Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Ray Bradbury vs. Michael Moore

So Ray Bradbury is pissed off that Michael Moore named his latest film "Fahrenheit 9/11" .
"It's not a nice thing he has done," Bradbury said in an interview with
AFP. "My book is known all over the world and that title is my title. He just
took it without my permission and changed the number."
"I'd like him to give my title back, just hand it back to me and apologise.
The film should be called Michael Moore 9/11 -- it's his film not mine," he said.

As if you'd never heard of him, Ray Bradbury is a guy who wrote some memorable fiction in
his day, including "Fahrenheit 451", "The Martian Chronicles", "The Illustrated Man", and "Something Wicked This Way Comes".
That last title is a direct quote from Shakespeare, by the way:

"By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes."
--From Macbeth (IV, i, 44-45)

Bradbury is now 83 years old and a little shaky since suffering a stroke in 1999, but he's still quite capable of chewing up the scenery and thrashing all comers as a guest speaker/lecturer.

I saw him at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference in 1999 and again in 2001. He has been the keynote speaker for the conference since it was founded 30 odd years ago. The 2004 SBWC is actually going on now, as I post this; it's always held during the last week in June.

Many SBWC students are repeat attendees; some have been going to the SBWC every year for 15, 20 years or more, and a lot of people in the audience for Bradbury's keynote address the years I was there had heard this same speech so often, they knew large chunks of it by heart. At times Bradbury would lose his place in his notes, and ask the audience what came next.
People shouted out:

"The living-your-dreams stuff!" or "Now comes the part about never taking crap from editors!"

Bursts of affectionate laughter filled the room. Bradbury truly relishes his current role as Living Legend and Elder Crankpot, and he plays it to the hilt 24/7. And good for him, I say.

The joys of being curmudgeonly aside, why is he so angry about Michael Moore naming his film "Fahrenheit 9/11"? Apparently it's not about Moore's
political stance. Rather, it's that Bradbury believes he owns the arrangement of the name "Fahrenheit" followed by three numbers, and because he owns it, everyone else needs to ask his permission to use it. Opinions, please?
Some say Bradbury's got a weak argument.

Others say pretty much the same thing.
Still others, this time from amongst the fen ranks [of whom you'd expect hardcore sycophancy] are saying that Ray is just being an old fart about this.

In fact, I'm not finding any sources anywhere that are taking Bradbury's side, except for those who feel outraged by a perceived slight to their object of worship, the Divine Ray. These are the commenters that usually start out:
Why, that lousy stinking 400 lb. pile of steaming poop! He isn't worthy to kiss even the hangnail on Bradbury's littlest toe!. Blah blah rant rage apoplectic fit.

Now, really. Should author Bill Flanagan have begged permission from James Fenimore Cooper before he titled his most excellent book about the Three Stooges Last Of The Moe Haircuts?

No! Of course not. Not even if Cooper hasn't been dead for the past 150 years.

Finally, isn't it convenient that a new edition of "Fahrenheit 451" comes out in a few short weeks?

Bradbury's book was made into a 1966 movie directed by Francois Truffaut. A new edition of the book is scheduled for release in eight weeks, Bradbury said, and plans are in the works for a new film version, to be directed by Frank Darabont.


The most palpable outcome of this little snit fit is bound to be renewed interest in Bradbury's classic novel, and that's bound to make the old fart happy.

Rave on, Ray. Long may you rant. Now tell us the living-your-dreams part again!

Cross posted at Tild~

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Don't Know Much About History

The United States invaded a distant country to share the blessings of democracy. But after being welcomed as liberators, U.S. troops encountered a bloody insurrection. Sound familiar? Don’t think Iraq—think the Philippines and Mexico decades ago. U.S. President George W. Bush and his advisors have embarked on a historic mission to change the world. Too bad they ignored the lessons of history.

The July/August issue of Foreign Policy features an excerpt from John Judis' new book, Folly of Empire: What George W. Bush Could Learn from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. In it, Judis examines our failed attempts at exporting democracy to the Philippines:
... “America is proud of its part in the great story of the Filipino people,” said Bush [at a speech delivered in October 2003]. “Together our soldiers liberated the Philippines from colonial rule.” He drew an analogy between the United States' attempt to create democracy in the Philippines and its effort to create a democratic Middle East through the invasion and occupation of Iraq. “Democracy always has skeptics,” the president said. “Some say the culture of the Middle East will not sustain the institutions of democracy. The same doubts were once expressed about the culture of Asia. These doubts were proven wrong nearly six decades ago, when the Republic of the Philippines became the first democratic nation in Asia.”

As many Philippine commentators remarked afterward, Bush's rendition of Philippine-American history bore little relation to fact. True, the U.S. Navy ousted Spain from the Philippines in the Spanish-American War of 1898. But instead of creating a Philippine democracy, the McKinley administration, its confidence inflated by victory in that “splendid little war,” annexed the country and installed a colonial administrator. The United States then waged a brutal war against the same Philippine independence movement it encouraged to fight against Spain. The war dragged on for 14 years. Before it ended, about 120,000 U.S. troops were deployed, more than 4,000 were killed, and more than 200,000 Filipino civilians and soldiers were killed. Resentment lingered a century later during Bush's visit.

As for the Philippines' democracy, the United States can take little credit for what exists and some blame for what doesn't. The electoral machinery the United States designed in 1946 provided a democratic veneer beneath which a handful of families, allied to U.S. investors—and addicted to kickbacks—controlled the Philippine land, economy, and society. The tenuous system broke down in 1973 when Philippine politician Ferdinand Marcos had himself declared president for life. Marcos was finally overthrown in 1986, but even today Philippine democracy remains more dream than reality. Three months before Bush's visit, a group of soldiers staged a mutiny that raised fears of a military coup. With Islamic radicals and communists roaming the countryside, the Philippines is perhaps the least stable of Asian nations. If the analogy between the United States' “liberation” of the Philippines and of Iraq holds true, it will not be to the credit of the Bush administration, but to the skeptics who charged that the White House undertook the invasion of Baghdad with its eyes wide shut.

In a related post, the gals at XX gave us another example of our failure to export democracy last week (read the whole post):
If we couldn’t export democratic values and civil rights to the Russian people, a people with values much closer to our own, how in the hell are we going to ram it down the throats of Iraqis?

Good question. One wonders why our schools and universities teach history at all.

You may also find this post here

Monday, June 28, 2004

And the Winner is...

Last week, in order to help President Bush with his Rename the Food Stamps Program project, I held a contest. The results are here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Rename The Food Stamps Program Contest

I was amused to learn about a new Bush administration goal: It wants to change the name of the Food Stamps Program (since it no longer uses stamps) and is soliciting suggestions from the public. I've taken a personal interest in this. Why? Because many years ago, in order to subsidize my symphony orchestra oboist habit, I worked for the Nassau County, New York Food Stamps Department.

Needless to say, I couldn't resist the challenge, and the new name I've come up with is "Leave No Stomach Behind."

But I think it's important to give Dubya a wide selection of creative names. So, as a public service, I challenge my readers to come up with some good names and post them in my comments. If I get suggestions from ten or more people, I'll even award a prize -- $10 in PayPal cash.

So please post your name suggestions in the comments section of this Rename The Food Stamps Program Contest post.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Nose in the Air (Or Rather, T-Shirt)

A recent paper in Behavioral Ecology suggests that human males do not solely use visual cues to determine if a female within their radar is "sexy." Okay, so this may fall into the range of "Well, duh!" but then again, the implied question of whether or not particular deviances (i.e. panty sniffing) are learned or just an exaggeration of something innate should cause certain people pause--because what exactly is normal?

Instead of going into philosophical discussions of normality that I am neither qualified nor particularly interested in rambling about, I will say a little more about the study. Kuukasjarvi et al. wanted to challenge the assumption that men are absolutely clueless about when a woman is fertile during her mentrual cycle. In many primate species, females advertise their stage in ovulation by visual cues. For humans, this is concealed, leading to the hypothesis that if this was an adaptation in the female, then perhaps males counter-adapted by evolving ways to detect olfactory cues. In other words, ancient man developed the ability to sniff out the women who were at their peak fertility phase.

In the experiment, the researchers had women in varying phases of their menstrual cycle as well as about half that were on oral contraceptives and half that were not, wear a T-shirt for two consecutive nights. Then the researchers had both men and women rate the T-shirts' odors for attractiveness. After putting the data through the statistical wringer, the study indicated that male raters preferred the odors of women near ovulatory phase in their mentrual cycles. This only applied to the T-shirts where the women were not on contraceptives. Apparently the pill affects hormone levels and eliminates the "attractive odors."

So what are these odors and what exactly do they do? This study doesn't address that question specifically, but there are several possibilities. Odors from the human body can be affected by hormone levels. Steroid hormones are secreted through sweat glands. When these steroid hormones come in contact with bacteria on the skin, the bacteria convert them into odorous compounds. Another possibility is that the T-shirt sniffers weren't rating the odors per se, instead they could have been detecting pheromones via the vomeronasal organ (VNO). (Then, there are other people who argue that the VNO is vestigial and probably as useless as a sixth finger.) A third possibility is that body odor is affected by a person's major histocompatibility complex (MHC) type. MHC is involved in immunity and some hypothesize that people seek out mates with a different MHC type to prevent inbreeding.

Of course, this doesn't say anything about some women's penchant for overwhelming amounts of perfume.

Other Smelly T-shirt Studies:
Singh and Bronstad, 2001. (ABCNEWS summary)
Wedekind et al., 1995; Wedekind and Furi, 1997. (New Scientist overview)

(Cross-posted at Syaffolee.)

Sunday, June 20, 2004

It's a man's afterlife in Senegal

Attention all wives! Better keep your husband happy or you won't go to heaven.

In the Casamance region of southern Senegal this concept is part of the people's religious life. Do you need more proof that religion is not given to humans by a deity of any kind, but rather cobbled up by humans themselves? In many cases, by male humans --- more specifically, by male humans who need to control female humans. Why else would the subordination of females be so often a part of immutable "sacred doctrine"?

To which the holy men respond:
Oh, we don't make the religious laws. No, no, those laws have been given to us. Those laws have been handed down to us by God Himself!

Uh huh.

Crossposted at Tild~

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Organizing for Political Change?

League of Pissed Off Voters
It's not enough to be pissed off - if we want to make a difference, we need to be informed, in touch, and empowered. No one is going to do it for us.
How to Get Stupid White Men Out Of Office

A book (Softskull Press; March 2004;) that documents 20 success stories from the past five years of young people who have swung or won elections –from city council to the US Senate- in 16 states, South Korea, and on the Internet. With an 80+ city tour focused on key swing states, the 12 co-authors and The League of Pissed Off Voters have built online and offline political tools designed to capture the imagination of young non-voters just in time for the November 2004 elections.

Call or write Naina Khanna, Program Director, League of Pissed Off Voters with any questions.

League of PISSED OFF Voters
226 W. 135th St, 4th floor
New York, NY 10030
naina@indyvoter.org 212.283.8879

Friday, June 18, 2004

My mother...

My mother passed away 10 days ago... It was sudden, but yet expected, if that makes sense. I'd like to know if there's anyone out there who has a group that I could join, possibly, or people to talk to, who have lost a parent. She was only 54... we had an incredible bond.

I'd appreciate any help with this... truly.

Heather

When should you get a Mammogram?

Thanks for the question Vikki. The first mammogram should be done in your mid to late 30's. Once you hit 40 at least every other year, however I prefer every year. When you turn 50 the mammograms need to be done at least once a year. The key to beating breast cancer is early detection. The earlier we catch breast cancer the better the chances of your recovery.

Anybody feel free to ask questions or comment.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Why is everyone blaming President Bush?

All President Bush had done is clean up the messes left by the last two Presidents. If Daddy Bush had finished what he started in late 1990, we might not be in Iraq now. If Clinton had been paying attention to his security advisors instead of getting a blow job in the Oval office the terrorists attacks on 9-11 may not have happened. Clinton's administration knew it was Osama Bin Laden that was responsible for the suicide attack on one of our Navy ships in 2000 and they didn't do anything.

Speaking of 9-11; does anybody remember how it felt to be attacked? Does anybody remember the images as they unfolded on the television? Does anyone remember the towers collapsing? Does anyone remember the 3000 plus lives that we lost? How about the families that lost loved ones and how their lives have been torn apart. Some families didn't even get remains to bury because there was nothing left of the victims. Where's the closure for them?

What did we do to provoke the attack on 9-11? NOTHING! Are innocent Iraqi citizens getting hurt and killed? Yes. Were the victims of 9-11 any less innocent? NO! I fully believe that Sadam Hussein had a part in planning the attack. Are there Weapons of Mass destruction? They are actually starting to find some. Even if there weren't, I still believe and stand behind President Bush.

Being a former member of the Army, let me say this for our soldiers; We are proud to be Americans. Nobody forced us to sign on the dotted line. None of our soldiers were drafted.

What to wear for a Mammogram

Ladies, please wear a two piece outfit to a mammogram appointment. At my clinic I have mammo capes that I have my patients change into. These capes are truly one size fits all, and I get some pretty big women. When my patients wear a one piece outfit such as a dress I have to have them change into the gown. Are any of you familiar with hospital gowns? They don't cover much.

Another pet peeve of mine is when a patient changes in front of me. I know I'm going to see her breasts anyway, but I just prefer that my patients not strip in front of me.

Generation Double-X'ers

Check out the new blog XX - always great to see more kick-ass group blogs by women! Gals, don't forget to let Ms. Musings know about you!

And speaking of Ms. Musings, via Christine I note that Y: The Last Man (art by Pia Guerra, writing by Brian Vaughan) is getting lots of mainstream publicity of late. If you're a member of Friends of Lulu, you should know that Pia is nominated for a Kim Yale Award for Best New Female Talent; don't forget to vote!

Dubya Seeks Some Help From His Pope

As Pen-Elayne points out, religion's been in the news lately. Not only do you have your basic Baptist secession, but you have Bush seeking political favors from the Vatican. The latter inspired this poem:

Dubya's Plea
By Madeleine Begun Kane
Our Bishops need to do much more
To safeguard all that's good,
Said Dubya to the Pope when Dub
Was in the neighborhood.

The rest of Dubya's Plea is here and here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Back off, copper! I’ve got a volume of Dostoevsky here and I know how to read it!

This just in, via email from my friend Jackie:

A couple goes on vacation to a fishing resort in northern Minnesota. The husband likes to fish at the crack of dawn. The wife likes to read. One morning, the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and continues to read her book. Along comes a game warden in his boat.
He pulls up alongside the woman and says,
"Good morning Ma'am. What are you doing?"
"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking, "Isn't that obvious?")
"You're in a restricted fishing area," he informs her.
"I'm sorry officer, but I'm not fishing, I'm reading."
"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."
"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.
"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden.
"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."
"Have a nice day ma'am," he says, and leaves.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Crossposted at Tild~.
Urgh. Many thing and many non-things have happened, and it’s time to start documenting them. Yeah, I’ve been lame at updating – again – sorry about that. :)

Let’s see, what’s been going on? Well, I took Thena to get spayed on Friday morning. I caught a cab out to the pet hospital, dropped her off, then slowly wandered back towards my apartment, alternately not thinking about everything and feeling somewhat teary about the whole event. Logically, I knew she’d be fine, I knew it was a routine procedure, I knew I knew I knew... but she’s the first warm, demanding little body that I’ve had that’s utterly dependent on no one but me, and I couldn’t help but think that something would go wrong as a result.

So I wandered back slowly, not in any big rush and enjoying the morning. I stopped in at a diner for some breakfast, then kept wandering back towards Chapters. I spent a bit of time in there, trying to find *something* that I really wanted (I picked up a few books, but nothing I was dying to buy), before heading over for my hair appointment. Got my hair all dyed crazy-like, then it was time to grab some lunch.

This whole time I was trying to avoid going to my apartment, partly because I felt like if I was there I should be cleaning it or something. However, in my travels, while I was thinking of what I wanted to be next doing, I kept thinking, ‘I could go back to my apartment and hang out with my kitten!’ before realizing that I couldn’t do that, my kitten was presently having her little girl parts removed and being microchipped.

So I got to the mall and gave Ben a call, but he’d already had lunch (since it was 1:30 at this point, I wasn’t terribly surprised). Instead, I ran into Gord and his friend Eric, and I persuaded them to hit up a nearby Chinese food place that had always struck me as sketchy, but had received the Ben seal of approval. We chatted while I ate, then it was time to drop in on Ben and give him my leftovers. :) The bunch of us wound up at a nearby Starbucks, and I booked it to go and get my kitten from the pet hospital – they’d called while my hair was getting finished up and told me she’d been a darling for them and was recovering nicely. Damn cat, being selectively well-behaved.

When the tech told me about after-care and so on, she said that Thena was feeling the effects of the various painkillers and so on and was “a little upset with them trying to take the IV out.” Now, having worked at an animal hospital myself and briefed many an owner on taking their post-surgery/post-procedure pets home, I knew how to parse this sentence. It translates to something as, “Thena’s tried to chew someone’s face off while we were trying to perform (action).” It made me giggle a little bit, I must confess.

Anyhow, I got to pick up my drug-eyed kitten, and back to my apartment I went. I was impressed at how quickly she’d shaken off the effects of the anaesthetics. About an hour after I’d gotten her home, her eyes were clear and while her back end was still a little wobbly, she was trying to play and she was jumping up into the window constantly, trying to see what’s going on outside. When I’m home, I open the window for her, and she likes it.

I laid down on the couch and was trying to convince her to nap with me, but I guess she’d spent the day napping and was done with it. I passed out in two- to five-minute increments, waking up every time I heard her do something new. D called around 5, saying he’d be over shortly, which wound up being about a half-hour later. After some negotiation with Gord, Shawn, and Ben, we were going to go see Harry Potter 3 (my and D’s second time), but that fell through. Instead, D and I wound up going over to see Stepford Wives.

Now... my thoughts on that movie are going to have to wait, ‘cause I’m not sure how to really categorize what I thought of it. Overall, I thought it was decent, there were a few twists in there that kept it interesting, but in the end, the message in it was somewhat unsettling. It led to a good hour-long discussion between D and I on the subject, on gender roles, on sociological roles of men and women and so on, and that was kinda cool. I don’t know if Frank Oz’s goal was to have people thinking when they left it (which sounds bad, but it’s the best way I can think of to phrase it at the moment), but I did appreciate it for that.

After D left I mucked about on the computer for awhile, chatting with a few people, before going to bed around 12:30. I was pretty zonked from two early mornings in a row (I’ll rant about my work retreat another time). At some point in the morning I had felt Thena crawl under the covers to curl up by my outer thigh, and when I woke up that morning, she crawled up me in increments, purring furiously and staring at me the whole time. It’s times like those that I really appreciate her – black button eyes fixated on my face while she rumbles and cuddles against me. She might lick me or put her nose against mine for a kiss, but mostly she just looks content and I feel good about how I care for her.

I checked the time and was a little surprised to find that it was 10 in the morning – typically weekends involve Thena bouncing on me and maybe biting me anywhere between 7 and 8:30 – but either she’d taken pity on me (doubtful) or she was pretty exhausted herself and needed the extra rest. Once she got a bit nippy, I got up and started getting ready for the day.

My Saturday was quiet in a sense... I had coffee with someone and we wandered around a fair bit (another gorgeous day) before I headed off to my parents’ place for a big dinner. We had a few guests over, including most of our friends from Dartmouth and a neighbour, and Dad made a full turkey spread and so on. Good food. The night stretched semi-late, and Dad drove us all back downtown, stopping in for another minute to give Thena a little pat. Dad’s seen her twice since I’ve had her now, Mom’s only seen her the day I got her. Weird to think that.

Sunday I got up a bit early and got my groceries, then just hung around the apartment with the kitten. She spent a fair bit of time just sleeping places, and slept on my bed while I used the computer. I actually got up and curled up near her on the bed and dozed lightly for a little bit myself, before going off to work.

Since then... not too much this week. My legs are dead once more, but such appears to be my lot in life now – to always be in pain. :) Tonight my trainer asked if we could reschedule to Saturday, so I have my evening free to go have Pho with Ben, Mark and whoever else is going to be along. Yup, Mark’s in town for about a week and a half before he heads back out, so it’ll be nice to see him again and see if he’s changed drastically. :)

So, before I forget (and to reward those of you who’ve made it this far), I’ve managed to bully my photos into working. It’s not a perfect system, but it works, and you can find the gallery of photos with some brief explanations up. This includes photos of the water damage in my apartment (though not truly conveying the grossness of the squishy carpet I had to live with for so long), the day Thena unravelled a near-full roll of toilet paper on me (okay, one of the times it happened), and the new hair (minus the colour). Enjoy. :)

Happy Bloomsday!

"Ulysses ... is a dogged attempt to cover the universe with mud, an inverted Victorianism, an attempt to make crossness and dirt succeed where sweetness and light failed, a simplification of the human character in the interests of Hell," proclaimed author E.M. Forster.

Today, as you may know, is the 100th Centenary of Bloomsday.

For millions of people, June 16 is an extraordinary day. On that day in 1904, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom each took their epic journeys through Dublin in James Joyce's Ulysses, the world's most highly acclaimed modern novel. “Bloomsday”, as it is now known, has become a tradition for Joyce enthusiasts all over the world. From Tokyo to Sydney, San Francisco to Buffalo, Trieste to Paris, dozens of cities around the globe hold their own Bloomsday festivities. The celebrations usually include readings as well as staged re-enactments and street-side improvisations of scenes from the story. Nowhere is Bloomsday more rollicking and exuberant than Dublin, home of Molly and Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, Buck Mulligan, Gerty McDowell and James Joyce himself. Here, the art of Ulysses becomes the daily life of hundreds of Dubliners and the city’s visitors as they retrace the odyssey each year.


For those of you unfamiliar with the impact of Ulysses on modern English literature, be sure to check out the Guardian's Bloomsday Blog.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Dump Bush Song Parody

Here's my Dump Bush Song Parody, to be sung to "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush," It's perfect for Bush's next appearance in an elementary school classroom, don't you think?

Dump Bush Song
By Madeleine Begun Kane

We must defeat George W. Bush,
George W. Bush, George W. Bush.
We must defeat George W. Bush.
Vote Kerry this November.

Cheney and Bush are our nation's foes,
Our nation's foes, our nation's foes.
Cheney and Bush are our nation's foes.
Vote Kerry this November. ...

The rest of my Dump Bush Song Parody is here and also here.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Open Thread on Feminism

1. Define "feminism"

2. Was you mother a feminist?

3. Are you a feminist?

4. When did you come to that conclusion (#3) and what factors entered into your decision?

5. What are the top five women's issues that require immediate attention?

See how others answered and post your own answers here

Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Greatest Weapon Against Terrorism

I have an idea. Mind you, it's just an idea, but it just may work - if we work it.

I have an idea that the best way to fight terrorism - of which the desired outcome of said terrorists is fear itself - is simply not to be afraid.

And I don't mean ignore terrorism when it happens. I mean refuse to be frightened by what has not happened, to be cowed by what may happen, refuse to give up more and more of our personal freedoms as individuals in this country because there MAY be a terrorist attack someday, down the road. And if people (government, politicians and the media) are feeding on our insecurities, then who, indeed, are the real day-to-day terrorists'?

Because, if we start giving in to our fear now, when do we stop? When is it enough? To what point must we be 'protected' before we feel 'safe' and once we are 'safe' will we have anything resembling a true quality of life? I mean, a person encased in a tomb of solid lead is 'safe' - aren't they? Yet, can that person be truly said to be living a life of any kind - thus they would be already 'dead.'

Fear itself can and will run rampant if we let it. Right now I think that this country is on the verge of a national panic attack. I've seen people in the throes of panic attacks - it starts with an event, perhaps a small one, such as being bumped in a crowd at the mall. Then, somehow, the person's thoughts pinwheel out of control - 'What if that person had really hurt me? What if a bunch of people hurt me? What if I don't make it out of the mall alive? What if this is my last day on earth? What if... What if.... What if....' Pretty soon, before you know it, the person cannot catch their breath and they faint onto the floor. For what? They got bumped!

Granted, what happened on 9/11 was not a bump, it was a big, 'bad' boom. Yet it was not the end of us. We are still alive. It was a wake up call - there are other people in the world besides the United States and we need to address their grievances. But I think that declaring war against the supposed Terrorists which, we are led to believe are all 'over there' or in our country with fake ID's and have olive skin and then also giving over our own personal freedoms to the 'Homeland Security' division of our government is for the birds. Besides, who's to say that in some way the government wasn't COUNTING on the 9/11 events to scare us out of our wits so we would WILLINGLY give up our personal freedoms in the name of 'safety' and 'security' bit by bit until Big Brother is no longer a fiction but a living, breathing reality?

Many people in many countries in the world have already given up their personal freedoms for just this reason. The United States is supposed to be an exception. If she keeps going the way she is going, she is going to just be another also ran, different by name only.

Just about EVERY religious (and spiritual) text in the world contains the admonition, "Be not afraid." Go boldly into life. Make your plans as if you will live forever but live today as if it were your last. NONE of us have any guarantees about tomorrow. Nobody. But we do have choice. We can choose to live life to the fullest or to be intimidated by what may or might happen but which IS NOT actually happening at all, which is to live in F.E.A.R. - False Evidence Appearing Real. A life lived in fear is no life at all.

Personally, I would prefer a week of life lived to the fullest to ten years living in a self-made prison of fear. That is my choice to make. You have yours. We have ours to make, as a people - as a country. Our country was founded by fearless men and women. It has lasted this long because of the fearlessness of our people, and not just those sent to fight wars. It will not last much longer if we allow ourselves to be moved into fear EVERY SINGLE DAY by what MAY happen.

If you feel yourself being pushed into fear you can all ways PUSH BACK by loudly and proudly declaring what you choose OVER fear - anything, and everything that allows you to experience more life, not less. Then, you can repeat your conscious choices over and over again until the cloud passes. Then you can also choose to write your congressman or the media and ask them to KNOCK IT OFF!! Because, truly folks, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Choice is one of the greatest superpowers in the world, even over and above the United States. If we don't use it, we are going to lose it. Soon.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Alana, Who Are You?

I've been remiss in reading these posts. Alana, I would have left you a comment but by now you're several posts down, and I can't find you on the list to visit your website. Who are you?

Alana, sorry you're feeling so bad. Sorry I didn't read your post the day you posted it and respond right away with an attempt at a consoling note.

So here it is, belatedly: Be brave and hang in. Illness makes warriors of us all. You don't give details, so it's hard to say more. I hope you have good people in your life -- people who are there and supporting you right now when you need it most.

One Reason Red is my Favorite Color

When I was a little girl, my mother dated a man from Alabama who was a mean man. And I mean "mean" in almost all the ways the word can denote.
Selfish in a petty way; unkind.
Cruel, spiteful, or malicious.
Ignoble; base: a mean motive.
Miserly; stingy.
Low in quality or grade; inferior.
Low in value or amount; paltry: paid no mean amount for the new shoes.
Common or poor in appearance; shabby: "The rowhouses had been darkened by the rain and looked meaner and grimmer than ever" (Anne Tyler).
Low in social status; of humble origins.
Humiliated or ashamed.
In poor physical condition; sick or debilitated.
Extremely unpleasant or disagreeable: The meanest storm in years.
Informal. Ill-tempered. from dictionary.com
What he liked best of all was to keep my mother (and therefore, me) in his control. He would get petulantly angry and throw a mean assed fit which often included things being thrown down the stairs (a Thanksgiving turkey once, my sister's wedding cake another time). Things that especially made him mad were when my mother had control over herSELF-- if she got a job, for instance, he would start tons of fights until she quit from the sheer weariness over the battle. In fact, he is part of the reason I am a staunch feminist in life-- I know how vitally important it is for women to have control of their own destinies, because nasty little men like him exist in droves, and if women cannot choose their own way in life, their own education, their own jobs, their reproductive freedoms, they will be stuck with mean men like him.

But wait, what does this have to do with red?

I'm glad you asked. B. (I'll call him that just to be nice, which I am) used to say that women who wore "whore red" nail polish were, well, whores. And that, my friend, was the worst thing you could be in B's book. A woman who had the audacity to like red fingernails clearly must have been sexually promiscuous and nasty. No matter what other traits she might have. Heck, she might be saving orphans from a fire but if she had red fingernails while doing it, she was a whore and deserved to be smacked around.

Well. I love red. I have whore red fingernails RIGHT NOW and I adore the way my nails look, with slightly squared tips and this deep OPI "I'm Not Really a Waitress - NLH08 red" richness that screams "I AM IN CONTROL OF MY OWN DESTINY. MY OWN BODY. AND YOU, MEAN LITTLE MAN, ARE POINTLESS." (Also published at Kim Procrastinates)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

"Blonde Goes to Jail for Pictures of Moon" -- Film at 11

A couple of nights ago, I walked out my front door, telling my husband “I’m going to run down the road and take a few shots of the moon.” I got into my Cruiser, drove down Route 111, turned onto an access rode next to a subdivision, and began looking for the ‘perfect’ place to pull over for a picture of the moon. Unfortunately, one did not exist right off the bat, as I’d hoped.

A couple of blocks farther, one of the major refineries in this area, began. I promptly looked for any signs that might suggest my presence was unwelcome, yet none existed. Instead, the only sign I read said something to the effect of “Caution: Remote Control Locomotives cross here.” This is about the time I started seeing the golden hue of the moon poking through a few sparsely placed trees. My excitement grew, and I drove on. Suddenly a sign for a Dead End… Damn! I thought… but that is when I noticed a tiny clump of trees, and in between nestled the moon. Large, golden-reddish in hue, and absolutely BRILLIANT.

Maybe I should explain something, first. I’m on a quest for the perfect picture of the moon. Not one that other people take, but one that I take. I have NO idea what’s caused this need, but it’s there, thus I must quench my thirst for it by trying.

Anyway… I stop the car, listening to Hot Chocolate’s “Sexy Thing”, or whatever the title, and jump out with camera in hand. After only a few snaps of the camera, a white truck pulled up behind me flashing its bright lights. I waved the truck around, yet it just sat there, finally allowing the brights to stay fixed on me. Needless to say, I was scared shitless for I had no idea who this was, due to the person’s lack of introduction, jumped back into my car and turned around.

At this point, the person tried to block me from leaving. I assumed ‘it’ were a mugger or rapist. I shot around the truck through the grass even, and left. The truck then proceeded to turn around and speed up to me, of which, I hit the gas and took off like a bat out of hell. I called my girlfriend, told her what had happened, then pulled into my driveway… only to find two police officers standing on my sidewalk.

For more on this, go here.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

not well

i dreamed there was a war, and my grandfather was alive. it was uncomfortable. people were dying a lot.

i am so sick. i had a migraine last night and now, now i just feel like i want to sleep and vomit at the same time.

i hate chemo drugs.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Women and Blogging

Across the blogosphere, a debate about the role of women bloggers and the participation of women in "citizen politics" is raging. A number of A-list male bloggers are busy quoting studies done by other A-list male bloggers to make the argument that women don't play a very significant role. This self- referential "circle jerking" may be at the root of the "where are all the women?" problem, but that's another post.



One problem I see with these studies is that people who run them get to define the terminology (i.e. what is "political", what is "informed", what is "art", what is "important") and their subsequent measurements. Naturally, they define these things by their own standards, values and behaviors. This is not a problem specific to blogging, as anyone who has taken Women's Studies 101 can easily explain.



Another problem might be that the "surveyers" don't know the first thing about conducting market research and aren't getting an accurate measurement of what's really going on. I think the methodology used in the recent Blogads survey bears this out.



However, there is some good news (sorta) for women bloggers. What will eventually drive "professional" blogging is revenue, specifically advertising revenue. Most of the ads you see on the A-list sites are related to the upcoming elections. After November, that's all going away.



Big, mainstream advertisers target women, Latinos, and young people. They aren't interested in reaching middle-age white guys who sit around in their pajamas all day writing and reading blogs as these guys don't consume at the rate of other market segments. The big advertisers haven't found blogs yet, but they will if industry growth continues. Well, the A-list bloggers, by and large, don't reach these market segments (BTW: Why isn't anyone asking where the bloggers of color are?)



Given that, instead of criticizing the behavior of women, people of color, etc. on the web, people with aspirations for making a living at blogging might ask what they are doing wrong as they aren't attracting these audiences. I know one thing: You don't do this by claiming that they are "uninformed."



You can also find this post here.