I See Red and Green

Why is it that the people with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo are the most likely to yell about being colour-blind? Take, for example, this post over at Christian Conservative. I really think that the only way for someone who lives in North America and has a reasonable amount of intelligence to say something like that is through willful ignorance. It cannot escape one's notice that all the Presidents of the USA (and, for that matter, all elected Prime Ministers of Canada) have belonged to a certain demographic. Why, having made that observation, would it not occur to one to immediately wonder what it is about that demographic that is keeping its members in office? How are people so incurious that they're happy to not wonder at all and continue to maintain that their electoral process is entirely a meritocracy?

In response to Gallaugher's final paragraph:

Why can’t we talk about a Presidential candidate who is best fit for the job, rather than whether they are black, white, red or green?
I said this in the comments:
Because there has never been a black President. As I see it there are two options:

1) There has never been a black person qualified and competent to be president who wanted the job


2) There is still racism in the USA and no black person can be elected President, no matter how qualified they are.

Now, given the number of black people in the USA, the only way to believe (1) is true is to believe that black people are inherently less capable of doing the job of president than white people. Since civilized and well-informed people (yourself included, of course) will obviously reject that, (2) is what's left. So we need to talk about it.
What I want to know is, are there grounds to either reject my dichotomy, or reject my conclusion about option (1)? If not then, Gallaugher, do you want to fess up to believing option (1) and its corollary?

It seems that Conservatives have decided to attach themselves to the optics of the phrase colour-blind while completely failing to get the point. While being blind to an individual's race, sex, orientation, or religious beliefs when considering them for a job, position, scholarship, etc. is generally* a good thing, being blind to these things when examining the demographics of certain positions to determine if they have actually been awarded on merit is, of course, impossible. And continuing to act blind to them when the obvious conclusion is that the positions are not being awarded entirely on merit, but also on the basis of these characteristics is despicable.

Gallaugher, I challenge you: If you reject what I've said above, explain why. If you don't, justify your insistence on colourblindness in examining the prospects for who could get elected to the role of President.

*There are certain positions where some of these characteristics are, in fact, relevant. For example, a Mosque would be justified in taking religion into account when choosing people for positions of religious leadership, regardless of whether there were non-Muslim applicants who actually knew more about Islam than some of the (apparently under-educated in this case) Muslim applicants. Also, there are times when some of the characteristics would have a direct bearing on competence, for example, could a man effectively lead a Take Back the Night campaign?

Also, I want to make clear that this should not be construed as my being against affirmative action. Only if all, or at least most, potential employers, decision-makers, electors, etc. were colour-blind in this way, and nepotism were non-existent, would affirmative action be unnecessary.



Well, it's a bit late for my tastes, and there isn't very much of it, but the white stuff that dusted the ground last night is still there, and I can no longer comfortably hang out on the balcony in just jeans and a tank top. As winter goes, it's not much, but I'll take it.


Back Home

I'm back from doing tree, turkey, and presents with my mom's family. I hope everyone in the Northern Hemisphere reading this has had a nice winter solstice light-and-warmth focused holiday with lots of food and loved ones and funny anecdotes. I certainly did. Of the 14 of us that were gathered at my aunt's house, 4 of us were unaffected by the virus that made its way around. That's fun. Fortunately (though not for him) my sweetie seems to be the only one who's still not feeling well. Everyone was very pleased with their hot chocolate mix, and I got a lasagna pan and a casserole dish, which I've been wanting for ages, as well as some other fun and happy presents. Most excellent. Also, I made that same noggy noggy egg nog and it went over quite well.

All in all, a good winter solstice light-and-warmth focused holiday which I will, for lack of a better word, call Christmas, although there was no Christ to be found, thank NOTA.

Now, if only it were acting like winter outdoors...


Chocolatey Goodness

The idea to do this came from the Hillbilly Housewife, as did the idea to use coffee creamer, but the recipe is largely my own, based on how I make cocoa with regular milk. Being poor and hating shopping for bargains, I decided to give jars of this mix to various family for xmas.

For one cup of hot chocolate you want
- 4-6 tbsp of powdered skim milk (depending on the brand, just follow the instructions for 1 cup of milk)
- 2 tsp cocoa, sifted
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp coffee whitener (it helps with the texture, possibly because it contains lecithin).

For about 7 litres of mix (enough to make approximately 60 cups of hot chocolate) you want:
- 5.5 litres powdered skim milk
- 2.5 cups cocoa, sifted
- 2.5 cups sugar
- 1.25 cups coffee whitener
(The volumes aren't entirely additive because some of the little particles of cocoa and sugar go where the air would be between the bigger particles of milk)

The instructions to give with the mix are as follows:
To make: combine 1/2 cup mix with 1 cup water. Stir well.

You can also jazz it up by adding some powdered mint candies or just stirring with a candy cane. I'm very proud of this idea and of the recipe.



Melba toast blows me away. They've come up with a way to get people to pay for bread that by rights should be too stale to sell. Amazing.


I Am Teh Awesome

Know why? Cuz I just made noggy noggy egg nog. All by myself (but with much encouragement from Da5id, who was most helpful in licking the whipped cream bowl). And know what? It is majorly yummy. So much better than the store-bought kind. I lurve eggnog. It tends to separate if you don't chug it, but that's okay. Cuz it's yummy. Mmmmmmm, eggnog.


Dammit, I Want This Settled!

It is interesting to me that no Calvinist has been willing to address my conclusions about their doctrine of Predestination. Michael Gallagher made some sort of half-hearted attempt, but all he really said was that Calvin was right about the doctrine, because it is supported in the Bible. Now, I am willing to concede that it may be supported in the Bible, but he didn't address the core issue, that is, is this doctrine as cruel and psychopathic as I think it is. If not, why not, and if so, how can any self-respecting person worship the deity depicted therein? Why is it that the same Calvinists who are more than willing to argue with me about homosexuality, global warming, gender roles, the need for salvation in the first place, and on and on, are always ignoring me on this one, central question? I don't understand. Twice now I've had comments about my opinion of this doctrine deleted. Now I'm not interested in being one of those people who runs around posting inflammatory things and then boasts of being deleted or banned. I am honestly and truly interested in discussing this, and the intellectual dishonesty of deleting comments one disagrees with or can't respond to frustrates me to no end. I'm not going to start screaming about Free Speech(TM) here, I understand that people's blogs are their space, and they have every right to censor what is said there. I just find it damned frustrating. I don't understand the mindset that allows someone to dismiss rational discourse as fruitless. And I suppose I could, and perhaps should, just live and let live. But I have a vested personal interest in having the questions about Calvinism posted above answered. I'm not interested in one-upping anyone, or playing gotcha, or otherwise playing rhetorical games to prove my intellectual superiority. That is not what this is about. Like I said, I have a personal interest. It is this: I have a certain belief. Now, like all people, I have a remarkable capacity for self-deception, and I have held on to this belief in the face of considerable evidence to the contrary, but, unlike certain people, the evidence to the contrary does bother me. And it may, eventually, if I don't get better at ignoring it, cause me to lose my belief. I'll tell you what I believe. I believe that, in general, people are basically good. To elucidate: By good I don't mean altruistic. I only mean not evil. A) I believe that, all else being equal, the majority of people would rather see others happy than unhappy, would rather see justice win out. And B) I furthermore believe that there is a limit to how far people will go in self-interest. An amount of suffering to others most would be unwilling to be party to, even at great profit to themselves. The fact of there being a significant minority of people who would worship such a cruel, unjust, psychopathic deity is a great threat to that belief. I would like very much for that fact to go away.

The way I see it, there are three options:
1) Calvinism and predestination are not as I have described them. There is something I am missing, or something I have unwittingly added. Those who subscribe to Calvinism simply do not hold the beliefs I have ascribed to them.

2) Calvinism is exactly as I have described, but there is some other factor I have not seen and have failed to account for, that makes the worship of the Calvinist deity okay. And one's own salvation does not fit the bill. See my belief (B).

3) Calvinism is exactly as I have described, and people really do worship a cruel and unjust deity, and they are just completely okay with that.

Now I would prefer very much for option (1) to be true, although option (2) might cut it as well, which is why I am here, practically begging a Calvinist, any Calvinist to come and talk to me. Not debate, not joust, just answer my questions. And if it turns out that option (3) is the truth, what can I say? I'll probably keep on believing in the basic goodness of people, because I just can't help it, but I'll be sad. And the amound of cognitive dissonance I have to live with will be increased.

So, to recap my questions for those who don't like to read paragraphs:
1) Is my characterization of Calvinist Predestination in this post accurate?

2) a)If no, how is it inaccurate? What would you say is a better description of your belief? I'm not talking about framing here, I mean an actual, substantive difference.

    b)If yes, how can you bring yourself to see this deity as good? What makes creating people knowing ahead of time that you have already condemned them to eternal suffering okay?

Will anyone answer my questions?

An Open Letter to People who Make Phonecalls

As someone who now answers phones for a living, I feel I cannot keep my peace on this issue. I hope all of you reading this will take it to heart:

If you refuse to tell the person who answers who you want to talk to, or what you are calling about, they will not be able to help you. It is not a failing on our part, it is the simple fact of our humanity. We cannot read minds. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.


Actually, I *am* Canadian.

For all my linguist buddies out there.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The West
The Midland
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Update: Is anyone else not seeing the red in those bars? It should be there. Oh well, I'm not gonna pick through the mile of HTML to see where it went. Whatevs, man.


OMG! OMG!!!eleven!

Oh. My. Bob.

There is actually a place called Butts County, Georgia.


In other butts news:

Butts Across America
Butts Brewery in the UK, and
Water goes in butts.

Butts are funny.

Google: Still Not Evil

Google is investing an undisclosed amount of money to install enough solar panels to offset about a third of their energy consumption. They say the project should pay for itself in lower electricity bills within 5-10 years.

I think that's exciting.



The latest Skeptics' Circle has been up for a little while now, but I figured I should announce it, so that the latest Carnival of the Godless didn't feel too lonely in the announcement. Unlike the Skeptics' Circle, however, the CotG features two of my posts. But don't worry, there's also a lot of really good stuff there.

I had kind of hoped to do something a little more substantive for my hundredth post but, well, there you have it.


PZ Myers Is A Frikkin Genius

He has come up with the top ten reasons religion is like pornography.
While I'm making you click through to see the original top ten, in the comments several people have added other reasons religion is like pornography. I'm listing some of the most apt below:

11. Both are most heinous when inflicted on children.*
14. "Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God!"
#13 (the soundtracks to both are crap.), however, is pure bullshit. The Anglican and Catholic churches have done some great things, musically.

What I really like about this post, though, is the last paragraph:
Basically, I'm saying we ought to regard religion like we do other human foibles: regulate it, curb it's excesses, shame those who overindulge, and for jebus' sake, stop treating it like some exalted, privileged, glorious endeavor. Any idiot can be religious, after all, and many are.
I really wish people would stop telling each other that believing in something for which there is no evidence makes you a good (or at least better) person.

*I am in no way trying to say that inflicting religion on children is anywhere near as bad as inflicting pornography on children, only that religion, like pornography, is at its worst when children are involved.



This post started out as a comment on Meg's post about homeschooling, but it got long enough that I decided to make it its own post. Here it is.

This is something I think about a lot. I certainly see where Meg's coming from with a lot of the problems with schools. Things like age-segregation, rote learning, being forced to learn at the pace of, and in the style of, what suits the majority are very real problems, not to mention the social difficulties like bullying, clique mentalities, and unenlightened self-interest that kids either learn or are victims of or both. I can't speak to Meg's religious objections, but I agree that there are plenty of objections to be made without bringing religion into the picture. I'm just not yet convinced that homeschooling is the best solution. Not that I'm questioning anyone's decision, I'm just trying to work it out for myself. I mean, yes, there are huge problems with the school systems, but are we doing better to remove our children from this system, rather than try to fix the system? What of the majority of children whose parents simply don't have the resources to homeschool? Or to be activists to fix the schools? Should those who do have those resources focus them entirely inward? Do we have a responsibility to those other children to try to make the public school system something that really makes it possible for all children to succeed, or does our responsibility end with our own children?

I believe it is more socially responsible to devote our energies to fighting for educational reform that would allow for more mixing of ages, smaller class-sizes (which would in turn allow for more individual attention and more personalized lesson plans), more time outside of the classroom, better facilities, etc. Not to mention a paradigm shift in career and work expectations that would make it easier for parents to have successful careers, or even just make ends meet, and still be very involved in their children's educations. But if I had children, would I be willing to sacrifice their education and happiness on the altar of social responsibility?

It's not an easy question.


The Evil of Calvinism: Predestination

I'm not going to pretend that the doctrine of predestination is the only evil thing about Calvinism, but I'm willing to entertain the notion that it is the most evil.

Let's look at it honestly, shall we?

God: Omnipotent, omniscient. Knows before the beginning of the world everything that will happen up to the very end. Creates a system whereby people will be sinful, and may or may not be saved, depending on His divine whim. Knows who will be saved and who will not, and that the vast majority of humanity will be tormented for eternity. Creates people anyway! Offers salvation to a select few (the elect) and lets the rest burn for the heinous crime of being exactly as they were created.

Can we please talk about this? This is NOT loving. This is NOT grace. This is evil, plain and simple. This is a sick, psychopathic God that we are describing here. One who ENJOYS watching its creation suffer. The Calvinist god had every choice in the world and could have set up a different system, whereby people would not have to suffer for all eternity, BUT HE DIDN'T.

I have a question for the Calvinists out there:
Even if you can't help but believe that the Calvinist god exists, how can you bring yourself to worship him? How does this not make you sick? I mean even if you could show me absolute proof that such a deity existed, I could NEVER worship it. How can you live with yourselves, knowing that you've dedicated your hearts and souls to the above-described pure, unadulterated evil?

This shit is FUCKED UP.


Don't Make Me Come Back Up There!

It seems my city is going a little crazy without me. First there was another attack on a Jewish school, and a homeless man stabbing someone to death not two blocks from my old office, then, a week later, a plane makes an emergency landing on Parc avenue*. And now Dawson College has just had a Columbine-style shooting. What the fuck is going on? This is Montreal, people, not fucking Pennsylvania or New Jersey. I think everyone just needs to CHILL OUT. The city's got enough problems with protection rackets and gangs without the rest of its citizens just killing each other for the fun of it. Just stop.

*Since no one got hurt, this one is actually kind of cool. I mean how often to over a thousand people get to watch a plane land less than 200 metres away?


Commenting Reminder

Because several people have made this mistake recently, I thought I'd just do a little post to remind people that the comments thread associated with a particular post can be found at the bottom of that post. If you're at the top of a post and you want to comment, you've got to scroll down to the bottom. If you post in the comments thread linked above a post you a) confuse the hell out of me when I look at the comments through Haloscan instead of on the blog, and b) leave the top post without a comments thread.

Just sayin'.


Further blog neglect

Moving cities has been keeping me busy the past couple weeks, and unpacking and working two jobs will continue to keep me busy probably until the end of next week.

For those who are interested, however, I've been uploading pictures from my trip to Vienna onto my Flickr page.

So far they're not titled or captioned, because I don't have much time for that sort of thing, but I'll try to get that done asap.


Weird creepy proselytizing thing.

It all started in a troll roasting thread over chez the Lingering Poof. I asked Carmel to back up her claim that Mormons were not Christians. Carmel moved the conversation to her blog and we were discussing the issue when suddenly this dude showed up, trying to convert me and asking to discuss stuff with me. I told him he was free to email me, provided I could post his mails, and my responses, on my blog. Well, he did it. Here it is, in all its creepiness.

I'm very sorry to hear that you feel so defensive about the subject. But let me clarify one thing, if in these emails you do not wish to civilly speak on matters on faith and belief, I will not continue them.

I always try to be civil, regardless of the subject matter. But I did say you were welcome to talk at me. I don't have discussions about faith and belief because I find them boring. Since there is no way to know if there is anything beyond what evidence can show us, I don't see the point in discussing it.

I know we haven't even exchanged emails yet. But there's one thing I have to tell you. I want to cry. For you I want to cry. I feel as if there's something in your heart that you don't wish to talk about.

This is just creepy. Stop it.

And this may be off base or it may be completely wrong, but I don't want to just talk about faith, I want to find out who you are.

Even creepier. We can talk about Christianity if you like. We are not talking about me. We are not talking about you. We are keeping this conversation impersonal or we are not having it. Capiche?

And why, you wish to belittle people's choices of faith or religion.

I don't belittle people's choices of faith or religion. I call things as I see them.

It doesn't seem very intelligent, or kind and giving as you like to make atheists out to be.

Please point to somewhere where I said something about the kinds of people atheists are. I think you're making this up.

Something I don't think you quite get, is that people are people, regardless of religion, race, or creed.

I think I know this better than you do. Because unlike you, I don't think Christians are special. They're just another part of the large majority of people with a belief system I don't share, and think is silly.

My heart really weighs heavy, for some weird reason about you (regarding you). And I don't know why that is,

Again with the creepy. You don't know me, stop making noises about caring about me in a personal way.

but Jake I just want you to know that there's more out there than Christians filled with hate or hypocrisy.

I know there are many smart, loving Christians out there. I count many among my friends. It's the hate-filled hypocrites that bother me, and it's hardly my fault if the majority of those that I encounter happen to be Christian. It's really not clear to me where you got these ideas about what I think, based on a thread that had to do with a very specific question about a very specific religion, and had nothing to do with my opinion of Christians in general (which you don't seem to know, since you keep misrepresenting it).

I wish I could tell you something that would turn your heart, but I'm not a Biblical scholar, neither am I a great Christian.

The best way to piss me off and make me end this conversation would be to try to convert me. Don't. I don't like it.

But for some reason, I find that I need to talk to you. Regardless about how you feel about my faith.

Whatever floats your boat.

And I do find it a tad bit cruel that you like to antagonize Christians and insult them.

I don't. Again, I don't see where you're getting this from the Mormon thread, but assuming you've read my other interactions, I want to make something clear. I don't hate Christians. I don't want to antagonize and insult them. There is a very well defined subset of religious people (not just Christians) who bother me, who I think are dangerous, and who I will contradict every chance I get. These are the people who let their religious faith get in the way of their view of reality, or who let their religious conviction guide them to proscribe standards of behaviour for others, especially standards that are unfair or discriminatory. If a person believes that there is some deity, who is beyond what science can detect, who created and is guiding the universe, that's their business. I don't share their belief, but I don't care if they have it. But if your religious faith causes you to believe things that are demonstrably untrue (the universe/earth is 6000 years old) or morally reprehensible (women should submit to their husbands, a blastocyst is the moral equivalent of a person), and if you try to teach those beliefs to others, then you are dangerous and yes, I will fight you.

Something that most Christians, real Christians, hold dear, it's as if having your heart ripped out of your chest before your eyes.

Not clear to me what you mean by this.

I believe that your stereotyping of Christians is unfair and unjust.

Please provide examples of me stereotyping Christians.

I just wish you could feel what I feel and see what I see.

I'm sure we all feel that way about our own beliefs. It would make a pretty boring world, though.

And I know you see me as some poor, pathetic, Bible beating wimp and weirdo. But I've done things that I've thought would eventually end my life or at least torture me forever. And I assume that there's something in your heart or in your past that makes you feel the same way.

There's not a person alive who can reach adulthood without having done something to feel remorseful about. It's not clear to me what this has to do with Christianity.

That your ever striving to prove not to everyone else, but to yourself, what you believe in. Now that may sound insulting but it's not intending to be that way.

Another way to end the conversation is to try and tell me what I think and feel. It's not only insulting, it's patronizing and self-satisfied and a really fucking annoying trick that most proselytizing religious types employ, and I won't have it. Do it again and this conversation is over.

I just feel as if, and I can't say it enough, that Christians have been misrepresenting themselves for hundreds of years if not more now.

*shrug* Christian is as Christian does. If you don't like how Christians represent themselves, tell it to the Christians.

They're supposed to be compassionate, understanding, and Jake in my heart, I feel you need that compassion more than anyone.

Again with the creepy. Further emails containing this sort of creepy will go unanswered. You don't know the first thing about me, stop thinking you do.

And I'm not here to make you believe what I believe...

I very much doubt that.

but to just give you a better understanding of what I think a Christian should be.

Why don't you focus on telling other Christians, then?

Jake, I feel in my heart for you. And it troubles me. In my sleep it troubles me.

You might want to work on that. It sounds like something that could easily turn into stalking behaviour, and I won't have that, either.

With all sincerity, compassion, and love,

The scary part is, I think you mean that.
And that's the whole, creepulent thing. A bit weird, no?

There are a few things that some Christians seem unable to grasp, so I'll explain them here.
1) My atheism, and the atheism of many other atheists, has nothing to do with you. I'm not an atheist because I hate you, or your religion, or because I "want" to deny your god. My lack of belief has no more to do with your god than my lack of belief in living garden gnomes has to do with the gnomes. It's a passive state. I simply don't believe they exist. I also don't care.

2) Atheists, by and large, don't feel deep down in our hearts that there must really be something out there. We really, really don't. We don't go about feeling things and then denying them to ourselves by consciously reaffirming our atheism. We just go about our days, living our lives, and we don't really think about the god question unless some religious dumsnut pops up and starts whacking us about the head with it. That's really how it is, and if your fancy book tells you different then your fancy book is wrong.

3) Most atheists don't hate religious people. Most of us (although there are exceptions) could care less what you believe. It's your behaviour that interests us, and that only so far as it affects others.

Drock, if you want to respond, please use the comments. If your response is sufficiently interesting or entertaining I'll move it up to the main blog.


And It Really Is That Simple

Via Finn, Grover gives us a definition of marriage.

Notice anything missing from that definition? Nope, me neither.



Conversation between me and my SO:

SO: (calling on cell from grocery store) So I could only find one can of chickpeas.

Me: Well if to dollar store only has one, can you buy another can at the grocery store?

SO: No, I'm at the grocery store already. The dollar store didn't have any.

Me: That sucks.

SO: Yeah. Apparently there's a shortage right now because a lot of the people that produce them are dead.

Having done some research, I'm in a position to say that this conversation makes less sense than I initially thought. According to this document (PDF), India is by far the world's largest chickpea producing country. Are people there killing each other more than usual?



The good:

The bad:

And the very, very ugly:

I won't ask for help, because nobody should be required to put up with the monster that ragweed, dust, and stress make of my nerves. My beloved has been, inexplicably, doing so voluntarily, for which I am eternally grateful, because I doubt I could do this alone, but the rest of you should probably just sympathize from a safe distance.


Dan Savage is Angry

And rightly so.

I really like his latest take on straight marriages.

How about it? Until gays are allowed to get married, nobody in a straight marriage is allowed to have gay sex. No more DL, no more "working late" at the bathhouse, no more consensual infidelities with members of the same sex. If you are queer, and live in a jurisdiction where you cannot marry a member of the same sex, you should refuse to have sex with any member of your sex who is in a straight marriage.

This is sort of like the idea that women who live in places where there are restrictions on abortion should simply stop having sex with men until they have the rights they need. I mean even taking into consideration the women whose male partners don't give them any choice in the matter, you'd still have a solid majority of straight/bi-and-partnered-with-a-woman men who aren't getting any. And that would sure as hell motivate them to vote pro-choice.

Of course, neither of these ideas would ever work, for the same reason that abstinence-only education will never work. But it's nice to dream.

Adventures in Reinventing Flatbread

So far, my adventures in reinventing flatbread have included:

- A dead sourdough starter
- Way too much whole-wheat flour
- A HOT blender (tip: don't use your blender to mill grain. Sometimes the internets lie)
- Leaving the yeast out of the pita recipe (steam-rising my eye!)
- Putting it back in the oven after dropping it on the floor
- The hottest damn oven I have ever used
- Excessive amount of aluminum foil

What have I learned?

Dense, unrisen, brown-edged flatbread is yummy, but proper sourdough and pitas with pockets would be yummier.

And 500F is really fucking hot.


Hold Your Nose with Your Left Hand

It'll leave the right one free for shaking Pat Robertson's.
Look, the guy's an asshole, a racist, a homophobe, a misogynist, and I have no intention of calling him a friend or even an ally generally, but we need him.

He has finally accepted the reality of global warming. His reason (it's been really fucking hot this summer) is as unscientific as they come, but people listen to him and we need him. I know, I know, fucking Pat Robertson, but we need him. People listen to him. He's enough of a bigot and a moron otherwise that people take him seriously, and if he starts supporting Kyoto, and encouraging Americans to reduce their CO2 outputs, and telling people to invest in renewable energy, it could make a huge difference.

Mourn your personal integrity later. Right now we have a planetary ecosystem to save.


Those Mean Ol' Homos

Just can't stop picking on the Christians.




Someone's reading my blog in Arabic!

I found this link in my site stats.

That's really neat. Google rocks.


I Knew Fundies Were Crazy

But this is laying it on a little thick.

Okay, I knew hell was all fire and gargoyles and agonized screaming, but did you know heaven was all bad techno music with worse dancing and ugly apartment blocks? Me neither.

Fundies are really fucking weird.
Also, they can't spell.

Hot Pasta Salad

This is a great recipe year-round, because it's flexible about what veggies you can put in it. It's simple to make and takes very little time. Here goes:

For two people you need:
1 tomato
1 leek (1 thing of leeks?)
2 in season veggies (I used 1 zucchini and a couple handfuls of mushrooms)
some goat cheese
coarse salt
enough pasta for two people (you want smallish pasta like macaroni or fusili)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 pot for pasta
1 cast-iron frying pan

You want to time things so that the pasta is ready just as the veggies are cooked. When you should start the pasta water depends on the size of your pot, the amount of water you're using, and which veggies you chose. I used a large saucepan, 2/3 full of water, and I started it just after I turned the heat on under the oil.

Pour your oil into the frying pan and turn the heat on low-medium. Slice all the white part of the leek into circles and toss it into the pan. You want the heat low enough that the leeks will turn transparent and sweet, not brown, even if you ignore them for a few minutes.
While the leeks are cooking, chop the other veggies into bite-sized pieces, stopping occasionally to flip the leek circles.
When the leeks are sufficiently done that all your veggies will finish at the same time, add the other veggies. Chop your tomato into bite sized pieces and reserve it. Saute all of the stuff in your pan, adding the pasta to the water when appropriate, until it's all cooked. If you've timed things right, the pasta should be done at approximately the same time.

Drain the pasta, but don't shake out too much of the water, and then add it to the frying pan. Dump the tomato on top, and add a sprinkle of course salt. Stir the whole mess around just until the salt is all dissolved, then turn the heat way down. (If you're using an electric stove, now would be a good time to turn the burner off, but leave the pan on the burner.) Let it sit in the pan for the time it takes you to crumble half the desired amounts of goat cheese into the bowls. Divide the pasta and veggies between the bowls, crumble the rest of the cheese on top, and stir to melt the cheese.

The noodles and veggies need to be quite hot to properly melt the cheese, so this is a dish you want to serve as soon as it is done.

A word on choosing your veggies:
Since salt is the only seasoning in this, you want to choose vegetables that can really hold their own, but are light enough not to bog down the dish, which is supposed to be light. I don't recommend green peppers, which are kind of blah when cooked, or any kind of fall or winter squash, which will overpower the dish in flavour, and be too heavy in texture. If you cook them only lightly, red, orange, or yellow peppers would probably be okay. I find mushrooms a really good choice because their juices tend to coat everything, which ensures that all your pasta will have some flavour, provided you stir sufficiently. To replace the zucchini, you can use asparagus, spinach, or pretty much any brassica (broccoli, cauliflower, red or green cabbage). Just make sure, if you use cauliflower especially, that it's fully cooked but not overdone. You can also use carrots, but if you do you'll want to put them in before the leeks. Carrots take a damn long time to cook.

cross-posted at Knife-Wielding Feminists.


Bestest. Website. Evar.

Finally, a community to call my own. A group of people who understand the pain and suffering of being me. A group of people who hate cilantro every bit as much as I do, and aren't afraid to show it.

Also, if anyone felt like contributing to my kitchen, an IHateCilantro.com mug or apron would not be amiss.


A Call to Arms

I've written previously about the American Religious Right's war on satire.

Before now, our enemies in the holy battle had as their primary weapon a tendency to act in such a dunderheaded way that no parody was possible that didn't run the risk of coming true. While this weapon was a potent one, to be sure, I was comforted by the fact that there was an obvious defense against it. If only we could give the enemy independent motivation to stop acting like Neanderthals, the war would be ours.

But now a new tactic has been developed, and I should have seen it coming, but I didn't. The enemy has started believing the satire that's written about them*. Now that the enemy sees our satirical accounts and true and reasonable characterizations of their thoughts and actions, I'm afraid the war has been lost. After all, convincing them to stop acting like Neanderthals was one thing. But convincing them to stop *thinking* like Neanderthals? I don't see a way out. I'm not yet ready to lay down arms, but winning this war is now going to take some serious out-of-the-box thinking.

Any ideas?

*Link via Pharyngula


Googlebombs Away!

There is a serious problem on the internets. When I google the word "abortion" the first hit is for an extremely creepy website, www.abortionfacts.com (these assholes get no link-love from me). Abortionfacts.com is creepy because it isn't immediately obvious what they're about, but 10 seconds of clicking and reading reveals them to be of the pregnancy crisis centre variety. A bunch of pretend-compassionate assholes who try their darnedest to deceive women who are pregnant and don't want to be out of getting abortions. These people are scary.

Unfortunately, the only way to get them off the front page is to get enforced childbirth supporters to stop linking to them, and we can't do that (at least not without some 1337 h4xx1n9 5k1llz, and certainly not legally). What we can do, however, is googlebomb something else so that these assholes are no longer the top hit.

I recommend the National Abortion Federation. They're already the second ghit, so we don't have far to go. It's real simple. All you gotta do is put a link to the National Abortion Federation, using the word abortion as the link (just like I've been doing here), on the front page of your blog or website. So, whaddaya say? Shall we bump these low down dirty deceivers off the top of the list?


Neglectful Blogger

And it's not going to get much better. Summer's just way to interesting to spend indoors rambling on the internets.

I do have a couple of announcements, however.

1) There is now a Canadian Hollaback site!! This is very exciting. They need as much publicity as possible, since they don't have any submissions yet, so if you're reading this and you have a blog of your very own, please make an announcement. HBCan is accepting submissions at hollabackcanada@gmail.com.

2) There's a new blog by and for pro-feminist men. It's pretty cool. I especially like this post of Dave's (who also has his own blog here). Be sure to read the comments thread.

Both these links will be going into the sidebar whenever I get around to it.



The 36th Skeptics' Circle is up.

The first post, by Skeptico, should be required reading for anyone who thinks "you never know, just because we can't see it doesn't mean there's nothing to this psi stuff."

Also, here is an excerpt from the Science Creative Quarterly's Creationist FAQ.

Q: Is there any other evidence for creationism besides the Bible?
A: Yes.

Q: Can you give us some?
A: Yes.

Q: Could you give us a specific example?
A: Yes.

Q: What would be a specific example of evidence for Creationism?
A: I’ve already answered that question.
Getting some serious deja vu here.


Oh. My. Bob.

So. There is now a video game out, by, as I understand it, the same nutbars who are behind the Left Behind book series. This exciting and terrifying game has players playing the role of Christians who are on a mission to turn the USA into a Christian theocracy. Their job is to convert as many as possible, and kill the rest.

How fun and exciting.

Now let's just step back a moment and imagine the outcry this game's creators would raise if an identical game had been made featuring Muslims instead of Christians.

All together now:
H-Y-P-Oh, forget it.



Better late than never

There's a new Skeptics' Circle up. My post I Think I Blew A Fuse is featured, and it's in embarrassingly good company. There's a lot of good reading in this circle (as usual).

Also, Vegankid has sent out a call for submissions for this month's Big Fat Carnival.

and dat's it-dat's all, as the francophones say.



I'm glad Anigael's cat, Dylan, likes me. But I'd rather he didn't express it by dropping wet catfood at my bare feet first thing in the morning for me to step on.

Thanks, Dylan.




If the glasses I just found out I need were for all the time instead of just sometimes, I would totally consider this.

via PZMyers


I Think I Blew A Fuse

I've had a revelation and it's nearly caused me to give up my fight. In reading a comments thread over at Radaractive, I came across a comment that left me in stunned disbelief for hours. I realised the size of the gulf between people like me and people like him, and it almost made me cry.

In a context that clearly showed he thought this was cheating, Radar said this:

Hey, macro[evolutionist]s studied the rocks and fossils and then came up with a hypothesis that matched what they observed.
That's right. The fact that scientists studied the evidence before they came up with their hypotheses is here being presented as a bad thing. I have not the words.

Okay, maybe I do.

There is something very wrong with a society that can produce a vast number of educated, adult, contributing members of society who are so lacking in understanding about how science works. I would dismiss this as an isolated idiot, except I've seen similar things before. I've seen scientists being accused of "moving the goalposts" in arguments with creationists, because the hypotheses had changed in the time since the evolution/creation argument started. I've seen creationists take contradicting quotes from scientists as evidence that all scientists are wrong. I've seen creationists quoting Einstein or Newton to scientists as if the scientists would view their writings in the same way a creationist views the Bible. And seeing these things makes me want to cry. Seeing these otherwise intelligent people completely fail to grok science (and, indeed, skepticism in general) makes me despair for the future of my species.

Because, see, here's the thing. Science is about making testable hypotheses. Generally there is more than one hypothesis concerning a given phenomenon. It necessarily follows from this that there will be more hypotheses that are wrong than are right. And that's okay. Because that is how science works. When a scientist makes a hypothesis, she expects to be wrong. And when a hypothesis is disproved that is an exciting moment. It means there is more information to work with, and therefore more new and exciting ways in which to be wrong.* That's how science works.

That is not how religion works. If you could prove, to a fundamentalist's satisfaction (hey, I said "if"), that some part of the Bible was false, that fundamentalist would mourn.

On the other hand, there is a scientist, right now, trying to prove Einstein wrong. And it will be exciting if he succeeds. It will be a glorious moment for science.

The first (and tenth, and millionth) step to being right is to be wrong. Scientists know this. Skeptics know this. And for this we get accused of cheating. It makes me want to cry.

*Hat tip EAC for the framing


Meaty Gender Post

Over at Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte has an excellent post about the gendered politics of eating meat.

While this idea isn't a new one to me, this is the first time that I've seen it explicitly stated. Up until now I only had it internalized, and a vague awareness of that internalization.

What I mean is that it's always surprised me when I find out that a man is vegetarian. The more manly and heterosexual that man is, the more surprising I find it (and the more effeminate the man is the less surprising I find it). I've been aware that it surprised me, and I've often wondered why that's the case, but I'd never consciously made the connection between eating meat and manliness.

Amanda does an excellent job of pointing that out, and of tying it in with other ways in which misogyny is used to market (self-)destructive products or behaviours (like newer, faster cars, and joining the army) to men*.

Not having a television, I'm generally not in a position to know what's going on in the world of TV marketing, but I have to say that Amanda's descriptions of the fast food commercials hardly surprised me.

*Any commenters of the PHMTAIWJTFI variety will be spanked.



Can anyone give me the etymology and correct use of the term "mark 1 eyeball"?



I Don't Mind

Being slightly-more-atheist-than-thou'ed by PZ Myers. Really I don't.

The Ardent Atheist
The results are in, and it appears that you have scored 75%...
You are an atheist, pure and simple. You think God is just one big lie, and consider religious people to be both annoying and beneath you. Ardent atheists will argue tooth and claw for their position, and have no truck with people that won't listen. You think being an atheist is the only way to lead an honest life, and see no reason to accept the pleas of faith. Ardent atheists are the backbone of atheism. Be proud.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on pentagrams
Link: The Atheist Test written by chi_the_cynic on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test


What Makes This City Special

I used to think it was the tams, but now I'm less convinced. Wonderful though the tams are, I think it's barely possible that there's somewhere else on this planet where hippies, goths, medieval sword fighters, and trendsters dressed for a night of clubbing can get together in the thousands for the common purpose of enjoying as much sun, drumming, and THC as possible. I think it's in fact quite likely that there is somewhere else where you can lie on a grassy hillside, making the kids on mountain bikes navigate around you, watch a little girl beat her big brother in a tug-of-war over a stick, and get licked on the toe by a passing huskie. I even think there is somewhere else where one can watch a cyclist and a biker hold up traffic to have a shouting match in the middle of one of the hairiest intersections in the city.

These things, though wonderful, are not what make Montreal so special. I'll give you an example of the sort of thing that does:
Nowhere else will you see a man walking down the street in broad daylight, carrying a chinchilla in an upended floral teacozy.

I love this city.


Nothin' to Prove but the Groove

It's true that it's a sport. There's no game more fun than "bug-the-vegetarian". Unless you are one.

I'm sick of being wishy-washy about this.

I'm sick of hiding behind "It's a personal choice."

I'm sick of it all so I'm just going to say it.

Eating meat is wrong. If you live in a first world country and you don't have a medical condition that would prevent you from being vegetarian, you have no excuse. I know that each situation is different, and people need to judge for themselves what is best for their lives, which is why I would never tell people that they should be vegetarian, and I certainly wouldn't support any kind of vegetarianising legislation, but that's beside the point. Not everything that should be legal is right, and the only realistic way to maintain all our civil rights is if we exercise descretion in using them. Eating factory-farmed meat is cruel to the animal and bad for the environment. Eating free-range meat is somewhat less so, but that's not saying much. Now when it comes to people doing things that are wrong, I'm hardly in a position to cast the first stone, but I'm sick of pretending I don't think what I think. Eating meat is wrong and our reliance on it as a society needs to stop.

There's nothing I can do to make people stop eating meat, but I beg every meat eater who reads this post to really think about it. THINK about it. Do you *need* to eat meat? Do you need to eat as much as you do? If not, why do you? Is your pleasure and convenience worth the loss of the rainforests? Is it worth antibiotic-resistent bacteria? Is it worth upset ecosystems and loss of subsistence farmland and starving people who need the calories that our cows and pigs burn off as heat? Is it worth it? Really?

Just think about it. Please.

title taken from the Ember Swift song Include My Food.


My Anvil

There's an anvil at the top of my brain. And usually it just hangs out up there and that's fine, and I can think and work and get stuff done, but sometimes it falls down, *kurchunk!*. And when that happens there's just no making anything work.

I tried, I really did. I sat in front of my work computer for two hours this morning, and I tried. But my brain was full of anvil and it wasn't working out. I'll try to describe what it's like.

So if you picture your brain as soft and easily penetrable, then your intellectual input (things you read or listen to) can be like arrows or something. And when you read or listen, the arrows go into your brain and you understand them (or maybe you don't understand them, but you recognize that you don't understand them and you can try to work out what they mean by inviting more arrows, if you want).

The anvil is hard and can't be penetrated. So when the anvil that hangs out at the top of my brain falls down and fills my brain the arrows can't penetrate. They just bounce off. It's not that I stop being able to understand things, it's that the things that I'm looking at or hearing don't get read or listened to, because the arrows can't get in. I think that that sort of thing can happen to everyone sometimes. When we're worried or anticipating something, or otherwise preoccupied, then we'll read the same page in a book five times because the words aren't penetrating.

Well my anvil is like that, only without the preoccupation. It just happens.

Sometimes the anvil is situation-specific. So I'll get a work anvil, or a blogging anvil, or a knitting anvil, or a gardening anvil, or whatever, and then I can still think about (and therefore do) things that aren't related to what the anvil is about. But sometimes the anvil is general purpose, and that really sucks, because it means that I can't do anything but lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling, or maybe watch TV.

Sometimes if I change activities for a while, when I come back the anvil is gone. But sometimes not.

Sometimes I try to force the arrows through the anvil, shooting them harder and harder. That can work for a little while, but I'm still really slow at whatever I'm doing, because each arrow takes several tries before it penetrates.

There's been some talk that I might have ADD. I wonder if that's the technical term for my anvil.

Stupid anvil.

New Buddy Blog

My pal Lothyn, MamaE to the owner of this sweater
has her own blog, which I will be adding to the blogroll.

She's awesome, so you should check it out.

D'oh update: The link to the blog: Dreamy Prune Whip


I Think I'll Get A Job In A Slaughterhouse

It must be nice to get paid not to do your job.

I'm no legal expert, so I can't say what the laws actually say, but I will say this: If the laws prevent an employer from taking action against a person who refuses to perform perfectly standard and legal aspects of their job, that they knew about when they took the job, then the law needs to be changed.

And if the law doesn't prevent it then serious pressure needs to be brought to bear against these companies. They need to be boycotted, picketed, and denounced until they start making their employees Do Their Jobs.

I mean really. How old are these pharmacists? 10? They're certainly acting it.

It's real simple people: If your job requires you to do something you find morally reprehensible, get a different job.

I'm incessantly amazed at the stupidity of my species.


Go Ahead, I Dare You.

Call this video of two embryos exploding murder.

Do it.

Compare, in all sincerity, this to the killing of two fully developed human beings.

Please, I beg you. It would so make my day.

(hat tip, PZM)


I Just Don't Know

Should I go to Vienna in the first or second half of June? Should I move away to be with my partner in September, or stay in Montreal? How long should I spend in Toronto this spring? I just can't decide. It's my lack of Y-chromosome, I think.

Fortunately, for me, there is help.

Women, call Senator Napoli for any decision you have to make. The phone numbers for the entire South Dakota senate can be found here.



Fucking theiving fuckers with no sense of fucking social responsibility or idea that someone else might have fucking NEEDED THAT AND IT WASN'T JUST THERE FOR THE FUCKING TAKING. FUCK!!!

On a completely unrelated note, I came home from doing laundry to find a twisted U-lock in an otherwise empty stretch of fence where my bicycle used to be.


Small Businesses?

I think small businesses are better than big ones. I think they're better for communities, better for individuals, better for a competitive market (which is the only remotely acceptable way to do capitalism) and better for the public purse.

That said, I also agree with this critique by Maia of Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty.

It all comes down to this:

we can never trust the owners of business to act in the interests of anything but their bottom line, no matter how socially conscious they are, no matter how much they're part of our community, no matter how much they're providing a service we want.


Non-Daily Link, Monday

The best thing I've read today, hands down, is Flea's dream Feminist Acres. I don't think anyone who has ever worked for an activist or non-profit, left-wing organization can possibly fail to relate.

It's so nice to have tangible proof that I'm not the only one, though. It's such a horrible feeling, to look around and realize the struggle you and your organization and possibly your future family have to go through, and to know that if you just gave up on a few of those principles it would all be so much easier. To just sit down and think to yourself "You know what? Fuck it! I don't *care* about being environmentally friendly, or vegetarian, or any of that. I'm gonna do it. I'm just gonna stop caring." And then you get that sick feeling in your stomach when you realise that you can't stop caring, that you won't stop caring, and that the cost to your soul of living like you don't care is even greater than the cost of living with your principles.

So you get back up and trudge on, questioning your every motivation to see if it's one you can live with, not buying things that would make your life easier because you don't know whose life you'd be making harder by doing so. Noticing things that no one else seems to notice, like the fact that 90% of what gets sold in the front of drug stores is completely useless, and 90% of that is marketed exclusively to women.

Bloody hell. I'm sick of living in Feminist Acres.


If Everyone Lived Like Me

According to the Earth Day Footprint Quiz, I use up 4.4 hectares. While this is only half as much space as the average Canadian uses, it's still considerably more than the 1.8 biologically productive hectares per person that the Earth can provide.

What this means is that if everyone lived like me, we would need 2.4 Earths to sustain us.

Would my readers care to take the quiz and tell me how much more than their fair share they use?

Who am I?

Despite taking the test with an eye towards getting BSG, my true colours showed through. It would appear that this is where I belong:

You scored as Enterprise D (Star Trek). You have high ideals and know in your heart that humanity will continue to evolve in a better people. No matter what may happen, you have faith in human beings. A rare quality. Now if only the Borg would quit assimilating people.

Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Moya (Farscape)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Serenity (Firefly)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

You know, I've been rewatching this series lately (I hadn't seen any since it ended lo, those many years ago) and I'm amazed at how closely my principles match those of Jean-Luc Picard. Here I thought they would have been shaped by my parents or my school or my classmates, but no. It was the TV show my family and I watched religiously throughout my childhood.



People Have Sex

That's a fact. There is not a single thing that anyone will ever be able to do to change that. All kinds of people have sex. My ex knew a massage parlour worker who said that her most common clients were Hasidim. Evangelical preachers get arrested for asking cops for blow jobs. (It still amazes me that it's illegal to ask for a blow job in that state. As far as I know, in the case in question the preacher didn't offer or ask for money. The poor man just wanted some head.) All sorts of people have sex.

Telling people not to have sex does not stop people from having sex.

Pressuring people to promise not to have sex until marriage does not stop them from having sex.

Lying to people about how their bodies and available contraceptives work does not stop them from having sex.

Refusing to allow people to talk about sex in public does not stop them from having sex.

Making sex as dangerous as possible by denying people access to condoms and other contraceptives does not stop those people from having sex.

If people want to have sex NOTHING IS GOING TO STOP THEM.

So please, stop trying to do the impossible and give the poor women in the United States of America their freaking emergency contraception.


Pink Video Update

I found a working link to the Pink video I blogged about a while ago.

here it is.


Not-Remotely-Daily Link, Sunday. You-Are-A-Rapist Edition

This post at the newly (by me) discovered Den of the Biting Beaver (soon to be added to the blogroll) is so good that I'm just going to copy out the whole thing.

Some things to remember...

1. You are a rapist if you get a girl drunk and have sex with her.

2. You are a rapist if you find a drunk girl and have sex with her.

3. You are a rapist if you get yourself drunk and have sex with her. Your drunkeness is no excuse.

4. If you are BOTH drunk you may still be a rapist.

5. If she's alternating between puking her guts out and passing out in the bed then you're a rapist.

6. If she's sleeping and you have sex with her you're a rapist.

7. If she's unconscious and you have sex with her then you're a rapist.

8. If she's taking sleeping pills and doesn’t wake up when you have sex with her then you’re a rapist.

9. If she is incapacitated in any way and unable to say 'Yes' then you're a rapist.

10. If you drug her then you're a rapist.

11. If you find a drugged girl and have sex with her then you're a rapist.

12. If you don't bother to ask her permission and she says neither 'Yes' or 'No' then you could be a rapist.

13. You are a rapist if you 'nag' her for sex. Because you manage to ply an eventual 'yes' from a weary victim doesn't mean it's not rape. You are a rapist.

14. You are a rapist if you try to circumvent her "No" by talking her into it. She's not playing hard to get, and, even if she IS it's not YOUR responsibility to 'get' her. You're still a rapist.

15. You are a rapist if you manipulate her into sex when she doesn't otherwise want it. If you say, "If you loved me you’d do X" then you're a rapist. If you say, "All the other kids are doing it!" then you're a rapist.

16. If you threaten her, or act in a way that SHE thinks you're threatening her then you're a rapist. If you puff up and get loud and frustrated while trying to 'talk' her into sex then you're a rapist.

17. You are a rapist if you don't immediately get your hands off of her when she says 'no'. You are a rapist if you take your hands off of her and then put them back ON her after 10 minutes and she eventually 'gives in' to this tactic.

18. You are a rapist if you won't let her sleep peacefully without waking her every 15 minutes asking her for sex. Sleep depravation is a form of torture and YOU are a rapist.

19. If you're necking with her and you're naked and you've already gone down on her and she says 'No' to sex with you and you have sex with her anyway then you're a rapist.

20. If you're engaged in intercourse and she says 'No' at ANY point and you don't immediately stop then you're a rapist.

21. If she said "Yes" to sex with a condom and that condom breaks and you proceed anyway then you're a rapist.

22. If she picked you up at a bar looking for sex and then decides that she doesn't WANT sex and you continue then you're a rapist.

23. If she changes her mind at ANY point for ANY reason and you don't immediately back off or you try to talk her into it and get sex anyway then you're a rapist.

24. If you don't hit her and she says 'No' you're still a rapist.

25. If you don't have a knife or a gun or a garrote and she says 'No' then you're still a rapist.

26. If you're a friend of hers you can still be a rapist.

27. If you had sex with her the night before but she doesn't want morning sex and you pressure her for it anyway then you're a rapist.

28. If you're her husband you can still be a rapist.

29. If it's your wedding night and she doesn't WANT to have sex with you and you force or coerce her anyway then you're a rapist.

30. If she's had sex with you hundreds of times before but doesn't want to on the 101st time then you're a rapist.

31. If you penetrate her anally, orally or digitally against her will then YOU my friend, are ALSO a rapist.

32. Women do not owe you sex.

33. Buying her dinner does not entitle you to sex.

34. Paying her mortgage does not entitle you to sex.

35. Buying her clothing does not entitle you to sex.

36. Buying her lingerie does not entitle you to sex. It also doesn't mean that she has any obligation to wear that lingerie around you.

37. Spending any amount of money on her does not, ever, entitle you to sex.

38. Seeing her legs or cleavage does not entitle you to sex.

39. If she 'turns you on' you're not entitled to sex.

40. If she has fucked every man in a 10 square mile radius and she doesn't want to fuck you and you have sex with her anyway, then you're a rapist.

41. Her clothing is not a reason for you to rape her. Her LACK of clothing is no reason to rape her. If she's wearing a thong and pasties you STILL have no right to rape her.

42. If she's a prostitute and she says "No" then you're a rapist.

43. If she's a stripper and she says "No" then you're a rapist. Likewise, if she's a stripper and she's been rubbing against your dick all night long and you follow her to her car and have sex with her against her will then you are ALSO a rapist.

44. If you watch a woman being raped without calling the authorities then you're as bad as a rapist and you may also be a rapist yourself.

45. If you don't fight rape then you accept rape.

46. If you don't believe a woman when she says she was raped then you're encouraging rape.

47. If you choose to remain friends with a man who raped a woman you are encouraging rape.

48. If you confess to the authorities that you raped a woman it does not exonerate you. You are not suddenly a model of good behavior.

49. If you ‘only’ raped one woman, you’re STILL a rapist.

50. You cannot tell who is a rapist by the way they look. Rapists are your friends, your brothers, your fathers and you won't know it.

51. Do not get frustrated with a woman if she doesn't trust you. SHE already knows that rapists don't wear signs on their foreheads. Something you think is innocuous SHE may find terrifying.


Links and Housekeeping

  1. As reported on KWF, I am currently baking bread all by myself, for the very first time. Go me!
  2. The Big Fat Carnival has been up for a few days. It has some excellent posts. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to writing my thing. It's just refusing to form itself into a post. Oh well, maybe next time.
  3. Pooflingers Anonymous is no longer updating, a loss to those of us who love laughing at creationists, so I'll be removing it from the blogroll.
  4. A few additions will be made to the blogroll over the next few days, as I reorganize my bookmarks to reflect my reading habits. Enjoy.

And that's all for today.


Quasi-daily link, Sunday

Today's link is to a Real Audio file of a song by Atmosphere on the Rhymesayers label. I first heard this song months ago on Julien's In Over Your Head Radio podcast (RSS in the sidebar), and it was one of the most lyrically beautiful songs I've ever heard.

The song, called Woman with the Tattooed Hands is a truly rare item: a strong and positive depiction of female sexuality. The fact that it's sung by a man doesn't bother me, because, unlike that creepy She Comes First guy, the singer isn't holding himself up as an expert on female sexuality. It's a first-person account of an experience with a woman who didn't need any help, and it's beautiful. I mean how can you not love this:

I didn't get turned on I just got turned
I wasn't as aroused as I was concerned
for each one of em I've hurt
and every time I've been burned
I've got a lot to teach but even more to learn
How can you not love that?


Quasi-daily link, Saturday

Today's link was going to be the video to Pink's song "Stupid Girls", via Flea and Amp, but it seems to have disappeared from the internets.

The lyrics don't work quite as well without the video, but here's a link to them.

And some screenshots from the video can be seen here.

Now, this is what I had to say about the video on the comments thread chez Amp:

I'm not sure what I think of the Pink video/song yet. While it's nice that the message is that women can/should do things like play football and be president, I'm bothered by her treatment (in the academic sense) of "stupid girls". I don't like the implication that it's the fault of these women that women in general haven't gotten very far.

This is something I struggle with daily, because I get extremely angry and bitter when I see half-naked, über-sexualised women around the city, because it infuriates me to see people participate actively in their own oppression. But on the other hand I think it's important to remember that these women are not the real enemy; they're not the oppressors; they're just making the best for themselves of a bad situation.

Obviously, most of these women aren't making a conscious choice about making the most of their situation. For the most part they (like most people in general) are just going through life without giving much critical thought to the motivations for and consequences of their decisions, and I can get pissed at them for that, but ultimately I don't know that it's my place to tell them that they're making the wrong decisions. Yes, their decisions harm women in general, but they are not the oppressors.
You really need to look at the screenshots (or better yet watch the video) to see the contempt that the song has for the women it's talking about.

I'd really like to know what my readers think of this.


Quasi-daily link, Friday

I was going to do a daily link, thing, wasn't I? Hrmm.

Well, today's link is a few weeks old, and I've hung on to it because it was forming the foundation of a post I've been wanting to write, but I just haven't been able to get to coalesce. The post was going to be about how I've never known what it's like to not have abortion available to me as an option, and about how my confidence in the option, when I was a teenager, and my lack of having the risk of pregnancy be a paralyzing fear, actually enabled me to make more responsible and intelligent choices about sex than I think I otherwise would have been able to make. But I just can't get the words to come out the way I want them to.

Fortunately, there is this excellent Kos diary by xyz:

I remember the day when... and I'm afraid


Happy Fucking Birthday.

Gee, thanks, Canada. It's the eve of my 24th year and what do you give me? A Prime Minister who's lining up to take Tony Blair's place in Shrub's heart and the balance of power held by a bunch of assholes who don't give two shits about the welfare of the country as a whole.

Fuck you very much, I'm going to bed.


Daily Link, Monday

Well, Julien, Cicatrix, and Dave sat me down last night and informed me that I absolutely had to post more often, even if I didn't have anything to say. I didn't like this idea, but then someone, probably Cicatrix, came up with the idea of doing a daily link feature. So I'll give it a shot. No promises that I'll keep it up, because this feels a little too much like pandering to the traffic numbers, but we'll see. The other reason is that I've been thinking of putting up a donation button, on the grounds that I am doing writing, and it would be nice to get paid for it, but I'm being all democratic about it and letting others decide if it's worth paying for, and if so how much and how often. But I would feel incredibly silly asking people to pay me for putting up links to other people's writings.

Anyway, I'll give the daily link thing a shot. If it ends up encouraging me to write more then it will have been a success. If it doesn't I'll probably stop.

So today's link is an incredibly witty and biting review of a prime example of male entitlement by Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon. Damn, Amanda's funny!

Fait Accompli

I just got back from the polling station, which was conveniently located less than a block from my apartment. I have the same anxiety when voting as I used to have when taking multiple choice tests: I had to unfold the ballot twice after I'd marked it to reassure myself that my mark was actually next to the candidate I intended to vote for. This would always happen to me in exams. As soon as I would move on to the next question, or start to contemplate handing the exam in, I would become gripped with the fear that the answer I had marked was not the answer I intended to mark, and that I would lose marks despite knowing the answers. It all started when I was in about the third grade and I started having metaphysical thoughts. I realized that I had NO WAY OF KNOWING if my memory of the past (even the recent past) was at all correlated with what had actually happened, indeed if such a usage of actually is even meaningful. This has nothing to do with the psychological fact that memory is imperfect. It's my extreme discomfort with the idea of divine intervention and all that that means for our capacity to know anything. As a youngster I managed to work out (with the help of sympathetic parents) that in the final analysis it didn't matter whether I could trust my version of reality, because whether my experiences were real, or were the result of divine implantation of memory, as long as they're internally consistent my behaviour should remain the same. But I still get moments of anxiety when I have to commit myself to something without seeing myself commit (because, for example, the ballot gets folded) because I remain nervous that once outside of my senses, reality is going to shift itself around. It's a low-grade and manageable nervousness, but it's there nonetheless.

Hmmm. Got a little distracted there. I meant for this to be a post on voting. Here, I'll start again:

I just got back from the polling station, which was conveniently located less than a block from my apartment. Unlike Rand, I won'd be casting aspersions on those who vote differently from how I do, but I will say this:

If you are a Canadian citizen and you haven't already, PLEASE VOTE. This democracy of ours only works if we participate in it. If you're feeling disenfranchised by the system, you do yourself no favours by refusing to participate in it. If you worry that your party won't win, not voting (or not voting for them) only makes that a self-fullfilling prophecy. If none of the mainstream parties are in line with your views, vote for an independent. Vote Rhinocerous. Hell, vote Natural Law. But VOTE.

And please, if there is one, vote for a candidate you believe in. If you vote for a party you don't like, out of fear that a worse party will win, you bring us one step closer to a two-party system. Can you imagine what it would look like if three years from now every American voter who was feeling disillusioned by the Republicans or the Democrats voted for an independent who *did* represent their views? Canada is on the road to a two-pronged-one-party system just like the US has and the *only* way to avert it is to vote for the party you believe in. So please, please, before the polls close tonight, go and vote.

Yesterday was Blog for Choice Day

So isn't it a good thing I did? Well, sort of.

Hey, since we're here why don't we make this a choice reference post? I like that idea.



That's it. I give up all pretense that this blog isn't just a link farm where I can bask in the brilliance of other bloggers.

At the moment there are three posts in particular that I would like to point out. The first two are by Dr. Bitch and the third is a piece by Joyce Arthur from the Pro-Choice Action Network.

Dr. B. first displays her brilliance in an idea for public child care that would be similar to public parking. A publicly funded, low price, pay-as-you-go drop in center in shopping districts where parents who need to run errands can leave their kids for a couple of hours. Sheer fucking genius.

She then goes on to expound on the virtues of public transit. This is, I think, a much more realistic version of my plan to make all selfish right-wing dumsnuts live on kibbutzim until they learn that no human accomplishment or activity is possible without the support of an entire community. Go Professor!

The third post I'm linking to I actually have a little more to say about. This extremely well-written article is called Personhood: Is a Fetus a Human Being? and, while I think much of it is excellent, there is also a fair bit I disagree with. So, here goes:

First off, I'd like to say that Ms. Arthur makes an excellent point about the distinction between words human(adj) and human(noun). A blastocyst is human in the same way that dandruff and fingernail clippings are human, but there is no argument that a blastocyst is a human that really holds up under scrutiny.


Anti-choicers also use the phrase "humanity of the fetus," by which they may mean its physical human qualities, but it’s ambiguous, maybe purposely so. In this context, the word "humanity" implies compassionate human feelings and virtues, such as pathos or love. The term seems cleverly designed to elicit sympathy for a fetus, and assign it human-like qualities it simply does not have. The ability to feel joy, sadness, anger, and hatred are an integral part of our "human beingness," and we do not learn to develop such sophisticated emotions until we start socially interacting with others.
Fetuses are uniquely different from born human beings in major ways, which casts doubt on the claim that they can be classified as human beings. The most fundamental difference is that a fetus is totally dependent on a woman's body to survive. Anti-choicers might argue that born human beings can be entirely dependent on other people too, but the crucial difference is that they are not dependent on one, specific person to the exclusion of all others. Anybody can take care of a newborn infant (or disabled person), but only that pregnant woman can nurture her fetus. She can’t hire someone else to do it.

Another key difference is that a fetus doesn't just depend on a woman's body for survival, it actually resides inside her body. Human beings must, by definition, be separate individuals. They do not gain the status of human being by virtue of living inside the body of another human being—the very thought is inherently ridiculous, even offensive.
Ms. Arthur also takes time to point out that even among most anti-choicers, a fetus's "right-to-life" is negotiable, depending on the manner of its conception, as many anti-choicers would defend the right to abortion in the case or rape or incest.

One key paragraph points out that even if we were to give a fetus the same rights as a born human being, no one's right to life is entirely unimpeachable:
Even if a fetus can be said to have a right to life, this does not include the right to use the body of another human being. For example, the state cannot force people to donate organs or blood, even to save someone's life. We are not obligated by law to risk our lives jumping into a river to save a drowning victim, noble as that might be. Therefore, even if a fetus has a right to life, a pregnant woman is not required to save it by loaning out her body for nine months against her will.
Unfortunately, this paragraph goes on the make what I think is a considerably weaker statement:
In response, anti-choicers say that being pregnant is not the same as being a Good Samaritan, because the woman chose to have sex, voluntarily accepting the risk of pregnancy. But sex is not a contract for pregnancy—people have a right to non-procreative sex.
I don't like the last sentence there. Since when do people have a right to sex of any sort? Her bare assertion of this right, without anything to back it up, is every bit as weak as the bare assertion that a fetus is a human being.

I think this is salvageable, though. Firstly, as we'll get to later, I don't think that the entitlement to having sex is at all necessary for her argument to work, and secondly, I think that there is a reasonable answer to the anti-choice you-made-your-bed-now-lie-in-it argument. Even if we do accept that fucking someone of the opposite sex is a contract for pregnancy, I think that it would be ethically untenable to refuse to allow a person to back out of any contract that allows another person use of their body. The right to bodily integrety is an absolute necessity in a society that cares a whit about its members. That's always been the crux of my pro-choice argument, and I think that that is the best answer to this anti-choice argument. Like I said, though, this sentence isn't a fatal flaw in the article. Ms. Arthur's argument has a different crux, (well, three, actually) and I think they're great. We'll get to them in a second. First, I want to address another problematic piece of this article:
If fetuses did have a right to live, one could make an equal case for the right of unwanted fetuses not to live. This is alien to the anti-choice assumption that all life is precious and should be encouraged and preserved at any cost. In the real world, however, some people commit suicide because they no longer want to live, and others wish they’d never been born. Life is not a picnic for all, especially unwanted children who are at high risk for leading dysfunctional lives[10]. Many people believe that being forced to live is a violation of human dignity and conscience. To be truly meaningful, the right to live must include the flip side, the right to die.
Now don't get me wrong. I am a strong supporter of a right to die. I think that it's a vital part of that bodily integrety I talked about. But essential to the right to die is the right of the dying person to make that decision. Now, the exercising of that right can take many forms, from the active expression of the wish to die, to a living will, even including, if the person is unable to express their own wishes, a reasonable conviction on the part of those who know them best that dying is what they would want. But a fetus is not just incapable of expressing that it wants to die. A fetus is incapable of wanting. With this essential piece missing, I just don't see how the right to die can possibly apply in this case. I think the article would have been stronger without this paragraph.

That said, there is plenty of strength in this article. Here are its three, in my opinion, strongest arguments. The first speaks to the real and potential social status of a fetus:
Declaring fetuses to be legal persons with rights would generate countless legal and social dilemmas.
Anti-choicers might argue that special laws or legal exceptions could be written for fetuses to accommodate their unique characteristics, but the very fact that exceptional laws for fetuses would have to be created proves that they are incapable of having the same legal status as real persons.
In earlier times, even infants may not have been valued members of the society yet. Infanticide has been a common practice throughout history as a way to select for healthy, wanted babies, and conserve scarce resources for the rest of the tribe. The human species is estimated to have killed 10 to 15 percent of its born children[13]. Plus, infant mortality rates from natural causes were so high that babies were often not officially welcomed into the community until months or even years after birth, when their survival was more assured[14]. Of course, this is not an advocacy of infanticide. I'm simply saying that personhood, or the point at which one becomes an "official" human being, is a value judgment made by society according to social custom and necessity. It is a social construction incapable of empirical proof.
The second speaks to the biological reality of the difference between a human being and potential human being:
Embryonic existence is very precarious. Zygotes, blastocysts, and embryos have a high failure rate, which throws cold water on the anti-choice claim that every fertilized egg is sacred. Scientists estimate that 55 to 65% of all conceptions are spontaneously aborted in the first few days or weeks of a pregnancy, usually without the woman ever knowing she was pregnant. [...] This shows that eggs and embryos do not yet qualify as human beings according to Nature herself—at best, they represent tryouts for the human race.
[...]life is a crap shoot. If your parents had decided not to have sex the night you were conceived, you wouldn't have existed. If your father had worn a condom, you wouldn’t have existed. Or, you could have been conceived, then miscarried.
And this leads quite nicely into the third argument, which centers on the pure metaphysical silliness that arises from considering a fetus a human being:
[Anti-choicers] identify with a fertilized egg (it's where we all came from, after all) and feel horror and anxiety at the thought that they themselves might have been aborted. [...] Ultimately, if you hadn't been born, it wouldn't matter to you, the same way it can’t matter to aborted fetuses that they weren't born. The non-existent don’t regret their non-existence, and when the living start worrying about the non-existent, they descend into irrational nonsense.

Moreover, the difference between a fertilized egg, and a sperm and an unfertilized egg, is relatively minor. The sperm and ovum each represent the potential for a human being. But men release billions of doomed sperm over a lifetime, and virtually all of women's thousands of eggs go to waste. The number of potential, unique human beings forever lost to the world is astronomical, and although our sheer luck at being alive seems miraculous,
[And here Ms. Arthur hammers the final nail into the anti-choice argument's coffin] it is pointless to lose sleep over such matters—and even more pointless to oppress half the world's population just so a few more of these gazillion potential human beings can exist.
Bingo. We can all go home now, I think. The best arguments in favor of safe, legal abortion have been made.