Friday, September 28, 2007

So, the ultrasound revealed unto us many interesting aspects of the fetus, to include knobby little knees, wiggly little brain, robustly-pumping chambers of the heart and, notably, incontrovertible evidence of gender.

it's a...
it's a...
it's a PATRIARCH! a baby patriarch! (and trust me, if the state of my stomach is any indication, he's already oppressing at a fifth grade level.)

(once again, I shame the matriarchy.)

So our old pal Bimbo dropped by to say hello, and I showed her the blurry little ultrasound picture which, I'm told, clearly reveals evidence of predestination-of-oppressor-status, and she went "Yay! have you thought about a name?"

Well, yeah, I says. we still like Wolfgang. it's non-negotiable, according to the Patriarch-in-chief.

"So, what about a middle name?" she asked. she had some helpful suggestions:

"Caine, Joseph, Angus, Edgar, Huck, Horatio, Hieronymous?"

"eh," I says.

then she gets a little quiet. she smiles. she goes -

"I've got it. it's perfect.

"Wolfgang Patriarchy."

"See, that way," she says, "anytime something breaks, you can say 'I blame the Patriarchy! go to your room!', and when he says 'that's not fair', you can say 'I said, Go to your room! I'm oppressing the Patriarchy!'"

Genius, thy name is Bimbo.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Daisy's got something to say. And since she couldn't bring it to the source, she took it to her own blog.

Consider this:

FTR, I think sex work sounds terrible. I would not want to do it, or have my daughter do it. I would also not want to pick grapes or soybeans out in the fields, or work on an assembly line, as my father did. However, I do want the migrant workers and factory employees to have rights and unionization, whether I think they are exploited or not--in fact, PRIMARILY and PRECISELY for this reason--to prevent FURTHER exploitation.

Do you in fact agree that workers need unions and rights? Why are you making an exception for WOMEN, in this case? Why have you bought into the MALE definition of sex work as SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS rather than a business transaction?

It's men who fantasize about the sex-work-scenarios being "real"--surely you realize they are not? They are part of the job, just as a car salesman laughs at our dumb jokes in hopes we will buy one of his cars. But you seem to have a totally different standard for judging women's work, in this instance, and what has historically been men's work. Men's work is respected by you, and women's is not, unless it's sewing, childcare, knitting or canning fruit.

(emphasis mine) or fucking for money, presumably.

The idea that only the men matter in the prostitute-client relationship is, well, sexist. Why would someone who calls herself a feminist (the best and most radical and least fun kind) want to be sexist?

Allowing men's opinions (or what are presumed to be the opinions of all men) to be given EXPONENTIALLY more weight than women's opinions on any given subject is also, well, sexist.

"men hate you." yeah, whatever. that doesn't mean I have to hate me, regardless of whether I exchange sexual activity for money or not.

I mean, speaking as a non-prostitute, there's a limit to what I can say on the subject, I know that. I have never had a pimp (though I did have an abusive husband who told me exactly who I would and would not be fucking on any particular evening, and to whom I surrendered my entire paycheck every week for the privilege, and who beat me often enough to keep me in a perpetual state of fear, and so on), nor have I ever accepted cash in exchange for intercourse (though I had no problem exchanging all manner of sexual activity for dinner or a place to stay or just some good conversation).

I can say that about 20 years ago, well prior to the aforementioned abusive marriage, I considered it, but for me personally I was dissuaded by several factors:

1) I didn't feel comfortable charging money for something that cost me nothing, and that I'd almost certainly give away free (and often did, to more-or-less-random-strangers).
2) As a somewhat non-traditional body type, making a rather unpleasant visual statement (short, fat, uninteresting, hairy), I wasn't sure I'd be able to earn any more money than I could earn sitting behind a desk without significant effort on my part to bring myself "up to spec", so to speak.
3) I didn't have a need for immediate cash, having no children to look after, or chronically ill relatives to tend to, or real deep pressing desire for something I couldn't afford on my more-or-less measly, and sadly far-from-frequent, paychecks.

but I never excluded sex work on the basis that it would make me a cumdumpster, or less worthy of respect in anyone's eyes, or because the act of intercourse was intimate and should not be degraded by money, or because my body was at all sacred or special or inviolable, or sex for money was rape, or anything else.

and how I felt about sex, and how I felt about myself, was not, and ought not be, contingent upon how others feel about me or about sex.

So, you know, take my opinion for what it's worth - significantly less than two cents, no doubt. But I can certainly envision a situation where a woman might look at her options and decide - eh, it's a living.

I think that for some women prostitution is just a job. I would not be surprised if some folks out there think it's not just a job but an avocation, a labor of love. (And of course, none of this is to diminish the fact that for some women, prostitution is a living hell.)

To assume that all women SHOULD hold the same opinion about a particular issue, and that opinion SHOULD be framed only in reflection of how MEN feel about the issue, is, well, sexist.

But, that's really all I can say on the subject. I'm not the boss of y'all, not trying to tell you what to think. Follow the links and make your own decisions, form your own opinions.

and when you do, please feel free to share them with me. Just because commenting is a spectator sport at The Margins for those of us who don't agree with Heart, doesn't mean the same policy is in effect here (obviously). Commenting around here can sometimes be more like extreme BMX solo synchronized downhill slalom Monster Truck cliff diving - but that shouldn't scare anyone away. ;)

I don't care if you agree with me or not - but if you have something to say, you are more than welcome to get it off your chest here. in fact I'd prefer it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Anyone watching "Kid Nation?"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


from Yahoo News:

In Asia, MTV turns camera on trafficking By Simon Montlake
Tue Sep 18, 4:00 AM ET

Bangkok, Thailand - Its high production values, driving musical score, and slick edits make the film, in the words of its producers, "very MTV."

But don't expect to see boy bands or risqué hip-hop. MTV's "Traffic" is a hard-hitting, US-funded documentary that is part of a campaign aimed at educating vulnerable youth in Asia about the risks of being trafficked illegally for exploitative labor.

The movie, which premieres Tuesday on MTV Thailand, is tailored for the US broadcaster's vast youth audience in go-getting East Asia. By raising awareness of the dangers, campaigners say they hope to address a practice that is akin to modern-day slavery.

"This is a criminal enterprise and it involves criminals," says Richard Whelden, deputy director in Asia for the US Agency for International Development, which is funding the MTV campaign. "It's undercover and in the shadows. What we're doing is putting a spotlight on the problem and bringing it out in the open so you can see what it is: slavery."

Antitrafficking advocates say that governments in Southeast Asia, where smuggling of women and children is rife, have begun to tighten laws and step up cross-border cooperation. This has allowed for some successful criminal prosecutions. But traffickers continue to exploit porous borders and lax policing, while shifting their operations to countries that have yet to fully outlaw the practice and only enforce labor laws with milder penalties.

MTV's 24-minute television special seeks to portray the dangers of human trafficking in Asia through the harrowing stories of three young victims. One is sold overseas into commercial sex work, another is beaten and abused as a domestic servant, and the third is forced to work around the clock in a factory. Viewers will also get advice on where to turn for help and how to get involved in the campaign.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 12.3 million people worldwide are engaged in some kind of forced or bonded work, including child labor. Much of this takes place within a single country's borders: Hundreds of teenagers and adults were found earlier this year toiling in prisonlike conditions in kilns and mines in central China.

The State Department estimates that around 800,000 people are sold illegally across national borders. It says that 80 percent of those trafficked internationally are women and children, most of whom are sold into prostitution. The global market for smuggled people is worth between $7 billion and $10 billion annually, second only to the illegal drug trade.

Thailand's sex industry has long been a magnet for traffickers. As Thai authorities try to curb the most egregious abuses, criminals have switched to supplying women to brothels in Malaysia and Singapore, says Edelweiss Silan, an antitrafficking coordinator in Bangkok for Save the Children. "They're trying to move to where laws are not in place, and people aren't aware of the issue," she says.

These shortcomings will likely dampen the impact of regional information campaigns unless they're harnessed to long-term rural development and better governance, say advocates. "Raising awareness is not enough. Government interventions are not enough ... there needs to be a critical mass developed to reduce the numbers," says Allan Dow, a spokesman for the ILO's antitrafficking unit in Bangkok.

Called EXIT, or End Exploitation and Trafficking, the MTV campaign includes public service spots, South Korean-made animation shorts, and a multilingual website ( "Traffic" is being dubbed into eight languages by local celebrities, such as Korean pop icon Rain. In South Asia, a separate documentary called "Sold" will be aired. Advocacy groups say trafficking patterns differ in that region.

MTV says it reaches 380 million mainly urban households across Asia. To get the message out to rural areas where traffickers mostly recruit, EXIT specials will be rebroadcast on free-to-air channels, says Simon Goff, campaign director for MTV. Local organizations will also screen films in at-risk communities. In Burma (Myanmar), where TV coverage is limited, MTV plans to distribute free copies via consumer-product marketing networks.

Experts say another factor complicating the response to trafficking is that it's often hard to untangle the forced, illegal movement from voluntary migration. People smugglers offer a way out of rural poverty, so migrants who are rescued and repatriated may try to leave again, despite the risks. Some antitrafficking raids on brothels in Thailand have incurred the wrath of sex workers who reject being classified as victims who need to be saved.

Given this complexity, campaigners say MTV's message to viewers isn't as simple as "Don't do it." "Some people will still take risks. And this is why we've got to continue making these programs to try to ensure that they know these resources exist that can help them," says Mr. Goff.

thoughts? questions? comments? smart remarks?

Friday, September 07, 2007

sad news from Yahoo:
HARTFORD, Conn. - Author Madeleine L'Engle, whose novel "A Wrinkle in Time" has been enjoyed by generations of schoolchildren and adults since the 1960s, has died, her publicist said Friday. She was 88.

L'Engle died Thursday at a nursing home in Litchfield of natural causes, according to Jennifer Doerr, publicity manager for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The Newbery Medal winner wrote more than 60 books, including fantasies, poetry and memoirs, often highlighting spiritual themes and her Christian faith.

Although L'Engle was often labeled a children's author, she disliked that classification. In a 1993 Associated Press interview, she said she did not write down to children.

"In my dreams, I never have an age," she said. "I never write for any age group in mind. When people do, they tend to be tolerant and condescending and they don't write as well as they can write.

"When you underestimate your audience, you're cutting yourself off from your best work."

"A Wrinkle in Time" — which L'Engle said was rejected repeatedly before it found a publisher in 1962 — won the American Library Association's 1963 Newbery Medal for best American children's book. Her "A Ring of Endless Light" was a Newbery Honor Book, or medal runner-up, in 1981.

In 2004, President Bush awarded her a National Humanities Medal.

"Wrinkle" tells the story of adolescent Meg Murry, her genius little brother Charles Wallace, and their battle against evil as they search across the universe for their missing father, a scientist.

L'Engle followed it up with further adventures of the Murry children, including "A Wind in the Door," 1973; "A Swiftly Tilting Planet," 1978, which won an American Book Award; and "Many Waters," 1986.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

from Yahoo news:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A newly discovered virus may be killing bees or may be making some bees vulnerable enough to disappear, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

While the virus probably does not alone account for what scientists call colony collapse disorder, or CCD, it could help explain what is happening to bees across the United States, they said.

The virus, called Israeli acute paralysis virus, or IAPV, was discovered in Israel in 2004 and is new to science.

CCD hit an estimated 23 percent of all beekeeping operations in the United States during the winter of 2006-7. "These beekeepers lost an average of 45 percent of their operations," the researchers wrote in their report, published in the journal Science.

Beekeepers do not find bees dead -- they simply find the hives nearly empty, with the queens alone and workers gone.

Honeybees originally imported from Europe are used to pollinate $14.6 billion worth of fruits, nuts and other U.S. crops annually. Bees also have disappeared from hives in Brazil and across Europe.

A team led by Dr. Ian Lipkin, an expert in the spread of infectious diseases at Columbia University in New York, ground up bee samples from across the United States and compared them to non-affected bees from Pennsylvania and Hawaii. They also looked at bees imported from Australia and samples of a bee product called royal jelly from China.

They then sequenced the genomes -- the entire collection of DNA -- and looked for genes from bacteria, viruses and parasites. They found five major bacterial groups, four lineages of fungi and seven types of viruses.

"We found a remarkably high viral burden in bee populations -- both those that have CCD and not," biologist Edward Holmes of Pennsylvania State University told reporters in a telephone briefing.

Only one was always associated with CCD -- IAPV.

"Whether it is a causative agent or a very good marker is the next major question that we need to address," said Diana Cox-Foster, an entomology professor at Penn State. A marker might mean that something else that was making the bees disappear also helped them become infected with the virus.

Jeffery Pettis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory in Maryland said IAPV was only one of several leads that must still be followed.

"I hope no one goes away with the idea that we have actually solved the problem," Pettis told the briefing.

"I still believe that multiple factors must be involved in CCD." Perhaps interactions among parasites, viruses and nutrition could be involve, he said.

IAPV can by transmitted by the varroa mite, a parasite known to affect U.S. bees.

Lipkin said in a telephone interview the next step is to infect healthy bees with IAPV and see if their colonies then collapse, as seen in CCD.

Cox-Foster said the team was also looking at other possible causes of CCD, although some leads were being pursued more urgently than others.

"We have very little evidence that the radiation from cellphones could impact bees," she said.

She said tests also have shown that genetically modified crops have no ill effects on bees, although chemical pesticides could be adding stress.

As for why the bees disappear, Cox-Foster said they may deliberately avoid returning to the hive when they begin to feel ill, perhaps to protect their sisters and the queen.

I have a tremendous fear of bees, wasps, hornets - anything that wants to sting me. I'm not allergic, just really really phobic.

so you'd think that I'd be delighted at the recent bee shortage. Not so.

I'm totally not a biologist, but I do know that no bees = no flowers, which doesn't just mean no daisies, no roses, no lovely gardens, but also no vegetables, no fruits, no grains, no trees, no nothing that bashes its way out of the ground and grows up from the dirt.

so, I am grateful that scientists are looking into it, phobia be damned.

nonetheless, I'm skeptical of their findings that humankind's interference is statistically irrelevant. I hope their research continues and figures out effective ways to combat bee death/disappearance.

I trust science, but not scientists.


ok, whadaya got? do I even have any fathers among my readers?

what's it all about, Alfie?

is fatherhood an outmoded concept that can be cheerfully discarded along with dial phones and the telegraph?

was fatherhood ever as important as some folks might claim?

and if fatherhood really is as important as those folks are claiming, how does it happen that so many men abandon their children, whether physically or emotionally?

or is the whole "absent father" trip the mythical part, and the state of fatherhood is actually perfectly sound?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I'm wondering if I shouldn't post some sort of "comments policy" or something, or at least explain my thoughts behind how I run things here.

I don't delete comments, as a rule. not from anyone.

and I'll talk to anybody who shows up. women, men, IRL friends, family, sworn enemies of my best internet pals, conservative republicans, radical feminists, anonymous troublemakers - I try my best to answer every comment, in good faith and with a civil tongue, and as far as I know, I have yet to delete anyone's comment just because I disagree with it or dislike the commenter.

sometimes I fail, yeah. sometimes I don't get a chance to answer every comment. and sometimes my faith is less than good and my tongue less than civil. usually when that's brought to my attention I try to make it right.

and now that I think about it, there was one occasion, back in the mists of time, where I did remove someone's comments from a thread. but I don't make a habit of it, and certainly that commenter is welcome to participate again if s/he likes.

And I know that some folks don't dig how I handle my comment threads. some people that I consider good close friends don't like it. but they seem to understand that's how it is here.

I'd say, if you really have a problem with what I'm saying or how I'm saying it, you are welcome to take advantage of my wide-open comments policy and talk to me about it.

if I say I'll let anyone comment, I mean ANYONE. if anonymous assholes can comment and be treated more-or-less humanely, why can't you? go for it!

Monday, September 03, 2007

happy 200th post!

was parenthood easier thirty years ago?

were the rituals of pregnancy and motherhood less fraught and weighty, or more?

any thoughts?

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