Thursday, November 30, 2006

still sick. but still thinking about stuff - like, how john stossel secretly hates families

my bovine-like immune system ain't what it used to be. this is my second day home from work because of a little germ!

but all is not lost. my nasal congestion has made me think about things like why i'm lucky to be able to tell my boss "I'mb sick. I hab to go homb" and she nods and says, "Yeah, you sound like crap" and i can come home and check email from home and also know this is a paid sick day. and other folks aren't so lucky when the situation is certainly more important than a head cold.

fulminating in my brain since before thanksgiving is a little rant about an article john stossel posted on that conservative site,, about his co-worker's (elizabeth vargas) return to work and her subsequent report on the mommy wars and how hard it is to be a working mother. (why won't i link to his article? because i hate that website and if you wanna look for it, be my guest. i've given you all the pertinent information you need to google.)

first - no shit, elizabeth. welcome to the world of almost 60% of the workforce - who also don't make your whopping salary.

second - john stossel, as much as he says he respects his coworker, basically says to working families 'sucks to be you!'

he can't see why it should be the responsibility of an employer or government to (this is a rough paraphrase) to make balancing work and home life easier when it was that woman's choice to have a family anyway. so all those things like paid family leave, day care, flex time, increased EITC? forget it. you never shoulda had that family.

it's the old manichean divide, so black and white and unyielding:
your family vs. your job

i read this article before i got on the plane to canada and it stuck like a bad meal in my gut. all i kept thinking was, does john stossel only know really well-off working like women like elizabeth vargas? in all his righteous muckraking, hasn't he come across women who make, say, in the low thirties? because personal choice or not, the consequence of making working people (not just women) choose between being their company's bitch and having some kind of personal life are dire.

i mean, don't we give our companies enough? the average american worker works more than anyone in the world. we work longer hours (1877 hrs vs. an avg. french 1562 hrs) with one american in three working a 50+ work week, take less paid vacation (the avg. american takes 4-10 days vs. the avg. swiss 30+), and we work for less and less benefits (ever wonder where your vision plan went? or do you have to make a choice between your eyes or your teeth?) and the benefits we do have don't seem to trickle down as far as they used to (1 in five american adults are in poverty and almost 45 million are without health insurance.)

the naysayers among you may have a point - our productivity seems to be slacking off but maybe that's because we're too scared we'll get fired to take some fracking time off to rest up!

meanwhile, our corporate entities seem to be doing rather well.

but for john stossel and all the other MarketNinjas, who cares that the average american worker needs more to just hold their head above water? that's the market! in order to survive, the corporation chooses to exploit you and you choose to be exploited by it by participating in it, family be damned.

(and it's funny that these are the townhall guys who are also always beating their manly stoical breasts about family values and tradition. if it was all up to them we'd still have child labor in place - 'they CHOOSE to be stuck in that chimney at six years old!'

rather smugly, norway's christian democratic minister for children & families says: "Americans like to talk about family values. We have decided to do more than talk; we use our tax revenues to pay for family values." yeah, i know. they're taxed at an exorbitant rate. but the point is no one is rushing to copy our way of working because it's nuts and bad for society!)

so, if we're given the manichean choice of work or family, who do we choose? we can't quit work or we won't be able to feed our families; we can't abandon our families because that's just shitty.

by not taking seriously the personal needs of the workforce, it seems that's what folks like john stossel and his corporate friends seem to want.

(of course there is a third option. it's a 5-letter word that begins with U and ends with N but that's for dusty blue collar people - not clean white collar people like us with masters degrees and shit, huh?

ooh, here's another word: 8 letters and begins with O and ends with IZE. but you're right; if we do that then our company might not like us anymore. because they, you know, aren't really that bad and we have to look at things from their point of view! and they truly have our best interests at heart. cuz that's what corporations do. take care of their workers.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

blearg: home sick

like a kid in elementary school, i'm home sick today. i never get sick. maybe a head cold or a tonsil thing but not the kind of sick where i have to leave the office early (ok, i left at five but i didn't feel good about it!) and then go straight to bed.

(where i promptly dreamed all night that the canadian prime minister was fake and no one knew but me and my roommate and no one would believe us and the canadian secret police were after us.)

so after asking my roomie what one does when they're sick (it entails bundling up and watching tv surrounded by vitamins and tea and romance novels) i think i'm all set for a wonderful, rainy, gray day on the couch under a comforter.

let's all call in sick, ok?

Monday, November 27, 2006

more than a test

this is a pull quote about the No Child Left Behind program from the times article below:

But the evidence is becoming difficult to ignore: when educators do succeed at educating poor minority students up to national standards of proficiency, they invariably use methods that are radically different and more intensive than those employed in most American public schools. So as the No Child Left Behind law comes up for reauthorization next year, Americans are facing an increasingly stark choice: is the nation really committed to guaranteeing that all of the country’s students will succeed to the same high level? And if so, how hard are we willing to work, and what resources are we willing to commit, to achieve that goal?

i was talking about this very thing with my roomie while drinking a whole bottle of wine wednesday night, which may explain my loose grip on reality. i said, 'no one is really serious about education reform. we know what works - we've seen all those programs about education innovations, the best performing charter schools, the curricula that works and leads to college enrollment. if people were serious, they'd scrap everything and take those best practices and make. it. work. if mayor daley is so broken up about chicago's schools, then why isn't he telling CPS to create a Montessori model in every classroom?'

roomie said, 'it costs too much. no one will do it. it's too expensive.'

so we've acknowledged that our public school system is not living up to its standards, and we've honestly tried all the dinky little stop-gaps to solve it (salaries, testing standards, private management, etc.) and nothing has changed.

are the folks in charge of our educational system really that lazy?

What It Takes to Make a Student - New York Times

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

how do you say 'turkey' in french?

all the goings on lately have been exhausting so roomie and i are going to montreal for the thanksgiving holiday.

pray for safe travels and have a great thanksgiving, everyone!

(feel free to post any ventings and rantings about going home for the holidays here. i won't mind and it'll give me something to read when i get back.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

to whoever doesn't 'get it.'

a list, in light of the Michael Richards/Kramer and UCLA student taser thing:

1. when talking about the use of the N-word, let's have a basic understanding that no one should be using it.

2. yes, some black folk use it. not all of us like that but that doesn't mean everyone gets to.

3. (similarly, yes, some gay folk also use the f-word when they speak with/about one another, but that's not going to make it ok for me to say it. it's bad manners.)

4. (just the way it's bad manners to whine about why certain people get to do certain things that seem naughty and you can't. you just can't. deal with it. if you're burning with a desire to say a naughty word and you're mad that people will think you're a racist if you do, then you have a problem.)

4.5. (and if you ask if that's fair - what are you, five?)

5. and besides, that's not the point. whether or not you are a racist is not the point. who cares if you're a racist? i don't - i'm not friends with racists and i personally prefer not to have anything to do with one.

6. the point is, Richards used it in a really really problematic way. you get a few racial demerits for saying the N-word but you flunk the whole test when you start referencing lynching.

7. and that's what's ugly. when we use the word racism *properly* we are to understand that there's a whole history and cultural tradition supporting it and giving it life; we understand that history isn't in the past - it's now, it's flowing forward, everything we do make us part of it and we inform it just as we're informed by it. history and cultural/social practice make racism real and Richards basically sickened himself and his audience when he vomited that history all over the stage that night.

8. this history claim - does this mean that we don't recognize other histories? i.e., the history of the english oppression of the irish, the spanish decimation of the native american and the indigenous? no way. but that's not the context of this particular conversation. it would be great if the folks that don't 'get it' also wanted to talk about other imperialisms and colonialisms and how they inform our contemporary culture and make our current race relations so frakking complicated.

9. but we all know that's not what you want to talk about, do you? it's funny how some you rhetorically grab onto the history thing and get all upset - 'what about this oppression or that oppression? are you saying that only black people have suffered, only black people have suffered oppression??' no, brother. let's talk about other people's suffering and oppression. i'd love to; if we did then we'd see that us black folk aren't just whining 'victim' every time someone uses the N-word. but be honest. history ain't on your side. you don't really want to go there.

10. but if you do, maybe we can talk about this guy from UCLA (my alma mater!) who totally got tasered for refusing to show school ID and told some campus police to frak off. let's talk about that.

Friday, November 17, 2006

awesome: another man who doesn't know his ovary from his scrotal sac

salon's Broadsheet has an awesome heads up about the guy who's about to be in charge of contraception access and family planning education/policy. sort of like the vet (i.e., dr. dolittle) who was slated to become the head of Women's Issues at the FDA, this new guy is a treat.

he's a pal of leslie unruh, the author of the South Dakota universal abortion ban legislation. (which was defeated.)
he's a schill for the notoriously 'light on scientific accuracy' abstinence-only crowd for the christian right. (which doesn't work.)
(want his bio? check out talk2action's research here.)
he runs a string of those so-called crisis pregnancy centers in massachusets.

and his biggest claim to fame?
he thinks:
sex causes people to go through oxytocin withdrawal which in turn prevents people from bonding in relationships. Seriously.

[Keroack] explained that oxytocin is released during positive social interaction, massage, hugs, “trust” encounters, and sexual intercourse. “It promotes bonding by reducing fear and anxiety in social settings, increasing trust and trustworthiness, reducing stress and pain, and decreasing social aggression,” he said.

But apparently if you’ve had sex with too many people you use up all that oxytocin: "People who have misused their sexual faculty and become bonded to multiple persons will diminish the power of oxytocin to maintain a permanent bond with an individual.” Hear that? Too many sexual partners and you’ll never love again!

(basic science: while it's true that oxytocin plays a major role during labor, breastfeeding and is released into the bloodstream during orgasm - as vasopressin is released in males - and that it does seem to enable trust and ease social anxiety, his basic premise that sexual promiscuity will use up 'too much' and your ability to form bonds with another person will diminish is bullshit - at least not for biological reasons. the number of partners shouldn't matter. if oxytocin levels were subject to fluctuation because of orgasm/sexual intercourse then it would be instance that mattered, not the number of partners.

and what a wonderful, discerning little chemical it would be! if all this was true, then it would also follow that oxytocin is able to distinguish between sex with a marital partner and sex with an extra-marital partner, would it not? genius little chemical!

anyway, oxytocin doesn't 'run out'. if that was the case, every time a woman gave birth she'd be capable of less bonding with each successive child - not to mention that with each instance of sex with her partner, over time, she'd be less able to maintain that bond. see? illogical bullshit.

and doesn't he know that oxytocin now comes in pill or nasal spray? no one has to suffer low bonding!)

this total ignoramus is going to be in charge of a government program for women's sexual health. monday is his first day. nice.

does george w. bush know ANY qualified people??

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

gasp! a woman's in charge!

i'd like to start collecting all the punditry around pelosi and her gender. i'd really like to start looking at the public discourse surrounding our first female speaker of the house because i'm curious to see how the public constructs a woman who wields real political power now.

will she be 'shrill'?
will she 'intimidate men' and 'will men be unable to relate to her'?
will she be 'emotional'?
'ball busting'?
'a barn burner'?
'man hating'?
'almost masculine in her abilities'?
'a fishwife'?
a 'bitch'?

or will she be...good at her job?

to read:
Pelosi ready for House helm, battle over issues -
as well as this over at BlogHer
i'll post more feminist posts on pelosi when i find them. it's gonna a fascinating two years.

Monday, November 06, 2006

who is my neighbor? ted haggard.

although the haggard story broke late last week, i've avoided writing about it for a few reasons. one, it's way too easy to go for the easy ironic joke; two, i wasn't quite sure if i even believed the story (and, believe me, i'm not exactly a haggard fan); three, the whole situation sort of seemed cheap.

the downfall of a preacher is a sad thing. i've seen my own father go through two church splits (we were Baptists, after all) and it was difficult to watch a ministry dissolve right before my eyes, along with the trust that once existed between a man and his congregation. i don't think any kind of ministry really recovers from something like that. because of the intense and intimate nature of a pastor's call, the sudden divestment seems like betrayal and a waste of all those previous years. in my father's case, the ground shifted due to an overly ambitious assistant pastor (such a cliche, isn't it?) with a secret of his own to hide and my father stepped down rather than be embroiled in an long, undignified fight with a once close friend who seemed to think he deserved something he didn't earn. though my father looked ahead with something like optimism, the whole ordeal was hard on him, the family and the folks who left with us. for me and my sister, we saw an ugly picture of church politics and greed. we saw the ugly underbelly of our church laid wide open and we turned away from it as fast as we could.

for haggard, it wasn't his own congregation that betrayed him but what he called his own 'dark nature.' perhaps. i wonder which is the greater sin - haggard's still shadowy liaison with jones or his lying about what led to that liaison for all this time? or is it all of a piece? i was going to ask if it's possible to run from our 'natures' but that's what christianity teaches, doesn't it? we put off the old nature and, behold, we are all made new creatures. i guess there's happy, shiny NEW and then there's the rest of us - let's welcome Haggard among us - who are Newish. we're relatively shiny but with a few spots of tarnishing here and there.

what should a progressive christian do in this case? when a combatant in the culture wars has fallen, a great big arrow sticking out of his back, what should the progressive church person do? most of the commentary around has focused on the 'hypocrisy' of ted haggard. it's more than hypocrisy; if he's actually gay, lobbying for legislation that will outlaw the lives of other americans simply because of who they love, then that's internalized homophobia, that's self-loathing. and that's so much sadder than hypocrisy.

there are clever posts to be written about the limitations of christian celebrity, the futility of living with secrets, the double edged sword of judgment, the end of privacy, the muted pleas for forgiveness from the evangelicals when it's one of their own who fall but its absence when it's anyone else, but i won't write those. (though i could!) instead i just think about how sad it is. sad that a guy was brought low simply because the idea of being christian and gay was inconceivable.

to read:
The Revealer: Haggard's Downfall as well as the nerve article he mentions (the roll up of christian men's self-help books has a pretty good analysis of the imagery and language defining christian masculinity. personally, braveheart does nothing for me.)

haggard's restoration team lost dobson. guess all that tarnished christianity was just too much.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

calling all writers: anthology submissions

a grad student from Indiana University approached me about submitting a piece of creative nonfiction to her proposed anthology. i've decided to do it and thought i'd pass on the news to the other women out there who write about their religious upbringing. the call is below. (please pay attention to the guidelines - she's looking for women writers!)

call for submissions
I'm currently soliciting creative nonfiction for an anthology; its working title is Growing Up Churched: Young Women Writers on Life, Faith, and Being Raised Evangelical. I'm looking for personal essays in the 3000-5000 word range, narratives centered around this theme. Please pass this call for submissions on to any writers you may know who might be interested in contributing to this project.

I'm looking for essays about growing up evangelical that break the mold. Most of the memoirs out there about growing up evangelical either end up fitting the formulas "wasn't life awful and, boy, I'm glad I escaped the church" or "wasn't life awful and, boy, I'm glad Jesus saved me." I want essays that don't fit these formulas, that tell surprising, fresh, unique stories. My hope is these essays will be both narrative and reflective in some way, whether they're funny or disturbing or grateful or angry. Also, a lot of writing about evangelicals focuses on men, hence the gender bias for this project.

A note – I'm working with a loose definition of "evangelical" here. If a writer grew up Mennonite or Reformed or Methodist or encountered evangelicalism later than childhood, her work might still fit this anthology. The more diverse the stories, the better!

Writers: If you're interested in the anthology and have an essay that you think might work, send it to me ASAP by e-mail at I'd love to look at your piece and see whether it might fit into this project. If you're interested in contributing the project, but don't have anything on paper, drop me a line to let me know. Then send me a draft of your essay by December 31, 2006 (New Year's Eve). This date is going to be the preliminary deadline for submissions.

And please, please do pass this message on to any writers you think might be interested.

In sum, here are the basic guidelines:

Personal essays in the 3000-5000 word range about growing up female and evangelical.
Contributors should be in their 20's or 30's.
Deadline: December 31, 2006.
Send the essays to me by e-mail at

More information and updates will be online at

Saturday, November 04, 2006

an indecent proposal: if not sex, then how about this...?

have you heard?

as the human sexuality timeline shortens between When We Used to Have Sex and When Sex is Bad in All Forms, apparently the federal gov has decided to be papa to teens AND adults: they want to spend federal dollars on telling adults to not have sex.

the moral reach of our government has now reached a complete, infantilizing low.

is spending federal dollars to tell already sexually active adults to stop being sexually active really the BEST use of our government's budget? what else would they like to spend dollars on - telling us to brush our teeth, eat our veggies, and look both ways before we cross the street?

figleaf has an excellent idea. since uncle sam hates the idea of us gettin' busy, maybe he'll be cool with us touching our private places in pleasurable ways, instead. i'm pretty sure that masturbation counts as abstinence so perhaps the gals at tulip will be able to apply for some of that federal money to promote an 'abstinent' yet pleasurable lifestyle. you think?

(unless killing pleasure is the point. gasp!)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

it's a thought...a Green candidate for gov!

Green Party vs. the goliaths | Chicago Tribune

the blagojevich/topinka ads are turning my stomach. can't a girl watch 'dancing with the stars' in peace? apparently not. (

and while we're at it, why doesn't the GOP just come out and call poor tammy duckworth a 'legless satan worshipper'? it'd cut through all the crap and make their ads so much more interesting.)

so my gaze turns toward a candidate who's been running so far under the radar, when i mentioned him at a work meeting, my very politically astute coworkers went, 'Err?' ralph nader pissed me off but i think i could probably go for a Green governor. and if you check out his profile, rich whitney doesn't sound totally crazy. ok, his gun policy is weird, but i can overlook that. i'm from los angeles.

(my rubric for political candidates is quite simple - don't sound like a nutbag.)

change has to start somewhere, right?