Monday, May 31, 2004

from a bubble from the ground, comes the metolius river. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 28, 2004

Find a Job Rant

I am going to have rant right now. When is the job market going to become better than it has been? Why is it that recruiters are not really even looking at resumes? What is the point of writing one when they are not even paying attention? To get myself through college, I was working as a Help Desk Analyst. So now I am always getting calls like these

Me: Hello?

Recruiter: Hello, may I speak to Shevonne Polastre?

Me: This is she...

Recruiter: Hi, my name is So-and-So, I was wondering if you are still in the market?

Me (excited): Yes, yes I am.

Recruiter: Oh great! I work for Such-and-Such. I have a wonderful Help Desk opportunity. Would you be interested?

My heart sinks once again. I could take the lower or higher ground. If I took the lower, I would say

Me: I gather that you didn't even pay attention to my resume. No, I am not looking for a Help Desk position. This is the reason that the resume title was "English Grad looking to start Writing Career."

However, I take the higher ground and say

Me: No, I am sorry, but I am looking for a position closer to my major.

Recruiter: Oh, what is your major?

Me: English

Recruiter: Oh, ok. Well good luck!

This is my plead. Please, please take the extra seconds to read everything on someone's resume. When someone is desperately looking for a job, it doesn't help when she is shot down for a position that she wasn't fond of, but only had to finance her way through college and life. I want to start a career in either Writing or Public Relations.
Public Relations you might ask. Well, every time I throw social events, they are always wonderful, and I love planning them. So, why not.

Well good luck to all you fellow job seekers. I don't know. I hear that fast food places make about $9 an hour now. At least if I have that on my resume, I will get called for Customer Service positions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Fighting Negative Body Image MEssages In The Media

I was just send a link to this great website: It has a list of offending images and a list of images that show empowered women.

We all know this is a big issue, it's probably got a greater influence than most of us realize. I think I'm lucky to have grown up watching classic movies more than I looked at magazines, my mental image of a gorgeous woman is Ingrid Bergman in a well tailoerd suit with a ridiculous 1940's hat, or Katherine Hepburn playing golf, not a twig-legged girl lying prone and submissive in a transparent dress (one of the images listed on the "bad" side").

This isn't the worst thing going on in the world right now, but it's still worth our attention.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Phileas Fogg - India

So far, we've visited small bits of North America, Europe, and Asia in our quest to compile our own list of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Today, we're heading to the subcontinent and a look at India.

My husband and I made a trip to India a couple of months before 9/11, limiting our travels to Delhi (Hell) and the Indian Himalayas (Heaven). Stars and Stripes, my then-employer, had me pen a short article for their travel section:

With a backpack, $700 and a copy of a “Lonely Planet” guidebook, I landed in Delhi for a two-day decompress before what I thought would be an arduous trip to Dharamsala, my first stop in the Himalayas and the home of Tibet’s exiled Dalai Lama.

Delhi is everything the guidebooks describe, multiplied by 10. Crowding the streets are one-legged beggars, sacred cows freely roaming heavily trafficked boulevards and vendors hawking everything from brightly colored silk saris (clothes worn by Hindu women) and Spiderman undergarments to wooden statues of the Hindu god Ganesh and laminated pictures of Mother Theresa.

The most unforgettable part of the experience is the smell. Imagine the most unthinkable human decay and add to that exhaust pouring from hundreds of thousands of vehicles. Now add to that several hundred gallons of disinfectant. They don’t call it “Smelly Delhi” for nothing.

Because our vacation was only two weeks long, our experience in India was very limited. But, places in BOLD are places I've been. Readers can add their recommendations below. Also, please be sure to check out the State Department's travel advisory on India should you go.

You can find the rest of this post here.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Diety 'o' the Week - Gilgamesh

Diety 'o' the Week is a regular Sunday feature at Rox Populi.

In honor of the "mess" we've made of Mesopotamia (apologies to Jon Stewart), this week's featured diety is Gilgamesh.

...He is the precursor of Heracles and other folk heroes. Gilgamesh is the son of Ninsun, a comparatively obscure goddess who had a palace-temple in Uruk. His father in the King-List is mysteriously described as 'lillû', which may mean 'fool' or a demon of the vampire kind, as well as being a high-priest of Kullab (part of Uruk) . On other occasions, he refers to Lugulbanda as his semi-divine 'father'. Gilgamesh is fifth on the King-List and reigned in Uruk around 2700 BCE (or some hundred years or so later) for 126 years (his son reigned a mere 30 years). He was famous as a great builder and as a judge of the dead.

The Epic of Gilgamesh was preserved on clay tablets which were deciphered in the last century. It contains the adventures of the great King of Uruk (southern Babylonia) in his fruitless search for immortality and of his friendship with Enkidu, the wild man from the hills.

Most of the poems of this epic were already written down in the first centuries of the second millenium BCE, but probably existed in much the same form many centuries earlier. The final recension, and most complete edition, comes from the seventh century library of Assurbanipal, antiquary and last great king of the Assyrian empire.

This post may also be found here.

and watch her as she grows in his garden

laying between sweaty cats, with my window wide open to free some of my emotions into the night sky.

so many things.

i dreamed of a place where you had to lay down on the ground to move into different rooms. i found two old silver frames in an antique store, both too expensive to buy. my father and i walked together. my mother, sorting through collections of old objects, was followed by large black spiders.

i awoke and found my fingers so swollen that they wouldn't move. it was 4:23pm. i clothed myself, and entered the loungeroom. suzi and bronwyn, sprawled over the couch, laughing and full with life. i was there, amongst them, it.

jelousy is a mean thing.
it just sits under my ribs.

the anger, it's there too.

why are they so beautiful? why can't i be? why can't i have what they have, why couldn't i have had those opportunities? why is my body so broken and theirs is so beautiful?

i just wrote a list of my loves. i erased it, because it just seems so redundant to write a list of loves, because there's so many of you. but some of you, you know who you are. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. I LOVE YOU SO SO SO MUCH. you know who you are. some of you are here in my house, in my prescence, some of you are in my heart, but you live across the ocean. it's our ocean. we share it. no matter where you are, i love you.

the smell of a cat who's just come in from the cold is beauty.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Google Me Kate

One of my all-time favorite movies, DESK SET, finally came out on DVD on May 4th. For me this is a joyous occasion that warrants reprinting a little piece I wrote last winter:

Among the holiday films that show up this time of year, the one I’m really waiting to see again, for the umpteenth time, is DESK SET. It’s not available on DVD, and I refuse to buy even one more VHS tape, so I depend on one or more of the cable channels showing it at least once a year. Made in 1957. Stars Tracy and Hepburn. Set in the corporate offices of a fictional TV network called the Federal Broadcasting Corporation, or FBC. On the small chance you couldn’t figure it out for yourself, it's NBC and NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center (“30 Rock” to quote Benjy Stone in MY FAVORITE YEAR, another film about a TV network in the ‘50s). The screenplay was written by Henry and Phoebe Ephron, 40 years before their daughters Nora and Delia would whip up another little cyber rom-com, YOU'VE GOT MAIL.

Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, head of the network’s Reference Department. Kate and co-workers Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill and Sue Randall [aka the Beav's teacher Miss Landers], toil merrily --or, in Dina’s case Merrilly--all day long, forming a gal-powered search engine which serves the network as a kind of ur-Google. "The girls" spend their daily 9 to 5 tracking down answers to questions such as:

What kind of car does the king of the Watusis drive?
How much damage is caused annually to American forests by the sprucebud worm?

In short: these women have my dream job, and it's *still* my dream job just as much now as it was way back when I first saw this movie, probably 30 years ago or more.

Kate and her staff, when not busy researching myriad fascinating topics, are forever going downstairs to the corporate lunch counter for a coffee break, or spending the noon hour drooling over fabulous outfits at Bonwit Teller, or dishing via the company grapevine, a secretarial backchannel that keeps everyone instantly updated on who’s been promoted and who’s getting the dreaded pink slip.

Kate/Bunny is a valued corporate commodity, compensated well enough to wear Adrian and St. Laurent duds and live in a swanky midtown apartment with a fireplace and vaulted ceilings. There she spends her off hours preparing the kind of desserts nobody makes in 2004, like “Floating Island”, whatever that is, and waiting for phone calls from her up-and-coming VP boyfriend who has a problem with commitment, as that kind of executive boyfriend always does. His looks are of the flippant, smarmy, Gig Young variety; possibly because he’s played by Gig Young. Kate fusses and sighs over him and pays him all the expected attentions, Gig being a real Catch and all, but it’s clear that she’s just going through the motions; doing her best 1950s career gal swoon while wondering if she will ever meet her intellectual equal… her soulmate… the man of her dreams.

Right on cue, Spencer Tracy comes shambling into the Reference department and wordlessly begins measuring the floor space, making cryptic entries on a little notepad, reading over the women’s shoulders, and generally being a giant pain in the patoot. Eventually he introduces himself as Richard Sumner, an efficiency expert hired by the head of the network. Tracy/Sumner is an absent-minded scientist type who wears mismatched socks and has no perceptible social skills. He’s a great admirer of Beauty With Brains, plus he’s cute as a Gund teddy bear himself, so it’s perfectly obvious what will happen next. Kate eyes him and simultaneously is drawn to a fellow egghead, is appalled by his proto-geekiness, and suspects that he’s the harbinger of corporate downsizing for her beloved troop of research gals. But even so, how can she resist? He IS played by Spencer Tracy, after all. Sh-boom! It’s love!

Being such a couple of whizkids, it’s no time at all before Kate deduces that Tracy is actually the developer of one of those newfangled “electronic brains”, and Tracy learns that Hepburn can solve logic problems and deconstruct palindromes while sitting outside in sub-zero temperatures eating a roast beef sandwich.
Falling hard, Tracy compares Kate to a rare tropical fish, an analogy that sends shivers through the besotted Hepburn even more than the Arctic blast raking across the rooftop the eccentric Tracy has chosen as the site for a late-November lunch date.

Kate guesses that Tracy is planning to install his invention, a livingroom-sized computer named EMERAC, in the reference department. She also surmises that EMERAC is meant to replace her and Joan and Dina and Sue. Oh! What will happen? What will happen??! (as the soon to be spoiled by success Rock Hunter was wont to say in that very same year of 1957).

And that's the set up. The rest of the movie is all false assumptions, mistaken identities, witty ripostes, banter and silliness. Kate and Joan get plastered at the company Christmas party and keep calling the Lexington Avenue bus “the Mexican Avenue bus”, which for some reason is hilarious. Tracy gets soaked in a rainstorm and has to take refuge in Hepburn's apartment, where he must doff his wet clothes and innocently don the gift bathrobe meant for Gig, who of course puts in a surprise appearance just in time to Assume the Worst. (Kate, you slut!) Then Tracy puts the finishing touch on his conquest of Hepburn's heart by doing a comedic impression of a disheveled drunk guy, which reduces her to a snorking, guffawing puddle of mirth.

EMERAC arrives along with Miss Warriner, an operator-technician who is obviously a tight-sphinctered prig, which we of course know instantly because she wears a drab business suit, glasses, and her hair all neurotically clenched up in a bun. Hilariously, Miss W is also such a cultural illiterate that in the climactic scene she incorrectly inputs the name of the island Corfu as “Curfew”, which makes EMERAC go all haywire and inspires Kate to render a few melodramatic verses of the Rose Hartwick Thorpe chestnut “Curfew Must Not Ring To-night!”.

It should be noted that EMERAC, one of the very few computers that can be fixed with a single bobbypin, is portrayed in this film by a 8' by 12' rectangle of synchronized flashing lights which went on to co-star in the movie and TV series “Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea” and a couple episodes of “Star Trek” a few years later.

Ultimately everything works out fine. Tracy and Hepburn end up in a clinch, and the credits roll...on perforated-paper computer printouts, of course.

I just love it. Always have. Everyone else seems to rank this movie way down with the lesser entries in the Tracy-Hepburn ouevre, such as SEA OF GRASS and KEEPER OF THE FLAME. But for me, DESK SET sits squarely up on top of the heap. Even the classic ADAM'S RIB can’t exceed it in providing sheer, perfect enjoyment.

And finally, how could anyone resist a movie where Katharine Hepburn plays a character named Bunny? I rest my case.

Crossposted on Tild~.

Let's Not Forget Children

Food is one of the most elemental components of survival and growth. Yet in the summer, when school lets out, the number of children receiving supplemental lunches drops from 15 million to 3 million. Many of these children come from families considered the "working poor." They just don't have enough income to make ends meet, and the school lunch program is a way of getting at least one decent meal into their children. Eights weeks of feeding two school-age children in the summer strains the family budget. Attempting to solve this problem via governmental program alone is cumbersome and ineffective. You have the power to make a difference in a very tangible way. Go shopping and bring your purchases to a local food bank. Donate money in the summer and not just at holiday time.

The National Association of Letter Carriers held its food drive a couple of Saturdays ago. In the past decade, they have collected 586,800,000 pounds of food during their annual drive. If you missed this opportunity, you can search for your local food bank on the America's Second Harvest site.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

unlock the secrets

why is mass media always unlocking the secrets of the lcd . . . lowest common denominator - cnn purports to unlock the secrets of the mind of a serial killer i submit, unlock the secrets of Malcolm X, unlock the secrets of Mother Teresa, unlock the secrets of the mind of M. Gandhi, or Rosa Parks

p-lease people - unlock something enlightening besides your violence
peace, cassie

Saturday, May 15, 2004

American Expectations?

I am enjoying the warm shower spray when I realize that maybe this may be the answer to the biggest problem in Iraq in May 2004. U.S. leaders and policy makers are moaning: Why don't they like us? Why are they acting ungrateful? What's wrong with the average Iraqi on the street?

I'm not talking about assassins who behead American captives for the video camera. I'm talking about the average Iraqi with access to newspapers and satellite TV. The image and expectation of the citizens of America-occupied-Iraqi may be exactly the one we feed the world daily through our media.

It's the shower with hot running water. It's the working traffic light on the corner, the timely pick-up of garbage, the food on the grocery shelves, the plumbing that flushes, the light that comes on at the flick of a switch. It's air conditioning, malls and smiling people in jeans. It's cars on smooth ribbons of paved super highways that America sells to the world. The lifestyle we take for granted: where everything works, the alarm goes off, we brew our electric perked coffee, the paper gets delivered, the school bus picks up the kids. It's that everyday routine. Life is easy and we take it for granted.

When everyday Iraqi's heard America was coming, that's what they thought they would get. The ease of a life where everything works the way it's supposed to, where logic applies, and they're in the flow.

Instead, we created chaos in a country where the normalcy was oppression, where any day, at any time, something could slip out of the routine into violence. But, when the Americans came, they may have been certain all this would be resolved. We can live in peace instead of fear, they may have said. We will have the certainties of the Americans; we will have a harmony of things that work, an abundance of goods, a routine of services just like those Americans. Instead we got more chaos and we resent it.

Cross posted at Its Certainly Time

Friday, May 14, 2004

"us" vs. "them"

I don't even know where to begin to describe my feelings about the ruthless beheading of a seemingly innocent person in Iraq. It just seems like more and more people are caught in the crossfire of the so-called war on terror. I feel terrorized from all sides. Saddened. Deeply, deeply grieving the death of not only the physical body but the spirit of common goodness. Grieving for the tortured victims and their horribly misguided torturers on both sides. Because what sort of evil presence in a life would convince someone to partake in any of this, really?

And so many people want to blame the "other side" - whichever side conveniently falls to other. "They" are animals. "They" are liars. "They" are criminals. "They" are terrorists. If "they" hadn't sent/given reason for "us" to be there, "they"/"we" wouldn't be in this position.

And while all of this blame and rhetoric is being passed around people are being tortured, people are dying, people are living in fear and abject poverty, people are being murdered.

I was reading a small victory yesterday, even though I promised myself I wouldn't do that anymore. And I ran across a comment from the lone leftie who still tries to post there. He said something that I've been thinking and I've tried to articulate, but I've never done a very good job. He said:

What I implied— and I stand by this —is that rage and sadness are no excuse for imprecision, especially on a subject as important as this is. Because, I'm fairly certain, you're wrong about all terrorists, even terrorists in Iraq, being "the worst kind of human being from top to bottom." Some of these people, like you, are reacting to rage and sadness. And not the rage and sadness of seeing someone they don't know murdered over a grainy internet feed; the rage and sadness of seeing their entire family killed by a bomb that dropped out of a U.S. airplane.

I don't think that excuses terrorism. I don't think that fact allows for beheadings or torture or murder on either side. I do think it's something we must think about and figure out how to incorporate into our policies and strategies for diplomacy and communication.

For me, the question is what causes the rage and sadness? What causes people to feel so much rage and so much sadness that they would do unspeakable acts because of it?

Is it George Bush? Nah. He's pretty horrifyingly anger-inducing, but he's not responsible. Last night, I was listening to a radio show in which the DJ was talking about the possibility that "the terrorists" might attempt to "influence our election the way they did in Spain." And I thought about that. I thought - which candidates would the terrorists want me to vote for? Do you think the terrorists would hate Kerry LESS than Bush? Seriously? Do you think Kerry is going to end the war on terror? And, if he does, do you think he's going to do it quietly and without actions that might precipitate more rage and sadness?

The thing is that we can't demonize the enemy. We can't make them out to be less then human, because you can't solve a human problem by excluding humanity from the equation. Because the war on terror is not a mythical battle of good and evil. Because, I'm sorry, but "good" and "evil" don't really exist exclusively within any single individual or any group of people...and arguing who is "right" and who is "wrong" hasn't gotten us anywhere.

My mind races and buzzes. I don't have a solution. I'm so fucking mad because I don't know the answers. I just know that it's not helping anyone to divide the world into "us" vs. "them" and set about to eliminate "them." Because some of "us" ARE "them."

Agh...I don't even know if I'm expressing this clearly. My feelings are all jumbled up. I just had a very visceral reaction to the audio description of the beheading of Nick Berg. I grieve for his family - his mother, who heard the news so close to mother's day. I, too, feel despair. Despair. And it saddens me deeply to read of how this has fueled even more hatred, and even more calls for retaliation. Because it does go on and on, doesn't it? And, as long as we keep throwing up barriers between "us" and "them," I can't imagine that it's ever EVER going to stop.

[cross-posted on my blog]

Mis-Education President

In an effort to court female voters, Bush now has wife Laura touting his failed education policy in a campaign ad. As I mentioned previously, I wrote an essay for Big Bush Lies about the unfunded mandate scam referred to in polite company as "No Child Left Behind." Edited by Jerry "Politex" Barrett of BushWatch fame, the book includes 20 essays about George W. Bush written by academics, legal experts, financial leaders, activists, and journalists. You can order it directly from the publisher, Riverwood Books.

In the meantime, if you want to know what's wrong with the ad and with Bush's education policy, this article is a must read. And here's my "poetic" take on the same topic:
Mis-Education President
By Madeleine Begun Kane
Bush swore he'd leave no child behind,
A very worthy goal.
Instead, he left the states a great big budgetary hole.

States' rights must be preserved, Dub said.
The states know what is best.
Then signed a law he failed to fund, which makes them test, test, test.

Bush said they have to test to prove
That kids learn what they must.
Then handed out a budget that betrays our nation's trust.
The rest of my Mis-Education President is here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Robot Stories - Socio Consc. Film Info

Greetings Blog Sistahzzz,
I am new to the blog and wanted to share my passion for film and postmodern theory by turning your attention toward a new independent film. I have not seen it yet but they have an awesome website and a blog and i thought that some of the blog sisters would enjoy the content as i have and may be able to catch the film as it travels to different locations.
take care, cassiopeia
Info on me:
website: Alamo Gallery
blog: Lisaz Slam

--- copy and paste from Robot Stories website --

Winner of over 30 awards, "Robot Stories" is science fiction from the heart, four stories starring Tamlyn Tomita ("Joy Luck Club," "Babylon 5") and Sab Shimono ("The Big Hit," "Suture") in which utterly human characters struggle to connect in a world of robot babies and android office workers. The stories include: "My Robot Baby," in which a couple must care for a robot baby before adopting a human child; "The Robot Fixer," in which a mother tries to connect with her dying son by completing his toy robot collection; "Machine Love," in which an office worker android learns that he, too, needs love; and "Clay," in which an old sculptor must choose between natural death and digital immortality. John Petrakis of the Chicago Tribune calls the film "one of the most moving pieces I've seen all year" while Entertainment Insiders calls it "the kind of science fiction sophisticated audiences crave and deserve."

Running mates: the roundup.

If you'll humor me for a moment, I'd like to present my completely unqualified opinion on Kerry's possible running mates, and what the deal with each of them is. I've read a lot of things from a lot of different sources, and I thought it was about time to put it all together into one "defininitive" list. So far, only Edwards, Clark, and Vilsack have been vetted (Kerry's close friend Jim Johnson is in charge of the official scouting process), but a lot of other names have been tossed around. Okay. Here we go.

The Short List:
  • John Edwards: Senator Edwards (from North Carolina) gained fame and fans during his run for the Democratic nomination. Because of his obvious charm and charisma, he's been described as a young version of Clinton, which could help balance Kerry's purported lack of personality. On the other hand, some say Edwards might overshadow Kerry on the campaign trail, which would be bad. Additionally, some people worry that the class warfare rhetoric that helped his cause during primaries will not be popular with moderates, and that his complete lack of foreign policy experience will continue to work against him on the national stage. Still, Edwards' roots in North Carolina might help Kerry win some Southern states, his optimistic message has made him very popular, and the ladies love him.

  • Dick Gephardt: With a long career in public service -- including twenty-six years in Congress -- Gephardt is seen as a safe pick. He has plenty of national campaign experience, since he's now run for president twice. Unfortunately, he's lost both of those bids of course, and nobody wants a perpetual loser on their ticket -- especially one who would be considered a rather boring and predictable choice.

  • Tom Vilsack: As governor of Iowa, Vilsack helped Kerry win his state during the caucuses. He's Roman Catholic and was raised in western Pennsylvania, two biographical details that could help a Democratic ticket win critical segments of the population (namely people in Western PA and religious folks). The Midwest is another expected battleground in which an Iowa governor could definitely be an asset. Also, his orphan-from-an-abusive-foster-home story beats Edwards' mill town sob story anyday. Unfortunately, even though Vilsack is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, he is hardly a household name, and some question whether he would have the experience to step in as president.

  • Bob Graham: This election year marks Graham's fourth year on the short list for VP (also in 2000, 1992 and 1988). Graham is hugely popular in bigtime swing state Florida (twenty-seven very key electoral votes), where he's a senior senator and has never lost a statewide election. He has that stale loser smell about him now though, since he dropped his bid for the presidency before Carol Moseley Braun. Some say his failed bid proved how bad he is at national campaigning, which is simply no good for a VP, whose main campaign duty is, well -- to campaign. Additionally, Graham keeps these strange compulsive notebooks in which he records everything (from constituent requests to when he went to the bathroom), and Gore's team found it weird enough to disqualify him.

  • Wesley Clark: Retired military general Clark lost his bid for the Democratic nomination, but gained a place in the national spotlight. He's a former Rhodes scholar (like Bill Clinton) and had the coolest title ever as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces (head of NATO). He's also from Arkansas (like Clinton), which could help Kerry in the South. But Clark has never been a senator, congressman, or governor, so many question whether he's qualified for the executive office. Also, he voted for Reagan. Ew.

The Longer List:
  • Joseph Biden: Sixty-one-year-old Biden, Democratic senator from Delaware, is considered one of the party's experts on foreign policy. He's been in the Senate for thirty-one years, and even considered running for president this year. He was top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported military action against Iraq, and is less critical of Bush than Kerry has been.

  • Evan Bayh: Bayh, a senator from Indiana, succeeded former VP-hopeful Joe Lieberman to become chairman of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. Rumors about Bayh as a possible contender for Kerry's VP started flying when he was spotted leaving his office with Jim Johnson.

  • Bill Richardson: Richardson is governor of swing state New Mexico, and -- as the only Hispanic governor in the country -- may be an asset in a close election. During the last election, Gore learned the hard way that the Latino vote could be critical in many battleground states. But that's not all Richardson has going for him. He also served in the House, as a U.N. ambassador, and as Energy Secretary under Clinton. Unfortunately, some controversies about security lapses at nuclear facilities while he was Energy Secretary might come back to haunt him if he runs on a national ticket. Additionally, Richardson has said that he plans on completely his term as governor.

  • Sam Nunn: The former senator from Georgia has centrist policies and strong credentials on defense issues that have been cited as good for a possible VP. Despite some buzz about him in the press, Nunn has specifically said (a) Kerry has not spoken with him, and (b) he would probably decline an invitation to be VP.

  • Mark Warner: As Democratic governor of usually-Repblican Virginia, Warner's gubernatorial campaign was bolstered by the fact that he ran as a fiscal conservative with a modern stance on gun issues. His recent tax hikes have made some question whether or not he's really a conservative, but his dashing young face might be just the thing statue man Kerry needs.

  • Bill Nelson: Senator from Florida whose energy and eloquence on TV has been duly noted by high-ups in Washington eager to put a little vim into Kerry's campaign.

  • Max Cleland: A former senator from Georgia, Cleland is also a fellow Vietnam vet who has defended Kerry's positions on national security by saying to the Bushies: "If you don't go to war, don't throw rocks at those who do."

  • Jane Harman: The Democratic Congresswoman from the Santa Monica region of California is ranking member of House Intelligence Committee and is considered strong on fighting terrorism. She's apparently done a lot of flip-flopping with her voting though, which is not the kind of consistency accused flip-flopper Kerry needs.

  • Howard Dean: Governor Dean still has legions of loyal supporters and continues to receive campaign nominations even though his campaign is officially over. Still, many have pointed out that he does not have the required chemistry with Kerry and that they really went head to head during the primaries. Also, Dean is from the Northeast, like Kerry, and -- geographically speaking -- that's just not what Kerry needs.

  • Hillary Clinton: She's one of the party's best fundraisers, but -- while she's hugely popular with some -- lots of people hate her. Also, she might overshadow Kerry on the ticket, and she's said time and again that she plans to finish her term as New York State senator.

  • John McCain: I know he's a Republican, but some have said he's just what Kerry needs to score a definitive win in November. During his 2000 campaign for the Republican nomination, he was a big hit with the media and with moderates in both camps. McCain and Kerry are close personal friends. But if we're talking about likelihood, a comment from McCain's spokeperson Marshall Wittmann (responding to rumors about McCain being Kerry's pick for VP) is worth noting: "It's not going to happen -- end of story, period, exclamation mark."

  • Beyonce: I'm not trying to ruin my credibility here, I'm just trying to do a full roundup. I'm not making the suggestions, I'm just listing them. Okay? So. Dave Pell of Electablog points out that the former Destiny's Child singer is adored by the public, has beat everyone she's come up against, and certainly would be an outside-the-box choice for someone considered very much inside the box.

  • Dave Pell: That's right, Dave Pell of Electablog, Forbes Magazine's #1 political blog, has also nominated himself. I thought it was at least worth mentioning. You disagree? Too bad.
Other names mentioned at least in passing include: Joe Lieberman (Connecticut senator, Gore's VP choice, presidential candidate, centrist), Al Gore (Clinton's VP, presidential candidate), Al Sharpton (perpetual presidential candidate), Dennis Kucinich (Congressman from Ohio, presidential candidate, way left lefty), Kathleen Sebelius (Governor of Kansas), Phil Bredesen (Governor of Tennessee), Janet Napolitano (Governor of Arizona), Harold Ford (Congressman from Tennessee), and Mary Landrieu (Senator from Louisiana).

Even though only one person will end up being Kerry's running mate, it doesn't mean these people will just drop off the radar. It's worth pointing out that Kerry and Edwards were both finalists on Gore's list, edged out only by Lieberman. So keep these folks in mind, no matter what. You never know where they'll be in four years.

Is someone missing from my roundup? Let me know so that I can add them.

Thanks to Political Wire and Electablog for linking to so many good articles about the election. Here's a partial list of the articles I read in doing research for this guide:

Cross-posted at Fire & Ice.

Fire Rumsfeld: Action Center

Fire Rumsfeld: Action Center

Take action now! This is a little mild for my taste- I think he should be prosecuted for War Crimes- but an investigation is step one.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Iraqi Female Prisoners Face Future of Shame -- or Death

One woman told her attorney that she was forced to disrobe in front of male prison guards. After much coaxing, another woman described how she was raped by U.S. soldiers. Then she fainted.

Raped by a U.S. soldier and then she fainted. Removing a woman's headscarf is traumatic enough. But rape? I can't even wrap my head around these heart-breaking accounts. We normally embrace victims here in the US, but the culture is so much different in Iraq.

A woman who is raped brings shame on her family in the Islamic world. In many cases, rape victims have been killed by their relatives to salvage family honor, although there is no evidence this has happened to women who have been prisoners in Iraq.

As the administration decides when or if to publish more prison abuse photos, let's hope the identity of all the victims remain anonymous. I wish we didn't know the identity of the first prisoners photographed. The stigma is unbearable, and they're already emotionally sentenced to a lifetime of humiliation and disgrace.

--Tracy Wilkinson, LATimes
[link] - (no registration)

Posted by: Susan Cook & cross-posted to - Easy Bake Coven.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Alice Sheldon and James Tiptree Jr.

What do these names have in common? They both belonged to this person. I've been thinking about Tiptree stories a lot lately. I haven't read them for years, but I plan to pull out my copies of OUT OF THE EVERYWHERE and UP THE WALLS OF THE WORLD and refresh my memory.

If you're an SF fan of a certain age, what I'm about to tell you is a well known story of a well known author. ....Probably well known. It's been so long since I last read SF and Fantasy regularly, and I am now so far removed from the fen of my youth, I don't remember anymore just how popular Tiptree was during her writing career that lasted roughly 20 years--1968 to 1987-- but I believe she was fairly well-known at the time, and certainly won many awards. For those of you who have never heard of James Tiptree Jr., a pseudonym used by the author Alice Sheldon, nor of Alice Sheldon herself, nor read any of her remarkable, razor-sharp writing: it's time you did.

Galen Strickland has done a fine job of summarizing Sheldon's life on his most excellent site The Templeton Gate.

James Tiptree, Jr. [was] the most commonly used pseudonym of Dr. Alice Hastings Bradley Sheldon (1915-1987), a clinically trained psychologist and a former operative of the C. I. A. Her father was a lawyer and world traveller and her mother was a world-famous geographer and author of more than thirty travel books. Much of her formative years were spent in Africa and India and her first career was that of a graphic artist and painter. She then joined the Army and spent most of World War 2 in a Pentagon sub-basement, working in photo intelligence for the Army Air Corps. It was there she met her second husband, Huntington Sheldon.

She was discharged in 1946 having obtained the rank of Major. The Sheldons attempted a business venture, which failed. They both then joined the newly formed C. I. A., her husband retaining his position with that agency when she resigned in 1955. She attended college sporadically for many years, and also taught statistics and psychology. She obtained her doctorate in experimental psychology in 1967. The following year her first SF story - "Birth of a Salesman" - appeared in Analog (as by Tiptree), although she had previously published a story in The New Yorker under her real name as early as 1946.

Her pen-name was derived from a brand label on a jar of marmalade - don't bother looking for that label in your supermarket unless you live in England - and her most convincing argument for its use was that her business colleagues would be sure to censure her if they knew she wrote science fiction. Her true identity was not known for many years by even the editors who purchased her stories. She never met or spoke on the telephone with anyone connected with publishing, and all correspondence was directed to a post office box in rural Virginia. In various letters to editors, fanzines, and other writers an outline of her biography was given, and although her work included several sensitive and sympathetic female characters, it was generally assumed that Tiptree was male. I have never been sure exactly when and by whom her deception was discovered, but it did not occur until sometime in 1976, around the time of the death of her mother. As late as 1975, Robert Silverberg, in his introduction to Tiptree's second short story collection, Warm Worlds and Otherwise, would make this very bold and now obviously incorrect remark:

"It has been suggested that Tiptree is female,
a theory that I find absurd, for there is to me something
ineluctably masculine about Tiptree's writing."

This was for a collection that included a story which in retrospect should have given us unmistakable clues as to the gender of the writer. The title itself is quite ironic - "The Women Men Don't See" - and the story is a veritable microcosm of the man/woman dilemma. The narrator is a male who escorts two women toward their rendezvous with an alien spacecraft. He is unable to understand their motives, but it is evident they view the adventure as merely trading one set of alien masters for another which may prove to be more tolerable. This story was nominated for a Nebula in 1974, but Tiptree withdrew it from competition. She would later reveal to Ursula LeGuin her reason for doing so was the many remarks concerning the story being an example that a man was capable of writing interesting and sympathetic female characters, and a prize for the story would have only added to the deceit her pseudonym had already created.

The story I think of most these days is "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" which was published in 1976 when Sheldon was 61. In it, three contemporary American astronauts are caught up in a time vortex that sends them several hundred years into the future. For reasons that are made apparent to the reader sooner than to the story's astronauts, there are no men alive on Earth in this future; the entire population consists of a few thousand women, cloned from a few basic genome types. When the male astronauts encounter no one who is not female, they grow increasingly frustrated that they are not meeting anyone 'with authority' , and ask repeatedly: "But, where are all the people?" (Meaning, where are all the men).

Now think about the current situation with Abu Ghraib prison. Male prisoners are being raped, tortured and abused, and the world reacts with disgust and horror. Female prisoners are being raped, tortured, and abused, and somehow the reaction of the world is much more matter of fact. Many people will be thinking: Yeah, This is the everyday world that women live in. Nothing unusual. A fact of life.
But, what about the people? You know: the men. Oh, well that's different. And why is that? They're not used to it. Rape, torture, and abuse are not a given, an everyday fact of life for men.
I'd love to read what Alice Sheldon would say about Abu Ghraib.

Along with "The Women Men Don't See," her second collection includes several other impressive stories, most notably two award winners, "Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death" (Nebula) and "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" (Hugo). The latter is considered by many to be the first of the cyberpunk tales, long before William Gibson arrived on the scene. Others that I would recommend are "All the Kinds of Yes" and "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain." STAR SONGS OF AN OLD PRIMATE was the next collection, published in 1978, a little more than a year following the revelation of Tiptree's true identity. The most notable story is again an investigation into the gulf between the sexes. "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" won both the Hugo (in a tie with Spider Robinson's "By Any Other Name") and Nebula awards as the best novella published in 1976.

She and her husband "Ting" (short for Huntington) in later years spent much time in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico. The Quintana Roo is part of the Yucatan Peninsula; the area which contains Cancún, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Tulum. It is the home of the modern-day descendants of the Mayans. "Alli" and Ting had a great love for this area, and Alice wrote several memorable stories about it, collected in the volume TALES OF THE QUINTANA ROO, published in 1986.

I gave my sister and her husband a copy of that book one of the first years they went down to Akumal, a still relatively sleepy little town sixty miles south of Cancún, in the heart of the Quintana Roo. When they returned I was delighted to hear that they had not only read the book cover to cover during their stay in Akumal, but also were so thoroughly spooked by the stories they stayed awake an entire night, sitting on the beach with a lone lit candle, watching the moonlight on the waves.

[Strickland]: Even though her persona was penetrated mid-way through her writing career, Tiptree/Sheldon will forever remain an intriguing mystery. She rarely spoke of her personal life, and never of her work for the government, so it is through her fiction we must attempt an analysis of her philosophy and her legacy. Sadly, the end of her life was as tragic as the previous years had been enigmatic. In failing health herself, she fulfilled a promise she had made to her now blind and bed-ridden husband years before.

On May 19, 1987, at the age of 71, Alice Sheldon took the life of her invalid husband, aged 84, and then shot herself in the head. They were found dead, hand in hand in bed, in their McLean, Virginia home.

Whatever you do, do NOT end your reading about Alice Sheldon before visiting this wonderful site, and especially the deeply personal remembrance by her close friend Mark Siegel.

The James Tiptree Jr. Award is an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender. Created and first given in 1991, it is awarded annually at WisCon, the world's only feminist SF convention. WisCon 28 will be held on Memorial Day weekend, May 28-31, 2004 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Cross-posted on my blog.

Be part of a gender/internet survey.

I know from these two years of posts and contacts that various Blog Sisters have had experiences as "female bloggers" about which they feel very strongly. Here's a chance (or maybe, for some of you, another chance) to have your experiences counted in a data gathering dissertaion project.

Click here to participate in a online gender survey being conducted by Gemma Rietdyke, a graduate student at Manchester University.

This is how she describes her project:
On first consideration, the internet provides women with a genderless forum. A place where we can interact free from social barriers and restrictions that we experience in the real world which are mainly due to gender stereotyping and resulting behaviour. With no visual clues, we can in theory, interact with our online friends without being a woman and the inequalities and discrimination that we often face. However, in practice is this true? Many women have reported that they experience intimidation and harassment online simply for exuding or having a female persona. Other women report that the internet has empowered them as a woman, building their confidence as their opinions are takan on their merit rather than judged by their gender. Exploring this area of gender dynamics offers an insight into whether gender is a biological or social concept.

This is what Gemma told me: To date, I have been accused of
spamming, undertaking research 'that's not really life or death' and being a male basher the minute I enter into mixed forums. Can blog sisters help me?

C'mon. I know that many of you have experience-based opinions internet-related gender issues. Share them with Genna and get them included in an official study.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

A Different Mother's Day

More than 10,000 Iraqi civilians have perished in the last year. Their mothers will be without their children on Sunday.

The mothers of 767 deceased American troops will be without their children this Mother's Day.

"There have been 873 [total] coalition deaths, 767 Americans, 59 Britons, six Bulgarians, one Dane, one Estonian, 17 Italians, two Poles, one Salvadoran, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and six Ukrainians, in the war as of May 7, 2004," according to CNN. And every Mother's Day here on out will be painful for the parents of these service women and men.

Approximately 135,000 mothers of American troops currently serving in Iraq won't see their children this Mother's Day.

I searched high and low to find stats on the number of mothers-in-uniform currently serving in Iraq and came up empty. Nevertheless, it's too hard to understand the magnitude of the loss when you're just looking at numbers.

So, let's meet Pfc. Lori Piestewa. You may remember her as being part of Jessica Lynch's ambushed unit.

Mom, soldier and Hopi Indian: 'She fought and died valiantly'

By Jeordan Legon

...A gentle snow swept across Arizona's Painted Desert April 5, the same day the Pentagon announced the death of Pfc. Lori Piestewa.

The soldier, a mother of two believed to be the first American Indian woman ever killed in combat, was the pride of the Hopi Indians living in Tuba City, Arizona. In this tightknit town of 9,000, the unseasonable flurry signified Piestewa's spiritual journey home.

"In the Hopi belief, when one is deceased, they come back home. They visit the family, their community through the moisture," Hopi Tribal Chairman Wayne Taylor told reporters after the snowfall. "And this is what happened just a while ago. So I think we were blessed today."

Read the rest here.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Obligatory Origins of Mother's Day post

I'm sure this gets posted every year, but it's worth it:

Julia Ward Howe
27 May 1819 to 17 October 1910.

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.

click here for the full proclamation.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Boing Boing: Blessed Britney

From Boing Boing: Blessed Britney According to The Mirror, dear Britney Spears has demonstrated her devotion to Kabbalah (the new age Madonna variety, of course) by getting a Hebrew tattoo on the back of her neck.

Not only is it ironic that the Torah forbids tattoos, but it is ironic that Brittany's tattoo means as much as her devotion to Kabbalah...NADA!! I often wondered why idiots people decided it was a good idea to get tattoos in languages that they didn't understand or have a connection to. Brittany's tattoo means as much as Madonna's press-on bindi, but at least Madonna's came off! Talk about justice for misappropriation of culture.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Happy Mother's Day

Okay, I'm a little early but . . .Happy Mother's Day

Save the Children has published a report on the
State of the World's Mothers, intended to coincide with celebrations of Mother's Day. Out of 119 countries rated, Sweden is ranked number 1 and the US 10th in terms of well-being of mothers and children, while Iraq (just for comparison)is 89th and Niger the last. In addition to presenting the problems the world's women and children face (including children having children, poverty and poor health, and limited access to education), the report makes many concrete recommendations about what can be done to improve even the direst situations. These recommendations include:
--helping girls get an education
--tailoring health services to young married women and girls (HELLO Bush administration: this means access to family planning information and services and an end to the
global gag rule)
--giving girls income earning options to help them delay marriage and childbearing
--supporting efforts to change social attitudes towards girls
--improving laws regarding minimum marriage age and enforcing laws already in place
--getting the US to commit to supporting girls education programs at home and around the world.

The details are in the report, which is both chilling and encouraging at the same time. Go to Save the Children's Legislative Center for ideas about how you can take action. Then give your kids and your mom and your family and friends a hug, and count your blessings.

cross-posted at Distracted

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Politics: Ben & Jerry's rocks the vote

I signed up with Rock the Vote today. I did so by going to the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream site and signing a pledge to vote on November 2. I also agreed to contact at least five friends by email and encourage them to rock the the vote. But, hey! I have a blog, so why not let more people in on a good thing? If I were not already a registered voter, I would have gone to and signed up.

Consideration? (You know how lawyers are, eh?) In return for joining Rock the Vote, I am getting a free download from the iTunes Music Store. I am competing in a contest to win a trip to Vermont to be a Ben & Jerry's Flavor Guru for a day, plus a new iMac and iPod from Apple, too.

The form is short and Ben & Jerry's will not sell your identifying information to marketers. So, there is no reason not to join. Go ahead. Rock it.

Note: This entry also appeared at Mac-a-ro-nies.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Enhance Your Expensive Liberal Arts Education

Dear Mr. President:

It is widely known that you do not read. Because reading is a habit one develops as a child, I'm going to assume that you've never been big on the reading "thing." Further, I will deduce that you missed out on a lot of important and instructive literature, even though you went to an Ivy League school and received the equivalent of a $100,000 education (that's in 70s dollars and hasn't been adjusted for inflation).

You shouldn't feel embarassed about this. I mean, it's not like you had all the resources other families had when you were growing up.

However, as you are the the leader of the free world, you might want to "bone up" on some historical and psychological stuff just so you can understand where the other guys are coming from and what motivates other people. Also, it gives you something to say at those annoying cocktail parties and state functions they're always making you attend.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you read because you don't like to read and it would take you too long to catch up. Luckily they've got these things called "films" now (not to be confused with movies) and a lot of them are based on those books you missed out on.

Just to start you out on the right track, I've provided a list of titles and descriptions from Netflix you might consider below (and, my friends will surely have other suggestions for you):

Find the rest of this post here.

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...