Monday, February 28, 2011

Come for the ass. Stay for the empowerment?

I guess this is what happens when someone tries too hard to be "deep" and "empowering" while also drinking their own koolaid. I'm a big Lady Gaga fan, though admittedly I was late to the game, but this song is just not good. Mediocre at best and racially insensitive at worst, the only good thing about this song is the beat.


The video tries way too hard and I don't really need to see Gaga giving metaphorical birth to "monsters" and machine guns. While I had planned on writing a more thought out response instead of this rant that bubbled to the surface, I don't think it would be worth the effort to criticize something so patently unimaginative and unoriginal. God makes no mistakes? Yawn. As someone perfectly said, "'I was born this way' is not an empowering statement. It's one of passivity and resignation."

I see t-shirts with the phrase "Don't be a drag, be a queen!" assaulting my eyes in the near future.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Roundup Time

Another roundup! I almost apologized since I've been posting so many lately, but you guys seem to like them and I'm a bit busy this week. And by a "bit," I mean completely swamped.

Random picture:

This infograph compares the distribution of income growth between 1948-1979 and 2000-2007. I think the simplicity is really striking and you can get more info here.


Articles:

Pentagon Faces Class-Action Lawsuit for Failure to Protect Service Members From Rape:
On February 15, 2011, the Pentagon was slammed with a class action lawsuit filed by 15 women and two men who are victims and survivors of rape in the military. Filed in the Eastern District of Northern Virginia by attorney Susan Burke, the lawsuit contends that Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, as secretaries of the Department of Defense (DOD), "failed to investigate rapes and sexual assaults, failed to prosecute perpetrators, failed to provide an adequate judicial system as required by the Uniform Military Justice Act and failed to abide by Congressional deadlines to implement Congressionally-ordered institutional reforms to stop rapes and other sexual assaults."
Circle of fire:
Here’s a story they tell in Libya. Three contestants are in a race to run five hundred metres carrying a bag of rats. The first sets off at a good pace, but after a hundred metres the rats have chewed through the bag and spill onto the course. The second contestant gets to a hundred and fifty metres, and the same thing happens. The third contestant shakes the bag so vigorously as he runs that the rats are constantly tumbling and cannot chew on anything, and he takes the prize. That third contestant is Libya’s leader, Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, the permanent revolutionary.
The NYT's journalistic obedience:
They're inserting into their stories misleading government claims, and condescendingly summarizing Pakistani "speculation" about Davis' work, all while knowing the truth but not reporting it.
Why Is Chris Hedges A Lone Voice In Criticizing Huffington Post’s Business Model?:
So why isn’t anyone on the Left (outside of Chris Hedges and a few others) willing to discuss the fact that a supposed ‘champion for the American worker’ is reportedly netting $20-30 million dollars as her personal take from the AOL acquisition, off the backs of non-paid writers? The liberal blogosphere is a group hellbent on formulating candid opinions on just about anything and everything, but instead of hearing outrage, you hear … (listen closely) … crickets.
Random Quote:
“So they wanna cut everything from family care to prenatal care to child nutrition. It’s like the Republican Congress is saying ‘You can’t prevent an unwanted child; you can’t get care if you do get pregnant; and we won’t give you any help feeding the kid after it’s born. But that two minutes when that skull is crowning? Your baby is the most precious thing on Earth.’” —JON STEWART, on the GOP’s wholesale attack on women, women’s health programs, reproductive rights and, again, women, on The Daily Show
Videos:

Fox news actually has an honest report about Wisconsin:


Black Doll White Doll:


Anderson Cooper did a report on this very subject back in August that I saw while waiting in the airport. I'd definitely recommend checking it out, but this video highlights the gist of the problem.

Ricky Gervais: Atheism Shouldn't Offend:



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Want a Painting?

I posted earlier about an art project I've decided to undertake over at Sunshine and Bones and I thought I should give you guys a head up here too since you guys rock. Basically I'm taking part in a challenge where you make a piece of art every week for a year. Because of that, I thought I should offer people the chance to have a piece of art made by your truly for free.

IMG_4785

If you aren't interested then that's totally cool, but if you are you can head on over and get the details. Don't be shy.

Wordless Wednesday

I need to do something about all the pictures I have piling up for Wordless Wednesdays. I have like 250 political cartoons just taking up space. It's crazy.


Monday, February 21, 2011

"We Are America"

I'm not always a fan of Ed Schultz, but I really liked this clip of him and the Wisconsin protesters responding to Rush Limbaugh:

"They told us on 9/11, we will never forget...that we're all Americans...they wrapped themselves in the flag... If you want to follow the Limbaugh and the Becks of the world, and you want to turn your back on firefighters, turn your back on police officers, turn your back on nurses, turn your back on brothers and sisters who have stood in solidarity to fight for the middle class in America? Is that wrapping yourself in the flag? Hey Rush: why don't you wrap your fat ass in the flag on Monday?"
Paul Krugman has an interesting take on the situation in Wisconsin too:
You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.

And now Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to get rid of public-sector unions, too.

There’s a bitter irony here. The fiscal crisis in Wisconsin, as in other states, was largely caused by the increasing power of America’s oligarchy. After all, it was superwealthy players, not the general public, who pushed for financial deregulation and thereby set the stage for the economic crisis of 2008-9, a crisis whose aftermath is the main reason for the current budget crunch. And now the political right is trying to exploit that very crisis, using it to remove one of the few remaining checks on oligarchic influence.

So will the attack on unions succeed? I don’t know. But anyone who cares about retaining government of the people by the people should hope that it doesn’t.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Public Jobs

Wisconsin state legislators are voting on a new measure that challenges the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. Purposed by Governor Scott Walker as a much needed "austerity measure," public employees have come out in protest over the last few days.
AP Photo

From the Huffington Post:
Wisconsin is facing a $137 million budget deficit. In order to close it, Walker wants to sharply curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions, effectively preventing them from negotiating benefits, hours and working conditions. (They would, however, still be able to bargain over base wages, and Walker decided to exempt firefighters and police workers from his measure.) Public workers would also have to contribute more money toward pension and health insurance plans.

What has attracted the most attention is Walker's threat to call out the National Guard in order to respond to a walk-out or any resistance to his plan.

The governor has insisted that he's not targeting public employees.

"I'm just trying to balance my budget," Walker told The New York Times. "To those who say why didn't I negotiate on this? I don't have anything to negotiate with. We don't have anything to give. Like practically every other state in the country, we're broke. And it's time to pay up." The Huffington Post was unable to get a comment from him on Wednesday.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin has said that Walker's plan will save Wisconsin $30 million over the next three months and $300 million over the next two years.

But some questioned whether his proposal is really financially necessary. The governor himself claims that Wisconsin can save $165 million by the end of next June simply by restructuring existing debt. Additionally, the share of corporate tax revenue funding the state government has fallen by half since 1981 and, according to Wisconsin Department of Revenue, two-thirds of corporations pay no taxes.
Walker is claiming that if he doesn't pass these measures the alternative is, "to look at 1,500 layoffs of state employees or close to 200,000 children who would be bumped off Medicaid-related programs." This is wildly untrue in regards to children on medicaid though. The state doesn't have the power, but it was a nice touch don't you think? This is a far cry from the "first state to grant collective bargaining rights to public employees more than a half-century ago".

This video sums up some of the issues nicely:


One of the major stumbling blocks in any discussions about public labor unions is the idea that public workers are making some shocking amount of money when compared to private sector workers. The problem is this just isn't true. When you consider the fact "59% of full-time Wisconsin public sector workers hold at least a four-year college degree compared with 30% of full-time private sector workers," private sector workers actually earn more.

From the Economic Policy Institute:
When we compare apples to apples, we find that Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation than comparable private sector workers. The comparisons—controlling for education, experience, hours of work, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, and disability—demonstrate that full-time state and local public employees earn lower wages and receive less in total compensation (including all benefits) than comparable private sector employees.
Another interesting fact is that the state's fiscal bureau found that Wisconsin isn't even in need of austerity measures. In fact, the bureau claims the state could even end the fiscal year with a surplus if it wasn't for Walker's own tax cuts. So basically Walker pushed through $140 million in new spending and now wants teachers and nurses to pick up the tab. Walker can claim he isn't targeting anyone group till he's blue in the face, but as long as Police officers, firefighters, and state troopers are exempt we all know what an obvious lie that is.

Even though there is no way Democrats can stop this bill with Wisconsin's Republican controlled congress, the Republicans still need one Democrat to be present at the vote (20 senators are needed to vote on a bill and there are 19 Republicans) and none of them decided to show up today in protest. The Wisconsin State Patrol will be sent out to look for them, if it hasn't already, so there's no telling how things are going to unfold. The worst part in all this for me is the way these workers have been made out to be our enemies. They aren't. People are so quick to label them greedy bastards swimming in wealth while ignoring the truly wealthy that get to benefit from tax breaks at the expense of the middle class. It's pure craziness.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Conservative Christian, Right Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Males

I've been a bit obsessed with Todd Snider's "The Devil You Know" and when I came across this song I thought it was just perfect.


Conservative Christian, right wing Republican, straight, white, American male.
Gay bashin’, black fearin’, war fightin’, tree killin’, regional leaders of sales
shirt tuckin’, Frat housin’, keg tappin’, back slappin’ haters of hippies like me.
Tree huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, porn watchin’ lazyass hippies like me.

Tree huggin’, peace lovin , pro choicen, gay weddin’, widespread pani-diggin’ hippies like me. Skin color-blinded, conspiracy-minded, protesters of corporate greed,
We who have nothing and most likely will ‘till we all wind up locked up in jails
By conservative Christian, right wing Republican, straight, white, American males.

Diamonds and dogs, boys and girls, living together in two separate worlds
Following leaders of mountains of shame, looking for someone to blame. I know who I like to blame:

Conservative Christian, right wing Republican, straight, white, American males,
Soul savin’, flag wavin’, Rush lovin’, land pavin’ personal friends to the Quayles
Quite diligently workin’ so hard to keep the free reins of this Democracy
From tree huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, porn watchin’ lazyass hippies like me.
Tree huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, porn watchin’, barefootin’ hippies like me.
We should all be able to laugh at ourselves sometimes.

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tahrir Square: Moments before Mubarak resigned (video)

Here's something that should cheer you up, video of Tahrir Square when they got news of Mubarak's resignation:


According to the video description, "During the second rak'a of their Isha prayer, news came that Mubarak stepped down (3:45 - 3:50). The prayers continued alongside the echoing screams of joy shaking Tahrir Square.. They finished a few minutes later (6:50- 6:55) and immediately, cheers soared!" That is some self-control right there.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rape victims are not "accusers"

I know this is kind of a downer on a day that is supposedly supposed to be filled with sumptuous food and lots of naughty time, but according to change.org "Rep. Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would change Georgia’s criminal code so that victims of rape, stalking, or domestic violence could only be referred to as "accusers" until the defendant has been convicted."
I Heart Consent - Walk Against Rape 2009 - SFWAR - 017, originally uploaded by Steve Rhodes.
Obviously this is complete and utter bullshit. I have no idea what Franklin is thinking, but why do congressmen keep coming out on the side of rapists? Way to pick a team there buster.

Change.org has started a petition that you can sign here. It'll only take a moment of your time and as the petition says so eloquently, "These crimes -- rape, stalking, domestic violence -- disproportionately victimize women. Holding the rights of the accused above the rights of victims in cases of violence against women is just wrong."

ETA: I just wanted to add that no one is saying all people accused of sexual assault/rape are guilty or that there are no women who truly are accusers and not victims.  Some one tried to pull this card and it really bothered me. Obviously there are instances where women falsely report being raped. The problem is when rape victims are singled out specifically and forced to be considered "accusers." Will all victims of crimes be considered accusers? This type of thinking is problematic, even if Franklin has good intentions, because it casts a suspicious light on rape victims who already have rape culture working against them. With only 6% of all rapists seeing the inside of a jail cell I don't really see where this need to make it even harder on rape victims is coming from. 

Fat Studies and "Useless College Degrees"

 I just read a post entitled, "Academic Absurdity: Embracing Obesity With 'Fat Studies'" about useless college majors and how obese people need to get off their asses or some crap. I was going to write a well thought out response about fat acceptance and our preoccupation with manufacturing dull worker bees, but then I noticed the author, Cassy Fiano, has also written other beauties such as "8 Ways Fascist Feminists Are Ruining America’s Women" and "6 Brazen Advocates of Slut Culture on the Pseudo-Feminist Left" so I don't really see the point.

From the post (so hopefully you won't give her any page hits):
Useless college degrees are nothing new. From degrees in art history and philosophy to women’s studies and queer musicology, academia loves to come up with majors that will be absolutely zero help to graduates in the real world. Given this, it makes sense that colleges across America would get the brilliant idea to glom onto the growing fat acceptance movement. After all, taking Fat Studies might not help you get a single job, ever, but you’ll feel better about yourself, so who cares?

Schools across America are now offering Fat Studies classes. What, exactly, is the point of these classes?

"Fat Studies scholars say their mission is to promote weight awareness and acceptance among populations of all types. The sociological study of obesity has been creeping into academia for over a decade, often as a subtopic of Women’s Studies or Health Sciences. But only recently has weight become a subject of study in its own right. “There would be no Fat Studies if there were no obesity epidemic,” says Esther Rothblum, a lesbian studies professor at the University of California, San Diego, and one of the earliest to research the psychology of weight bias.

The Fat Studies Reader, a compendium edited by Rothblum and her colleague, Sondra Solovay, and published to much fanfare in late 2009, is fast becoming a cornerstone of Fat Studies curricula. Its 53 contributors ask the same questions that professors now pose to their students: How is weight perceived in different countries? What do media depictions of larger sizes say about our social priorities? What if there were a “fat gene,” and what if we could test for it prenatally?

Spurred by growing national concerns about obesity, many schools now offer undergraduates a place to discuss these questions. Courses that deal with Fat Studies and body image have been taught at schools, including Oregon State University and Rutgers University. Newer still, however, is the growing interest among students and scholars who aren’t fat themselves."


The fact that the fat acceptance movement has come this far is a sad commentary in and of itself. It’s true that Hollywood promotes an unhealthy body image; it’s true that women are pressured to conform to an unrealistic, unhealthy ideal. The somewhat surprising reaction to this by some has been to promote fat pride, instead of focusing on promoting healthy, normal bodies. Femisogynists in particular have been vocal about this — that obesity can be beautiful and that fat people shouldn’t need to change to fit the narrow ideas of a patriarchal society. The health benefits to losing weight and not remaining obese, of course, is never mentioned. Is it any surprise that Fat Studies sprung out of the women’s studies movement? The most ridiculous aspect of this is that obesity is something that people can control. It isn’t like gender or race. Obesity is a lifestyle choice, for the 99% of overweight Americans who don’t have an endocrine or thyroid disorder and just choose to stuff their faces with junk food without ever being physically active.

Should someone who is obese hate his body? No, of course not. But he also doesn’t need classes telling him that he is perfect just the way he is, he doesn’t need a fat acceptance culture telling him that it’s OK to be obese. If someone wants to eat all day long without ever exercising, then that’s his prerogative. It doesn’t mean that we have to spoon-feed him propaganda about how obesity is acceptable.
 Fiano goes on to say "we’re being told that obesity is an acceptable lifestyle choice,"quote some scary obesity rates, and claim "the ever-present need for out-of-touch college professors to constantly find new victim groups." She also uses the term " femisogynists" quite often which is very amusing to me. All in all the post is what you'd expect and not too in depth. 

Since I'm feeling lazy I will only point out four glaring issues with this post:

1. This whole post is based on the idea that the purpose of school is simply to get a job. This really bothers me for a number of reasons. The assumption that college's purpose is simply to provide you with the skills for a certain job is silly for one. If that really were the case, then TONS of classes wouldn't exist. Plus, people who already have those skills should be exempt. But school about more than creating a work force. It's about learning critical thinking skills and creating a society of individuals with diverse interests and backgrounds. Innovation can't be taught. Drive can't either. These are things people have in all majors and to assume one major means a person is going to work at McDonalds is ridiculous.

And what about the sake of learning for the sheer enjoyment of it? I chose my major based on the joy and excitement it ignited in me. To consider that worthless says more about you than it does me.

2. Monetary earning does not equal valuable. I know this is a hard concept for some people to accept, but I refuse to believe that money is a measure of the worth of something. Just ask the backbones of our society: nurses, teachers, fire fighters, ambulance drivers, trash collectors, etc. I would trade ten CEO's  for one mailman.

3. Fat studies and the fat acceptance movement does not promote obesity. How many times does it need to be said? I know I shouldn't be surprised that someone complaining about the uselessness of philosophy doesn't understand the finer points of a complex and multifaceted concept, but this argument (if you can call it that) is as boring as it is played out. Saying a person should be treated with dignity, no matter their weight or the status of their health, does not promote obesity. To think that a person can hear about fat acceptance and actually want to become obese as a result is fucking mental. Seriously, read a book. Enroll in some of those useless majors. Pull your head out of your ass. Do whatever needs to be done to make yourself not such an idiot.

4. As usual this post ignores all the socio-economical issues surrounding health, obesity, and food. 

More can be said, but it seems pointless.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

To the Oklahoma Lawmakers: poem

[trigger warning for mention of sexual assault]

I found this on tumblr. It's amazing.



To the oklahoma lawmakers who will force all women to receive an ultrasound prier to an abortion:

Why don’t you print out the ultrasound pictures out in a pastel frame? Make me take them home and hang them on my wall as a souvenir of the night that is branded like red coals to flesh on my memory, the night when his hand pressed so hard against my shoulder blade I felt more intimacy with asphalt.

Why don’t you knit the baby a sweater? Make me take it out and smell it on the anniversary of this day for the rest of my life to remind me that I chose to be a murderer instead of bringing a child into a world where we kill people in the name of freedom but imprison people in the name of life. You could pass laws for that too, you know.

It’s bad enough that I can still see his handprints on my thighs but now I can see your probing eyes scraping across my cervix, tattooing my womb with shame. Why don’t you send me a card every mother’s day to remind me of how wretched I am? Sign it, “your friends at the state capital, making sure you know we actually do something all day with your tax dollars.”

Look: I know it can get boring, between the [??] association breakfast and the oil and gas industry lunch and I know you need something to do between screwing up our election system and passing off your racism as an immigration bill, but I need a little more from you than a piece of paper.

I mean, if you really want to show me that you believe in faith, family, and freedom, then why don’t you come along for the ride? I could have used you that night, after the football game, him finally showing me attention, me grasping for acceptance. Tell me I’m special so when he hands me the next drink I don’t look to the bottom of it for approval. Tell me to scream louder so someone might find us. Wrap me in a blanket when he’s done. Take me home, my body a [??], my heart the grimy gym floor after the pep rally. Give me the words to say to my parents when I come out of the bathroom with a plus sign on the stick, and he won’t even talk to me. The school hallway is a canyon. Silence echoes in my skull, and I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do. Sit with me at the clinic, the ticker plucking away at my innocence, give me the REVELATION that the blip on the screen is actually a baby. Take me home when I change my mind, take me to the doctor every month, hold my hand in the delivery room. I will name him after you if you will help me do my homework when he’s crying in the next room. give me food stamps, pay my gas bills, put him in an after-school program where he learns he can sell my pain pills, have mercy on him when he goes to court, give me strength when they sentence him.

If you wanna play god, mister and misses law makers, if you want to write your bible on my organs, you better be there when I am down on my knees, pleading for relief from your morality.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday Thursday








I'm Sill Alive

I am a bit swamped this week. I've had to read up about the ethics of euthanasia, write an essay on our movie rating system, learn about species diversity and gene mutations, start preparing my communications presentation, and learn some math I'll never use on top of it all. I am busy.

And I like it if I'm being honest.

Tomorrow I can go back to procrastinating, but today I have to finish up a lot of work. Try not to miss me too much.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Roundup

Yes another roundup, but the internet has been full of interesting posts lately.

Random Pic:

By Heather Freeman. Print can be bought here.
Some Links:

1. Why Is Egypt in Revolt (podcast)?


It looks like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now.


Interesting breakdown of some of the relevant history leading up to the protests in Egypt.

2. L.A. rape kit backlog cleared. According to the article, investigators missed deadlines to prosecute more than 200 potential cases because of the backlog and statue of the limitation laws, but this is still good news.

3. We fought a war on lies, and lies won
Despite his reputation as a tax slasher, Reagan raised taxes three times, and tripled the deficit during his eight years in office. Sadly, his working-class "Reagan Democrat" admirers don’t seem to remember that one of his tax hikes raised payroll taxes, which hurt poor and middle-class Americans and shielded the wealthy. The main reason he's remembered as a tax-cutter is because of what he did to tax rates for the uber-rich: He slashed the top rate from 70 percent to 28 percent, and income inequality has soared ever since, so that today, the top 1 percent of Americans controls a quarter of the nation's wealth, as opposed to 8 percent when Reagan became president.
4. Egyptian protesters' makeshift helmets – in pictures. Self explanatory.

5. Lawmaker's proposals have Utah gay rights community concerned. Not only does State Rep. Lavar Christensen want to define marriage in state law as existing between one man and one woman and supported by God, because the laws that already exist defining marriage as between one man and woman aren't strident enough it seems, but he also wants to make sure religious bigots have rights too. How completely unsurprising.

5. Is Providing Abortions Creating a "Nuisance"?
The first doctor to try to offer abortion services in Wichita, Kansas, since Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in a church in May 2009 has been blocked from doing so—by her landlord, who has claimed this would create a "nuisance." And groups opposed to abortion rights are hailing this development as a major win on a prominent frontline in the national war over abortion.
Random Videos:

A Transgender Vagina Talks Back:


Zach Wahls Speaks About Family:


This video made the rounds, but how could I not post it?

Democrats Need To Take a Stand:


Random quote:
“There’s the phrase ‘just a theory.’ Which shows you that I have failed. I’m a failure. When we have a theory in science, it’s the greatest thing you can have. Relativity is a theory, and people test it every which way. They test it and test it and test it. Gravity is a theory. People have landed spacecraft on the moon within a few feet of accuracy because we understand gravity so well. People make flu vaccinations that stop people from getting sick. Farmers raise crops with science; they hybridize them and make them better with every generation. That’s all evolution. Evolution is a theory, and it’s a theory that you can test. We’ve tested evolution in many ways. You can’t present good evidence that says evolution is not a fact.” -Bill Nye

Thursday, February 3, 2011