Tuesday, December 30, 2008
"… they [ the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger 'shoah' [a Hebrew word for catastrophe and a synonym for the Nazi Holocaust] because we will use all our might to defend ourselves."
He certainly doesn't seem to have a problem with using this word when referring to Israel's plan of action against the Palestinians. This is a holocaust. If you have a problem dealing with that, I would suggest that you address this with Mr. Vilnai and the Knesset.
What's going on in Gaza right now is no different from what went on inside of the Warsaw Ghetto. The Nazis first confined the Jews and then proceeded to deprive them of food and medical care. Soon people began to drop dead from diseases due to lack of treatment and lack of proper nutrition. When those in the ghetto realized what was in store for them, they used improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Molotov cocktails and whatever arms they could get their hands on to attack the Nazis. Did they think they could win? There was no way the weapons at their disposal could stop the Nazis from coming in and killing them all. Realistically, all they could do was peacefully die at the hands of the Nazis or die fighting. If they chose the latter, perhaps they'd manage to kill a few of the Nazis in the process, so I can understand why many chose to fight.
It should be mentioned that the fighters weren't all men. The Jewish women and children also armed themselves and fought to kill as many Nazis as possible. I can't imagine that any of the parents exactly liked the idea of allowing their children to become killers but I can also understand why someone in that situation might have felt as if there really weren't any other options and that even their children had a right to defend themselves against the Nazis who they'd already watched kill so many other children.
Ultimately, the Nazis went into the ghetto and set fire to the streets of the ghetto, block by block. When the smoke and flames drove the Jews out of the buildings, the Nazis shot them to death. You could say that the Nazis were just responding to the fact that the Jews were using their women and children to attack Germans, but that doesn't take into consideration who put the Jews in that position in the first place. Maybe we should ask ourselves a few questions.
If they had not been confined, deprived of food and medicine, and systematically killed, would the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto have taken up arms against the Nazis?
Was it immoral or unethical for the Jews of Warsaw to allow their children to take up arms against the occupiers of their homeland?
Should the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising be viewed as an attempt to destroy all Germans since the people the Jews were shooting and fire-bombing were Germans?
Does the fact that the some of the Warsaw fighters did kill a few of those who were keeping them in confinement mean that the Nazis were justified in killing thousands of Jews afterwards?
Were the Jews who chose to fight the Nazis responsible for the deaths of those non-fighting Jews who were later killed by the Nazis?
Did the non-fighting Jews in Warsaw deserve to die since they didn't prevent other Jews in their community from launching fire-bombs and using IEDs against the Nazis?
Was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising an act of self-defense?
If so, how can we decide which group was acting in self-defense?
If the occupation, confinement, and killings made it justifiable for the Jewish fighters to shoot and fire-bomb the Nazis, is there any reason why wouldn't that justification also apply to others who are experiencing the same thing?
Photo by MamitaMala
Photo Description: The words "I love Gaza" are written in graffiti using a heart to represent the word "love". That background is black. The letters are white and the heart is red with a white lining around it. According to MamitaMala, "This can be seen in the South Bronx from the Bruckner Highway".
Monday, December 29, 2008
Today, I made thirty-two years old. How amazing is that? When I started this blog, it was with the knowledge that I was up against the clock with very little time left before I checked out via the Bone Cancer Express. I was writing because my daughter was too young to understand everything that I wanted her to remember about me after I died. I wanted to chronicle the dying experience, so that she maybe she could put things into perspective and perhaps forgive me for not giving her a less tumultuous childhood.
Almost three and a half years have passed since then. Despite the fact that I still have cancer and lupus, I'M STILL HERE and I thank my Creator for that every single day. My life has been too amazing for me to attribute it all to luck or willpower. I don't believe there is enough luck in the world for me to have beaten so many odds and lived through so many difficulties. Life is just so precious to me now that I've gone through so many tragedies.
I still can't explain why I'm here and so many other good people, people who were equally deserving of life, are not. I do believe that my continued existence means I have a responsibility to make the most of what I have been given and work to complete all that I have been put here accomplish. I don't know what tomorrow will bring but I plan to contribute to making it something that everyone can benefit from.
As the new year approaches, I hope that everyone is looking forward to as much as I am. Thank you all for accompanying me through this wild journey and providing me with so much advice, encouragement, and support. I hope that I can also return the kindness and have the opportunity to show just how much I appreciate the way that each of you have blessed my life.
That post was mostly about my conflicted feelings about assisted suicide. In reality, I think my position is really close to how many Catholics feel about it. I do believe that all life has value and that we shouldn't accept the idea that we should suspend this concept when it comes to people with disabilities.
If society really thinks that assisted suicide is ethical, then why do these laws limit it to those with disabilities? If we really believe that people with disabilities have just as much worth as those who are seemingly non-disabled, then why do people behave as if it's somehow acceptable for doctors to help end our lives but seek to keep it illegal for doctors to end the lives of the non-disabled?
It's not that I'm necessarily against euthanasia. I'm simply against the ablist philosophy that, in effect, says that we should support doctors removing certain kinds of people--disabled people--from society with as much haste as we can convince the doctors and patients to go along with. There's plenty of evidence that the same strategies that help non-disabled people dealing suicidal ideation also work to help many people with disabilities who are experiencing the same feelings.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Science has proven that the there is virtually no genetic difference between the Jews and all the other Semitic people in that area. The only difference is what religion each group claims. So, if having ancestors who lived there in the past gives one the right to claim the land now, then the Palestinians have more right to that land than any non-Semitic person who has ever converted to Judaism and currently resides in Israel. It also means they have just as much right to that land as those Semitic people who do call themselves Jews.
That is all...for now.
Stop the Massacre in Gaza New Orleans Says No Murder In Our Name!
Noon - 2:00pm
Monday, December 29
Corner of and Convention Center Blvd, at the base of Canal street, across from Harrah's Casino
Indiscriminate bombing byand prolonged siege of the , supported and funded by the United States, has led to:
- At least 280 , including scores of children and other civilians, brutally murdered in less than 24 hours by the Israeli Occupation Forces
- Over 600 Palestinians wounded in mass bombing by the Israeli Occupation Forces
- No medical care in the Gaza Strip for the wounded
- No food supplies
- No fuel
The Israeli Government has promised to continue to escalate its attacks against the Gaza Strip and acts of mass murder against the Palestinian people.
WE SAY NO MORE KILLINGS IN OUR NAME!
Demonstrations against this violence have arisen all over the world but our voices, here in the US, must be heard to demand an immediate end to the massacres and an end to US aid to Israel! The Israeli military is promising more bombing and killing, and the Bush administration has given its approval - we must say no NOW!
This Demonstration is sponsored by theof New Orleans, New Orleans Palestine Solidarity, and many other organizations and individuals (list in formation). We invite everyone concerned about justice and human rights to join us.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sadly, many of the people who commented on his article didn't seem to get it. Ostertag is making the point that making sure that EVERYONE can enjoy those benefits is even more beneficial to society than simply making a slight expansion to a system that is so flawed that it isn't even working for the folks who currently use it. I'm a woman in a relationship with a man and we can't enjoy the legal benefits that married couples enjoy because we can't marry. His insurance wouldn't cover the costs of treatment for my cancer because of the pre-existing conditions clause that the government allows the insurance industry to put into place. We'd love to be able to marry but if we did, then I'd die because I'd have no way of paying for the extraordinary costs of treating my ultra-rare cancer.
I know lots of families like mine. Many of them probably think that gay marriage wouldn't benefit them but they'd sure as hell ally with anyone who would be willing to take up the cause for equal rights for all kinds of families. The majority of other queer people I know don't despise people with disabilities even though they have never fought en masse for us to have the rights that they now want for themselves. It makes more sense to get both groups to see our struggles as a fight for equal rights for all. However, judging from the vitriol I'm seeing, that's not likely to occur any time soon.
As long as we allow the government to play "divide and conquer" with this country's marginalized populations, there will be no equality.
Monday, December 22, 2008
This year the tree we bought is a lot skinnier than the ones we had during the previous couple of years. Most of our gift exchanging takes place at my mother-in-law's house on Christmas Eve but we still save some presents to share with each other on Christmas day.
We bought over a dozen new ornaments for the tree. We are Disney World fanatics, so several of them came from there. We also bought an old-fashioned Advent calendar from the German store in the Epcott park this past summer. It's the first year we've had one since The German insisted on making sure we had a "proper" German one if we were to have one at all.
If you happen to read this blog from time to time, I'd love to see pictures of your holiday decorations. Does anyone have photos posted of their's? Send me links, people!!
This issue really concerns me, in more ways than one. As a person living with an incurable cancer and systemic lupus, I know better than most how painful such diseases can be and how modern medicine often can not alleviate the excruciating pain that accompanies them without also bringing a person's life to an end in the process. I certainly can't blame someone for not wanting to die writhing in pain or after having to spend months on end heavily drugged into a semi-unconscious stupor.
That said, I am concerned about the sort of pressure that many people with incurable illnesses face. It's easy to feel like a burden when you know that staying alive may bring about financial ruin for your spouse and/or children, when you know that they can't afford to pay for you to get the sort of treatment that might make it possible for you to receive hospice care, when you know that a protracted final illness will mean dying in the cold, sterile environment of a hospital instead of the place of your choosing. Maybe if people of faith put as much effort into addressing these problems as they expend fighting about the perceived tragedy of abortion, then they might actually convince more people that they aren't just against women being able to control their own bodies.
You know, I really am happy that the Pope has decided we need to do something to preserve the world's population of lesbian and gay people. Lots of folks have been eagerly awaiting the day when the Pope would recognize what a world without them might look like. Art, the sciences, sports, literature, and politics...these folks have been quite busy improving the world around them and making this a better planet for their hetero brethren, haven't they?!
That Day Without a Gay event must have really put the fear of God in Pope Benedict (no pun intended), and not a moment too soon, I might add! Personally, I thank the heavens above that America's lesbians and gays had mercy on us and didn't take this thing international. Seriously, people! Worldwide Day Without a Gay? Do. Not. Want.
What with all of the gay Catholic priests and nuns, the Church might collapse in upon itself! That's why I'm glad Pope Benedict is taking such decisive action to support them and the Church's gay laity members. Just think, back when he was first elected to the papacy, many gay Catholics were worried that he might continue to engage in the same sort of virulently homophobic speech that former popes used towards those who only sought to be treated with the same dignity that the Church says all of God's other (heterosexual) children deserve.
On Monday, Pope Benedict also said we need to "listen to the language of creation". Well stated, Pope!! I mean, have you ever seen the list of animals that are known to display homosexual behavior? Could the Creator have made it any more clear how natural homosexuality is? It would take more than a dozen lifetimes just to study the mammals on this list!
I'm glad that Pope Benedict XVI is showing just how seriously he takes Jesus' message of love and acceptance for all those who are looked down upon in society and his rejection of those who would use their position as religious leaders to cast aspersions on the downtrodden.
Photo Description: Pope Benedict XVI is a late middle-aged white male. He is wearing an absolutely FABULOUS gold and cream embroidered lace gown with matching cape and hat. He is flanked by a cadre of similarly-dressed priests. His left hand grasps a gold staff topped with a crucifix. His right hand is held out in front of him as he makes gestures to an unseen audience.
"He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all."
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This will be my family's second Christmas without my uncle who committed suicide a little over a year ago. As it gets closer to the day, I find it hard to just enjoy what used to be my favorite time of the year. Unfortunately, my aunt and cousin don't live in this part of the country, so they'll be by themselves this Christmas. I wish my uncle was still here. He was so family-oriented that his death means we've lost one of the main forces behind making sure my mother's side of the family gathered together during the holiday season.
I miss him so much.
I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but I support sex workers rights. There are several reasons why I believe that sex work should be legal. For one thing, we let adults purchase all sorts of other goods and services that some people may not be interested in. I don't smoke but if an adult wants to buy tobacco products, then they can go to the store and get them. This doesn't stop me from abstaining from smoking.
Because certain kinds of sex work are illegal (e.g. prostitution), a sex worker who is the victim of a crime may be afraid to go to the police or seek redress in the courts. This is a problem. A lot of sex workers are women and many of them are also people of color. Because of this, they are already less likely to be treated with respect by the criminal justice system. When you add being a sex worker to any of the labels someone has applied to them, it can become a roadblock to receiving justice even in the most egregious cases.
Another reason why sex work shouldn't be illegal: the economy is in terrible shape. Let's face it. If we legalized prostitution, we could tax the hell out of it. Heck, we tax dern near everything else. Why should prostitution be exempt? Let everybody pay their fair share!
These are reasons why I think that sex work shouldn't be illegal but today's march is about more than that. It's about rights. That makes it simple for me. Sex workers are people. Because they are people, they deserve all of the same rights enjoyed by those who engage in other kinds of work. Disenfranchising sex workers creates a underclass that is antithetical to the ideals of an egalitarian society. That's what it all boils down to. Making sure that sex workers are able to enjoy the same rights as everyone else would bring this country closer to reaching its full potential.
Please keep today's marchers in your thoughts today and, if you have a blog, consider voicing your support for sex worker's rights as a show of solidarity.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The "overweight" category is to the obesity panic what marijuana use is to the drug war: stories about an "epidemic" of fatness depend crucially on classifying the 35% of the population that's "overweight" as being at some sort of increased health risk. This is simply false, and is known to be false by the researchers who are quoted in stories like the one linked above.
But the situation is much more egregious than even this suggests. Note that the NHANES III data reveals that most people who are classified as obese have a lower mortality risk than so-called normal weight people. About two-thirds of "obese" Americans have a BMI of between 30-34.9, and currently we're seeing about 14,000 fewer deaths per year in this group than would be expected if the group's mortality risk was the same as that of "normal weight" individuals.
This subject always interests me. As a person who struggles to reach and stay in that "normal weight" category, I can tell you that there are many problems with the idea that thinner=healthier. All of the things that are supposed to scare people into wanting to be thin (e.g. cancer, heart problems, early death) won't be prevented just by losing weight. You can still die, you can still get cancer, you can still develop heart problems, no matter how much you weigh. Whether you will face these issues is not just determined by your weight. It's much more complicated than that. There are genetic tendencies that play a much greater role in this than weight does for most people.
Ugh! This is why I detest Jane Hamsher. Can it get any more sexist than the tripe she's posted here? Today, on The Huffington Post, Hamsher writes about Caroline Kennedy's interest in being appointed to the senate seat that Hillary Clinton will be vacating to join Barack Obama's administration in January. Clearly, Hamsher doesn't think much of Kennedy but was this necessary?
"Really? She's 'making calls this morning to alert political figures to her interest?' I guess it was either that or get her nails done."
Really? Is Hamsher sure she wants to go there? Her own over-sized sense of entitlement has been noted many times over the years. I just love when privileged, white Americans like Hamsher try to pretend as if they have any idea what it's like to be a part of the world's "unwashed masses".
Isn't it funny that this article was written by the same person who also once wrote:
"No shit. Why is it the women are taking crap for this — from other women? One need look no further than the cracks about blond hair and tits from self-described “feminists” to see the reason for the sad state of feminism in this country today."
Thanks Jane, for showing why your brand of feminism is in such a sad state today.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Muntazer al-Zeidi is a journalist for al-Baghdadiya who managed to throw, not one, but two shoes at President Bush before being tackled and led away. You can hear him yelling "Here's a kiss good-bye, you dog!" as he pitches them. If Bush means what he said about not feeling the least bit threatened by it, I'm sure he'll ask the Iraqi government to treat Zeidi accordingly.
By the way, isn't the mosaic of Bush Sr. that can be seen in the video footage just beautiful?
How out of touch can an entire organization be? Is it life imitating art or art imitating life? I'll let you guess for yourself. While getting my daily dose of stupid from World Net Daily, I came across an article called "A Christmas without the Bible". I can't begin to describe how spectacularly clueless religious people can be sometimes.
Now, take a look at this satirical article from The Onion entitled, "Poverty Stricken Africans Receive Desperately Needed Bibles".
A ministry organization is urging Christians in the United States and other affluent parts of the world to celebrate Christmas this year like fellow Christians around the globe – without a Bible.
"Christians in the United States should try and conduct one worship service this Christmas the way that our brothers and sisters in the Third World regularly have to worship: without any Bibles," Fred Palmerton, executive director of Christian Resources International, told Assist News Service.
"Every day, more than 122,000 people become Christian, and most of those people are in Africa, Asia and South America," Palmerton said. "They're attending churches where even the pastors have no Bibles. In our country, the church isn't growing so much. But the pile of Bibles on every Christian's bookshelf sure is."According to the report, research from the Christian Booksellers Association and Zondervan Publishers shows the average American Christian owns nine Bibles and is looking for more.
However, such resources are luxuries in many parts of the world, where pastors have been known to drive 800 miles for the opportunity to ask for a Bible to use in their ministries.
Palmerton suggests that Christians in the U.S. would be much more aware of the hardships encountered by their overseas brethren by such an experience.
"Often, the only resource worshippers in developing countries have is their memory, or what they write down on scraps of paper after visiting a church that does have a Bible," Palmerton said.
Christian Resources International said it is launching a campaign for people with abundant resources to share with those without those benefits, with its Bare Your Bookshelf program.
The effort moves donated Bibles and books from American Christians to overseas needy.
"The resources that are desperately needed in the developing church already exist," Palmerton said. "They are gathering dust on the bookshelves of American Christians."
CRI for 50 years has been driven by volunteers and moves Bibles to English-speaking recipients in more than 180 nations. The ministry gets more than 400 requests every month from pastors and Christian workers in developing nations where the churches have no Bibles.
"Statistics are not collected on the resources available to the typical Christian church in the developing world, but the extensive first-hand reports we've collected over the past 50 years indicate that the pastor of a typical developing church as access to – at most – one copy of the Bible, often shared with other pastors, and perhaps one or two theological books," the organization reports.
"One of CRI's volunteers, Doug Burnie, regularly takes used ambulances and school buses down to Guaymas, Mexico, to donate to charities, churches, clinics, schools and so on. Before each trip, he fills the vehicles with Christian books and Bibles to distribute to Christian in need of spiritual resources," the organization said.
During a recent trip, "Doug met a pastor who was visiting from a distant Mexican city. Doug was able to bless the pastor with an 11-pound bundle of theological and spiritual works," the organization said. Burnie later in the year headed out on another trip to the same destination.
"When he got there, he found that the pastor he had blessed previously had heard of Doug's return, and had again undergone the 800-mile journey to Guaymas. Why? To ask if he could have one more book," the organization said.
MARADI, NIGER—More than 60,000 urgently needed Bibles arrived to allay suffering throughout the famine-stricken nation of Niger Friday, in one of the largest humanitarian-relief operations ever attempted by a Christian ministry.Sad. Just sad. I have nothing against people in impoverished and economically disadvantaged areas receiving religious material. What I do see as problematic is when organizations use the people in these countries to get people to donate and they don't even have the decency to make sure that these people are getting their basic physical needs met.
"Come rejoice, and feast upon the word of Our Lord, Jesus Christ," said Christina Clarkson, executive director of the Living Light Ministries of Lubbock, TX. "Those who were hungry, hunger no more, for the Word brings life."
An exuberant Clarkson said the Bible drop was the culmination of one of the largest and most aggressive grassroots fundraising drives ever undertaken by the organization, which was able to fund the mission largely through local charitable events, such as bake-offs, barbecues, and pie-eating contests.
"We absolutely would not be here today if it were not for the amazing generosity of the people back home," Clarkson said. "People everywhere opened up their hearts and checkbooks to us and said, 'Dig in.'"
Niger, ranked as the second-poorest nation on Earth, is experiencing its worst famine in more than 20 years, as a brutal drought last year was followed by a plague of crop-destroying locusts. An estimated 3.5 million of Niger's 12 million people are currently at risk of starvation.
"That's why it was so important for this mission to happen right now," said Clarkson. "So many people here are suffering. Disease, starvation, and lack of shelter are day-to-day realities in Niger. But once they hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Lord and Savior—once they really take Him into their hearts—then they will see what poor comforts are the things of this world."
Due to the tireless efforts of Clarkson and other members of the congregation, the ministry was able to provide the needy with Bibles superior to the ones they use in their own church services.
"Handcrafted, genuine leather—best money can buy," said 61-year-old missionary Don Kostic as he ran his hand along the book's ornately embossed spine. "It's like my wife back home says: Nothing is too good for people who are ready to receive the Living Word of Christ."
Although the fundraising efforts were unprecedented, congregation members said Living Light would never have succeeded had they not obtained the generous support of an array of corporate sponsors, including Applebee's and Church's Fried Chicken.
"We spent so much money just to get here," Kostic continued. "After we had all the Bibles engraved, we still had to charter the plane. When we landed in Niamey, we could barely even afford ground transportation."
Undaunted, the missionaries purchased the best vehicle they could find, which turned out to be a used bread truck. "That old thing!" recalled Kostic, laughing. "We must've scrubbed it down a hundred times. You couldn't get the smell of freshly baked, vitamin-fortified bread out of it if your life depended on it."
Reaction among Niger residents has been mixed.
Moussa Yaouli, a 35-year-old farmer, was particularly interested to learn more about the doctrine of transubstantiation, which Living Light personnel told him involved the eating of wafers. "It is said to be a big wafer. I am sure it will feed many of my children."
Though "spiritually gratified" by their work, many of the missionaries spoke about the difficulties of working in an impoverished country.
"It can be so hard being away from the comfort of our homes and our loving families," Clarkson confided. "I will admit, there have been times when I prayed, 'Lord, just help me get through this mission and get me back to Texas!' But when we rolled into town and people started running after the truck with those big smiles on their faces, I couldn't help but smile back."
Clarkson added: "And when we opened up the back of the truck and they saw that it was full of Bibles... Grown men and women wept in front of their children. That's how moved they were by the Holy Spirit. That's how I know it's all been worth it."
Clarkson said her mission will succeed in bringing the people of Niger "the spiritual sustenance they've been deprived of," despite such obstacles as the nation's 18 percent literacy rate."You say you're suffering. I say, let the good Lord do the suffering for you," she said. "You say you're exhibiting the deleterious effects of severe dehydration and chronic malnutrition. And I say that no matter what ails you, the Holy Bible is the best medicine there is."
The twenty-fifth chapter of the book of Matthew (in the Bible) tells about a time in the future when Christians will have to stand before Jesus to be judged.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."Jesus is not going to ask whether we provided the poor with Bibles and religious tracts. The Bible says he's going to judge who loved God by examining what they did to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, care for the sick, and visit those who are in prison. Perhaps instead of mailing those extra Bibles to the world's poor, those who strive to be Christians should dust them off and read what it says we need to provide for those whose lack of books is the least of their problems.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
This is one of the most puzzling disability-related signs I've ever seen.
A few people on Kay's thread have speculated about what it might mean. The words coming from the person look like "RAA!" to me. I'd like to think of it as a warning about the presence of a scary wheelchair user in her natural habitat, lurking behind the trees just waiting to ambush the nature-lovers inside of her red circle of doom.
Friday, December 12, 2008
What is it about this guy that they just love so much? Most girl's VanGoghGirl's age want to listen to hip hop or pop music when they get in the car. After school, my kid wants to listen to John Tesh's "Intelligence for Your Life". I swear, every other day she and my partner have some kind of advice for me courtesy of "The Tesh". I'll admit, I did used to watch him on that show Entertainment Tonight back in the nineties and I found it mildly amusing when he started making sappy new age music a few years ago, but when did this guy become a sage for all the ages?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The German saw it first. He went outside to unlock the car to bring VanGoghGirl to the bus stop and he started yelling for us to come and see the snow. I thought he was just being a jerk and trying to make me get up for nothing. It wouldn't be the first early-morning prank he's pulled. Anyway, VanGoghGirl went and then she started calling to me too. These are some of the pictures we took.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
The town of Caledon may force a three-year-old boy with cerebral palsy to give up his miniature pony after a neighbour complained about the smell.Oh, but it gets even better than this and by "better", I mean "bogus".
Sam Spiteri’s grandfather gave him the pony, Emily, after he was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy shortly after birth. The boy can’t walk or crawl, and Emily is part of his therapy regime.
“When we take him off the pony he cries. Even if he’s tired he doesn’t want to leave her,’’ his mother, Antonia Spiteri, said today.
But at the end of July, the town notified the Spiteris the pony had to be removed due to the complaints.
Ms Spiteri said both her family and the complaining neighbour border on a cattle farm, and can’t understand how the smell was traced to Emily.Of course, the Spiteris can ask the Caledon town committee to allow Sam to keep his therapy animal. It will only cost them $1,145. Even then there's no guarantee they'll say yes.
‘‘The cows go right up to their property too. We thought, ‘You’re kidding – seven cows to one miniature pony?’ We were quite shocked by what we thought was a joke at first.”
As anyone who has ever been in the front of a large stampeding crowd knows, those who are closest to the destination point--and can see whatever barriers there might be--are propelled forward by the push of those in the back--who may not be able to see all of the barriers. With a crowd that big and unorganized, the people nearest the doors had no means of controlling whether or not they were pushed forward towards, on top of, and past the employee at the door.
If you put a loose cap on top of a two-liter bottle of shaken up soda, what do you think will happen? The cap is going to get knocked out of place and the soda bubbles are going to go shooting out. But who is responsible for the mess? The coke or the person who knew what could happen but didn't take the proper precautions? No individual bubble is responsible for the mess even if it did come shooting out before all the other bubbles. The person with complete control over how things went goes to the person who created a situation where what resulted was nearly inevitable.
It's not like Wal-Mart doesn't know what works. My partner did his "Black Friday" shopping at Wal-Mart. This store let people line up inside before the sale began. It was organized and well-staffed. No one got hurt and we got a brand new slow-cooker for ten bucks and lots of presents for my niece's first Christmas with our family. My sisters-in-law got game systems for my nephews and new computers for the family.
Wal-Mart made lots of money from sales, which more than exceeded the wages they had to pay the extra workers used to keep things safe and pleasant for the customers. Of course, this incident in Long Island shows that they could have just left all of the customers outside of the store until the beginning of the sale and placed one untrained employee at the doors who was supposed to control a crowd of hundreds of people, but why would they do such a thing?
If Wal-Mart takes bigger risks--at the expense of workers' safety, of course--it may be able to squeeze out even more profit. That might work, but there was the possibility that the crowd would be extremely eager to get inside after standing in the cold weather and the employee could get trampled and they'd have to deal with the resulting lawsuit(s) and handle all of the negative publicity surrounding the tragedy. However, as I said, it might have resulted in a bit more profit. So, it all came down to which one Wal-Mart cared about more: possible damage (i.e. injuries, death) to the employees or the possibility of increasing its profits by not paying for adequate security.
Is it a surprise that Wal-Mart chose to put the employees at risk for the sake of profit? Well, it wasn't a surprise to me because, before I started university, I worked at a few places without union representation. This is standard corporate behavior. The corporation is a for-profit entity. It has no reason to value the safety of employees and customers above all else.
This incident is a perfect example of why Wal-Mart workers need to be able to unionize. Without collective bargaining, the corporation doesn't have to respond to worker's needs. It's easy to ignore individual employees. If one temporary worker or minimum-wage employee complains about or refuses to work in unsafe conditions, the corporation can simply replace her/him with some one else instead of improving the work environment. Wal-Mart has been getting away with this for too long. I don't know if this incident will prove to be a catalyst for change, but I certainly hope this company isn't allowed to keep screwing over everyone else for the sake of outrageous profits.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I thought about this today when I was watching a video clip on Jesus' General. It was the trailer for a documentary called "Banking on Heaven". It exposes the polygamy, abuse, and murders that regularly take place in the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church communities. It includes interviews with people who have escaped from these communities and have made it their mission to help those whose lives have been negatively affected as a result of growing up in those circumstances. Beyond those mentioned in this particular documentary, there are several ministries that have been established with the goal of helping those who in this situation.
I'm not saying that many women, children, and teenagers in the FLDS church don't need help. It's clear to me that they do. What I wonder about is why so many people don't seem to have a problem with the ministries (run primarily by white people) that are designed to focus their help on those who are in this almost exclusively white community, but become highly offended if they hear about a ministry that is primarily by black people that is designed to focus its help on those within the black community.
Is liberation theology okay with the average American only if its ministers and targets are white?
Update: I listed Obama's former church as "Trinity Church of Christ". The name of the church is actually "Trinity United Church of Christ". As a commenter pointed out to me, the Church of Christ and the United Church of Christ are two separate organizations with no ties to each other. I apologize for the omission.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
A Modern-Day Thanksgiving Story
My post from two years ago contains a lot of links for those who want to explore this issue in depth:
For Those With Warm and Fuzzy Feelings About Thanksgiving
Here is another essay written by a Native American woman explaining her views about this faux "holiday":
Why Don't You Celebrate Thanksgiving? An Essay
Rules:- Choose a singer/band/group- Muse
Answer the following using ONLY titles of songs by that singer/band/group
1. Are you male or female? New Born
2. Describe yourself. Creep
3. What do people feel when they’re around you? Hysteria
4. How would you describe your previous relationship? Ruled by Secrecy
5. Describe your current relationship. Endlessly
6. Where would you want to be now? Supermassive Black Hole
7. How do you feel about love? Plug-in Baby
8. What’s your life like? Butterflies and Hurricanes
9. What would you ask for if you had only one wish? Thoughts of a Dying Atheist
10. Say something wise. Sing for Absolution
Even though Muse is my favorite band, VanGoghGirl never really cared for them. Imagine her reaction when she found out that the Twilight movie soundtrack featured one of their songs. Now that she knows that Stephenie Meyers is a big fan of Muse, she's been a little more receptive to it. With the popularity of everything associated with the movie, maybe we'll see a brand new generation of teens listening to "rock for clever people".
Monday, November 24, 2008
"However, praying in public school is outlawed, based on that same Constitution."This line alone shows how uninformed Hoven really is. Praying in public schools is not and never has been outlawed. It's too bad Hoven doesn't stop there because he only goes on to make himself look even stupider.
"Just think for a moment about the things you are actually forced to do or are prevented from doing. Seat belts. Motorcycle helmets. Bicycle helmets...Mandatory vaccines for your children...Keeping the money you earned."Anyone who doesn't want to get their child vaccinated can simply refrain from putting their child in public school or any other program where it's required. I know plenty of home-schooling parents who do this and it certainly hasn't violated any laws. I think it's extremely stupid for them to risk their child's life in this way, but "liberal do-gooders" certainly haven't created any mandatory vaccination laws.
Likewise, if someone doesn't want to wear a seat belt or a motorcycle/bike helmet, they don't have to. On your private property, you can go as belt-less and helmet-free as you want. Both "social conservatives" and "liberal do-gooders" have decided that they want people to use these tools, so it isn't a case where only one group is responsible for these laws. If you're going to be on the roads with the rest of us, I certainly don't want your body being hurled into my car because you don't have on a seat belt and I don't want to see your brains splattered up against my car because you don't have on a helmet.
"Keeping the money you earned" is also another silly argument. If you're going to make use of the services that taxes pay for, then you're trying to get something for nothing if you don't pay for them. Is it really libertarian to believe that you should be able to use what others pay for without paying in yourself?
I can get pornography right at my keyboard, or drive a mile and get all the sex toys I can fit into my car. I can walk to the nearest casino to gamble (but can no longer smoke there). I do need to travel to Nevada for a legal prostitute. If my teenage daughters had wanted abortions, they could have had them free and without even notifying me. (However, had they taken Advil to school, we'd all be in trouble.)Basically, Hoven sides with those who want to be free to do what they want with their body when it comes to vaccinations, but sees nothing problematic or hypocritical about those same people trying to restrict a woman's freedom to do what she wants with her body. Do the "social conservatives" think they should have to notify anyone if they don't want to receive vacinnations? "Liberal do-gooders" are the ones who think that both "social conservatives" and the rest of us have a right to bodily autonomy.
I'd also like to hear how "liberal do-gooders" are responsible for the fact that he can get pornography on his computer. Somebody should explain to Hoven how the internetz work. While they're at it, maybe they should explain to him how libertarianism works, too. Hey Hoven, it's called personal freedom. Yer doin' it wrong. If you don't want porn at your keyboard, don't put it there. If you don't want sex toys, don't buy 'em.
Hoven goes back to the abortion issue here:
Let's talk about the unavoidable issue: abortion. Who made it a federal issue? The ACLU and then the Supreme Court. Before 1973 it was left to the states; some allowed it, some didn't. Different states could adopt different criteria. Some might allow it under all circumstances. Some other none. Some at 12 or 20 weeks. Some might define "health" of the mother in different terms.The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution halted all that "flexibility" that the states exercised to restrict a lot of other basic freedoms. Anti-reproductive freedom advocates always try to use the so-called "partial birth abortion" as a way to appeal to people's emotions. We could describe any number of things that people do with their bodies in a way that might offend the sensibilities of some Americans. So what?! Does that mean the Constitution doesn't really give everyone the rights spelled out in the 14th Amendment?
But all that flexibility was halted with Roe v Wade. Since 1973 abortion has been a Constitutional right. Do you know where that right is found in the Constitution? In these words of the 14th Amendment: "[No state shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Those words, according to our finest Constitutional scholars, mean it's OK to shove scissors through the skull of a baby and suction its brains out, as long as that skull has not yet left the birth canal.
If I want to handle snakes in my church, if I want to smoke cigarettes, if I want to pierce and flay and burn and tattoo my body, if I want to have a hysterectomy, if I want to live out in the woods with no electricity or phone lines, if I want to wear a loin-cloth and carry a cross around on my back, if I want to use birth control, if I want to wear skirts even when I'm jogging, if I want to give birth to a dozen or more children, if I want to let someone gag me and spank me and call me a very bad girl, if I want to go un-washed and un-deodorized, the Constitution says I have the freedom to do that, too. One would think that a libertarian would agree with such an interpretation of it, but when you're not interested in libertarianism and what you really want is just the freedom for you to do what you please, I guess Hoven's comments make sense.
Hoven also decided to venture into the subject of gay marriage.
I am not dead set against gay marriage. I'm mildly against it, but if it comes to an honest vote in my state and passes, I can live with that. But so far, every single time the issue has gone to a popular vote, the people voted it down. The only reason it is legal in two states right now is because of the courts in those states; a mere handful of robed Merlins made the decisions.Once again, Hoven throws out libertarianism. Libertarianism doesn't assert that what freedoms a person should have depends on what others feel about their decisions. Either the Constitution dictates equal rights for all or it doesn't. Even if the majority of voters disagree, the Constitution is the deciding factor and the courts are there to interpret it. If he doesn't like the fact that the courts are the institution we've established to play this role, then his problem is with the Constitution itself and the American people who insist on using it as the basis for our laws.
I also think it a bit risky to redefine such a fundamental institution that has been defined as between one man and one or more women in every successful civilization I know about, for the last 6,000 years or so.
Furthermore, Hoven is exposing his ignorance when he makes the claim that gay marriage is the redefining of a fundamental institution. For the majority of recorded history, marriage has been a private agreement with no need for approval from any state in order for it to be considered valid. People started coming together as couples and raising families long before any government decided to start dictating whose relationships should be legitimized. Hoven also neglects to mention the fact that plenty of societies that did define marriage as between "one man and one or more women" eventually proved unsuccessful. Evidently, how marriage is defined plays no role in whether a society thrives or flounders.
Hoven's comments about God are a complete red herring.
I am not religious myself, but I kind of like the idea that whoever makes and enforces our laws thinks that some invisible being knows his every move and will judge him accordingly in eternity. I would not be offended if the being he prays to is the one who gave the Sermon on the Mount.Over 75% of Americans describe themselves as Christians of some sort. This majority includes many that Hoven might describe as "liberal do-gooders". However, "Liberal do-gooders" aren't the ones who claim that only those politicians who subscribe to one particular interpretation of Christianity should be allowed to govern. In fact, "liberal do-gooders" are the ones who think that people like Hoven have the right to be agnostics or deists or lapsed-Catholics or atheists without others trying to force them to follow other people's religious beliefs.
I wonder how long it will take for the real libertarians on American Thinker to step in and correct Hoven. I won't be holding my breath. These days, the unpopularity of the Republican "social conservatives" have a lot of them trying to re-label themselves as libertarians without really being willing to adopt libertarian principles. Many libertarians have such a Napoleonic Complex after being such an insignificant presence in the American political scene for so long that they are willing to accept the poseurs without blinking an eye. Ahh, the things that political desperation will tempt people to do...
Friday, November 21, 2008
So, instead of a quiet Friday night at home, we are now ordering pizza and the girls are in the living room watching another vampire/werewolf movie, "Underworld", until it's time to head out. I'll be back later on to share my totally unimportant opinion about it. Meanwhile, you can check out the teen heart-throb, Robert Pattinson, in these trailers for the movie.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This isn't about people just dying peacefully in their sleep. That I can deal with. Death is just as much a part a life as is birth. Today is about those whose lives were cut short, those who were prematurely eliminated from the world of the living. That is something I just can't accept. That is not inevitable.
I've been wondering what this means. I think the universe, the Creative spirit, the bigger-than-you-and-me thing, or whatever you want to call it, put us on this earth together for a reason. The Creator also made us with a great deal of diversity. Tall, queer, Asian, lesbian, transgendered, short, disabled, gay, cis-gendered, Latin@, non-disabled...We are all meant to be threads in a beautiful tapestry encompassing the earth.
So what are the repercussions when we allow people to cut short the lives of those who are already struggling to hang on at the margins of our societies? Perhaps, the results are that things start to unravel. Once this supposedly problematic element of society is removed, who else will end up on the cutting room floor? Others who exist around the margins are the first to be affected, but it doesn't stop there, does it?
Maybe, when the threads that bind us to one another are snipped away because we decide that some lives don't matter as much and that we'd be better off without certain kinds of people, eventually, it becomes impossible to hold together any sort of working, thriving communities where anyone can feel safe from harm. That could conceivably include those who see themselves as completely mainstream, normal, and morally superior to those in marginalized communities who are being murdered every day just because of who they are, just because their lives are not considered valuable.
I know this might sound harsh, but it could be that we are receiving our just deserts. Maybe those who are now upset, because their once-cushy existence is now threatened, ought to get up off their asses and do something to protect marginalized folks like the transgendered population. Maybe then we wouldn't have so many transgendered friends, family, and community members to mourn today. Maybe this fucked up world is exactly what we've reaped through our inaction and complicity with those who killed these beautiful souls. Maybe we'll change. Maybe all of society will go up in flames and if anything or anyone is left standing, hopefully they'll have learned something from it all.
How to Mourn
Ten Years-400 Dead...And Counting
-Monica Roberts (TransGriot)
Full Listing of Transgender Day of Remembrance Blog Posts
The Washington Post's David Lieb reports
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., Nov. 13 -- A Republican-led legislative panel says in a new report on illegal immigration that abortion is partly to blame because it is causing a shortage of American workers.
The report from the state House Special Committee on Immigration Reform also says that "liberal social welfare policies" have discouraged Americans from working and have encouraged immigrants to cross the border illegally.
People, what can I say about this? I mean, other than it's utterly ridiculous. Now, I might not be all that old, but I am old enough to remember the "Welfare Reform Act" that kicked millions of people off of the programs that made it possible for people to get the help they needed to take care of their families. Some states, including Louisiana, decided to stop giving assistance to parents who were trying to improve their job prospects by going to college full-time. Seeking a degree wasn't considered sufficiently productive in the eyes of the government.
Now, what do you suppose people will do when they are faced with a pregnancy and they have no way of supporting another human being for (at a minimum) the next 18 years? Regardless of how you feel about it, abortion is inarguably a lot more affordable than taking care of a child. Maybe if jobs paid a living wage and we had universal health care, women might not see abortion as the only feasible option available to them.
I think it should also be said that, I don't see any reason why we should prefer one sort of worker (e.g. legal/illegal) over the other. I'm more concerned about the treatment of all workers. Are they being exploited? Are they able to improve their economic status if that is their goal? See, if we improve the way that the workers are treated and if we worked to improve the skill levels of those who will make up our future work force (and that of our neighboring countries), I'm pretty sure that we'd see a reduction in a lot of the things that Republicans complain about.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Because you say so under your breath.
You're reading lips "When did (s)he get all confident?"
Haven't you heard that I'm the new cancer?
Never looked better, and you can't stand it.
- "There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought of It Yet" by Panic! at the Disco in American Sign Language (at Deaf Jam 2006)
To celebrate, I'm linking to the most beautiful cake I could find on the internet with an 18th theme: