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Via [livejournal.com profile] somechicksings:

  1. Stop talking about politics for a moment or two.
  2. Post a reasonably-sized picture in your LJ, NOT under a cut tag, of something pleasant, such as an adorable kitten, or a fluffy white cloud, or a bottle of booze. Something that has NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS.
  3. Include these instructions, and share the love.

Prayer flags at Swayambunath.

I'm finally back to working on the Nepal trip pictures.

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I heard John McCain is a Scientologist. Is it true? (Pass it on.)


Jan. 18th, 2008 01:28 pm
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A volunteer for the Ron Paul campaign just came to the front door, but was delightfully easy to dissuade. All I had to say was "I'm really not interested," and homeboy took the hint! Hurray!

Um so I guess this is what Twitter is for or whatever. Too bad.

go_team: (beastreads)

I'm reading The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason, and it might be my favorite piece of "when in doubt, don't eat the animal product" propaganda to date (besides cookbooks, anyway). But I just got to the chapter on eating out, and I'm a little worried, because of this passage:

Oh please don't be endorsing whiny bitchitude. All y'all: Be kind to waitstaff, especially when they put up with your shit. This has been a public service announcement. )

That ranted, I am hoping very much that Singer and Mason will conclude that if you really want to eat out ethically, you should either patronize only restaurants that proudly advertise the origin of their ingredients, or forget it and eat only what you cook at home from ingredients whose sources you know and love (and good luck with that; this book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and of course Marion Nestle's fantastic What To Eat are good places to start). I'm keeping my fingers crossed, because the book has been very smart and in touch with reality so far, and I'm more than halfway through. And now I will return to my reading.

Update, 11:18 PM --- Nope, but then again the chapter turned out to be a more general thing about the food industry and three businesses in particular. I thought they went a little too easy on Whole Foods, too, but oh well. Maybe they'll give the "either choose your restaurant with care or stay home" advice in the conclusion of the book.

So, um...

Dec. 15th, 2006 05:00 pm
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If you're like me (and I know I am), you've probably already gotten about a dozen emails from Planned Parenthood about Dr. Eric Keroack being appointed to oversee the federal family planning program, Title X, and you've already signed this petition here about how maybe as an anti-birth control and anti-sex education activist, he's not the best choice for the job. But if you haven't yet, and care to do so, now would be an excellent time because almost 100,000 people have signed and it would be pretty cool to get at least that nice round number of "hell no!" messages sent (the count according to the link is 97,017 and the last email I got said it was 97,543). Paper letters and phone calls are also badass, but yay for lazyweb, right?

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SB 1000, which would create same-sex civil unions in Oregon, passed the state senate this morning. Now the question is: will its "insert 'and civil union' after all references to marriage in the state Constitution, and while you're at it, substitute 'spouse' or 'partner' for all references to 'husband' or 'wife'" form survive the House, much less pass?

Ok, going to work now.

go_team: (beastreads)

30 years of research on marriage and the family convinces the author of "How Love Conquered Marriage" that the future of marriage is: it's optional. I especially like her conclusion that anything lawmakers can do to strengthen marriage will make life better for unmarried couples, and anything they can do to discourage people from living together outside of marriage will hurt the institution they think they're protecting. But then again, I like being preached to when I'm in the choir.

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So last year a few thousand same-sex couples got married in Portland, and a few months later Oregon passed a same-sex marriage ban, Measure 36, in response. Then last month the state Supreme Court decided to punt on the bigotry amendment's constitutionality or lack thereof and overturned all those marriages basically on the grounds that queers were already and still are second-class citizens even without Measure 36. At the same time that decision was being handed down, a civil unions bill got introduced that basically says "every time the law says 'marriage', substitute 'marriage or civil union'." I'm not 100% sure, but I somehow suspect that these civil unions will be queers only, no opposite-sex couples allowed. But whatever, it's a starting place for continued legal battles of doom. Meanwhile, the anti-same-sex marriage crowd has introduced a "reciprocal beneficiaries" bill, like a weaker version of what Hawaii's got, which is good not just for same-sex couples but also for say, siblings or roommates or grandparents and grandchildren, or basically any two people who want to designate each other with certain rights and privileges more limited than those granted by marriage. The idea is to make civil unions look too extreme or something, and I'm supposed to be up in arms about it, according to the latest action alert email . But really, I want both of these bills to pass. Duh. Anything that helps raise awareness of the fact that legal marriage is just a standardized contract, but that really there's a lot of different ways for relationships to be structured, legally or otherwise, is awesome by me. And reciprocal beneficiary stuff, while basically just a standardized version of stuff like inheritance and power of attorney that can already be arranged if you're motivated enough to get a lawyer to set up the contracts, is more inclusive than same-sex-only civil unions. Grawr. I know that if reciprocal benificiary stuff gets passed first, then wankers are going to argue that civil unions aren't necessary, just like the Measure 36 campaign ran ads claiming queers could get all the rights and privileges of marriage through contract law, but no. What we need to do is holler, loud and clear, that both of these laws are a good idea, they should both pass, and p.s. if civil unions really are the same as legal marriage then frickin' well make them open to opposite-sex couples and make legal marriage obsolete while you're at it. Duh. (That last should probably be my secret agenda, huh? People really seem to like the m-word. Oh well. Oops!)

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So. Having got my cussing out of the way, what I really have to say about yesterday's U.S. Presidential election mostly concerns the popular vote. (Mandate or not, it's orders of magnitude better than last time, and oh shit international opinion is not going to be good, but I'm trying to keep my thoughts as local as possible for the time being.) I find it hard to believe that more than half the country thinks we're on the right track and should keep going along these lines, but that's what the people who voted yesterday seem to be saying. Yeah, there's been plenty of dirty tricks and voter fraud and intimidation and whatnot --- again --- but 4 million is too big a number for me to write off as pure corruption. Much as the goings-on in Ohio may resemble those in Florida in 2000, at the end of the day there's some 4 million more people who voted "four more years!" over "no! please! anything but that!" and that means either this year's spectacular get-out-the-vote efforts were unable to reach a lot of malcontent and disenfranchised people, or there's a lot more people in favor of the status quo than I thought, and it's making me feel even more like an alien than usual. That said, it's been reassuring to retreat into the bubble of like-minded people on my LiveJournal Friends list, even if it doesn't really change anything in any way. Which is starting to get to the point of this post. You may have already heard or read something by me to this effect before, but I feel it's worth repeating:

Despite all the stupid TV news coverage about the hate and anger and fear driving this election, none of those have ever been the emotion or the question driving me. And I refuse to believe that everyone else who voted this time around was doing it just for hate or fear or anger, too. My emotion, whether I'm feeling it or just thinking about it, is hope. Because (as I told [livejournal.com profile] auranja,) dammit, I voted in an effort to make the world suck less. Isn't that the goal? Isn't that what it's all about? C'mon, Team Humanity, help me out here! It's almost enough to make me hit the streets with a tape recorder to start interviewing people. My question before this election and now, and probably for the next four years, and maybe beyond, is: Where do you get your hope? Because hope/hoping is a choice, and I think voting is an inherently hopeful act, or else why bother, because I'm so mind-boggled by the thought that there's so many people out there who pinned their hopes on the Bush/Cheney ticket, and to my everlasting surprise I don't want to give up on the idea that this is still all one country yet, and finally because I'm all too obnoxiously prone to fits of apathy and despair, I think hope is a good theme to be thinking and acting on for a while.

And on that note, I'd like to thank everybody on my LJ friends list who's posted something hopeful, and thank a few people in particular for entries that made me somewhat happier. I'm glad to report that the number of these entries is growing, and I may keep adding to this list, more or less in the order in which I find the entries that qualify for my admittedly somewhat arbitrary "hope fodder" standards: Abi, Lisa, Marcy (as always, way better than Barbie), Crazy Old Man Meyer, my favorite itinerant philosopher, Sara, Dan, and even Kim's little bit of black humor here. I've also had beneficial non-LJ conversations with [livejournal.com profile] ideath and [livejournal.com profile] pants_of_doom, although there's nothing written I can point you to there.

So. This is the audience participation part of my post. I've thought of another thing I should've added to my list of things I'm not worried about yesterday (filtered), which is my friends being anything less than completely awesome. So tell me about hope, friends. Where do you get your hope? What makes you choose to hope? What inspires your hopes? And so on. I will be filtering your answers, so no one can read them but me; let me know if you want to keep them private thoughts between us or you're cool with me showing them to the whole wide world (this is a public post). Tell your friends to tell me about hope, if you like. Like I said, I want to write about this. I want to think about it a lot. So give me food for thought.

This entry took me literally hours to write, and I've been composing it mentally for far longer. If I'd waited much longer in posting it, I might have had enough second thoughts to keep from posting it at all.

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It's our political action fund! A guy from the Sierra Club just came by and we gave him $8 in quarters and Sacajawea dollars. Plus Allison and I got to send postcards to Bush and OR senator Smith saying "National parks are good, mmkay? Leave 'em be!" Now I am hungry, which means it's time for leftovers! Mmmm, cream of three mushrooms soup courtesy of the Glenwood's dinners to go! Woo!

Aw, crap.

Aug. 12th, 2004 10:22 am
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A glance at my calendar reveals that I am a big sucky slacker. Happy belated birthdays to Stacey (Sunday 8 August) and Beth (Monday 9 August).

Also, in a completely different kind of "aw, crap" news (this one, at least, isn't my fault), boo CA Supreme Court! Boo! L-E-T-S-G-O, L-E-T-S-G-O...

All I can say is I'm in a better mental state for getting shitty news today than I was yesterday, but that just means this news is making me get all indignant, instead of curled up in a little ball crying.

Update, 10:35: And now that I'm just the teensiest bit grumped-out, I find myself noticing a faint but distinctly unpleasant smell in my kitchen, one that may inspire me to go all obsessive cleaning. Coincidence? I don't think so. Feh!

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Hey kids! If any of you reading this live in the United States and haven't yet emailed your Senators to tell them to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment, it would make me really happy if you did so. Especially if you live in Indiana, Ohio, Louisiana, Alaska, Nebraska, Arkansas, North Dakota, or South Dakota. Tell your families and friends! I could rant and rant at great length but )

the real point is: read up on the FMA and think to yourself, Is this the kind of law I want in my country's Constitution along with good things like freedom of speech? Then try not to get too cynical about depressing stuff like the USA PATRIOT Act. "Grown-ups did that. Never forget that." Okay, time to shut up and eat cake and think happpy thoughts about going to the Oregon Country Fair tomorrow, to do happy hippie dances of the temporary autonomous zone persuasion, and generally pretend that the world is okay.

More articles on the subject as I find them, mostly for my reference. )
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Thought-provoking, at least to my fat self:

Consider this: from the perspective of a profit-maximising medical and pharmaceutical industry, the ideal disease would be one that never killed those who suffered from it, that could not be treated effectively, and that doctors and their patients would nevertheless insist on treating anyway. Luckily for it, the American health care industry has discovered (or rather invented) just such a disease. It is called "obesity".

I had an interesting conversation about this topic with [livejournal.com profile] boojum when she visited last weekend --- how being obese/overweight is correlated with a lot of other things that affect overall health at least as much as body weight/body fat, and in particular it's a "disease" of poverty. It's not polite to say "ewww, poor people" but it is considerably more acceptable to say "ewww, fat people". And no self-respecting United States Surgeon General would dare address "the poverty epidemic" as a public health crisis.... oops, that's my cynicism showing again.

Anyway, I'm really just reading Arts and Letters Daily to stall on cleaning out my office and working on my Sundance application, so I'll shut up now.

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This just in: mifepristone, formerly known as RU-486, is a drug that induces abortion if administered early in a pregnancy. Emergency contraception, such as Plan B or just high doses of regular birth control pills, prevents ovulation and fertilization, or sometimes implantation of a fertilized egg 1 )

if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex (in the best of all possible worlds, when a condom breaks). They are not the same thing, but the phrase "morning after pill" keeps getting used to describe both, and it makes me grumpy. First of all I hate it when writers don't bother to get their facts right, and second of all, even if abortion and contraception weren't hugely controversial issues, confusing the two is still dangerous, if only from a public health perspective. Right now, the FDA is stalling on a decision whether to make emergency contraception available over the counter (by which I hope they mean "over the counter if you ask a pharmacist who double-checks to make sure you know what you're taking and what it does", if only because that's useful in my experience). They are not trying to make the abortion pill available over the counter, and rightly so. But already we've got pharmacists who refuse to dispense EC for ethical reasons, and hospitals who won't offer it to rape victims, and a public that's rampantly confused about these issues, judging by the frequency with which I hear people call mifepristone the "morning after pill", when it isn't! (For one thing, it's effective for the first 63 days of pregnancy, which is much longer than just the 72 hours after unprotected sex that might conceivably be called "the morning after", and it really does induce an abortion no matter how you slice it. Grumblegrump.)

I suspect that writers on both sides of the issue fuck this up because "morning after pill" is less harsh-sounding than "abortion pill" to the pro-choice side, and on the anti-abortion side the distinction is less important because emergency contraception can arguably be said to induce an abortion. I don't care. I just want people to get their damn facts right.

Oh, and here's a link to the article that got me ranting first thing this morning. I can't finish reading it, let alone trust what I've read in it, because of this stupid factual error. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a letter to the editor to compose.


Feb. 19th, 2004 01:57 pm
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Okay, so everybody's beaten me to the punch posting about Matt and David's wedding (including the lucky grooms themselves) but I'm going to say "Hot damn!" and "Congratulations!" again, because it makes me happy. And now, speaking of the city of San Francisco doing things that make me happy, Professor Bernoff and his Tom got married yesterday! Their pictures are second only to Matt and David's for cuteness, so if you need another reason to be happy (and hopeful that civil rights will win out over legislated bigotry in time), check that out. Yay!

Update, 14:22: And go city of San Francisco again!. Suck it, Prop 22!

One more little update: This link will take you to a post I made to the [livejournal.com profile] queer_marriage community on LJ about some articles I read recently that I thought were good.

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If y'all haven't read [livejournal.com profile] pants_of_doom's National Coming Out Week wish list, go do so now. It's good stuff. On a similar note, here's a link to the discussion that ensued when I posted grumbling about President Bush's announcement that federal government lawyers are working to legally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman (because apparently it's not enough that states keep passing laws that say the same thing, and the Defense of Marriage Act says it's okay for states to disregard each other's laws concerning same-sex marriage --- this has to be a federal issue, too... but I digress). It was a good discussion, I thought, but it made clear to me that a lot of people don't know very much about the legal issues surrounding marriage and domestic partnership and such. Since this is kind of a hot-button issue for me, I'm full of fun facts about it, and I figured hey, why not share? To start off, here's something I wrote to someone who thought I was common-law married because Peter and I are registered as domestic partners with his grad student union, so I can get cheaper health insurance.

Long story short, no, I'm not married, common-law or otherwise, and here's some facts about common-law marriage and domestic partnership. )

By the way, October 11 is National Coming Out Day, and this year the Human Rights Campaign is encouraging people to come out in favor of same-sex civil marriage rights (as distinct from religious marriage/commitment ceremonies, which are available to everyone, though not from all religious denominations, and either way don't confer legal benefits). I think this is a good idea, although it sort of misses the point that marriage as an institution has other problems besides the fact that it discriminates against same-sex couples. I'll post about that later, but for now this post is long enough.

Update, 18:36: Ok, it was long enough, but I want to remind myself that I also want to write about the Bush Administration's Marriage Protection Week bullshit (timed to coincide with National Coming Out Week, no less), and maybe post links to resources like the Alternatives to Marriage Project (probably my primary source of information on this issue), so anybody interested in learning more can do so. Am I forgetting anything important? If so, please leave a comment. [livejournal.com profile] coldtortuga, I remember you were curious about my personal views on marriage; these posts should help make them clearer but I could write something to address that point in particular...

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"WASHINGTON, July 30 — President Bush said today that federal government lawyers are working on legislation that would define marriage as a union between a man and woman."

So much for states' rights, let alone recognizing other countries' laws.... though really, people who really want to reap government benefits for their relationships should just incorporate. There's no restriction on gender or number of people involved in a limited-liability corporation, either... and the law says it's a person. I know that's oversimplifying things grossly, but on the other hand it merges two of my hot-button issues in a gloriously perverse way. If loopholes in corporate law could take down both marriage discrimination and corporate personhood, that would pretty much make my day, yep.

I fuckin' hate the law, but stuff like this makes me wish I knew more about it. Grumblegrump.

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Ok, so apparently PBS has a new series out about the history of the idea of race in the United States, and in particular the evolution of the idea that there are actual biological differences between races, and how really race is a social construct. It's called Race: The Power of an Illusion, and that link goes to the PBS pages about the program, which I haven't really explored yet.

Anyway, I've been reading some reviews of the series, and it's made me curious about some stuff. AlterNet ran a really positive review, of course, but I just stumbled across the New York Times's review (you might need an NYT login to see it), and it's making me really curious to actually see the series in question. The Times reviewer doesn't like Race: The Power of an Illusion much, and the main reason for that dislike (besides the fact that it's a PBS series, which can make for weird production issues) seems to be that the reviewer thinks "race is a social construct" is an old idea, and the series is beating a dead horse and avoiding more interesting issues of race in contemporary society by looking at ancient history.

So. What I'm really wondering about (besides is the series any good) is whether the idea of race as a social construct is really as widespread as the New York Times reviewer seems to think it is. Because maybe it's common knowledge among regular PBS viewers, readers of the late Stephen Jay Gould (who appears in the series), and so forth, but I think there's still plenty of people who think there's valid biological reasons for racial divisions, instead of history and social traditions and suchforth. Now whether the PBS series reaches those people is a different story, but do you really think WKKK (a totally fictional station, I hope) is going to run a series about the evolution of race as an idea and tool of oppression? Allrighty then. Furthermore, if PBS had made a series about the subtle nuances of race in contemporary society based on the idea that race is just a social construct, that assumption would make that series kinda hard for the "race is biological" people to understand (again, assuming such a series would reach them, which I know is kind of a sketchy assumption).

Anyway, my thought is that the PBS series is potentially useful, if only for introducing people to the idea that racial divisions are socially invented and enforced, but maybe it is as PBS-awful as the Times reviewer says? I don't know. I'm mostly just thinking out loud here, and I'm only posting it publically because maybe someone will read it and be able to answer my questions (is the series any good? how widely known and accepted is the idea that race is more a social construct than a biological division between groups of people?)

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Okay, so the U.S. government and media scream bloody murder when dead or captured U.S. soldiers appear in the Iraqi media, but it's okay for pictures of dead Iraqis to be front-page news in U.S. newspapers. That's one thing, and it's pretty disgusting hypocrisy in and of itself, but I just caught an Associated Press article about U.S. anti-war protesters wounded by the police, complete with graphic pictures (you might want to skip these, [livejournal.com profile] pants_of_doom). I read the full text of the article, but I got the unstated message loud and clear: "Sit down and shut up, peacenik: 'your' government is in control, and you could be next in line for rubber bullets, mmkay?" It makes me mad.


Mar. 19th, 2003 01:27 pm
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Ok, so earlier today [livejournal.com profile] omega697 wrote somewhat sarcastically in his LiveJournal that he was going to wish for war, in the hopes that it would cause the people of the U.S. to "awaken" politically and in particular get out and vote. The entry is here, and it's clearly a reaction to the I wish for peace meme that started making the LiveJournal rounds yesterday. (The "add 'I wish for peace' to your LJ user interests" meme hasn't spread quite as quickly, but I digress.) He has since disallowed comments on the entry in question, but since I spent a long time this morning thinking about it in my (paper) journal, and later trying to edit the resultant five pages of not entirely related ramble into a well thought-out piece that fit in LJ's comment character limit, I'm going to post what I came up with here.

Bad news: Wishing for war, for any reason, sends a hateful message. Better to promote awareness that lots of people in the U.S. don't want war. Neutral news: Speaking of awareness, here's some thoughts about the personal causes and nature of social and political consciousness. Good news: rockin' the vote. )

Ok, wow, that was huge (so huge, I learned to use cut tags on it!) But I did manage to make it considerably more coherent than this morning's paper journal entries, which is good. Looking at it now, I'm definitely glad I gave this piece its own entry, instead of trying to shoehorn it into [livejournal.com profile] omega697's journal. Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Kurt!


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