Saturday, May 31, 2008

I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician

EDIT = June 4, 2008, in bold.

Left: President George W. Bush with Furman President David Shi, preparing to deliver the commencement address. Obviously, he is earnestly praying that he will not be condemned to everlasting hellfire for crimes against humanity.

The Greenville News has removed all photos of any protests at Furman, with three very polite, somewhat tepid exceptions. The rest of the photo galleries are all positive, and you would not realize there was an extensive, all-day demonstration from looking through the existing posted photo galleries. The original photo I used is no longer available. (I wonder why?)

My original photo description:
Greenville News photo of a local unidentified member of Military Families Speak Out, demonstrating against President George W. Bush's commencement speech at Furman University this evening. (Photo by Gwinn Davis)


Duty calls, and today my attendance was required at the annual Medicines from the Earth symposium in Black Mountain, North Carolina. On the way back, we passed the main Furman University entrance (via Highway 25/Asheville Highway), which appears to be under siege. Crestfallen, I realized the traffic would be too dense and difficult to make the commencement demonstration in time, so I went to Saturday Mass instead. I prayed for the anti-war demonstrators at Furman, that they may successfully change hearts and minds.

The news has just announced that George W. Bush has arrived at Greenville-Spartanburg airport; it won't be long now.

More about the demo and the symposium to come!


I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician ~ The Byrds

[via FoxyTunes / The Byrds]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Laura Morgan Satterfield 1915-2008

Aunt Laura was one of those people who had a palpable spiritual and emotional influence on everyone she met. It was impossible to visit her and stay glum. She asked questions, she showed you her plants, she was positive, joyful and optimistic. She was a great pleasure to know and to love. Many, many people knew and loved her.

The facts of her life are simple: she was a textile worker from Cherokee County, Georgia, a Baptist, married twice, two children. But she was in no way simple. She had the key, the Holy Grail, the one we all seek: she was perpetually happy. She was the most thoroughly contented person I have ever known. If you could bottle it, we'd all be lined up, willing to pay an exorbitant price.

And it wasn't a shallow happiness, a happiness without price. Her positive temperament seemed in equal parts natural and chosen; she consciously avoided interpersonal strife, grudges, pettiness. One sensed, by the time I met her in her 70s, that she had had quite enough of such behavior, and had no use for it. She made a decision to be happy. She had a framed sampler on her wall, a Will Rogers quote: Things ain't what they used to be, and probably never was. That common-sense attitude sums up so much about her.

One year, she decided she had had enough of Christmas cards, and warned everyone to stop sending them to her. "I'm not sending them out, at this point, it's wasteful," she said, "so I'm just warning yall!" Of course, upon visiting her house, the door and entrance-way were covered in lovely, gaily-colored cards, as always. "I told em!" she shook her head, uncomprehending. She didn't seem to realize, none of us could refrain from sending cards to our beloved Aunt Laura and whether she sent one to us in return, mattered not a whit.

Left: One of Aunt Laura's crocheted tablecloths, also in close-up, showing the intricate design.

Aunt Laura was also a great artist. Her work was known primarily within her own (very large) extended family, so most people will never know her exemplary talent, as is true of so many women artists. Because of the webpage her son designed some years ago, a few people on the net discovered her work later in her life, some from as far away as India. In my memory, I always see her weaving some new, beautiful creation. She looked at patterns for guidance, but basically did it her own way, choosing not to follow any written directions. Her fiber designs, of which I have several, were like giant woven flowers come to life.

I can never remember a time in which she wasn't crocheting something beautiful and useful; usually another carefully-crafted gift. "Somebody's always getting married, having babies, you know how it is," she told me once, "I have to keep busy!" And she did. The secret to happiness and long life?

She was a wonderful, generous woman, and her peaceful countenance fell upon everyone who entered her small house.

Words fail me.

Goodbye dearest Aunt Laura, we love you so much.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Single gender education in Greenville County public schools -pt 2

Left: From my living room wall.


The conservatives in South Carolina never rest. On and on it goes.

However, in fairness, my liberal cousin believes this is a positive thing. We have agreed to disagree:

Single-gender classes growing here

By Lark Reynolds • STAFF WRITER • May 27, 2008

Taylors Elementary School has joined the ranks of Greenville County schools that will offer single-gender classrooms in the next school year.

Taylors is one of a growing number of schools across the state and nation to test the waters of single-gender education.

Critics say the move toward single-gender classrooms will erase the progress that has been made in gender equity in education since the Title IX act was passed in 1972 barring discrimination based on sex in any activity that receives federal money.

Supporters say the initiative takes advantage of natural differences between the ways boys and girls often learn best.
I wrote about this previously, and received emails telling me this was discriminatory and successfully halted in various other localities.

For the most part, no one knows how to proceed, or if this is actually legal.

More than 60 schools in Greenville County have expressed an interest in learning more about single-gender classrooms, according to the state Department of Education. Statewide, 96 schools in 46 districts are offering single-gender classrooms.

One school interested in the change is Blue Ridge Middle School, where parents and teachers attended an informational meeting April 21. Pattie Kellams was one of many parents who had questions.

"I'm a little concerned about the transition of children who are in single-gender classes going into high school, and suddenly, boys and girls are in there together," Kellems said.

South Carolina is considered a pioneer in single-gender public education. Leonard Sax, founder of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education, said South Carolina is the only state with a full-time state Department of Education position dedicated to single-gender initiatives.

The man who holds that position, David Chadwell, stays busy traveling around the state presenting information to parents and teachers about single-gender classrooms and training educators in how material is best presented in single-gender classrooms.

Sax said providing comprehensive training and support for teachers who will be in single-gender classrooms is crucial to the success of the initiative.

"Simply putting girls in one classroom and boys in another doesn't accomplish very much," Sax said.

Chadwell said the large number of teachers in the state who are already teaching in single-gender classrooms is a valuable asset and a support network for those teachers just beginning to teach in such a classroom.

Calvin Auman, a second-grade teacher at Taylors Elementary who will lead an all-boys class next year, was one of 20 teachers and staff at the school who participated in a training conference earlier this spring in Columbia. He said he learned that boys often respond better in seating arrangements that don't have them face to face, which they can view as confrontational, and that they tend to do well on timed activities because they like the added pressure. Girls tend to prefer the opposite, he said.

Auman said he could identify in himself many of the tendencies boys have in the classroom.

"I remembered myself back in elementary school and thought, 'Man, I wish they would have had this when I was there,' " he said.

Chadwell said one of the most important points to understand about single-gender education is that the tendencies for boys and girls to learn better in differing environments are in no way absolute.

"These are generalized differences," Chadwell said. "This does not mean that all boys learn one way and all girls learn another way." That's why it's important that participation in single-gender classrooms be voluntary, he said.

Chadwell also emphasized that the curriculum for all-girls and all-boys classes is exactly the same. Only the method of teaching it differs.
Where are they getting this "research" from?

I don't like the website, which sounds decidedly conservative and riddled with that Venus and Mars nonsense.

The American Civil Liberties Union has voiced opposition to single-gender classrooms. The organization contends that the brain research upon which such initiatives are based is inconclusive and that "single-sex education fosters sex discrimination" and undermines the achievements of Title IX, according to official comments made to the U.S. Department of Education.

The ACLU said the 2006 amendments to Title IX that have allowed school districts to introduce single-gender classrooms weaken the original intent of the law, which was to ensure gender equality in education. In addition, the organization contended, single-gender education violates the equal protection guarantees of the Fifth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.

The National Organization for Women also opposes single-gender education on the basis of a lack of available studies that prove single-gender classrooms increase learning. Under such circumstances, NOW President Kim Gandy said, there's no reason to open the door to potential gender discrimination in schools.

"In our decades of experience with gender discrimination, separate is unequal," Gandy said in the statement.

Dan Willingham, professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Virginia, cautions against basing differing curricula for boys and girls on brain research.

Willingham said the anatomical differences that can be observed between male and female brains might or might not justify conclusions about how each sex learns. The real justification for trying new things in the classroom needs to be data from the classroom itself.

"You believe or don't believe that an intervention works in a classroom based on data that come from the classroom, not because there is brain research that kind of seems to fit," Willingham said. "

Here in South Carolina, surveys of single-gender participants have yielded positive impressions. Among fifth-graders, 82 percent said learning in a single-gender environment increased their desire to succeed in school, and an identical percentage said it increased their self-confidence.

Wendy Roach said her daughter, who will be in sixth grade at Blue Ridge next year, is excited about the opportunity to be in an all-girls class. Roach said her experience as a teacher has convinced her single-gender classrooms would increase participation for both groups, especially at the middle school age, with hormones starting to kick in.

"When girls a lot of times want to speak up and say something, they're not going to with those males around," Roach said.
Well, I suppose it will be more viscerally pleasant for the gay kids. That's the only good thing I can say about it.

Listening to: Against Me! - Reinventing Axl Rose
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dead Air Church: Tomorrow Never Knows

Welcome to all you intrepid explorers of the psyche, you mad adventurers of the gray matter, out there on Facebook and an unnamed message board, currently musing over my Dr Hofmann post. YES, this week, Dead Air Church is for you, you stratosphere-hopping maniacs!

Today, we feature Tomorrow Never Knows, the last song on the Beatles' influential Revolver. I was momentarily concerned that I had used a John Lennon song for Dead Air Church only a couple of weeks ago. And then I thought, wait a minute, regular churches uses the same prophets and mystics over and over again. I guess I can do the same here. I found a wonderfully appropriate psychedelic version.

Wikipedia gives us the background, as if you couldn't tell by just listening:

John Lennon wrote the song in January 1966, closely adapted from the book The Psychedelic Experience by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner, which they based on, and quoted from, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, with the understanding that the "ego death" experienced under the influence of LSD and other psychedelic drugs is essentially similar to the dying process and requires similar guidance.

Peter Brown claimed that Lennon's only source of inspiration for the song came from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which it says Lennon read whilst tripping on LSD. George Harrison later stated that the idea for the lyrics came from Leary, Alpert, and Metzner's book. McCartney confirmed this by stating that he and Lennon once visited the newly opened Indica bookshop—as Lennon was looking for a copy of The Portable Nietzsche—and Lennon found a copy of The Psychedelic Experience, which quoted the lines: "When in doubt, relax, turn off your mind, float downstream". Lennon bought the book, went home, took LSD, and followed the instructions exactly as stated in the book.
That you may see the meaning of within: It is being.


The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows

[via FoxyTunes / The Beatles]

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Suspect Device

They play their games of power
They mark and cut the pack
They deal us to the bottom
But what do they put back?

--Stiff Little Fingers, Suspect Device


It ain't over till its over! Check out:

Vanessa's piece titled And more on that 1968 thing, in which I wrote an epistle in her comments. (Sorry about that, Vanessa!)

Crooks and Liars features Jesse Ventura vs Pat Buchanan on gay marriage. Video included--a must-see!

At Dave Dubya's Freedom Rants, a most EXCELLENT rant: Simple Reason.

Obama, like most black folks, rarely thinks about white racism. Or, black is the new black at Wear Clean Draws.

And finally, by way of American Leftist, we have Stephen Soldz at Counterpunch, writing about the involuntary drugging of detainees:

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has been systematically administering psychotropic drugs to immigrants in the process of being deported as the Washington Post reported this week. Deportees who in the past had resisted deportation were injected with drugs, often a three drug "cocktail," in order to keep them pliant during deportation. These drugs included the powerful antipsychotic drug Haldol, as well as the antianxiety drug Ativan, and Cogentin, a drug used to treat the often severe Parkinsons illness like side effects of Haldol.

These drugs were prescribed by psychiatrists and administered by specially selected nurse "medical escorts." The drugs were administered in extremely high doses, sometimes rendering the deportees unable to speak. It sometimes took deportees days or even weeks to get the drugs out of their system.
So don't forget, kids, overusing drugs is bad, except when the government does it to dark non-citizens. Got it? Good.

Listening to: Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 23, 2008

Senate bill allows display of Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments

They finally figured out a way to sneak them in. They are now "historical" documents and are included solely for that reason.

Of course, this begs the question: the Catholic or Protestant version of the Ten Commandments? (I bet I know the answer to that one!)

Senate bill allows display of Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments

By Tim Smith • STAFF WRITER • May 23, 2008 • GREENVILLE NEWS

COLUMBIA -- The Senate passed a bill today that would allow displays in public buildings of the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer as historical documents.

The bill, without the Lord’s Prayer amendment, already passed the House and now returns there for legislators to determine whether they agree with the Senate’s change. If they agree, the bill goes to Gov. Mark Sanford.

Passage came with one prominent opponent. Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell said the Lord’s Prayer amendment is "constitutional quicksand" that will draw a court challenge and unnecessary legal fees.

"There are at least five different versions of the Lord’s Prayer," he said. "I have no problem personally with the Lord’s Prayer being publicly displayed. But the courts have spoken pretty clearly about where they are on the separation of church and state and these documents."

The bill would allow public bodies, including schools, to display a set of 11 documents lawmakers say help make up the nation’s foundation of law and government. Included are the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation and Martin Luther King’s "I have a Dream" speech, as well as the national motto, "In God We Trust."

The documents must include language included in the bill that explains each document’s historical significance.

"The historical documents bill passed by the Senate is a win because it will help to further educate people about the documents that formed the foundation of our country’s history and provide deeper meaning to the great and rich history that we have in this country," said Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens, who shepherded the issue through the Senate.

"It will also be a great tool for history, civic and government teachers to use in their classroom."

Martin said afterward that a number of senators were nervous about including the Lord’s Prayer but did so out of fear of what voters would think if they voted against it. The amendment was proposed by Sen. Brad Hutto, an Orangeburg Democrat.

"Some people felt like there was no way they could go back home and explain why they voted against the Lord’s Prayer," Martin said.

Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville said the bill is "sound." He added, "It’s not religious. It’s historical."

Parts of the Lord’s Prayer, Fair said, was referenced by an early governor of Georgia in removing a provision for debtors’ prison.

However, McConnell, the only senator voting against the bill, said if the Lord’s Prayer is left in, the bill will be overturned by the courts.

"I cannot vote for a bill when all of the advice from the lawyers leads you to the presumption that it is unconstitutional," he said.

"The taxpayers are going to end up footing the bill for all of this. If we had stuck to the documents that have been pretty much court tested, we would be fine. But we expanded it beyond that. And I believe it will cause the package to explode in the courts."

Sen. David Thomas, a Greenville County Republican, disagreed. "It’s true that the Lord’s Prayer wasn’t included in some of the test cases," he said. "But the condition of the test cases is whether the item is placed into historical context. I think they made it where we have a good shot at maintaining the constitutionality of it."

Thomas said he doesn’t mind the bill being challenged because it could expand the documents that can be set in such displays.
What else qualifies? What else might we get put on display? (I see no foreseeable end to the Bible verses.)

And if this is challenged in the courts, I don't want to pay for it. Do I get a choice?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

See my friends!

Left: More azaleas! You can never have enough!


Plugging a few of my friends' blogs today! GO READ IMMEDIATELY!

Vanessa hazards a guess about why her generation is so apathetic. She blames the 80s nuke scares and Scifi, which makes sense:

The American people of my generation, born in the late seventies, grew up at a time when outright nuclear destruction in the next decade or so was a virtual guarantee. Pop culture was saturated with this idea. Probably like 80 percent of the movies and TV shows I watched as a child (my dad, bless him, was probably a little lax on the whole "Rated R" concept) were either action movies set in the present where scary Soviets were trying to annihilate us, or dystopian science fiction where scary Soviets already had. Even Star Trek: The Next Generation, the one scifi universe where humanity apparently managed to get their shit together, talked about a post-World War III dystopia.
She believes the overall result of this doomsday-prognosticating is the pervasive belief that There's Nothing We Can Do.
So when this specific impending doom vaporized just when we were entering high school I think we suddenly had to figure out what the hell to do with our lives, I think we went all jaded and sarcastic and became Nirvana fans who could care less about the world because it could explode tomorrow...except it never got around to doing so.

Why do women trash other women? A lifelong puzzle to me, as a feminist. Those of you who saw Heathers and its rather pallid update, Mean Girls, know exactly whereof I speak.

I've recently dealt with the situation of a grown woman who seems to have regressed to high-school-level clique-mentality. And this is the kind of person who should know better, as feminists should. Why do we do this? Maybe because so many feminists felt like persona non grata in high school, so they are making up for it now? I have no idea.

In any event, Renegade Evolution has had enough of it. Beware, video is Not Safe For Work and for that matter, not safe for anyone of delicate sensibilities who needs copious amounts of smelling salts to get through the day. (So, if you faint easily, stay away please.)


Belledame generously hosts the feminist trainwreck thread of the month at her blog, Fetch Me My Axe! Yes, everyone gets in on the action. Don't miss the fun!

Queen Emily writes about ignorant people, while Zan changes her blog to MY FAVORITE COLOR! (love it, Zan!) Adrienne writes about how she learned to read and incidentally reminds us of the importance of feminist books for children, while the wonderful La Lubu gives us a whole reading list for kids!

Raven travels to Luverne, Minnesota, to say goodbye to a friend who has passed. She shows us the stunningly-beautiful prairie that sustained her spirit during the visit.

And Octogalore keeps on keeping it real, with her fabulous feminist posts about age and appearance:
[Women] are schooled to view other characteristics to supplement our view of what’s attractive. And given the ingrained myth of the man being the more active in the world, while the woman supports or receives, characteristics going along with this action are imbued with perception of attractiveness.
This is why an older woman of achievement is still judged in a radically different way than a man of the same age and achievement.
We all know, in many stories with a female protagonist, the conclusion is a proposal or wedding (name a “chick flick”). That’s the end goal. Stories with male protagonists often have to do with career tumult (Bright Lights Big City) or intrigue (Godfather) or action (Mad Max, Indiana Jones).

I come back to this from the previous post:

“I think if the roles of man = provider/actor and woman = decorative, passive receiver were more averaged out, we'd see more [situations in which women’s age and maturity are part of, or at the very least do not diminish from, her attractiveness].”

Many will toss out things like “biology” and “wiring” and back that up by talking about things like spreading of seed. To which I toss out things like “birth control” and “who has more orgasms per unit time?” and “child support” and “three months [last trimester, the only time most women experience significant impact from pregnancy]” and “breast pump.” I do not know many guys who have a desire to have large numbers of expensive dependents with multiple women. Nor do I know many women who were bedridden and/or unproductive during a large part of their pregnancies. I do know many men who experienced the same post-partum bond as their spouses. I am no biologist and I’m not claiming it plays no role, but I think the degree to which it does is greatly exaggerated.
GO READ THE WHOLE THING! (Although she is currently supporting Hillary, some of us can't wait until Octo runs for the office herself!)



[via FoxyTunes / The Kinks]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The famous golfers have departed, for now...

Left: Thornblade golf course, suburban Greenville SC. (this view is only about a quarter-mile from where I live)


Golfer: Listen, what am I paying my fucking dues for? This is my golf course! If I wanna play here, I will play here. If he gets hit with my titleist, that's his fucking problem. Fore! Fore! [Hits ball]

Michael Douglas: [the ball barely misses his head; whips out shotgun] Five!

What the hell are you trying to do? Kill me with a golf ball? It's not enough you have all these beautiful acres fenced in for your little game, but you gotta kill me with a golf ball? You should have children playing here, you should have families having picnics, you should have a goddamn petting zoo! But instead you've got these stupid electric carts for you old men with nothing better to do!
[Fires his shotgun at a golf cart, causing it to roll down the hill]

Michael Douglas: Now aren't you ashamed of yourself?

--from the movie FALLING DOWN (1993)


I live, quite literally, about 15-20 feet from a golf course. The horrors never end.

I can usually carry on a delightful delusion that I live next to a beautifully-landscaped park, where families are having picnics and there is a goddamn petting zoo (see quote above), but alas, it's not and there isn't. This past weekend, the point was brought forcefully home, since the BMW Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament was going on, quite literally, right outside my bedroom window.

And so, I had drunk people in golf carts whizzing by all weekend, manically searching for celebs like Joe Pesci, Kurt Russell, Luke Wilson, Dennis Quaid, Cheech Marin and Wayne Gretzky. No parking for miles, the scent of hundreds of gallons of spilled beer, and large Hollywood-sized trailers everywhere, with various snazzy and colorful brand names emblazoned thereon. Also, lots of sports networks broadcasting on every corner, with those mobile TV-eyes poking up in the air--We're on the air, live!

One barely resists the urge to shove the talking head out of the way and STRIP, yelling: HEY YALL, WELCOME TO GREENVILLE! [moons camera]

Maybe when I was younger.


Speaking of which--my last post, written in a fit of pique, has been linked on the UK feminist blog titled The F-Word (not to be confused with Sara Anderson's F-Words, from Idaho). THANK YOU, DEAR SISTERS!

I finally enabled backlinks on my blog, but as you can see, it only picks up maybe half of all trackbacks, which is disturbing. (On my end, I have finally started leaving my own html-made trackbacks.) Harumph--Blogger needs to get with the program! Now that I have a clue, might have gone with Wordpress instead and I understand now why so many people switch over.

Hope your Wednesday is good. I tried to make that purty golf-course photo a "Wordless Wednesday" post, but as you've all undoubtedly figured out by now, wordlessness does not come easy to me.


Listening to: Grateful Dead - King Solomon's Marbles
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, May 20, 2008



...had a credit card in your own name, rather than a man's name.

...used safe birth control.

...worked in a field once considered male or that is still predominantly male.

...worn pants to school at any time during your academic life.

...learned to play unladylike instruments such as the drums (which I wasn't permitted to learn).

...played on a sports team and people were actually proud of you for it.

...know where your clitoris is.

...know where your G-spot is.

...had a home birth.

...had a safe, legal abortion.

...voted for Hillary, Nancy Pelosi or any other openly feminist candidate.

...decided to postpone childbearing until your 30s or later.

...decided not to have children at all, and didn't make up health reasons for it.

...decided to have a career AND children.

...been on maternity leave and got paid for it, rather than fired, demoted or laid off.

...had a stay-at-home husband.

...decided not to get married at all.

...decided to try polyamory or another alternative lifestyle.

...learned to play billiards, poker or Blackjack; ride a Harley or drive a semi.

...had/have a woman minister/rabbi/priest or are one yourself.

...think what you say is as important as what a man says.

...don't believe that women who are raped somehow "asked for it"

...don't believe that a wife beaten by her husband somehow "asked for it"--or that it is "none of your business" if domestic violence goes on in relationships.

...learned that an orgasm is as important to you as it is to any man.

...made a lot of money, unconnected to what your male partner does.

...came out as a lesbian, believing it's great and exciting and cool (etc) rather than something to hide or lie about.

...played with anything other than dolls, tea sets, E-Z Bake ovens or coloring books as a child.

...went anywhere alone after the age of 12.

...been allowed to read whatever you wanted as a child or teenager.

...worn pants to work.

...took a woodworking class in school.

...had a tattoo, or several.

...kept your "maiden" name or use a hyphenated name.

...worn any clothing considered "outrageous"--i.e. hippie, punk, goth, vintage, etc.

...ran for any office other than school board.

...gave a man custody of your children, expecting to actually see them again.

...invested in property or stocks under your own name.

...had a bank account separate from your husband's.

...lived with a man outside of marriage, and people still speak to you, employ you, etc.

...attended any kind of sex education course in public school.

...unabashedly enjoyed pornography, football, boxing, or other traditionally male entertainments.

...expected to make as much money per hour as a man does.

...been permitted to go into a gym or basketball court and work out.

...attended college for reasons other than finding a husband.

...listened to aggressive music (rock, hip-hop) by women.

...listened to ANY music produced by women. television shows or movies produced, directed and written by women.

...had elective surgery without your husband's or father's signature.

...dated/married a heterosexual man who used cosmetics, moisturizers, or had his hair done.

...learned self-defense.

...been in a position of authority over a man.

...use Ms. instead of Miss or Mrs.



This post was inspired by the young feminists who seem to believe they have invented feminism and have nothing to learn from women over 50. Well, I have some news for you. As Kevin McCarthy famously said at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers: You're next!

I hope you are prepared to be ignored when you are older, since you are doing absolutely nothing to change that state of affairs NOW.

Who am I talking to?

If you have not included old women in your blog roll, read their books, heard their point of view, nominated them for awards, listened to their histories, included them in your feminism and they pointedly are not commenting on your blog, ask yourself what you are doing wrong and keep in mind: This post is for you.

Listening to: The Pretenders - Precious
via FoxyTunes

Guess who's coming to Furman?

Left: Shamelessly stolen from


I protested a certain Vice President back in the 80s, when he gave a commencement speech at Ohio State in 1985. Will I get a chance to protest his son at a commencement speech, also? How often in a lifetime does one have the opportunity to protest matching father AND son presidents? This one would definitely go on the resume!

Local peaceniks haven't yet decided if there actually will be a protest. If you know the layout of Furman University, there wouldn't be much public space in which to do so without being run over, and don't think it couldn't happen!

Furman student group slams foes of Bush speech

Letters support, oppose May visit by president

By Dan Hoover • STAFF WRITER • May 20, 2008 • GREENVILLE NEWS

President Bush's planned May 31 commencement address continued to roil the Furman University campus Monday as a conservative group released what it said was a letter signed by 502 students and "Furman community" members critical of faculty objections to the visit.

The "Support Our Seniors" letter by Conservative Students for a Better Tomorrow said, "Unfortunately, some professors seem intent on turning what should be a celebration of their students' accomplishments into a forum to air their political differences with President Bush."

It asked Furman to:

• Require faculty members to heed their contractual agreement to attend commencement and not opt out as "conscientious objectors."

• Refuse to post the political views of a "fraction of the faculty and student body on our Web site."

• Pair the CSBT letter with the anti-Bush letter on the Web.

Furman spokesman Vince Moore said the letter was being reviewed Monday night, and he said, "We're going to work with that group to see about posting it on the Web site."

Whether there will be a protest May 31 isn't clear.

Bush was invited after Furman administrators received unanimous approval from the senior class leadership.

But it was the April 10 announcement of the appearance that riled some faculty members, employees and students.

Two weeks ago a "We Object" letter signed by 221 active and retired professors, staff and students, expressed shame over the Bush visit.

"Under ordinary circumstances it would be an honor for Furman University to be visited by the president of the United States. However, these are not ordinary circumstances," they wrote. "We are ashamed of these actions of this administration."

The letter, posted on the Furman Web site, criticized the Bush administration over the Iraq war, classifying prisoners of war as nonmilitary combatants to detain them indefinitely, eroding constitutional guarantees, ignoring evidence of global warming and encouraging reckless spending.

Furman President David Shi said such "dissent is a revered American tradition," reflective of a university's "health and maturity."

Some students reacted sharply, creating what English professor Robin Visel called unexpected "push-back."

Some seniors were chagrined at what they said was the faculty's effort to detract from their accomplishments.

Christina Henderson, a senior, student body president and self-described "big Democrat," said she disagrees with Bush's policies but respects the office. "It is the faculty response that we feel has taken away from" the seniors' milestone.

In a press release accompanying Monday's letter, Nathan Guinn, a CSBT board member and Furman junior, expressed disappointment "that some faculty members continue to put publicity ahead of professionalism. We wish to send an alternative message: It is an honor for the president of the United States to celebrate with Furman the many accomplishments of our seniors."

Guinn said the fact that "nearly five times as many students signed 'Support our Seniors' as signed the faculty-led petition demonstrates the student body's desire to return the focus to the graduating seniors instead of professors' political differences with the president. Clearly, the faculty-led petitioners do not speak for all or even most of the members of the Furman community."

Professors should meet their obligation to attend commencement, he said.

"For people who supposedly revere tolerance and open-mindedness, such an arrogant refusal to even listen to a short congratulatory speech from the president during a day of celebration is an embarrassment to our university," Guinn said.
Any comments from you folks on the position of the faculty? I know I have at least three professors and countless quasi-professors regularly reading my blog. Anybody out there been caught between a similar rock and a hard place?

And check out my congressional candidate Ted Christian's comments at the Greenville News site:
Bush is an incompetent, unapologetic, bloodsoaked warmonger. We should be ashamed we reelected him. He is an embarrassment to this country, and his presence at Furman will be an embarrassment to this community.
You see why I have to elect him?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Odds and Sods - Sunday Matinee edition

Check out Neil Sinhababu's Six Reasons Why Clinton shouldn't be Obama's VP over at Cogitamus. Speaking personally, I thought a joint ticket was a pretty good idea until reading this. Hmm. (Great discussion, worth price of admission.)

Also: I need to calm down (formerly known as Vox Ex Machina) writes about Racism in the Voting Booth.


A Very Public Sociologist reports on the Gender, Law and Sexuality postgraduate symposium at Keele University (UK). Feminist researcher Wei Wei Cao's presentation was especially interesting:

Where bioethics are concerned feminism opposes legal obstacles placed in the way of women's access to (reproductive) medical services. But, Cao argued, there has been a tendency for feminism to place emphasis at different times on legal arguments, and at others ethical arguments, instead of a more coherent approach. This failure to combine them effectively can lead to the enshrining of progressive legal rights on paper, but in practice, serving to perpetuate the patriarchal structures they aimed to combat. For example, in Cao's native China, abortion law is very liberal. But far from enhancing women's reproductive rights, it has strengthened patriarchy's hold over women's fertility by "encouraging" the abortion of female foetuses, particularly in rural China. Taken with the one child policy this has resulted in there being somewhere in the region of 50-60 million more (mainly young) men than women.

And as we know, in the more liberal societies of the West, abortion is still taboo. Many women who undergo the procedure often have to deal with the difficulties of doing so in silence.

Therefore, Cao suggests that while the fight for reproductive autonomy remains a key feminist objective it needs to be more sensitive to women's experience.

As I have stated before, my favorite author and the greatest living genius of our age, JG Ballard, is very ill with late-stage cancer. BALLARDIAN offers us a Spring 2007 interview in an unnamed German scifi publication, titled “I really would not want to fuck George W. Bush!”: A Conversation with J. G. Ballard, conducted by Werner Fuchs and Sascha Mamczak:
Ballard: I’m very interested in social pathology, in what really drives us on in our everyday lives. My newest novel Kingdom Come raises the question of whether the consumer thinking of the present day might not at some point suddenly turn into fascism.

A very trenchant thesis.

Yes, but just take a look at what’s going on in these huge shopping malls. Evidently not much more than shopping is left for us. That and sport. That’s where we get our kicks, those are the new religions. I already believe that one of these days we could end up in a kind of leisure-time dictatorship.

But don’t events like the attacks of the 11th of September or the catastrophe in New Orleans remind people of the hard facts of reality?

I’m not so sure about that. I think it was difficult for many people to distinguish the picture of the collapsed World Trade Center from all the other images they know from Hollywood. It’s such a binary matter: real, unreal, real, unreal… And as for whether the current American administration finds itself brought down to reality or not, I very much doubt it. No, I think we live in dangerous times.

Left: A boy and his dog, outside the Greenville County Library yesterday.

From the Roanoke Times, comes another puppy mill conviction. And once again, no time will be served. (Why do they bother?)

This one is notable in that Carroll County (VA) animal rights activists intervened and alerted authorities:

Junior Horton, who operated Horton's Pups in Hillsville where more than 1,000 dogs were discovered in November by local authorities acting on a tip from the Virginia Partnership for Animal Welfare and Support, had been charged with 14 counts of animal cruelty, 25 counts of animal neglect and one count of failing to obtain a license tax for 125 unlicensed adult dogs.
700+ dogs were rescued. The Humane Society has called it the largest canine rescue operation in the USA.

Veterinarians working with the animal welfare advocates filed reports to the office of Carroll County Commonwealth's Attorney Gregory Goad. The charges accused Horton of depriving dogs of necessary food, drink, shelter or emergency veterinary treatment, and of failing to adequately house, feed, water, exercise or care for animals in his possession.

And finally, this just in--by way of Renegade Evolution. Pornographer Nina Hartley was hacked by some Islamic extremists. As reported by Ernest Greene on The Blog of Pro-Porn Activism (you've been duly warned as to content): was hacked by a couple of young guys in Turkey who characterize themselves as "Islamic cyber-warriors." They've hacked hundreds of other sites all over the world that they regard as suitable targets for their jihadist fury for whatever reasons and make no secret of their intention to go right on doing so. Indeed, for a couple of days after the fact, they were all over Turkish media trumpeting their great triumph at shutting down the site of the "Jew whore" Nina Hartley. And they got pretty far with that too, even making it onto the TV news back home. This will get them more views for their clumsy gangsta-rap vids on youtube (you can see their collection of laptops in the background as they bust their moves) and presumably sell more of the malware they peddle on their own site. Great heroes of the coming caliphate are these two twenty-nothings. May they be welcomed into paradise by those 72 virgins at the earliest possible date. Given the TNP's impatience with swaggering braggarts who like to stir up trouble, that date may come rather sooner than they expect.

But those of us over here are stuck with some troubling questions whatever fate may hold in store for these pathetic low-lifes. The unpleasant fact remains that the hate they feel for Nina and all she believes is shared in equal measure among right-wing Christian evangelicals, left-wing anti-porn feminists and their fellow Islamic fundamentalist fanatics all around the world. Even though these extremists all despise each other, they agree on something basic about human nature - their deep-seated distrust and dislike for it. Where they find common ground is in their abhorrence of personal freedom and individual liberty.

Listening to: The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
via FoxyTunes

Dead Air Church - St George's Greek Festival

Left: Traditional Greek dance troupe at St George's.

This weekend, the 22nd annual Greek Festival on the grounds of the St George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Greenville. Lots of fun, amazing food, traditional entertainment and tours of the beautiful Cathedral and gift shop.

Dead Air Church unequivocally weighs in, wishing that after almost a thousand years, the Roman and Orthodox Churches would once again unite. Yes, I know they'd have to get that pesky Filioque thing straightened out, as well as just WHERE the major HQ will be (and isn't that what really got everyone all stirred up in the first place?) ...and this may indeed be a lost cause. However, I do remain forever hopeful.

The ongoing joke is that Catholics seem to want this reunification far more than Orthodox do. The bad news is that one major reason sought for unity is to consolidate additional hard-line doctrinal allies against secularism. That isn't exactly what I had in mind.


The Menu

Spanakopeta, Tiropeta, Veggie Gyro, Finikia, Kataifi, Galaktoboureko, Koulourakia, Greek coffee.


Below: Icon of St George and the dragon, patron saint of St George's; vigil prayer candles in the Cathedral vestibule; St George's Cathedral; the Festival in progress.


Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

[via FoxyTunes / They Might Be Giants]

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cinderella and Elrod

Two beautiful and generous individuals joined their souls in Holy Matrimony today! Sadly, both declined to be named on my blog--and they have their reasons. The bride, when asked what name she preferred, gushed Cinderella! While the groom said, for whatever reason, Elrod.

Thus, I speak of the lovely union of Cinderella and Elrod! Married today at the illustrious and historic Gassaway Mansion in Greenville, South Carolina.

I wish you both the very, very best and all my love. You deserve all good things, and hearty congratulations, my friends.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It DOES take a rocket scientist!

Left: Former rocket scientist and South Carolina 4th District Democratic congressional candidate, Ted Christian, consults with campaign advisor Sheila Jackson about why he forgot to mention global warming on his new leaflets.

Last evening at the Coffee Underground, sitting in on a brainstorming session with Christian, Jackson and an unidentified, deep-cover Obama campaign worker (not pictured, not named, not even supposed to say they were sitting there!), I realized I hadn't charged my camera battery again. This always happens when I am trying to take important pictures vs. trivial ones. Ted asked me-- does it take a rocket scientist?--flipped open my camera battery (I have trouble remembering WHERE it is), quickly exchanged it with his own, zip-zip, and handed it back to me. "Should work now," he said.

A ROCKET SCIENTIST! Ted is one of the few people who can really make that joke because he was one, working at NASA HQ in Houston with bigshot contractors like Lockheed. I realized, this needs to be a campaign slogan: IT DOES TAKE A ROCKET SCIENTIST!!!! I think it should be on bumper-stickers, buttons, signs...

And so, we pick over the fascinating details of Ted Christian's life, wondering what the Republicans will say. He knows he's not a typical candidate. The rest of us wonder how much that fact will hurt or help his candidacy.

The simple fact is, Ted Christian might be TOO COOL for upstate South Carolina. For instance, he retired at age 28, after successfully playing the stock market for several years as only a rocket scientist could. This fact may bring admiration, and then again, it may bring envy and suspicion. It's one thing for the members of the upper classes to waste time on yachts and dash around Europe in expensive sports cars; quite another for a very smart working class kid to figure out the ins and outs of capitalism well enough to make a lot of money so he can do interesting things like live in the desert for awhile, hang out in Australia and make pilgrimages to the Vatican ("Including the gift shop," he says) and Tibet. Tibet? He'll have some explaining to do around here in Baptist country. Although the Tibet stories would probably get him instantly elected down on the coast, say, in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head or Charleston. But up here?

Well, I don't know. Have we arrived as a real live Metro area or not?

Whether Democratic voters in the June 10th primary will vote for an interesting person with new ideas borne of different and varied experiences around the world, or stick with the same old homespun Bubba-characters and/or party hacks, will tell the tale.

Ted Christian was born in Japan (to a Vietnam veteran father) and grew up in Florida. After college, he went to work in the aerospace industry in Houston, working on the space program. He also lived near Las Vegas for a time, studying the mathematics of various card games, which he considered researching for a dissertation. It makes sense he would be captivated by the mathematical probabilities of the stock market.

After making enough money to live on, he decided to see the world and eventually ended up here in Greenville in 1999, which is also the home of his sister. I first met him during his work on the Billy Mitchell mayoral campaign. Ted founded the Greenville Antiwar Society, virtually the day the war began. Like Obama, he was against the war before it started and is the only candidate who can make this claim.

And so, here he is, running for congress as one of three candidates vying for the Democratic congressional nomination. (The others are Greenville resident Bryan McCanless, and Paul Corden, a former marketing executive and retired community college teacher from Spartanburg.) He is eager to debate the other candidates, who seem utterly terrified of him. They should be; he is smart, witty and quick. My concern is that he will blurt out something irreverent, which he likes to do (he's funny!) and then get raked over the coals for it (at worst) and/or misunderstood (at best).

Example: Every candidate in the upstate is duly interrogated about religion, and expected to give their church affiliation when they run for office. It's standard operating procedure and Christianity is required, much as it is for the presidency. I asked Ted what he was going to say, and he quipped "Uncommitted!"

Now, see, you can't say that stuff. They will eat him alive.

But of course, a candidate's religion IS seriously no one's business in a democracy that supposedly prides itself on the separation of church and state. These questions are highly inappropriate, but the media ask them anyway and the candidates answer like trained seals. They obediently provide the details of their multiple-year-membership in whatever approved Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian denomination (and it better be one of those, no off-brands!) they have dutifully enlisted in. And this information is printed on the campaign leaflets. If Ted wants to be the "change candidate"--he might actually be the first upstate candidate to declare, "I find that question inappropriate!"--but then again, this might make him look like an educated snob. (Even if his opponent, incumbent rightwingnut Bob Inglis, is the one who went to Duke.)

Ted could also be his witty self and reply with something like "Well, I haven't decided on a church membership yet, but I've noticed church membership doesn't stop our Congressman Bob Inglis from engaging in morally questionable acts, such as giving his wife a pricey job in his re-election campaign!" Using the occasion to hammer at Inglis, might be the way to go.

I will be leafletting for Ted and busting my butt before the primary. He is a shaft of sunlight peeping through the door, a harbinger of a new Upstate that thrives on diversity and real debate. He signifies that the 4th district has come of age and is ready to entertain some actual political argument.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Aliens are dogmatically approved!

Happy Pentecost! It's official! The Vatican says we can believe in aliens!

VATICAN CITY (AP) - MAY 13, 2008 The Vatican's chief astronomer says that believing in aliens does not contradict faith in God.

The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, says that the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.

In an interview published Tuesday by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Funes says that such a notion "doesn't contradict our faith" because aliens would still be God's creatures.

The interview was headlined "The extraterrestrial is my brother." Funes said that ruling out the existence of aliens would be like "putting limits" on God's creative freedom.
This invites more questions, of course. What if the aliens have their own deities, that look really different from ours?

If you enjoy ideas like that, here is some recommended reading for religiously/spiritually oriented scifi folks:

A CASE OF CONSCIENCE by James Blish. This book rocks so much, I can't adequately convey how great it is. Jesuits were the priests elected to preach the gospel to other cultures, to new worlds, to utter strangers. It seems likely they'd be the ones to visit other planets.

Do aliens experience the phenomenon of original sin? Only if you bring them to Earth:
Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez S.J., is a part of a four man scientific commission to the planet Lithia, there to study a harmonious society of aliens living on a planets which is a biologist's paradise. He soon finds himself troubled: how can these perfect beings, living in an apparent Eden, have no conception of sin or God? If such a sinless Eden has been created apart from God, then who is responsible?
JESUS ON MARS by Philip Jose Farmer asks the question: What would have happened if Jesus had never been crucified? What if every planet gets their own Jesus, to see how they react to Him?

UBIK by Philip K Dick tends to defy description, as PKD usually does. What happens after you die? PKD thought he might have an answer. (Several theological nods to my man Meister Eckhart!)

A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ by Walter Miller is also too fabulous for mere words. I wish I could tell you the ending. Still, one wonders if people even UNDERSTAND what they are reading. For instance, in the above-linked review:
So often in science fiction, religion is treated as a subject of ridicule, satire and scorn. A Canticle for Leibowitz is refreshing in that it looks at the Catholic Church as a viable, eternal entity. The fact that Miller's Church remains essentially the same in the 26th, 32nd and 38th century as it was in the Middle Ages does not, in fact, detract from its appearance in the story.
Detract from? I think that was the umm, POINT, dude.

THE SPARROW by Mary Doria Russell is the newest of the books I have listed here. One of her main ideas/plot twists appears to be lifted from HG Wells, and I dunno if she properly gives credit or if it's understood that you can just BORROW a core scifi idea these days?... Nonetheless, the vegetarians (HG Wells was one) will heartily approve. I very much disliked the sequel, but my friend howls at me in pain whenever I say that (she loved it)--so never mind.

Nobody reviewing the novel ever comments on the name of the priest, which is Sandoz.

Leave it to me to notice something like that.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Iron Man

I'm not sure if the new razzle-dazzle IRON MAN qualifies as a conservative or liberal movie. They tried hard, it seems, to split the difference.

Spoilers ahead.

For instance, during the early scenes in which the evil terrorists in Afghanistan take Tony Stark (hotshot weapons manufacturer and war profiteer) hostage, I am not at all sure the numerous ill-behaved, noisy suburban brats behind me understood that this was not how all dark-skinned Muslims behave. His ally during captivity is a lighter-skinned, well-educated, erudite sort (played by Shaun Toub), while the bad guys are all dark, dirty and mean. I felt uncomfortable with that, and would have found it necessary to editorialize if I had brought small children to the movie.

At one point during these early scenes, the ally complains he doesn't understand what the terrorists are saying because they are speaking in Hungarian. Hungarian? Obviously, someone on the set complained and they decided to throw that in for those of us who might complain all the terrorists are Arabs.

Later in the movie, we learn the situation is not as we thought (and nicely done, I must say!), but I don't think the younger kids behind me could fully understand the twists and turns of the plot. Jeff Bridges (great villain performance, bravo! Good movie villains are hard to come by, and Kevin Spacey really disappointed me in SUPERMAN RETURNS) morphs into the the villain in a deliciously-greedy fashion and we discover he has hired the terrorists to kidnap Stark and take over Stark Industries. But doesn't this mean the Arabs are still mindless and evil, just that they are working for an American instead? Is terrorism for American dollars and weaponry supposed to be better than terrorism for some supposedly righteous cause?


The Man of Few Words comments on the trailer:

Ok, I have to be honest. Iron Man’s alter ego, Tony Stark got rich off of developing weapons to massacre Vietnamese peasants for the US government. So in essence he is providing weapons to evil terrorists while his antagonist happens to be doing the same albeit to a different breed of terrorists. Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t seem to be taking that sort of interpretive direction and so America of course represents all that is good while beards and turbans represent the kind of evil that cannot be allowed to play with expensive toys.

Avi Arad, the head of Marvel Studios, was born and raised in Israel and so perhaps the sophisticated characterization (caricatures) of Muslims has roots in his own origins.

In all fairness, without more information I can’t encourage Muslims to start a ruckus and boycott this film while complaining loudly. I would have to wait for critical reviews in order to make a sound judgment but I would like to let people know that this is an issue and warn them not to be seduced by two heavily armed automatons tossing exploding vehicles at one another. Racism, bigotry and stereotypical movie making should not be supported no matter how potentially cool the special effects are.

I’ll update you the more I learn. (*EDIT: Here is his later review, May 6th)
I also decided to go snooping in National Review Online, to see what the right wing is saying about the movie. Peter Suderman writes:
After his escape from their clutches, Stark quickly develops a hatred of war profiteering and the military-industrial complex (which, if the movie is to be believed, his company leads). This might make things a little more clear, except that he continues to delight in building outlandish weaponry and deploying it against the sneering Afghan baddies. Only in Hollywood can you charge millions of people ten bucks to gape for hours at extravagant gee-whiz weaponry while simultaneously decrying capitalism and U.S. militarism.
He has a point.

And I'm curious: Who decided women in comics must have alliterative names? Possibly a holdover from the alliterative "Perils of Pauline"? Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Vicki Vale, Linda Lee, and Gwyneth Paltrow plays the perky Pepper Potts. (Exceptions to this rule include Spiderman and Mary Jane, and Captain America's love, aptly named Betsy Ross.) Also--check out Gwyneth's amazing 7-8 inch stilettos; I can't believe anybody can walk in such shoes, much less deliver lines. When she has to haul ass in a hurry, they only shoot her from the knees up (obviously, she has switched to her Nikes) and then when she stops running, back to the stilettos. (I hope no little girls try running on stilettos at home.)

I am a huge Robert Downey Jr fan, as I have said before, and he really cooks in the role. Too bad they never give Oscars for superhero roles, because he is just plain fabulous. Maybe this will be the first? As Bob Mondello at NPR commented: "If every superhero franchise had a Robert Downey Jr., the genre might actually be watchable again."

And there were two winks at the 12-Steps in the movie; two quotes lifted wholesale from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Did anyone else catch those? It was very nice, as if he was waving just to us.

We love you too, man.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dead Air Church: Mother

Here at Dead Air Church, I'm in a fairly Freudian mood for Mothers Day and ready to agree with the futuristic drones in BRAVE NEW WORLD (as well as radical feminist Shulamith Firestone), that motherhood is a negative and anachronistic legacy of our backward primitivism, etc etc.

Then again, maybe not.

See, I can't make up my mind, as I sift through the many Mom videos on YouTube.

Runners up for this church service include Pink Floyd's Mother, especially this version set to images of nuclear destruction. I guess I ain't the only one with Freudian issues! (PS: Check out this stellar version by Sinead O'Connor, Roger Waters and the Band.) I couldn't find a decent version of Tracy Bonham's Mother, Mother, although truthfully, that one properly belongs to my daughter Delusional Precious and I won't encroach on her turf.

No, I decided to use the first Mother song I ever heard that completely took my breath away, that was in no way sentimental, but just tells the truth about how many children feel. John Lennon's mother, Julia, abandoned him for years; mine only left me behind for relatively short periods in comparison. But it hurt the same. My father totally abandoned me, as John's also did.

John was doing Primal Scream therapy at the time he wrote this song, so it devolves into several Primal Screams at the end. It bothered people a lot and they wondered if he had lost his mind. When asked, he said no, he was in the process of trying to find it. (He was always so witty.) I figure, you'll either get it or you won't. Strange person that I am, I've always loved the screams--they are perfectly integrated into this song and turn it into something... well, primal.

Several very nice Freudian touches in this video, which smartly features a juxtaposition of John's various mother and father substitutes in the Primal Scream finale--including Brian Epstein and Yoko Ono (should have included the Maharishi, but I guess that's quibbling). And then we see John with his own boys, Julian and Sean. He also abandoned Julian, imitating his own father. Julian was abandoned through the usual channels of divorce, relocation and remarriage--and we are sharply reminded that we often imitate our parents, like it or not.

And we realize all of us are abandoned by our parents, finally, by death. As little Sean was. As I have been. Some of you know the feeling.

Be kind to your momma today. Happy Mother's Day to everyone.



[via FoxyTunes / John Lennon]

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rightwing Deadheads pt 2--update

Thanks to my fancy-shmancy new IP address blocker (see bottom of page, right)--whenever my rightwing Deadhead troll (who likes to call Barack Obama a prick) shows up, he automatically gets redirected to here:

Barack Obama for President!

Is that funny or what?!?

And along these lines, I've noticed that whenever you look up old Grateful Dead stuff on YouTube, you get this very timely and necessary political announcement:


Listening to: Grateful Dead - Row Jimmy
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 9, 2008

Raja Alem

Left: Raja Alem, from her collaboration with photographer Wendy Ewald, titled ALL KINDS OF VEILS.


I'm embarrassed to admit that I am totally unfamiliar with the work of Saudi Arabian author Raja Alem. I just read an interview in BOMB magazine and knew I had to find more! (If anyone is familiar with her work, how about a quick and impromptu review in my comments?)

One colorful passage in the interview:

Zubayda and my mother ran a substantial business making keffiyehs, the headdresses worn by pilgrims. She told us that one time she stepped on one of her sewing needles and it traveled from her foot up to her body, found its way into her knees and her hip, and gradually damaged her organs. The older she got, the more abbreviated the Epic of the Needle became, until all she would say was, “Oh, that needle I stepped on….” Toward the end it was just “The needle….” She’d flutter her eyelashes and sigh, as if suggesting that her story had become too world-famous to be recounted in detail. But she never abbreviated the moral, she ended the story with: “You work yourself to death. Your love of life—that’s what drains the oil in your lamp.”

When Mama got the phone call with the news of her sister’s death, she fell back into the time of My Thousand and One Nights and started thinking again in her mother tongue, Khazar, which everyone assumed she’d forgotten years ago. The amazing thing is that for my mother and her sister death is merely an excursion. If you happen to be dead, like Zubayda or my father, Mama will still talk to you and do all sorts of things to please you. Mama talks to Papa all the time, addressing him formally, teasing him with his formal title—Mohammed Alem (Mister Alem)—which is what she called him when they made love or were fighting. We still talk about him every day when we sit down to eat.

Mama brings out an elegantly presented juicy melon. Shadia and I ask, as if surprised, “Oh, where did we get that?”

“Mohammed Alem,” Mama says matter-of-factly. “He bought it this morning, plus two big cartons of fruit. He wanted to see you, Shadia. But I told him you wouldn’t come downstairs.”

Mama puts special emphasis on Shadia not wanting to “see” her dead father because whenever Mama is cranky or not feeling well she threatens us with, “I’m going to speak with Mohammed Alem about this! Call the driver! I’m ‘going to Mecca’!”

There’s no mistaking the quotation marks in her voice. “Going to Mecca” is our family code for “going to die.” I deflect Mama’s threat by saying, “Wait, Mama; never go without me. If anybody ‘goes to Mecca,’ we go together.”

A while ago Mama bought herself a Mercedes SUV. She was cruising north by the shore of the Red Sea at two in the morning (she kept checking to make sure Sony, her driver, wasn’t nodding off), fiddling with the shiny stereo controls and singing along with Abdulmjeed Abdullah, her favorite folk singer, when she turned to Shadia and announced, “Raja and I are ‘going to Mecca’ to show Mohammed Alem our new car. Are you coming with us, Shadia darling?”

It came as a bit of a shock, intoxicated as I was by the aroma of the new leather seats and thinking about how sweet life is, to hear my mother inviting us to die with her so she could show our dead father her new car.
If she writes in this same wonderfully warm, personal style, I will be delighted with her book Fatma - A Novel of Arabia, which I have just ordered.

And another good excerpt in the interview made me feel like I'd been slapped. And I don't think she even meant it that way; she was only telling the truth as she sees it:
What is the American mind? The world, especially the Third World, always thought of the American mind as unique, as an example of generosity and openness to invention. The Wizard of Oz is a perfect analogy for the American mind, an infinite source of stunning new ideas. We never thought that America would change from welcoming the world to conquering it. Once America had new ideas, a spontaneity so attractive to so many people. Now it has only armies inciting resistance.
We have so much more! Let us show it to you!

Yes we can. (You knew I was going to say that eventually, didn't you?)

Listening to: Louis Armstrong - Stardust
via FoxyTunes

Hillary plays the race card

Hillary claims the support of hardworking white people in this clip from a May 7th conversation with USA TODAY: "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she says in the interview, which cites an article by the Associated Press. The article supposedly outlines (in Hillary's words) "how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"There’s a pattern emerging here," she said.

Tuesday night, during coverage of the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, Democratic strategist Paul Begala announces on CNN that the Obama Democrats "can't win with eggheads and African-Americans." Superdelegate Donna Brazile responds by (very politely, with oodles of class) ripping him a new one:

Listening to: Pixies - Monkey Gone to Heaven
via FoxyTunes