Monday, May 31, 2010

Israel and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

I hate talking about anything regarding the Israel/Palestinian conflict since it seems to turn people into raving lunatics on both sides. For me, it's kind of obvious that there is no clear villain or innocent bystander in this story but people don't like to work in shades of grey. Both sides attempt to completely demonize the other in order to gain some sort of temporary moral superiority. The problem with reducing the conversation to such a stark black/white thinking is that the complexities and difficulties of this conflict become simplified to the point where true understanding and solutions are impossible.

There are three things I know for sure when it comes to this conversation though:

1. Being critical of the actions of the Israeli government does NOT equal being antisemitic or a lover of terrorists (similar to how my criticism of Obama and Sarah Palin doesn't make me racist or sexist).

2. All people have the right to eat (and grass doesn't count). I don't really know how to say it any simpler. Starving children and blowing up houses should never be condoned for any reason. I don't care what the justifications are.

3. People are assholes. Because people are assholes, there will inevitably be assholes on both sides of any issue. There are no innocent lambs in this equation.

I have found myself becoming more pro-Palestinian throughout the years though. Most of this stems from the complete bias America has in this situation. It also pisses me off to no end that we continue to give Israel billions of dollars a year for no apparent reason. None of this means I think Israel should be destroyed or any of that crap. I just find myself relating to the Palestinian struggle more than the Israeli one.

About this particular situation regarding Israeli naval commandos killing activists on a flotilla attempting to bring supplies to Gaza, I don't really know what to say. I think we need to wait for more information before we all rush to judgement (obviously, I find this whole situation unfortunate). I do think it's interesting that Israeli is attempting to claim self-defense though. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu said, "Our soldiers had to defend themselves, defend their lives, or they would have been killed."

Um, I don't really see how this line of thinking works though considering the fact the flotilla was in International waters and the Israeli military had no right to board their ship. That would be like me breaking into my neighbors house and then killing him in "self-defense" when he tried to protect his family. The ship was outside of Israel's territorial waters. Plus, as Omar Baddar points out, the flotilla was headed for Gaza not Israel. And since Israel supposedly ended its occupation years ago, I don't really see how these self-defense justifications work.

Unfortunately, at this point I don't think they even need to work. The world may be pissed right now, but the anger will subside and nothing will change. We'll continue to pump billions of dollars into Israel and Israel will do what ever the fuck they want. It's a joke.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Tallest Man on Earth

I've listened to this song at least a dozen times today. I just love it for some reason.


Why or why doesn't the library have this album?

Repo! The Genetic Opera Shadowcast

Last night we went to see the Utah Scalpel SL'UT's shadowcast Repo! The Genetic Opera at the Tower Theater. If you haven't seen Repo, you can see the trailer here. Just be prepared to have your mind blown by an awesome eyeliner and fishnets obsessed dystopia.

Unfortunately I didn't get any good pictures of the shadowcast itself. It was pretty dark and I didn't want to be an ass and use my flash. (And just in case it isn't clear, a shadowcast is when a bunch of actors act out a movie while the movie is playing behind them. Sounds weird, but it's totally awesome.)

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It was a lot more fun then I had thought it was going to be though (I love being pleasantly surprised). I'm looking forward to going again to see The Utah Scalpel SL'UT's perform The Rocky Horror Picture Show in October.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. Cheers.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Young Women and Sexuality

I just read an interesting post over at Jezebel about Kendra Wilkinson's sex video. Upfront I want to say that I haven't seen the video nor do I plan on it. I like porn at much as the next person, but private videos that become public make me extremely uncomfortable.

I loved this part so much though I thought it deserved re-posting:
It's that space where young women have discovered and perfected their sexuality and its value, but haven't yet figured out how it's empowering. They just know that it's something people want from them; it's something people expect from them. Something young men expect from them; something, perhaps, that young men haven't learned how to ask for politely. It's uncomfortable and new and everybody's learning, and what happens, more often than not, is that the male partner's desires come first and more forcefully, and the young woman is disrespected and disempowered and left with a sense that she's less valuable and less capable of demanding respect and control than her male counterpart - a sense that lingers into her twenties and beyond, even though she might not recognize it as such.
I think a lot of women will be able to relate to these feelings. As one commentator said, "Its that line between knowing you're desired, and deriving power from that, and feeling the sadness of being desired only for your sexuality, and as a result handing that power back to your (often male) partner."

Just food for thought.

Can I Toot My Own Horn For Just a Moment?

In my last post I said I like to pretend I know how to sew, but I've actually been practicing lately. One of the reasons I'm so bad at sewing is my unwillingness to pin anything (my general laziness does not mesh with sewing very well). I tend to just go for it and then live with my uneven hems. While I don't really mind too much, I hope to eventually have enough skill sewing to make something a little more complicated then drapes and pillows.

Anyhoo, I just want to brag for a moment because I actually made a skirt. It's simple and not too impressive, but I'm terribly proud of myself. It even has pockets!

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Not too bad right? (I know it's kind of hard to see since its black.) I also made that "harder" necklace since no school equals tons more crafts to try and keep sane. Originally I was going to make one that said "slut," but I thought that was too expected. In the end I felt "harder" was both more and less crude in a way that I could get behind.

So that's it. If you're interested in trying your hand at sewing, I found a simple tutorial here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Blogs/Websites Do You Love?

Now that I'm done with school, I once again have far too much time on my hands. While I have my usual hobbies to keep my busy (cooking, reading, avoiding my cleaning responsibilities, etc.), I was also wondering if you guys had any interesting blogs/websites you'd like to share.


GOD IS BORED OF YOU, originally uploaded by Tom Coates.

I don't really care what type of blog/website it is as long as you love it. I've just found myself in a bit of a rut and I could use something new.

So, what are your favorite blogs/websites?

Lately I've been a bit obsessed with The Rachel Maddow Blog. Besides that, I've been pretending I know how to sew again lately and New Dress A Day is super inspiring I think (the idea is a "365 days. 365 items of clothing. 365 dollars"). I'm also dying to make just about every one of A Little Stranger's tutorials (I've been in a crafty mood lately). I'd love some suggestions though.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obama and Habeas Corpus for Detainees

I am just less and less impressed with President Obama. Don't get me wrong, he's a really impressive dude and I am constantly amazed at how much I like him whenever I hear him speak. (It's actually kind of annoying since I find some of his administration's policies pretty atrocious.) But the thing is, I want a real progressive in the White House. Not someone who is just a little more to the left than Mitt Romney.

Case and point:

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Once again President Obama is supporting, and even furthering, Bush secrecy abuses. I'd like to say I'm shocked, but at this point I'm finding it hard to even muster up the energy to be anything more then annoyed.

From Gleen Greenwald:
So congratulations to the United States and Barack Obama for winning the power to abduct people anywhere in the world and then imprison them for as long as they want with no judicial review of any kind.
It should be pointed out that this ruling would not apply in cases where the detainee is picked up inside the United States (small miracles right?). What I find most irritating about this thing is the silence on both sides. Where are the "limited-government" teabaggers at now? (Though I think it's pretty obvious by now that I don't believe conservatives actually want limit-government in any genuine way.) Where are the liberals that were so outraged by Bush? At this point I'd even take some Libertarians.

Further reading:
Obama Upholds Detainee Policy in Afghanistan
Obama wins the right to detain people with no habeas review
Why It's Important to Note that Obama is NOT Liberal or Progressive

Edit: I want to add that I am not completely unhappy with President Obama. I just think we should all be critical of the people we elect. There's pretty much nothing Obama can do that would convince me to vote for a Republican though and I'm starting to think that's part of the problem with our two party system.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jay Smooth on Rand Paul

I was so happy to see Jay Smooth tackle the Rand Paul brouhaha:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dating Advice Blows

I was really bored last night, so I decided to read the article "Things I Wish I'd Known About Dating When I was 21" that yahoo had on its front page. I don't know what it is about dating advice, but it's kind of like watching a train wreck. I just can't look away. It's probably worse considering most of you know that I'm not even dating, but we all have to get our kicks somehow right?

First off, I love how these sorts of things are always called "rules." Like this one person's personal experiences are so much more valid than anyone elses that they transcend the advice of us blubbering peons and enter the upper echelon of rule-hood.

Here are some of my favorites:
4. Don't help him ask you out by texting him something nice or polite. I'm glad you're more outgoing and thoughtful than he is, but he doesn't want the help.

5. Guys want to get busy more than anything. They'll say anything to close the deal.

7. It's better not to lift a finger in the beginning.

12. Learn to cook. Learn to cook well. I see now that it would have won me a lot of points. A LOT.

23. No boyfriend-girlfriend relationship starts with a 1 a.m. text.

24. When a guy has taken you to Applebee's five times and you say you want to treat him, he'll be psyched. But secretly he'll freak out if you take him to Ruth's Chris, even just the one teeny time. Don't try to match him one Ruth's Chris for five Applebee's. Take him out, but go to T.G.I. Friday's.

25. Women love attention. A guy needs to be pretty crazy about you in order for him to pay enough attention to make you happy long-term.

26. My mom always said, "Men don't think." I thought she meant, "They are mistaken in their thoughts." But they're just not thinking anything at all. About you. They're watching the game. That's why they haven't called.

28. Never underestimate the quality of "interesting." Men want someone interesting. They really do. Find some hobbies.

29. What are you hoping to gain by hooking up with this guy? If the answer is "him," that's a bad deal for you. "The woman gives herself, the man adds to himself by taking her" (de Beauvoir, 659).

30. Expectations? They'll ruin every dating experience you have.

31. You will never understand men. Just try to understand yourself.
Once again, us easily confounded women need to never give it up, lower our standards, have no expectations, and find a man that will allow us to be the attention seeking whores we all are. Passivity is the rule as always and don't ever try to understand your partner ladies. Your brains just aren't capable of the rational thinking it requires. But really, is this what we need to hear? I'm not convinced that dating advice actually helps anyone. Each person is different and needs different things. I just don't see how the opinion of one chick is supposed to help strangers on the internet.

The best dating advice I ever heard was actually from a comedian. He said just be the weird crazy fuck you really are and eventually someone will love you because of it instead of in spite of it (or something like that). That is some advice I can get behind. Rules about what restaurant to choose and what time to text at no so much.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

To each his own, but this sums up my feelings pretty well:

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That's all I got to say on the subject.

Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act

Last night I caught an interesting interview with Rand Paul and his views of the Civil Rights Act on the Rachel Maddow show. While Paul said that he agrees with most parts of the act, he does have an issue with the idea that the federal government can control private business.

Title II of the Civil Rights Act says, "All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin." It is essentially the "public accommodation" part that Paul takes issue with. While Paul states time and time again that he thinks all forms of racism and discrimination are wrong, Paul believes ultimately that the government should not be able to tell private business owners how to run their businesses.

Interview:

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One issue I have with Paul's stance is his lack of alternative solutions to how desegregation could have been enforced. The idea that the market would somehow punish business owners on its own (though the lack of income from whichever group the business is refusing to serve) is strenuous at best. This line of thinking also ignores the fact that the government can place restrictions on businesses. Permits, building codes, and health codes are all examples of this.

I also think Paul's attempt to equate civil rights with the ability to carry a gun into a business as shortsighted. For one, guns don't actually have any rights (unlike people). Two, guns fall into the realm of public safety. No matter what some people may believe, blacks and gays are not as inherently dangerous as a gun and bringing a gun into any establishment is a choice.

I do want to clarify that Paul's argument for individual property rights does not make him a racist. Misguided? Callous? Naive? Yeah. But to make him out as some kind of racist, at least from this conversation, is disingenuous I think. If anything, it just shows an extreme lack of understanding and empathy when it comes to what blacks and other minorities went through, and still often go through. This was a very real reality for a lot of people in this country for a very long time and to theorize about it now seems insensitive to say the least.

As Maddow says:
Maddow:... Howabout desegregating lunch counters?

Paul: Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says 'well no, we don't want to have guns in here' the bar says 'we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.' Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion...

Maddow: Well, it was pretty practical to the people who had the life nearly beaten out of them trying to desegregate Walgreen's lunch counters despite these esoteric debates about what it means about ownership. This is not a hypothetical Dr. Paul.
And ultimately that is the problem I have with Paul's argument. I'm all for having a discussion about private ownership and what role the government should have in it, but we can't forget that real people suffered real hardships in order for the Civil Rights Act to pass. To try and have some abstract conversation about it is grossly crass.

From TPM:
To a degree the argument Paul is making is something like saying that I don't like rape or murder, I just don't believe in a police force to prevent it or a judiciary to punish the offenders.
Also, I want to point out that Paul is completely anti-choice (Paul wouldn't even permit exceptions in the case of rape or incest) because "the mother and the unborn zygote have equal rights." So while Paul think the government should not have the power to force private businesses not to discriminate, Paul also believes the government has the power to make medical decisions for women. How utterly unsurprising.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Illegal Recycling Ring?

This is just odd:


Oh the horror!

I'm sure there are legitimate reasons why these people shouldn't have been doing this (like tax reasons for the state), but the news reporters never point any out. People are just supposed to be outraged that these guys took their garbage.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Miss USA is Obviously a Terrorist

I just love how some wingnuts are going crazy over the fact that the newly crowned Miss USA, Rima Fakih, is brown.


And because she's brown, the show must obviously be rigged. There's just no way Fakih could have won against all those lovely blonde women. We must also never refer to her as an actual person on par with the other contestants. Nope. She must always be "othered" and referred to as a "Muslim-American." To top it all off, Fakih is obviously a dirty whore since she believes health insurance should cover birth control. The audacity of some people.




Good to know that Miss Oklahoma's answer is what qualifies as an "informed opinion" nowadays. I mean, even though the question was more about whether the federal government or the states have the authority to make immigration laws, she's like totally a huge believer in states’ rights and thinks America is wonderful. Doesn't get any more informed then that my friends.

And I'd like to know wtf Gretchen Carlson means by saying, an "Arab-American won because of a "PC society."" I know it's hard for her to imagine that Fakih could ever beat out the blonde blue eyed states' rights loving true American, but the old "blame it all on the PC" stick is a bit tiring.

While I do agree with Carlson that we shouldn't really care about what these women have to say about complex social issues, I don't really see how Gretchen has a leg to stand on (though I do find it amusing that Fakih has degrees in economics and business management and plans on going to law school). In fact, I'm still trying to figure out why I should give a flying fuck what Gretchen thinks as well or why her opinion is so much more valid.

Edit: I just want to add a link to this video that highlights the craziness.

Sarah Palin Just Wants to Empower Women

I just read an interesting article titled "Sarah Palin is Not a Feminist" over at the Huffington Post about a speech Palin gave for the Susan B. Anthony list breakfast. While the article itself wasn't all that interesting, I found the possibility that anyone could ever believe that Sarah Palin is somehow the new voice of feminism entertaining to no end.

Palin's speech was essentially one vapid talking point after another (like all of her speeches), but this part is just special:


First, I'd like to know when being "pro-life" has ever equaled "pro-women." Also, Obama is the "the most pro-abortion president who ever occupied the White House?" Really? Then of course we get a nice little lecture about how real feminists are pro-life. Palin even says, that being "pro-life" is some how equal to "empowering women by offering them a real choice." What? Palin, you can't just say things and make them true.

And I just love how Palin tries to paint the "pro-life" movement as the ones who truly care about women. Them man-hating feminists think women are just weak and incapable of raising unplanned babies, but not this Sarah Palin. No sir. Her and her posse are actually trying to "empower" women by taking away their bodily autonomy and forcing them into childbirth.

Pic by Walt Jabsco

From the article:
You simply can't be a feminist if you don't support a woman's individual rights. Announcing a "new conservative feminist movement" without acknowledging the individual freedoms of women won't cut it. This feministic facade that actually takes aim at women's rights should be seen for what it is.

Anything less than supporting women's full individual rights simply renders you a pretender, a fake, a feminist fraud.
What I find most insulting about Sarah Palin's feminist posturing though, is that fact that she once again compares her situation with that of all other women. I'm not saying that having a special needs child is not difficult for Sarah Palin. Obviously it is. But the options available to Sarah Palin, especially considering the fact she was Governor when she got pregnant, are NOT the same as what the majority of women who decide to get abortions have available to them. There are not the same thing. Not in any way. To imply otherwise is disingenuous at best.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

SLC Roller Derby

Yesterday my friends and I decided to watch some roller derby downtown at the Salt Palace (and by "friends" I mean the two people I roped into going with me). I was actually pleasantly surprised by the game and thought it was a lot of fun. I had been meaning to check it out forever, but it was one of those things that I kept putting off for no real reason.

The match we watched was between the Sisters of No Mercy and the Leave it to Cleavers. I wish I could have gotten some crisper pics, but the lighting wasn't very good and my flash sucks.

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See how my friend Stephanie ruined this last picture by covering her face? I hate it when people do that so I'm posting it anyways in the hope that she will learn to love my obsession of taking photographs of everything.

I'm a terrible friend aren't I?

Also, the guy in the picture is totally my history professor from last semester. I love it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Black and Blue

I can't stop listening to this song today:



I really hate when you find a song that sounds like magic and inspires intense love, only to find that that song is the best by whatever artist. That's how I feel about this song. I love it so much, but so far it's my favorite by Miike Snow. I guess it's a silly thing to complain about, but I think it really sucks.

I do think it's pretty awesome that one of their songs can inspire someone to post this comment though:
As I sit in front of the library computer listening to this song through a pair of headphones over and over, all my thoughts of finding a job evaporate. I look around at all the other people on the computers and wonder how they endure and even enjoy their mundane insignificant lives. I want to be this song and fly away forever.

Friday, May 14, 2010

DADT and Military Chaplains

I know this is old news, but the idea that DADT can't be repealed because it will limit the religious freedom of military chaplains is just ridiculous to me.

From CBS News:
A group of social conservatives and retired military chaplains held a press conference in Washington today to argue that the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy would have an adverse impact on the religious freedom and careers of military chaplains.

Allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the armed forces "steals from the chaplain their religious freedom," according to retired military chaplain Col. Rich Young. He argued that chaplains will be "muzzled" if the policy passes and that "soldiers and families [will] no longer have the benefit of the full council of God."

Participants at the press conference suggested that chaplains who oppose gay marriage and believe homosexuality is immoral might see their careers hurt and lose the ability to honestly counsel service members. Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly will "create a crisis of conscience for the chaplains," Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund said.
First off, isn't the military a secular institution? I'm not going to go as far as some people and say that there shouldn't be chaplains, though I do think the argument has plenty of merit, but I don't understand why these chaplains' religious freedom comes before the welfare of the enlisted (you know, the people the chaplains are there to help). From what little I know about military chaplains, they're responsible for counseling people of all different kinds of faith. I feel like these chaplains complaining about DADT could use a firm, "this isn't about you."

Also, I don't understand how having our service members lie about their sexual orientation so military chaplains can "honestly counsel service members" makes any sense.

Jordan Lorence then goes on to say that repeal of DADT would mean that military policy will for the first time be "at odds with the major tenets of the major religions represented in the armed services." Um, what? I'm pretty sure the whole "thou shall not kill" is more relevant here than what two consenting adults do in their own bedroom.

Luckily not everyone is a raging moron:
The sentiment at the event does not represent the beliefs of all military chaplains: Captain John F. Gundlach, a retired Navy Chaplain, said in a statement that military chaplains "routinely work with service members whose faith traditions and belief systems are different from ours." He is a member of a group of religious organizations backing repeal.

"The idea that repeal of DADT will infringe on our religious liberty is insulting to all the serving chaplains who professionally minister to and with people of diverse beliefs every day," he said. "It is time to realize that bigotry - not one's sexual orientation - is incompatible with military service. It's time for gay Americans to be able to serve our country proudly and openly, with continued courage, honor, and commitment."
Insulting indeed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I think the heat is getting to the Arizona Legislature

Have you guys heard that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill yesterday that limits what kind of ethnic studies courses schools can offer yesterday?

Apparently (from Arizona Daily Star):
It makes it illegal for public schools to have any courses or classes that promote the overthrow of the United States government or promote resentment toward a race or class of people. It also bars any programs "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group."
What? For one, why the hell was that "overthrow of the United States" included? I know the idea that people of color may not be enthusiastically lining up to kiss the feet of old rich white men for all that they've done is unfathomable to some people, but to imply that there is some sort of treasonous behavior going on in these classes is ridiculous.

Secondly, this article claims that these "classes that teach about the history of a particular ethnic group" can still be offered as long as they are offered to everyone instead of just a particular ethnic group (and as long as there are no "how to overthrow the government 101" lessons of course). But weren't these classes always offered to anyone who wanted to take them? This law just seems like another paper thin attempt to appease ultra-conservative voters without having any actual purpose besides being bat shit crazy.


What I found most troubling in the Arizona Daily Star article though was the statement, "It also prohibits schools from having any disciplinary rules based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex or national origin, with schools facing the same 10 percent loss of state aid for violations." The article didn't explain exactly what these rules entail, but it just doesn't sit right with me.

No matter what happens during the Obama administration, there's the perfect Bush f--k up for the occasion

Oh how I love you Jon Stewart.

Wordless Wednesday