Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Wrap-up

Beth's guitar Get it? See what I did there? Ha! I’m certain that no one in the history of blogging or any other form of writing has made that oh-so-clever pun.

Whew, sorry I haven't updated lately, but it's been a busy week, and when I wasn't doing something with family, I was recovering from doing something with family. I've also started working out again, and that's feeling really good. It's long overdue.

Well, for all my talk of not spending a lot on Christmas, I got a couple of gifts that really took me by surprise. I got several cool things, but a couple were really unexpected. I was planning on buying myself a Kindle after the holidays, but Ken got me one for Christmas! Yay! I've been learning how to use it, and I've already read one book on it (Draculas, by F. Paul Wilson and three other was gruesome, gory, and had plenty of dark humor...I loved it!).

The other was a gift from my sister Diana, and that's it in the picture. Yes, she got me a guitar. A freakin' guitar! Our grand-niece and grand-nephew also got guitars, and she got my sister Sue a keyboard. She says there was an incredible deal going on at Tom's store (Elder-Beerman), and she just couldn't resist. She handed it to me and said, "You're the guitar hero!" I was stunned.

So now I need to figure out how to play the damn thing. Ha! There is a website through the company that offers tutorials and lessons, so I'll start there. I have a feeling that real guitar isn't going to be as easy as Rock Band guitar...! (Makes me think of Cartman on "South Park": "Real guitars are for old people!") I strapped that baby on and found out that real guitars are heavy, too. I guess it makes a big difference when it's solid wood rather than plastic. Go figure. I measured it, and it is 40 inches long, making it exactly 20 inches shorter than me. I could almost play it like an upright bass.

Jen and Beth 2010 My niece Jen has been in town for a couple of weeks, and tonight was dinner out with her. I had looked online for a few places in the area close to where she's staying (with her Dad--my brother-in-law Tom--and Diana...are you still with me?) and the most intriguing place sounded like a little restaurant called Bella Italia. We couldn't find it right away, but kept looking, and were glad we did! Their sign wasn't lit, and we made sure to let them know, because it was hard to find. But wow, was it worth it! Great food (I had artichoke and spinach ravioli in a light balsamic sauce), great service, great wine, and a visit from the chef, who was funny and charming (and from Sicily). He actually stopped by our table, and all the others, several times. When it came time for dessert and we wanted a dessert wine, he recommended a sweet sparkling wine. It seemed too sweet at first taste, but he said, "Trust me. When you have it with the dessert, the flavor changes." He was right! It was perfect with the sweet desserts. It was a good enough experience that I'm thinking I should probably write a note saying how much we enjoyed it. Isn't it fun when you find an unexpected place that turns out to be wonderful? I would recommend it to any of my friends in the area.

Tomorrow is another big day, with the Notre Dame-Miami Sun Bowl game at 2 pm. Then a New Year's Eve party at Diana and Tom's, and it's Jen's last night here. I'm sad. I wish she lived closer...San Diego is about as far away as you can get in this country! Hawaii doesn't count because it's not really a state. In fact, the Birthers have asked for the REAL certificate of Hawaii's statehood. Heh. I can't take credit for that...I read it somewhere. Maybe Andy Borowitz? But I digress. Saturday it's a visit with Shane and Matt, and Sunday it's watching football and putting away Christmas decorations. Monday it should be a return to normal...or at least as normal as it gets around here!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and here's looking to another year. There will be some good things, there will be some bad things...but I think I've crossed that line where just having another year is a good thing! Happy New Year! What would you little maniacs like to do first? (Does anyone get that reference? Anyone?)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Give it away now

Nothing but Nets Logo With apologies to the Chili Peppers!

In my family, we haven't done traditional Christmas gifts for years, not even drawing names. Mom and Dad were always very generous with financial help, and one year they paid for all of us to go on a trip to Washington, D.C. for the dedication of the WWII Memorial (a memorable trip that Dad talked about often with great fondness...I'm so glad we got to go, because I know how much it meant to him). For a few years, we had a tradition of doing Christmas Bingo, in which we all picked up inexpensive and fun little gifts throughout the year and piled them on a table and played Bingo for them. Mom and Dad would put money in envelopes, and you might get a dollar or you might get lucky and nab a twenty. There were a few gag gifts that returned year after year, like the little plastic head of Michael Jordan that contained gumballs that looked like basketballs, or the infamous fishlight, which was a little flashlight shaped like a fish. Heehee! We had a lot of fun doing that over the years, but haven't done that for the past couple. We kind of decided that we all have so much already, and don't need to accumulate anymore.

This year we went a step further and decided that we would take any money that we might have spent on Bingo gifts and donate it to the charities of our choice. (Mom and I will be giving the great-nieces and great-nephews savings bonds for their future college educations...yes, we're a pragmatic bunch. By the way, when I first typed that, it came out 'savings bongs.' That's completely different, although also potentially useful for college.)

I split my contributions between two charities, different ones from those that get regular contributions throughout the year. First I went local with the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, which obviously helps those in my community who are struggling. In these tough times, the need for help has only increased, and local food pantries have been struggling to help all those who need it.

For my second one, I went international as well as "paying tribute" to my profession, with a contribution to Nothing But Nets, an organization that works to buy mosquito nets and provide education about protection from malaria. We don't think much about malaria here, but it is a devastating problem in other countries: 247,000,000 cases worldwide and 881,000 deaths in 2009. 85% of those deaths occurred in children under the age of five. A $10 mosquito net can literally save a person's life. The Gates Foundation and others are funding research for a malaria vaccination. Until that is available, a net is a simple and inexpensive partial solution to a global infection.

I've made no bones about loving a certain amount of "stuff." Books, music, I have a bit of a shoe problem that I have to work to control...I'm a consumer, and there are presents under the tree. However, it feels good this year to give a little extra to worthy causes (you know...those who are grateful and appreciative rather than wishing that you'd die...haha), and I found great enjoyment in deciding where to donate. (It also tells me that if I ever win the lottery, I'm going to have a blast researching where and how to distribute big chunks of it!)

I was struck this week by Bill Maher's commentary on what can only be called the Cult of Acquisition, embodied by Oprah's "favorite things" show. Best line? "I don't know about spirituality...but if you're losing your shit over a sweater, neither do you."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gayroller 2000

Gayroller Hey, before I forget, you might recall that a while back, I wrote about people treating you shabbily and then asking for money. I neglected to mention in my latest entry that the people hating and hoping for a slow, painful death are also some of the people asking for money. That's right: Give me money and then fucking die! Die slowly, painfully, and alone!

Isn't that just dandy? I really can't help but laugh about it. Someone has much to learn about how the real world works, and someone has a hard lesson ahead of them. Someone is seriously lacking in negotiation skills. Someone should never be an ambassador. Hello, World War III! Do you hear that dry, crinkly sound? That's the sound of the money tree slowly and inevitably withering and dying. Reality bites, life's a bitch, and oh yeah, life goes on. Just ask Jack and Diane.

I briefly mentioned the repeal of the discriminatory DADT policy, but it's worth a little more time and space. Obviously, I'm quite happy about this. I feel it is a civil rights issue, and the policy was discriminatory and wrong. It's been amusing to see some of the arguments against it. The usual...disruptive to our troops, especially in life during wartime (I got some groceries...some peanut butter...should last a couple of days. Jeez, everything is reminding me of songs at the moment!), showering with gays, blahbitty blah blay blue. I hear all this stuff and I wonder why those opposed weren't more vocal when we started hearing about the culture of rape and sexual assault against women in the military, and the failure of the military to fully address that issue? I guess if it's women getting raped, it's not that big of a deal, but even the mere thought of gays getting all rapey and junk with *gasp* other men is enough to send them into apoplectic fits and result in a terminal case of the vapors. Give me a break.

Senator John McCrankypants was the biggest foe, getting all thrombo on the Senate floor and on the verge of blowing out a vein. I honestly don't think he realizes what a complete and utter joke he's become with his endless opposition to the repeal. It was initially "Sure, I'll go along with it if the military brass says it's time." The brass said it's time. Then it was "Well, it needs to be studied." Study conducted. Then it was "This study is flawed." Why didn't he just propose something more preposterous, like "I'll support this when the moon turns red."


I even saw someone comment that what really galled them was that the man repealing this was someone who had never served in the military and has no idea of the culture there. Two things: President Obama repeals nothing; Congress does. Also, the man who initially put this flawed and discriminatory law into place also never served in the military. Your argument is invalid, jerkwad.

I'm so tired of hearing the same old argument about how homosexuality is a choice, and that it is morally wrong because the Bible says so. Here is a newsflash: we don't legislate according to your religious text, no matter who you are. You do not get to dictate how the rest of the country behaves, and you do not get to decide what is morally wrong or right based on your religious dogma. Some people just don't seem to get that. This is a civil rights issue, every bit as much as blacks, Jews, and women serving in the military, which also met with opposition before things were set right. (I guarantee that scripture was quoted in the arguments concerning those groups serving.) That's not even an issue here, because the majority of both military and civilians say that it is the right thing to do. I guess McCain only wants to listen to his constituents when it fits with his own prejudices and biases. Man, that guy needs to retire.

The title of this entry and the picture I included comes from one of my favorite online comics, The Oatmeal. The Gayroller appeared in his strip about how to properly use the word 'literally', and it's one of my favorites. I'll wait here while you read it. tap tap tap See, wasn't that funny? I love it. I even ordered a Gayroller T-shirt when The Oatmeal was having a holiday sale. (I also ordered this one. LOL!)

So get used to it, all you haters. The Gayroller 2000 is coming to get you! But they don't want to squish you or even convert you. They just want you to accept them. Heck, I think they wouldn't even care if you don't accept them...just as long as you give them the rights that are afforded to them under the Constitution. It belongs to them, too, you know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A sad validation

Hammerhead Usually when I write about something and it is subsequently confirmed, I'm pretty happy about that. I have even been known to do a little victory dance, which consists of some knee wiggling, finger wagging, and phrases like "Oh yeah! Oh yeah!" and "What did I say?!" But I generally break that out only in fun circumstances, like winning a big game, or some sort of political victory. (Repeal of DADT! Oh yeah! Oh yeah! What did I say?!)

Although my previous entry about passing along your own bitterness to others has been confirmed in a big way, I feel no sense of elation or victory. I simply feel saddened and disgusted.

It's bad enough to encounter someone who is so angry and bitter about past events that they are simply unable to function on a reasonable level; someone so twisted and unwell that they cannot maintain normal and healthy relationships, whether in a personal or business situation. A person so vile that they leave people, even years later, ruing the day that they met them, feeling that they have been touched by a genuinely disturbed individual. When I encounter someone like that, I feel as though I've been slimed. Sometimes it even makes me shudder to think of such past associations. (In some cases, I find that I've even blocked such things from my memory. I’ve recently remembered a few things about my first marriage that I had apparently repressed for years. I guess that hearing that your spouse thinks you're possessed by a demon is a tad bit traumatic. Who knew?)

But yeah, encountering a person like that is bad enough. You know what is worse? When that person passes along their charming little neuroses and/or psychoses to others. To the point where others use some of the exact phrases. To the point where they wish the death of those that are hated. A slow, painful death.

Wow. What a legacy to leave behind. Rather than fostering good will and bringing joy to others, your actions bring hatred and discord. In your own abject failure and misery, you find happiness in sharing the misery with others, even those who should never be subjected to hearing such hatred. Instead of healthy relationships, you pass along the recipe for further failure, because you are incapable of setting a good example. Every friendship, every relationship, sometimes even casual encounters, ends up on the trash heap of your life. As Mick sings in "Shattered," "Pile it up...pile it up...pile it high on the platter." And instead of stopping the hatred with you, you pass it on. You can't help yourself.

You live your life by manipulating others and by intimidation. You get what you want by bullying and threatening, and when people don't behave in the way you expect them to, you viciously turn on them. You try this with everyone, and you always eventually fail. People always wise up and realize when they're being manipulated, and they despise you for it. Time after time after time. And you never seem to figure out that the problem isn't everyone's YOU. All of us experience failure in our lives, all of us have relationships and friendships that didn't stand the test of time. But most of us have some that have lasted, and most of us manage to maintain friendly relationships with coworkers, neighbors, and family members. We thrive on harmony rather than discord. When all of your relationships are predicated upon a common hatred, you've got a problem.

And when you pass that hatred along to others, you are contributing not only to further discord, but you are creating another neurotic individual full of fear and animosity. Just like you.

I may never have been a mom, but even I know that is fucked up.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Bitter living through chemistry

Bitter fruit No political stuff today. It's a holiday miracle!

Frankly, I'm more than a little burned out on politics. It's a temporary setback. I suppose if I'm going to go through this, now is the time to do it. I'm still following things, but I'm just worn out. I'm tired of debating, I'm tired of the partisan fighting and lately, the infighting. I need a break, and I am happy to take one before things start heating up in the spring. A handful of GOP debates have already been set, and I'll admit to having a little sunshiney thought that Sarah Palin might be taking part in those debates. That should be some major entertainment! I think I'm just going to sit back and watch things develop, and then enjoy the circus. [rubbing my hands together with glee] I've got all winter to formulate my master plan. Bahahahaha!

Instead, I'm thinking tonight about those who let their own anger and bitterness get in the way of the right thing to do. As I watch my friend dealing with her kids' school district because she feels that her kids are being taught some very disastrous and wrong thinking about sexuality and sexual mores, I wonder about the difference between defending your kids or loved ones based on protecting them from a genuine threat versus one that you have raised to threatening status in your own mind. I wonder what is wrong with anyone who would ignore the best interests of their own family because they are unable to let go of their own notions and perceived hurts.

I've seen it in my own family. The bitterness and anger is passed on to those who are innocent, the acerbic commentary is shared both in the written and spoken word, and it's made very clear that one party is the enemy and to be hated. I'll never fathom how anyone can so blatantly pass on their anger to those who it is their duty to protect and keep from harm—that includes both physically and mentally. Passing on the baton of your own bitterness due to perceived slights is so unhealthy, especially when you are clinging to incidents that happened years before. If you want to continue to hang onto what has hurt you in the past, I suppose you have that right (although it really isn't very healthy); spreading your misery and misconceptions to others is dangerous and simply not right. 

When the recipients of your bitterness are subjected to a constant barrage of negativity and erratic behavior, they have no exposure to a healthy perspective or chance at discussion and resolution. When other family members support such behavior and enable the hater to keep on hating, what chance at a normal life do the recipients have? When much of your life and your personal interactions consist of nothing but chaos, disorder, and dysfunction, how can other family members thrive and be healthy in such an atmosphere? I find that really sad. I suppose that seeing your own negativity reflected in those around you is satisfying for some. I see it as mentally unhealthy and a very unsound state of mind. Especially when you put the future of your loved ones in jeopardy.

All because of your own bitterness.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Asking for it: Update

Sex ed On this cold and snowy day here at Nutwood, I'll revisit my previous post. My friend has sent a letter to the school board about her discussion with the teacher. Names have been changed to protect the innocent (I've always wanted to say that!) and I have removed some things for the sake of both her privacy and brevity here. Printed here with her permission. Commentary to follow.

Dear Dr. So-and-So,

I’m writing to you today to address an area that I find personally offensive on many levels concerning the specific practices of a certain teacher. You are my first step in this matter, as I feel you are a man of integrity and very open. I am not sure where to proceed from here. I have considered consulting the ACLU and/or taking this up with the school board if I don’t have resolution. However, that seems extreme at this moment. I’d prefer to consult with you first and see if perhaps this can be dealt with on a personal level first.

Here is the situation:

My youngest daughter, J., attends 8th grade at W. School—a school I’ve greatly enjoyed and have had, until this moment, the utmost respect for the staff and administrators. Yesterday, 12/09/2010, J. came home from sex education, taught by Mr. Jones. She informed me that during this class, Mr. Jones told the children, (a mixed group of boys and girls) that, “Girls should be careful how they dress, as they can send ‘signals’ to boys that mean they want to have sex.” And also talked about girls being “provocatively dressed,” and how this could turn on boys and incur unwanted sexual advances. To quote him, “These things make girls look like they want sex.”

I contacted Mr. Jones about this to confirm his opinion. In a rather heated discussion, Mr. Jones not only confirmed these statements, but also informed me that he felt girls in miniskirts with cleavage, were indeed a “type” that did incite male attention. He further related that fishnet tights that girls or women wore were “inviting trouble.” (It could be pointed out that many career women wear these in the board room and that the well-respected Principal of W. School has worn short skirts in a very professional and becoming fashion).

During the 20 minute conversation, Mr. Jones shared that he felt women in such attire essentially were wide open to male advances. And when I asked him if he felt that these girls, who might be “provocative” by his standards, looked trashy, he said, “Not all of them.” His exact words were, “Cleavage and miniskirts make a woman or a girl look like they want sex.” And "If a girl dresses in a mini skirt with cleavage, I mean, doesn't that imply she wants to have sex or is thinking about sex?"

He also gave me the analogy of me seeing a muscular body-builder on the beach, flexing his muscles while scantily clad and asked if I thought that man was sending sexual messages. Mr. Jones seemed shocked when I told him, “No” to both questions.

Here are the problems I have with this:

1. To tell girls their attire is responsible for male advances is to lay blame on the female culture for sexual inappropriateness. We women have tried the gambit of dressing man-like in business (and I’m one of those females) to wearing no makeup to shabby attire and we still gain unwanted and unwelcome advances. How we dress is a personal statement and often independent of anyone else’s approval. Believe it or not, when I get up in the morning, whether I opt for a skirt, jeans, sweats or a business suit, has nothing to do with inviting male advances--and yet, we women will acquire these regardless of our choice of attire.

I resent this cultural throwback. I resent the work I do to make myself, my daughters and my sister females appear credible, intelligent and with something to offer which is lightly cast aside by archaic, detrimental statements such as those uttered by Mr. Jones. Neither I, nor my daughters, nor any woman should be “blamed” by virtue of how she dresses for males acting inappropriately.

I do not want “sex” if I wear a miniskirt. I do not want “sex” if I have cleavage showing. Likewise, my daughters do not want to have sex because they are wearing certain items. And I am deeply offended that Mr. Jones told a group of young women that these things were what men or boys would think of them—that girls look like they want sex because they wore a miniskirt.

While women do receive too frequent male attention, I don’t believe all males respond this way. Unlike Mr. Jones, I have a better opinion of the male race because I have also encountered men who did not regard me as a sexual object, regardless of what I wore, but instead treated me like an equal human being. So in this mindset, Mr. Jones also demeaned males by lowering them universally to his standards.

It’s appalling to me that my daughter was told this today. It lays the blame in her mind for times when boys do act inappropriately. “Did I do something wrong?” “Was it me?” I could see her ask, like many women before her. Whether male or female, the person responsible for inappropriate behavior is the offender--not the victim. I do not send my daughter to a public school to have this message taught to her, that in the future when she’s victimized and discriminated against in college or in the workforce someday, this is her fault for choosing to wear a tank top or a skirt.

2. As this was told in a classroom of mixed group of boys and girls, this same message has an even more detrimental effect on young males—males that will someday grow up into adult men. These men armed with this information will see a woman they regard as “sexually provocative” and will feel she must therefore “want sex.” I may point out that there have been numerous and well published rapes of women who were victims of this mentality. And the truth of the matter is that date rape, an all too common event that young women tragically experience, has often been blamed by the perpetrator on what a woman wore. Although vastly underreported, this crime been proven in courts across the United States to have NOTHING to do with female attire.

Boys do not suddenly wake up and decide to rape young women, victimize or sexually discriminate against them. However the classic male predator develops a feeling of “entitlement” to what is in front of them and some act on this in horrific ways. That sense of “entitlement” is what is being cultivated in Mr. Jones’s class, along with a sickening dose of blaming the female and removing the culpability from young men for inappropriate behavior.

Last I checked, accepting responsibility for one’s actions is a principle that IS being taught in W. School—except perhaps in Mr. Jones’s classroom. Even apart from rape, sexual pressure will increase not decrease due to this teaching. I imagine now, boys will look around the room, based on knowing “girls who dress provocatively want sex” and begin selecting females they can easily pressure into sex, due to what the girls are wearing.

3. I would also ask, “Precisely what is inappropriate attire that incites the male testosterone to extreme and unacceptable proportions?” What is defined as “sexy” and “provocative” has a great cultural variance, even among young men in the same classroom. To some kids from very conservative homes, a girl in jeans is “provocative” based on the child’s world view of mothers or sisters who wear dresses all the time. I asked Mr. Jones this question and he replied, “Clothing that draws attention to their breasts.”

What Mr. Jones defines as attire “inviting male advances” is not what the next man may find sexually charged clothing. Hence, this entire topic is horrifically ridden with blame, inappropriate doling of culpability, vague definitions and incites the opposite of what is intended by an abstinence based sex ed class.

Mr. Jones asked me if I approved of the dress code. Of course I do, because the purpose of a dress code is to develop a bit of uniformity amongst kids and prevent gang involvement. The purpose of a dress code is NOT to protect innocent boys from evil, scantily-clad girls who may tempt them into sex. The topic of a dress code and my objections to discriminatory teaching are two entirely different matters. However this only demonstrated Mr. Jones’s inability to grasp of the seriousness of my statements.

The topic should have been simply and easily addressed with the following:

“No matter what a woman wears, or how sexy you think she is, does NOT mean she wants sex. Therefore you shouldn’t expect sex or pressure her or assume she’s easy.”

“A girl is a human being with feelings and does not always dress for inviting males or even want sex, no matter how “cute” she looks to you.” You are responsible for your own hormones and actions. It is therefore not the fault of the woman if you think she’s hot.”

That is how I’d expect a seasoned teacher, in a public school, to teach my child. I’d also expect teaching about date rape and how to avoid the pressure of, “But I thought you wanted it, you were dressed so sexy” that guys do tell girls. I’D EXPECT MY DAUGHTER TO BE TOLD THE REVERSE OF WHAT MR. JONES IS TELLING THE CLASS—THAT WOMEN DO NOT DESERVE TO BE TREATED AS OBJECTS, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THEY ARE WEARING.

And the above statements are precisely what I’m requesting. I am also requesting that you revisit having Mr. Jones teach this to students, especially females—since obviously his view of the female race is sexist, and repressive of their civil rights as equal human beings. I will not tolerate, not only for my daughter’s sake, but for the other and future students to have their rights infringed upon, nor have sexually discriminatory talk be posed in a classroom.

I look forward to your response.

Abstinence I have impressive friends, or what? As my friend investigated this further, it seems that this teacher attends a church in which the previous Sunday's sermon was about women's attire and the problems it can cause. He had scheduled a pastor to come in and discuss things with the kids. Well, cut off my legs and call me Shorty! Of course, such attitudes aren't exclusive to the religious right, but I've seen it in a higher proportion there.

I find it disturbing that such things are being taught in abstinence-only curricula. It is perpetuating an attitude of discrimination, prejudice, and an unrealistic and unhealthy view of sexuality. I hope my friend is successful in keeping this teacher from heading up sex ed classes, and I have told her that I will do whatever I can to help. The U.S. is already ignorant enough about sexuality, and I blame some of that on our repressive religious attitudes and some on the continued prudishness fostered by those who think that exposure to sexuality is much more of a problem than exposure to violence. My friend has worked hard to engender a healthy attitude about sex in her children, and has been very open to discussions and questions from them. All of her hard work is in jeopardy with the attitude of idiots like Mr. Jones. Not that her kids would buy into such ignorance, but what about the other kids in the class who aren't as lucky to have such open and responsive parents? What are they taking away from Mr. Jones's instructions?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Asking for it

IMG_0273 Tonight, a Facebook friend posted that her middle school-aged daughter came home and told her about what her teacher said in her sex ed class: "How a girl dresses can send signals she wants to have sex."

But wait...there was more. Naturally, my friend was incensed by this remark and had a discussion with him...and yes, it was a male teacher. Here are some words of wisdom from this guy.

"If a girl dresses in a mini skirt with cleavage [sic], I mean, doesn't that imply she wants to have sex?"

In the course of conversation with my friend, she said that he mentioned fishnet stockings.

He tried this analogy on her: "You see a guy flexing his muscles on the beach scantily clad, doesn't that make you think he's trying to be sexy?"

I can't begin to tell you how outraged this made me. This is the typical "she was asking for it" attitude that far too many defense attorneys and self-righteous moralistic idiots have used for years. Rather than placing the blame solely on the attacker, it is somehow turned around to be all the woman's fault. After all, if she wasn't wearing those provocative clothes, that attack never would have happened, right? It's HER fault for dressing like a slut, not HIS fault for giving into his uncontrollable urges.

First of all, this is incredibly insulting to both men and women. Not only does it assume that women somehow "want it" if they dress provocatively, it assumes that men are such testosterone-laden idiots that they are incapable of controlling their urges and simply have to get all rapey and junk if they see a flash of leg or gaze down an epic cleavage. What century are we living in again?

Secondly, it shows the incredible ignorance concerning the crime of rape. It is not simply a sex crime; it is one of power, dominance, and anger. There are rape victims who are elderly women; there are those that are pre-kindergarten girls. These are not women who are dressing provocatively. Their only crime is that of being female.

For a public school teacher to espouse such horrifically sexist attitudes is just beyond comprehension, and leads me to think that he has his own issues with women and perhaps a fair amount of anger towards them. This is a mentality that I thought we'd put behind us, and I find it very disturbing that it is being spouted by teachers.

My friend's post generated a lot of comments. Most people were also appalled, and others didn't care for the guy's remarks but felt that some of us were being too hard on him. I don't think so, not by a long shot. Anyone who knows me, or if you've been reading me for a while, knows that I am not a man basher. I happen to like you guys and you'll never hear me saying "All men are [fill in the blank]." But this is simply unacceptable, a horrible lesson to young girls which tells them that they are the ones who provoke unwanted attention or even worse, actual attacks upon themselves, because of their dress or attitudes. It is also a horrible lesson to the young men in that class, telling them that it's not their fault if they have urges to go after a woman because she is wearing a short dress or a tight shirt, essentially forgiving them for any wrongdoing because "she asked for it." I am still stunned that a teacher said this!

Many of us have been subjected to harassment in the workplace or in our private lives. I've had two incidents in my career in which I had to deal with it. One was a coworker--not even in the same department, but on the same shift--who was apparently telling people exactly what he wanted to do to me, in very graphic terms. I can assure you that I never once encouraged this person, or led him to believe that we were anything but work acquaintances, but he felt that it was okay for him to talk about me to my other coworkers in very sexual terms. I told him to cut it out, and if he didn't, I'd go to my manager and discuss a sexual harassment complaint. That put a stop to it. The other incident was when I was drawing blood from a patient in Intensive Care. The patient was a hard stick, so the doctor who was in the room put his hands firmly around my waist, lingering, and moved me aside, telling the patient, "It probably doesn't hurt as much when they're as pretty as this one, does it?" I'm sure that my white lab coat was what really set him off. My fault for dressing so provocatively. I was so shaken up that I was...well, I was literally shaking when I came back down to the lab. I went to my manager and told her about the incident; she investigated and told me that there were nurses that had also complained about this doctor being inappropriate with them. It never happened again, so I didn't pursue it, but my complaint was on file.

Bottom line: any teacher telling impressionable young people that a woman's attire, no matter how provocative--and who is this guy to decide what is overly provocative, anyway?--is possibly an invitation to have sex with her is grossly negligent and verging on criminal. There is absolutely no excuse for such behavior or for perpetuating these myths that a woman is asking for harassment or rape because of her behavior or attire. I'm a big fan of fishnet stockings because they're fun and cute and they don't get runs in them. Those are my legs in that picture up there. Do the fishnets and/or the short skirt make my male readers feel rapey? Because I wear them, does that mean I'm putting forth an invitation to every guy to come onto me? That is crazy, stupid, and incredibly sexist.

I was reminded of the movie "The Accused," in which Jodie Foster's character gets drunk and stupid and ends up getting gang raped on a pinball table. This wasn't complete fiction. It was based on a real case. I found the rape scene one of the most horrifying and disturbing scenes I've ever watched in a movie. Any teacher who passes on such attitudes to their students has no place in the classroom. I don't know what my friend will end up doing, but I'm certain that she will pitch one helluva fit, and rightly so. I will be interested to see what comes of this; if it were me in that situation, and the teacher refused to see what was wrong with what he told his students, I'd be filing a formal complaint with the school board and doing my best to get him out of the least the sex education classroom. His moralistic, judgmental pronouncements on "what women want" have no place among our students.

It's odd, though...I had no idea that Mel Gibson was working as a teacher in northern Indiana.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shades of Grey

Tax deal I hesitated to write about this, because it is seriously harshing my mellow.

The bubble chart you see on the left is a representation of the numbers in the tax deal currently being negotiated in Washington right now. The blue is what the Democrats got, and the lone red one is what the Republicans got. However, that lone red ball is tax cut extensions for the wealthiest 2%, and that is what has people in a tizzy.

Except 'tizzy' doesn't begin to cover it. I'd say it's pretty close to foaming at the mouth. Some of my fellow liberals say that they are leaving Organizing For America; some are predicting that this undoubtedly means that President Obama will not win re-election in 2012; all are saying that he "caved" and he should have shown up ready to kick ass and chew bubblegum (but of course, he'd be all out of bubblegum...anyone get that reference?); there are rumblings about putting someone up against him in the primaries.

May I politely say...everyone take a deep breath and just chill the fuck out, okay?

I don't like the tax cut extensions, either. I think that the wealthiest among us should pay more on a progressive scale, and the best case scenario would have been to have the middle class cuts extended and let the higher end tax cuts expire. Unfortunately, politics got in the way. I'm sure most of you who read this know that the extensions got all tangled up with unemployment benefits extensions, and Obama made the decision to cut a deal to extend all tax cuts in order to extend unemployment benefits in this extremely tough economic atmosphere.

Is it perfect? No. Is it the end of the world, the demise of the Democratic Party, the death knell of the Obama presidency? No, no, and no.

Let's have a reality check. First a little harsh clarity, then a healthy dose of optimism.

Obama cannot legislate. Congress passes the bills, he signs them into law. The Democrats didn't have the votes to pass the best case scenario I mentioned above. Might they have before the election? Yes. Go ahead and blame the Democrats for that one, but don't put it all on Obama's shoulders.

As the Stones said, you can't always get what you want...but if you try sometimes you get what you need. We wanted the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire; those whose unemployment benefits were close to running out got what they needed.

It's Washington, D.C., and deals are brokered all the time. It's politics; that is the nature of the beast. Would I love to see Jimmy Stewart go to Washington and change hearts with his integrity and honesty and steadfastness in the face of fierce opposition? Sure. But that's a movie. This is real life.

As for running a challenger against Obama in the primaries, please, PLEASE stop thinking this is a viable option. It's a rarity that anyone successfully runs against a sitting President in a primary, and it would do nothing but create discord, and would be political suicide for whoever decided to try. Does anyone think the Democratic Party would go against their sitting President? Also, who would you choose that could actually win? Hillary? She could win...but she is part of Obama's Cabinet, and has said repeatedly that she will not run in 2012, and probably not even in 2016. I don't believe for a moment that she would ever run in a primary against Obama. So who else would you pit against whoever the Republican candidate ends up being? Howard Dean? After his "scream" meltdown, do you seriously think that he could get enough Independents to get the win? Dean has also gone on record saying that he is not running and will support Obama in 2012. I have friends who love former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson and Minnesota Senator Al Franken. I love them, too. But again, please think pragmatically here: if you think they could beat someone like Romney, you are simply wrong. It wouldn't happen. Independents would never go for anyone that far to the left.

And here is a real nightmare scenario for you. Say you have someone like Grayson as your nominee...and the Republican nominee is Palin. Do you really want to take the chance that Palin might pull off a win? Someone sent an email to Jack Cafferty on CNN saying that he was a Democrat, and if it were Obama against Palin, he'd vote for Obama. If it were Obama against someone like Romney, he'd stay home. Really? You'd rather give up the Presidency to Mittens than get out and make sure the Republicans don't end up in control of the Presidency, the House, AND the Senate?

Please everyone...just get a grip and calm down. This really is not the end of the world.

In fact (here comes the optimism), some feel that Obama’s tax deal is effectively the extra stimulus that most economists feel was needed (that article is where I got the above chart). It was a back door stimulus, if you will, because if the Democrats had tried to introduce another such plan and called it Stimulus Part Deux, you can bet it would have died a swift death in the House. Some very prominent Democrat mayors support the deal. If you take a look at the whole package, you'll see that there are some very good things in it that will help a lot of people. The focus right now is very much on the "millionaire tax cut," but there is a lot more there. I hope that folks will take a breath and stop going bugshit about this.

I suspect this post won't be very popular with some of my friends and readers. Believe me, I share your anger that the richest 2% are getting a continued tax break. However, the middle class tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits are the real prize here. The former will make people feel better about spending for this Christmas and beyond, and the latter will keep some people in their homes and hanging on until they can hopefully find a job. Stop and think for a moment that perhaps this was a pretty good end run, where we gained more than we conceded. And please stop the breathless hysteria that is going to keep you at home next election day, confined to bed with a bad case of the vapors.

I mentioned on Facebook that this was not a black and white matter, that it in fact has infinite shades of grey. It made me think of the Monkees song (yes, I like the Monkees), and as I read the lyrics, I realized just how appropriate it was (video first, followed by lyrics). At heart, I am an idealist. In practice, I'm a pragmatist and a realist. It's good to have a combination of both.

When the world and I were young, just yesterday
Life was such a simple game a child could play

It was easy then to tell right from wrong
Easy then to tell weak from strong
When a man should stand and fight
Or just go along

But today, there is no day or night

Today, there is no dark or light
Today, there is no black or white
Only shades of grey

I remember when the answer seemed so clear
We had never lived with doubt, or tasted fear

It was easy then to tell truth from lies
Selling out from compromise
Who to love and who to hate
The foolish from the wise

But today, there is no day or night
Today, there is no dark or light
Today, there is no black or white
Only shades of grey

It was easy then to know what was fair
When to keep and when to share
How much to protect your heart
And how much to care

But today, there is no day or night
Today, there is no dark or light
Today, there is no black or white
Only shades of grey
Only shades of grey...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Art, Sacrilege, and Myrmidons

Ants on a crucifix I was watching John King's show on CNN the other night, and he had a segment about the recent hoo-raw concerning the National Portrait Gallery's exhibit concerning LGBT themes and artists, as well as works of art relating to AIDS.

One video seemed to draw criticism and ire from the Catholic League and some politicians. The video, "A Fire in my Belly," is a four-minute version of a longer video made by the artist David Wojnarowicz, who died of AIDS in 1992. The full exhibit, titled "Hide/Seek" contains nudity and graphic images with homoerotic themes, but what drew the most attention was one particular image in the video: ants crawling over a crucifix.

The president of the Catholic League, William Donohue, described it as "hate speech against Christians." I'm sorry to say that the curators of the museum bowed to pressure and pulled the video, although the remainder of the exhibit is still in place (with a warning that it contains mature themes).

Some politicians joined in condemning the exhibit. Both John Boehner and Eric Cantor decided to weigh in on it, wondering why taxpayers were funding such offensive images, although they apparently condemned it without actually making the trip to the Smithsonian to see it for themselves. One Congressman, Dan Lungren of California, sent a written statement to CNN in which he said that the Republicans plan to review the process by which the Smithsonian's exhibits are chosen.

The exhibit was privately funded; taxpayer money was used for the building facilities and maintenance, not the exhibit.

King interviewed Brent Bozell, the president of the Media Research Center, an organization whose goal is to "bring balance to the news media," which they believe has a liberal bias; also present was Blake Gopnik, the art critic for the Washington Post.

First of all, I would dearly love to smack that smug expression off of Bozell's face. Better yet, I'd like to grab that pen that he keeps gesturing with out of his hand and jam it into his eye socket. But I digress.

Bozell condemns not just the ant-covered crucifix, which he said was purposefully offensive to Christians, but also the entire exhibit, saying that if you like that sort of thing, you can find it in "some seedy art something somewhere." This is an exhibit that includes works from artists like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Annie Leibowitz. He seems to advocate cutting federal funding of the Smithsonian, if they are going to display exhibits such as this. When Gopnik tries to offer an alternative interpretation to the ant-covered crucifix, that it shows the suffering that Christ endured and compares it to the suffering that AIDS patients experience, Bozell brushes it off with a pshaw and a puh-eeze.

Bozell condemns the image as sacrilegious, and Gopnik counters with "Who decides what is art?" In reading some of the comments included with the CNN story, some people raised the recent Mohammed controversy. Remember that? A Dutch cartoonist received death threats for his drawings of Mohammed. Trey Parker and Matt Stone were censored by Comedy Central for their South Park episode in which they depicted Mohammed. There was a national Draw Mohammed Day in which we all made our own little drawings or pictures and posted them. There were plenty of people who ridiculed Muslims for having such a rigid and unyielding faith that they were willing to kill others for making a drawing of their prophet...and the ridicule was rightly deserved, in my opinion. However, you can bet that plenty of those doing the ridiculing are also saying that an ant-covered crucifix is wrong and sacrilegious. Some are saying that "all religions should be respected." For the vast majority, I call bullshit. What they mean is "MY religion should be respected. I don't give a fuck about yours."

Kandinsky I'm not going to get into a theological debate about this, although there are elements of it involved. I think the broader point is Gopnik's: Who decides what is art? Art speaks to people in different ways. Do you like Jackson Pollock? Wasilly Kandinsky? Andy Warhol? Edward Hopper? Maxfield Parrish? Daniel Edwards? These are some of my favorites, but they're not for everyone. Some see nothing but paint trails in a Pollock; I see energy and excitement. Some see nothing but geometric shapes and squiggles from Kandinsky; I see exuberance and chaotic color. Some see obscenity in my friend Dan's sculptures; I see a biting statement on our fascination with celebrity.

And in the case of the ant-covered crucifix (which I believe is the next Nancy Drew mystery due out soon), I don't see sacrilege; I see a poignant statement of suffering, one that was endured by the artist himself. (I suppose you can feel free to tell me that there is no suffering like that endured by Christ on the cross. I'll say that you've never seen anyone slowly dying from AIDS. At least for Christ, it was allegedly over with in six hours or so. You can also feel free to say that I'm being sacrilegious. I won't really care.) Art appreciation is subjective. Sometimes you have to look at it and let your emotions run free. Let yourself figure out what it engenders in you, what experience it gives you or reminds you of. I remember seeing a rather disturbing work in the Dayton Art Institute a few years ago (actually a fine little art museum that I enjoyed very much). I don't recall the artist, but it was a dark work that bothered me on some subconscious level. I didn't "like" it per se, but I was transfixed by it as I tried to figured out why it bothered me. I never did figure it out, but it was a neat experience.

Hopper I feel sorry for people like Bozell, who obviously is so blinded by his faith that he can't see any alternative interpretation to something like this. His world is one of black and white, crisp edges, and clean boundaries--and sensibilities that are way too easily offended. It is a lot of fun to explore a little bit, to try to get beyond your initial feelings of revulsion? uneasiness? anger? Whatever it is that is triggered in you, try to figure out what it is and why. The artist was feeling a particular emotion when he or she created their work; take the time to wonder if their state of mind matches yours. Or try to see if you can figure out what response they wanted to elicit from you. It's all just expression, and one of the coolest things about our country is that we have the freedom to express ourselves. To paraphrase something I've read elsewhere in the past, you are not guaranteed the right to not be offended.

As for the Republicans own precious expressions, that of possibly cutting out federal funds to places like the National Portrait Gallery if they continue to have the audacity to stage such exhibits--horribly offensive things that the Republicans can't could anyone actually enjoy such a thing?--we need to fight this tooth and nail. The Smithsonian, housing so many national treasures, is a national treasure in itself. Would they also cut off funding to the National Archives, the museum that houses our Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights? The Republicans do not get to determine what is art.

If they did, I bet we could look forward to the Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Crap™, exhibit coming to the National Portrait Gallery soon.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

That’s crazy talk!

Mirror cat There has been a big shakeup in the psychology world this week! And certain people might not be very happy about their very important diagnosis getting the boot.

The new edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) will eliminate five personality disorders, including Paranoid, Schizoid, Histrionic, and Dependent. But the real biggie, the one getting all the attention (naturally), is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. *gasp* NO! How will all those narcissists deal with being told that they don't rate their own personality disorder any longer? This could be very damaging to them.

This decision is causing a lot of disagreement among psychologists and psychiatrists. The rationale is that a patient can be diagnosed with a personality disorder with elements of the various disorders that have been eliminated. A smorgasbord, if you will, of personality disorder symptoms. Practicing psychologists and psychiatrists feel that there is a wide gap between what researchers see in their studies and what they see in their practices, and are none too happy about this decision. Although psychology is a bit of a hobby of mine, and I've read a few books about it, I am by no means an expert, so can't really comment on whether this is a good decision or not.

However, as someone who has been accused in the past of being a narcissist, I can certainly comment on that. I'm really not sure what prompted this person to decide that I am a narcissist, since I really don't fit the pattern of Narcissistic Personality Disorder symptoms (RIP, NPD). I think all of us exhibit certain of these behaviors at times; I am definitely easily hurt, and can appear unemotional at times. However, there is a big difference between exhibiting certain behaviors that many of us show at times, and being classified as having a personality disorder. I can only put on my psychologist hat and wonder if that accusation wasn't a classic case of psychological projection. Hmmm. There is also a big difference between exhibiting a healthy sense of self and self-worth, having self-confidence, and being a narcissist. While looking for a picture for this entry, I saw several that portrayed President Obama as being a narcissist. I think that is just silly.

He is obviously very self-confident. What politician isn't? I would think it's a prerequisite for the job. As for myself—and no, I am not comparing myself to our President—I worked hard to get past my feelings of inferiority, my self-doubts and insecurities. Although I still have those things, I have tried to replace them with a stronger self-confidence and a faith in my own abilities. My job did a lot to help me with that. I was good at what I did, but a lot of that came from my dedication towards learning as much as I could and keeping up with changes. My supervisor placed a lot of faith in me, giving me extra tasks and pushing me to learn more. I'm pretty sure that she was happy with my efforts. I have never pretended to know it all. Good Bachelor's degree doesn't qualify me as an expert! But I think it's okay to have confidence in your abilities, knowledge, and experience, as long as you have the equal and ever-present realization that there is always, always more to learn.

Does that make me a narcissist? I don't believe it does, and I would be interested to see if any psychologist would diagnose me as such. I saw one several years ago, and I wasn't diagnosed then, so I'm not sure what the person I mentioned previously based their diagnosis on. However, they might be happy to know that both borderline personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (not the same, but related to OCD) are still in the DSM!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A busy and booky week

Fatal Error Well, cut off my legs and call me Shorty, I haven't updated for over a week! It was a busy time over the holiday. Dinner with my family on Thanksgiving day, then the in-laws over for spaghetti on Friday, then Shane and Matt over yesterday for pizza and Rock Band. (Neither of them had played before, and I think they really enjoyed it! Shane mostly did bass, and Matt was a natural on vocals. As they would say, "Fun!") Since people were coming over, I had to do plenty of tidying up and cleaning in the preceding days. Today is finally a quiet day, so it's been football and getting caught up on reading.

Thus I have a couple of book reviews for you. First is Fatal Error, the penultimate (I always love a chance to use that word!) Repairman Jack novel by F. Paul Wilson. Jack is one of the best characters in modern fiction, in my opinion; he is a Fixer. If people get into trouble, a friend might refer them to Jack, and he looks at their problem and decides if he wants to tackle it or not. Jack is no gun-for-hire; he is more of a vigilante who evens the playing field for average, decent people who are being hurt or preyed upon by bad guys. In other words, Jack is a good guy who hates injustice, blackmail, and bullying.

Unfortunately for Jack, he has also been noticed by a couple of mysterious forces in the universe: the Ally and the Otherness. These are not necessarily Good and Evil; the Otherness is simply antithetical to sentient life; the Ally often protects such sentient life, but is generally more apathetic. It's hard to distill it into a few sentences, because the series will ultimately consist of 15 novels, with connections in several more of Wilson's works. (By the way, I'm friends with Mr. Wilson on Facebook, and he's a really interesting and cool guy. Very accessible and responsive to fans!) It's amazing to me that he has kept this storyline consistent and expanding for all these years, and I'm very curious as to what sort of records he keeps in order to keep everything straight!

Anyway, these books are set very much in the natural world, but there is a significant overlap between the natural and the supernatural, with guardians and connections and mysterious orders who want to promote the Otherness and aid in its ascendancy on earth. There are no coincidences. Jack is not a supernatural being, and his tactics are definitely the ass-kicking kind. This, for me, is one of the most interesting aspects of these novels and of Jack. He is an average guy in height, weight, and looks, but also has an element of the Otherness within him. When he is confronted with those who wish to harm him or the ones he loves, that Other Jack makes an appearance...and you don't want to mess with that guy.

I think many of us have that darkness in us; a possibility in which our rage will overcome us. As decent members of society, we learn to discourage it and keep it under control. Jack does, too, but his job and his mysterious circumstances mean that sometimes that darkness is released. It frightens his girlfriend, Gia, but he protects her and her daughter fiercely from those who wish to harm them. I just think it's a really interesting psychological aspect to the story, and makes Jack a fascinating character in his complexity. I will really hate to see this series come to a close, but I hope Jack doesn't disappear completely.

Full Dark, No Stars Next is Stephen King's latest, Full Dark, No Stars, a collection of four novellas. It was a birthday present from my sister, Diana, so thanks, Di! I zipped through this in no time, and I believe I stayed up until 6 AM one night in order to read it. Sometimes you reach that tipping point where you just can't stop reading. I know some of you know exactly what I'm talking about!

This is a very aptly named collection, because these are incredibly dark stories. Cancer, murder, rape, more murder...King writes with a savage glee about some of the darkest of subjects, but I also feel a sense of humanity there. As if he doesn't want some of his characters to do what they do, but he can't stop them. The bleakness of these stories was almost too much to bear at times. I sometimes realized that I was sitting there with a horrified look on my face; this is not his typical horror fare, and is much more terrifying because of our knowledge that such things do happen sometimes in real life, and happen far too often.

As I've gotten older, I haven't lost my love of horror movies. However, I've found that what is more interesting and scary for me is how average people react to extreme situations, and how they interact with each other. (That is one of the reasons I love "The Walking Dead"...Episode 5 of 6 tonight!'s the penultimate episode in season one! Oh yeah...twice in one post. Awesome!) In a world where people are routinely brutalized in the name of religion, or executed for who they love, or mutilated in some sort of bizarre cultural ritual, such ordinary evil hits a little too close to home, and that makes it all the more terrifying.

I think what ties these books, and shows like TWD, together for me is that they force me to wonder how I would react in extreme situations. Would I have the courage of Jack to stand up to universal forces of chaos, or just to stand up for someone I love, even if it meant harm might come to me? In King's stories, would I have the courage of the woman in "Big Driver," or that of the woman in "A Good Marriage?" Would I do what was best for society and humanity even at the risk of my own peril? I hope I am never faced with such choices, but if I were, I want to believe that I would have the courage of my convictions.

Maybe it's silly to get so philosophical over a couple of novels, but that's just the way my mind works. I enjoy thinking about hypothetical and far-fetched situations, and think that it can help in how you might react to certain real-life situations. I think I'll just ask myself, "WWJD?"

What would Jack do?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Troll frag

Trollz cat Northeast has left a new comment on your post "Troll Patrol":

Hmmm . . . still no link to the document in question. Just incessant excuses for its absence. "The government must have seen it . . . TRUST them." "It's not his burden of proof." Yawn.

And then, irrelevant comments about the blog owner's rights and intelligence. Well, let's see. She proclaims herself a passionate advocate of peace and harmony, but then spends every other post calling conservatives stupid and evil. Ask her a simple question, and she goes on a hysterical rampage to "out" you while all her friends make threats of violence. But never answer the question, other than to call it ludicrous. Typical liberals.

I think I'll stick around and help educate you. You're welcome!

Well, this has all been an amusing diversion, but ultimately a waste of everyone's time. We all got a little outraged, and I'd like to thank my friends who had such nice things to say about me. I appreciate it very much. But we all have better things to do than spend time in engaging someone like this. Heck, even Northeast, who has spent the past two days obsessively checking this blog and its comments section (thanks for sending my stats up, though!) must have better things to do than waste his time with a group of people he obviously feels are "dumbasses." (As an aside, I see that my previous troll and her sister have also been checking obsessively over the past couple of days. I'm sure they had a good little chuckle over Northeast and his comments about me and my friends, which tells us everything we need to know about them. Perhaps the three of them can get together for a potluck, although I'm sure all the food and drink would taste decidedly bitter.)

A few things here. Northeast's continued harping on the birther "controversy" is fairly indicative of his mindset. It's old news, Skippy, thoroughly debunked. I haven't written anything about it for over a year (you can read my birther entry here, if you so choose) because it is a non-issue. His continued demands for me to produce the document are just...well, they're just silly. His patron saint, the lunatic Orly Taitz, has had numerous lawsuits thrown out of court, and has even been fined for frivolously wasting the court's time. If you're on the same team as Orly Taitz, Northeast, you might want to rethink your position. After all, bat-shit crazy can rub off on a person.

Yes, I do have strong opinions about some of the conservatives in the government and in the news, and what they are doing to my country. Yes, I think some of them are stupid (Christine O'Donnell), and I think some of them are evil (Sharron Angle). I think some of them are stupid and evil (Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, et al). I'm not the first to state these opinions, and I certainly hope I won't be the last. Everyone has the right to their own opinions, and since this is my blog, I choose to express them here. Northeast obviously has differing opinions; perhaps he will start his own blog, where he can express his own opinions. I'm sure he'll understand if I don't stop by to read it.

And if you think my previous entry was a "hysterical rampage," you really don't know me very well. And you don't want to. I'm fine with that, believe me.

NetTroll I do appreciate his kind offer to stick around and help educate us, but I think he'll also understand if I don't take him up on it. I enjoy other viewpoints, and I have had several people express them here over the years. However, Northeast doesn't want a discussion; he wants merely to belittle and insult. You don't start an intelligent conversation or even a lively debate with someone by starting off with calling them an "ignorant dumbass." And you don't subsequently insult their friends by continuing to call them names. These are not the signs of someone who has any desire to engage in any sort of real discussion.

Since that is the case, as owner and proprietor of this blog, I have made an executive decision. I don't like to do this, because I loathe censorship, and I let 99% of comments that are left here stand. It's a rarity for me to do so, but I will be deleting all further comments from Northeast, or any other nom de plume he decides to use. His goal is not to further any dialogue; his goal is to kill it, and beat those who disagree with him into submission. (Remember my tip, Northeast...bag o' oranges!)

I'm not going to moderate comments, but I get emails for them all, and I will be deleting his as soon as I see them. You may still see them if you get here before I do, and I apologize for that. I'll see them all, but I'm cool with that.

You're welcome.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Troll Patrol

Troll face I really wasn't planning on addressing the lovely comment from a new troll, but there are a couple of things that are just too good to let by.

"You're an ignorant dumbass. Shut up and let me school you on this issue, and then retract this false and idiotic post."

I'm not even going to bother mentioning the birther issue raised by "Northeast." I've written about it before, it's a dead issue, and as Marty noted, it's astounding that there are still people so obsessed by this ridiculous rumor that this latest troll actually found my entry by searching for "Obama birth certificate." If all you do is search for blog entries by average bloggers like me, people who have no real influence in the broader sense, you just might have a teensy problem.

Then there is the "shut up and let me school you" remark. Hey, got a tip for you, man. If by some chance you have a wife or a girlfriend (it's hard to tell for certain, but I'm pretty sure that Northeast is male), I hear that using a bag of oranges to beat them doesn't leave marks. That'll keep the little woman quiet, and she won't utter a peep when you "school" her.

I was especially amused by the demand to "retract this false and idiotic post." That's come onto my blog, leave comments that are insulting to both myself and my readers, and you expect me to retract my post. That is simply delightful! I wouldn't be a bit surprised if you're a teabagger, Northeast, and if so, I'm sure you constantly howl about First Amendment rights. Here's a news flash, Skippy: this is my blog, these are my opinions, and there ain't no retracting going on here, other than your testicles retracting into your body cavity.

Finally--and this is what made me decide to write about this...and I am the Decider on my blog, thank you very much--here is the information that I found for that lovely flower of humanity, Northeast. Troll visitThat's right, at around 3:30 this afternoon, Northeast was leaving nasty comments via the computer system of the New York State Unified Court system. I wonder how their employer would feel about that?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Someone hold my tongue, because I’m tired of doing it

Squirrel with mortar I was initially planning on writing about Sarah Palin and her assertion to Baba Wawa that she could beat President Obama in a Presidential election. It is sounding increasingly like she will be running in 2012, so I'll have plenty of opportunities to write about her in the near future; in the meantime, I'm just kind of sick of thinking about the silly bunt and the classy Palin family. I'll take a break while I can, and bide my time until the election gears up for real (should be any day now...actually, I think it's already started). You all know how I feel about Palin, so you know I'll have plenty to say when the time comes. Heh heh.

Instead, I'll write about a status update I saw from someone that I stand a high probability of seeing around the holidays:

"Kenya called. They want their idiot back."

As my Dad would say, "Oh, for pete's sake." I had to laugh. Is this really still an issue for this person? Really? There are several real and substantive issues that you could go after the President on...instead, you're still harping on the Kenya thing? I find that incredibly petty, and quite pathetic.

I do not like discord; I like to promote harmony and generally do my best to avoid confrontation. However, I am getting a little tired of sitting quietly while the conservatives around me feel free to toss out ridiculous remarks, and spew outright lies (I'll be waiting for a remark about the $200 million per day Asia trip...feel free to lob that one my way, and sit back and hear my response.) I'm in Indiana. I'm surrounded by conservatives (except for a few bastions of liberalism, including in the county where I reside, thank goodness). I am constantly subjected to hearing comments that I find abhorrent and false statements put forth as the truth. I think most of these people think that if they make remarks like that, everyone around them will agree and nod happily as they join in the liberal-bashing.

Guess what? There's a new sheriff in town. I don't know why they think they can get away with such comments without any opposition. Hell, everyone already knows that I'm a mouthy broad, and that I often speak up about things. Why should I hold back? They certainly don't. Maybe it's time they got a big pushback and realized that theirs isn't the only opinion. Sometimes, I think an opposing opinion is welcome. A while back at a Thanksgiving get-together, a relative by marriage (a distant one...very distant) said that he thought Hurricane Katrina happened to New Orleans because of all that "stuff" that goes on there. In retrospect, I wish I'd asked, "Gee, just what kind of 'stuff' do you mean? Please elaborate, and do so in detail." Ha! But I just said that I'd been to New Orleans, and that there are a lot of good people there. Both my sister and my Dad told me later that they really appreciated that I spoke up and said what I did. (My Dad actually told me that he admired me for speaking up, and that remains one of my happiest memories and proudest moments.) I suppose it's easy to condemn people when you never take the time to know them; that doesn't make it right.

I don't usually go in search of confrontation, but I'm done with shying away from it in the interest of peace and harmony. It's time that people understand that when they make such outrageous statements, or even a false statement presented as fact, there might be someone there who has another opinion and who will challenge them on their smug certainty. They seem to have no qualms about whether or not I might be offended, or anyone else might be offended. Why am I so concerned about pushing back? I won't bring anything up, but I will no longer be afraid of responding.

No more going along to get along. And if I hear that tired bullshit about wondering where the President's birth certificate is, I'm not going to hold back. It's ludicrous, and anyone who continues to bitch about it is a dumbass.

I'm loaded and ready for bear. Even a mama grizzly that happens to wander by.