Thursday, October 30, 2008

McCain's Scapegoat

McCain is already laying the groundwork for blaming his lost election on a scapegoat. I'll bet you'll never guess who.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," says a McCain adviser.

She's "a whack job," says another senior adviser.

Sarah Palin, a whack job? You don't say! The left - and some of the right - have been saying that from the very beginning. I've read some speculation that she might even be narcissistic.

I think Politico's Roger Simon makes a good point. "Who put this 'whack job' on the ticket?" he asks. "McCain aides now say Palin is 'going rogue' and straying from their script."

Wait. Going rogue? Straying from the script? Not taking advice from anyone? That sounds familiar.

But hey. "What do you expect from a team of mavericks?"

Indeed, Mrs. Palin. What do you expect?

Pet Peeve

I have to take a time out just to complain about a work-related pet peeve I have that was just now irritated.

Please, please, please. For the love of all that's good and sane in this world.

Read the goddamn e-mail before you respond to it. I have no patience when I receive a reply that either asks the very question I answered in the original e-mail, refers me back to the same information I just said didn't help me, or doesn't address my questions at all and instead says something completely off-topic, irrelevant, and unrelated.


It's pretty damn basic: think before you leap, read before you reply, and show your recipient that you give enough of a damn to read their e-mail before responding.



I, like the vast majority of my culture, have fallen for the rule that Fat Women Are Gross. And I, as part of a tiny minority of my culture, am learning that that just isn't true. I'm not sure what I weigh now. I know I'm over 200 pounds, but I'm not sure how much over. I'm 5'5". I describe myself as "chubby" when I'm feeling optimistic, and "fat" when I'm not. Before I move on, I'm willing to bet that you've already made the assumption that I eat a lot more than I should and that I'm sexually starved.

Headline: Woman Eats Brownies, Gets Laid.

Well, here's the thing. To be honest, I don't know if I eat more than I should. Not anymore. I used to think so. But now I'm not so sure how much of that is our society dictating belief without evidence. (However, I do know that I do not eat healthily, and that likely has a lot to do with my weight.)

If I do eat more than I should, it's not because I'm sexually starved; it's not a substitute. Nor does being fat make me grossly unattractive. I get laid a lot. Couple times a week. I love every minute of it, and I have a strong suspicion that my partner does too. (If you just grossed out, then stop and think about what you just did, what prejudices you are host to, and why you think that way.) I don't eat food because food is a substitute for something that's missing in my life - I just like food. I like food like I enjoy listening to music, or coding, or writing, or reading. I just like it.

The other thing that deserves mentioning is the fact that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). One of the major symptoms of PCOS is weight gain. So it's not just me and my love for food, healthy or unhealthy (and I can tell you that it's never safe to assume that it's that simple with other overweight women too).

The truth is - there are some men and women who are genuinely sexually attracted to the kind of woman that you would not find in a Playboy magazine. Big women. Non-thin, non-slender, non-skinny, non-lithe women. I'm willing to bet that there are a lot more people that find large women attractive than society thinks. When I got to college and stopped wearing clothing that hid my body, I began to see a lot more interest from my fellow students than I'd ever dreamed of in high school. I need two hands to count the number of individuals that showed more-than-just-friends interest in me. I never thought I'd need more than a finger or two for that. In fact, before reaching college, I had become very comfortable with the idea of being single (with lots of cats) for the rest of my life. And all my boyfriend says is, "You're gorgeous. I'm obviously not the only one that thinks so." I still have a hard time with this concept; I'm still learning a lot about how my body isn't ugly like society seems to think it is.

But the amount of people out there that still think fat people are bad far outnumber the people that don't. And that's a huge problem, pun unintended. The truth is that fat isn't always bad. There is no "epidemic." Some people happen to be fat, just as some people happen to be thin, and while environment and the food you eat has a lot to do with it, genetics has about 77% to do with it. That's right: 77%. Not to mention that diets not only don't work, but could do more harm than good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pat Buchanan Flails Wildly in Terror at "Obamaland"

There's an article up by Pat Buchanan that I found via Shakesville. In short, Buchanan fears for the state of the Union if Obama is elected; he's sure that our country will come to its end. Here's a list (with my annotations) of what would happen in the first 100 days of "Obamaland," as he so eloquently puts it:
-- Swift amnesty for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens and a drive to make them citizens and register them, as in the Bill Clinton years. This will mean that Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona will soon move out of reach for GOP presidential candidates, as has California.

-- Border security will go on the backburner, and America will have a virtual open border with a Mexico of 110 million.
OH NOES, no GOP in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona!? Register immigrants so they have access to education, health care, protection, etc.? Why that's such a humanitarian thing to do! (More on immigration later.)

-- Taxes will be raised on the top 5 percent of wage-earners, who now carry 60 percent of the U.S. income tax burden, and tens of millions of checks will be sent out to the 40 percent of wage-earners who pay no federal income tax. Like the man said, redistribute the wealth, spread it around.

-- Social Security taxes will be raised on the most successful among us, and capital gains taxes will be raised from 15 percent to 20 percent. The Bush tax cuts will be repealed, and death taxes reimposed.

Yup, that's about right. See, even after rich people pay taxes, they're still rich. I'm tired of rich people whining about how terrible it is to be rich. If rich people are going to get all of this bailout money to save their companies from their own greedy actions, then I think they should pay for their own damn bailout and leave the poor people (that can't afford to participate in their companies in some cases anyway) out of it.

-- Two or three more liberal activists of the Ruth Bader Ginsberg-John Paul Stevens stripe will be named to the Supreme Court. U.S. district and appellate courts will be stacked with "progressives."
Oh shit, "progressives." They only want equal rights for all, even for you, Pat! :(

-- Special protections for homosexuals will be written into all civil rights laws, and gays and lesbians in the military will be invited to come out of the closet. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dead.

-- The homosexual marriages that state judges have forced California, Massachusetts and Connecticut to recognize, an Obama Congress or Obama court will require all 50 states to recognize.

If you're against gay marriage, then don't marry a gay. Yes, let's protect minorities from the majority's ignorance and bigotry. And if you say, "state's rights," then that actually translates to "majority's rights," and that means ignorance and bigotry will be enacted into law in red states. Discrimination should always be voted against, particularly when that discrimination stems only from religious thought.

-- A "Freedom of Choice Act" nullifying all state restrictions on abortions will be enacted. America will become the most pro-abortion nation on earth.
If you're against abortion, then don't get one. And by the way - there is no such thing as "pro-abortion"! Do you realize what you suggest when you say that? When Roe v Wade was decided, there was certainly celebration, but no one celebrated by going out and getting an abortion! Abortion is the last ditch option. If you say "pro-abortion" instead of "pro-choice," then all that tells me is that you have no respect for the position a woman is in when she is pregnant and can't take care of or afford the baby, nor do you have any respect for the woman herself.
-- Affirmative action -- hiring and promotions based on race, sex and sexual orientation until specified quotas are reached -- will be rigorously enforced throughout the U.S. government and private sector.
Here's my take on affirmative action: it's a crutch. It should not be necessary. It should not have to be implemented, because we as a nation should be above this already. We should have learned already. Racism, sexism, and homophobia should have nothing to do with your hiring and promoting decisions. But they still do. And that's why affirmative action is still necessary. But make no mistake: liberals and conservatives both hope that it will go away one day, if for very different reasons.
-- Universal health insurance will be enacted, covering legal and illegal immigrants, providing another powerful magnet for the world to come to America, if necessary by breaching her borders.
I guess now is a good time to talk about illegal immigration. In short: it's a fear tactic. Immigrants are not inherently dangerous or spiteful. This country's strength is in its diversity; we should be doing everything we can to encourage newcomers, because it makes us stronger as a nation. People from different backgrounds and cultures bring different perspectives to America's problems and come up with innovative and different ideas to solve these problems - when given the chance. Why shouldn't all citizens get access to health coverage?

The more people that are healthy and the more people with money in their pockets are more able and likely to make purchases from the rich white men's companies. Everyone wins if we support the bottom of the barrel. The average poor person is not poor because he's lazy; this has been proven and demonstrated time and time again. Currently, it's the cost of health care that makes people poor. That's through no fault of their own, so let's fix it. If we do, then those people can continue to participate in the economy, in their communities, and in their country. Isn't that what we all want, conservative or liberal, rich or poor?
-- A federal bailout of states and municipalities to keep state and local governments spending up could come in December or early next year.
I hadn't heard about this. It doesn't sound bad to me either, when you strip out the negative terminology. The federal government is already giving money to states and municipalities for various reasons (i.e. schools, roads, parks). The less money the government spends, then the less we can afford government employees and contractors. And last I knew, conservatives were all about job creation. And no one anywhere is advocating spending money for the sake of spending it.
-- The first trillion-dollar deficit will be run in the first year of an Obama presidency. It will be the first of many.
I think Pat might have forgotten for a few minutes that President Bush is, in fact, a product of his own party. Clinton did a great job with the budget, so far as I know. And he's a product of Obama's party. Now, just because Clinton did a good job and Bush did a terrible job doesn't mean that Obama will do a good job and McCain will do a terrible job. But they both adhere pretty strongly to the same parties that Clinton and Bush do. (McCain's "maverick" shtick = 90% agreement with Bush.) So it's not unreasonable to assume such a thing, particularly when both candidates would say things to lead you to the same conclusion. Maybe if Buchanan gave us some, you know, evidence, I might have an easier time being worried.
Welcome to Obamaland!
Thanks, Pat. I'm sure I'll enjoy my stay.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Word of the Day

o·le·ag·i·nous [oh-lee-aj-uh-nuh s] –adjective
  1. having the nature or qualities of oil.
  2. containing oil.
  3. producing oil.
  4. unctuous; fawning; smarmy.
Usage example:
It had not escaped McCain’s attention that Palin had blasted through the oleaginous Alaska network dominated by Frank Murkowski and Ted Stevens, much in the same manner that McCain saw himself doing when he was a young congressman.



Friday, October 24, 2008

Terrorism and Abortion

Watch this video:

Terrorism, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is:
"The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."
(Emphasis mine.) Sorry, Governor, but I think bombing Planned Parenthood buildings and killing their staff and clients definitely falls under that definition.

I would like to take this one step further than Brian Williams did though. What about standing outside of a Planned Parenthood building and yelling at clients as they get out of their cars, creating enough of a scene that PP has to actually hire people to escort clients to the door?

That's terrorism too. Let's cut the definition down:
The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
Which leaves us with: "The threatened use of force or violence by an organized group against people with the intention of intimidating or coercing, often for ideological reasons." Yup, that's about right. That's what these people are doing. "But they're not threatening to use force or violence," you might say. Sure they are. Think about it. If PP needs to hire escorts, the perception of a threat of violence is there. Yelling at someone that they're going to burn in hell for all eternity - and these unpeaceful protests are most definitely faith-based - is threatened use of violence, even if the people yelling won't be inflicting the violence themselves. Anti-abortion people are out there yelling at people with exactly the intention of intimidating patrons into not getting an abortion.

Protesters get pretty rough though. Why aren't they protesters? Standing outside PP with signs that say "Stop Abortions Now" and if not leaving patrons alone altogether, then peacefully giving them pamphlets, booklets, flyers, what-have-you, or striking up conversations that possibly begin with a phrase like, "Did you know..." The point of a protest is to say that you, the protester, do not agree with something. A legal protest is a peaceful protest. A terrorist protests using fear on those that don't agree or are different in some way. Fear is inherently unpeaceful.

Is using intimidation (such as, say, threat of arrest) to keep people from going to the poll booths on Election Day terrorism? I tend to think so.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

WebDevs Vote Obama

I came to a stunning realization. Open up John McCain's website and Barack Obama's website.

Now. Compare address bars for both candidate's websites. See it?

McCain uses Microsoft's ASP.NET; Obama uses PHP.

If that doesn't secure your vote, I don't know what will.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Word of the Day

pal·i·node [pal-uh-nohd] -noun
  1. a poem in which the poet retracts something said in an earlier poem.
  2. a recantation.
Usage example: It seems to me that Palin's half of the campaign is full of palinodes - first she lies, then she spins to hide it.

Financial Aid and the Middle-Class

A friend of mine made a comment some time ago, when it had come time to fill out the FAFSA for the coming year:
It's so hard to find financial aid when you're a white male; it's all for women and minorities.
The paradox (and ignorance) made me stop and think. Has our college financial aid system gotten so obsessed with helping the oppressed that we forget about the privileged? I don't think so. And when I remembered the sort of family he comes from, it turns out that his comment is really not so one-dimensional.

For the record, he is a white, bisexual male coming from a middle-income, still intact (read: not divorced) family, and he has two colleged-aged brothers, one of which with ADHD. Compare to my situation: I am a white, bisexual female coming from a low-income, divorced family, and I have one college-aged sister, and no one in my family has any major health problems, mental or physical. When I asked my mother how we were going to pay for my college education - and wondered if we could afford for me to go at all - she said, "Don't worry about money, sweetheart. There's plenty of money out there." She was right. There is plenty of money for me as a poor girl with a 3.9 high school GPA and a 3.8 college GPA.

The problem here is not that my friend is a white male complaining from his high throne of privilege about minorities getting all the welfare money. It's not that simple.

There are a lot of flaws in the financial aid system, for everyone. The root cause of nearly all these flaws is simple: there is not enough money. Period. There is only enough money to help out the poor, minorities, and women, and only just. That means that there is very little money to go to the people that need it second most: the middle-class. I have met many, many students - of cultural privilege and average wealth - that struggle with paying bills. These students are getting all the money their parents can afford to give up, if any, and still don't have enough, because their school and their government can't afford to pitch in enough to fill the gap.

But there's more. If these students are not spectacular performers in school, they are probably missing out on merit-based aid too. Not to mention the fact that a large portion of merit-based aid is also need-based. And what if these students come from stingy parents?

"The rich stay rich by being cheap." Some parents simply refuse to invest their money in their children. Here's the major flaw in the system that can't be fixed by more funding: what do you do for kids who come from money, but their parents aren't willing to fork it over? You can't just add a checkbox that says, "Parents refuse to contribute money." I can't think of a safety mechanism for this, and I guess universities and the government hasn't either, because these kids get screwed over regularly. They can't get any need-based financial aid because - judging from their parents' tax returns - they don't need any money. But they don't get any money from their parents either. What can you do for them?

Like I said, I don't think it's a funding problem; I think this is a cultural problem. Our culture tells us that it's okay to be greedy - that's how you get and stay ahead in life. It's the American Dream. But there's a real problem when your greed prevents you from investing in your children's own American Dreams. And it's a real problem when the government refuses to invest in our country's children too.

There are obviously children getting left behind here, and it's not just the poor and the minorities and the oppressed. While these students are generously funded, there is a demographic that is left in the shadows. Just imagine what would happen if the government put that $700 billion into financial aid and public schooling. Our country would have more college graduates to fill skilled jobs that baby-boomers are supposed to be leaving open soon; we would regain the lead in science and technology around the world; we'll draw the world's smartest back into the country. But it looks like the economic meltdown has bought us (no pun intended) a little more time to figure all this out. It seems that the baby-boomers won't be retiring for quite a while yet.

Good Advice

Jack Helmuth at HuffPost put up an article early this morning outlining what you as a liberal can do to help Obama win, categorized by the kind of person you are. For example, here's a bit of what Mr. Helmuth has to say to "angry liberals":
What you can do, Angry Liberal, is to chill out. Don't be sarcastic. Don't be condescending. [...] Basically, don't sink to their level. [...] This is not to say don't fight back - I'm not promoting John Kerryism. I'm saying fight in a dignified manner, and let them continue to drown themselves in their own bile. [...] That means swallowing our anger and being more Christ-like than the so-called religious conservatives and turning the other cheek. Obama actually can heal our country, and we need to follow the example he is trying to set.
Damn, that's good advice. I just wish I could more easily follow it. Some one-liners for some other categories:
Joe Biden - Shut...the...F...up. Get an Obama/David Plouffe approved script and never, ever veer from it.
Sarah Palin - Just keep doing what you're doing, baby! Keep doing what you're doing!
Barack Obama - Don't be cute.
By the way, Sarah Palin's one-liner is all the advice she gets. Obama and Biden both get an additional paragraph.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Socialism and Taxes: A Primer

Obama wants to lower taxes for 95% of taxpayers. He's said it repeatedly, from the beginning of the campaign, but McCain has only recently gotten it. Now, McCain says, why, that's socialist, that's welfare! Except that McCain has been proposing that he'll do just the same thing. So let me get this straight:
  1. Giving tax breaks to the middle class makes one a socialist.
  2. Obama wants to give tax breaks to the middle class.
  3. QED, Obama is a socialist.
Do I have that right, Mr. McCain? If so, then the following also follows, using your very own original premise:
  1. Giving tax breaks to the middle class makes one a socialist.
  2. McCain wants to give tax breaks to "middle class families."
  3. QED, McCain is a socialist.
But McCain's not a socialist, that's silly! I smell a double-standard. So what does all this boil down to? Obama might be a socialist, and McCain is a hypocritical, lying douchebag.

UPDATE: HuffPost wonders the same as I do.

McCain and the "Liberal Feminist Agenda"

The McCain-Palin campaign gets crazier.

Yes, he did just say that choosing Palin was a "cold, political calculation" to counter the "liberal feminist agenda." There are a lot of conservatives voting Democratic because they don't like how far-right McCain and Palin are. Needless to say, I can't blame them at all.

Violet at Reclusive Leftist surmises, I think correctly, that this means that McCain sees two different feminisms, a liberal and a conservative. It's the conservative that McCain supports, the liberal he is against. Okay. I can see him being moronic enough to think that (as does Violet).

Palin calls herself a feminist. Does this mean that she's a conservative or a liberal feminist? Judging from her actions (not what she's said while on the campaign trail), it's pretty clear that she is not a liberal feminist. So what does a conservative feminist believe? McCain's website does not have a section discussing women or their rights, unlike Obama's website. I surmise that a conservative feminist believes she has the right to be a mother; clean the house; do the dishes; make dinner; raise the kids; run for mayor, governor, or Vice President; and give birth to her rapist's baby, but I don't think equal pay is in there. Maybe freedom from domestic violence, excluding the woman's husband (because marriage implies consent).

I don't want someone that believes those things in the White House. In fact, I would not call someone that believes in those things a feminist. That's an anti-feminist. That's a regressive. Feminism is an integral and necessary part of humanism, of progressivism. Those are not central tenets of the Republican platform.

That said, isn't it strange that Palin would call herself a feminist? It's a loaded word, nowadays. You can't just call yourself a feminist and receive an unweighted "ah" in return. Violet seems to take her at her word; I sure don't. I don't really care what she says; I care what she does. She has done more to upend women's rights than she has to support them, and that's true whether or not you take her pro-life stance into account. (Violet calls her a "pro-life feminist" - I can let that go, but even if I did, the rest of her platform and her actions as mayor and governor are still anti-feminist.) McCain went against the anti-feminism of his party to pick her in the first place, in order to appeal to Hillary Clinton's feminists; it follows, then, that she's going to call herself a feminist in public to further that end (and it looks like it's working).

In other news, Palin gives us this gem over the weekend:
[...] I don't support gay marriage. I'm not going to be out there judging individuals, sitting in a seat of judgment telling what they can and can't do, should and should not do [...]
Funny, those two statements are mutually exclusive, to my understanding, and yet they came in one breath.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Final Debate

Now that I've had some time to stew over the final presidential debate, there are few things that keep coming back to me.

Before I begin, I want to say that I don't see the point in declaring a "winner." That's not the point to me, as a voter. My primary interest in watching debates is to hear something new and to clarify the old. I was mostly disappointed in the previous debates, both presidential and vice presidential*. This debate offered some new things to think about though.

I continue to appreciate and value Obama's calm. As I'm sure I've stated in the past, I do not want a president that doesn't think before he leaps, not to mention a president with a hot temper. I also appreciate a solid intellect. I was glad to see more of his intellect (which McCain attacked, making the word "elitist" pop up into the minds of his base) and more of his calm.

I'm already sick of hearing about Joe the Plumber.

I giggled happily when McCain exclaimed surprise when Obama told Joe the Plumber that he would be fined zero dollars.

I yelled obscenities when McCain continuously used the phrase "pro-abortion," as there is no such thing, and I was very pleased when Obama said that himself.

I stopped yelling when McCain used air quotes to describe women's health and claimed it to be exaggerated by the "pro-abortion" movement and that women's health is an "extreme" position to defend. "That's the extreme pro-abortion position: 'health.'" I cannot begin to describe the way I felt. I actually teared up, I was so angry. To tell over half the population of the country you want to represent that their health problems - including death during childbirth - are myths, exaggerations, worth snickering over, and putting in quotes...I cannot begin to describe the rage. How is it that he could have done that, so thoughtlessly, so disdainfully? I was going to just link the video, but I'm going to put it here instead:

And while McCain tells the women of American that their health is unimportant, Obama purses his lips, shakes his head a little, and reaches for a glass of water. This was the moment where I wished Obama were less calm and more passionate. Had I been in Obama's place, I would have launched into a tirade. Actually, if I'm going to be really honest, I would have burst into tears (I really am not cut out to be President, let alone debate about what I would do if I were).

* The point of interest from the vice presidential debate regarded gay marriage. Biden categorically declined support of gay marriage, but declared approval for equality in civil unions. Bollocks. And we all knew what Palin was going to say long before she said it.

"Do it for me!"

HuffPost has been running a couple of articles lately about young people getting their grandparents to vote for Obama, after Sarah Silverman made a video about getting Jewish grandparents to vote for Obama. Your strongest weapon, they say, is their love for you. They trust you, have faith in you. Well, that's all fine and good, but...isn't that coercion? Aren't you taking advantage of that love, and aren't you appealing to emotion, which is exactly what the Republican Party is criticized for doing?

The articles don't discourage you from talking about issues, but the most mention I've heard so far is why it's not only a win for you, but a win for seniors too. But they don't tell you talk to your grandparents about that. But shouldn't you? Shouldn't you try to appeal to your grandparents' sense of reason, rather than emotion? That's what Barack Obama himself is saying at rallies - John McCain doesn't want to talk about issues; he wants to talk about slime and hate and fear. This isn't exactly the same, I realize, but it's like a crappy advertisement. Don't buy this product because it's good for you, or because it works, buy it because this commercial makes you feel good.

I don't like it. I'd rather talk to my grandparents about the issues - that's more fun than begging and pleading for a sympathy vote anyway. "If you really loved me, you'd vote for Obama." I couldn't say that to my grandparents. "Do it for my future!" What about my grandparents' future? That's important too, and if I can prove to them that a vote for Obama is a vote for their own futures, then isn't that more valuable, more truthful, more rewarding?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Getting Started Early

I was going to write about the presidential debate last night. But then I got to work this morning, checked Google Reader, and ran across a few things that I just can't stay quiet about. I'll write about the debate later. (Read this in the meantime.)

First, there was a single news story from the Politics section of Slashdot: apparently, some researchers think that how messy your bedroom and office are reflect your political leanings. Sound like bullshit? I think so, because I can think of some neat liberals, and I can think of some messy conservatives, and I bet you could too. On top of that, the scale between messy and neat is one-dimensional; political leanings are at least two dimensional (generally economics/state control and social issues are the two major dimensions). A few examples of the next questions that should come to mind: What about a libertarian? What about a social liberal/fiscal conservative? What about moderates? What about people that don't have any strong political leanings? What about people that start out conservative (say because their family is conservative, so they were raised that way), then "convert," so to speak, to liberalism (or vice versa) later in life? What about the political leanings of the rest of the world? Why, for god's sake, do we need to impress divisive binary upon perhaps the most perplexing, complex, and incredible natural machine yet discovered in the universe? So I was already grumbling to myself about this story when I reached the very end:
I, for one, support a woman's right to clean.
I really could have done without that, thanks. So clever; so edgy. I read through the comments a little, and I haven't found anyone point out the misogyny of this remark yet; all I've found so far are little fights between commenters about "You're using the OLD definition of Republican" or "I wish you people would know how to use liberalism correctly," or what have you. Only a couple of the questions I asked above were asked (like "I'm a moderate - where do I fit in?" and "I'm conservative, but I'm very messy - what gives?"). But there is this:
I, for one, support a man's right to tell women to leave his belongings alone.
Excellent! If it wasn't old before, it definitely is now. And that comment has a score of 5, with a label of "Funny." Funny, I didn't find it very funny.

So if that wasn't enough to frost my cookies, then there's this: Southampton, NY, on Long Island, apparently strip searches all women that are arrested for whatever reason. Literally, for whatever reason. It's policy. Strip search all arrested women. Men? No, you don't have to strip search all men, that'd be grody. So, if this weren't bad enough, here's this:
But then, it also has a policy of turning on a video camera whenever they strip search females, and broadcast the strip search throughout the police station.
Angry yet? I sure am. It's not even that they do it and would get in trouble if they were caught - it's policy. The institution that is there to protect you when you need it most will strip search you and broadcast the process to the rest of the officers in the station, making you not only feel safe, secure, and protected, but ashamed, embarrassed, violated, and abused - but don't worry, it's for your own safety and protection. I don't think I need to describe why this is wrong or bad. I think it's pretty clear. And that's why I can't figure out why the fuck it's policy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Word of the Day

prof·li·ga·cy [prof-li-guh-see] –noun
  1. shameless dissoluteness.
  2. reckless extravagance.
  3. great abundance.
Usage example:
Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McSame's Tax Plan

I haven't touched on the economic crisis yet in this blog, but I did some reading today specifically about where we are as a result of Bush's policies. CNN just reported that McCain is again sliming Obama for things he didn't do or say. Here's a gem:
McCain criticized Obama as a "man who now presents himself as a tax cutter and champion of middle-class America" despite revising his tax plans "with each new poll."
Obama has been championing himself for the middle class since the very goddamn beginning, and every time he repeats that sorry lie about a new tax plan every poll, the reporter - whoever it is - then repeats the very same tax plan that Obama has stood by since the goddamn beginning:
Obama's tax plan would cut taxes for most taxpayers, but raise them for the wealthiest. The largest increases would be on the top one-percent of earners, according to analysis by the Tax Policy Center
Seems pretty clear to me, Johnny, as it has all this damn time! But, after that statement from CNN, there's a Fact Check link. "Does Obama want to raise taxes?" Curious, I clicked the link and read it.

The conclusion is, literally, "TRUE, BUT INCOMPLETE." (Emphasis not mine.) Right, because as CNN just said in the original article, he wants to raise taxes for the wealthy. Why is this so hard to figure out?

But here's the really good stuff. Further down, CNN quotes Obama and Biden as saying that McCain's policy is "a day late and 101 million middle-class families short." Now, I hadn't heard that claim yet. So I clicked the link: "Fact Check: McCain's plan gives 100 million no relief?"

The conclusion is "False. The Obama campaign bases its assertion on just one part of McCain's economic plan, while ignoring the tax consequences of the rest of McCain's plan." Okay, Obama has tended to exaggerate (as most other average politicians) throughout this campaign. So what part did he ignore?
[Len Burman, Tax Policy Center director] said that while "something like 100 million people are not affected by the McCain individual income tax cuts," millions would benefit from the corporate tax cuts McCain proposes — "anyone who owns stock, and that includes retirees with modest pensions and 401(k)s."
Emphasis mine. This is a classic Republican economic policy, so far as I'm aware - the "trickle-down" concept. If you give cuts to companies and rich people - who are left after you factor out the 101 million Obama claims would be factored out, "the vast majority of the US population," the article says - the extra money will somehow, inexplicably "trickle" down to us poor folk. One of the ways this is supposed to happen, I would surmise, is through tax breaks on investment income (i.e. stocks, as mentioned in the quote). I could be wrong here, but who tends to own the most stock? Rich people, who have the most extra cash onhand with which to invest. Well, this was Bush's idea too, as this chart shows (dug up from an old Shakesville post). See how profound cuts are for "anyone who owns stock," and who exactly they benefit the most? So did this "trickling down" idea work?

Obviously not. But it's not supposed to either, and that's the important part. As corporate taxes drop, individual taxes skyrocket; as corporate profits rise, individual compensation plummets. Working on the assumption (that might not be correct) that tax cuts translate almost directly into profit, it becomes frightening how much "Joe Sixpack" is actually getting ripped off. And, by the way, that means Obama was telling the truth, and he was not exaggerating.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sarah Palin's New Hair Style/Strategy

HuffPost is reporting on Sarah Palin's sudden change in hair styling. Normally, I would be a bit annoyed at the sexism of reporting on such a thing in the first place, but what they're actually saying is not, "omg, how sexy," but "omg, how sexist." A quote from her hairdresser:
"We would talk a lot about how if she looked too pretty or too sexy, people wouldn't listen to her. How important it was for people to see her as an intelligent, smart woman. It was comical when her hair was down, how big a difference that would make, especially when she was running for governor."
So, basically, when her hair is up, she is trying to look intelligent and thoughtful. But, the hair coming down is a last-ditch effort at appealing to the horny? And it makes a big difference? Excellent. Add that bullet to the growing list of Sarah Palin's anti-womanisms. I don't want to see her as an intelligent, smart woman, I want to hear her as an intelligent, smart woman. Since she obviously hasn't been blessed in that arena, I guess that means her hair will have to convey it to us instead. Of course, I'm just being jealous and immature, because Sarah Palin is too sexy and too confident for a woman to support, right, Time Magazine?

And as a last comment - if you take a look at HuffPost's slideshow, scroll to the very last photo, dated today. The one with the cute little (endangered) polar bear pin on her jacket? Yeah. Hypocrisy speaks louder than words in this case, I think.

Angelina Jolie: Breastfeeding on W Magazine Cover

Okay, so breastfeeding in public is bad. That's the status quo. Normally I don't read much into entertainment news, but Angelina Jolie has apparently been taking some heat for allowing herself to be photographed breastfeeding her twins. Oh noez, right, well, here's the actual photo:

Shocked? Flabbergasted? Yeah, me too. I think it's a beautiful photo, and I roll my eyes that we see so much worse in the media - for example, the lusciously hypocritical Fox News - and yet, a photo like this is holy-shit-bad (probably particularly to the lusciously hypocritical Fox News).

There are a lot of bans regarding the female body in our culture, and others around the world. In Middle Eastern countries, for example, women must completely cover their bodies. In fact, there's lately been suggestion that women should start covering one of their eyes, because two eyes are just too seductive. Only on nudist beaches does it seem to be okay in the US for women to walk around as topless as male counterparts, and that's even more stringent than some other countries, like Italy (and Italy at least doesn't just have skinny, young women on display either).

I'm pleased that Jolie has the courage to stand up to this nonsense, and I hope we see more women like her lead the way.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

WoW Sexism: One More Thing

I recently wrote about sexisim in World of Warcraft, but having done so, I realized I forgot a very personal moment that seems silly for me to have forgotten. (This story probably does deserve its own post anyway, I suspect. The old one was long enough.)

First, a little background. Generally speaking, guilds that participate at least semi-regularly in raids have a Ventrilo ("vent" for short) or TeamSpeak server for voice communication during raids (and off-times, for social interaction). Since our raid leaders are overwhelmingly male, you tend to hear mostly male voices.

I don't tend to speak very much in vent. I raided before the expansion, when the largest and most common raids were taken on by 40 people. So our raid leaders at the time were pretty strict about vent use - no chatter, no off-topic conversations. Only information that all 40 people needed to hear was allowed. So I learned to be pretty silent, since I'm not a raid leader. And that's stuck with me. Even though the largest raids nowadays max out at only 25 people, crosstalk is still a problem.

And so, when one of our female members spoke (who has been in the guild for some time, I believe), she was mistaken for one of the other female members. The officer was lightly ridiculed (by his fellow male officers), and he responded by stating that he has a hard time telling us women apart. I stated in a matter-of-fact-but-lighthearted-manner, "Sexist prick." There was laughter, followed by, "I'm guessing that was Casp." Yes, it was Casp.

I do not have a hard time telling the males from the other males, nor the females from the other females. The only exception I can think of - and it's a rather obvious one - is in the case of new people: it merely takes time to learn their voice and manner of speaking, particularly if they don't speak often. But this was not the case this time.

Usually, there isn't a terrible problem with our male players confusing women's voices. It has happened more than once though, in current and past guilds, with different men each time. This time stands out to me mostly because it's the most recent, and - importantly - because of his response to me. With the way the exchange progressed, it felt as if the word "bitch" was on the tip of his brain when he correctly guessed my identity. I believe I have a reputation for calling people out. Does speaking up make me a bitch? According to the co-founder of Bitch Magazine, yes. Is that a bad thing? According to the co-founder of Bitch Magazine, no. And I agree. Calling people out on sexism is never a bad thing.

There is another woman in the guild that I have great respect for, who has an even greater and more infamous reputation for being a bitch. Nanika calls out ignorance, untruth, whining, illogic, and bullshit in general. Some men unseriously state that they're afraid of her. I admire her.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Perks of Progressivism

I'm glad I'm a progressive. With every blog post I read, every news story that trumpets the end of the world, every frantic neo-con that's found something else to worry about - I find more peace in the fact that I don't feel any need to agree, play along, endorse, or worry.

Now, I realize that I might have the political definition of progressivism wrong, but to me, being progressive means that I feel that all human life is equal (women are equal, non-whites are equal, gays are equal, etc. to their male, white, straight, etc. counterparts); fully equal civil rights is the best thing we can hope for in this nation; secularism in government is paramount to that end; sexual liberation, privacy, and education will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, abortions, rapes, sex crimes, etc.; intellectualism is something to prize and foster (and so scientific research should be funded and encouraged). My feeling is that if someone happens to be doing some crazy things - while not doing any harm to anyone - that I myself wouldn't do, why the fuck should I get bent out of shape about it? I also don't see the use in the government trying to legislate morality - it doesn't work, it hasn't ever worked (for any significant amount of time), it's not supposed to work, it's not legal, and it's not the government's job anyway.

And you know - as sour as the world looks since we haven't achieved the above things yet - things are pretty good so far. I don't feel guilty when I have sex with my boyfriend whom I am not married to while using contraception. I don't feel guilty for admiring an attractive woman that walks by (or admiring aloud with my boyfriend). I don't see anything wrong with people that get off on BDSM (though I, myself, don't). I don't see anything wrong in associating with minorities if I happen to strike a chord with them. I don't get angry when I see boobs on TV. I don't have to weird out on someone if their religion doesn't agree with mine. I don't have to keep my vagina under lock and key until I'm married. I don't hate all Muslims just because of 9/11; it's more reason for me to be non-religious, actually, instead of hating a religion that isn't mine. I don't even hate conservatives because they're conservative. I know that I can love my neighbor even better than some Judeo-Christian person can, because it doesn't matter what color their skin is, what gender they're sexually attracted to, or what they do behind closed doors - I can still love them for just being neighbors. It's nice to be progressive; there are so many more open doors. I learn new things all the time; I learn how to think about things differently all the time.

But isn't it funny that progressives - particularly feminists and atheists, in my experience - are criticized for being so angry all the time? Regressives are clammoring about all kinds of things that are wrong with the world. They try to push legislation that enforces what they - a subset of the total population - find moral and acceptable. They're angry a lot (Bill O'Reilly is a good example) - mostly about what other people do with their own private lives. And yet, I have so much more freedom than they do. I can watch porn if I wanted to, without having any guilt or worry of being found hypocritical, and a regressive can't do that. In fact, a regressive would persecute me for that. I won't even get into the hypocrisy that ensues when a regressive is caught doing something like that after spending years of his/her career fighting it. But you know what - regressives watch porn too. And I'm okay with that. But I can't figure out why regressives want to ban and outlaw things that they themselves do anyway, just because this book says that it's bad. That's the only reason they give too - gay sex is bad and dangerous because it makes baby Jesus cry.

Being angry is okay, by the way. It's what you do with your anger that matters. Bill O'Reilly does it wrong. Martin Luther King, Jr. did it right. And before you say, "gee, MLKJr sure didn't seem angry," think again. Would he have done what he did if he weren't angry? You would be angry too, if you were the target of "separate but equal" bullshit and racial repression. You would be angry too if the Constitution defined you as three fifths of a white person. You would be angry too if you had to get up from your seat so that a white person could sit there. And before you go, "you're not black; how do you know?" then remember that I am a woman. Sexism is the new racism. It's rampant and ubiquitous, to the point where people still have no idea that it's there and they're actively participating in it. And that's not to say that racism is a thing of the past! Progressivism is an uphill battle by its very definition: it's easy to stick with the status quo if you're the one in a place of privilege.

Progressives want to open more doors. Regressives want to shut, lock, and monitor all doors. It's so much easier to just open the doors, so we can all watch porn, for example, if we wanted to. The key phrase there is "if we wanted to," by the way.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sexism in the World of Warcraft

Okay, okay. Yes, I play the damn game. ("Oooh oooh what do you play, what do you play?") I play a night elf ("awwwwwww :(") holy priest named Casperne on the Kul Tiras sever, with a bunch of nerds that line up under the banner of Lexington.

There is quite a bit of sexism floating around the world. Of Warcraft. (Sorry, had to do it.) Not only are the users themselves rather sexist, but the designers, at least, are too.

The foremost thing to discuss is, of course, the playerbase. Due to WoW's infamy, its playerbase could not be contained to a single demographic: rich and poor, young and old (12-70, I'd guess, averaging around 20), male and female, gay and straight, mature and immature, introverted and extroverted, educated and uneducated, right and left (-winged and -handed). Thus, you often have the pleasure of playing with really idiotic, immature people. Conclusion: no wonder there's misogyny abound. The best example is probably the oft-declared, "Girls don't play WoW!" or "There aren't any girls on the Internet!" Obviously, this is incorrect, and, in fact, most people say it knowing that it is, and I guess that's supposed to make it funny. Similar to "Oooh, don't hurt me, feminist-man-hating lady!" It's just not funny anymore.

There is, however, one good thing regarding gender that WoW embraces: you can play whatever gender you want. There are a lot of men that play female characters, and they aren't ashamed of it. (Compare to Ragnarok Online, where, when you create an account to start playing, you choose your gender, and then you can only play characters of the matching gender.) There are only two major reasons for this that I know of so far. Some of these players admit that they just like to see their female character's boobs jiggle when they run (and similar reasons), while others simply don't like the male character models. There is one other reason, and I've only heard my boyfriend give this reason so far: some identify better with females in real life, thus find it natural to play a female character. I have no idea how common this reason is. Only a handful of times have I ever heard someone use the choice to play the opposite gender as ammunition in an argument. It's generally a pretty accepted thing to do.

But when the developers themselves program misogyny right into the game, I tend to get a little annoyed. For example, this is my human female paladin:

Pretty skimpy, huh? Here's what this outfit looks like on a human male:

Surprised? I'm not either. The guy doesn't even have to have an uncomfortable wedgie all the time. It would have been pretty simple to just have the armor cover up the same amount of skin. This lends more to the sexist idea that the female body is community property and that women exist as eye candy.

Character models' body types deserve to be pointed out. The female human body is fairly proportioned, in my opinion. Her waist isn't itty-bitty, her thighs are healthy, and her boobs are, though ample, not enormous. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the male body is the truly unfair one: he really is packing, to an unrealistic degree. (And I just noticed that his legs appear to be shaved! Nutty.) When the blood elf race was announced as the new horde race for the expansion, I was ecstatic to find out that the male blood elf was not packing huge muscles. He was skinny, almost frail, and certainly feminine. Personally, I find such a body type to be extremely attractive. But Blizzard's average player doesn't, and after a lot of homophobic clamoring, Blizzard beefed up the model to the same levels as the male human, and it hasn't changed since.

As far as being a woman playing the game among males goes, I've been pretty pleased. I have never been talked down to because I'm a female and I don't know anything. No one has ever apparently disagreed with me because I'm female. My knowledge of how to play my class has never been questioned because of the fact that I'm female. In fact, I get a lot more respect for playing my class well in this game than I do for getting good grades in my tech classes at school. Men appreciate my work in the game more than they do in class. I can't begin to theorize why this might be true. In fact, this is merely anecdotal; it might not be true. It might simply be easier for my teammates to communicate respect to me over the Internet than it is in real life.

You might be surprised that those are the only examples I came up with. I chose to leave out the more "mundane" examples of misogyny (instances are divided into "5-man" and "25-man" dungeons, for example, instead of "5-person" and "25-person"), because they mostly come from the playerbase, not the developers themselves. And again, there really shouldn't be much surprise about the playerbase being misogynist. On top of that, the truth is that I play this game for much the same reason others do: to escape. I tend to try very hard to ignore misogyny in WoW because I'm trying to have fun here. And, as Shakes has wisely said, if I were dedicated to purposefully finding and calling out misogyny everywhere, I would be a very unhappy woman indeed.

Doubt not that I will continue to post examples of misogyny in WoW as I come accross them, even the mundane ones.

Agnosticism vs. Atheism

In a past post, I talked about the experiences (and lack thereof) that lead me to agnosticism. I thought I should talk more about why I'm an agnostic and not an atheist.

If you are at all versed in the nuances of difference between agnosticism and atheism, you'd know that for all intents and purposes, in all practicality - they're the same. Agnostics and atheists both behave as if there is no God. But agnostics and atheists have slightly different reasons for behaving as such. You could almost say that the difference is merely semantic. But that's not exactly the case. Richard Dawkins says its a matter of probabilities, and I'm very much inclined to agree with him. There's a scale of (a)theism that he lays out, and I paraphrase it here:
  1. Strong theist. 100% probability of God's existance.
  2. De facto theist. Very high probability of God's existance, but not quite 100% - let's say 70-99% chance.
  3. Technically agnostic, but leaning towards theism. Higher than 50% probability of God's existance, but not as particularly high as a de facto theist. Let's say 51-69% chance.
  4. Impartial agnostic. Exactly 50% chance of God's existance.
  5. Technically agnostic, but leaning towards atheism. 31-49% chance of God's existance.
  6. De facto atheist. Very high probability - say 1-30% chance - of God's existance.
  7. Strong atheist. 100% sure there is no God.
So when I say I'm agnostic, I'm saying I'm a 5 or 6 on Dawkins' scale. I don't think we have enough evidence to be certain of God's nonexistence, but it really looks like there's nothing there. I would rather wait until there's more evidence to say I'm atheist (or theist, for that matter). But there's more and more mounting up every day; I feel it won't take that much longer. So I live on the assumption that there is no God, just like an atheist does.

So if you want to call me an atheist, that's fine. For all intents and purposes, you might as well be right.