Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It is time to say goodbye

I have been publishing The Dees Diversion (formerly known as DED Space) for four years and ten months--five years, for all practical purposes. I have also been blogging for Mother Jones' MoJo Blog for over a year and nine months. That is a lot of blogging, and the time has come for me to cut back. After this week, The Dees Diversion will no longer be published. There are several reasons I made this decision:

I have never succeeded in marketing this blog the way I wanted to, despite doing everything I could think of to market it.

I am tired, not so much of the hoardes of ignorant conservatives in the blogosphere, but of the hoardes of so-called liberals who do not support women's rights, LGBT rights and the liberation of non-humans, as well as the liberals who are not interested in looking at facts and making rational arguments.

But mostly, I have neglected creative writing to the extent that it has been a long, long time since I have written a short story, and I am often too tired to work on my poetry. This drain on my time and energy is the main reason I am giving up intensive blogging.

Publishing The Dees Diversion has been a great experience, however. If I had not decided to blog, I would never have met ae of arse poetica, or Kathy of What Do I Know?, both of whom I now count as friends. This blog was featured on CNN's "Inside the Blogs," and even though I do not care for CNN, I have to admit it was nice to be showcased. It was through writing this blog that I was invited to blog for Mother Jones, which has also been a great experience.

Meeting my two blogging friends (I have met with Kathy a couple of times) was certainly the highlight of my blogging experience, but I also cannot forget the intensive, non-stop blogging (I got an arm injury from it) I did when we evacuated to get out of the way of Katrina. The nights I spent at Lefty's Lounge with The Heretik helped get me through the hurricane. Joe, Catherine, Matt, Agi, Melissa, handdrummer, and all of you who were there to talk to me and wish me well really made the experience easier...and who can forget the karaoke?!

There are other bloggers I also feel like I know to some extent: delagar, Helen Wheels, Pinky, Ann Bartow, Amanda, Ken, and others, some of whom no longer blog.

There were few bad experiences. Being verbally abused by the Koufax Awards coordinator stands out (my crime was that I and some of my readers wondered why I had been left off the list after being nominated several times). Most of the attacks I've received, however, have come from a few impolite MoJo readers, not readers of The Dees Diversion (there were never enough readers to draw too bad of a crowd).

I don't know how long I will leave The Dees Diversion in cyberspace--maybe a long time. I certainly encourage everyone to read some of the blogs in my links list. I have always kept it updated, and all of the blogs are worth reading.

In a week or so, I'll get rid of the email address associated with The Dees Diversion. A few of you have my "real" email address; if you do not have it and would like it, drop me a line at the blog email address while it is still active, or just post a comment asking for it, and I'll send it to you at your blog email address.

Will I ever blog again? Well, since you ask...the one thing I'm not tired of blogging about is the WTA, so I have launched Women Who Serve, a blog about the Sony Ericisson WTA Tour. If you are not into women's tennis, I urge you to give it a try. But even if you have no interest whatever in the WTA, rest assured that Friday cat blogging will go on! If you want to see Roxie and Velma and their pesky friends, Ziggy Stardust and Tarzan, they will still appear every Friday on Women Who Serve, and they would love to have you drop in and admire them.

I will also continue to blog at the MoJo Blog, but on a weekly (rather than daily) basis, so you can still visit me there, too. And I'll continue to visit your blogs, of course.

Thanks to everyone who read this blog and supported my efforts on behalf of truth, decency, sanity, and the rights of women and girls, people of color, LGBT citizens, and non-humans.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

God Bless America and you stay in your seat

Before September 11, 2001, the song "God Bless America" was played in Yankee Stadium only on holidays. But since mid-October of 2001, it has been played before the bottom of the seventh inning at every game. It seems like that would be punishment enough, but George Steinbrenner has taken the punishment a step further: While the song is being played, fans are not allowed to leave their seats.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Talk about snakes on a plane...

Six customs inspectors at Orlando Sanford International Airpot say that, in 2005, they were told by their supervisors to falsify information they were supposed to have gathered during an inspection for plant and animal contraband. The passengers in question were never stopped and their bags were not inspected. The inspectors said they were told to lie because the airport was "busy."

Welcome to the War on Terror.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

The spring garden

C. 'En Evant' is a French antique canna that dates back to 1914. It is just the sort of canna that the Victorians were crazy for, and I like it too.

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The French Open!

Svetlana Kuznetsova--can she finally win the French Open?

Jelena Jankovic may have burned herself out of a chance to beat Henin and win at Roland Garros

Qualifying for the French Open is currently in progress, and, as always, my favorite Grand Slam is the most puzzling to figure out. That's because it is played on red clay, and red clay tends to diffuse power. Or, as I like to put it, people play real tennis on clay.

Sadly, both Tatiana Golovin and Peng Shuai have withdrawn from the event because of injuries. Golovin, who injured one of her very vulnerable ankles yet again in Charleston, could even have been considered a dark horse to win the event. Saddest of all, Martina Hingis had to withdraw because of her hip injury. Hingis is a wonderful clay player--clay is the perfect surface for her game--yet the French Open remains the only Grand Slam she has never won.

Defending champion Justine Henin is still probably the top favorite to win; it is very hard to beat Henin on clay, and she performs well at big moments. The other contenders:

Svetlana Kuznetsova--an outstanding clay player and last year's finalist, but a bit short on the mental side. Kuznetsova has been in four finals this year, and has won none of them.

Serena Williams--She has won the French Open before, she is playing very well, and she has to be seen as a threat to take the whole thing.

Nicole Vaidisova--She made it to the semifinals last year, but Vaidisova had to pull out of the tournament in Strasbourg this week, where she was the defending champion, because of a wrist injury. She had already withdrawn from the German Open and the Italian Open because of the injury. There is no word yet as to whether Vaidisova will even be able to participate in the French Open, and if she does, she will do so without playing any of the warmup events.

(Note on Vaidisova: After making a fool of herself a little over a week ago by saying that women players looking "cute" contributes to professional tennis, now Vaidisova has outdone herself and officially come out against equal prize money.)

Jelena Jankovic--The Grand Slam victory is coming; I don't have any doubt. But there are a couple of problems about this French Open. One is Justine Henin, whom Jankovic has never beaten (including recently, when she was up 4-0, 30-0 in the third set). Jankovic just won the Italian Open, and said candidly that she won it "because Henin didn't come." She will have to beat Henin at some point if she is to win at Roland Garros. The other problem is that Jankovic has foolishly over-played this season, getting little rest and making herself vulnerable to injury. She just gave her semifinal opponent a walkover in Strasbourg because of an intestinal illness; something had to give.

Ana Ivanovic--I really wasn't expecting to put Ivanovic on a list of contenders for the French Open; I don't really consider her a clay player. But she just won the German Open, and that changes my opinion. I now make her a contender.

The dark horses:

Amelie Mauresmo--France's number one player has never gotten past the quarterfinals at the French Open, despite the fact that she is a really good clay player. The pressure has always just been too much for her. On top of that, Mauresmo has been out most of the clay season because of appendicitis and a long recovery. She has struggled since her return, though she has made it to the final this week at Strasbourg. I put her here as a dark horse precisely because, right now, no one is expecting anything from her at all, and that may ease some of the mental pressure.

Patty Schnyder--I know some people may laugh, but, despite a poor start, Schnyder is playing some of her very best tennis this season. She is vulnerable in damp weather, but if the courts stay dry, she can go far. Now the bad news: After taking out Serena Wiliams, Schnyder got to the semifinals in Rome (she was a finalist in 2005) and had to retire because of breathing problems. She had been playing all week with a cold, but it got much worse, and the trainer did not have any nasal spray (how crazy is that?). On top of that, she withdrew from the tournament in Istambul this week because of a right quadriceps injury. Schnyder rarely gets injured, but she has had really bad luck the past couple of weeks, just when she was playing extremely well. As of this writing, she has not withdrawn from Roland Garros, and is indicating that she will play.

Nadia Petrova--This is as dark as a horse gets. Last year, many of us thought Petrova would win the French Open; she had made an impressive sweep of the clay court season. Then her luck turned very bad--she sustained an injury during pre-tournament practice in Paris, and was taken out in the first round. Since then she has struggled to return to form, and she is not likely to find that form at Roland Garros. But you never know.


1/3 of Americans take Bible literally

Once again, a poll shows that almost one-third of Americans believe that the Bible is the word of God and that every word is to be taken literally. Of those who do not believe the Bible's contents are to be taken literally, the majority believe that the book is nevertheless the actual word of God. Not surprisingly, belief in the literal meaning of the Bible is highest among those with the lowest education.

What is frustrating, of course, is that the same people who believe that the Bible is to be taken literally are almost always the ones who push the Bible's so-called teachings down the throats of the rest of us, yet they would kill themselves if they ever attempted to follow the literal mandates of the book.


Friday cat blogging--late show edition

Sometimes Ziggy just can't watch the whole movie.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Adolescents play pranks..."

Last November, someone set fire to the central wing of a high school in Jena, Louisiana. Then white students beat up a black student because he went to their party. Soon after that, a white adolescent pulled a shotgun on three black adolescents in a convenience store, and then four black students jumped a white student as he came out of the school gym. Following that incident, in which the student received minor injuries, six black students were expelled and were charged with attempted second-degree murder. They face up to a hundred years in prison.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)


The power of denial

A few days ago, George W. Bush referred to the investigation of Attorney General Gonzales as "the reason the American people lose faith in the system" (not an exact quote). What he was saying was that the evil people calling out Gonzales for possible (likely) wrong-doing have stirred things up and caused Americans to doubt their own government.

From a moral standpoint, his statement is outrageous. From a logical standpoint, it is ridiculous. But Bush did not say anything that does not reflect business as usual in this culture. Not only do we blame the victim for crimes and horrors, we also blame those who call out criminals for disturbing the equilibrium. Think of how many whistle-blowers have been threatened, and how many have been chastised because they "ruined the local economy," "caused people to lose their jobs," etc.

This denial and reversal begins in the family unit. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this pattern with regard to child abuse, and especially child sexual abuse by a family member: First the family does not believe the abuse occurred, and calls the victim a liar. Then, when presented with undeniable evidence--sometimes even a confession--the family turns against the victim with statements like "It happened so long ago, you had to go and stir it up," and "You are ripping this family apart."

I also hear people who have been victimized say of the perpetrator, "I don't want to get him into trouble." And I routinely see parents who do not bother to seek justice for a child who has been threatened, beaten up or sexually assaulted.

For all our blather about "law and order," we do not want it. People were horrified when the Watergate investigation took place because Nixon was a "hero." No matter how many times you tell people that Reagan was a racist, sexist, imperialist nightmare, they will tell you he was the best president in history. That woman who went off on me in the K-Mart parking lot a few years ago was outraged because I was opposed to some of the country's "honored" institutions--the Boy Scouts, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Never mind that the first one is bigoted and has been under constant investigation for financial hanky-panky. Never mind that the second one murdered several people in the 80s with tained blood and then was part of several major embezzlement scandals. Never mind that the third one is run by bigots. These are institutions that "do good."

Bush's statement is an accurate reflection of the American way of looking at problems: Do nothing, say nothing. And if you must say something, blame the victim, or blame those who expose the perpetrator.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fred Thompson shuts down his PAC--and there goes his son's income

Former Tennessee senator, stunningly bad actor and possible presidential candidate Fred Thompson has seen fit to shut down his political action committee. The PAC in question has raised $66,700 for election campaigns and committees in the four years it has been in existence. It has also paid $178,000 in consulting fees to Daniel Thompson Associates.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)


Alleged gang rapists go unprosecuted

It doesn't really surprise me that much that a state that would elect a sex criminal to be its governor would also decline to prosecute gang-rapists. A group of college baseball players in San Jose took turns raping a drunk 17-year girl. DNA samples have been obtained. There is an eyewitness. But the Santa Clara DA's office says there isn't enough evidence to charge the perpetrators.

"From the beginning, I kind of felt like it was a witch hunt and the De Anza players were victims, and not really this girl," pitcher Chris Knopf said. That is, of course, Duke-speak, and probably has something to do with the prosecutors' reluctance to do anything. That is, of course, about as obscene a miscarriage of justice imaginable. But then, California, as I said in my opening sentence, doesn't seem to care much at all these days about crimes against women and girls.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Gingrich continues to ride the Christian right bandwagon

On Saturday, ethically challenged former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gave the commencement address at Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell. This was the second time the former speaker has delivered the Liberty commencement address. In his speech, Gingrich quoted Bible verses and warned graduates against "the growing culture of radical secularism."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)


Just another example

Of all we've done for the cause of women's rights in Afghanistan.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday cat blogging--springtime snuggle edition

There are still enough cool days for the sisters to get in some snuggling on the sofa


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Some stories speak for themselves

Especially the disgusting ones.


Bay Buchanan: The doctor is in

A few years ago, when Bush on the Couch was published by psychiatrist Justin A. Frank, his publicist invited me to review it. I declined on ethical grounds. Frank, having never met George W. Bush, is not qualified to diagnose him, despite his using the technique of "applied psychoanalysis" which permits the psychological analysis of a public figure, but which--in my opinion--shoud be limited to analysis of the dead. (I am a psychotherapist, and I know that if I did such a thing, my board would come down hard on me.)

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

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Isn't the U.S. just the most enlightened place?

You have to hide from everyone the fact that you find the divine in nature, but you can put bumper stickers on your car advertising that your religion condemns your family members, neighbors and co-workers, and that you wish to suppress women and members of the LGBT community.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

World-class bigot and hater Flynt gets a pass from Duke University, HBO and the New York Times

Though many of us (and especially those of us with brains who live in Louisiana) cannot help but be grateful to Larry Flynt for exposing the hypocrisy of right-wing womanizer Bob Livingston, there has never been any doubt in my mind as to Flynt's character: He is a vicious, hateful bigot who has caused untold amounts of damage to women, people of color and members of the LBGT community.

But Duke University, HBO and the New York Times would like us to forget about all that, and focus on Flynt's status as a put-upon free speech "hero." Feminist Law Professors provides an examination of the documentary, The Right To Be Left Alone, released at the Full Frame Documentary Festival, sponsored by Duke, HBO and the Times. 2,000 films were entered in the festival, and only The Right To Be Left Alone quite literally was left alone; it did not pass through the critical review process. Flynt has been linked with everything from the most shocking misogyny to hatred of the animal liberation movement (he has a lot of company among liberals there) to anti-Semitism to child pornography, but the film does not mention any of this.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Justice means different things for men and women

Ohio man arrested after he and his wife protest military recruiters in library

Tim Coil is a Gulf War veteran with PTSD. In early March, he and his wife visited the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library in Ohio so that his wife, Yvette, could study for a test and he could do some reading. While they were there, they saw two military recruiters approaching potential elistees in a nearby room. Yvette Coil wrote some messages on 3x5 cards: "Don't fall for it! Military recruiters lie," and "It's not honorable to fight for a lying president."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

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"Where are they learning about feminism?"

In After Atalanta, Ken talks about a new version of "I'm not a feminist, but--", which she calls "I am a feminist, but--" Good stuff.

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God has struck Jerry Falwell dead

Obviously, for the sins of hating women and homosexuals, and for not using the brain he was given at birth.


My favorite quote of the day

"Only in a hopelessly Puritan country like America could people actually think that a bad work of art is redeemed by its content."

--Joseph S. Salemi, in an essay in The New Formalist.

Idiot tennis quote of the day

"I think lots want to watch, you know, girls dressed in a cute way. I think fashion has helped us a lot, people watch for that too."

--WTA world number 7 Nicole Vaidisova

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bettie Page and Gretchen Mol--two women worth spending time with

I generally resist the enormous temptation to write about film in this blog, but I saw a film last night that I must mention because of its subject matter. The Notorious Bettie Page is a film I wanted to see when it came out last year, but I did not have the opportunity. It was on television last night, and I was enthralled by it.

Many of us grew up hearing about the scandalous Page, though we did not know all the details about the scandal until we were older. Page may have been the most myterious icon of my childhood, in fact. I knew she was very famous, and I knew she posed for "pin-ups," but I didn't know much else.

Page was, of course, in hundreds of photos and films which were considered pornographic in their day because most of them featured bondage and discipline or at least, through costume, implied it. As far as I know, none of them featured men, but instead, fed on the girl-on-girl fantasy that is universally popular among heterosexual men. Page was tied, trussed, chained--you name it--while women spanked and whipped her.

The film is directed and co-written by Mary Harron, who also directed I Shot Andy Warhol, a film I like a great deal, which tells the story of Valerie Solanas, who is played brilliantly by Lili Taylor. Taylor also appears in The Notorious Bettie Page, as Paula Klaw, half of the husband-wife team who did most of Page's photos and films. Sarah Paulson (who was just wonderful on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) plays Bunny Yeager, the famous model-turned-photographer whose "jungle" shots of Paige catapulted her to even greater fame.

It is Gretchen Mol, however, as Page, who makes this film. Mol, you may recall, made a splash when she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, and then proceeded to disappear almost into oblivion. The Notorious Bettie Page was her comeback film, and what a comeback it is. Mol perfectly captures Page's comfort with her own body, her good nature, and her relative innocence. She mugs and poses and grins and winks, and we are won over by her. Bettie Page was a victim of child abuse and also experienced a gang rape. An exceptional student, she also just barely missed being class valedictorian and getting a university scholarship. It was no surprise that she could appear so at home in various states of bondage.

But there is nothing about Page, as Mol plays her, that suggests she felt like a victim. She had a survivor's instinct to go wherever she would be treated well, and she was treated well indeed by both Paula and Irving Klaw, who actually stood in as parent figures for her. Page was also treated with gentleness and respect by Bunny Yeager, who, more than anyone, understood what it was like to pose for "girlie" pictures.

The Klaws' photos and films of Page led to a Senate hearing conducted by Estes Kefauver (David Strathairn), in which America's hypocrisy about sex was put on show. The entire affair led Page back to her religious upbringing, she retired from her career, and became very active in her church.

The Notorious Bettie Page fills in the blanks about Page's life, exposes (yet again) the nation's obsession with sex and religion, and also lets us spend some time in a very gray area of the erotica/pornography world. Page was not exploited by her managers, nor did images of her depict the humiliation of a woman by men. The Page images also did not fall neatly into the "erotica" category (I always use Steinem's definitions). They were what they were, and while me may not like some of the fantasies that surely accompanied the viewing of these images, the images themselves hardly appear sadistic to us today.

Finally, the film gives Mol a chance to show how very talented she is. I hope she doesn't disappear again.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Just in case the WTA tour doesn't promote sex enough...

There's this. Because everyone knows it isn't about athletic ability and months of very difficult work.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Violent and obscene fantasies on XM radio--business as usual

I was going to blog about the Opie and Anthony incident and all things related to it, but there is no way I could have said it better than egalia at Tennessee Guerilla Women, so here is her take on this horrific incident and what it means in the context of the big, ugly picture.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Nebraska teacher taken out of classroom for showing Iraq documentary

Last year, Michael Baker was one of only forty-seven teachers in Nebraska to obtain National Board Certification. Last month, he showed his students at East High School in Lincoln the documentary, Baghdad ER, which shows the lives of doctors, nurses, medics, and soldiers in Iraq. The next day, Baker was no longer in his geography classroom.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

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Rep. McHenry does some hostile gender-bashing

Being sarcastic about so-called "political correctness" is some people's way of showing hostility with regard to sensitivity about race, gender and other important matters. Here is a video of North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry demonstrating his anger toward chairwoman Rep. Ellen Tauscher because she would not call on him until others became quiet.

Tauscher handled the situation beautifully, and a big shout-out to Think Progress for bringing this matter to everyone's attention. A quick perusal of comments on the blog will show you how many people are oh, so put out that anyone would think this issue is important, or that anyone would think McHenry did anything wrong. McHenry, however, knew exactly what he was doing--attempting to humiliate Tauscher and belittle gender equality at the same time.

Why is it so threatening for people to use the word "woman"? McHenry may be a Republican, but he has lots of company among so-called liberals.

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Friday cat blogging--now we are one!

Ziggy Stardust and his friend Tarzan will each be one year old some time this month; no one knows the exact date. Ziggy has been here since he was very small. Rescued from a feral colony, he was here to be fostered, and we just couldn't give him up. His interests include buzzing really loud, playing, eating like an oil rig worker, and trying everything he can think of to get Roxie to like him. Here, he is shown napping on a chaise with an Algonquin Round Table throw.

Tarzan was here when he was very small, too, but he was judged feral and placed back in the colony. Later, while continuing to be fed in the colony, he became tame, and he returned here to be fostered. His presence made Ziggy so happy that we kept him, too. Tarzan likes sleeping, sitting on laps and stealing the other cats' toys. Here he is with a small scratch board and a stuffed alligator. He is often seen being chased by Velma.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A little more good news

Student sues university for denying her a teaching degree

On the eve of her graduation from Millersville University, Stacy Snyder was told that she would not be receiving her teaching degree, but instead, would receive a degree in English. The reason? 27-year-old Snyder, who works as a nanny, posted a photo of herself on her MySpace site in which she was--hide your eyes!--wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic "Mr. Goodbar" cup. Jane Bray, dean of the school of education, accused her of promoting underage drinking.

It is unknown whether the school has published rules for its education students, but even if there is a rule that prohibits the "promotion of underage drinking" (and I cannot imagine that such a rule exists), sticking a pirate hat on your head and having a cocktail, if you are a grown woman, is hardly conducting a campaign to encourage students to drink.

Snyder has sued the university for $75,000 in damages.

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School principal persecuted for "persecuting" "Christians"

Dave Terwilliger, principal of San Juan High School in Citrus Heights, California, recently suspended 35 students for wearing T-shirts with gay-hating slogans on them, including a message that gay students were bound for hell. The students say that the shirts are an expression of their religious views, and therefore, they are being persecuted. The shirts, by the way, were selected for what the students called a counterpoint to the Day of Silence.

Over the weekend, the Church of the Divide's 20 members, who have already staged rallies in front of the school, took their show on the road and staged rallies in front of Terwilliger's church, Celtic Cross Presbyterian, where they called for his excommunication, and in front of his house. They gave his neighbors flyers that said "Your neighbor is persecuting Christians. You need to confront him over his tyrannical behavior at a public high school."

Right. Because it is fine and dandy to persecute gay students, several of whom are probably also Christian.

The Church of the Divide does not have a place of worship or a pastor, and its website is mysteriously down. Leader Dick Otterstad's son owns a company, No Gay Gear Inc., which sells anti-gay shirts and magnets. Everyone has to make a living, I suppose.


Air traffic controllers in Newark call for criminal investigation over carbon monoxide incident

Last month, several air traffic controllers at the Newark Airport claimed they were forced to direct planes while they were suffering from dizziness, confusion, headaches, and disorientation brought on by carbon monoxide poisoning. It turns out that a test of the facility's backup generator sent exhaust fumes into the building's ventilation system, thus releasing the carbon monoxide fumes. The controllers also say that they were not allowed to leave the building, or even to leave their posts, and that management refused to call the fire department.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

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Governor Sebelius gets Blanco'd

Same slimy tactic--different Kathleen.

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Donald Powell insults us yet again

Federal recovery coordinator Donald Powell hasn't had much of a clue since he arrived in Louisiana. His latest insult was to remind people in the Corps of Engineers-damaged area of the "overwhelming generosity" of the American taxpayer toward them. Hello! The people of New Orleans are American taxpayers, too. And the federal government, which Powell represents, caused much of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish to be devastated because of the incompetence and total negligence of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

People are angry. Really angry. As well they should be. Powell represents the Bush administration quite well, always ready to blame Louisiana for what the federal government did. Between our "friends", who refuse to acknowledge that we are the victims, and people like Powell, it is impossible to get many victim-hating Americans to understand that the Bush administration has pretty much left Louisiana, especially New Orleans, to collapse.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

No domestic partner benefits for state employees in Minnesota

After Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty made it clear that he would veto any bill giving domestic partnership benefits to several state employees, the Minnesota legislator dropped the matter last week. Members of the House and Senate eliminated language in a major spending bill that would have given such benefits to domestic partners, including gay partners.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

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More blaming the victim--and yes, the victim is female

Maia of Alas, a blog, has a post about how the police in New Zealand respond to the dreadful fact that some of their number rape female citizens. You can probably guess the content, but here it is.

There is also some commentary as to whether the "feminist-only thread" plug-in is working. One man was polite enough to mention that, because the plug-in was not working, his comment went online. "I do not identify as a feminist," he explains.

It still gives me chills to hear someone say that. But at least some people are honest enough to state boldly that they do not think women should have social, political and economic equality with men.

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Heroes are not required to respect half of the population

This morning, I was in a coffee shop looking at a catalogue of English-inspired and English-made goods. There was an entire page devoted to Winston Churchill--books, cds, DVDs, ties, a bust, etc. The promotional piece for one of the books mentioned, in addition to the obvious things about Churchill, his love of sailing, dining and painting. And it also mentioned his weaknesses--hardheadedness, arrogance, etc.

But no one ever mentions Churchill's great big weakness: He held women in total contempt. His was not your everyday, take-it-for-granted sexism, but a verbal testament that women were bothersome and inferior. Yet Churchill is the great 20th Century hero (along with super-racist Ronald Reagan). No one seems to find anything wrong with this, nor does it detract from his godlike status.

The tea room in my town used to have a Churchill room, which was pretty disgusting, and I refused to sit in it. Now, most of the Churchill memorabilia has been taken down, for whatever reason, and I no longer have to look at his hating face.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Louisiana man refuses to use fingerprinting machine

Herman Clayton lives in St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana and works as a school electrician and a Baptist minister. His school has installed a $75,000 fingerprinting system which enables employees to clock in each day by having their fingers scanned. Clayton refuses to have his finger scanned because by doing so, he says, he is violating the End of Time Doctrine.

I am not making this up. Clayton believes that a fingerprinting device is a tool of the Antichrist. If you think he is a bit of a nutcake, you are not alone; apparently, so does the Catholic Church. The Rev. William Maestri, frequent spokesman for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said "I really don't see the connection between placing your finger on a scanner and where my immortal soul is going." An he goes further than that: ""Religious freedom is not simply a blank check to act anyway you want or expect anything you want," Maestri said."

But the Louisiana ACLU disagrees with Maestri, stating that a school's rule should never interfere with someone's right to practice his religion. Clayton can sign in easily without using the machine, therefore not not disrupting the process and not placing an undue burden on anyone. ACLU executive director Joe Cook calls it "an opportunity for a reasonable accommodation."

The case is in arbitration and the school district says it will abide by the outcome of that arbitration. But the school district's concern is that allowing Clayton to avoid using the machine will open the door to other objections and render the device a waste of money.

Note to fundamentalist, ACLU-hating idiots: The church wants Clayton to get over it; the ACLU is fighting for him.

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Kim Clijsters retires suddenly--won't play out the year

A couple of years ago, Kim Clijsters said she would retire at the end of 2007, that she had made up her mind and would not change it for any reason. Nevertheless, the tennis talking heads continued to say things like "Clijsters, who is considering retiring in 2007...," and "Clijsters, who is giving some thought to retiring this year... .

Wishful thinking, I suppose. Finally, people got it: Clijsters decided not to play in this year's French Open, and said she would play Wimbledon and maybe play the U.S. Open, which she won in 2005. Then talk turned to her upcoming retirement and her upcoming marriage this summer, and many of us had thoughts of a remarkable send-off at one of the Slams.

But over the weekend, after failing to defend her J&S Cup title in Warsaw, Clijsters announced she was finished. Her body has been so battered by tennis (she was out most of 2004 with a wrist injury so bad, she had to have two surgeries, and was told she might not ever play tennis again) that she has to stretch for an hour when she gets up in the morning. It seemed like all Clijsters could do to make it to the end of the year, and she decided to stop pushing herself.

Though she won only one Grand Slam (she was a finalist in four others), Clijsters' career has been very, very impressive. The extraordinarily athletic woman known for doing the "Clijsters splits" on court leaves the tour with 34 singles titles, 11 doubles titles, and so many other accomplishments that I cannot begin to list them. You can read them here, though, and I recommend that you do. Also, here is a lovely video tribute to Clijsters' U.S. Open win.

Finally, no discussion of Clijsters is complete without mentioning her wonderfully good humor and sportswomanship. Fans, sponsors, members of the media, and other players are all drawn to her. One of my favorite Kim moments occurred during a Grand Slam that was rained out (probably Wimbledon), and--as the court-sweeping crew arrived--there was Kim, decked out in a yellow slicker, sweeping the court. After she won the U.S. Open, she bought everyone in her hometown a beer. At least two songs have been written about her; they sound like drinking songs, and that is fitting for someone who has brought her countrypeople in Belgium so much joy.

I'm certainly going to miss her.


Friday, May 04, 2007

It all depends on the occasion

Laura Bush says she had to get Condoleeza Rice to help her convince her husband, who "dislikes" formality and all that goes with it, to host a white tie dinner when Queen Elizabeth II comes to visit. On the one hand, that's easy to understand, since Bush was vulgar enough to wear cowboy boots and not dance at his first inaugural ball.

On the other hand, if you saw Fahrenheit 911, you'll recall that Bush was decked out happily in white tie when he told some of the wealthiest people in the U.S. "Some people call you the elite; I call you my base."

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38 years ago today...

A terrible thing happened in our country. The people who brought you this horror were very much like the people who are in charge now.


NRA fights to let suspected terrorists have guns

When reasonable, Constitution-abiding people argue that no one--and especially "suspects" and "persons of interest"--should be imprisoned (and denied legal representation) without being charged with a crime, we are often told that we are "unpatriotic" and "weak." What will our accusers, then, tell members of the National Rife Association, who are arguing that suspected terrorists should not be denied firearms?

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

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How much do you want to bet...

That the same people who think it is wrong to enact harsher penalties on people who commit hate crimes also think it is just fine to enact harsher penalties on people who kill police officers?

Because the issue isn't about a group getting "special treatment" at all.

Joan Baez "can't fit in" at Walter Reed

Joan Baez accepted an invitation from John Mellencamp to sing for recovering soldiers at Walter Reed, but was then uninvited by the hospital. Baez says she was "not approved" by the U.S. Army to participate in the concert, and Mellancamp was told that Baez "can't fit in here, period."

Of course, the Army has a right to keep anti-war personalities away from its facilities. But anyone who recalls the Nixon days--the vicious punishment of Jane Fonda (which is still going on) because she dared to save thousands of Vietnamese lives, the extortion of Yoko Ono and the attempt to deport John Lennon--may be feeling a bit of a chill right now.

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Friday cat blogging--behind the curtain edition

Roxie sits in a bedroom window

Velma gives us a glimpse of her behind the dining room window

Roxie relaxing in the window


Thursday, May 03, 2007

You have to hand it to Chris Matthews

He never tires of finding new, disgusting ways to bash Sen. Clinton.

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Every once in great while, there is some good news

Here is a fine example.


I was for it before it went away

Presidential candidate John Edwards, the man whose rhetoric implies that it isn't the government's job to fix the mess it made in New Orleans, has talked about the "war on terror" as much as the next politician. But suddenly, he has removed all references to it from his website, and says that the term "has created a frame that is not accurate," and that he now believes there is not really a global war on terror.

No kidding. But it was not that long ago that Edwards thought it was just fine and dandy. But if a "populist" can get a $400 haircut, why can't he suddenly change his mind about the existence of a war on terror?

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Army cracks down on military blogs, emails

If you are the husband or wife or sibling or parent of a U.S. Army soldier serving in Iraq and you blog (and according to the new rules, email) about the war, you are now in official trouble with the U.S. Army.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

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Memo to the Vatican...

According to your definition, there are so many of us terrorists crawling around, you could never scoop us all up and bring us to justice. But give me a break--how can we not "insult" someone whose mission is to make people feel ashamed of themselves and to oppress more than half of the population, causing everything from hopelessness to death?

The Pope, according to the Vatican, is "someone who always speaks in the name of love, love for life and love for man." Certainly not love for woman.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

How China prepares for the Olympics

I was just visiting one of my favorite blogs, After Atalanta, and after I made a comment on a post about Chinese women athletes and the Olympics, it occurred to me that maybe a lot of people are not familiar with one of China's "preparation for the Olympics" projects: Officials have gone door to door and killed about 50,000 "superfluous" pet dogs, beating them to death in front of their people.

There has not been a peep out of the IOC about this. Or the U.S. government. Business as usual. I thought it was the most disgusting news story of 2006. The Chinese government will rave about its "successful" Olympic hosting, I'm sure.

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The news media's bold, constant sexism--help stop it

The treatment of female candidates and female politicians by the news media has gotten worse every year (those of you who do not believe we have a problem with sexism in the U.S., turn on your television). The "liberal" Chris Matthews is probably the worst offender, but he has plenty of company, including other "liberals," like Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann.

The National Organization for Women has published an excellent examination, by Katie Heirner, of how female candidates and women in office are treated by the news media. The details will make you sick. You can see more sickening examples here (with many of Maureen Dowd's irrelevant personal insults to both men and women included).

And you can sign NOW's petition to demand an end to sexist and superficial candidate reporting.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The incredible shrinking moniker

Back when Bill Clinton was a politician in Arkansas, his wife was Hillary Rodham. But in order to satisfy her husband's ambition (oh, I forget--it's okay if it's a man), she changed her name to Hillary Rodham Clinton, a desperate and stupid thing to do (but not as stupid as a woman running as councilman). Now she has become just Hillary Clinton in all of her official statements. Only she has really become just "Hillary." No one says "Barack" or "John" or "Joe," but almost every commentator and news show caller says "Hillary."

Clinton is partially to blame for this. When she ran for senator in New York, some of her campaign signs said Hillary. It's possible she did this in order to distinguish herself from the other Clinton, or perhaps to appear warmer, since she is constantly accused of being cold. Or maybe some consultant told her it was feminine. Or all of the above--who knows?

Back in the 50s, supporters of General Eisenhower wore buttons that said I Like Ike. It was a nice, snappy slogan that also made the general seem approachable. But when commentators discussed the candidate, he was always "General Eisenhower." In theory, there is nothing so wrong with Sen. Clinton being known on the campaign as "Hillary," but I do not trust this phenomenon because a first name on a woman is very different from a first name on a man. The second is personable, while the first seems to belong to a senatorette.


The spring garden at dusk

'Seven Sisters' on two trellises; there is a third trellis in another part of the garden


Girls and women insulted by everyone from sick blog readers to the Center for Missing & Exploited Children

This Washington Post story, brought to my attention by Feminist Law Professors, is a decent summary of what many women in the blogosphere have had to face. Getting sexually insulted, it seems, is the most harmless act being perpetrated against females; even worse (but not much worse) are threats and stalking.

And while I have you at Feminist Law Professors, Ann Bartow brings to our attention a PSA produced by the Ad Council, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Center for Missing & Exploited Children. If you like irony, you'll get a kick out of seeing teenage girls exploited by the PSA. As I mention in my comment on the FLP blog, I would feel slightly better about this if a similar PSA were made for boys, only my fear is that such a PSA would be homophobic in nature. And, as I also mention, it would probably never occur to these experts to show a boy being humiliated because he is a "slut."

I wrote to the Ad Council. If you would like to do the same, here is the contact form. I also wrote to the Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Here is the contact page.

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