Monday, March 31, 2003

War is Death

Here is what a few days of war do: Photographs of Iraqi casualties from al-Jazeera

It's really slow in loading, and often you will need to right click on an image, and then choose "show picture". Still, don't you think we owe it to at very least be a witness?

"Everybody forgets war is about killing and destroying," Mr. Rokke said. "You're physically changed forever, and you're psychologically changed forever. People think this is a computer game where you come back famous and wealthy. It's not about that. War is death.” From the New York Times

For more about this and other subjects from a female Muslim artist's point of view: A Portrait of the Artist as a Muslim Woman
Waging Peace In the Middle East by Hitting Them Where It Counts

"If those were my kids? I'd put 'em on a frickin'(sp) time-out and take away their frickin' allowance."

The Alaska Pipeline delivers approximately 1.2 million barrels of oil per day, which is roughly half of America's daily consumption.

The other half we buy from the Middle East, and much of that oil is coming from our long-time and current enemies, like Iraq. (But, in all honesty: do we ever really know who our enemies are?)

We are paying them good U.S. greenbacks, which they are turning around and using to fund bio-chemical research, pay for tanks, planes, guns, bullets, and all those other fun, pesky, weapons of mass destruction.

This means: if we can figure out simple ways to reduce our dependence on oil by half and implementing these techniques into our daily lives, we could conceivably, painlessly ---end our economic-based relationship with our enemies.

I decided to take action, starting today.

Here is my Top Ten list of ways our household is going to try and bankrupt the enemy:

1. Schedule errands, dr.'s visits, and shopping trips to town on the same day, using the same vehicle, only once a week. Remember mandatory mid-day pit stop to refuel on a burger and a beer.

2. Switch to synthetic oil, keep vehicles tuned up for better mileage.

3. Bicycle, motorcycle during summer. (Gee, do I have to?)

4. Invest in hybrid electric car for the rest of the year (for me,) esp. when it gets down to -50. That number again is: minus 50. Below zero. Farenheit.

5. Save petroleum-based plastic bags from store; reuse till they disintegrate and fruit is escaping down driveway.

6. Turn down thermostat, put on sweats.

7. Fix broken stuff where heat leaks out.

8. Use mocha java latte money to buy municipal bonds: help build natural gas pipeline to North Slope.

(OK, this one isn't for everyone, but it will provide over half of Alaska residents with an alternative heating source, reducing the state's heating fuel consumption by half. See how easy this is, once you get going?)

9. Write board of directors of local electric power supplier to ask:
How's it going with that windmill turbine suggestion I made 10 years ago?

(At the end of our journey, moving up here, wind blew all my tupperware down the highway.)

10. Whenever possible? BUY GREEN, by limiting the purchase of products in plastic containers.

Unless it's milk. Then, you'd want to look for that waxed cardboard stuff. But not the recycled cardboard; you know, just the regular stuff.

I welcome any other suggestions! Kate S.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

The Truth Shall Make You Sick.

This is a true report . It's the truth about how Americans fight a war that all those so-called pro-war patriots don't want to believe.

Here's a teaser:
Across the square, genuine civilians were running for their lives. Many, including some children, were gunned down in the crossfire.

'The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy,' said Corporal Ryan Dupre.' I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him.'

Amid the wreckage I counted 12 dead civilians, lying in the road or in nearby ditches. All had been trying to leave this southern town overnight, probably for fear of being killed by US helicopter attacks and heavy artillery. Their mistake had been to flee over a bridge that is crucial to the coalition's supply lines and to run into a group of shell-shocked young American marines with orders to shoot anything that moved. One man's body was still in flames. It gave out a hissing sound. Tucked away in his breast pocket, thick wads of banknotes were turning to ashes. His savings, perhaps.

Just imagine if all this were being done here, in America, to us. Yet, there are our "boys," doing it, doing it to other innocents -- becoming the evil that we so despise. War. What the hell did you think it would be like!

Blogs Against War dot Net is an anti-war news and analysis aggregator. You can ping the site to excerpt and link to anti-war posts that you publish on your blog or journal, and you can use it as a resource for reading about anti-war news and analysis around the blogs.

Voices of Peace.

Thank you Bunny Otter and Natalie Davis for the two previous posts. As our futures spin out of our control, all each of us can do is live our individual lives according to our commitment to creating peace. Unless, of course, we don't believe that creating peace is the only viable way to survive -- and there are Americans as well as Iraquis who don't. But, as you both pointed out, there are also many who do.

Natalie's friend Kara in Iraq asks a very very relevant question: ...if Iraqis had bombed our town, destroying our hospital, would we treat them with the same love and care? Or would we beat them to death in anger? I think we know that some Americans would do one and some the other. And so it is with people all over the world.

Ripples of Peace

Yesterday one of my favorite musicians was performing to a crowd at an art festival. I'll have to paraphrase what he said, but it went something like this:

"This isn't the first time we've gone to war, but maybe we can make it our last. Start by creating peace in your own heart. Quiet that critic in your heart and make peace within yourself. Then make peace in your own circle, be peaceful with the people who are close around you. And that peace will radiate out to all levels of people as they meet and interact."

I know many of you are thinking: "Easy for him to say! He doesn't have to deal with my nasty boss, my rebellious kid, my critical mother!" But that is the challenge! We may never have truly peaceful relationships with those people, but we can work towards a detente. It's those types of skills and attitudes that inspire and are transfered to friends, children, and colleages and can ripple around the world. If families can be peaceful (the most frustrating of all relationship networks) then citizens can be peaceful, and if citizens can be peaceful, nations can be peaceful.

The Real Heroes

These are, of course, the people we really should pray for: the innocents of Iraq and the volunteer human shields and humanitarian workers in Baghdad to lend a helping hand. As has been reported, my friend and Soulforce colleague Kara Speltz has been in Iraq to work with Christian Peacemaker Teams. She is out of the country now; the Iraqi government demanded that a number of the peace makers leave Iraq. Here is Kara's report from Amman, Jordan:
We're back from Baghdad; five of our team stayed on and four have returned to carry the truth about this war to the American press and people. The trip to and from Baghdad was harrowing to say the least.

On our trip into Iraq, we crossed front lines twice. There were many burned cars, buses and trucks as we traveled. About 150 kilometers from Baghdad, we came upon a truck on fire. We slowed down and saw American troops on the hill above. They had their guns trained on us and motioned for us to stop. We did and waved white flags. Eventually they motioned us in the first car to continue on. The second van was still at the site and we waited for them to start up, but before they could, 4 Iraqi soldiers started running for the van, the Americans motioned for the second van to take off but the Iraqis were nearly up to the van. The van was able to get away, but as we watched from the first van, it looked like the Iraqis might actually catch up to them. We continued on past the Americans and shortly thereafter a station wagon passed us with its back windows shot out. We learned from them that they had not slowed down and the Americans had shot at them. We then came to an Iraqi checkpoint and were worried that some of the soldiers might consider confiscating our vehicle, but they waved us past, after reading the statement we had written in English and Arabic. The statement read:
"I am a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams. We are against the war and all other forms of violence.

We are going to Baghdad to join other members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams who have been there, living among the Iraqi people since October. We wish to stay with them during this terrible war that is being waged against them.

We are trying to protect the Iraqi people and the institutions of health, welfare, and education that are important to life. We will visit
and support hospitals, water purification plnts, schools and orphanages.

We are with the Iraqi people because we know God loves them and weeps for them."
The looks on the faces of those who read our statement was one of awe and puzzlement. We arrived in Baghdad around 430 and got settled in at the hotel we were staying at. We met at 6 pm to worship together with the other members of the team who were already there. In the midst of the worship, the bombs began. Most were far off, but some felt near.

The bombing continued on and off during the entire time we were there. One of the most devasting things we learned was that the U.S. is using anti-personnel fragmentation weapons in Baghdad!!!!!! We visited a home and picked up several of the "pellets." Jim Douglass who is part of our CPT team, recognized them from his time in Vietnam.

We've met hundreds of Iraqis as we toured the bombing sights. Not one single person was anything but friendly and welcoming to us. It is difficult to sleep at night because of all the bombs. But amazingly, the Iraqis continue life, having birthday celebrations, planting seed, and just generally going on with life.

Because the Americans have destroyed all communications facilities, there now are no phones or emails out of Baghdad. The Iraqis, picked up six of our team members as they walked between the two hotels, but had stopped to see some of the latest damage from the bombing the night before. They were held for 6 hours and we had no idea where they were. Some of us feared they might have been picked up by hostile melitia forces who would hold them hostage. Finally, our "minder," the government official who was responsible for us, located them at a police station and was able to have them released.

The next day the 6 were given orders to leave Iraq. Since this was just a day prior to our planned return, and there was no telling when we might have an opportunity to leave, I asked to go with them. So 5 stayed and 4 of us left.

On our way back from Baghdad to Ammon, one of the cars we were traveling in had a blowout and ended up in a culvert. All 5 of them were injured, but our convoy was unaware until we got about a half hour away. Immediately Iraqi people stopped and transported our injured to the nearest town. This town had just endured severe bombing 4 days previous. The bombs had destroyed the hospital there along with a number of other buildings. But they brought them to the small building that was being used to replace the hospital and treated them with love and kindness, sharing the the few medical supplies they still had. I found myself wondering if the same thing had happened here in the states---if Iraqis had bombed our town, destroying our hospital, would we treat them with the same love and care? Or would we beat them to death in anger?

We are here in Amman, and leave on Tuesday for the states. But last night, as we drifted off to sleep, we could hear a B-52 bomber and each of us feared that the bombs would start dropping. Americans are being systematically lied to about this war, and I'm coming back to help spread the truth about this awful war that we are waging. Love Kara
Prayers and kind thoughts, please, for Kara's and her colleagues' safe return home. We would do well to listen to the stories and eyewitness accounts they will have to tell us -- theirs, unlike the Bushites', are the voices of truth.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Is this how we train our troops?? Shame, shame.

from this article in the NY Times:

They said Iraqi fighters had often mixed in with civilians from nearby villages, jumping out of houses and cars to shoot at them, and then often running away. The marines said they had little trouble dispatching their foes, most of whom they characterized as ill trained and cowardly.

"We had a great day," Sergeant Schrumpf said. "We killed a lot of people."


But more than once, Sergeant Schrumpf said, he faced a different choice: one Iraqi soldier standing among two or three civilians. He recalled one such incident, in which he and other men in his unit opened fire. He recalled watching one of the women standing near the Iraqi soldier go down.

"I'm sorry," the sergeant said. "But the chick was in the way."

This is why I don't get involved in "support the troops" stuff, even though I have relatives over there. I hope they, indeed, behave with more moral conscience, that they do not get killed or maimed; and I feel badly for all of them -- that they have allowed themselves to be duped by this government and brainwashed by soul-less military minds.

P.S. However, I am going to join my cousin's campaign to get all the relatives to send his Army daughter sets of cotton underwear. (Clean underwear is a rarity in the Iraqi desert.) And she can share what she doesn't wear. But that's the extent of my "support the troops." Clean underwear for my activated Reservist female second cousin.
Hey, Kate! No comment section in your blog!!! Wanted to say "hello" and comment on the Harley guy (I live about an hour down the road from the main Harley factory in the universe)... Welcome!
Look, don't be ridiculous. Clothes do not make the (wo)man... Attitude does. I'm a female executive in a company with a dress code. And, BTW, I've only worn a dress once in months because it's been too cold and unpleasant to do otherwise. Hallmark moments don't do a thing for me (or my schedule). Protest the war, protest cruelty to animals, but don't be shallow! In Scotland men wear kilts. Does this make them less "manly"?

Lest you think I lack "feminist" credentials, I was one of the founding members of Baltimore Working Women in the 70s. It ain't about clothes... it's about knowledge and clout! I am not putting you down, I just think your focus is mis-directed.


Thursday, March 27, 2003


Wed., April 23, 2003 is Executive Admin's Day (Secretary's Day). This day is in the middle of Administrative Assistants Week, which also features Earth Day (22nd). If you are a woman, please help social change by wearing no hose, heels, or skirts to work on April 23rd! Political and social reformer Jennifer Schulz Medlock urges all women to “get back to nature”. This is a voluntary protest effort against society’s old-fashioned expectations of women to wear nylons, high heels, and skirts, especially in business, and especially within big corporations. Leave your suffocating nylons at home, as well as those painful high heels, and replace your skirt with pants! Be comfortable, be natural, and take control! On Executive Admin's Day at least, we will not let powerful men dictate what we wear. Let’s show these men we can “wear the pants” and create a better world. We Can Do It!

Please forward this to as many women as you know.
Hi, my name is Kate and I am a new Blog Sister. My new blog is:

I have been a fan of the Blog Sisters for awhile.

I visit everyday because there is such a mixed bag of issues and styles, all written with compassion, humor and intelligence; I mean, you people talk about everything under the sun! I never know what I am going to be stumbling into when I log on each day, but I know that the content will always be intriguing.

For me, it's like Christmas, every morning.

Did I mention that I live in Alaska? Right down the road from Santa.

"Denali Sunset at Midnight"

Mt. McKinley

People are so nice. I wrote half a dozen requests for permission to use their photographs in exchange for a link to their website. You know, "Sitting on top of the world"? I do live only a stone's throw from the Arctic Circle. On a clear day, you can see "The Great One," and I wanted you to see what I have in my backyard.

This man, George Bell--mountain climber, talented photographer, adventurer--he wrote back immediately saying sure, go ahead. He actually sounded surprised that I bothered to ask for permission. He has many more pictures and adventure stories and when I learn how to link he will be a permanent guest of mine.

I can't tell you how awe-inspiring it is to be humbled by this great magestic treasure on earth. You stand there and look and watch, and finally the clouds part, the sun lights up the face, and majesty unveils itself before you. You look up and up, and it fills the entire sky, and all you can hear is the sound of your own breath being sucked into your lungs out of sheer wonder.

Thank you, George, for letting me share this awesome beauty with my friends.

Thank you for reminding us all, especially now, that there are still places of heaven on earth.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

About "Oppressed" Muslim Women or Laying Down 'the White Woman's Burden'

This is an interesting article, written by a woman who is not a Muslim, about Muslim women - which is pertinent given that the subject was brought up earlier today: Laying Down 'the White Woman's Burden' "I try to look into the face of the long-suffering Muslim woman into whose world Americans have entered as soldiers. But a common complaint runs through the literature in which Muslim women describe themselves: they accuse the West of misrepresenting them. If so, who are they? What is the face of the Muslim woman?"

Further, if anyone would really like to talk about how Muslim women are, or are not oppressed, they are welcome to contact me. I am a Muslim woman - and I choose to cover myself completely - and trust me - I am far from oppressed. I recognize that some Muslim women may be forced to do things that they do not want to do - and that is a result of their culture - not their religion - as Islam forbids the oppression of anybody. But be aware - some 'Western' women are forced to do things that they do not want to do (which I would call oppression) and I would imagine that is a result of their culture as well.

Although I also read Where is Raed I would like to mention that Muslim men are not always the best source of information regarding Muslim women, just as 'Western' men are usually not a good source of information about 'Western' women...(although he is an excellent and compelling source of information about life - or lack thereof- in Baghdad).

If you are interested in the almost daily view point (and images) of a non-oppressed, outspoken, American Muslim woman artist you can get it here: A Portrait of the Artist as a Muslim Woman - although be warned - it has a very strong pro-peace flavor ...

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Love that woman!

"In the department store," by Marge Piercy from Colors Passing Through Us (Alfred A. Knopf). Featured today in The Writer's Almanac.

The women who work at cosmetics
counters terrify me. They seem molded
of superior plastic or light metal.
They could be shot up into orbit
never mussing a hair, make-up intact.

When I walk through, they never pester
me, never attack me with loud perfume,
never wheedle me into a make-over.
Perhaps I scare them too, leaking
some subversive pheromone.

I trot through like a raccoon
in an airport. They see me,
they look and turn away. Perhaps
I am a project they fear to tackle
too wild, too wooly, trailing

electrical impulses from my loose
black hair. They fasten on the throat
of the neat fortyish blond behind me
like stoats, dragging her to their
padded stools. A lost cause,

I sidle past into men's sporting
gear, safe but bemused, wondering
if they judge me too far gone
to salvage or smell my stubborn
unwillingness like rank musk.

Pax Salam says oppression of Iraqi women started after first Gulf War

A Baghdad resident (no fan of Saddam or of Bush) has been blogging the war as Pax Salam. He says, for example, (on March 16):

"No one inside Iraq is for war (note I said war not a change of regime), no human being in his right mind will ask you to give him the beating of his life, unless you are a member of fight club that is, and if you do hear Iraqi (in Iraq, not expat) saying "come on bomb us" it is the exasperation and 10 years of sanctions and hardship talking. There is no person inside Iraq (and this is a bold, blinking and underlined inside) who will be jumping up and down asking for the bombs to drop. We are not suicidal you know, not all of us in any case."

In the same post, he talks about the "religious" fundamentalists (he calls them fundis) and their oppression of women in Iraq:

"Do you know when the sight of women veiled from top to bottom became common in cities in Iraq? Do you know when the question of segregation between boys and girls became red hot? When tribal law replaced THE LAW? When Wahabi became part of our vocabulary?
It only happened after the Gulf War. I think it was Cheney or Albright who said they will bomb Iraq back to the stone age, well you did. Iraqis have never accepted religious extremism in their lives. They still don’t. Wahabis in their short dishdasha are still looked upon as sheep who have strayed from the herd. But they are spreading. The combination of poverty/no work/low self esteem and the bitterness of seeing people who rose to riches and power without any real merit but having the right family name or connection shook the whole social fabric. Situations which would have been unacceptable in the past are being tolerated today.
They call it "al hamla al imania – the religious campaign" of course it was supported by the government, pumping them with words like "poor in this life, rich in heaven" kept the people quiet. Or the other side of the coin is getting paid by Wahabi organizations. Come pray and get paid, no joke, dead serious. If the government can’t give you a job run to the nearest mosque and they will pay and support you. This never happened before, it is outrageous. But what are people supposed to do? their government is denied funds to pay proper wages and what they get is funneled into their pockets. So please stop telling me about the fundis, never knew what they are never would have seen them in my streets."

Friday, March 21, 2003

War of Another Sort

For the record, I am a predominantly lesbian bisexual person (with an opposite-gender partner; funnier things have happened) who is out, is monogamous, socializes with mostly queer people, belongs to a queer church, works in GLBT media, is a veteran GLBT-rights activist and same-gender marriage advocate, sings that she's glad to be gay along with Tom Robinson (another out bisexual), is perfectly comfortable with being labeled gay or lesbian, and is HORRIFIED that columnist Paul Varnell would even suggest what he does in the following op-ed.
Do Bs really fit in 'GLBT'?

Most bisexuals aren't out, they socialize mostly with heterosexuals, and form longer relationships with opposite-sex partners. So are they gay?

By Paul Varnell

GAY MEN AND lesbians are far more likely to disclose their sexual orientation to their personal physicians than are bisexuals,
according to an online survey conducted late last year by Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs Communications.

The survey found that 55 percent of lesbians and 67 percent of gay men said they had come out to their physician. But only 23 percent of the self-described bisexuals said they had done so.

But the headline on the survey press release, repeated in many gay newspapers, was to the effect that fewer than half of all "GLBT" people had disclosed their sexuality to their physician.

That was extremely misleading. It obscured the fact that a majority of the lesbians and (especially) gay men were taking proactive
responsibility for their health by dealing openly with their physician, and it equally obscured the important fact that bisexuals were not dealing well with disclosure that would help them obtain better health care and more accurate medical advice.

That leads to the conclusion that for some purposes, it can be important to disaggregate gays, lesbians and bisexuals (to say
nothing of transsexuals) and not talk of them as if they were a unitary "community" or have more in common than they actually do.

If we fail to separate them out, we will be unable to identify -- or even think to look for -- problems each group may uniquely be facing and solutions that may work better for one group than another. The amount of similarity and the degree of actual "community" depends on the issue.

AT THE POLITICAL level, grouping bisexuals with gay men and lesbians makes some sense. In almost every way, bisexuals face the same issues of discrimination and prejudice that gays face, and for exactly the same reasons:

Some of their sexual activity violates sodomy laws; they cannot marry if they fall in love with a person of the same sex; they cannot serve openly in the U.S. military; they may encounter problems with child custody and adoption, and so on.

In other words, bisexuals face discrimination only because they sometimes behave like homosexuals.

Beyond that, gay activists have always sought to include bisexuals as part of a broader gay community because it helps increase the number of gays to politically relevant -- and more recently economically relevant -- levels. That familiar 10 percent figure for the gay population includes a substantial number of functional, if not self-defined, bisexuals.

But despite the identity of interests, there are important differences at the psychological and personal identity level. It seems clear from survey research that bisexuals understand their sexuality far differently from lesbians and gay men, and handle disclosure and relationship issues far differently, as the medical survey mentioned earlier suggests.

In interviews conducted for the extremely interesting 1994 book
Dual Attraction: Understanding Bisexuality by former Kinsey Institute associates Martin Weinberg and Colin Williams, most bisexuals reported that they "were predominantly heterosexual in their sexual feelings, sexual behaviors, and romantic feelings" and socialized more with heterosexuals than with gays. So it was not so surprising that, for instance, only one-third of the bisexual men were out to their social acquaintances and fellow employees at work, whereas two-thirds of the gay men were.

THE QUESTION GAYS may then ask is how seriously these self-described bisexuals take their same-sex tricks, dates and relationships, or more fundamentally, how seriously they take the homosexual component of their sexuality.

No doubt there are vast individual differences. But the bisexuals Weinberg and Williams talked to "often said that the nature of
bisexuality had a negative effect on the stability of relationships over time. Some -- both men and women -- mentioned being unable to focus exclusively on one sex."

When bisexuals did form committed relationships, Weinberg and Williams found that those were "overwhelmingly" with opposite sex partners, and they were much more likely to be non-monogamous "because open multiple relationships are an important part
of their lifestyle."

Such findings suggest troubling obstacles for gay activists on a range of issues, from efforts to reach bisexual men with HIV
information to attempts to solicit bisexual support for same-sex marriage. They also remind us that in many ways the recently
coined "GLBT community" is more a semantic artifact or political term-of-art than anything like an actual community.

Paul Varnell is a Chicago-based syndicated writer and can be reached at

I suppose there are bisexuals who fit Varnell's template. But not all. PLEASE if you believe in the integrity of each human being, our community as a whole, and about justice for all -- or if you, like I do, find Varnell's anti-bi prejudices shocking and disgusting and insulting -- participate in the following action, which comes from
Paul Varnell is a twit. The fact that he describes the acronym 'GLBT' as "a recently coined expression" shows how hopelessly out of touch he is with our community. The only reason I'm forwarding this is to encourage you to SPEAK OUT and voice your opposition.

Here's what you can do.

1. Send your letters to the editor about this article to: and I will publish it on

3. This is a syndicated column, so look for this article in your local gay paper send your letter to them.

4. If at all possible, include the phrase "Paul Varnell is a twit." in your letter. (Ok, that last one is just for me, but it would make me terribly happy)
For the record, I won't call Paul a twit. As we often disagree, if I were to do such a thing it would be at least an every-week occurrence. But if you feel the need, feel free.

The saddest thing about this is that once again, we turn against each other and ourselves. That has to stop. The stereotyping, the identity politics -- they have to stop. Anti-bi and anti-trans gays and lesbians have to stop. Oppression is so ugly, so tired -- particularly when practiced by people who themselves are oppressed. Paul Varnell ought to know better.

Bottom line: I am keeping the toaster oven. I am a part of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community regardless of with whom I am sleeping (even if that person is no one, sigh). Deal with it.

An even older sister remembers the Yippies.

By the end of the 60s, I was married with two little kids and living in the rural town where my husband was teaching. I protested in what meager ways I could, but my heart was with the Yippies. Who were the Yippies? They're somewhat documented here, and what follows is excerpted from that piece.

The Yippies, who came up with the name first and the acronym "Youth International Party" later, pulled their first famous act at the New York Stock Exchange. They floated down dollar bills and then laughed hysterically as millionaire stockbrokers scrambled madly after the money. They wanted to celebrate the "death of money" and expose the greediness of American society. From then on, the Yippies would put soot bombs at Con Edison Headquarters to warn about pollution, plaster SEE CANADA NOW signs on Army Recruiting Booths and mail 3,000 marijuana joints to random strangers from the phone book. Abbie's antics made him a media celebrity along with the Yippies' other leader, Jerry Rubin, best known for dressing in a Revolutionary War outfit and blowing bubbles at a House Un-American Committee hearing. Many groups in the sixties were so earnest and self-righteous that the Yippies provided some of the only examples of radicals with a sense of humor.

Contrary to Abbie often being portrayed as a comic buffoon, ... he was a very serious, committed activist who gave away more money than he made. She had met him in New York, when Abbie had opened a "Free Store" for low-income people and set up a place for the homeless to come. He sold goods from cooperatives in the South who were trying to escape poverty.

As the Yippies gained more attention, however, the focus shifted towards pulling off even more outrageous activities rather than setting up "counter institutions" like the Free Store. Media dependency and addiction were setting in. Some began accusing the Yippies of provoking violent confrontations with the police, though others believed the police unleashed the violence. In October of 1967, in what would become one of the most important protests of the 60s, the March on the Pentagon mobilized 100,000 various anti-war activists.

At the protest, the Yippies had declared their intention to "levitate" the Pentagon, and to exorcise it of all the evil spirits that were killing Americans and Vietnamese women and children thousands of miles away. Roz put on the footage of the levitation and I could hear through the phone the chanting of "Ommmmmm." US marshals surrounding the Pentagon moved in and started arresting demonstrators. One famous photo shows a protester putting a daisy into the gun of a policeman. The March was only the prologue to what would become increasingly more violent confrontations with the police.

I think perhaps that, as much as we enjoyed the efforts of the early Yippies to draw attention to important issues through humor and satire, it became pretty apparent that those tactics were not going to result in real change happening. Frustration led to more confrontational behavior, as is also happening today.

As I sit here watching Baghdad being violently destroyed , live, before of the eyes of the whole world of television, I can't help see that the confrontation in which the anti-war protestors are engaging to make their points heard is nothing compared to the violence that we are inflicting upon the innocents of Iraq. As an American, I am ashamed of what my country's leaders are doing in my name.

(double posted here. And go here to read George Dubya Bush's War Prayer (a little satire in the Yippie spirit).

An older sister remembering Chicago's "Police Riot" in 1968

People speaking out for peace came peacefully together yesterday--Dave Winer's pix show the scene in Harvard Yard. Elsewhere, war protestors trying to shut down "business as usual" riled commuters and scared police trying to control them.

That was yesterday, this is today. Demonstrators, encouraged by their success, will be going for bigger effects. Police around the country will be getting out their mace, tear gas, and stun guns. And those little black objects on their belts can propel lead pellets over large distances.

A protest lets you show support for peace. A mob makes your cause look ugly--and mobs are dangerous. When police are angry and scared, bad things can happen. Being arrested by an angry cop, in company with a lot of other people who are excited and scared, is much more scary than exciting. OTOH, nasty as it is, it is more fun than being crushed or trampled by a mob running away from tear gas. If you go to a protest, stay far from the "center" of action.

Better yet, stay home and sign up to work for an anti war Democrat like Howard Dean. That would bring us closer to sane government than we are now.

Democratic candidates in order of how much I like them and why
Anti-war: Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich
Voted last fall to authorize Bush but says he's against *this* war: John Kerry
No chance to win: Bob Graham, Carol Mosely Braun, Al Sharpton, Gary Hart
Pro-war: John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman

For a Minute There, . . .

The day the attack on Iraq started, I went through our morning routine in a neo 9/11 daze, an empty, wandering feeling. I didn't monopolize conversations. I didnt comment on too much eyeliner. I made breakfast.

Was I off.

It got worse. As I exited the nursery school, on my last drop off before work, a family was coming in. The father, mother, and young son were each wearing leather coats (not jackets) and the two little girls were in black pea coats. A magazine family right there in front of me. This was perfect material for a self-effacing joke, like

Our morning coordination consists of one item: Is your underwear on backwards? No? Ok, let's go.

But nothing came. That is when it hit me that I was experiencing that post September 11 sensation I had never wanted to have again. Thank goodness for National Public Radio. NPR was airing a piece on increased security around the country. Even Mount Rushmore is under heightened surveillance, the reported.

Mount Rushmore? All I could envision was those four block heads in grey, with a pitch black mustache on George Washington. I smiled. I was free to be obnoxious again.

(This one's for Kate S.)

Thursday, March 20, 2003

The Political is Personal

Well, America has been killing Iraqis for over 24 hours now. It's been hard for me to pull myself away from the radio and the New York Times and other online news centers (as I have no TV, thank God). Although I wrote the following before the bombing started, it applies now, I think: too expensive.

Taken from A Portrait of the Artist as a Muslim Woman.

Ah, you have hit a nerve! My mother (currently around 90) remarked several years ago about how difficult it was to be around my brother, his wife, and their child. The parents had read a number of "how to raise your child" books that created amazing tension when my mother would suggest that they tell her to shut up or stop misbehaving... I don't remember being harmed by my parents telling to go to my room, shut the door, and go to sleep -- they were clearly deliniated marching orders!

A grandma's question for young mothers

This is not the kind of issue I usually bring up here at Blog Sisters, but I need some input/advice/reassurance.

Have any of you done the "attachment parenting/co-sleeping/sleep-time ritual/baby-genius accoutrements" thing advocated by so many of the new books on baby-care and practiced by my daughter? I just don't remember caring for a baby being so complicated. I fed them when they were hungry and put them down to sleep when they got tired during the day. Sometimes I played with them and sometimes they amused themselves in their playpens. Bed-time rituals evolved according to what they seemed to need -- story time, lullabyes, stroking, etc. etc. while they lay in their cribs. I sometimes left them with baby-sitters and went out with my husband.

My daughter says she's read all the books and she knows what she's doing. Meanwhile, my grandson has a really hard time falling asleep and refuses to be separated from her (he's only 8 months and I understand that it's normal for him to have separation anxiety). She and her husband don't go anywhere; their lives revolve around the schedule she tries to set for the baby; she's tired and anxious and frustrated, and he's being a saint.

Have any of you young mothers gone through the same thing? If so, how long does it last? Do the kids eventually come through this and become independent self-calming sleepers and autonomous self-amusing kids?

She's pissed at me for suggesting that there are other less self-sacrificing ways to care for and nurture a baby. So, while my mouth is shut now, my mind is still wondering what experiences others have had using her modern baby-care methods. I figured that some of you modern mothers might be able to clue me in. I certainly am no longer going to butt in.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Gender and Achievement

My classes are focused on sociology of education at the moment, and one area we talk about that generates a lot of interest is gender and education. From literature, including 1991's Failing at Fairness: How Schools Cheat Girls and the more recent AAUW's Gender Gaps, we know that girls' learning problems are not identified, boys get more attention in classrooms, and girls start school testing higher in academic subjects but wind up achieving 50 points less on SATs. Finally, middle school is particularly troublesome.

At the same time, U.S. Department of Education data indicates that more girls than boys graduate high school, more women than men receive a bachelor's degree, and women now outnumber men in master's degree programs.

There is a dynamic in education, that achievement is impacted by social group, because while the returns to education are measurable across class, race, ethnicity and gender, as the outcome some groups benefit less than others, and as a result, are not as motivated to complete and excel. But this dynamic does not hold up between men and women. For example, compensation is not equitable between the genders. Yet females are high achievers. So why do women do so well when they receive fewer rewards? Some hypotheses are that women:

-are aware of the discrepancy but don't care
-are focused on the gains of feminism and so ignore the discrepancy
-have a traditionally dependent role which means economic returns are not the motivating factor (i.e. making a "good match")
-are socialized into specific roles in the early years
-value a private motivation (domestic life/home and family/community) more than a public one (economic/polity)

A complicating factor is that boys are disproportionately labeled as having special needs, perhaps because boys more often exhibit developmental delays, or are more likely to have their problems get attention, or because girls are more likely to display rewarded classroom behaviors (sitting quietly, raising her hand in turn).

Personally, I guess I do value private motivation, but at the same time, I see a lot of women in their 30s and 40s returning to college, and many are motived by economic reasons. I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on this fascinating subject?

Which side of the fence?
Unless you took this picture, you really don't know which side of the fence the Mocking bird is over

Unless you took this picture, or you happen to be the bird, you don't really know which side of the fence the bird is over. In other words, it's possible, and in all likelihood probable that we (blogsisters) don't all feel the same way about the impending war.

So what?
It would make me "unhappy" if this blog turned into a war blog, or should I say anti-war blog, but then that's me, and as I said we all don't feel the same even though we've got similar genitals.

Right on, sister.

I was there in the 60s and marched against the war where my brother and lover were in a war that incomprehensible then and still is in retrospect.

in light of it all..

i posted the following in my weblog last night.

in light of it all.. being called idealistic, and a fantasizer. being told that i am not patriotic and i hate my country. having people say that i don't support the people that this government has sent to iraq. reading the comments placed here recently in an attempt to engage me in argument over war vs. peace. in spite of it all, i refuse to give up on my belief in peace and non-violence.

there are times when to let go and there are times when to hang on, this is one of those times when i choose to hang on to something i have believed in all my life.

i used to say that i wished i'd been around during the 60's, during the peace movement. i've got my own now. i've got a president who is off his rocker, a man who believes in holy wars, a man who claims to be the leader of this great country but chooses to forget the very tenants which he has been elected to move forward. i've got a country full of people who tell me how anti-american i am because i won't tow the line. i've got people who go for the quick fix of violence all around me. i don't need the 60's anymore, i've got the 00's. this is my time in the line and i will walk it proudly until the day i am told the line has finally reached the end.

there were hopes last week amongst the peace community. leaders of other countries saying that for once the world is not waging war, instead it is waging peace. there were reports that the father of this president, a former president himself, had joined with a bunch of plutocrats to say that this was bad. i was told that tony blair is under such scrutiny by his populace that if he supports this war he will be out of office in a millisecond.

but tonight the hopes have died down. the hopes of the millions who's voices people refuse to hear have been crushed. i found myself near tears. i found myself seeking out comfort, where comfort couldn't be found.

but i will tow this line. i won't let it go. in light of it all, everything i have known all my life, everything i have believed in, everything i have clung to and made a part of my heart-- that each life is a miracle, that no human being is worth more than another, that we should strive to love even our enemies-- has not left me. tonight, in light of it all, i refuse to give up my belief that peace and non-violence are the only answers.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Frontier Justice Rides Again

48 Hours. Is that product placement strategy, or what?

Go here, please: Back to Iraq 2.0

Something has been nagging at me in reaction to the Bush Administration decision to take the football - whomever it belongs to - and go home. The whole nose-thumbing at the UN Charter, on the heels of his Kyoto accord rejection and the International Criminal Court recision, reminded me of something. Then I ran across this text from the The Handbook of Texas Online:

"Lynching is the illegal killing of a person under the pretext of service to justice[.] Though it often refers to hanging, the word became a generic term for any form of execution without due process of law. Though it is hard to estimate the frequency of lynchings before the 1880s, it seems that they ... were likely to be the result of "frontier justice" dispensed in areas where formal legal systems did not exist.

In antebellum Texas and earlier, vigilantes instigated most lynchings. Often acting under the leadership of the local elite, the vigilante mob usually handled its victims with considerable formality, imitating legal court procedure. The captured offender was "tried" before a vigilante judge and a jury consisting of either a select group of vigilantes or the whole of the assembled mob."

The Bush Administration agenda does not fit neatly into a developing international law. So, after doing what he could to extricate this country from emerging international rules of conduct, the President reached back into local history for his own game plan.


We need to build recognition of global law initiatives and existing treaties. When more citizens learn about these rules, it will be difficult for future leaders to ignore the laws' requirements. I am just not sure how to do this.

Just to clarify--the survey I emailed to everyone is not the same one as Glove fox's friend is doing. At least one person that I know of was not clear on that, and she thankfully brought it to my attention, so I wanted to address it here. Again, thanks to everyone who has replied so far!

St Pat's

My husband, the Captain, bought me German knives. With Austrian precision, I put the biggest one through my finger. A few days later I fumbled the parmesan block while grating, and topped the cesar salad with knuckle of thumb. Two days ago I branded my forehead with Still Water's (Daughter #2) oversized curling iron.

The Captain came into the kitchen, looked at the spongebob bandaids affixed to my fingertips and the burn on my forehead and asked, "What are you doing to yourself?"

"I don't get it," I joined in his concern, as I filled the dishwasher with my left hand, pulled Baby Edit (Daughter #3) from the pots and pans cupboard she calls "home" with my right hand and shut off the cold water faucet with my right foot.

"Well, do you want to go to the parade?"

Yes, yes! The St. Patricks Day Parade. I had been running errands with Still Water earlier in the morning. The sun was out and it was the second day in a row the temperature was in the 50's. A week ago it had been 18. The car window was down, my left elbow was out and sunglasses were on. I was looking at everything except the road. Heading down Delaware Avenue, I noticed a bunch of college kids in t-shirts holding signs and gathering by the side of the road.

"Look," I exclaimed. "There is going to be a peace march here!"
"No," explained Still Water. "TheParade." (The "duh" on the end of her sentences is always silent, so she is my favorite.)

As I drove around the rest of the morning, I had a flashback to the first snowfall of this winter season. Cotton ball flakes came down slowly, against a pitch black sky. Sounds were muffled. The atmosphere seems to be made up of only a blanket of calm. Those kinds of snowfalls stick in my memory like a perfect day at the beach. I smiled to myself. I live in the North on purpose. Each season has its own power, which is best experienced in its intensity. So now Spring would surface like a flower in time-lapse photography.

We walked the two city blocks to the parade, in the sun. Everything Irish was there. I was trying to find some linguistic connection between Ireland's "Hibernian" references and Spain's Iberian Penninsula, when The Captain said, "Look at those wigs." I shifted my focus to the rows of little girls in little Irish folk dancing outfits and intense ringlets. "Those are wigs?" I asked in amazement. I have seen those heads of curls for years, and believed only that any mom committed to getting a daughter to folk dancing classes, would be herself well trained in the complicated coif . Then I tried to imagine my own efforts in getting my girls' hair curled and could only think of singed hair and burnt scalps. I touched my scarred forehead and shuddered.

I think I will buy myself a wig.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Too Close for Comfort


I took these photos at a candlelight peace vigil that in which I participated tonight. It took place at the busiest intersection in the Albany area, less than 3 miles from where I live, and it was too close for me to be comfortable if I didn’t go over there. I sent the photos I took to

I stood between an elderly Quaker woman whose spiritual beliefs bring her to every peace rally in the area and a woman about my age who is a member of the Women For Peace effort. Next to her stood a distinguished sexagenarian in his old military uniform waving a large flag with the image of planet Earth from space. We lined up along the raised curb -- toddlers, students, dedicated activists, people like me who talk the talk and reached that point of discomfort where we felt we had to do more.

We were all handed a flyer:

War looms too close for comfort.
I don't know if this link will work or not, but in case it doesn't, this post is a follow-up to Elaine's post on February 2, 2003. By now, all of you (with the exception of twelve mailer-daemon bump-backs) should have received the survey I sent for my study of gender in the blogging community. If you did not receive it, please let me know. I've already received four replies and am so excited about what I'm finding out! Thank you all.

Mama Cottontail says no to wartoys in bunny baskets...

There's really nothing I can add to this.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Right On Crap Saves The World: Can better orgasms and upping your personal vibe really thwart BushCo idiocy? Wow. Link via Saranwarp.

On Supporting the Troops

[an excerpt]

War separates and hurts families, including this one. Send the troops home. My friend Becky's eyes fill with light whenever she talks about her fiancé. Michael is a soldier, a new recruit (God only knows why) who just finished basic training. But now, Becky's eyes are filled with tears: Because the couple have yet to make their relationship legal -- thank heaven they are heterosexuals and have that right, although, thanks to the Shrub's rush to war, they lack the time -- Becky was not allowed to attend her beau's recent graduation. She was not even permitted to see him. And, she tells me, she won't get that chance, because Michael is being shipped out to goddess knows where to fight a war that even he questions. The last time we talked, a devastated Becky moaned that it will be at least two years before she sees her love again -- all because of a piece of paper and Bush's murderous grab for power and greed. How do we support Michael? Send him home to Becky's arms. NOW.

More of this commentary can be found at All Facts & Opinions.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

War on Women

March is supposed to be Women's History Month. You wouldn't know that in the US Senate, which seems determined to do women harm. The Washington Post reports that senators rejected a proposal that would have expanded government health care for low-income pregnant women and would have forced private health-insurance companies to make contraceptives more widely available. Tuesday's 49-47 vote -- it was 11 short of the 60 needed -- came during debate on legislation to ban a procedure that critics call partial-birth abortion. The same vote also turned back a proposal to make emergency contraceptives (the morning-after pill) available in hospital emergency rooms for victims of sexual assault.

While we're busy trying to impeach the Shrub, we should seriously think about throwing some of the bastards on Capitol Hill out on their keisters.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

hope for humanity

in his article the world after 9/11 arun gandhi, the grandson of m.k. gandhi, writes:
    To begin with the communities in the United States can start a "Hope for Humanity Fund" - saving a coin every day to help a community in a Third World country. The reason why we need to save a coin everyday is because we must be conscious every day of the need to help someone, somewhere in the world. Writing a check at the end of the year does not create the consciousness that is necessary to build a relationship. Saving a coin everyday also gets children involved in the process and they learn early that life is about giving and helping and not just about amassing and consuming.

read more about hope for humanity in his article: hope for humanity: a new millennium role for the us?

Monday, March 10, 2003

Grassroots Blogger Survey Request

Hi Blogsisters! Here's a request from a friend of mine who is a female blogger (but does not belong to Blogsisters at the moment because she is doing the grassroots blogger survey mentioned in the heading)--I've reproduced her email in its entirety since it explains everything. It would be great if you took the survey to help add to the data she needs to collect for her thesis. On the plus side, she does have a section asking for people's gender and the survey results may well partially answer Drucilla's question as to what percentage of bloggers out there are female bloggers!

Hey Everyone!

All of you are blogging friends of mine, or good friends of mine who may know some bloggers! As most of you know I'm working on my theis; I'm asking why bloggers blog and what do they use their blogs for. As part of this I've put together a survey of bloggers. It's a grassroots survey - the only way I have to get the word out is "word of mouth" or site-by-site, and I need help getting the word out to other bloggers to participate. A blog, in case you aren't sure, is like an online diary or journal - mine is at, and I have another one at

The survey is located at If you don't blog but know people who do, please pass on the word! If you blog, please take it, and I humbly humble ask you to post it on your blog with a note saying you know me and it's all cool so that those bloggers who read your blog can take it. Tell your blogging friends!!! It will be up until March 15th (Saturday night) so please do this as soon as possible! I am incredibly grateful to you, and you will receive grateful credit in my thesis acknowledgements and a mention in one of the appendixes. =D

On another note:

Blogsisters who read my blog regularly, please accept my apologies for the delayed unveiling of my new passworded blog. Life has been hectic and regular blogging (plus the new blog) will resume as soon as March is over (that's when the semester is done)!

WAR ON TERROR: License for the CIA to Abduct Children?

What will it take for America to wake up?

Will it take the abduction of two small boys by our intelligence agencies? Might that do it? Is that enough to waken the apathetic American soul? I wonder...I really do.

In her post US Interrogating Children, Jeralyn Merrit at TalkLeft is on top of the story of two little boys, ages nine and seven, who were kidnapped by the United States and are being used as pawns in a sick game to get their father, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, an al Qaeda deputy to talk. You may call "kidnap" too strong a word. I don't. By what authority does the United States have to remove these children from their homeland?

The children in question have been in Pakistani custody since September, when agents descended on their home. Their father managed to escape but the children remained, cowering in a closet when discovered. Mohammed had been on the run since that time when he was picked up last week by Pakistani authorities. This past weekend, the children were turned over to CIA custody and shipped off to some undisclosed US location.

I encourage you to head on over and read what Jeralyn's got to say. I couldn't agree with her more.

While it's all well and good that we bring the architects of 911 to justice, it is morally reprehensible that we are using children as leverage.

On what charges are we holding these children?

Are they considered "enemy combatants" once-removed?

How does the United States of John Ashcroft justify the incarceration of these kids? And, please do yourself a favor and don't give me this nonsense that they're are in good hands and not being hurt. Bottom line: they're being kept against their will and aside from their captors, there's not a soul who can vouch for their safety.

How does the US explain its actions? According to Britain's Telegraph, our rationale goes like this:

"His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him."

Two boys...

Nine and seven years of age...

Being held as pawns in a game of psychological torture...

I ask you...are you prepared to have some country storm these shores and steal your children away in the night? Are you prepared to have your kids used as a psychological tool to pull information from you?

If you're not, then I'd suggest you be outraged and opposed to what's going on here.

Here's the nut: if the United States can get away with this, what's to stop any other nation from doing the same damn thing against the children of our military and intelligence?

We need to wake up.

Friday, March 07, 2003

so shrub spoke...

... and everything I wrote yesterday still applies -- you have to laugh or you'll end up bawling like a baby.

George W. Bush needs some new ideas, some new inspiration, perhaps a new job. In last night's televised press conference, a listless Commander-in-Thief gave us the same old-same old: that Iraq's a "direct threat" (which even many conservatives don't buy); that Saddam Hussein is delaying, "not disarming -- that's a fact" (let's see what Blix says); that Iraq's leader is thumbing his nose at the United Nations' authority; that the UN must support war; that the US doesn't need the UN's permission to attack anyway. Shrub says all of this twaddle makes his case, but last night, he did not appear convinced -- and he did not look particularly interested either.

But read this story of an encounter between a US military veteran and another man, chemist-activist Albert A. Hambidge Jr. Here is an excerpt from Hambidge's "The Wall," which chronicles a conversation between the author and the vet as they stand before the Vietnam Veterans' memorial in Washington, DC:
There weren't many people there; few visit during weather like this. As I walked by the panels, relishing the stillness, I came upon a man in fatigues. Though one of those floppy green hats covered his head, he seemed under dressed considering the cold. The area around him was devoid of wind and snow, as if the Wall created a sheltered harbor from the storm. He was staring at one panel, at a spot about chest high. Upon my approach, he said to no one in particular, "Goddamn bastards are doing it again." The sound of his voice startled me; I flinched, and stopped. He turned to look at me.

"We never learn, do we?" he asked. My quizzical look made him chuckle, and he continued as he turned back toward the Wall: "It never ceases to amaze me what we let ourselves be turned into cannon fodder for. We let ourselves get talked into all sorts of horror, and only after the body bags start piling up do we begin to wonder why."

We both knew he had my attention now. "Know how many names are here?" he asked. "Something like 50,000," I replied. "You make it sound like a goddamn statistic" he said, "There's Fifty Eight Thousand Two Hundred And Twenty Nine names on this Wall." He said the words slowly, enunciating each one. "Fifty Eight Thousand Two Hundred And Twenty Nine. Every one of them a son; a brother, or a father, a husband, a cousin, a lover, a neighbor, a friend. Fifty Eight Thousand Two Hundred And Twenty Nine boys brought home in boxes. For what? For fuckin' nothing. And now the bastards are gonna do it again."
A stronger case, n'est-ce pas? Read the piece in its entirety on the market-anarchy-themed site Strike the Root.

While you're at it, cyberpal and activist Lisa T. sent along a must-see op-ed that you, um, must see. Dig this bit about Bush:
He's clearly delusional.

The man who, through the country's apathy, ignorance, and blind trust, now wields the greatest power ever known to humankind, sees reality as a field of play where he is the biggest kid out there, or at least has the biggest stone to throw.

And part of the nightmare is that he is and he does.
Read the entire editorial by J. Rex Bounds & Lisa Walsh Thomas at resistance site America Held Hostile.

More ranting about the supposedly greatest nation in the world at All Facts and Opinions.

On a Clear Day

As a person who works with language, I found the president's words last night something to ponder. In fact, the way he delivered his message was more telling than his actual content.

For instance, he stays on message with almost hypnotic accuracy, with exception of that little tangent about prayer. In that respect, he's a PR person's dream.

Even more interesting was the kind of language he used. Short words. Short sentences. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Avoids using "war" when the euphemism "disarm" can do, as if it was just a matter of wrenching a fork away from someone. Cagy juxtaposition--has Iraq aided Al Qaeda or just "Al Qaeda-like" groups? Maybe it doesn't matter, because if you say it enough, people start to believe it, even if it has no basis in reality. Remember the poll that said that most respondents believed that some or all of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens? (Correct answer: none were from Iraq, most were from Saudi Arabia.)

It its way, it was masterful.

The same qualities that made it an ostensible success, though, also made me uncomfortable and a little sad.

Today I went back and looked at the Fog Index, a tool that is sometimes used to measure how difficult prose is to understand. (Yes, I know the spoken word is a little different, but the president isn't cranking out much writing these days that I can find.) I used to have an application that ran the Fog index for everything I wrote, but there are ways to figure it out yourself.

Find the average number of words you use per sentence. Take a fair sample of 5 to 8 sentences. Count clearly independent clauses as separate sentences. Example: "By and by I ran; I jumped; I hid." This counts as three sentences. Calculate the percentage of words that are three syllables or more. Don't count proper names. Don't count verbs that make three syllables or adding -es or -ed. Add these two figures. Example: if your average number of words per sentence was was 15, and the percentage of words three syllables or more was 12%, you would add 15 and 12 to get 27. Multiply that sum by 0.4. The resulting number is your Fog Index, a rough measure of how many words of schooling it would take to understand what you have written. In our example, multiplying 27 by 0.4 equals a Fog Index of 10.8. The Bible, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and TV Guide all have Fog Indexes of about 6. Time, Newsweek, and the Wall St. Journal average about 11. If you find your Index soaring into the teens (or higher!) --- beware --- you've lost most of your audience in the dense fog.

I did the calculations on this random selection from last nights' comments. The Fog index: 5.2, which means they could be understood by the average fifth-grader.

I think first of all, it's hard to envision more terror on America than September the 11th, 2001. We did nothing to provoke that terrorist attack. It came upon us, because there's an enemy which hates America. They hate what we stand for. We love freedom, and we're not changing. And therefore, so long as there's a terrorist network like al Qaeda and others willing to fund them, finance them, equip them, we're at war. You know, obviously I thought long and hard about the issue of troops. I think about it all the time. It is my responsibility to commit the troops. I believe we'll prevail. I know we'll prevail. And out of that disarmament of Saddam will come a better world, particularly for the people who live in Iraq. This is a society, Ron, who -- which has been decimated by his murderous ways, his torture. He doesn't allow dissent. He doesn't believe in the values we believe in. I believe this society, the Iraqi society can develop in a much better way. I think of the risks. I've calculated the costs of inaction versus the cost of action, and I'm firmly convinced that if we have to, we will act in the name of peace and in the name of freedom.

For comparison, I also dug up some Clinton languge. Here he is in what was admittedly not his finest hour. The Fog index is 10.4, which means it could be understood by the average 10th-grader.

I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that. I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors. First, by a desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct. I was also very concerned about protecting my family. The fact that these questions were being asked in a politically inspired lawsuit, which has since been dismissed, was a consideration, too. In addition, I had real and serious concerns about an independent counsel investigation that began with private business dealings 20 years ago, dealings I might add about which an independent federal agency found no evidence of any wrongdoing by me or my wife over two years ago. The independent counsel investigation moved on to my staff and friends, then into my private life. And now the investigation itself is under investigation. This has gone on too long, cost too much and hurt too many innocent people. Now, this matter is between me, the two people I love most -- my wife and our daughter -- and our God. I must put it right, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so.

What does it mean that the nation's leader can only talk about a war that could potentially kill many innocent people in the language of a fifth-grader? I don't know the answer. E. says it has to do with lowered expectations. If you don't expect people to be as smart as you are, you talk down to them.

Here's a fun fact: while everything around us gets dumber, we get more educated (or, at least, we spend more time in school). According to the US census, "In 2000, 84 percent of American adults age 25 and over had at least completed high school and 26 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher, both all-time highs."

The president presides over a nation that is better educated than ever. But we get less and less substance from our leaders.

(crossposted at Bells and Whistles)

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

salem witch trials

there was a movie about the salem witch trials on cbs, here in the states, last night and sunday night. i've done some reading on the trials prior to the movie. the following is part of what i posted in my blog yesterday night:
i've done some reading about the trials. there are various theories about why what happened in salem, mass back then happened. the most plausible to me is ergotism poisioning. from the article by linda caporael:

    Ergotism, or long-term ergot poisoning, was once a common condition resulting from eating contaminated rye bred.  In some epidemics it appears that females were more liable to the disease than males (19).  Children and pregnant women are most likely to be affected by the condition, and individual susceptibility varies widely.  It takes 2 years for ergot in powdered form to reach 50 percent deterioration, and the effects are cumulative (18, 20).  There are two types of ergotism--gangrenous and convulsive.  As the name implies, gangrenous ergotism is characterized by dry gangrene of the extremities followed by the falling away of the affected portions of the body.  The condition occurred in epidemic proportions in the Middle Ages and was known by a number of names, including ignis sacer, the holy fire.
            Convulsive ergotism is characterized by a number of symptoms.  These include crawling sensations in the skin, tingling in the fingers, vertigo, tinnitus aurium, headaches, disturbances in sensation, hallucination, painful muscular contractions leading to epileptiform convulsions, vomiting, and diarrhea (16, 18, 21).  The involuntary muscular fibers such as the myocardium and gastric and intestinal muscular coat are stimulated.  There are mental disturbances such as mania, melancholia, psychosis, and delirium.  All of these symptoms are alluded to in the Salem witchcraft records.
    It is one thing to suggest convulsive ergot poisoning as an initiating factor in the witchcraft episode, and quite another to generate convincing evidence that it is more that a mere possibility.  A jigsaw of details pertinent to growing conditions, the timing of events in Salem, and symptomology must fit together to create a reasonable case.  From these details, a picture emerges of a community stricken with an unrecognized physiological disorder affecting their minds as well as their bodies.
            1) Growing conditions.  The common grass along the Atlantic Coast from Virginia to Newfoundland was and is wild rye, a host plant for ergot.  Early colonists were dissatisfied with it as forage for their cattle and reported that it often made the cattle ill with unknown diseases (22).  Presumably, then, ergot grew in the New World before the Puritans arrived.  The potential source for infection was already present, regardless of the possibility that it was imported with the English rye.
            Rye was the most reliable of the Old World grains (22) and by the 1640's ot was a well-established New England crop.  Spring sowing was the rule; the bitter winters made fall sowing less successful.  Seed time for the rye was April and the harvesting took place in August (23).  However, the grain was stored in barns and often waited months before being threshed when the weather turned cold.  The timing of Salem events fits this cycle.  Threshing probably occurred shortly before Thanksgiving, the only holiday the Puritans observed.  The children's symptoms appeared in December 1691.  Late the next fall, 1692, the witchcraft crisis ended abruptly and there is no further mention of the girls or anyone else in Salem being afflicted (4, 9).

the article goes on to talk about the geography salem and how there were more affected in one part of salem than the other. it is all quite interesting.

i personally am not that thrilled with this movie. witchcraft and witches are still misunderstood in this country, in fact bush himself does not recognize the practice of wicca or paganism as real religions. people who identify as witches still have to hide in this country under which "freedom of religion" was one of the tenants that we were founded. it is all very disturbing.

btw, one site that i've found to be pretty good as far as the facts of the trials, as they were then, is: salem witch trials page

Anita Roddick: We Need More Like Her

Well, I did get myself out in the rain and over to Russell Sage College in Troy, where Blogsister (and socially responsible corporate entrepreneur/founder of The Body Shop) Anita Roddick was signing her new book (as well as her other books) at the college's "Social Responsibility Fair." She is in residence there this week as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. (I signed a few petitions and picked up some info about the local "Women Against War" group that I've been trying to catch up with.

Anita Roddick is as impressive in person as she is in her tireless work on behalf of human rights, fair trade, the environment, peace, and any number of issues that specifically affect women. Luckily, I arrived early enough to catch her before the throngs beseiged her for photo ops and further discussions of questions that she stirred in her presentation earlier in the day. She welcomed me as a Blogsister, and I commandeered a passerby to take this photo.

Next to Anita, I look like something that just came in from the rain (which is exactly what I was.) I think I need to trek over to my neighborhood Body Shop and see what she's got there to help spruce me up. I did wear my Blogsister's t-shirt, though. My thanks to Anita's colleague, Blogsister Brooks Shelby Biggs, whom I finally thought to email in hopes that she would mention to Anita that I was going to show up -- which she was happy to do.


Hello all -

Did you catch this beauty? From Yahoo! News
Top Stories - AP

Man Arrested for Wearing Peace T-Shirt
Wed Mar 5, 6:15 AM ET Add Top Stories - AP to My Yahoo!

By DAMITA CHAMBERS, Associated Press Writer

ALBANY, N.Y. - A man was charged with trespassing in a mall after he refused to take off a T-shirt that said "Peace on Earth" and "Give peace a chance."

Mall security approached Stephen Downs, 61, and his 31-year-old son, Roger, on Monday night after they were spotted wearing the T-shirts at Crossgates Mall in a suburb of Albany, the men said.

The two said they were asked to remove the shirts made at a store there, or leave the mall. They refused.

The guards returned with a police officer who repeated the ultimatum. The son took his T-shirt off, but the father refused.

"'I said, `All right then, arrest me if you have to,'" Downs said. "So that's what they did. They put the handcuffs on and took me away."

Downs pleaded innocent to the charges Monday night. The New York Civil Liberties Union said it would help with his case if asked.

Police Chief James Murley said his officers were just responding to a complaint by mall security.

"We don't care what they have on their shirts, but they were asked to leave the property, and it's private property," Murley said.

A mall spokeswoman did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment.

Monday's arrest came less than three months after about 20 peace activists wearing similar T-shirts were told to leave by mall security and police. There were no arrests.


Just had to share that one with you...

- Karen

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

women call for peace in yachats, oregon

The letters SOS are understood worldwide as a call of distress. These letters, the O turned into the symbol of the peace movement, are composed of women who shed their clothing Saturday [22 February 03] in a grassy field near Waldport [Ore.] to express their views against war. Organizers of the event arranged for a chartered plane to fly over and photograph the peace message.

read more about the action, that i participated in, at women send SOS call for peace. and see even more pictures of women all over the world at baring witness.

Sign Emergency Petition to U.N.

Once, there was a bogus fwd-the-email petition going around that purported to be aimed at the United Nations. It was fake, false nonsense. Now, thanks to, here's the real thing.

The emergency petition's going to be delivered to the 15 member states of the Security Council on THURSDAY, MARCH 6.

If hundreds of thousands of us sign, it could be an enormously important and powerful message -- people from all over the world joining in a single call for a peaceful solution. But we really need everyone who agrees to sign up today. You can do so easily and quickly at:

The stakes couldn't really be much higher. A war with Iraq could kill tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and inflame the Middle East. According to current plans, it would require an American occupation of the country for years to come. And it could escalate in ways that are horrifying to imagine.

We can stop this tragedy from unfolding. But we need to speak together, and we need to do so now. Let's show the Security Council what world citizens think. Sign the emergency petition to the U.N.

technology questions

Question 1: I'm thinking about converting to a Mac when I buy a laptop, and I'm wondering if any of the sisters have any thoughts or advice re: the Mac vs. PC issue.

Question 2: I've been using Manila for my blog, mostly because that's what's available and familiar to me (I'm not all that technologically savvy --I know a handful of html codes and I make the most of them!). But I'm frustrated because I can't figure out if there's a way, in Manila, to allow readers to comment without their having to "join" my weblog. I don't get many comments, and I suspect that one reason (among others) is that having to become a member of the blog to post is a disincentive. So does anyone know if Manila can be tweaked to eliminate this obstacle? Or, if not, what software do you like?

Hello - from a new blog sister

I've just joined blog sisters and so far it has been very interesting and encouraging reading. What a wonderful place!

Given that there was recently posted a picture of a Muslim woman in a burqa I thought some of you might enjoy reading something from the perspective of a Muslim woman: About the Burqa - a Muslim Woman Speaks Out.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Speaking of Anita Roddick!

So, I log onto Blog Sisters to sing the praises of Blog Sister Anita Roddick, and there she is, posting (below) about the virtual march that she is organizing for London. But I'm mentioning her for another reason. She's in my locality this week.

Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop and international activist, is spending this week at Russell Sage College in Troy as this year's Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. She's here to show her support for the new bachelor's degree program created by Brownell and Ingraham -- business and organizational management with a focus on social responsibility.

For those of you who don't know about Anita Roddick, the local newspaper article goes on to say:

She opened the first Body Shop in Brighton, England, in 1976. Today, the skin and hair care company has nearly 2,000 stores in 50 countries and is a leader in the social responsibility movement. Calling itself a "corporation with a conscience," The Body Shop uses ethical, environmental and socially responsible methods to produce its products and conduct business. For example, the company promotes fair trade by working cooperatively with small producers and protects the environment by using minimal and recyclable packaging.

The corporation encourages these values outside the company's framework by campaigning for the protection of the environment and against animal testing within the cosmetics industry. The Body Shop supports human and civil rights actions -- from fair employment practices worldwide to volunteerism within local communities.

Roddick's activism isn't limited to business, however, or to one area of the globe. It extends to women's business cooperatives in Ghana, to safe sex initiatives in India and to London, where she is speaking out against a possible U.S.-led war in Iraq.
(And organizing a virutal march, as her post below explains.)

I buy my cosmetics at our local Body Shop. If you never tried them, you should. Not only are they great products, but I love the fact that a company like Anita's is behind them and that she's a Blog Sister!!

I wonder if I show up wearing my Blog Sisters t-shirt at one of the events at which she's featured, if it will get me a personal intro.

Virtual March on London

Greetings fellow Blog Sisters...

I have just launched a grass-roots effort in hopes of duplicating the success of last week's amazing Virtual March on Washington, only this time in London. The idea is to get a critical mass of people to ring, fax, or email the UK Parliament and Number 10 Downing Street on a single day -- 10 March -- to register their opposition to the seemingly inevitable war on Iraq. If it works well, we can jam the switchboards just like the million activists in the US did last week. Our theme is "Jam #10 on the 10th!"

To make this "Virtual March on London" work, we need to get the word out, and fast! That's why I'm asking for your help. Spread the word, tell your friends. All of the information on logistics, the telephone numbers to call, how to locate your MP (if you're a British citizen) is all available on my site.

Thanks in advance for your support, and keep up the great work!

Sunday, March 02, 2003

A Request

I have a friend and she has been suffering from abuse from a man that she loves very much. She left him a few days ago, and that has been a very hard thing for her to do.

Any kind words or just empathy would most likely help her a lot.


After my second daughter's musical performance, we broke the sound barrier getting to her basketball championship game. She changed in the car, transfixing from a concert black and white stick figure to a fiery red and navy blue high-charged athlete. Her team won. Some days are just good. I offered, "Look, would you like to do a little shopping tonight?"

She quitely searched for a particular type of shoe, with no luck. Finally, as the cashiers were trying desparately to close, we passed by one more store. I opened the heavy glass door. We barely stuck out bodies inside. I asked too loudly to a woman too far away,

"Do you have any Chuck Norrises'?"
I turned to my daughter and asked, "That is what you called them, right?"
"Just 'Chucks', I guess" she shyly murmered. I envisioned a over-souled hiking boot with a big "CHUX" on it somewhere.
"JUST CHUCKS," the woman yelled back, as a relay to the other workers on the floor.
"You mean Chuck Taylors? The high top Converse?" responded the only male in the room.

Then of course the dime dropped. I had heard of Chuck Taylors before, and I was certainly familiar with the old Converse style. I never knew it was the same shoe. I am SUCH a girl.

Well, not really. I grew up with three extremely athletic brothers, all of us beget by a minor league ball player, with the help of a beautiful lady with nice legs. We all got my father's legs, for good or for ill, along with his eye-hand coordination, sense of balance, and ferocious intensity. It made for good athletes. But as much as my brothers always included me in every game they played in the yard - mud or snow football, hardball (we had a real backstop in our backyard), and basketball, there was nothing they could do about team sports. When my dad coached their little league, I hung from monkey bars, viewing the game from afar. When I got a older, the most I could participate was to sit on the bench and learn to keep score. I was always around sports enough to appreciate it; but I was never, as the saying goes, inside baseball.

So I did not know who Chuck Taylor was. I have a vivid memory of putting one of my brother's cups up to my face, pretending it was a pilot's mask, because I didn't know it had nothing to do with oxygen. It makes me laugh now to think (1) that they would actually leave them around on the kitchen table like salt and pepper shakers or bags of groceries and (2) what must have been going on in their minds when they saw me do that.

Anyway, I like it that my daughters will go out for any sport they see, that they know the terminology and folklore, that they can relate to the boys in their class on a substantive level, that their names get mentioned on the PA system during homeroom, and that they generally feel pretty darn good about themselves, even though championships are often few and far between.

If we take away Title IX funding, too many girls end up back on the monkey bars, watching from a distance.

This piece is posted at Berlin Blog and was prompted by today's post at Outside Counsel, that reminds us of marathon runner Kathy Switzer.

What to do with teenagers when roller skating gets old? SkyZone!

As the mother of a teenage daughter, figuring out activities that give ME a break, are nearby, don't involve computers and cell phones...