semiotic_pirate: (sewn-shut mouth)
My Vie en Rose made me cry so much.

I empathized with Ludo so much. So much pain in not being accepted for who you are, or not respected for decisions you've made about your life or how you want to lead your life.

After the movie ended, CoB and I talked a little bit about child sex-reassignment and how the growing trend is to let the child decide - this being especially true in those children born as hermaphrodites. How is the parent to know, and what gives them the right to choose one when the child (when grown old enough to understand the concept of boy/girl) should be the one to choose?

I'm only hoping that I read the ending correctly and that his/her family is finally accepting her/him for who he/she wants to be.

According to this:

"Ma Vie en Rose" ("My Life In Pink") is the story of Ludovic, a little girl born in a little boy's body. For him, nothing is more natural than to change his gender. As a hopeful and sensitive child, he truly believes that a miracle is going to happen. He will be a girl, no doubt about it, and he's in love with Jerome, his school mate, and son of his father's colleague. Initially a source of amusement, an outrage begins in their suburb when the two boys are discovered pretending to get married. The family begins to realize with horror that his desire to be a girl isn't just a little boy's fantasy. They try to make him change his mind, to no avail. The situation turns into a real-life drama of intense reactions from neighbors, friends, and teachers, resulting in a profoundly optimistic ending.

I read the ending correctly.

Edit: Wonderful website - Why is Ma Vie En Rose Rated R? Has a bunch of insightful things to say about the MPAA (disparaging) and good, thoughtful things to say about the movie. Very well put together. I like how, at the bottom of the page, they say that they are blocked by CyberPatrol... Yeah.
semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
Watching a PBS who about what's going on in Afghanistan and it's all pointing toward the seemingly inevitable coming of a draft... All the footage, everything that they're saying, reminds me soooo much of footage and whatnot from Vietnam. Very. Scary.


How many on my f-list would be affected by that?
semiotic_pirate: (sewn-shut mouth)
There are some quotes from another story in the anthology I mentioned in one of my many posts yesterday. This story is called Death and the Lady and was written by Judith Tarr.

Spoken dryly: "Women are cursed enough by nature, weak and frail as all the wise men say they are; and made, it's said, for men's use and little else. Sometimes they don't take kindly to it. It's a flaw in them, I'm sure."

I can imagine at least three characters from Firefly saying these words... Zoe and Annara definitely, at least, would speak like this. Maybe it was the dry humor it was written in, where the character doesn't expect the man she is speaking to to understand that it isn't being said seriously, with any belief in the words or sentiments. Firefly was full of that kind of chatter.

"Is that all you can do?" First woman snapped at her. "Hide and cower and whine, and make great noises about fighting back, and give in at the drop of a threat?"

"What else can I do?" Second woman snapped back.

"Think," said First woman.

Though I know it is absurd, I keep imagining female snapping turtles having this conversation. Yes. That's right. Snapping turtles. They make great, surly friends if you can find them. Some turtles are surly without being snapping turtles, species-wise.

And finally:

"There's no more can't in killing yourself than in killing someone else. It's all won't, and a good fat measure of pity-me."

Yeah. That says it all [ profile] puf_almighty. Why do people talk about killing as "giving in" to something? Because of that quote, right there. You make a choice. Whether that choice is in an acknowledged surface thought or not - a person makes a decision about these things. Which is why a person who truly knows themselves, who knows their own moral/ethical strengths and weaknesses, can see the truth for what it is and not make the excuses that are rampant in our world. Deflection or avoidance of responsibility is something that I haven't always been aware of... That kind of discernment takes time to learn, more or less depending on whether you have a proper guide or not.

Everyone has moments of weakness. The important thing is to disallow weakness in making decisions on everything, especially those decisions that wouldn't just impact your own life but the lives of those around you. The wider the impact, the more serious the repercussions, the worse off the world is when you make the wrong choice.
semiotic_pirate: (eyeball)
Yes. Today I have posted a zillion times - well, at least a half-dozen anyways. I even wrote poetry! I decided to read some news articles...

Kenya burned eleven "witches" recently. Dear powers that be, that is excruciatingly horrible.

And... *shudder* there is a new wait-til-the-abuses-start-happening drug that is currently being researched:

Trust drug may cure social phobia

A nasal spray which increases our trust for strangers is showing promise as a treatment for social phobia, say scientists from Zurich University.

They found that people who inhaled the "love hormone" oxytocin continued to trust strangers with their money - even after they were betrayed.

Brain scans showed the hormone lowered activity in the amygdala - a region which is overactive in social phobics.

Drug trials are underway and early signs are promising say the scientists.

Nicknamed the "cuddle chemical", oxytocin is a naturally produced hormone, which has been shown to play a role in social relations, maternal bonding, and also in sex.

Lead researcher Dr Thomas Baumgartner said: "We now know for the first time what exactly is going on in the brain when oxytocin increases trust.

"We found that oxytocin has a very specific effect in social situations. It seems to diminish our fears.

"Based on our results, we can now conclude that a lack of oxytocin is at least one of the causes for the fear experienced by social phobics.

"We hope and indeed we expect that we can improve their sociability by administering oxytocin."

Powerful effect

Previous studies have shown that participants in "trust games" took greater risks with their money after inhaling the hormone via a nasal spray.

In this latest experiment, published in the journal Neuron, the researchers asked volunteer subjects to take part in a similar trust game.

They were asked to contribute money to a human trustee, with the understanding that the trustee would invest the money and decide whether to return the profits or betray the subjects trust by keeping the profit.

The subjects also received doses of oxytocin or a placebo via a nasal spray.

After investing, the participants were given feedback on the trustees. When their trust was abused, the placebo group became less willing to invest. But the players who had been given oxytocin continued to trust their money with a broker.

"We can see that oxytocin has a very powerful effect," said Dr Baumgartner.

"The subjects who received oxytocin demonstrated no change in their trust behaviour, even though they were informed that their trust was not honoured in roughly 50% of cases."

In a second game, where the human trustees were replaced by a computer which gave random returns, the hormone made no difference to the players' investment behaviour.

"It appears that oxytocin affects social responses specifically related to trust," Dr Baumgartner said.

Defence barriers

During the games, the players' brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The researchers found that oxytocin reduced activity in two regions which act as natural "defence barriers".

They are the amygdala, which processes fear and danger, and an area of the striatum, which helps to guide future behaviour, based on reward feedback.

The amygdala has been found to be extremely active in the brains of sufferers of social phobia.

Dr Baumgartner's colleague, Professor Markus Heinrichs, has begun a study where social phobia sufferers are given either oxytocin or a placebo, in combination with cognitive and behavioural therapy.

The trials are ongoing, but Dr Baumgartner said that early signs appear "promising".

The hormone could also be a candidate for treating patients with autism, he says.

"Autistic people also have a fear of social situations and have problems interacting, so it is very likely that oxytocin could help," he said.

"This hormone seems to play a very specific role in social situations so might be able to improve autism. But so far I am not aware of any studies."

Mauricio Delgado, a psychologist at Rutgers University, said: "This study has significant implications for understanding mental disorders where deficits in social behaviour are observed.

"While a degree of wariness may protect one from harm, being able to ''forgive and forget'' is an imperative step in maintaining long-term relationships.

"The reported oxytocin finding could provide a bridge for potential clinical applications."

Story from BBC NEWS:

First "twisted" application I can think of is the military uses... Way to defeat the enemy, get the enemy to talk, and so forth. Trust your government to protect you, you don't need rights because we are trustworthy and will take care of you.

And then there are the rising rates of possible starvation out there, revealed in this NY Times article: World's Poor Pay Price As Crop Research Is Cut (needs subscription). A series of excerpts follows:

"The brown plant hopper, an insect no bigger than a gnat, is multiplying by the billions and chewing through rice paddies in East Asia, threatening the diets of many poor people.

With demand beginning to outstrip supply, prices have soared, and food riots have erupted that have undermined the stability of foreign governments.

Crop by crop and country by country, agricultural research and development are lagging.

The demand for food keeps growing. Insects and plant diseases adapt, overcoming efforts to thwart them.

Many poor countries, instead of developing their own agriculture, turned to the world market to buy cheap rice and wheat. In 1986, Agriculture Secretary John Block called the idea of developing countries feeding themselves “an anachronism from a bygone era,” saying they should just buy American.

Around 2004, the world economy began growing more quickly, about 5 percent a year. So as the food supply was lagging, millions of people were gaining the money to improve their diets.

The world began to use more grain than it was producing, cutting into reserves, and prices started rising. Early this year, as stocks fell to perilous levels, international grain prices doubled or even tripled, threatening as many as 100 million people with malnutrition.

A plant hopper outbreak can destroy 20 percent of a harvest."
semiotic_pirate: (SVU flashlight-search)
U.S. Airport Screeners Are Watching What You Read
By Ryan Singel Email 09.20.07 | 2:00 AM

International travelers concerned about being labeled a terrorist or drug runner by secret Homeland Security algorithms may want to be careful what books they read on the plane. Newly revealed records show the government is storing such information for years.
Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (BattlePrincess)
Earlier today, I made a post where I mentioned the “age of reason” in an offhand manner. The age I quoted was 25, according to a source I couldn’t remember. I was called on that; and I decided to go digging around to see what I could see. Ruby Rod would be proud. Super-green?

I have culled evidence from various sites. Enjoy!

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. This generally occurs between the ages of 17 and 25, a time of life that has been called the "Age of Wisdom." Via The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

According to the Catholic Church, as quoted from the Catholic Encyclopedia, the age of reason is defined as follows:

The name given to that period of human life at which persons are deemed to begin to be morally responsible. This, as a rule, happens at the age of seven, or thereabouts, though the use of reason requisite for moral discernment may come before, or may be delayed until notably after, that time. At this age Christians come under the operation of ecclesiastical laws, such as the precept of assistance at Mass on Sundays and holy days, abstinence from meat on certain days, and annual confessions, should they have incurred mortal sin. The obligation of Easter Communion literally understood applies to all who have reached "the years of discretion"; but according to the practical interpretation of the Church it is not regarded as binding children just as soon as they are seven years old. At the age of reason a person is juridically considered eligible to act as witness to a marriage, as sponsor at baptism or confirmation, and as a party to the formal contract of betrothal; at this age one is considered capable of receiving extreme unction, of being promoted to first tonsure and minor orders, of being the incumbent of a simple benefice (beneficium simplex) if the founder of it should have so provided; and, lastly, is held liable to ecclesiastical censures. In the present discipline, however, persons do not incur these penalties until they reach the age of puberty, unless explicitly included in the decree imposing them. The only censure surely applicable to persons of this age is for the violation of the clausura of nuns, while that for the maltreatment, suadente diabolo, of clerics is probably so.

I did end up finding the source of my use of 25 years old as the Age of Reason, it is an NIH study described in this Washington Post article about brain immaturity and its relation to vehicular crashes. I’ve quoted bits and pieces below, the full article is at the end of the post:
Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (meg ryan)
Now I know why people are freaked out by the creepiness factor when seeing people dating (or getting married) where those people's age gap is so huge. Some cartoonist (who may have gotten it elsewhere) put it into an easy to remember formula:

[(older person's age/2) + 7] where the older person doesn't date/marry anyone who is under this age. When the age is younger than the legal age of consent, your dating pool shrinks until that lowest allowable age equals the legal age of consent. What therefore, defines the upper age range? Add 7 years to our age?

Therefore, unlike the comic strip, an 18 y/o's dating range is NOT 16-22, but rather 18-25.

The age of consent is tricky, because if it is 16, but the other person is 18 and above, then one of the people is considered an adult, the other not. Seems unequal.

Again, if one is 18 and the other 21, then it is again unequal because one person is limited to the types of activities and locations they are allowed by society. A 21 y/o can go to a bar, an 18 y/o cannot. And forget about the 16 y/o.

Then there is the supposed 'age of reason' of 25... which is best known by those of us who wait(ed) for our insurance rates to go down. It has something to do with our biological maturity, I believe. I did hear what exactly it was based on the other night but cannot remember it.

There is the possibility of people (above the age of consent perhaps, above the age of reason more probably) with a vast amount of age between them to understand and love one another... but there is an 'ick factor' involved at that point in the eyes of society. This ick factor was once more geared toward May-December romances where the December was a woman but has now expanded to include the male Decembers as well.

It comes down to a balance and availability of resources and the power structures that control that balance and availability. Which is why, when the December is rich, it is more acceptable to society. This doesn't make it "right" either way. Although it would be interesting to see what would result from an equalized society where all needs are met without needing to worry about them (i.e. food, water, shelter, clothing, health care, etc.). What would happen to the mating practices? It would no longer be ruled by an unconscious, or otherwise, need to find someone who can or someone to "take care of."

Hat tip to [ profile] crasch

This was also prompted by this women's studies community post about this website. Which brings our creepy ick factor to maximum.

I find it interesting that if you reorder the spacing between the words (brought on by looking at the all-male cast of contacts for the company):

Marr Your Daughter

The misspelling of mar is apropos of the whole mindset of this community of selling young, underaged, female girls off to men who have the money to pay for them.

Update: Someone found that Snopes has passed sentence on the website, naming it a likely hoax. However, the question remains. Are we disbelieving it because it is American girls that are for sale? Because, I am pretty damn sure they exist, whether on the net or IRL, these companies. Bride prices ARE still being paid. Women ARE still being sold off in arranged marriages. The closer a society perceives its individuals as being equal to each other, the more disturbed it will be by things of this nature. However, other societies are still being viewed as "other" and it is humanity as a whole that must grow disturbed by things of this nature, no matter to whom it is happening. The more inclusive we get, the better off all people will be. That goes for animals, regardless of the sentience question... because if you aren't equal to another person in the eyes of society, you are being considered in a spectrum that includes animals and beings considered non-sentient.

The episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation, where Data is on trial to determine his humanity is a perfect example of this. The decision of expanding the concept of "do unto others" as well as the concept of 'I am both myself, and the other.'
semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
My interest in this isn't so much the "scandal" of the senator, but in the information provided via the dissertation (from 1970) of Laud Humphreys Tearoom Trade. The most interesting thing is that, although "taught as a primary example of unethical social research" this paper, because of its nature, had to be researched using "unorthodox methods" in order to get a true reading on the situation.

It is a shame that this subterfuge had to happen in the first place, never mind that it is still happening in a lot of places. I applaud men like [ profile] sparkindarkness who lives true to himself and is a genuine upstanding citizen. Not that I am implying that sparky seeks public sex - I am more referring to the kind of man (described in the article) who either may be or are using the upstanding citizen front as a veneer to hide their proclivity behind. While lambasting people who don't hide whatever this particular person fears will ruin them in the eyes of society with self-righteous hate-mongering.

As long as it isn't something non-consensual, that it is between adults, where neither party is being abused, what do I care? Hell. I would prefer if no one cared what sexual orientation a person was, and that it didn't matter to society at large, or make any kind of impact in a person's professional life. I wish the same could also be said for gender preference or any kind of difference described by the words "minority."

Op-Ed Contributor
America’s Toe-Tapping Menace
New York Times: Published: September 2, 2007

WHAT is shocking about Senator Larry Craig’s bathroom arrest is not what he may have been doing tapping his shoe in that stall, but that Minnesotans are still paying policemen to tap back. For almost 40 years most police departments have been aware of something that still escapes the general public: men who troll for sex in public places, gay or “not gay,” are, for the most part, upstanding citizens. Arresting them costs a lot and accomplishes little.

In 1970, Laud Humphreys published the groundbreaking dissertation he wrote as a doctoral candidate at Washington University called “Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places.” Because of his unorthodox methods — he did not get his subjects’ consent, he tracked down names and addresses through license plate numbers, he interviewed the men in their homes in disguise and under false pretenses — “Tearoom Trade” is now taught as a primary example of unethical social research.

That said, what results! In minute, choreographic detail, Mr. Humphreys (who died in 1988) illustrated that various signals — the foot tapping, the hand waving and the body positioning — are all parts of a delicate ritual of call and answer, an elaborate series of codes that require the proper response for the initiator to continue. Put simply, a straight man would be left alone after that first tap or cough or look went unanswered.

Why? The initiator does not want to be beaten up or arrested or chased by teenagers, so he engages in safeguards to ensure that any physical advance will be reciprocated. As Mr. Humphreys put it, “because of cautions built into the strategies of these encounters, no man need fear being molested in such facilities.”

Mr. Humphreys’s aim was not just academic: he was trying to illustrate to the public and the police that straight men would not be harassed in these bathrooms. His findings would seem to suggest the implausibility not only of Senator Craig’s denial — that it was all a misunderstanding — but also of the policeman’s assertion that he was a passive participant. If the code was being followed, it is likely that both men would have to have been acting consciously for the signals to continue.

Mr. Humphreys broke down these transactions into phases, which are remarkably similar to the description of Senator Craig’s behavior given by the police. First is the approach: Mr. Craig allegedly peeks into the stall. Then comes positioning: he takes the stall next to the policeman. Signaling: Senator Craig allegedly taps his foot and touches it to the officer’s shoe, which was positioned close to the divider, then slides his hand along the bottom of the stall. There are more phases in Mr. Humphreys’s full lexicon — maneuvering, contracting, foreplay and payoff — but Mr. Craig was arrested after the officer presumed he had “signaled.”

Clearly, whatever Mr. Craig’s intentions, the police entrapped him. If the police officer hadn’t met his stare, answered that tap or done something overt, there would be no news story. On this point, Mr. Humphreys was adamant and explicit: “On the basis of extensive and systematic observation, I doubt the veracity of any person (detective or otherwise) who claims to have been ‘molested’ in such a setting without first having ‘given his consent.’ ”

As for those who feel that a family man and a conservative senator would be unlikely to engage in such acts, Mr. Humphreys’s research says otherwise. As a former Episcopal priest and closeted gay man himself, he was surprised when he interviewed his subjects to learn that most of them were married; their houses were just a little bit nicer than most, their yards better kept. They were well educated, worked longer hours, tended to be active in the church and the community but, unexpectedly, were usually politically and socially conservative, and quite vocal about it.

In other words, not only did these men have nice families, they had nice families who seemed to believe what the fathers loudly preached about the sanctity of marriage. Mr. Humphreys called this paradox “the breastplate of righteousness.” The more a man had to lose by having a secret life, the more he acquired the trappings of respectability: “His armor has a particularly shiny quality, a refulgence, which tends to blind the audience to certain of his practices. To others in his everyday world, he is not only normal but righteous — an exemplar of good behavior and right thinking.”

Mr. Humphreys even anticipated the vehement denials of men who are outed: “The secret offender may well believe he is more righteous than the next man, hence his shock and outrage, his disbelieving indignation, when he is discovered and discredited.”

This last sentence brings to mind the hollow refutations of figures at the center of many recent public sex scandals, heterosexual and homosexual, notably Representative Mark Foley, the Rev. Ted Haggard, Senator David Vitter and now Senator Craig. The difference is that Larry Craig was arrested.

Public sex is certainly a public nuisance, but criminalizing consensual acts does not help. “The only harmful effects of these encounters, either direct or indirect, result from police activity,” Mr. Humphreys wrote. “Blackmail, payoffs, the destruction of reputations and families, all result from police intervention in the tearoom scene.” What community can afford to lose good citizens?

And for our part, let’s stop being so surprised when we discover that our public figures have their own complex sex lives, and start being more suspicious when they self-righteously denounce the sex lives of others.
semiotic_pirate: (eyeball)
This article shows a variety of perspectives from assorted people from all walks of life. Very interesting and poignant. I am especially ashamed of how our upper classes have sloughed off the responsibilities of their class. Look at England. The prince is now in Iraq from what I hear.

Their War
Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population serves in our military. In a time of war, what should that mean to the rest of us?

By Kristin Henderson
Sunday, July 22, 2007; W10

MILES OF CHAIN-LINK FENCE RUN through the coastal Carolina pine forest. Armed Marines guard the gates. Pass through those gates, and, at first, you might not realize you've left the civilian world behind. Inside this cluster of military installations are tidy neighborhoods, shopping centers and a golf course. It looks like Suburbia, U.S.A. But then, as families push shopping carts through a parking lot full of SUVs, off in the distance there's the crackle of small-arms fire. Artillery booms, a dull thud.
Read more... )

Fort Dix

May. 10th, 2007 11:50 am
semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
I just have a couple things to comment on.

There are a lot of people bitching out there about the pizza parlor owner, father of one of the "Fort Dix Six" to the point where I fear for the guys safety. One of his employees (referred to as the 'chef') quit in a huff, declaring to the press that his son is in the 82nd Airborne and that he wouldn't work in a place that would support terrorism. Okay. All parents are blind to the follies of their children, especially if they go out of their way to hide said follies (or murderous acts, etc.) from the parents in question. Just because the son believes this crap doesn't mean the father does. Sheesh.

And then there are the people bitching about the "Muslim lawyer" (anyone else feel the racist hate coming off of that appellation? reminds me of antisemitism, all you have to do is replace Muslim with Jew...) saying "don’t equate actions with religion" when speaking to the press. Anyone remember the crusades? Every religion I've ever heard of (except for Buddhism, which goes out of its way to make sure adherents know that non-violence is part of the whole concept of Buddhist thought) has had militants, militant phases, and have decimated members of other religions who in turn profess the same. Convert or die! It is also the case that there are people who are members in each of those aforementioned religions who would not commit violence or atrocities against fellow human beings, regardless of the others' religious beliefs. This is called individual expression of belief. It is also referred to as individual interpretation of doctrine.

**Do not misinterpret any of the above as approval for violence or terrorism, (because that wasn't what I was saying, sheesh) regardless of who commits it and on whom it is committed. Violence begets violence, hatred begets hatred.
semiotic_pirate: (Reading Topless)
First, neuroscience gave us the God Machine... Now, we are hearing about Mirror Neurons. Fascinating, eh? Monkey see another monkey doing something and understands how they are doing it and then Monkey do. We always had that Monkey see Monkey do saying, now there is science supporting what we already knew was true. It also gives credence to the saying that you can't understand someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. Empathy.

I was listening to a story about the source of human creativity. There was a significant portion about the link between what is now described as mental illness, manic-depression specifically, and levels of creative thought. A singer-songwriter named Johnston was mentioned specifically along with several other brightly burning stars. Poets were said to be expecially sensitive to these illnesses because of the need for introspection in the creative process. Virginia Woolfe and many other poets, especially those with products of deep melancholy were discussed.

Mirror neurons, let's get back to those pesky, wonderful things. A man named Ramachandran was being interviewed. He originally was looking for the creative drive of humans within our brains. Instead, he found mirror neurons.

In humans, mirror neurons are found in the inferior frontal cortex, close to Broca's area, a language region. This has lead to suggestions that human language evolved from a gesture performance/understanding system implemented in mirror neurons. Mirror neurons certainly have the potential to provide a mechanism for action understanding, imitation learning, and the simulation of other people's behaviour. The fact that mirror-neuron activity is impaired in autistic children fueled the speculation about the importance of mirror-neurons for social cognition.

Studies also link mirror neurons to understanding goals and intentions. Ramachandran thinks that these neurons were responsible for each of our technological leaps throughout history. All it takes is one person to create a new technique. This is why I think a hands-on learning process should be implemented more often in school curriculum. Yes, it is very easy to learn about a concept and how something works. I also think this is why we have universal-type gestures that we can communicate through when conversing with people of another language. This may also be where and how we process body language signals, though I may be overstepping there. Here's a great primer on our little helpful buddies.

What is that saying about imitation and flattery? However, when we think of imitative learning through observation, we must also consider violent video games and violence on television as well as pornography when thinking about mirror neurons because no matter how we FEEL about a particular set of motions, those neurons will continue to work regardless. So yes, we learn violence by observing it. There's your link people. Objectification via mirror neuronal action.

Some people are referring to it as mind reading although they aren't referring to telepathy.
semiotic_pirate: (PirateLiberty)
They kicked the woman off the plane for feeding her baby? So what if she popped a breast out for the kid to latch on to, if it makes you uncomfortable DON'T LOOK. It isn't that breasts are sexualized, they've always been sexualized, it is that they are over-sexualized and objectified as ONLY being about sex. Like men own women's breasts. *rolls eyes* WTF?!

Breast-feeding moms protest lactose intolerance

Babies at the breast, protest signs close by, nursing mothers staged "nurse-in" demonstrations in airports across the country yesterday rallying behind a woman ordered off a plane for breast-feeding her daughter too openly.
"I truly hope it does get the message across," said Becky Fontana, 29, nursing her 4-month-old daughter as she sat cross-legged on the terminal floor at Burlington International Airport.
About 25 women turned out here, parking themselves near a Delta Air Lines ticket counter in a peaceful — but not-so-quiet — demonstration mirroring those in airports in Boston, Columbus, Nashville, Tenn., Harrisburg, Pa., Hartford, Conn., Albuquerque, N.M., Louisville, Ky. and elsewhere. In all, more than two dozen demonstrations were planned.
Some of the women carried hand-lettered signs saying "Don't be lactose intolerant" and "Breasts — Not just for selling cars anymore."
"We're not here to blame anyone," said Chelsea Clark, 31, of Fairfax, wearing a "Got breast milk?" T-shirt as she nursed her 9-week-old son at the Burlington airport. "It's about raising consciousness about our culture's sexualization of the breast. Breast-feeding needs to be supported wherever and whenever it happens. Babies don't know the meaning of 'wait.'"
On Oct. 13, Emily Gillette, 27, of Santa Fe, N.M., was ordered off a Freedom Airlines flight about to take off from Burlington International Airport after a flight attendant asked her to cover up while she was breast-feeding her 1-year-old daughter.
She had been sitting on the New York-bound plane — which was three hours late departing — when she began nursing, prompting the flight attendance to hand her a blanket. When she refused it, the female flight attendant had her removed from the plane, along with her husband and child.
semiotic_pirate: (masked wine taster)
I was reading a post of [ profile] sunfell's today and fell to wondering about the infinite mysteries. The pendulum of science and religion that continues to swing also came to mind.

Given the fact that every time mankind has been confronted by reason and logic, most especially that which displaces us as being the center of the universe and at the forefront of the consciousness of whatever possible creator(s) the universe has... that every time mankind is disrupted by this it goes through the throes of denial, whereupon whoever thought up this penultimate blasphemy is persecuted (or most likely killed) along with anyone who supports their idea. The sun does not revolve around us, neither does the galaxy our world resides in, nor the wider universe itself. Women are not made to revolve around men, and yes, we are descended from "lower forms of life" just like all the other life forms on this planet.

Each time a major breakthrough is made in science this backlash occurs. The Enlightenment was followed by Romanticism, was it not? Most people fear change and change is what will occur, sometimes in spades, when a new discovery is made that displaces us even further from that imagined center. We begin our lives as the (perceived) center of attention, the center of our mother's/parent's lives. Heck, if you think of gestation, we literally ARE existing at the center for a while. Displaced by birth, displaced over time to lonely individuality, displaced by the ever increasing dearth of knowledge about everything.

Cognitive dissonance. That is what we are faced with as a species. Every time change occurs in our lives, in our perception of that life and in everything else we experience the jarring jangle of dissonance. We are under the impression that we actually control anything, because by relating ourselves to the universe in some supreme way we think that we ourselves are supreme in some mystical way. Too much cognitive dissonance and you will get a backlash.

There will always exist a spectrum, however, it is the existence of too many people at the extremes of this spectrum where we encounter problems. Right now the spectrum is heavy on the fanatic religious belief side. Moreover, those religions are ruled by "laws" that say "if you aren't with us, you're against us" and those Others MUST be destroyed or converted. Fear of Others goes hand in hand with fear of change. And this fear of change is why people who feel they are backed into a proverbial corner will react viciously to any challenge to their beliefs, their perceived authority and anything else that they consider ordained or sacred.

Because this spectrum will always exist, railing against it and trying to expunge it will only increase the self-righteous defense of the extreme positions on that spectrum. There is also the built-up power structures that exist in support of the extremes... actually there are power structures existing across the spectrum but they too go through waning and waxing periods of strength in that power. That power is given willingly by people who only ask to be protected from any changes that they are terrified of.

Again, there is also our relatively short lifespans that come into play. This is why the pendulum can swing to either extreme within a couple of generations. We don't think long term enough to consider the full weight that change, that new innovations and new technologies and so forth represent. We only think of the immediate effects to our selves. Because we exist for such a short period of linear time, unless we have considered leadership that knows our weaknesses as a species and who hold the best interests of the species as a whole higher their own individual interests we will only progress in little spurts of back and forth movement where, hopefully, the net movement is forward.

Of course, watching five episodes of the BBC's Torchwood series is bound to start me thinking about the wider consequences of our collective actions.

Your thoughts? Opinions? Disagreements? Come forth and discuss!
semiotic_pirate: (wild at heart)
WTF?! Self-immolation? GAH! How the hell do you accomplish that? I mean, how does a young teenage girl suffering in a forced marriage, having been beaten and raped repeatedly by her husband... Oh. But really... self-immolation? How is that effective? And why choose something so painful? And then there's the bit about Pakistan and rape victims still being treated like they committed adultery - yeah, blame the victim a little more why don't ya.

Afghan women seek death by fire

Increasing numbers of Afghan women are committing suicide by setting fire to themselves to escape difficult lives, according to NGOs based in the country.

Marjan, 13, has burns across much of her body

They say women forced into marriage or suffering chronic abuse are killing themselves out of desperation.

Although estimates are difficult to make, one group says cases of self-immolation in the capital have doubled since last year.
Read more... )
In other news:

Pakistan's national assembly has voted to amend the country's strict Sharia laws on rape and adultery.

Until now rape cases were dealt with in Sharia courts. Victims had to have four male witnesses to the crime - if not they faced prosecution for adultery.
Read more... )

Women are the only ones who are really persecuted for sex outside of marriage in whatever story I hear coming out of this area of the world. And anyone raping a woman can claim it was consensual and get away with it. Unless four other men witnessed the rape and call it rape. Sheesh.
semiotic_pirate: (spock & kirk)
Okay, with the word panspermia... I keep picturing little space sperm floating throughout the universe and planets (like the Earth) hanging out like eggs. I know, that is what the theory is supposed to make you think. Very silly if you ask me. What would be another name for it? Anyone? Bueller?

This also reminds me of what we have found recently about the bacteria that exists below the crust, deep below it that is. Existing on energy released by radiating particles. Could these bacteria be employed in cleaning up our radioactive waste? Like bacteria that is used to help clean water in water treatment plants. Hrm.

One worrying bit, could the red rain in India be a result of this deep earth bacteria being erupted out of a volcano? Since bacteria has been around the longest, it only makes sense that it would have evolved to survive in any environmental conditions. Do you suppose the deep earth bacteria was the original anaerobic bacteria from the beginning of life on earth could've burrowed into the earth when the atmosphere started changing?

Searching for 'our alien origins'
By Andrew Thompson
BBC Horizon

In July 2001, a mysterious red rain started falling over a large area of southern India.

Locals believed that it foretold the end of the world, though the official explanation was that it was desert dust that had blown over from Arabia.

But one scientist in the area, Dr Godfrey Louis, was convinced there was something much more unusual going on.

Not only did Dr Louis discover that there were tiny biological cells present, but because they did not appear to contain DNA, the essential component of all life on Earth, he reasoned they must be alien lifeforms.
Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (EZ-Bake Oven)
Okay, here I am reading my flist and I see this post on [ profile] feminist:

Edit: There was also a very recent previous post on this article in the same forum, found here. Which, for those of you who like to track back further, started over here on feministing.

A quote from the final source would make some of you (Silence of the Lambs fans) laugh: "The vessel will make sure to treat its uterus and surrounding matter with care for the preparation of the all-mighty fetus. The vessel puts the lotion in the basket."


In a perpetual state of readiness for the possibility of fulfilling my womanly destiny...

I'm in that dewy state of expectation called Pre-Pregnancy!

In the future, women will carefully tend our fertility like gardeners. We will, if our fertility is untouched by disease or toxins or menopause, mindfully tiptoe on the earth always cradling our wombs in a web of care, nutrition and gentle exercise.

Not for us, the Chosen Ones endowed with the gift of giving life, is the harsh world of overwork, stress or excitement. Adrenalin can spoil the developing brain which may secretly be forming in our Nexus of Life.

Women living in the glorious state of Pre-Pregnancy are like National Treasures, their uterii are our Greatest Natural Resource. We should signify their importance and value so that as they move about in the harsh world, citizens are alerted to take care in their presence to preserve the priceless ability they possess, invisible, lying in wait inside them. Perhaps a color or style of clothing distinctive and arresting, conveying the vibrant fertility that is the lifeblood of our continued existence as a Great Society.

Pre-Pregnant women should never experience poverty or need. In fact, their Gift is so vital they should never work at all, but live a life of protected ease. Privileged and wealthy families whose matriarchs do not possess the Gift could welcome the Pre-Pregnant into their homes and give back to their government by cultivating and nurturing their sacred bodies; conveying wealth, education and status to the resulting offspring so that all Pre-Pregnant women are properly revered and their children cared for.

Pre-Pregnant women cannot be entrusted to partners or alliances chosen by happenstance, their Ability is too wonderous and precious to be squandered on love affairs that may stress or tax them, or worse may open them up to abuse or neglect. The most profound tragedy of all would certainly be if a Pre-Pregnant were to fall into relations which could never hope to Create Life in her womb. Infertile male partners or Lesbian interactions would cruelly snuff out the light inside her Blessed body before it had a chance to shine on the world.

Our culture must awaken to the power of the Pre-Pregnant, must radically transform our society with love and faith into one which nurtures and sustains the most potent gift given us. The alternative is the destruction of our values, our way of life, our sacred quest to create a secure society which reflects all that is best in the world. In this struggle, the Holy Vessel of our hopes and dreams is the Pre-Pregnant. In her womb she carries the very future of Man Himself.

My reply was:

Subject: Cat Pan Revolt!

Even the most horrifying post - and yours is very well done btw, I too was very much reminded of The Handmaid's Tale - can put a smile on my face...

"Women should also make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date and avoid contact with lead-based paints and cat feces, Biermann said."


Yes, my reaction to horror is to make jokes, and retain my ability to laugh in the face of danger.


I even went so far as to email the author of the Washington Post article, asking for further information. This smacks of something W's administration would do. A nefarious way of making our differences of the sexes even greater, to reinforce the "traditional gendered roles" that the extreme right-wingers approve so that we lose even more ground. The ground that has already been chipped away under our feet through the loss of privacy and rights due to the unilateral, non-congress-voted-on decisions that the administration has been perpatrating since day one of the War on Terror.

While out for a bit earlier, there was an interview going on on NPR, where a woman called in and asked (neocon being interviewed) if there was or should be a difference between the "War on Terror" and a "War on Terrorists" because if you are claiming to be combating terror, an emotional state, why is the administration antagonizing our emotions to get us into a state of terror in order to do what it wants?


For those who don't want to follow the Pre-Pregnancy link to the Washington Post Article, here is the script of it:
Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
Not by me, over on Slate of course. Why would I use up my precious time (which should be spent studying) figuring out what Balls to the Wall refers to?

Balls in the Air
Where does the expression "balls to the wall" come from?

By Jesse Sheidlower
Posted Friday, Feb. 10, 2006, at 6:12 PM ET

Somewhat disappointingly, it has nothing to do with hammers, nails, and a particularly gruesome way of treating an enemy. The expression comes from the world of military aviation. In many planes, control sticks are topped with a ball-shaped grip. One such control is the throttle—to get maximum power you push it all the way forward, to the front of the cockpit, or firewall (so-called because it prevents an engine fire from reaching the rest of the plane). Another control is the joystick—pushing it forward sends a plane into a dive. So, literally pushing the balls to the (fire)wall would put a plane into a maximum-speed dive, and figuratively going balls to the wall is doing something all-out, with maximum effort. The phrase is essentially the aeronautical equivalent of the automotive "pedal to the metal."

The expression is first found in military-aviation sources that date from the Vietnam War, and it was recorded in the slang of U.S. Air Force Academy cadets in 1969. Although no evidence from the period has come to light, Korean War veterans have also reliably claimed to have used the expression in the 1950s. An earlier parallel is balls-out, in the same sense, which is found in military-aviation sources that date from World War II. (The phrase was also painted on the nose of at least one fighter plane.) In both cases it's likely that the possibility of an anatomical interpretation has helped the expressions gain wider use.

In other news:

Olympians are abstaining from sex to boost their performanceRead more... )

The face-transplant patient showed her face at a press conference.Read more... )

Cops are busting minors for "internal possession" of alcohol.Read more... )

Eating less fat won't reduce your risk of cancer or heart diseaseRead more... )

Promiscuous French kissing nearly quadruples your risk of spinal meningitisRead more... )

Polygamous inbreeders are pumping out children so retarded they need constant care.Read more... )

Our creepiest genetic invention, the dog.
By William Saletan
Posted Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2005, at 12:35 AM ET

Have you heard the latest news? We've decoded the DNA of dogs. Here's how the media-approved version of the story goes: We're showing our love for "man's best friend" by discovering and treating the genetic causes of his ailments. In return, we'll learn to treat the same ailments in ourselves.
Read more... )

Right to Wife
Why does Judge Alito treat women like girls?

By William Saletan
Posted Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005, at 7:55 AM ET

Judge Alito, it's a pleasure to have you before our committee this morning. You're obviously an accomplished jurist, and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle speak very highly of you. I really have only one question for you, and it's my hope that you'll be able to put my mind, and the public's mind, at ease about it. What I'd like to know is, why do you think it's constitutional to treat a pregnant woman like a child?

I'm referring, of course, to your dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey 14 years ago. As you know, that case involved a Pennsylvania statute that required women to notify their husbands before having abortions, on pain of criminal sanctions. You voted to uphold the statute.
Read more... )

Can You Fear Me Now?
The cell phone goes from annoying to evil.

By Bryan Curtis
Posted Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2006, at 3:45 PM ET

Note: At this point, slate decided to refer the reader to a downloadable mp3 audioversion as well as the link to the podcast - which of course can be listened to on most newer model cell phones - you will see the irony soon. Read on:

In your right hand, you hold the source of all the evil in the world. A few days ago, it was the source of some medium-sized evil—a stray ring in a movie theater or a mournful text message to an ex-girlfriend after midnight. But things have changed with your cell phone. It is no longer just a nuisance. It is death incarnate.

In the recent months, cell phones have become newly terrifying. Our once-mundane cellular-inspired fears—of brain cancer, of terrorists using them to detonate remote devices—have been replaced by more gruesome visions. Horror maestros from Stephen King to Takashi Miike have taken our ambivalent post-9/11 feelings about cell phones (they played a crucial role in nearly staving off a terrorist attack, but they were also the source of incredibly painful goodbyes) and reworked them into a vehicle for evil—ghosts, plagues, and rampaging psychos. The cell phone, in their hands, is not a tool of empowerment but another instrument of terror. Humanity's going to hell, and you don't dare call your mother.

Stephen King's Cell, which sits at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, is the bloodiest encapsulation of this worldview. Read more... )

I will admit to being 3/4 through The Cell and I have to say, the terror/horror is real, unbelievably tapped by Stephen King are all of our fears and annoyances with cell phones (from cancer due to signals near the brain to phone etiquette). Amazing.
semiotic_pirate: (pirate grrrrrl pencil drawing)
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. [...] The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans.

Reported by Brian Williams and brought to you by me through Hoffmania.

*sick to my stomach*
semiotic_pirate: (cuckoo bananas)
Hopefully I'm not repeating myself here:

In a moment of delicious (and perhaps mischievous) irony, offers of foreign aid were tendered by France, Germany and several other nations. Russia offered to send two plane loads of food and other materials for the victims. Predictably, all these proposals were quickly refused by the White House. America the Beautiful and Powerful, America the Supreme Rescuer and World Leader, America the Purveyor of Global Prosperity could not accept foreign aid from others. That would be a most deflating and insulting role reversal. Were the French looking for another punch in the nose?

Besides, to have accepted foreign aid would have been to admit the truth---that the Bushite reactionaries had neither the desire nor the decency to provide for ordinary citizens, not even those in the most extreme straits. Next thing you know, people would start thinking that George W. Bush was really nothing more than a fulltime agent of Corporate America.

via Michael Parenti's ZNet Commentary
(mentioned in my previous post)

Why the hell can't we accept help from people that we've helped? Isn't that part of friendship? That you are able to both provide, and ask for help? WTF? How could Bush just wave their offers of help away? The entire world has had to watch with the rest of us, as over a hundred thousand people were left helpless and hopeless for days...

I want a nice sound-proofed room in which I can scream myself hoarse! Now I'm off to bed to toss and turn until I fall asleep and have nightmares. We all float down here.
semiotic_pirate: (fetal angel pain)
For Want of a Nail

September 3, 2005
By punpirate

With every seemingly simple calamity, there is a complex chain of events leading up to it. In the case of Katrina, the hurricane which has ruined much of the Gulf Coast, left many of its inhabitants homeless and taken the lives of many others, it will be a long time before that chain of events will be known.

There will be calls for investigations, by Congress, by the legislatures of the affected Southern states; perhaps, grudgingly, there even will be a Presidential commission to recommend ways to prevent such a disaster in the future.

Make no mistake - this is a disaster of near-incalculable proportions. What will these investigations and commissions find? That it was a disaster, and maybe little more than that.

The obvious reasons have already been discussed in the media, even as bodies drift aimlessly through the waterlogged streets of New Orleans - cuts in the budget for levee improvements in New Orleans, National Guard troops stationed half a world away instead of waiting in readiness to respond to emergencies in their own states, scientific studies on hurricane defenses abandoned for lack of money, budget cuts to the agencies responsible for preparedness and first response, shortages of personnel and the means to move them effectively to where they are needed.

Read more... )


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