. (Not that Feingold stands much chance--consider his last name.) I made up my mind some time ago that I would never again vote for a ticket of two white males, and I will not.
Consider this: That a Kerry/Warner or a Clark/Bayh ticket is elected. Yes, any of those men would do a better job than George W. Bush, but there are high school dropouts who would do a better job than Bush, so that is hardly an issue. Yes, any of those men would nominate judges whose mission in life is relatively free from misogyny, corporate ass-kissing, and a hatred of the poor.
But the Democratic Party's message would still be the same: We are afraid, and we--the white males--can do the best job of representing women and minorities. Message has to count for something. It says who we are as a nation.
Some day, if we ever get around to electing women and minorities to high office, I will be glad to go back and cast votes for capable, courageous white males--men like Feingold and Dennis Kucinich and Henry Waxman. If capable white males put women and minorities on their tickets, I will vote for them now, but the party has to be prepared to fight--not roll over and die-- when those candidates get Ferraro'd. There has to be commitment, something the Democratic Party simply does not have.
Art teacher suspended for teaching art
The charge? Making "comments that students could construe as being of a sexual or personal nature...or using [his] position as a teacher to put students into any situation reasonably likely to make them feel uncomfortable because of the injection of sexuality into...the substance of [his] comments."
Only an obsessed-with-sex pervert would consider such a recommendation as one of a sexual nature or would feel that sexuality had been "injected" into the substance of the comments. And while I'm at it, so what if it was?
The students in this class viewed a number of nude drawings and paintings when they were in 9th grade art, so it isn't as though they are all shocked and enraged over the sight of a breast or a penis. It is the adults who are all aquiver over it. Indeed, it was one father who had a fit over the thought of his daughter seeing naked people, which is interesting, since attendance at the figure drawing classes was to be strictly voluntary.
There will now be hearings to determine whether to fire the teacher.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Butthole quote of the day
More than half of Americans reject evolution
What do Bono and Bob Geldof have in common?
John Profumo has died
But the story was much greater than just that of a highly-ranked politician's cheating on his famous wife. Keeler was also involved in a relationship with a naval attache, Yevgeny Ivanov, who was a Russian spy. The scandal was huge, and Profumo, after lying about his relationship with Keeler (imagine that), resigned. But because of the compromised relationship, Mcmillan lost in the general election the next year.
As a young girl, I was fascinated with the newspapers we received from London. The scandal was front page news all the time, and though I was interested in the spy part of the story, I was, as you can imagine, a lot more interested in the call girl part. No one explained any of it to me, so I was left to conjure up all kinds of sordid images on my own.
Ironically, during this same period, the President of the United States was having one of a gazillion affairs with a woman who was also having an affair with a famous mobster, and who served as a go-between for both men, but that relationship was kept quiet until 1975.
John Profumo's story did not end with his resignation from the Mcmillan cabinet. He felt such profound remorse for what he had done that he dedicated the rest of his life to Toynbee Hall, a charitable settlement in London. He washed dishes and played with the children, raised money, and eventually became chairman and then president of Toynbee.
Before the scandal, most in-the-know British politicians and media personalities assumed that Profumo would one day become Foreign Secretary or Chancellor, but he wound up a dedicated humanitarian. In 1975, Profumo was made a Commander of the British Empire. He remained married to Valerie Hobson until her death in 1998.
Profumo died Thursday at the age of 91. His legacy will be that of a man who made a mistake and then went on to become a symbol of awareness and compassion.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Quote of the week
Louisiana post-Katrina update
In the meantime, who wouldn't want to live in a city where the garbage isn't being picked up?
Carnival may be over, but there is still plenty of entertainment, brought to us by the completely insane Kimberly Williamson Butler, Orleans Parish Criminal Court Clerk and all-around lunatic. Williamson Butler, who used to be Mayor Nagin's CAO but was fired, then became Clerk of Court and managed to screw up an election by not getting voting machines to the polling places, has just gotten released from jail and is running for mayor, and compares herself to Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, and, oh...read it yourself.
The state has an unexpected budget surplus, which Governor Blanco wants to use to give teachers pay raises, but that is never a popular use for money in the Louisiana legislature.
We now know for sure that the Army Corps of Engineers had plenty of data for correctly designing levees and floodwalls in New Orleans, but chose to ignore it.
And the coveted Alliance for Good Government New Orleans mayoral candidate endorsement goes to Ron Forman.
U.S. found guilty of violating human rights of Native Americans
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Thursday, March 09, 2006
San Diego woman says she was fired for having an Air America bumper sticker
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
U.S. Coast Guard cook discharged for being gay
This and that
Over at Shakespeare's Sister, there is a question: "Who is on your dream Democratic ticket for the 2008 Presidential race?" Several people chose non-politicians, many chose a ticket not made up of two white males, and many put a bigoted-against-gays person on their dream ticket. Interesting.
Julian Brookes at MoJo Blog posts that Rick Santorum, who said in January that he would end his regular meetings with lobbyists, has continued to meet with many of them on a regular basis.
I saw North Country last night. It leaves a lot to be desired as a film, unfortunately, but at least the details of what those women in the mines went through are left intact. It was hard to watch. The horrific abuse enacted against the women in Minnesota was taking place in the mid-1980's, only 20 years ago. So many men hate--really hate--women.
While I'm talking about film, I should also add that the people who are complaining about a conspiracy with regard to Brokeback Mountain's failure to garner a "Best Picture" Oscar (which is usually an artisically worthless award, anyway) need to chill out. It was a good film, but not a great film. A great film, in my opinion, was Capote.
If you still haven't visited Holla Back New York City, what are you waiting for?
And if you still haven't joined the Green Party, what are you waiting for?
The Raw Story reports that Bush-lusting Chris Matthews has gotten large fees for speaking to conservative groups. Big surprise.
And now, dear reader, I must leave. I have drunk all of my strawberry daiquiri and must refill my glass.