Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Khristmahanukwanzulestivus, bitches!

May there be made manifest an ecstatic yuletide to the planetary constituency and to that selfsame assemblage my most sincere and heartfelt wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable span of time subsequent to sunset and prior to dawn.

The 10 Days of Newton, Olivia Judson
On the tenth day of Newton,
My true love gave to me,
Ten drops of genius,
Nine silver co-oins,
Eight circling planets,
Seven shades of li-ight,
Six counterfeiters,
Four telescopes,
Three Laws of Motion,
Two awful feuds,
And the discovery of gravity!

Happy birthday, Sir Isaac Newton. And Cab Calloway, Humphrey Bogart, Clara Barton and certainly Louis-Joseph Chevrolet.

Also, according to varied myths and legends involving mangers, miracles, virgins and disciples, happy birthday to Horus, Osiris, Attis, Krishna, Zoroaster, Mithra, Buddha, Heracles, Dionysus, Tammuz, Adonis, Hermes, Bacchus, Prometheus, and Jesus.

Random circumstances and the smooth operation of the laws of the universe bless us, every one.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

stuff I shared on Facebook today (and yesterday)

It's been a busy couple of days. Mostly I'm still pissed off at people who think changing their profile picture will stop child abuse when they could donate money to any number of organizations and do some actual good... That said, I posted a couple of links to DonorsChoose and one to Little Kids Rock, encouraging people to help kids get a better and more varied education (this is on top of the abuse prevention sites I'd already posted -and mentioned here). So, do that.


Over Thanksgiving weekend, Age of Autism planned to show some very misleading (is not outright false) promotional ads in movie theaters, claiming to help parents choose whether they should vaccinate their children or not (when in reality, they're just fear mongering and spreading false information regarding made-up and dis-proven claims about vaccines), but thanks to an outcry from the skeptic community, spear-headed by Skepchick Elyse Anders, AMC decided not to run the bullshit. Instead of vollying back with actual science or even a well-worded complaint, Age of Autism instead decided to smear Elyse, threaten her with harm and post pictures of her and her baby on that site. Because that's what grown-ups in the real world do.

Check it out:
Information is beautiful. Science saves lives. So do vaccines. Some people cannot be vaccinated, which is why the rest of us should make sure we are protected to protect them. Misinformation, on the other hand, actually kills babies. Stay informed! And help supporters of science stand up against those who threaten them with harm!! Despite a number of flags and requests that the photos be removed and the threatening language be stopped, Facebook has refused to act. Please to sign here to stand with Elyse and tell Facebook that Age of Autism is out of control.


The Salvation Army does some good, sure. But they do it while having discriminatory employment policies and making moral judgments that parents should be making. If I didn't already refuse to donate to them, this kind of thing would make that decision for sure. Twilight and Harry Potter toys aren't compatible with their Christian principles? Well, their Christian principles aren't compatible with my ethical code! So there!! Granted, "Twilight" is -in my opinion- less than fantastic and I don't know that such toys are in fact appropriate for kids, but I also don't know that this decision is the Salvation Army's to make (and admittedly, this is likely just one location and not necessarily across the board, though their anti-gay policies ARE). Parents should (ideally) be the moral compass for their children, not a charitable organization claiming to answer to a higher power. Especially when toy guns are considered appropriate for children, but magic and mystery are not. Guns actually exist and actually harm people. Vampires and wizards? Not so much.


This will give Jerry and Maury and all those other terrible programs a whole new aspect to exploit: "Using stem cell technology, reproductive scientists in Texas, led by Dr. Richard R. Berhringer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, have produced male and female mice from two fathers." Imagine the potential! This sort of process could help "preserve endangered species and even help same-sex couples have their own genetic children one day." KICKASS!!


Via Declaring Independence, John Scalzi writes of things about which he doesn't have to think, because he's a white heterosexual male. I don't have to worry about many of these things, either, by virtue of how and where I was raised and where I live now, but for so many of us these are real true worries, and so many shouldn't be. Please to read?


Finally, a lovely article about Elizabeth Edwards' passing. Her untimely death is a personal tragedy for her family and a reminder of how far we have to go in health care and understanding cancer; but her legacy shouldn't focus on her death, rather on what she cared about while she was alive.


Lastly, let's round it out with some beauty. Don't forget about the 2010 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar with a new image every day through Christmas, including this turbulent cosmic pinnacle within Carina Nebula stellar nursery from December 2nd:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

addendum: Luscious Lauren's Guide to Gifting

If you're like me, you probably have to actually GIVE people tangible gifts for the holidays, at least in most cases. When you can't get away with donating to a charity in someone's name, here are a few ideas for the smrt-minded among us:

Let's start with books. I almost always give books. Books can last a lifetime and are just freakin' awesome.

Science books for kids:
- The ever-important and breath-taking Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be by Daniel Loxton
- Douglas Richards' Prometheus Project trilogy: Trapped, Captured and Stranded
- George's Secret Key to the Universe and George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt by Stephen Hawking and Lucy Hawking
- the League of Scientists book series

Please check out my recommended non-fiction and my recommended fiction on Good Reads.

Among my most recommended are:
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan (and everything else by Carl Sagan)
Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation, Olivia Judson
The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, Jared Diamond
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver
The Sea Around Us and Silent Spring, Rachael Carson
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife; Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex; Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, all by Mary Roach
everything by Michael Pollan, especially The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World
Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines, Robert Muller
How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier from America's Favorite Medical Examiner, Jan Garavaglia
Medical Myths That Can Kill You: And the 101 Truths That Will Save, Extend, and Improve Your Life, Nancy L. Snyderman
Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight, Linda Bacon
Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine, Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst
Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives, Michael Specter
Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure, Paul A. Offit

Situation-specific books:
Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce, JoAnne Pedro-Carroll
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert, John Gottman
V Book: A Doctor's Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health, Elizabeth G. Stewart and Paula Spencer
The Trouble with Christmas, Tom Flynn
Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion and Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief, Dale McGowan
The Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Join the Millions Who Have Become Nonsmokers Using the Easyway Method, Allen Carr

...Now, on to STUFF!!

Tops of the list for the nerds and geeks among us has to be Think Geek. My favorites for the kids include Mad Science Alphabet Blocks and Giant Plush Microbes. There are also Heroine shirts featuring female scientists like Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie!
Also fun for t-shirts and other gear are Threadless and Northern Sun. Cafe Press and Zazzle also have great stuff for just about any topic which they can put on shirts or mugs or mouse pads, etc.

Maple Landmark Toys in Middlebury VT crafts a wide range of toys and gifts from local (to VT) materials which follow American standards of product safety, employee safety, and environmental protection. And the toys are beautiful and fun, too!

Looking for science (etc.) action figures? Check out Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, and so on.

Beautiful jewelry for the science-minded: Surly Ramics. She even does custom orders, and I got a fantastic necklace for my sister-in-law last year.

Apparel and jewelry specifically for the geek girls in your life: Her Universe

Socks!! Who doesn't love socks? Well, I guess there are some people, but I know that I <3 socks, and I <3 Sock Dreams hard. Stuff for ladies, stuff for dudes, stuff for kiddies, not to mention accessories like leg warmers and garters and gloves.

Snaz75 also sells socks, but for the most part they are an excellent source (the northeast's largest distributor!) for outrageous shoes and outfits, stripper shoes, boots, costumes and accessories.

Looking for something smart and sarcastic? Placebo Bands to the rescue!! (I don't need to remind you why "Power Balance" bracelets are bunk, do I?)

Another gift that makes a point for those of your friends who understand the importance of vaccination: Hug Me, I'm Vaccinated gear!

Great Drinkers shot glasses and other neat-o gifts from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild

Darwin fish, humanism gear, liberal apparel and more at Evolve Fish

Have a crazy survivalist/ hunter/ doomsday prophet/ practical preparedness enthusiast in your life? Try Major Surplus & Survival for all kinds of gear, goodies, emergency kits, boots, cots, and even antiques and collectibles.

Gaiam is your source for green hippie compost yoga products, including bat conservatories and reusable water bottles. Beware, though, because they do sell whack-a-loon woo-woo stuff like light therapy and detox foot pads.
Burt's Bees also has great products, and Vegan Essentials is your one-stop shop for all things vegan.
Got a locavore to shop for? Check out Local Harvest for co-ops, restaurants and stores near your friend which use local organic ingredients and see if you can get gift certificates. Plus, gifts for gardeners, including seeds, supplies, clothing and books- can be found at Harris Seeds.

Want to buy gifts and still do good?
- Consider the UNICEF store, where everything you buy helps children around the world!
- The Natural Resources Defense Council has a Green Gift Giving Guide as does the Nature Conservancy.
- Proceeds from the Ford Cares Warriors in Pink campaign go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the site even tells you exactly how much is donated for each purchase.

Now, go forth and spend wisely!! Oh, and be sure to run your credit check annually!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Luscious Lauren's Guide to Giving

It's that time of year again! Albeit, I'm probably too late for most people as you've likely been done with your holiday shopping since the summer and probably have everything wrapped and stacked and good to go -or wait, is that just me?- but here are some tips for next year, if not for this.

[disclaimer: As always, check out the Charity Navigator to see how your chosen charities are rated.]

So, you want to support skeptical and atheistic causes, or charities that are secular? Check out TechSkeptic's increibly comprehensive list.
Also, specifically:
- Secular Coalition for America
- James Randi Educational Foundation
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort(SHARE), collecting funds for Haiti earthquake relief at the moment
- Center for Inquiry

Interested in green gift-giving? Try the Natural Resources Defense Council's Green Gift Guide!

Reproductive rights and women's issues?
- Planned Parenthood Federation of America
- National Organization for Women (locally: Rochester NOW)
- Guttmacher Institute

Stuff for kids and education?
- Donors Choose
- Victory Junction Gang Camp

- Humane Society (locally: Lollypop Farm)
- also local to me: GRASP (Greece Residents Assisting Stray Pets) and Animal Service League

Human Rights and social good?
- Human Rights Campaign
- Heifer International
- KIVA microloans
- PBS (locally: WXXI)
- Plan USA
- Grist (a beacon in the smog)
- autism research that doesn't involve fear-mongering and spreading lies about vaccines: Autism Science Foundation

Remember, these organizations need support, donations and volunteers year round and not just during the holidays, but if you can give anything, even a little, it helps a lot. Send an anonymous check or request not to receive solicitations if you are worried about getting on a mailing list, but do send something. Perhaps in lieu of dinner out some night you could buy dinner for a less well-off family. Perhaps in lieu of buying a new DVD you could help kids learn to play an instrument, or eat. Perhaps in lieu of another new pair of sneakers, you could help supply warm shoes for a needy person. We all likely have more than we need, especially if we have the time to wile away on a blog, so we should take a few moments this season and see what we can share with others.

Besides, 'tis the season for giving, after all, and 'do unto others' applies to secular folk, too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

cartoon wars

Change your profile picture to a cartoon character if you want to. Post an obscure color-only status, or a deliberately sexually-charged status if you want to. But don't pretend that it will prevent cruelty to children or raise awareness about breast cancer or really do any good at all.

It's the blind leading the blind out there on the internoodle. "What? Bill Gates is going to send me eight kajillion dollars if I forward this to everyone I know? It must be true, it's on the internet! It must be true, this e-mail says it was on Good Morning America and it says it ALL IN CAPS!! People who write and/or forward mass e-mails and use all caps never lie!!" (although in this case there is an actual CNN article, blithely reporting a Facebook fad without even linking to an actual cause site that might actually help children)

Bullshit. Wake up, sheople. Don't just change your profile picture to stop child abuse, DO something!! Donate actual damn money to help! And then don't change your picture back to you because someone said it's a pedophile campaign, research it yourself! Snopes is on the case as always and calls BS on both the cartoon helpfulness and the pedophile threat. Ug.

Skepchick Rebecca Watson: Somewhere a father is raising his hand to beat his child when he decides to check on his Farmville first, and when he opens Facebook he sees Snarf from Thundercats and he thinks, "You know what? I think instead of beating my child I'll take up knitting or maybe origami." Mission accomplished, Facebook friend!


Look, if you want to bring awareness to the real and actual tragedy that is child abuse and child neglect, give some stats! Tell people how prevalent it is and how easy the signs can be to miss!

240 children are sexually abused every day in this country! Nearly five children die every day as a result of abuse and neglect! 1 of every 5 girls and 1 of every 7 boys is sexually abused before their 18th birthday!
An estimated 905,000 children were found to be the victims of some kind of child maltreatment in 2006! 22,000 children still die each day from preventable diseases!

See? Statistics actually bring awareness and draw attention; tangentially related cartoons do not, unless you add some stats or information to status. Vague "it's bad so don't do it" statements won't cut it. We need ACTION!!

If you want to actually DO something that makes a real difference, consider the following:
- Bivona Child Advocacy Center
- Child Health Site 100% of sponsor money goes to charity, all you have to do is click (seriously, just click. no money, no obligations: you just click)
- Child Abuse Prevention
- New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
- UNICEF humanitarian relief for children

Bringing an end to child abuse and helping the victims are honorable and commendable causes and by all means you should do something toward that end, but you should actually DO something. Don't just change your profile picture or your status and act like that accomplished something, donate some actual money to a cause so you can actually help and actually feel validated. But please don't pretend that changing your picture to a cartoon or your status to a color does any good. Unless, of course, you live in imaginary fake website land.

ANECDOTE: I did not change my Facebook profile picture and yet somehow, amazingly, I did not beat any children all weekend! Nor did anyone in my family! Isn't that amazing?!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

the Philadelphia experiment

Once upon a time -or, in August- I discovered that there were a bunch of exhibits happening in Philadelphia that I desperately wanted to see, as well as other historical and scientific sites that interested me, and began to plan a trip. When my husband and I realized that he would be bored out of his skull if he came with me, we decided I should ask my nerd friend Farrah to come with me instead. My friend Farrah is basically exactly the same person as I am, except that she plays roller derby, and her hair is longer (now). We get excited about the same ridiculous science news and laugh at the same obscure references and appreciate the same nerdlicious humor. And so after some wrangling and finagling, off to Philadelphia we went!

Day One
Fucking traffic. It's a six hour trip under normal conditions but route 81 was an absolute clusterfuck which scarred me for the remainder of the trip. Apparently, to my recollection, a tractor trailer driver was distracted by his cell phone or some other electronic gadget and managed to overturn his truck and block the entire southbound side. So we were detoured off the interstate onto a one-lane-per-side road that got back on the interstate by way of a stop sign intersection. It. Took. Three. Fucking. Hours. I wanted to murder everyone. All I could think about was how much awesome nerd stuff we were missing as the minutes slipped by...
It was agony, and for the rest of the month any time I saw taillights lighting up ahead of me I would let loose a barrage of obscenity topped only by longshoremen and real housewives. Finally, though, we made it to Pennsylvania and found the signs for "Central Phila."

Our first stop was the Dialogues with Darwin Exhibit at the American Philosophical Society Museum -an exhibit of writings and sketches related to evolution and Charles Darwin, as well as a plethora of copies of "On the Origin of Species" in myriad languages.
According to the museum page, "Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection has produced more spirited dialogue than any other scientific idea in modern history. The APS Museum’s Dialogues with Darwin exhibition continues the conversation." Part of how they did this was by providing post-it notes and pens for people to record their thoughts on the exhibit, and on evolution and Charles Darwin, too. Unsurprisingly, many of them were dismissive of evolution or thought it was dumb or boring (so is your mom), some of them praised the exhibit and the science, and some even invoked the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Also unsurprisingly, the majority of the anti-evolution post-its were rife with misspellings and bad grammar and just plain had teh stoopid. Anecdotally, I've noticed that in an argument between pro-science and anti-science or between religionists and atheists (or between breeders and the child-free), you can often tell which side a person is on just by the way their words are spelled and their responses are worded...

Next, we drove through a whole mess of one-way streets and questionable neighborhoods to get to the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site. Poe lived in many houses over several years during his Philadelphia tenure (1837 to 1844) but this is the only one which still survives. And survives barely. The floors are uneven, the interior walls need plastering, it is unfurnished and sad and gloomy -and wholly Poe-appropriate. Spiders in the basement, suspicious characters on the sidewalk, and (a CD of) Christopher Walken reading "The Raven" in the sitting room. Ahhh, glorious.

We were hoping to make one or two more stops that day but, because of the traffic jam and because for whatever reason everything smart in Philadelphia is closed by 5p (and doesn't open until 10a -seriously, what is that about?!), we decided to just head to the hostel and get an early start in the morning.

We'd contemplated using Orbilocity or Traveltube or something to find a cheap hotel in Philadelphia, but there is no guarantee as to what hotel you are getting when you use a site like that, requiring a lot more trust than I'm comfortable with. We figured we could count ourselves lucky with a city-center hotel for around $100 a night, not counting overnight parking, but then Farrah suggested a hostel. Of course, visions of slaughter and abduction danced in my head, but the hostel in question, Chamounix Mansion International Youth Hostel, belongs to Hostelling International and they were very knowledgeable on the phone on top of having a very comprehensive internet site. And you can't really beat $20 per person per night. The hostel supplies sheets, a pillow and blanket (and no bed bugs, at the time!), towels are available for an extra charge, and there is a TV/VCR, an internet-connected computer, a kitchen full of dishes, pots and pans for cooking as well as refrigerators to store your food. There are several lovely sitting rooms with couches and arm chairs, and a wide expanse of lawn perfect for live-action role-playing -as evidenced by the well-behaved foam-sword-wielding hordes from Epic Adventures.
The hostel was comfortable and climate-controlled, and we got a lot of reading done at night and while waiting for the hostel to unlock its doors in the morning.

Day Two
We arrived early at the Mütter Museum, having navigated our way through the ridiculous mess of one-way streets and traffic circles that is Philadelphia. It was everything we'd dreamed of and more! Disturbingly informative, indeed. So many specimens (specimi?), so much gross fascination, so much Soap Lady... My only regret was not using up minutes on my pre-paid cell by calling all the numbers in the cases and getting an extra dose of geek...

On to the Academy of Natural Sciences (connecting people to nature since 1812)! Therein we toured the Dino Hall. Hooray for dinos! And the Outside In space -it's not just for kids anymore!! Okay, well maybe it is but we totally acted like we were kids. Madagascar hissing cockroaches, axolotls, vinegaroon, snakes, bunneh, rat, cow bird, fossils, shells, giant freaking crab, bees... And then the Butterflies! exhibit (that we totally didn't sneak into...); and finally, one of the big reasons I wanted to go to Philly in the first place, the Creatures of the Abyss exhibit. So much nerdawesome. So highly recommended. And also where, when discussing bio-luminescence, I coined the phrase "Evolution: it's like magic, only better 'cause it's real." Woot!

Then, 'twas lunch time. We'd brought some snacky food and road treats and didn't plan on spending a whole lot on meals -it was a nerdcation, after all, not a foodcation- but Farrah remembered hearing about a vegetarian cheesesteak place and had iPodTouched it the night before, so we decided to try to find that for lunch. When in Philly, after all -especially since I'd never had a Philly cheesesteak.
Sadly, the place was closed. But we did find a corner pizza shop with a parking space nearby and something like $1 slices, so we stuffed our faces for a few bucks, and the sweet lady behind the counter dragged a table outside for us so we could eat in the 95° weather instead of the 110° pizzeria and she even filled up our reusable water bottles for us! Twice!
And so, alas, I still have never had a Philly cheesesteak, vegetarian or otherwise. Or perhaps not alas. They look kind of gross...

Finally, our last stop was Eastern State Penitentiary. It's a ruin now but when it opened in 1829 as part of a controversial movement to change the behavior of inmates through "confinement in solitude with labor," it quickly became one of the most expensive and most copied buildings in the young United States. It is estimated that more than 300 prisons worldwide are based on the Penitentiary's wagon-wheel, or "radial" floor plan.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the season for the haunted prison tours, but we each got an audio tour and ambled around at our own pace for hours as Steve Buscemi recited history and anecdotes into our ears.
It was still about 95° but luckily most of the prison has a roof still, so we were able to spend a long time wandering and learning, even though it was blazing hot.

And then we were on the road again, heading back north to Rochester after a whirlwind of awesome geeky awesomness.

Farrah and I have already decided that if (when!) we get back to Philadelphia, not only will we probably have to go to all of these places again, but also the Franklin Institute, the Free Library of Philadelphia (though I did get some Free Library bookmarks when we were at Eastern State, and passed some of them on to my nephew, too, when he was in need of placeholders for his readings), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (especially the Rodin Museum), the Philadelphia Zoo, Adventure Aquarium (in Camden NJ) and Longwood Gardens (in Kennett Square PA). Just so's you know.

PS: You can see a photo tour of our glorious trip if you're friends with me on The Face.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Don't care.

Dear men who act inappropriately toward women (and anyone who makes light of their inappropriateness with an attempt at victim-blaming):

I don't care if a girl walks past you in a mini-skirt. I don't care if you can practically see her aureoles above her tank top. I don't care if she's naked. I don't care if she bills herself as the sexiest newscaster on television and wears tight pants. I don't care if you find her passed out in your bed half-dressed. YOU ARE STILL A GROWNUP and you STILL HAVE TO ACT LIKE A GROWNUP.

Everyone, stop making excuses for men acting like children! Worse than children. Even children know better than to yell obscene and uncomfortable things at strangers. Even children know to keep their hands to themselves.

I realize that women in questionable or unsafe situations ought to take care to ensure they are not dressed too provocatively, and should keep an eye on their surroundings at all times, should lock their car doors immediately, should not stop to give directions to strangers, should not smell "perfume" on proffered handkerchiefs... But why should SHE have to do all of these things? Why should she HAVE to? Why is it always the woman's responsibility? Why are we always judging what happens to women based on what they were wearing or how they were acting or what kind of underwear they chose that day or what kind of work they are in, when we should be asking, "why aren't men keeping their damn hands -and penises- to themselves?!"

I don't care if the stripper just spent ten minutes nakedly grinding away on your junk. I don't care if the pretty cashier smiled at you as she price checked your condoms and scented lube. I don't care if that woman's skirt blew up and you saw that she is wearing a thong. I don't care if that girl is drunk out of her mind and passed out right after you got to her room. You are still a grown-ass man and you are required to act like one. Stop saying things you wouldn't want people to say to your sister or mother or niece, and unless she actually says YES, assume the answer is NO.

- Unless she is literally asking for it, in words, she is not "asking for it."
- Yes means yes, no means no, and silence means no, too. Silence (passed-out or otherwise) is not implied consent.
- Stop being a childish asshole and behave like the grownup you are. You know damn well what's appropriate and acceptable, so do those things and not the first thing that comes into your reptilian brain.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

bein' a gurl iz haaaaard

Apparently. Or so the media would often have you believe. And the right-wing religious dickbags who treat women as property to be ruled over, who insist that a few cells in a woman's uterus are somehow more important and more deserving of life and protection than the woman who carries them. And the sexist stereotypes that insist women are too emotional, too flighty, to reactionary to be trusted with information or knowledge or the vote or any sort of decision that involves themselves, their families, or heaven forbid the country.

Amanda Marcotte addresses a new/same old article with this theme, so I'll just direct you to her words on the topic: Nothing is Natural focuses on the insistence that The Pill is somehow more unnatural than other forms of birth control and women are somehow to silly and dumb to understand just what the pill is and does.

Granted, women should be aware of the concerns and possible side-effects surrounding use of the pill, but the correct place for this is a doctor's office and not a magazine article harping on unlikely harm and fear-mongering about the supposed tragedy of "tricking" your body with contraception.

So, here's the familiar refrain from me... Be informed! Be responsible for your choices! Know your body and understand what you're putting in it! Get your medical advice from YOUR DOCTOR!

That is all.

Oh wait, except:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

teh gayz r coming! teh gayz r coming!

I'm always surprised at the wording surrounding the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy of the US military. It's a policy that prohibits gay people from "serving openly." Because it's totally work-appropriate for heterosexuals to prance around with their cock winging about, being all openly straight. ...And don't even get me started on "mushrooming."

Personally, I feel like NO service members (or anyone) should be openly displaying and discussion their sexual preferences, at least not when on duty (or at work). It is not professional and should not be encouraged. But admitting that one is gay (or straight) or discussing ones spouse and lifestyle in casual conversation? No problem.

But, we must fear what is different and so we insist that letting teh gayz be all teh gay in the army would be teh badz. They're too frilly or too sex-obsessed or too flighty or they're somehow detrimental to morale (still not sure how that argument goes) or -best of all- they're big scary violent hate-filled Nazi baby-eating monsters and are just too volatile to allow into the military (yes, that's a real argument; I saw it on The Daily Show).

Can you tell which one is gay?

Yeah, neither can I.
(image source)

Or not fear. Maybe we could just act like grownups and accept that some people have different colors of hair while some people are attracted to the same sex and STOP MAKING SUCH A BIG FLAMING DEAL ABOUT IT!!

At last, the super-important are-teh-gayz-okay-for-teh-warz study has been released and (while this is exactly what he asked for in his last goalpost moving, McCain is claiming this isn't good enough, either) surprise, surprise, once again I get to say TOLJASO: "Ending a ban on gays serving openly in the armed services would not harm long-term military effectiveness, the Pentagon said yesterday in a long-awaited report that is expected to speed a vote on the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy."

Oh, and also: sign here to stand with President Obama as he moves to repeal this ridiculous policy.