Sunday, November 30, 2003

Margaret Cho reveals her "diet secrets."

This is a little old, but I just found it. Margaret Cho, super-awesome (and super-crude) feminist comedienne posted on her blog about why she's lost so much weight. She calls it the Fuck It Diet, and it involves eating whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. It's amusing and somewhat empowering.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

iPod jacking makes people share

iPod jacking makes people share



I recently irked some folks by saying I believe conservatives and libertarians (conservatives who wear their caps backward) don't like to share. That explains why they are usually opposed to supporting the common good. MacRumors reports there is something new to for such persons to worry about. Wired's Leander Kahney has the original story.


During his regular evening walk, software executive Steve Crandall often nods a polite greeting to other iPod users he passes: He easily spots the distinctive white earbuds threaded from pocket to ears.



But while quietly enjoying some chamber music one evening in August, Crandall's polite nodding protocol was rudely shattered.




Crandall was boldly approached by another iPod user, a 30ish woman bopping enthusiastically to some high-energy tune.


"She walked right up to me and got within my comfort field," Crandall stammered. "I was taken aback. She pulled out the earbuds on her iPod and indicated the jack with her eyes."


Warily unplugging his own earbuds, Crandall gingerly plugged them into the woman's iPod, and was greeted by a rush of techno.


"We listened for about 30 seconds," Crandall said. "No words were exchanged. We nodded and walked off."


The following evening, Crandall saw the woman again. This time, she was sharing her iPod with another iPod regular Crandall had spotted on his walks.


Within a couple of days, Crandall had performed the iPod sharing ritual with all the other four or five regulars he sees on his walks. Since August, they've listened to each other's music dozens of times.



I freely admit to iPod promiscuity. Since acquiring my first, soon after the esteemed MP3 player/hard drive was released, I have shared music with family, friends and complete strangers. My current digital companion, Titania, has been handled by more men than I've given my phone number in the last year. The iPod has become well enough known that people will often ask to take a closer look at it. Some say they are considering getting their own. Like Crandall, I notice other iPod users and they notice me. We sometimes compare notes on what we have on our 'Pods, listen to each others tunes briefly or, now that a hack allowing it is available, trade songs.


I really hadn't given much thought to the sociability factor of the iPod, taking it for granted. The article at Wired and responses to it at MacRumors have caused me to realize that I may need to become more circumspect. What if the not-so-secret sharer is a conservative or a libertarian? Then, I could be unknowingly stepping on his toes.


Crandall, who also has a weblog, Tingilinde, has seen iPod sharing catch on in his native milieu and heard rumors of it on some college campuses. But, he has also encountered hostile responses when suggesting mutual musical moments in New York City.


In looking back, I realize I've usually been the respondent to iPod information and music exchanges. However, if the iPod jacking spreads, that may change. Perhaps I will become an aggressive plucker of plugs. But, I promise not to force conservatives and libertarians to share.


This entry appeared at Mac-a-ro-nies.





Monday, November 24, 2003

Chicken & Testosterone

Anil Dash's recent post "Halalapalooza" is both amusing and provocative. I'm not yet sure what conclusion I'm going to draw from it, or what response I might have to it.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Pantihose and Promises

It's been a year and a half (that's when I stopped ballroom dancing and dudeing up with the frilly fun clothes that go along with it) since I wore pantihose, but I struggled into a pair yesterday as I readied myself for my cousin's daughter's wedding. I finally twisted far enough to get them on, but not after hearing a few crunches and cracks in my back. Not a good sound for someone who's got a major problem with a disc in her lumbar spine. As it turned out, no harm seemed to have been done, but I have promised myself that from now on, no more pantihose.

And then my cousin's daughter and now husband promised each other, in front of friends and family, all the things that people promise each other when they're in happily love and looking toward a future together.

It was a traditional Catholic wedding ceremony that included a reading from the Book of Genesis about how the Judeo-Christian God created man, realized that the poor guy was lonesome, and then formed woman out of the guy's rib. Yeecchh!!

I wanted to stand up and yell, "Hey, haven't you heard of Lilith? Don't you know the power of myth to make real history happen? No, No! That's not the story that needs to be told. You got it wrong. You got it all wrong!!"

But, of course, I didn't. I just squirmed in my seat and hoped for the best.

And the reception was the best! Tribal, even.

I have to hand it to my cousin's daughter and her mate. It was their celebration and their way to celebrate. The DJ revved up everyone (except those of my mother's generation) with rhythms driven by blood-pounding drums. And the tribe gathered around the newlyweds, who writhed and wound around each other as well as others in the gathering circle as the bride's white gown sparkled through the web of strobing limbs. They danced in groups, alone, and in pairs -- men with women, women with women, men with men. The beat went on, and on, and on. The circle ebbed and flowed and whooped and danced. The air throbbed with promise.

And my cousins and I crowned our you'd-never-know-it-graying-heads with glow-in-the-dark circlets and became, for those moments, our younger, vital, music-infused selves. Luckily, I must have sent my sciatic nerve into shock because it never felt a thing.

After the reception, some of my cousins went back to one of their homes to continue partying. I had to drive back upstate. The party was over for me. At least this one was.

But I'm promising myself that I will find more chances to party. And I'm promising myself that I will do it without the back-breaking risk of wriggling into those claustraphobic pantihose.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

A bit on blog etiquette

I was recently inspired to post a little rant on my blog about etiquette for leaving blog comments. A snippet:
A comment on comments. So here's the thing. I'm all for the open forum allowed by the nifty comments feature. It is so cool and satisfying, this instant gratification stemming from instantaneous debate. But--and this goes to the philosophy behind trying to make any kind of serious, credible argument--what's with the name-calling?

This has nothing to do with having a thick or thin skin. To me, the most effective arguments in any debate are those made respectfully. It is possible--in fact preferable--to get your point across without having to resort to impudence. The moment arguments about a specific issue become personal, rather than sticking to being topical, defenses go up and people stop listening or run away. And this goes for any subject, be it war or religion or sexuality or drugs or whose turn it is to take out the trash.

When challenged, I'm happy to do the digging for literature and links--the raw materials that have helped me form an opinion--to back up my statements. I'll also gladly admit when I've muddled the facts, am off the mark or am dead wrong. But if that challenge is paired with language like "you idiot" or "this is lame" or "you friggin' hellspawn bitch," I'm much more likely to ignore it, just as I would turn my back on that comment in real life and walk away. Why dignify it?
If you want to read the whole thing, come on over.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Rape Defense?

Found via Warren Ellis-- a South African doctor invented a tampon-like device that is designed to cut a rapist's penis. The article appears to be well over a year old, but I had never heard of such an item before. Apparently the obscenely high number of incidents of rape in South Africa led the doctor to develop the device.

I certainly applaud the attempt to address the problem of rape, but part of me recoils at such a particularly vicious method, and questions, too the efficacy of a device. Obviously, its existence is meant to serve as a deterrant, but it doesn't actually prevent anyone from being raped-- it just brings about a brutally short end to any sexual assault-- and there are plenty of ways for a woman to be assaulted without an actual penis in the picture. And what is to prevent a woman from using one of the devices unethically (that is, on someone who wasn't actually intending rape)?

According to the article, other women had objections as well:

"I would be extremely uncomfortable. Again the onus is put on the woman. Men who rape women should be jailed for life. Men should not rape, end of story."

Firing up my feminism.

Related to this post below and Burningbird's various posts about the Blogging Ghetto on her own site, I've done my own take.

Alan Watts, Tyra Banks, Vogue Magazine, Shelley Powers, Victoria's Secret and Kabul Afghanistan -- strange (or maybe not) bedfellows and all inspirations for firing me up about Using the Systems (including using Blog Sisters, which I'm doing right now).

Freeway Blogging

This site has photos of some of the anti-war banners that have been unfurled near the freeways of southern California.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Gender discrimination is illegal


Depend on Robbie Port to cause me to set aside what I had intended to post today to pen an emergency correction to dangerous notions about gender discrimination. He says:


Everybody thinks men and women should be exactly equal. They should be considered for the same jobs as men and should be paid at the same level. Companies engaged in hiring new employees are often encouraged to hire women and we've all heard the new politically correct job titles such as "mail carrier" instead of "mailman." In theory, that sounds nice. In practice some problems arise.




Take, for instance, firefighters. Every day these people are faced with dangers and often must count on the strength and agility of their co-workers. If I were a fireman I would want the strongest person available to be backing me up in a hot situation. I would want the same if I were a police officer or a soldier. Granted, many women are just as strong, or stronger, than most men but in general men are bigger and stronger.



. . .All I'm saying is that men and women are different and when we hire for jobs those differences should be taken into consideration, especially in dangerous jobs like those I described above. If a woman wants to be a fireman that's great, as long as she can past the exact same tests and examinations that the men do. If the job you want requires you to be able to complete 30 pushups then you'd better be able to do those 30 pushups. If you can't, find another job.


Let's consider two of the errors in Port's ill-conceived entry.


  • Municipalities do not decide the rules for hiring workers in a vacuum, as he claims. State and federal law regulate various aspects of employment, including discrimination
  • .



  • A major criterion determining whether rules against hiring or promoting women are discriminatory under Title VII, the most relevant statute, is employment-relatedness. The only way it would matter if an employee can do 30 pushups is if doing those pushups can be shown to be directly related to firefighting. Otherwise, the requirement would be irrelevant to being qualified for the job, regardless of whether someone likes his firefighters strong -- and male. The issue is not the gender of the employee, but what skills the job requires.


  • Title VII has been around for so long I tend to take it for granted 'everyone knows' that the kind of discrimination Port supports is illegal. His is the kind of misinformation I would expect to read in material from the 1960s or 1970s, not in 2003.


    Robbie Port's latest assault on reality is evidence of a a major problem with the blogosphere: The Ports spout so much inaccurate information that the minority of smart, responsible bloggers are virtually forced to clean up after them.


    By the way, Port's blog is called Say Anything . . . and he really does.



    Note: This entry also appeared at Silver Rights.

    Thursday, November 13, 2003

    Geeky Gamers

    In a short article on the BBC's web site, game developer Anna Larkin challenges the stereotype that video games appeal only to a certain demographic. She posits that it's the presentation of games, not the games themselves, that attract the typical male teenager to a game:

    Most video game adverts appear in gaming magazines, and many of the adverts that do appear depict gamers as male.

    This only serves to reinforce the stereotype that only males play games and that they are something that a female would not be interested in.


    I have to agree. I certainly enjoy a good rousing shoot-em-up every once in a while, though I generally prefer puzzle and strategy games. I don't oay attention to the game's marketing material; I look at the game itself, and think, would I enjoy that?

    Wednesday, November 12, 2003

    Two Roads Diverged

    "For me, femininity had become the other 'F' word," says Christine Sneeringer.

    For Tamela Vaughn, an affair with a college sorority sister sent her into the "darkest period of my life."

    Millions of people in this country are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Most of them, despite prejudice from society, disapproval from churches, and unequal treatment under law, accept and embrace who they are. But a relative few, who tend to hold conservative religious beliefs, attempt to change their sexual orientation, to go from gay to heterosexual. Sneeringer and Vaughn both embarked on that difficult, some say potentially dangerous journey. Now, both women say they have found joy and peace in their relationships with God and with themselves. But though these women took a similar journey, they found their fulfillment in very different places.

    The piece is much too long to share here. Read the rest at All Facts and Opinions.

    Monday, November 10, 2003

    But Who Will Save Our Souls?

    Call me a cynic. Call me unpatriotic. But I would not, just could not, bring myself to watch the Jessica Lynch story on TV yesterday.

    Maybe it was all the hype. Maybe it was the fact that others in Jessica's unit, who had suffered the same fate or worse, were being totally ignored. Maybe it was the announcer telling me it was the show "All America had been waiting for." Maybe it was that annoyingly commercial sounding patriotic tune they kept playing in the promos. Whatever it was, whenever the trailer came on, I cringed.

    I thought maybe it was just me, but then I saw an online poll and it seemed there were quite a few folks who, like me, had had about enough of the excessive marketing of Jessica's and Elizabeth Smart's story. My mother was in town over the weekend and we were sitting on the couch watching TV when another one of those annoying trailers started in on us. The announcer said the show would be airing in one hour. My mother groaned and made reference to the fact that we should remember to switch stations before the hour was up. I indeed was not alone.

    I suppose that years of being a public relations professional, where you quickly learn the effects of "spin" and become adept at spotting it everywhere has made me a bit cynical. But even without these acquired skills, I know a propaganda tool when I see one. And this one wasn't even subtle. Heck, even Jessica Lynch herself is calling foul. She has stated that she feels the government is using her. And maybe that's why this whole thing just never sat too well with me.

    How many nameless and faceless innocent Iraqi men, women and children are being killed on a daily basis? We waged war on a country that may or may not be connected to the terrorists who supposedly started this whole mess...do we care about the Iraqi soldiers who our soldiers are no doubt killing and torturing? What about the American male soldiers? Where's their movie? How many Pulitzer prize winning authors were clamoring to write the tales of Vietnam vets?

    I watched Chris Rock's "Head of State" over the weekend and while I found it pretty buffoonish, there was this one funny line they kept repeating. At the end of every speech, the vice president who ran against Chris Rock's character would state, "God bless America...and no place else."

    It was quite comical and obviously a slap at our "patriotic" statement of "God bless America." As though no place else deserves to be blessed. As though the American people are the only people who matter in the world. As though only perky American women have a story worth telling or are worthy of our empathy.

    I listened to the words of Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, the Iraqi attorney who notified the U.S. military about Jessica's presence in the hospital, and once again I found myself being a bit skeptical. According to our government, Iraqi women are treated atrociously. Yet it was American Jessica's plight that, in his own words, "changed his life"?? Whatever.

    I think this man saw and seized an opportunity and I think the U.S. saw and seized an opportunity to make some money off of American citizens in the form of advertising and book sales. I don't begrudge Mohammed for doing what was best to create an opportunity for his family. But shame on the U.S. military and TV execs who exploited this situation. "Jessica shot until she ran out of bullets." "Jessica's gun was jammed, she says she could not defend herself." "Jessica was slapped." "Jessica says she was so not slapped."

    I in no way mean to be insensitive to American troops; I mean to be insensitive to hypocrisy. I'm also insensitive to being set up.

    'All America' is not "waiting" for the next good, real life war story to be turned into a TV show. The majority of Americans are waiting for the war stories to end. This war is going to cost more lives and more money than anybody can afford. All the good ol' fashioned patriotic propaganda movies in the world can't slap a perky picture on that.

    The full version of this article can be found at The Somewhat Heroic Adventures of SWEET.

    Belly Busting

    This story caught my eye because just two days ago, Spousal Unit and I were walking around at the local shopping mall when we happened upon a small kiosk offering belly-dancing accoutrements for sale. It was wonderful: There were sheer scarves that felt so soft to the touch, a collection of instructional videos (which I want for my upcoming birthday), even those marvelous brass finger cymbals known as zils or zagat. SU made a comment about how cool it would be to sit in an Egyptian or Moroccan club to watch a bevy of gorgeous exotic women twirling around. I had to agree wholeheartedly.

    Well, if we ever get to Egypt, it appears we may be limited to gawking at local talent. The Associated Press reports that the Egyptian government has banned all foreign belly dancers.
    The government says it wants to protect homegrown practitioners of the seductive Middle Eastern dance form and is no longer granting new work permits to foreign dancers or renewing existing ones.

    The victims, who include Europeans and Americans, say it's unfair and illogical, and they are backed by one of the Arab world's most respected dancers, Nagwa Fouad, who is urging the government to reverse its ban.

    "There is not enough Egyptian talent, so obviously people need foreigners," says Palestinian-born Fouad, who retired from dancing in 1997 after a career of four decades.

    "There has always been a mix of Egyptian and foreign belly dancers here. Why should this change?"
    What makes the move particularly curious is the fact that Egyptian society is growing less comfortable with the idea of scantily dressed Muslim women gyrating in public. That being the case, it does not make sense to boot willing non-Muslim performers.

    But government officials say morality is not the issue. "Belly dancing is an Egyptian thing and is not a hard job," Nawal al-Naggar of the Ministry of Labor and Immigration told AP. "It is not hard to find belly dancers from Egypt. There are too many foreign belly dancers in Egypt working at nightclubs."

    Hassan Akef, a leading dancers' agent, agrees. A supporter of the ban, Akef says the job market has been flooded with foreign performers, who mostly hail from Russia and the Ukraine. "They don't give the Egyptians any chance," he said.

    Some foreign performers are fighting back. Two belly dancers, one from Russia and one from Australia, are taking the matter to court -- according to them, the new prohibition is unfair. And a French performer has asked her government to try and convince Egypt to reconsider.

    from all facts and opinions

    Thursday, November 06, 2003

    Are we not pus-- oops!-- women?

    There's weird and there's weird. Ms. Lauren at Feministe turned me on this bit of weirdness, courtesy of weirdo Kim du Toit.


    The Pussification of the Western Male


    Now, little boys in grade school are suspended for playing cowboys and Indians, cops and crooks, and all the other familiar variations of "good guy vs. bad guy" that helped them learn, at an early age, what it was like to have decent men hunt you down, because you were a lawbreaker.



    Now, men are taught that violence is bad -- that when a thief breaks into your house, or threatens you in the street, that the proper way to deal with this is to "give him what he wants", instead of taking a horsewhip to the rascal or shooting him dead where he stands.


    Now, men's fashion includes not a man dressed in a three-piece suit, but a tight sweater worn by a man with breasts .


    Now, warning labels are indelibly etched into gun barrels, as though men have somehow forgotten that guns are dangerous things.


    Now, men are given Ritalin as little boys, so that their natural aggressiveness, curiosity and restlessness can be controlled, instead of nurtured and directed.


    And finally, our President, who happens to have been a qualified fighter pilot, lands on an aircraft carrier wearing a flight suit, and is immediately dismissed with words like "swaggering", "macho" and the favorite epithet of Euro girly-men, "cowboy". Of course he was bound to get that reaction -- and most especially from the Press in Europe, because the process of male pussification Over There is almost complete.


    How did we get to this?



    The idea is not as new as he likely thinks it is. Far Right pundits, including gun research fraud John Lott, have been making the argument that troublesome women (along with uppity Negroes, of course) have been the ruination of America for quite a while.



    You can read the rest of du Toit's Ode to Retrograde Masculinity here.




    Note: This entry is an excerpt from Silver Rights.

    Harmonic Concordance

    In 1987 the Earth saw the first astrology-based global celebration of our era, the Harmonic Convergence. In two days we will have the chance to be a part of another landmark cosmic event, the Harmonic Concordance. "Harmonic convergence" describes the coming together of a group of energies to create a common tone. The term "Harmonic concordance" describes a group of energies in unison and resonance with a common tone.

    Potential For Healing: According to astrologer Karen Steen, "Certainly, the chart indicates an opportunity to integrate greater emotional, spiritual, and ecological awareness into our personal lives and political and economic structures – if only that we all tune in together to such shared thoughts and feelings....

    An expanded awareness now, as indicated by the Concordance chart, can assure real progress in our individual endeavors and progressive options for addressing global crises...."

    What should you do?: Join together on that day with others in your community to focus on what you want more of in the world. Meditations visualizing a peaceful world, prayers of affirmation regarding harmony and global prosperity, and other such celebrations of the positive will have a far reaching effect. Remember, spirit work done alone makes a difference but that effect is multiplied (not added) when you join with others to do it, so organize a meditative get together with a friend or two or find a community gathering in your area. Spread the light and share the love.

    On November 8-9, release what you no longer need with the total lunar eclipse, and open to the global energies of the Concordance. Finally, with the total solar eclipse of November 23, ground your expanded awareness and creative capacity, and begin anew to implement your intentions and plans."

    -- Excerpted from full article at http://www.blisstherapy.com/news.html

    POLITICAL LEANINGS?

    Utne Magazine reminds us that the reality of today's political landscape is a bit more complex than the labels "right" or "left" and that political identities like "green," "communitarian," and "populist" don't easily fit the traditional left-right dichotomy.

    So if you're as lost as I am, these quick quizzes may sort through your "real" political orientation, or if give you something to just want to waste your bosses time.

    PoliticalCompass.org

    AmericanChoices.org

    Wednesday, November 05, 2003

    Fear Factor

    As I walked to my office yesterday, I wondered, "Where the heck is this neo-conservative movement coming from?" Later that afternoon Talk of the Nation aired Building a Library of Democracy. Orlando Patterson, a Harvard professor and author of Freedom and the Making of Western Culture (1991 National Book Award winner) recommended Democracy Ancient and Modern, by Moses Finley. Finley believes that democracy, both in Ancient Greece and early Virginia, arose out of a perceived need for "exclusive inclusiveness." In both societies, the free white males needed to structure to ensure solidarity against a potential threat - then, vast numbers of non-Greek slaves within the demographic; in Virginia, the unfree black and a slightly more vocal female living alongside as well.

    Is the neo-con movement another stab at exclusive inclusiveness?

    This is not my area, but I was wondering if anyone had the time, connections, interest, or background to look into this.? If we can identify the root, maybe it will be easier to challenge.

    Sunday, November 02, 2003

    The More Things Change...

    If you haven't been keeping tabs, there has been a controversial tiff surrounding Condaleeza Rice and a cute little comic strip called "Boondocks."

    Boondocks, a very popular, very cool Black, comic strip with militant overtones, kicked off the drama when the main character stated that Condeleeza Rice might not be so intent on destroying the world if she had a man. Ever since then, the character has been devoted to finding the perfect mate for this "weapon of mass seduction."

    Oh Boy. Now don't get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for the strip's creator, Aaron McGruder, and I really wouldn't care so much about the comment...if it just weren't so darn take-me-back-to-the-1950s-= chauvinistic.

    First of all, those types of comments are demeaning. Haven't we gotten past the whole idea that a woman's value is determined by the size of her...man? The answer is "No." Men are forever making lame comments like, "Someone needs to give her some" in response to some woman who just didn't feel like putting up with their B.S. that day.

    Women are just as guilty. I was at a party once attended by a few women who were there with their men. They weren't just with them...they were glued to them. You know, the type of women who wouldn't be caught dead without a man. When I and my dateless self went up to greet these women they all instinctively gripped the arms of their men like I was going to grab one of them and run like the wind.

    I could care less if Condaleeza Rice has a man, wants a man or really is a man in drag. But I do think if she had one, the press would be so heavily involved in her relationship that it just wouldn't work.

    Second of all, how easy can it be to find a man when you are one of the most powerful women in the world? You have men who can't even handle a woman making a few thousand dollars a year more than they make. This woman is a top adviser to the most powerful man in the world. It's probably kind of hard to "push up" to a woman like that.

    Third of all, if she was public about her relationship the media would spend all their time talking about whether or not she was going to get married and when she was going to have a baby. Society has a tendency to place women in one of four roles: wife, mother, fashion maven, sex object. Sooner or later, all public female figures get dragged, kicking and screaming, into one of these categories.

    I'm sure Jackie Kennedy only wanted to be remembered for wearing nice dresses. I mean really, did this woman ever say anything? You wouldn't think so the way folks obsess about her style.

    Condaleeza needs to be taken seriously for as long as this farce will hold up. Mark my words, the minute she goes public with a relationship people are going to be like--"Did you see what she wore when she was at that benefit with her man?"

    http://sweetcity.blogspot.com.

    Blogging for a Cure I

    This marks the first of my November Blogging for a Cure postings. Throughout this month, I will attempt to post two or three times a week on the subject of diabetes. As will many Internet scribes: Blogcritics, Blogger, and individual writers throughout cyberspace will devote time and effort to spread the word about this insidious killer and about the work of the American Diabetes Association. The idea: to let people know the facts about diabetes, to encourage people to get tested and to monitor their disease, and to urge everyone to help involved in the effort to find a cure.

    The issue is a personal one for me. My father, who died in September, had diabetes, and the disease played a contributory role to his death. My maternal grandmother is one of the 16 million Americans fighting the disease. So am I; dealing with this chronic illness is a constant struggle. And I have two children: My constant prayer is that they will be spared, but genetics puts them at a disadvantage. My responsibility, therefore, is to help them make positive health decisions that may protect them from ending up like their mother.

    The kids are my number-one concern, of course, and recent news shows that this worry is justified. When we think of children, we tend to think of Type I diabetes, which is known as "juvenile diabetes." This develops when the body's immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells, the only cells in the body that make the hormone insulin, which regulates blood glucose. This form of diabetes usually strikes children and young adults, who need several insulin injections a day or an insulin pump to survive. But the American Diabetes Association reports that up to 45 percent of kids newly diagnosed with have Type II, and young girls are more at risk than young boys.

    Type II diabetes usually begins as insulin resistance, a disorder called "borderline diabetes," in which a person's cells do not use insulin properly. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it. This form of the disease is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and physical inactivity. Doctors say some people classified as African-American, Latino-American, Native-American, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk. And increasingly, children who are overweight and lead sedentary lives -- perhaps because they spend too much time in front of video games and computer screens -- are at risk too.

    Diabetes educator Lynn Baillif, M.S., R.D, operates Fit Kids, a program that teaches at-risk children healthy eating and exercise habits. She tells Medstar.com, "The best thing that we can tell parents is to get your kids to be more active and help them to pick healthier foods."

    Here is where the difference between the two types of diabetes comes to the fore: In Type I or "juvenile" diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. In Type II, it can, but can't process it properly. While there is no cure for diabetes, recent studies suggest that body fat interferes with the ability for cells to use insulin correctly. Meaning, reducing body fat can improve a Type II diabetic's health.

    As more and more children are diagnosed with the "adult" version of the disease, it becomes increasingly important to urge parents and schools to serve healthier foods, to teach children to make wise dietary choices, and to promote the importance of fitness and exercise inside and outside of phys-ed classes.

    Parents and guardians can help kids by presenting a good example: Whether you have diabetes or not, make sure your kids see you eating a balanced, low-fat diet. And drag your children away from sedentary activities -- get them involved in sports leagues or dance classes. Better yet, join them for a walk or run occasionally, take them swimming, and play physical sports with them. With luck and consistency, this can provide all kinds of benefits both for the children's physical and emotional well-being -- and for yours.

    For information on what you can do to live a healthier life and to help spread diabetes awareness, visit the American Diabetes Association Web site. And become a Diabetes Advocate -- get involved in the cause.

    from all facts and opinions

    Hairy Women

    That was the title of a show I watched last night on channel nine, staying up way past my bedtime because I was so curious after seeing the promos. It was a documentary-style look about the cultural perceptions of women and their body hair. It looked at all types of situations: women who went to great lengths (and expense) to remove hair from all over their bodies (except for eyebrows and scalp), men who were obsessed with dark thick body hair on women (one somewhat humorous segment involved a man who was searching for his perfect "hirstute" bride-to-be in Europe, disappointed to find that they all pretty much shaved, tweezed, plucked and waxed as frequently as most American women). They introduced a woman whose high testosterone level caused her to grow a small but noticeable moustache and beard. She had spent most of her life shaving the hair off, but consciously made the decision to grow it out and "be herself," because she wanted to see how she'd be treated.

    The show was good in the sense that it got me to thinking about my own notions of beauty and body hair and cultural convention. I have quite dark hair, and have always been a bit on the hairy side. I remember sometime around 6th or 7th grade, sitting on the bus, quietly minding my own business when a boy began to taunt me about having "gorilla arms." I remember when I first started to hit puberty and my mom lectured me about the faintly noticeable hair on my upper lip, that I needed to start bleaching it. I remember how much that bothered me, because in so many other ways my parents encouraged me to just be who I was. Wasn't that hair on my lip just part of me, my body, who I was?

    I've shaved, tweezed, plucked, waxed, and done the whole routine. I put up with shaving my underarms and legs because I like the feeling of smooth skin there-- no other reason, particularly, and I often let my leg hair grow long in the winter when I keep my legs covered up anyway. I tweeze away my unibrow. But I think of one of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo, and how she exaggerated her own facial hair in her self portraits. She identified her body hair as a part of who she was, and unashamedly, or maybe defiantly? portrayed it. I'll have to think more about it. Why has body hair on women become so taboo?