Friday, December 28, 2007

They’re writing songs of love, but not for me. There's a funny little moment in this Vanity Fair article about Michelle Obama where a Democratic activist tries to bash Hillary Clinton by Taking It Personally:

"I trust Michelle to tell you how it is, good or bad," says one longtime Democratic activist at an Obama event in New Hampshire. "But I don't trust Hillary to tell me the truth, and I don't want to deal with all the history of Bill's infidelity. Why didn't she kick his ass out? I know many women who would be voting for her if she had kicked him out." She scowls, and then confides that her own unfaithful husband left her with two children and another on the way. "I don't need Hillary's baggage," she says. "I've got enough of my own."

Are you really going to elect the next president based on the dynamics of his or her married life? I mean, that rules out Giuliani, Clinton, McCain, Thompson, and Biden right there. That's not too bad if you're a Democrat because you can still vote for Obama, Edwards or Richardson, but if you're a Republican you get to chose between Romney, Paul or (dear Lord) Huckabee. There's got to be a better criteria for presidential competency than marital harmony. Not to say that infidelity is excusable, but I'm not going to label FDR as a bad president just because he couldn't keep it in his pants.

Maybe sobbing over a copy of Heartburn would make her feel better? Those rescipes probably make for good comfort food.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The number one must have is that we are safe. I can't believe how messed up this is, but I am actually creating my first (and hopefully last) Rape Round-up. Apparently the gods of female exploitation have been working overtime for the Holidays as I have read three high-profile news items on egregious incidents of sexual assault today alone. Awesome, men of the world. Way to go.

  • First, I'm happy to give you another reason to hate Halliburton, the Iraq occupation, and the U.S. government in general. A young Texan woman went over to Iraq to work for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, only to be drugged, gang raped, severely beaten, then locked for 24 hours in a shipping container so that she would be unable to seek medical care or contact the authorities. She managed to wrangle a cell phone away from one of the men guarding the container and called her father in Texas, who contacted his local Congressman, who contacted the State Department, and finally she was freed. Conveniently, the rape kit performed by Army medical personnel has disappeared. Over two years after the attack, the Justice Department has still not pressed charges in the case because all government contractors working in the Green Zone--and paid by your tax dollars, don't forget--are effectively beyond the reach of U.S. Law. If this doesn't make you furious, you have no soul.

  • Next up, we have the billionaire playboy who enjoys travel, casual wear, and massages performed by underage girls. Basically, Jeffrey Epstein paid hundreds of underage girls from the "wrong side of the tracks" in West Palm Beach to massage him naked while he molested them with sex toys or simply had sex with them. Neither Epstein nor the U.S. attorney can figure out how these actions are criminal.

  • Least you think that this sort of disgusting behavior and willful ignorance is an American problem, our Aussie friends don't seem to get it either. In the case of a 10 year-old Aboriginal girl who was gang raped, none of the nine rapists were given a single day of jail time because the judge found that the girl "probably agreed" to have sex. Apparently the judge--a female judge, no less--has never heard of statutory rape because, the last time I checked, 10 year-olds are not capable of making informed decisions when it comes to sexual intercourse. Not to mention that the victim is developmentally disabled, having been born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Jesus.

Who else needs a drink?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Let's rock with the tough girls. Bill Moyers Journal had an amazing segment tonight about the effect of new media on politics. Lots of amazing conversation about the rampant misogyny and damaging effects of Hillary Clinton-bashing. Definitely worth watching.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Love you like a sister always. Here we have a story by a female misogynist. Apparently, after being raped in college in front of a group of frat boys, this woman's sorority "sisters" betrayed her trust and kicked her out of the house. Unfortunately, the author has used this as an excuse to refrain from cultivating female friendships. "Generally I feel a kind of skittish distrust and discomfort when dealing with most women, particularly women in packs," she writes. She sees her sorority's deplorable behavior as part of a larger pattern of women's deceitful nature:

We women swim in shark-infested waters of our own design. Often we don’t have a clue where we stand with one another — socially, as mothers, as colleagues — because we’re at once allies and foes.... How do we help our girls navigate the duplicitous female maze? How do we ensure that they behave authentically, respect humanity over fleeting alliances, and squash the nasty tribal instincts that can inflict lifelong distress?

This article made me seethe because she so easily accepts the stereotype of women as inherently scheming and back-stabbing. Her experience will be seen as genuine; especially because she is highly educated, her opinion has more weight than the countless feminists who have fought this harmful stereotype for decades. Even though she was raped in a structure of female exploitation for men's pleasure, the fact that the frat brothers objected because she was unconscious and later apologized to her somehow frees them from any culpability. To her, men are angels and women demons because of a small pack of terrible human beings.

As a product of a woman's college--an environment which certainly cultivates aggression and competition--I have managed not to be the victim of this acrimonious femininity. Yes, I encountered some painfully spiteful people who effectively voted me off the island, but, unlike the author, I did not let one or two bad experiences label half the population as inherently treacherous.

Did her sorority sisters act reprehensibly? Yes, absolutely, without question. Has she let her early trauma deprive her of meaningful relationships with other women? Yes, absolutely, without question. Does she expect us to believe that she is the lone angel fish in a shark-infested sea? It's certainly possible. Either way, her article furthers the view of woman-as-untrustworthy and does nothing to ensure that either sex "respect humanity."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Some day my prince will come. Apparently there's been a bit of grumbling about Disney' film, Enchanted. Slate's Dana Stevens complains that the movie uses crass consumerism as a band-aid for life's problems. When in doubt, charge it! But it's not merely the act of spending, it's the "femininity-enhancing, wallet-reducing princess clothes" that are purchased in the film that Stevens finds so worrying. "Does these little girls' happily-ever-after consist only in getting Mommy to buy the right dress?" she asks.

Stevens forgets that every Disney film is merely a marketing venue for their new product line. This subliminal messaging of little girls in pretty dresses is exactly what Disney is banking on to keep its coffers full. Disney has gone princess crazy, manufacturing everything from princess-themed baby-ware to princess salons and high end princess wedding dresses. Every benchmark in the life cycle has been feminized, royalized, and Disneyfied.

But who can blame Disney for capitalizing on consumer trends? As heartbreaking as it may be to dash our childhood illusions of the benevolent visionary creating cartoons with the sole intention of entertaining children, Disney is a notoriously ruthless company willing to brand anything the consumer wants. If there was a call for princess-themed tampons, I'm sure Disney would answer.

I don't necessarily agree that the "ever increasing marketing to younger and younger girls of an adult sexualized version of the princesses is concerning," as Tomi-Ann Roberts, a professor of psychology from Colorado College, says. Like many girls, I went through an intense princess phase where I refused to wear anything but dresses and often went out wearing a tiara. Yes, I was that girl. Yet, somehow, I grew out of it and became the good little feminist you know and love. Even Disney's head of consumer products noted that girls tend to drop the princess brand by age 6.

Furthermore, I don't think that when little girls are playing princess they are playing submission and helplessness. There's a difference between "waiting for your prince to come" and enjoying twirling around in frilly dresses. Though it is telling that Disney has largely ignored the more self-assured (and ethnic) princesses Mulan and Pocahontas to focus its marketing on Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine. Even though it could be argued that Belle and Jasmine were very gutsy characters, and Jasmine was Arab, both exhibit more sexualized characteristics, "with more skin showing and bigger heads, eyes and breasts" as Roberts observes. I do, however, give Disney points for creating the first black princess with the forthcoming Princess Tiana, though I suspect it is just a ploy to attract the African American consumer to Disney products.

When you're a child, you are a big ball of id who wants everything in the toy store. You want to be the princess you see on screen. When we went to the pool in the summer, I used to play Little Mermaid and flip my hair like Ariel. It was only when I grew up that I realized how strange that film is: She wants to give up her whole existence for some cute guy she never even talked to? And how do those darn shells stay in place, anyway? Owning Disney merchandise and pretending to be royalty will not permanently warp children. However, if you don't teach your children the value of money and instead let them think that happiness is only a credit card-swipe away, well, you might end up with a spoiled little princess who grows up to be a debt-ridden adult.

Total uses of the word "princess" in this post: 14

You've got the money maker. This article really made me laugh. A Chilean prostitute will auction off 27 hours of her services, you know, for the children. She is donating her services to the televised Teleton, Chile's largest fundraising event, which will run for 27 hours this weekend and benefits a disabled children's charity. "Miss Carolina, who charges $300 for a 90-minute session, estimated that she would raise more than $4000." Sorry boys, all her time has already been sold. You'll have to wait until next year's telethon.

I really hope someone makes a documentary about this. Though, I suppose it would be more porn than anything else.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A bad word for a good thing. Happy birthday to me!

Friday, November 23, 2007

She walked like a woman and talked like a man. I don't know about you, but I really enjoy judging people based on stereotypes. I especially enjoy it when I get to divide the entire world into two categories--man and woman--and rejoice in 10 super-special characteristics that divide us. So while women are well-groomed and make you excuse yourself after you burp, men kill spiders and have old college t-shirts. Because women don't go to college. Yay!

I, for one, am really glad that my boyfriend keeps me up to date with all the latest gadgets (he doesn't) and that he made the first move (he didn't). In turn, I know he's so happy to have me in his life because, aside from my constant PMS-y mood swings, I keep his social life hopping (from 8,000 miles away, no less. Apparently I am also magical) and one day I will bear him many tiny babies.

See, isn't it fun to compress people's unique qualities to 10 tiny little points of specialness? Stereotypes for everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I will keep you warm and safe. On top of shoes and bottles of water being serious threats to airport security, now it seems that bras are just as dangerous. I have to agree with the headline that, if lingerie is a threat to national security, we're in big trouble.

I'd like to point out that Israel does not have these bogus airline security protocols because Israel has real airport security.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I heard her holler, I heard her moan. Giving new meaning to "blaming the victim," a gang-raped Saudi teen is sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail. Apparently, she was initially charged with violating the separation of sexes law because she was riding in the car of a non-related man. The court raised her sentence because she went to the media to "influence" the court. Her attackers were sentenced to five years to less-than-a-year in jail.

Basically, a young woman is raped 14 times, dares to raise a raucous and demand justice, and is squarely put back in her place. Fan-freakin'-tastic.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Culture is what we make it. The ignorance upon which our country's laws currently rest has reared its ugly head once again, this time in the state of Washington. I have heard it said many times that pharmacists should not be forced to dispense medication to which they are ethically opposed. To this I say, tough tushy. As the previously-cited blog post adeptly points out, Plan B does not cause abortion but, rather, prevents conception from occurring in the first place. So, really, if you are morally opposed to abortion, you should probably be a fan of Plan B considering that it prevents the need for an abortion altogether. If you're going to disguise your hubris as morality, you might want to do your homework first.

This debate has been going on for years, with pharmacists insisting that their right to impose their moral values on the rest of us trumps doctor-patient privilege. The fact of the matter is, you holier-than-thou pharmacists, you do not know the reason a doctor has prescribed birth control, nor do you know the reason a woman seeks Plan B. May I remind you that birth control is currently prescribed for everything from acne to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome? And may I remind you that such things as rape and incest might cause a woman to seek an alternative to pregnancy? My point is simply that it is not a pharmacist's place to judge a client; it is their job to check for harmful drug interactions and dispense medication accordingly.

I am all for freedom of religion. Pharmacists can picket abortion clinics and pray for our heathen souls all they want. But they should not have the right to lord their religious values over the rest of us.

Monday, November 12, 2007

If I wasn't a celebrity would you be so nice to me? Today in A-List Celebrity Sightings:

That's right friends, I finally managed to spot a real, live celeb, replete with paparazzi flashbulbs. Whom did I spot but former boyfriend-stealer Claire Danes strolling down Mercer with her new boyfriend. She was wearing the cutest white cashmere knit cap. I covet, I really do. I'll keep an eye out for the ensuing paparazzi photos; you might be able to see me in the background.

Friday, November 09, 2007

That girl she holds her head up so high. I am really starting to hate Slate. Did they forget that they are journalists and not pundits? Take this post from XX Factor, Slate's female-written blog, comparing the Bush girls to Chelsea Clinton. Apparently the Bush twins (though only one is mentioned) have better "karma" than Chelsea because Jenna "just published a book called Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope, which chronicles her experiences working with U.N.-sponsored charities in Latin America." If you remember, Ana's Story is absolutely not about Jenna Bush's philanthropy work but a fictional tale of one poor girl's struggle with HIV (Read my critique of this bullshit here).

So, setting aside that Slate is wrong about the details, apparently Chelsea Clinton is selfish, greedy, and morally bankrupt. "She left McKinsey not too long ago to work at a hedge fund." Hmm. No mention of the fact that she recently raised $20 million for the Clinton Foundation? No mention of her work as a board member of the School of American Ballet? No mention of her work with the United Nations? Apparently this NY Times article is full of lies.

It's not that, as her friends say, "financial independence is important" to Chelsea Clinton, while the Bushes are happy to mooch off the family wealth and marry Karl Rove's cronies. Nope. The truth is that "the daughter of two Democrats chases cash while the Bush girls advance liberal causes."

How is it that I am a better fact checker than a journalist for the Washington Post?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Where is the questioning where is the protest song? A ralling cry for the masses, courtesy of Bill Clinton:

"Do I hope you vote for my wife? You bet I do. It'd be good for America, and good for the world. But, more than that I came here to tell you today, don't you dare let them take this election away from you. This belongs to you."

Hopefully the voting public will listen this time around.

Tonight, I'm gonna give you all my love in the back seat. More bad news for the Christian Coalition. Yet another study proves abstinence-only sex ed useless. According to the study, "at present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners" among teenagers.

Might want to tell that to the bastion of abstinence-only education, Texas, which now ranks first in the nation with the highest rate of teen pregnancy and the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancy. Oh boy! According to "Another Chance: Preventing Additional Births to Teen Mothers," a publication from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the birth of an additional child to a teen mother reduces the likelihood she will complete her education or become self-sufficient. "The children of teen mothers are more likely to have reduced educational achievement and behavioral problems — problems that may be explained, in part, by the inadequate education of the mothers themselves or by the poverty and lifestyle of the family."

Just give these people condoms already! What is wrong with you people and your so-called values? Though, the Schadenfreude part of me really thinks these people are getting what they deserve.

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand. This article makes it sound like President Bush is solely responsible for restoring elections in Pakistan. I'm sure the lawyers' strike and huge rallies had nothing to do with it.

Also, when Bush told Musharraf that "You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time," did he forget that, as delineated by Article Two of the Constitution, as President he is also Commander in Chief of the armed forces? His stupidity never ceases to amaze me.

In passing, may I point out that, military dictatorships aside, Pakistan has still had a female prime minister. The United States? Not so much.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to. Is it just me, or is this Wall Street Journal columnist implying that his daughter is a slut because she didn't demand to be taken to the homecoming dance instead of just hanging out with a group of kids in a basement? Apparently such an action would have put her and her friends at risk of "being dumped for easier girls."

Frankly, I don't think high school kids should date. Why? Because high school kids are morons. Total, complete morons. I include myself in this. I was an absolute moron in high school. I exhibited poor judgement and a lack of self-esteem, and I consequently made ridiculously bad dating decisions. Granted, my college dating experiences weren't much better, but there's a certain level of emotional maturity I had gained by the time I turned 21 which simply was not there at 16.

Yes, parents should teach their sons to respect girls. That's simply a no-brainer. But more importantly, parents should talk to their children about sex--not just the physical dynamics, but the emotional and health risks of sexual activity. Children of both sexes should be taught to respect themselves and their bodies. There is some evidence that delaying sexual activity has positive health benefits. But blaming the declining age of first intercourse, the prevalence of "hook ups," and the lack of homecoming dance attendance on the death of chivalry is simply childish. Teenage boys were just as likely to try to have sex with teenage girls in the 1950s as they are today, whether or not they go to the big dance.

She blinded me with science. The more liberal our society gets, the more I find myself becoming a prude (I know, I'm as baffled as you are).

I don't know whether to applaud or condemn. On the one hand, I'm glad that American prudery is breaking down enough for people to engage in thoughtful discussions about female anatomy and sexual pleasure. On the other hand, why in the hell is this left up to Tyra Banks, of all people? How do women not know what the urethra is? Furthermore, I really don't need to see a satin vagina puppet. Thanks anyway.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Watch me make up my mind instead of my face. Enough is enough. Journalists, would you please get over your fascination with Hillary Clinton's supposed gender role-bending and actually evaluate her based on the strength of her ideas instead of the cut of her collar? Have you never met a woman who is composed and intelligent enough to hold her own in a heated debate? Apparently not. Instead, you talk about how she makes for the scariest political Halloween costume or that there's a "toughness backlash" because Clinton is trying to be a manly-girl. Frankly, I don't want a president who's going to get all mushy and blubber about his or her feelings. I've had enough of that, thank you very much.

Maybe you're all just worried because Clinton is kicking Democratic ass in the polls. Maybe you're worried that you might actually have to, you know, respect a woman. Get over yourselves and treat her like any other candidate. Stop expecting her to bake you cookies and read you bedtime stories just because she has a uterus. Hillary Clinton is not your mother. She is a Wellesley College- and Yale Law School-educated, seasoned politician. Get over yourselves and start doing your jobs. Also, start spelling her name right. She spells "Hillary" with two l's, assholes.

(On a side note, I wouldn't be surprised if, assuming Clinton is elected President, the number of rapes increased because of all the "emasculated" men. The same phenomenon happened in the 1980s backlash over the Women's Movement).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cuts you up. Break out the pealed grapes and cold spaghetti, we're bobbing for links at this Halloween party:

  • The Maxim men try to assert their manhood by listing nine of the monsters they think they can beat up. Leave Cookie Monster alone, you brutes!

  • The Film Experience tries to inspire some costume creativity with ten of the best movie wigs. I bet that Marie Antoinette one would require extremely good posture.

  • A.V. Club digs up the scariest, silliest, most tooth-rotting dollar store candies around. Gummi pizzas and critter goo? Makes me miss that bacon-chocolate bar.

  • Cracked prepares for the impending zombie apocalypse. I don't care how likely they think a zombie apocalypse is, nothing is scarier than maggot-infested cheese.

  • Wikipedia, of all things, scares the crap out of me with an overly-detailed account of premature burial. Such things should only exist in Edgar Allen Poe stories.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oh god I love my dirty uncle Sam. Giuliani's New Hampshire radio ad promoting his health insurance plan is making me ill:

"I had prostate cancer, five, six years ago," Giuliani says in the spot. "My chance of surviving prostate cancer, and thank God I was cured of it, in the United States, 82 percent. My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England, only 44 percent under socialized medicine."

First of all, where in the heck did he get these statistics from? And where did he come up with the seemingly arbitrary sums of money that Americans need to "buy" this fantastic, high-quality health care he's talking about?

Any doctor worth his stethoscope will tell you that "delaying or not receiving treatment can lead to serious illness and avoidable health problems" [source]. Giuliani's plan assumes that the average American can afford to plunk down $7,500 on an insurance plan. And somehow, this will magically reduce the cost of health insurance.

The bottom line is that if you're able to afford health insurance in this country like Giuliani can, you won't die. But stupid UK with its comprehensive health insurance will KILL YOU. Hoorah for oligarchical America, where the rich can buy their way to perfect health and the rest of us can die like dogs.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A heart of stone, a smoking gun. Today in HEINOUS American Pop Culture, Halloween Edition:

Completely inappropriate and demeaning costumes! In the grand American tradition of girls dressing like hookers on Halloween (in some cases, literally), I bring you the latest, greatest, and most heinous ideas yet: Sexy Mental Patient! Oh yeah. Because nothing says "hot" like "involuntary commitment."

If you thought that was bad, you're in for a real treat. Straitjacketed Ella Mental doesn't stand a chance when faced with the super-sexy Anna Rexia. Even I got a little turned on by this one. The thought of yellow or blotchy skin, body hair, tooth decay, early-onset osteoperosis, seizures, and chronic diarreha really gets me in the mood. The tape measure is a nice touch, don't you think?

Unfortunately, this HEINOUS phenomenon is spreading to children's costumes. Major Flirt? No! No, no, no. No.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Paint myself all red white blue. I'm adding a new category because some sections of pop culture are just too ridiculous and sad to be anything else but HEINOUS!

Today in HEINOUS American Pop Culture:

Let's condemn women for trying to protect themselves! It's not like women in their sixties get mugged or anything. And only hot, young women get raped because rape is actually a compliment, right? Wrong!

Don't mess with a Missionary Man. I've been sitting on this article for a whole month now, trying to decide what to say about it. I still don't know what to say other than this whole situation just seems wrong. I don't like the idea of religion-for-hire, where you can customize your religion to fit your expectations, completely ignoring thousands of years of theology and tradition. I don't object to intermarriage per se, and I think that most rabbis are horribly narrow-minded on a wide range of topics, but I think that this faux-rabbi business is a downright perversion of something that is essentially sacred and beautiful. People are so used to the customizable modern world where every aspect of life is completely bendable to one's particular vision that they cannot accept it when someone tells them "no." As my friend said, you can do whatever you want, just don't expect the establishment to agree with you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Come lie down beside me. Is it just me, or is the sight of seven-year-olds begging their parents to talk to them about abstinence really creepy? I'm all for protecting children from premature exposure to sexual content, but what about the kids in this "public service" ad? You can almost see the director yelling at that six-year-old black girl with the 'fro to annunciate "sexxx." Leave it to the Bush Administration to exploit children in their quest to mobilize the Republican base.

Click here for The A.V. Club's hilarious analysis.

Worse than you would ever know. I do not agree at all with this article. Anyone who's every studied the Amish or Fundamentalist Mormons can see a serious difference in the function of these two cultures and, consequently, their right to protection by the First Amendment.

The Amish refusal to pay Social Security taxes is balanced by the fact that they, as a group, refuse to accept such governmental aid in the first place. If they are religiously opposed to participating in the tax in any way, then why should they be forced into the system? In contrast, for every $1 Arizona's Fundamentalist Mormons pay in taxes, they receive $8 in government aid--a practice known as "bleeding the beast." Here is a religion that views all non-members as heathenous others who do not deserve their respect or consideration, a far cry from the Amish adherence to the Golden Rule.

Furthermore, Fundamentalist Mormons believe that polygamy is the key to creating Heaven's kingdom on Earth. According to a tract written in 1842 titled The Peace Maker, monogamy is responsible for a litany of crimes such as divorce, adultery, domestic violence, premarital sex, and abortion. Plural marriage, and more importantly the wives' complete and total subservience to her husband's will, is the absolute law of God and will restore order to our corrupt modern society. Girls are brainwashed from birth that their soul purpose on Earth is to marry and produce as many children as possible to serve their husband. As soon as girls hit puberty, they are married off. As they are taught from birth that their obedience is God's will, how can they refuse?

There is an extreme difference in the refusal of the Amish to pay Social Security or allow their children to take high school science versus the rampant statutory rape and domestic violence of the Mormon Fundamentalist community. Considering that taxpayers are financing the fundamentalist' violent life style, how can law enforcement in good conscious ignore and, therefore, tacitly condone this way of life? The First Amendment protects religious practice but it does not sanction violence against others. Reynolds v. United States refused to protect polygamy because "to permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself." Unfortunately, this doctrine is not being upheld as it should be.

[All discussion of Mormon Fundamentalism taken from Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer]

Friday, October 12, 2007

I am the walrus. CNN sent me an article summarizing some reader responses to Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize win. I was expecting the usual Gore- and Clinton-bashing that happens when Gore does, well, anything, but I was surprised by how many people called global warming "junk science." I realize I have a habit of ignoring people who don't agree with me (doesn't everyone?), but this was overwhelming. For as long as I can remember, people have talked about the negative impact of human activity on the globe. I remember learning about this in elementary school. Like the inevitability of the sun one day "dying," the environment, influenced by technology and human excess, was changing. But unlike the sun, I could actually do something to help the world, like recycling or not letting go of my balloon or using public transportation instead of driving.

Apparently, many people did not learn about this in second grade and seem to consider this all bunk. Curious, I decided to uncover the heart of the discrepancy with a visit to the mecca of spun news coverage: FoxNews. Searches for "global warming" and "climate change" uncovered countless Associated Press articles detailing how global warming is melting polar ice and forcing the walrus south and increasing the number of Western wildfires. I couldn't find anything on the FoxNews website which actually proved global warming pseudoscience.

Except for this guy, who enjoys writing about the ridiculous cost of lowering carbon dioxide emissions and how renewable energy will actually ruin the environment. Maybe he's right, though it's hard to trust someone who doesn't believe secondhand smoke causes cancer. But why would he? He was a paid consultant for Philip Morris at the time the article was published.

An editorial in the American Journal of Public Health noted that "... attacking the science underlying difficult public policy decisions with the label of 'junk' has become a common ploy for those opposed to regulation" [Source]. Calling science "junk" or "pseudo" does not make it untrue. It just means that you are unwilling to believe it. Maybe the effect of greenhouse gases on the climate is grossly exaggerated; I'd still rather try to save the walrus than do nothing.

Poppa don't preach. These Wall Street Journal articles (1) (2) point to a disturbing trend in bogus child sexual assault prevention: Keep men away from children. Not only does this presume women to be incapable of sexual assault (which is certainly not the case), it paints all men as dangerous pedophiles waiting for the opportunity to strike. Limiting male contact with children in every venue--from youth groups to sports to simple hand-holding--reinforces harmful gender stereotypes: Namely, that men are inherently aggressive and uncontrollable.

How are men supposed to become more involved with home and family life if they are not allowed to hug their children? As of 2002, 23% of children under the age of 18 live with only their mother, and children in fatherless homes are at greater risk for various behavioral problems. Depriving children of positive male role models does more harm then good, and you can't protect children all the time, no matter how much you might like to. Of course, one abused child is too many, but forbidding men to have any physical or emotional contact with children is not an effective method of prevention. It simply teaches children that men are inherently evil and deviant, reinforces models of male aggression, and prevents children from interacting with men who defy stereotypes. How do we raise boys to become men who do not act on aggression if we not only refuse to let them interact with positive role models but also tell them they are inherently evil?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Flap your wings and fly. David Brooks says that I'm normal. I'm so relieved.

Dude, please don't compare my wanderlust to Knocked Up. I don't compare you to Alfred E. Newman, even though I should.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Radio gaga. Click here to check out the latest in what seems to be a series of bizarre videos of dancing Filipino prisoners. Is this a new twist on prison cruelty or simply a bizarre exercise program? ABC News isn't sure, either.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

And you say why. Today in (Former) A-List Celebrity Sightings:

The exceedingly blonde Matthew Modine outside the Yankees game. He was the most well-dressed person there. Who wears cashmere to a ball game?

Bonus Politician Sightings: Mayor Bloomberg and President of 9/11 Giuliani. Again, I ask, who wears cashmere to a ball game? Someone spilled beer on me from the balcony above. That is not a cashmere-friendly environment.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Power to the people. I am absolutely flabbergasted that I didn't hear about this sooner, and I had to learn about it through Facebook, of all places. Such a blatant denial of civil rights in this day in this country is absolutely unconscionable. And we thought Jim Crow was dead.

To learn more about the Jena 6 and to join the fight, click here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Don't ask me why. How many puff pieces about Hillary Clinton's Wellesley career are going to be printed before the election? I swear I read this New York Times piece months ago in Newsweek or Time or some rival publication. Don't you people have anything else to say?

Is there a better critique of the American media that, when faced with the opportunity to provide analysis or critique, they offer a detailed retelling of her undergraduate career?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

She was afraid to come out in the open. I know I got really mad about this earlier, but Mormon swimwear looks positively slutty next to our Arab friends' preferred beach attire. Those rubber gloves probably don't breath well.

Tonight everything is over. This was a really exciting week for us liberals, wasn't it? I mean, gay scandals and prominent Republican resignations are like Christmas to me. A gay couple even managed to get married in Iowa, of all places. How exciting!

Of course, this is horrifying to our Republican friends, especially to Mitt Romney, who is probably having flashbacks to his own failure at not being able to stop those pesky homosexuals from obtaining equal rights in Massachusetts. The narrow-minded Mormon had this to say about Iowa:

"The ruling in Iowa today is another example of an activist court and unelected judges trying to redefine marriage and disregard the will of the people as expressed through Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act. This once again highlights the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman."

Okay, Mitt, I don't think you understand what this whole judicial system thing is all about. In the United States, every judge, generally right down to the level of the magistrate, has the power to declare a law unconstitutional and invalid, at least as applied in a particular case. In fact, there's this whole court system so that people can appeal judicial rulings. It's almost like we have a system of checks and balances where the three branches of government (remember those?) are imbued with special powers to limit and shape the others. Also, Mitt, how can you say that the judge wasn't approved by the people? If the judge was appointed and approved by the legislature, which is the same legislature that ratified Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act in the first place, and the same legislature elected and presumably representative of the people, then how come the legislature can ratify an unconstitutional law but cannot approve judicial appointments? I mean, if the same legislators representing the same "will of the people" do two different actions, then how come one is legitimate and the other is a gross insult? Clearly, if a judge is approved by the elected legislature, then he is representing the will of the people. Are you calling the Iowa legislature incompetent? I don't think they'll like that very much.

I don't know about you, but I personally don't feel comfortable supporting a presidential candidate with such a gross lack of understanding of the judicial system.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm gonna be a supermodel. I know this isn't the sort of thing I usually post, but I had a fashion crisis this morning and the advice actually worked. It was so miraculous, I had to share.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

He's got a love song that he made. I'm skeptical, but historians now claim that there is evidence of gay civil unions 600 years ago. Apparently in Medieval Europe, people had more important things to worry about than with whom or what their next door neighbor was having sex. Think of it as an older, muddier form of the Boston Marriage.

Monday, August 27, 2007

He was a missionary man. I love Ted Haggard. Whenever he shows up, I just know something magical is about to happen. Whether it be in The Protocols of Zion where, upon meeting a Holocaust survivor, he says, "Aww, God Bless You" with the same tone you might use to congratulate a 4th grader on winning the local spelling bee or in Jesus Camp where he spews his sugar-coated invective, I always cheer with Schadenfreude-induced glee. There's nothing better than a hate-monger receiving his gay-prostitution-and-crystal-meth-flavored comeuppance. Good riddance.

However, he's at it again. Old Smoosh-Face wants you to send him and his family money so they can minister to halfway house residents while studying at the University of Phoenix. In his fundraising letter, Haggard thoughtfully provides information for you to donate to his "mission" through the not-for-profit organization Families With a Mission, which turns out to be run by a registered sex offender. Man oh man, Ted Haggard is the gift that keeps on giving.

I have a proposal for all you True Christians out there: Donate to me. I quit my job and moved across the world to help victims of rape and incest. I will soon be applying to graduate school to earn an incredibly helpful masters of public health. I have never committed a crime. And I have not nor will I ever be a solicitor of prostitutes, user of crystal meth, or supporter of pedophiles. If you invest in me, you truly will be investing in a hard-working individual who will dedicate her life to making the world a better place. I'll even set up a foundation at my own expense so that you can write-off your donations. Come on, Religious Right! Put your money where your mouth is and support someone who isn't a hypocrite.

(Side note: Did anyone else think that Levi from Jesus Camp was hilarious when he said that meeting non-Christians gave him the willies? I mean, kid, where do you think your Bible comes from? I'll tell you. It comes from JEWS! And where do you think your name comes from? A Levi is a High Priest in the Hebrew Temple. Your whole identity is full of big fat JUDAISM! Read a book!)

Bigmouth strikes again. Today is a beautiful day, my friends. First Karl Rove, now Gonzales. The only dark spot is the threat of Chertoff taking his place. Haven't we suffered enough?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I hate to sleep alone. It's been a while since I posted a pearl of Dan Savage wisdom, but this week offers a truly wise nugget. I offer it as an addendum to this post from several years back. Luckily for me, some things have changed. Unluckily for the rest of the world, most men have not:

What's a good response to the extremely trite, cliched statement, "I'm not good at commitment?"

"Commit to pulling your dick out of me, then commit to getting the fuck out of my apartment."

Monday, August 20, 2007

The trench is dug within our hearts. If you do a Google search for the words "Israel" and "Darfur," you will find a plethora of links all leading to this article detailing how evil Israel turned away 50 Darfur refugees who illegally entered the country from Egypt. "Israel turns away Darfur refugees" the headline screams. That evil, despicable Israel. What a den of compassionless sin! Apparently, genocide is bad, but Israel is worse.

What these headlines don't tell you is that Israel already has accepted 1,500 refugees with 1,500 more waiting entry (in prison, unfortunately). I've actually seen some of them as they spent shabbat with us in my boyfriend's village. These headlines also don't tell you that the refugees are fleeing Egypt because they are being harassed and, in some cases, murdered.

Let me get this straight. The fact that Israel turns away 50 refugees warrants a CNN News Alert, but the fact that the same people are being murdered in Egypt doesn't warrant coverage? And how come other countries such as the United States aren't volunteering to take in refugees or working with the surrounding nations to iron out a solution if they are all so concerned?

I'm not saying it's a good thing for Israel to turn away refugees. Clearly there needs to be new government policy designed to deal with this situation (and as someone who has spent the last several months working closely with the Israeli legislative process, I will say that you might be waiting a long time for this to get sorted out). Let's put the blame where the blame is due. Israel's refusal to accept 50 illegal immigrants (remember how much we love those in America?) does not a genocide make. And besides, Israel is a tiny country that's trying to work out its own rather hefty problems. Let's see a country with some global muscle do something, and stop blaming the underdog!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What a wookie. Inexplicably, I have had several discussions about FGM lately, and it seems that the media is following suit. Despite banning the practice nine years ago, Egypt witnessed the second death in three months due to complications arising from FGM surgery. This only underlines my consistent point on the subject: I don't care how culturally sensitive you are or unwilling you are to judge foreign social constructs, FGM is bad.

As much as I disagree with female circumcision, the male version doesn't bother me as much because male circumcision has proven medical benefits. Last fall, reporting on a randomized controlled trial in South Africa, scientists found that circumcision reduced female-to-male HIV transmission by 60 percent because of the susceptibility of the foreskin. "Male circumcision provides a degree of protection against acquiring HIV infection, equivalent to what a vaccine of high efficacy would have achieved," they wrote. It was, they observed, "the first experimental study demonstrating that surgery can be used to prevent an infectious disease." Using the new data, scientists estimate that over the next 20 years, circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa could prevent 6 million infections and 3 million deaths [Source].

Hilariously, anti-circumcision advocates refuse to acknowledge the health benefits of male circumcision, blindly calling the practice barbaric. The most hilarious, in my opinion, is Jews Against Circumcision. After perusing their website for information as to why I should refuse to circumcise my (as-yet unborn) sons, I could find no legitimate medical reasoning to support their claim. I was, however, awarded with this juicy tidbit: "[Circumcision] sets off a ripple of hormonal changes that wire the child's brain to cope with a malevolent world. Males are violent due to circumcision. It is usually boys who go to school and kill people; they are violent since their brains are wired for violence from infancy." So, if circumcision makes men violent, how do you count for all the millions of men who were not and are not circumcised but who are violent? For example, the Crusaders, the Khmer Rouge, and the Nazis have no history of circumcision yet were remarkably violent, arguably more so than Jews. According to their website, Jews are some of the smartest people in the world, holding 33% of awarded Nobel Prizes. Apparently, these people aren't those types of Jews.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The blindest of the blind. Dear Readers, I pose to you the following question. I received the following CNN News Alerts today. One of these was sent to me simply as an article of interest and the other as a Breaking News Alert, ideally reserved for the most pressing of events. The first discusses a newly-created Hezbollah video game in which children gain points by kidnapping and killing Israeli soldiers. The second, ostensibly more important Breaking News Alert informed me that President Bush's idiot daughter is engaged. Now, Readers, I ask you, do you see these designations of the importance of current events as accurate? Is Jenna Bush's impending marriage (to Karl Rove's ex-assistant, no less) really more important than the brainwashing of children?

This is example #865 of the stupidity of America.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Promiscuous girl, you're teasing me. If you're like me, and you find those surveys reporting that men have twice the average number of sex partners in a lifetime as women somewhat disconcerting, your suspicions have been confirmed. This somewhat hilarious piece from the "New York Times" claims that those studies which report that men have a median of seven female sex partners while women have a median of four male sex partners are mathematically impossible. It's pretty logical, if you think about it. I mean, what happened to those three extra women the men reported sleeping with? Does the average man buy prostitutes or sleep around? Or are men and women just using the "Rule of Three" so expertly explained in American Pie 2?

When asked, Ronald Graham, a professor of mathematics and computer science at the University of California, San Diego, positied that "Some might be imaginary. Maybe two are in the man’s mind and one really exists." I told you this was vaguely hilarious.

It's calling out to idiot America. You'd hope that this little controversy would have settled down by now, but apparently Cleavage-Gate is still well under way. Commentators are hypothesizing that Hillary Clinton did this "on purpose" to "soften" her image and up her sex appeal. A candidate as poised as Clinton doesn't slip up and flash Congress by accident.

Why does Hillary Clinton need to defend her womanhood? She's clearly a woman. She clearly gave birth to a daughter. Hell, she went to a women's college. So why does Bill Clinton need to tell "Good Morning America," "I don’t think [Hillary’s] trying to be a man." Yet the media seems to be more and more obsessed with candidate fashion, pointing out the replacement of Hillary's trademark black pantsuit with softer pastel shades! I don't know a thing about her stance on health care or the Middle East Peace process, but at least she's wearing lavender. I'm so relieved!

According to the Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, male candidates receive about 5 percent more issues coverage than do females because of this preoccupation with appearance. Research has also shown that winning women candidates are "typically those who are best able to balance stereotypically masculine and feminine images and issues, posing with children as well as in formal suits, and discussing both health care and defense. Those who are seen as too feminine tend to lose races, while those who are seen as 'too hard' work frantically to soften their images." [Source] Basically, the ladies have to prove they are tough enough to go to war but not too tough so that they won't bake you cookies. We don't really care what they have to say; we just care about how they make us feel.

Let's put it this way: Almost every country in the developed world has been represented by women. Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Norway, France, Finland, Iceland, and New Zealand (to name a few) have all had female heads of government and even more have had female heads of state. Hell, even countries the United States paints as hopelessly backwards such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Haiti, Indonesia, Senegal, and Rwanda have had women heads of government. Americans have the opportunity to support a strong, intelligent woman who is an exemplary candidate, yet they can't stop arguing about two centimeters of boob long enough to actually judge her by her merits. We are a nation obsessed with image and incapable of intellectual analysis. This really burns my toast.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. We know that presidential candidates like to skirt the issue, but, as this points out, they're avoiding topics we didn't even notice they were avoiding!

I especially enjoy this observation about the United States' "bloated military budget:"

Home of the brave, my ass. What kind of a country needs to spend more money on "defense" than all the other nations on earth combined and is still as collectively paranoid as a cuckolded husband in the throes of an amphetamine psychosis? A huge Military-Industrial complex overcharges taxpayers on a scale that makes the pharmaceutical industry look like Robin Hood. It's the biggest financial scam in human history, but no serious candidate dares to say peep, less he or she be seen as unpatriotic.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Thank heaven for little girls. I really can't take this crap anymore. This isn't an Amish or Haredi company, either. Oh no. This is a company that seeks to bring back traditional "modesty" by bringing back 19th century swimwear. Apparently this makes us "wholesome" instead of "insane."

Look, I understand why you might want to wear an oversized T-shirt over their bathing suit at the beach. I mean, I hardly ever think I look good in my bathing suit, either. But to bring back this antiquated need to cover women in the name of modesty is just... bizarre.

Friday, July 27, 2007

She's the face on the radio. In answer to that age-old question of what happens to Communist dictators once their regimes have been overthrown, apparently they go on to have very lucrative careers in fashion. That's right, the former leader of Communist Russia is now a spokesmodel for Louis Vuitton handbags. Maybe that's why communism failed. How good can your political ideology be if your leader goes ahead and turns around and starts endorsing the epitome of capitalism and conspicuous consumption?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Have no fears, we've got stories for years. The AV Club staff seems to have gone off the deep end with their Simpsons love-in. With the movie opening this week, I guess they can't really be blamed, but the in-depth debate about the show's continued existence is particularly geeky. Not nearly as geeky as the types of Simpsons merchandise out there, of course. "Eat My Shorts" Cereal? Really? But who am I to judge? Apparently The Simpsons is the best cultural critic ever and is generally better than everything else in the entire universe. Pretty good for a 22-minute cartoon, eh?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

She's in fashion. I don't usually argue with the Washington Post, but I seriously doubt that Hilary Clinton was trying to show off any cleavage when she wore this shirt. Here's a news flash: Women have breasts. When women wear v-neck shirts, sometimes some of the tops of our boobs peaks out. This does not mean we are trying to "show off" our cleavage or making a statement about our sexuality. Frankly, the fact that Hilary Clinton's wearing a slightly low-cut shirt warrants news coverage is almost as ridiculous as the media circus that surrounded John Kerry's adoption of the Live Strong yellow wristband.

As a rebuttal to this ridiculous piece, I'd like to point out Slate's recent examination of what happens when Hilary Clinton is insulted. Apparently, it strengthens her popularity among the ladies. I am not sure whether the Post meant to insult Clinton, but the minutia of the exploration certainly made me uncomfortable. In general, I do not enjoy it when I am minding my own business and someone draws unnecessary attention to my femininity. It is inappropriate and unnerving, exactly how this Post article made me feel. Eesh.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

School's out for summer. Augustus Caesar isn't going to like this one bit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Take it to the taxman. Listen, people. Stop saying that President Bush should "fire" Dick Cheney. The Vice President can't be fired. He is not a Presidential appointee, he's an elected official. Read the Twelfth Amendment, for crying out loud. We have a written Constitution for a reason!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'll be your whatever you want. Having lived in the region for the past six months, I can tell you that this is an oversimplified answer to a complex problem. Via Facebook group Lezbollah, hot women from different Middle-East-Peace-Process ethnic backgrounds will send in pictures of themselves getting it on and, thus, inspire the rest of us to put down our weapons. After all, what's more inspirational than girl-on-girl action?

I'm pretty sure that most traditional Arabs and Jews would take offense to lesbian hook-ups, even if they are multi-cultural and, therefore, awesome. Also, I am compelled to point out the exploitation here: Why do women always have to pretend to be gay to get men to do what they want? As usual, the only tool with which women can prarticipate when it comes to compromise is our sexuality--or pseudo-lesbian posturing, as the case may be.

Leave me lying here 'cause I don't wanna go. I will not be mourning the end of Jane magazine. Jane was originally designed as the daughter of Sassy, which, according to everything I've read, was rather innovative and irreverent. Jane, however, is mass-marketed faux-feminism. Every time I've picked it up, it's been full of nothing but painfully-expensive, blink-and-you'll-miss-it fashion trends and terrible advice for all you "feminists" out there. The most recent issue contains a how-to guide for detox dieting. Any doctor worth her degree will tell you that a detox diet is harmful to your health. But this is not the first time Jane has given its readers step-by-step instructions on how to perform arguably-unhealthy acts. Some years ago I remember reading a guide to one-night stands. For a magazine that releases reports on STIs, it's ironic that they would trumpet an activity which is a fantastic way to get you sick.

I suppose Jane does appeal to a New York City subculture of mid-20s young women who are sexually active but not necessarily in relationships, who are fashion-conscious and see nothing wrong with spending money on shoes instead of investing in a 401k plan. I'm not condemning this way of life; however, I think that it's irresponsible and untrue to say that Jane speaks to its readers with a feminist voice. Bitch magazine, the real feminist successor to Sassy and an amazing read if you can find it, outlines it much better than I can: "Jane is like the girl in your homeroom who chats with you pleasantly enough but always manages to mention that her skirt cost more than yours....An old, advertiser-smooching, beauty-product-hawking, celebrity-ass-kissing, skinny-model-filled old friend in a new, faux-iconoclastic, hypocritical, self-congratulatory hat."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Well, I just need a little space to breathe. Someone explain to me why anyone would buy an iPhone. I don't get it. Yes, it's shiny and new and... I honestly can't think of a single other reason this is desirable. From this article, you can see why the gadget isn't revolutionary. It has a tremendous amount of pitfalls, the price being number one on my list, second being the fact that AT&T's cellular service is spotty at best. But perhaps the single biggest turn-off is recounted in this Apple-addict's ode:

While I couldn't find my favorite YouTube video (of rocker Jenny Lewis performing "The Frug," live), I was able to watch some very popular videos and chuckle softly to myself while waiting for a smoothie. The Season 3 finale of Lost looked vastly better on my iPhone than on my video iPod--so good, in fact, that it made one friendly stranger gasp.

How pathetic of a person are you that you cannot stand on line at Jamba Juice without watching a video? Furthermore, how pathetic of a person are you that you feel the need to pay Apple $10 for the privilege of watching a TV show ABC lets you watch for free on their website? How much constant stimulation does a person need? It's like the entire country has become afflicted with ADD, and the only cure is the newest iProduct.

I'm not saying I am free from the pull of crass-consumerism and materialism, but at least I have the good sense to recognize that Apple's products aren't as amazing as the media would have you believe. My iPod, and the iPods of most of the people I know, broke within the first year or a few months after the warranty expired, and I won't even go into the terrible battery-life. But love of all things Apple is nothing new, and most people seem more than happy to ignore the problems for love of the pretty packaging.

The biggest concern for me is that all this electronic gadgetry will create a world of unhealthy non-thinkers. According to the Franklin Institute, television makes your brain go into "neutral." Overexposure to computer screens causes eyestrain. Not to mention the connection between headphones and hearing loss. My point is that this constant exposure to gadgets is ultimately harming our health, our brain function, and our creativity. So wouldn't it be better if we put down our supped-up phones and had a conversation with a real person every now and then? I mean, how can iPhone "revolutionize" the way people communicate if we're spending all our time watching YouTube and shuffling through our MP3 collection, not to mention the fact that it doesn't work as a phone?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

If you want to go to hell, you should take a trip. I realize some of my recent posts make me seem like something of a prude, but there are just some things I don't need or want to know. For example, I do not need to see or even think about Bart Simpson's penis. How in the heck is this necessary? This is the ultimate example of a case of too-much-information.

Unfortunately, this is not a publicity stunt. More information here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I'm a sinner, I'm a saint. You call this news analysis? I think the author was giving the President's family a verbal blow job. Or does she have a girl-crush on Jenna Bush?

Come on, CNN! The President of Israel is going to plea bargain his way out of serving jail time for rape. Hamas is throwing people off buildings. The airport in Glasgow was bombed. There's a genocide going on in Darfur. Lindsay Lohan just got out of rehab. Write about something important!

Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down. It is my humble opinion that when Time magazine creates a word count as to the latest post-jail Paris Hilton interview, we have officially reached oversaturation. I mean, I expect her to be on the cover of People. I even expect CNN to send me breaking-news updates via e-mail about her antics. But the fact that Time actually went throught the Larry King Live transcript and counted how many times she uttered the word "yes" during her interview (45 times, apparently) is just going too far! I mean, Paris Hilton is, was, and always will be nothing more than an uninteresting blob of flesh. Must we rub it in?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Our days and our nights. Another part of my inner child just died, except this time it drowned in a pool of its own vomit. I don't want to give this (or the upcoming reality show) any more exposure than it deserves, but suffice it to say that I am deeply disturbed. Deeply. Painfully.

It gives that Charles in Charge theme song a whole new, vivid connotation, doesn't it? And do we have to involve poor little Joanie in this? Ew.

Where do we go from here. I admit that I wasn't as jazzed about the musical episode as some people apparently are, but I am not going to stand in their way. I think it would be fantastic if this went the way of Rocky Horror and we could all dress up like our favorite character. I could bust out some crazy witch-cum-lesbian flowy dress thing, or maybe some hot leather pants. Or just sport some fangs. Awesomeness, thy name is costuming. So, even though I am not quite the fangirl, I say sing on, proud cult following. Sing on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Good God, y'all. I don't want to get into a big political debate over this, but I had to point out something funny about this description:

About 600 people were holed up in the long, concrete tunnel that leads to the Israeli side of the crossing. About 100 people belonged to Fatah security forces, but the rest were civilians, seeking a better life in the West Bank, which is separated from Gaza by Israel.

Isn't it bizarre to say they're fleeing Gaza for a better life in the West Bank? Isn't that admitting that being occupied by Israel is preferable to self-government and independence? Obviously, most of these people are ordinary guys who're caught in the crossfire of a tremendous power vacuum, and I am not unsympathetic to their situation. However, instead of saying these Palestinians are seeking refuge from a tumultuous situation, CNN has worded this in such a way that it sounds like the Palestinians are actively asking the Israels to re-occupy them because it's the only way for them to secure this "better life." If you think about it, it's kind of hilarious.

I enjoy anything which makes CNN look foolish.

Monday, June 18, 2007

הזמנה לחתונה. I seem to have a bad habit of hearing about events well after they've happened; I'm not good with breaking news. I enjoy bands after they've already broken up, and I have no idea how to work an RSS feed.

If you're like me and you missed it, you should check out last week's outstanding exploration of American Mass Wedding Hysteria in Slate. Dear Prudence's take on acquired situational narcissism and this article discussing film's fiancee-as-castration motif are particularly trenchant.

Even though I feel I am too young to confront this situation, I know a fair number of people my age who have already tied the knot. I have heard it all, and the suggestions they read on The Knot for choosing bride's maid gifts and usher boutonnieres left me feeling mostly insane. Isn't the whole point of getting married to, you know, get married? People act like the goal is the wedding. As Meghan O'Rourke points out, "Today's marriage ceremony is indeed a statement of love: the love of buying things, and, more particularly, buying things that have been personalized to express one's taste and, so the industry tells us, the essence of who one is....The wedding becomes an exercise in magical thinking: If my teeth are white and my linens match my napkins, he and I will stay in love forever." Well, considering how high the divorce rate is, maybe it's more important to have some photos where you look fantastic than to actually count on the marriage itself working out. I mean, if you're going to have to argue over who gets the gravy boat eventually, you might as well register for the most expensive one out there, right?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

She's a maniac, that's for sure. When I heard about Nathaniel R's Action Heroine Blog-a-thon, the first thing that popped into my head was Kim Basinger in Batman. Batman irritated the hell out of me because Kim Basinger spent the entire film screaming her head off. For a photo-journalist, a profession which requires a certain level of moxie, she certainly couldn't handle the criminal underbelly she was so desperately trying to chronicle. Except for Catwoman, you could argue that no Batman heroine has ever been especially daring or self-sufficient, but at least Katie Holmes saved that little boy from the psycho-gas. Look at Kim in this promo picture; she look like she's thinking, "Don't ask me, I'm just a girl!" So much for being a heroine.

I had a very long post planned about how all action heroines are, in essence, Kim Basinger in Batman. I was of the opinion that Hollywood cannot in good conscience create an action film heroine completely divorced from traditional sex roles. It's just too threatening. As a result, almost every action heroine has a characteristic that specifically identifies them as feminine and, consequently, non-threatening. Lara Croft had the gigantic breasts and skin-tight outfits so that, even though she was cold and crafty, she was still basically a sex symbol. The Charlie's Angels agents may have been slick kung fu artists, but at the end of the day they sat around in bikinis painting their toenails and gossiping about boys. Traditional gender roles even play into the motivations of the remarkably non-traditional heroine The Bride as she seeks revenge over the death of her child.

I thought that, no matter how many guns they wield or men they kill, action heroines are fundamentally feminine. Even the action heroines I liked were still imbued with gendered markers absent in their male counterparts. Selene has the pleather unitard and a lovey-dovey subplot. Leeloo wears the decidedly-awesome yet still-skimpy bandage dress and can't save the world without the love of a good man. Strong-willed and brave Princess Leia is quite bouncy running around the Death Star in A New Hope because Carrie Fisher was not allowed to wear a bra during filming. Even my favorite action heroine Trinity, who I adore mostly because of this, has the requisite skin-tight catsuit and the my-man-is-my-destiny motivation.

I'm not necessarily advocating that action heroines be portrayed as cold-blooded psychopathic killers, but why do they always have to be so darn gendered? The typical action hero doesn't need a clear-cut motivation to be accepted as strong, brave or heroic, and no one seems to have a problem with that. I mean, Batman's motivations were kind of sketchy: He was fighting for redemption, right? Or was he seeking revenge for the death of his parents? Or was he after justice? Or did he simply suffer from rich man's guilt? No one seems to question whether James Bond deserved to be designated a hero, and what was his motivation? Preservation of freedom? Securing the safety of the British people? Sleeping with lots of hot babes? Hollywood doesn't need to saddle action heroes with weighty back stories which explain why they should be admired, yet their female counterparts require considerable explanation or lots of cleavage. Why do Lara Croft, Selene, Leeloo and Trinity--all of whom are fighting for decidedly noble causes--need to run around in those skintight outfits?

However, a friend read the above rant and proceeded to prove me wrong. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that Angelina Jolie, of all people, in Mr. and Mrs. Smith proved to be the heroine for whom I have always wished. Her character is a professional, ambitious, fearless assassin who leads an all-female team, while her male counterpart Brad Pitt has the always-bumbling Vince Vaughn and that grandma-secretary. Her operation is more professional and state-of-the-art than Brad Pitt's, and she is consistently shown to be smarter, faster, and all-around better than her husband. The best example of this is the scene in the minivan where Angelina has taken over driving duties while Brad hesitates in taking the shot that will eliminate the henchmen they are trying to escape. Tired of his lack of confidence, Angelina whirls the minivan around and finishes the job herself while Brad looks on in amazement. Let's see Kim Basinger do something like that!

Mrs. Smith is just as slick, crafty and strong as any James Bond-type hero, and she does not have a well-developed back story--or any back story whatsoever--to justify her profession. Furthermore, she is thankfully free of skin-tight catsuits (except for one scene where she must dress up as a dominatrix to infiltrate a secure area). The only distinctively-feminine touch is that she fights most of her battles wearing diamond earrings, but that's more for the sake of character-consistency than to dumb her down or soften her image.

So there you have it. There is a new type of heroine afoot, one whose strength does not need to be justified or curtailed by increasing her femininity or squeezing her cleavage. Here is a heroine that would probably shake Kim Basinger and tell her to get a hold of herself. A Jennifer Bond, if you will. I am heartily impressed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Welcome to the jungle. Despite my previous assertions that any country which has universal indoor plumbing no longer qualifies as Third World, according to my boyfriend these sorts of incidents only happen in the Third World. I don't know if that's the case, but I still think it might be best to keep his window closed at night considering he lives about 20 minutes away from Sede Boker.

Apparently, in addition to leopards, there are also at least four wild tigers roaming around the Judaen Desert. Israel is officially even more awesome than I originally thought. I wonder if there are wild penguins lurking around here somewhere. Perhaps a narwhal or a leviathan?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Soon it's gonna change in a new direction. Progress! I am a citizen of a country where a fringe, pagan religion can successfully sue for cultural representation on gravestones used in military veteran cemetaries. I love it!

I don't think I'll ever make it on time. There really aren't words for how disturbing I find this. Perhaps I am overreacting. I mean, he was on a successful television show and, therefore, has earned a certain amount celebrity, I suppose. And yet...

It's Mr. Belding with "Playboy" models! Some part of my inner child just died.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What have I become. I have always had a seething dislike for Rudy Giuliani. He's always appeared very smarmy to me, what with the messy public adultery/divorce scandal and the berating his children in public. However, I could never find specific facts to support my distaste. I'm not puritanical; I'm not in the habit of condemning people based on their romantic or personal failings. On the face of it, Giuliani seemed to be doing a fantastic job of cleaning up New York City. And once you add in the glitz and glamour of his stunning September 11 performances, you can't really argue with him.

Whereas I used to only have a gut-reaction of disgust when faced with Rudy's bloated face, I now have actual evidence for why Giuliani is full of hot air. I heartily thank Slate and the documentary Giuliani Time for poking holes in his administration's false claims of influencing New York's safety and climate. As much as I may appreciate the Disney-fication of Time's Square, I now do not have to give him credit for it. Victory in our time!

I also thank them for giving me permission to feel disgust at his personal antics. I agree that "a past like Giuliani's betrays a level of self-indulgence that, if nothing else, suggests that more fireworks are in store and that the show will be long-running." This clearly outlines why Giuliani's candidacy makes me squeamish.

However, I think that Giuliani fits into a larger problem in American politics: By and large, Americans are more interested in superficial successes and bump-in-the-night propaganda of fear than actual facts or logic. Giuliani is a potentially powerful force because of America's willing blindness. They want the speaking tours and the hand-shaking and photo-ops and not the actual details or fineprint. If we want our country back, we have to be not only brave but charismatic. We can't be blinded by the hype if we want to win. "To defeat the American Churchill in an age of terror, it will take a level head, patience, and a respect for empirical facts, and not folklore, urban legend, or the exploitation of our worst fears. You must stay, in a word, civilized."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sweeping the clouds away. Israel just got a whole lot fuzzier. And let's hope more tolerant as well.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Everything is quiet since you're not around. Dear Real-Life and Cyber Friends,

I am very angry with you! How in the world could you have neglected to tell me about this? I am out of the country, and I rely on you all to keep me informed about important events. What could be more important than Season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in comic book form? Not only that, but the first issue has already sold out! Need I remind you that I do not have consistent internet access and unfortunately miss out on such incredibly important developments? I am very disappointed with you all.

Check out a preview of the first issue as well as a review. Also, for good measure, happy 10-year anniversary, Buffy!

P.S. Someone host a BtVS blog-a-thon, already!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Point me to the sky above. I found this in the Slate archives and it's really REALLY funny and also really REALLY disturbing. On the one hand, Evangelical Christians are hilarious. On the other hand, Christian Evangelicals scare the shit out of me. This article pretty much sums up why.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Twisted firestarter. We went to a "nature party" in the desert at 4 a.m. on Israeli Independence Day, and I probably took one of the best photos of my life. The subject is a winged fire juggler on stilts, believe it or not. I just think it's wow.

Fire Starter
Originally uploaded by thelizisawesome.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Is it so wrong to crave recognition? Interesting human interest story in the NYT about Hillary Clinton's 1969 Swells classmates' reaction to her persona and her candidacy. One classmate made a particularly interesting comment about something that has been bothering me for a while but I have been unable to address:

Some of Mrs. Clinton’s classmates say they take personally criticism that she is “shrill” or “strident.”

“I hear these anti-Hillary attacks by men, especially right-wing men, and I feel like it’s just as much an attack on me,” said Cheryl Lynn Brierton, an in-house lawyer for the California courts. “It’s an effect of intelligence that you come across as intense, that you have strong views. I’ve always felt that the way she is singled out and attacked is very indicative of how society reacts to smart women.”

I think part of the reason I have been reluctant to endorse Hillary is because she is so polarizing. Supporting Hillary is controversial simply because she does not adhere to traditional gender roles. She is a "career woman," a "feminist" and ambitious. I would never expect myself to shy away from that, to look for a more "mainstream" candidate that I felt was a more sure-fire win. As my father said during the 2004 election, I'd rather lose fighting for something than lose by playing it safe. It is time to throw my hat into Hillary's ring.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya. I've said it once, I'll say it again. Jews are funny. And, apparently, creative. Makes my bat mitzvah party at a fancy restaurant overlooking the Hudson look downright cheap!

When the band plays "Hail to the Chief." I'm on the fence about Hilary Clinton, not because I wouldn't vote for her, but because I really can't stand another four (potentially eight) years of fascism conservatism and I'm not sure if she can win. However, I do acknowledge that she makes an excellent point below.

"[Former U.S. president John F. Kennedy] was smart, he was dynamic, he was inspiring and he was Catholic. A lot of people back then [1960] said, 'America will never elect a Catholic as president.' So when people tell me 'a woman can never be president,' I say, we'll never know unless we try."

And really, if you can't support your Swells' sisters, who can you support?

The wind is howling. A rather disappointing celebrity sighting, as I don't remember where, exactly, it happened, BUT, I give you...

Last Week in B-List Celebrity Sightings:

Sean Lennon, of all people, walking around Jerusalem! I didn't recognize him at first--and, really, who expects to see Sean friggin' Lennon walking around Jerusalem--but in retrospect it was definitely him. He had an unkempt beard and a cozy-looking (I want to say tartan) scarf, but the best part was definitely his bowler hat.

I guess celebrities do come to Israel. I'll have to keep my eyes open.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

These tedious dances. Perhaps it shouldn't, but this really made me see red. Our darling first daughter Jenna Bush is writing an inspirational tale about a 17-year-old HIV-positive South American single mother? Seriously? This sounds like another Seventh Heaven-esque Christian retelling of terrible circumstances spun to make money. No matter how much volunteer work Jenna Bush has done with UNICEF, what could she possibly understand about living with HIV in poverty or raising a child alone?

I also think it's irresponsible to portray a young woman infected with HIV as inspiring. Yes, you can live a full life for many years with the disease, and I don't think you should demonize those who are infected. However, poor people in general do not receive the kinds of cutting-edge drugs or specialized attention that preserve health. Portraying HIV infection as positive absolutely goes against the basic idea behind prevention. The only way HIV will end is if new infections cease; you can't count on a vaccine. When I volunteered at an AIDS services organization and talked to those patients who had been living with the disease for decades, they were appalled by how young the clients were--some of the new clients hadn't finished high school. The elder clients knew that the very drugs that prolonged and improved their lives had damaged the fight against HIV: young people aren't afraid of a disease when there are so many medical advances to preserve health. Jenna Bush's story of "inspiration and hope" is just another piece of the problem.