Thursday, July 31, 2008

newsflash: the human race has jumped the shark

i'm utterly dumbfounded:

Sleeping man beheaded on Greyhound bus

TV: Passenger killed by seatmate with 'Rambo knife' in Canada's prairies

MSNBC News Services
updated 10:47 a.m. CT, Thurs., July. 31, 2008

WINNIPEG, Manitoba - A passenger sleeping on a Greyhound bus was killed and decapitated by his seatmate on Wednesday night as the vehicle rolled across the Canadian prairies, witnesses said.

"All of a sudden, we all heard this scream, this bloodcurdling scream," said Garnet Caton, who was sitting just in front of the victim, in an interview with CBC Television.

"The attacker was standing up right over top of the guy with a large hunting knife — a survival, Rambo knife — holding the guy and continually stabbing him, stabbing him, stabbing him in the chest area," Caton said.

The attack continued as other passengers fled the bus and waited for police on a desolated stretch of the TransCanada Highway near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, said Caton, who helped bar the bus door to prevent the attacker from leaving.

'No rage in him'
"He calmly walks up to the front (of the bus) with the head in his hand and the knife and just calmly stares at us and drops the head right in front of us," Caton said.

"There was no rage in him ... It was just like he was a robot or something," Caton said.

Caton said the victim was stabbed up to 50 times.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer said the attack occurred while the vehicle was en route from Edmonton, Alberta, to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

CBC reported the Royal Canadian Mounted Police took the attacker into custody.

Authorities declined to provide other details of what they described as a "major incident."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

it's like a scene from a rob zombie movie, you know? but worse.

Friday, July 25, 2008

on the bus

I am an observer. Or voyeur. Whatever. I like watching. Pervy? Sure; I blame my mother. She would sit on the couch and watch our neighbors like she was getting paid to do so.

She'd flip the blinds a little and say, "Hmph. Mrs. Jones is spending a lot of time at home."

"So are you, mom."


Anyway, my genetically inherited practice of keeping an eye out on the world kicked in yesterday when I was riding the bus down Michigan Avenue. It was morning, one of those gorgeous robin's egg blue mornings, and the bus was not yet full. I stood by the rear exit since I was just riding up to the river and an older man sat to my right, in the seat closest to the aisle.

Halfway up the avenue, a dark haired young woman rang the bell for a stop and de-bused. (Like 'de-planed,' see?) As soon as she hit the sidewalk to transfer to another bus, the older man to my right slid quickly to the window, pulled off his sunglasses and pressed his face to the window where he began to devour that woman with his gaze.

(That's a phrase I used to read in my mother's old romance novels - 'he devoured her with hungry eyes' - and I could never picture what that looked like until now.)

I'm not kidding. He ate her up. Think of the look a person gets on their face when they pass a shop window and see something they want. I see it when I pass the Bentley dealership and a man is bumping his head on the plate glass to get closer. The man on the bus was like that. He kept his face pressed to the window, turning to keep her in view as the bus slowly pulled away. Then, when the woman was no longer visible, he just put his glasses back on and slid back to his original seat.

His face immediately fell back into the stoic, blank expression he was wearing before the woman got off the bus and he stared straight ahead, his eyes now hidden behind his glasses. He didn't even care that I had watched him do it. It was past since his object was gone.

I've seen this before. Just a week or so ago, I was standing at a LaSalle bus stop during lunch hour next to a short man in a gray suit. It was a hot, bright day. The street was crisscrossed with people rushing to and from lunch. I noticed the man had a pattern. He'd step into the street, look for the bus, grumble at his watch then, if a woman was approaching his location, he'd grow still, track her with his eyes, and as the woman passed, he'd turn on his heel and stare at her until she disappeared.

I did this with him a few times. It was creepy. It was like he was in a cuckoo clock and this is how he marked the minutes passing.

When you're a woman, you train yourself to be blind to these things. If you registered every gaze, every stare, or leer our brains would explode. It doesn't matter if we're pretty, old, young, plain, fat or thin. We still feel the eyes on us all the time.

It's maddening.
In related news, it was reported that "Nearly two-thirds of Egyptian men admit to having sexually harassed women in the most populous Arab country, and a majority say women themselves are to blame for their maltreatment, a survey showed Thursday.

The forms of harassment reported by Egyptian men, whose country attracts millions of foreign tourists each year, include touching or ogling women, shouting sexually explicit remarks, and exposing their genitals to women."

No, it's not about culture. It's about patriarchy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hey, I'm over here, too!

I have a new post up at Bitch Ph.D. about fat issues and progressive gaming issues.

Check it out!

Monday, July 21, 2008

a game of 'what if?'

good, sweet lord.

i wonder when games are going to get progressive? (remember the disaster that was Ghettopoly? ugh.)

i mean, when are they going to make some attempt to stop reinforcing the current/past power structure and start doing some subversive work by offering a different narrative? from the Racialicious post:

'It is reprehensible that colonists are so often portrayed as brave heroes earning what land is rightfully theirs–games such as Colonization only perpetuate this myth so common among Americans and Europeans. How about a game about colonization from the natives’ perspective? Battle against an army of white folk claiming the land you’ve lived on for centuries to be theirs–now that’s a game I’d play.'

sure, some folks could say that reversing the script is only a way for 'victimologists' to achieve useless emotional catharsis and that it's a pointless, PC gesture. i partially agree; playing a game of 'beat the colonizer' won't reverse the centuries of cultural hegemony begun when those ships came over with their guns, germs and steel.

but i think playing a game that uses indigenous resistance as its premise would at least be a valid (and fun!) critique of the popular myth that colonization was a win-win. i've often imagined what could have been if those ships had been turned away or if some event had intervened that changed the colonizing trajectory.

(to read jared diamond's book, though, such an intervening step would have meant finding a way to prevent east-west migration, stop the development of western literacy and killing horses. that's a lot for just one indigenous population to handle all at once. and, yes, that's a gross reduction of his book's premise.)

neither do i buy the argument that basing a game on the POV of the colonized is problematic, or just a game of 'kill whitey'; wanting to be the one who fights being colonized is just as valid as wanting to assume the role of the colonizer (which, to me, is plain old disturbing.)

i mean, wouldn't we call that person who resists enslavement a Freedom Fighter?

or would we, because it runs counter to our approved national and racial narratives, call that person a terrorist?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

churchgal asks: what would you like me to write about?

Writing is hard - especially when you write a lot for work, too. (As well as for two other blogs.) If I'm not careful, posts here will end up being about what I've eaten for breakfast.

So, I'm throwing out a sincere plea to all 5 of my readers:
Give me a topic you'd maybe like to see ChurchGal write about soon.

That should at least give me material for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

dear president bush: you really suck

Abortion Proposal Sets Condition on Aid -

This is the proposed intent:
The Bush administration wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control.

Under the draft of a proposed rule, hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign “written certifications” as a prerequisite to getting money under any program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

How this report proposes to define abortion:
“any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.”
[bold emphasis mine]

What's the significance of the 'conception' and 'before implantation' lingo? It pretty much makes hormonal contraception into an abortifacient, which it is NOT.

This is the potential impact (from Womens eNews):
Organizations that don't comply with the proposed rule could be forced to scale back services due to lack of funding, leaving women who rely on government-funded family-planning clinics with fewer options for affordable services and supplies, Richards said. That would compound their financial difficulties at a time of rising rates of unemployment and higher costs for food and fuel.
The regulation could also undermine state laws that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims and that require health care insurance plans to cover contraceptives if they cover other prescription medications, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights lobby in Washington, D.C.

What else is impacted?
My fricking right to control my fertility without having a bunch of patriarchal asshats forcing me to tie my tubes (or stop having sex.)

Why am I kvetching about tying my tubes?
Because if hospitals are suddenly to be staffed by squeamish religious types who believe the Pill (and other devices) kills homunculi babies, then the only way to prevent pregnancy, clearly, would be to sterilize myself.

But would that really be cost effective for me (or any woman, for that matter)?
Tying ones tubes is not like having a vasectomy; it is not a simple snip-snip that can be done with a local anasthetic, in a soothing doctor's office while a little blue napkin lays across your lap. You don't go home and stay in bed for a few days with an ice pack between your legs. It's major surgery. It's invasive, expensive and hellishly inconvenient.

It looks like this.

Contraception, on the other hand, looks like this .

I've already done this, thank you very much. I would be more than a little resentful if I had to to it again.

As for the petty, ignorant, anti-woman Bush administration, I wonder if they convene meetings with agendas titled "How to Do the Most Damage in What Little Time We Have Left."

Monday, July 14, 2008

the trib talks 'race' and the result is...varied

This is the column in today's Trib from Dawn Turner Rice who's doing a series on race. I suppose we can credit the Year of Obama for being the catalyst for all this racial navel gazing.

Whenever a paper or media outlet decides it's going to tackle race, I gird my loins for a discussion that will, inevitably, derail in seconds. My standards for having these conversations is high and I can't stomach the kinds of comments that make me wonder if we're living in 2008 or 1958. This time, I really couldn't allow the conversation to veer off into troll land so I got really into it (if you read the comments, you'll find Ding peppered here and there.) Surprise, surprise, I manage to keep my temper and have a few exchanges that are civilized.

The question of color blindness comes up. Blah di blah, we all know that saying 'I don't see color!' doesn't really work as a racial justice strategy. Racialicious and Too Sense have good posts on color blindness worth looking at.

But the thread made me wonder, if ideological color blindness could actually be achieved, how sure am I that I could be racially color blind (like, skin color carried no semiotic weight for me)?

I gave myself a random 90% - I am 90% sure I could act/behave in a color blind way, considering my ethnic background, how I grew up, who my friends were/are, and my current/past behavior. At first I was going to say 100% but that's not true; I'd have some issues. (Originally, I gave myself an 80%.)

No, this doesn't have metrics built into it in any way, but as a wholly unscientific assessment, it's at least as worthwhile and revealing as Which Sex and City Character Are You?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Over at Bitch Ph.D. they had a really good discussion on Obama's recent statement removing mental health from consideration when a woman decides to have a late abortion. In other words, if I said to a doctor that I cannot be remain pregnant because the idea of being pregnant is so repugnant to me my mind will split, then my reason isn't 'enough' to justify having one, presumably because my 'health' isn't in danger.

The discussion is cogent, varied and smart. I especially liked one of the comments of ProfessorDarkHeart because it made me step back from my usual position and really think about some nuances:

"Of course this is true; legislating against abortion in any way imposes a burden upon the mother. But I guess I don't see why in this one area of the law the standard should be that NO burden should be imposed upon the individual rather than no UNREASONABLE burden. The latter standard already limits our power over our bodies in a lot of ways. We can't legally sell our organs, for instance, or commit suicide; those are limitations on our personal autonomy, but it's widely agreed upon that they are reasonable ones that serve legitimate state interests. Of course, in a patriarchal state, the law is likely to take the least liberal view possible of women's autonomy; but I think it's a legitimate feminist goal to work to broaden society's ideas about the scope of that autonomy, as opposed to insisting that it lies outside the law altogether. The latter argument is a far more libertarian one than Roe itself makes, and isn't very likely to find a place in American jurisprudence anytime soon. Since Roe asks states to balance women's rights to privacy and due process against a state interest in protecting potential fetal life, I think it's important for feminists to try to help define where that state interest might begin (and to define it as conservatively as possible); otherwise, the only propositions about how to define fetal rights will be coming, as they are now, from the right. Whether we like it or not, the state's interest in protecting fetal life is enshrined in Roe, and unless we can articulate a pro-choice position that allows for that interest, we'll be talking outside the framework of existing law as the religious right chips away at choice from within it, as they've been doing so successfully in recent decades."

Monday, July 07, 2008

summer resolutions

so last week was exhausting, simply exhausting. raging PMS while fighting the governor is not restful. therefore, i have resolved to avoid straining my capacities too far.

resolved, Ding will start playing tennis. Really.
resolved, Ding will stop eating so much pasta; the Italy vacation is over!
resolved, Ding will see all the comic book movies she can this month.
resolved, Ding will take a break from reading political blogs because it's making her lose focus.
resolved, instead, Ding will read big, smart books that have won prizes.
resolved, maybe Ding should go to church at least once this summer.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

summer wrangling

the illinois governor is nuts (along with mike madigan and the state assembly) so i'm stuck in the middle of budget crisis hell over here.

but in a bit of good news, i may have just successfully lobbied for some federal 'pork'.

(one man's pork is another woman's operating budget, is what i say.)

and i'm trying to decide if i'm going to the Democratic convention in August. (denver, sleeping on the floor of someone's house, blogging the convention, drinking with