Sunday, April 29, 2007

William Saletan: Women Just Don't Know Their Minds (But I Do)

Is it possible for the reproductive rights collective to stop William Saletan from representing himself as "pro-choice" in media outlets everywhere? He's becoming the "pro-choice" version of the "Joe Lieberman democrat."

For someone who claims to be supportive of keeping abortion legal the man seems to be following in Justice Kennedy’s thinking that women really don’t know enough about what abortion is when they choose it. His Slate/Washington Post column today states that asking forcing women seeking abortions to view ultrasounds isn’t so bad. In fact maybe they should be forced to feel guilty about what they are choosing to do.

Pro-lifers are often caricatured as stupid creationists who just want to put women back in their place. Science and free inquiry are supposed to help them get over their "love affair with the fetus." But science hasn't cooperated. Ultrasound has exposed the life in the womb to those of us who didn't want to see what abortion kills. The fetus is squirming, and so are we.
Really Saletan? We are?

Critics complain that these bills seek to "bias," "coerce," and "guilt-trip" women. Come on. Women aren't too weak to face the truth. If you don't want to look at the video, you don't have to. But you should look at it, and so should the guy who got you pregnant, because the decision you're about to make is as grave as it gets.
Like other grave decisions in our lives we women need to be lectured by males that we’re not taking this process seriously enough. We're "strong" enough to hear the bad news like big girls.

Are ultrasound pushers trying to bias your decision? Of course. But of all the things they do to "inform" your decision, this is the least twisted. Look at the Senate's "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act." It would order your doctor to deliver a 193-word script full of bogus congressional findings about your "pain-capable unborn child." Ultrasound cuts through that kind of garbage. The image on the monitor may look like a blob, a baby, or neither. It certainly won't follow some senator's script. All it will show you is the truth.
And what truth is that pray tell? Most people can’t interpret what the images are on an ultrasound without a fully-trained technician to tell them what they are seeing. Interpretation of what pregnancy is and means to the individual is the heart of what being pro-choice is.

Saletan then gets awfully cute with his moralizing.

If I were a legislator, I'd offer four amendments to any ultrasound bill. First, the government should pick up the tab. Second, the woman should also be offered a six-hour videotape of a screaming 1-year-old. Third, any juror deliberating whether to issue a death sentence should be offered the chance to view an execution. Fourth, anyone buying meat should be offered the chance to watch video from a slaughterhouse. If my first amendment passed but the others failed, I'd still vote for the bill.
Again, because women don’t really know what their minds are until some authority figure helps them out. (And nice way to conflate abortion with "slaughter" and "death penalty" Bill.)

But the clash between ultrasound and the partial-birth ban is ultimately a choice between information and prohibition. To trust the ultrasound, you have to trust the woman.
Really? You don’t seem too, Bill.

With all this talk about how women are supposed to feel guilty over having an abortion Saletan doesn’t seem to ask why a woman should feel guilty about her choice, regardless how how the procedure is performed. Because clearly he's as conflicted as Justice Kennedy is over how abortions procedures are described. So since he's conflicted we all should be. Therefore it doesn’t seem incongruent to him to use measures that associate guilt with abortion. Because, he's essentially saying, as long as she’s sorry for what she’s about to do, a woman can have her abortion. But she must be very, very sorry about it.

Because let’s not forget women are children who need to be lectured at and told how to feel about their reproductive choices. Frankly, considering how irresponsible us women are with our vaginas, its surprising anyone lets us run around with them.

Screwing Around With Template Changes

I've been trying to make my blog look different but I'm about to conclude I don't know enough about page design to figure out what I'm doing wrong. I would like to use Rounders 3 design here but for some reason copying and pasting the HTML code is not working. While I haven't lost any posting I've lost some sidebar content. This is incredibly frustrating because I really want a three-column design so I can move my "Best Posts" to the left-hand side.

Also I haven't figured out how to add an image to my "About Me" box or even how to alter it.

*Sigh* I feel like I wasted a whole day on blog design and got nothing accomplished either on or off-line.

UPDATE: Well I did managed to figure out one trick today. I changed how the blockquote style looks.

It now looks like this.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Is Abortion Strictly A Religious Debate?

I’ll dig up the quote later, but I could swear that in one of the Supreme Court decisions there was language that said that part of the question about abortion is religious in nature, which is where life begins.

But it’s not really “life” so much as “where does the soul begin?” I think some pro-choice speakers have backed themselves into a rhetorical corner when they can’t admit that conception or fetuses represent the beginning of life. I’ll agree they do represent some kind of beginning. But its only the beginning step which shouldn't be conflated with all the steps that have to come afterwards to realize its full potential.

I think the pro-choice line is that conception and pregnancy represent potential life, which is close to how I put it. Meaning that the title of life is withheld until the promise has been fulfilled by a live birth. Because when the sperm hits the egg that doesn’t mean it automatically becomes a baby let alone even a fetus (with or without abortion being the intercedent). For many people the egg has to implant in the uterine wall to really even be called conception. It’s almost the difference between having a seed and planting a seed in fertile ground. All the right ingredients have to be in place before a plant will even sprout.

But if conception and pregnancy do represent life, or potential life, what they don’t easily show is where the threshold of soul possession begins. You can substitute the blander term of "personhood" for the loaded term of "soul." But really soul is a much more apt term to describe the difference between an individual and a non-individual. Or the even more poetic term of “spark of life.”

When do you have a soul and when do you not? Do you have a soul when you are still a zygote? Do you have a soul when you are still in utero? We acknowledge that people who are brain-dead can have their life-support machines turned off by family members. What is a person who is brain-dead? Where has their soul gone? Where will their soul go when you turn off the machine?

So how come no one asks where the souls of aborted fetuses go? I’m surprised neither the pro-choice nor the anti-choice side ever even comes close to discussing this. Maybe it’s because it’s like discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Everyone’s answer is going to be individual in nature with no one clear cut answer. (Hah! Unlike everything else in the abortion debate…)

But here’s my question. Most anti-abortion activists, those who actually get involved in the issue, tend to be fairly religious. I haven’t yet met or heard of an atheist anti-abortion activist. Most, although clearly not all, religious anti-abortion types think a) there’s a heaven and b) children and babies go to heaven. Yes I know, there’s a whole big debate in Catholicism about baptism and babies…but since I’m not an expert in that I’ll refrain from mucking around in that area, but suffice to say it’s not uncommon to hear amongst Protestants that babies go to heaven.

So if the aborted babies’ souls go directly to heaven and do not pass Go (ie live life) is that any different than not being born at all? What’s the difference between the unborn and the pre-born aborted? Do the pre-born aborted get another shot at life? If they do, then what is the problem with abortion in terms of unrealized life? Wouldn’t they just get another go around later? I’m a Buddhist and that’s what I think happens to the soul. If a fetus is aborted the soul neither goes to heaven or hell. That soul will just be born to someone else and the mother’s life path will be the only one effected by her choices. It’s not a person so much as it was a potential person and now that potential will simply go somewhere else.

I guess if you don’t believe the pre-born aborted get another chance at life…well considering life is pain and then you die, I’d much rather go directly to heaven than live life. Then again this gets into a whole weird debate about what is the purpose of life? If its just “to earn the right to get to heaven,” but babies and children get to go directly…well better to die young then, right?

Maybe precisely because this is a religious debate is why no one ever brings up the issue of where the fetuses’ souls go. But it seems to me that so much of the language of anti-abortion rhetoric is steeped in religious overtones that anti-abortion groups should have an answer to this question. Where to the unborn souls go? I know what my answer to that question which informs my beliefs on this issue. How does their answer to the question inform theirs?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'll Stop Posting About Abortion

When people stop planting bombs at abortion clinics.

An explosive device "which could have caused substantial harm" was found Wednesday in the parking lot of an Austin, Texas, women's clinic where abortions are performed, authorities said.
What the fuck is wrong with these people?! Don't they know they've pretty much legally won already? Frankly its shit like this that makes people declare themselves pro-choice because no one wants to be on the side of American al-Qaida.

There No Reason For This Post

Other than it's an awesome photo of Stephen Colbert. For a moment I thought that was George Will he was getting tatooed on his arm.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Shallow Reasons For Abortions?

Clearly I can’t stop talking about abortion this week. The resident conservative blogger at Balkinization wrote an article saying that Gonzales v. Carhart was right for the wrong (legal) reasoning. But then he adds this to his post:

"A late abortion may still be obtained for essentially any reason the woman chooses, including economics, social convenience, spite of a boy friend, and (probably) sex selection of children."
Which got me thinking, since there’s no license to have children, a woman might also have a child for any reason. To keep or spite a boyfriend, for economics (say a better inheritance or better divorce settlement), social acceptance, and yes, even sex selection. How many families had two children of the same sex and decided to have a third (or a fourth or a fifth) because they wanted at least one child of the opposite sex?

If you can abort a pregnancy for shallow reasons—which is supposedly a horrible thing—why isn’t the same moral outrage applied to those getting pregnant for “shallow” reasons?

Yes I’m only bringing this up because the frame of “the shallow-minded abortion” is stupid. Arguably it’s a worse crime to have a child for the wrong reasons than to abort a pregnancy for the wrong reasons. That’s because your fucked up kid might become my business—if they are abused, if they grow up to become criminals or just bad human beings. Ultimately your kid is going to have an impact on my universe by their very existence. That doesn’t give mean I get veto power over everyone’s reproductive rights but it means your decision to have a kid effects me a hell of a lot more than your aborted pregnancy does.

Most Cynical Use Of A Joke Ever

Apparently there’s a politician in Florida who thinks he can use Rep. Robert Wexler's pretty famous cocaine-and-hooker “joke” on The Colbert Report for political points.

Graber, who is apparently not the kind of guy to let a gag go unpunished, suggested Wexler may not have been joking when, egged on by Colbert, he looked into the camera and said he enjoys cocaine and prostitutes “because it’s a fun thing to do.”

“There are many ways to look at it,” Graber said. “Maybe he was shocked and the truth came out.”
I’m not sure there is a more cynical political ploy than this one. This might even beat out the people who wanted to pretend that John Kerry's botched joke meant he was saying our soldiers in Iraq were stupid people who didn't study hard enough in school. Then again it is Florida. There are a lot of out-of-touch seniors down there.

Taking My Bike (Out)

So today I decided to ride my bike to the Metro stop instead of either taking the bus or walking. It took about 7 minutes to ride there, a big improvement from the normal 22-minute walk.

And then I discovered I didn’t have the key to my bike lock.

So now what?

Well I had a couple of options. Option 1, ride back home. Option 2, walk or bike to the bike shop that’s about a half-mile down the street and buy another bike lock. Or there was option 3, leave the bike where it was, unlocked and bet that no one will steal it.

I will put better than even money the bike will still be there at 5:30 p.m. It’s sitting pretty inconspicuously amongst other (locked) bikes at a bike rack. But even more germane, anyone who takes the bike will have the same problem I have, it still has a bike lock on it without a key. I’m not sure where my key for that lock is.

The thing is that this is is not a valuable bike at all. The only value it has is the seat which I bought for about $40 four years ago. Considering I acquired the bike for free when someone left it on the side of the road with a sign that said “free” I would consider it an apt trade if someone took it. That’s ultimately why I’m almost rooting for it to be gone. It’s mostly something that sits and takes up room in my apartment. Plus, it would give me an excuse to buy my dream bike if I could ever come up with the money. Now there’s a bike I would ride (or so I tell myself).

UPDATE: Sweet! As predicted, my bike was still there. And, even better, I found my bike lock key!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Abortionists: Forced Sterilizations for Everyone!

Perhaps the timing was just to try to give me something to cheer up about the Supreme Court Partial-Birth Abortion decision, but slacktivist, who’s been dissecting Left Behind sentence by sentence for almost four years now, finally got to the passage in the first book I’ve been long waiting for, the only part that directly talks about abortion.

You don’t have to have read the book to understand that passage. Basically every child has been raptured up to heaven, even those in utero. So where does that leave all those wicked abortionists now? Seriously, there aren’t many other jobs out there that involve something like slaughtering puppies or tying maidens to railroad tracks. Slacktivist quotes from Left Behind (pp. 265-268):

Rayford had to admit he had never found Hattie guilty of brilliance, but now he wished he could look into her eyes. "Hattie, um, I don't know how to ask this. But are you saying your sister is hoping women can get pregnant again so they'll need abortions and she can keep working?"

"Well, sure. What is she going to do otherwise? Counseling jobs in other fields are pretty hard to come by, you know."
Well I suppose they could get jobs executing adults. I don’t think LaHaye is one of those namby-pamby Christians who is against the death penalty as well as abortion.

Go and read the whole post because it’s a classic. It’s the penultimate breakdown of an anti-abortionist's take on what motivates pro-choice individuals (especially women). And if you ever really wanted to see Left Behind: The Theory of Christianity According to Tim LaHaye, taken apart piece by piece read slacktivist’s entire series on it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bike Envy

I’m getting another severe case of object-envy. “Object envy” is when I start thinking that if I just buy this one cool thing I can turn my life around. This week, it’s a bike. The above bike actually.

I have a bike that I actually found on the side of the road four years ago with a sign saying “free.” It wasn’t bad so I grabbed it and I bought a new seat, a helmet and paid $40 for a tune-up. Problem is that in four years I’ve ridden it maybe a dozen times. If that much.

I’ve just never been very comfortable on a bike. Some of it is that I’m afraid of cars. Some of it is that I have a problem with balance. I actually fell off my bike once because I was unable to “jump” off the seat in time to keep myself from tipping over. Today I learned why that happened: my bike is too big for me. It’s not a matter of adjustment of the seat, it’s just the wrong size.

It wasn’t until I was at the bike store that I realized that being on a bike didn’t have to mean that my wrists should hurt (another issue, after 10 minutes of riding I’m putting a lot of stress on my wrists because the handlebars aren’t really very adjustable). That bike is like riding a chopper. It’s awesome. I started to think “hey maybe I would like biking if I was riding this.” (I don’t even have a bike rack for my car at the moment).

But the above bike is $460. There are slightly cheaper models, but after taxes and paying a bike shop to put it together it’s still going to be close to $375-$400. And considering I haven’t used my bike more than 2-3 times a year it’s hard to justifying spending that much on the theory I might do it more with better equipment.

I get this way about things sometimes. Last item I got really crazy it was about a set of kitchen chairs. I finally got them (at a good price) and I do love them. I do sit at my kitchen table more than I used to. But did it change my life? No, of course not.

Living in a materialistic society that encourages you to think you can buy your way to happiness sometimes makes it hard to decipher when you can buy something to make an improvement on your life. There are always things I want to buy because they just give me pleasure. Sometimes they are cheap, like a salt/sugar rimmer for cocktails ($8). Sometimes they are expensive like my iPod Nano ($230). It's the concept of "buying this makes me cool." Whether its technology or a better-looking rug.

It’s easy to glorify exercise purchases. It’s easy to think “if I just buy (this exercise-related purchase) it will make me healthier and justify its expense.” But if it’s just a case of object-envy I’m not sure that a bike is anything different then the chairs I bought. After all, they’re both places to park my ass.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jericho: The Anti-Torture Show

Proof that some people in Hollywood have been paying attention to all the hoopla about the torture on 24, a line on last night’s Jericho:

What works is the fear of torture. Real torture – that only works in the movies.
It’s kind of a nice rejoinder to 24’s break-limbs-first-ask-questions-later methods. My only quibble is that, legally and ethically, threatening someone is mental torture, which is still torture.

The Day That Roe Died

Okay I know that, technically, the Supreme Court's Gonzales v. Carhart decision did not kill Roe v. Wade. But I can’t help but thinking in about five years you’ll only be able to get a first-trimester abortion and then only in a few states like California, New York, and Washington State.

This is the decision that starts that process. Whether or not this decision ends up blocking only a kind of procedure or all second trimester abortions (a fear some groups have) it’s clearly the tip of the iceberg of the anti-abortion legislation that is going to come faster than anti-abortion trolls on a pro-choice blog.

I'll have more to say later, but the crux is that it's time to dig up Alice Paul. Sorry old girl, I know you died 30 years ago but we need you again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pear Is The New Pomegranate

So looks like Slate’s Jacob Weisberg is wrong. Green tea-the-flavor is so over by the time its used in body washes. However I was wrong about pomegranate. Pear is the new cocktail flavor du jour.

I love complicated cocktails but there’s no way I’m gathering up all the ingredients for this pear cocktail. At least at home (too expensive) but I’d love to try it in a bar. Might be worth the money if it actually comes with a slice of pear.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Learning To Blog In Drips and Drabs

Today I figured out how to add a counter to my website. I'd make it public but I'm afraid of the low-number. Wish I had done this months ago.

Now I need to figure out how to add some permanent posts (like an "About Me") link on the left hand side. Screwing with the template code always makes me nervous.

Also I want to add a logo to the top upper left corner. I have a really cute idea for a great logo/photo. My roommate's cat is always reading the newspaper. He needs to be my official spokescat. But I need a cat wrangler. Maybe my roommate will help.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tipping Bartenders At Weddings (and Other Functions)

I went to a Batz Mitzvah over the weekend and the party was at a country club. I’m about to say something a little judgmental about my relatives, and for the break in agreed protocol, for the record I did say this directly to them. I got into a discussion with some relatives about tipping bartenders at these kinds of “free bar” functions. I was tipping, in fact when one bar tender took the time to make me a drink to a bit more specification, I tipped her $2. There was no “tip jar” on the table. When I asked about that the woman said “we’re not allowed to have it on the table but we can accept tips.” I took this to mean the club probably has some kind of rule that they think a tip jar makes them look cheap. However I also wondered if that meant they got a better hourly wage.

In any case I was tipping and to my surprise I found that some of my relatives (the older ones) not only didn’t tip but explicitedly said “you don’t tip at these kind of events.” I thought “free drinks” meant you should have even more reason to tip?

Also considering this was a Batz Mitzvah, not a wedding, half the guests weren’t legal drinking age anyway. I bet the bartenders made less than $15 in tips the whole night (including my $4). But then again maybe they were being paid between $7-10 an hour to serve when an actual bartender tends to make half-wages and then the rest in tips. (It was probably a five to six hour shift).

Friday, April 13, 2007

Radio Misogyny Finally Eats One Of Its Own

I’ve been following the Don Imus troubles and one way of looking at the story is “why can a guy lose a job over three words?” But another way of looking at it is that Imus’ racist, misogynist stick finally caught up to him. I think, on average, its not really acknowledged just HOW misogynistic radio is. I don’t listen to Imus, but wonder if he really can be all that much worse than Mancow or Adam Corrolla. Anyway this Bob Herbert op-ed in the NY Times pretty much says it all.

Paying the Price

April 12, 2007

You knew something was up early in the day. As soon as I told executives at MSNBC that I was going to write about the "60 Minutes" piece, which was already in pretty wide circulation, they began acting very weird. We'll get back to you, they said.

In a "60 Minutes" interview with Don Imus broadcast in July 1998, Mike Wallace said of the "Imus in the Morning" program, "It's dirty and sometimes racist."

Mr. Imus then said: "Give me an example. Give me one example of one racist incident." To which Mr. Wallace replied, "You told Tom Anderson, the producer, in your car, coming home, that Bernard McGuirk is there to do nigger jokes."

Mr. Imus said, "Well, I've nev - I never use that word."

Mr. Wallace then turned to Mr. Anderson, his producer.

"Tom," he said. "I'm right here," said Mr. Anderson.

Mr. Imus then said to Mr. Anderson, "Did I use that word?"

Mr. Anderson said, "I recall you using that word."

"Oh, O.K.," said Mr. Imus. "Well, then I used that word. But I mean - of course, that was an off-the-record conversation. But --"

"The hell it was," said Mr. Wallace.

The transcript was pure poison. A source very close to Don Imus told me last night, "They did not want to wait for your piece to come out."

For MSNBC, Mr. Imus's "nappy-headed ho's" comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team was bad enough. Putting the word "nigger" into the so-called I-man's mouth was beyond the pale.

The roof was caving in on Mr. Imus. More advertisers were pulling the plug. And Bruce Gordon, a member of the CBS Corp. board of directors and former head of the N.A.A.C.P., said publicly that Mr. Imus should be fired.

But some of the most telling and persuasive criticism came from an unlikely source - internally at the network that televised Mr. Imus's program. Women, especially, were angry and upset. Powerful statements were made during in-house meetings by women at NBC and MSNBC -about how black women are devalued in this country, how they are demeaned by white men and black men.

White and black women spoke emotionally about the way black women are frequently trashed in the popular culture, especially in music, and about the way news outlets give far more attention to stories about white women in trouble.

Phil Griffin, a senior vice president at NBC News who oversaw the Imus show for MSNBC, told me yesterday, "It touched a huge nerve."

Whether or not Mr. McGuirk was hired for the specific noxious purpose referred to in the "60 Minutes" interview, he has pretty much lived up to that job description. He's a minstrel, a white man who has gleefully led the Imus pack into some of the most disgusting, degrading attempts at racial (not to mention sexist) humor that it's possible to imagine.

Blacks were jigaboos, Sambos and Brilloheads. Women were bitches and, above all else, an endless variety of ever-ready sexual vessels, born to be degraded.

The question now is how long the "Imus in the Morning" radio show will last. Just last month, in a reference to a speech by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in Selma, Ala., Mr. McGuirk called Mrs. Clinton a bitch and predicted she would "have cornrows and gold teeth" by the time her presidential primary campaign against Senator Barack Obama is over.

Way back in 1994, a friend of mine, the late Lars-Erik Nelson, a terrific reporter and columnist at The Daily News and Newsday, mentioned an Imus segment that offered a "satirical" rap song that gave advice to President Clinton on what to do about Paula Jones: "Pimp-slap the ho." Mr. Nelson also wrote that there was a song on the program dealing with Hillary Clinton's menstrual cycle.

So this hateful garbage has been going on for a long, long time. There was nothing new about the tone or the intent of Mr. Imus's "nappy-headed ho's" comment. As Bryan Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, told me the other night, "It's a long pattern of behavior, and at some point somebody has to say enough is enough."

The crucial issue goes well beyond Don Imus's pathetically infantile behavior. The real question is whether this controversy is loud enough to shock Americans at long last into the realization of just how profoundly racist and sexist the culture is.

It appears that on this issue the general public, and the women at Mr. Imus's former network, are far ahead of the establishment figures, the politicians and the media biggies, who were always so anxious to appear on the show and to defend Mr. Imus.

That is a very good sign.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sex, Desire And Watching Monkeys Do It

The New York Times has a fascinating article about men and women’s sexual arousal and desire triggers.

Birds Do It. Bees Do It. People Seek the Keys to It.

In a series of studies at the University of Amsterdam, Ellen Laan, Stephanie Both and Mark Spiering demonstrated that the body’s entire motor system is activated almost instantly by exposure to sexual images, and that the more intensely sexual the visuals, the stronger the electric signals emitted by the participants’ so-called spinal tendious reflexes. By the looks of it, Dr. Laan said, the body is primed for sex before the mind has had a moment to leer.
There are many interesting parts to the article, one part that stood out suggested that not all men actually are programmed to rape. First they hooked men’s gentials up to a machine and tested their, ahem, “tumescence.” (I love it when the NY Times gets all coy).

More intriguing still were the divergent sexual responses between men who ranked high on the inhibition scale and those who scored low. Whereas both groups reacted to the nonthreatening sex scenes with an equivalently hearty degree of tumescence, only the low scorers — those whose answers to the questionnaire indicated they had scant sexual inhibition — maintained an enthusiastic physiological response when confronted with film clips of sexual brutality.

The results suggest that having a good set of sexual brakes not only dampens the willingness to commit rape or sexual abuse, but the desire as well, giving the lie to notions that “all men are the same” and would be likely to rape their way through the local maiden population if they thought they could get away with it.
It doesn’t explain why mens’ arousals might diverge, just that it does. I suspect it’s probably more nurture than nature.

However that’s not even the most shocking part of the article. One study basically says women get turned on by watching sex of any kind, including monkey sex.

Women’s genitals, it seems, respond to all sex, all the time. Show a woman scenes of a man and a woman having sex, or two women having sex, or two men, or even two bonobos, Dr. Chivers said, and as a rule her genitals will become measurably congested and lubricated, although in many cases she may not be aware of the response.
Of course then the doctor speculates that this might be because women are programmed to be raped all the time which I find not a particularly satisfying hypothesis.

Again, the why of it remains a mystery. Dr. Chivers and others have hypothesized that the mechanism is protective. Women are ever in danger of being raped, they said, and by automatically lubricating at the mere hint of sex, they may avoid damage during forced intercourse to that evolutionarily all-important reproductive tract.
Eh, he’s just speculating, the guy doesn’t really know why this might happen.

Anyway weirdest passage in the article:

In any given individual, each pedal may be easier or harder to press. One person may be quick to become aroused, but equally quick to stifle that response at the slightest distraction. Another may be tough to get started, but once galvanized "will not lose sexual arousal even if the ceiling comes down," Dr. Janssen said. Still another may be saddled with both a feeble sexual accelerator and an overzealous sexual inhibitor, an unenviable pairing most likely correlated with a taste for beige pantsuits and the music of Loggins and Messina.
Can anyone explain what that even MEANS????

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Green Tea the Wonder Drug

Slate has an incredibly snarky article on how green tea is being marketed as the health flavor-extract-product you can add to anything to cleanse your soul, extract fat from your milkshake, and blackheads from your pores. Personally I think Jacob Weisberg is about a year too late with this observation. (This just in: Ugg boots are quite popular amongst the Hollywood set!) It’s pomegranate that is the up-and-comer wonder flavor/extract/product, and even that is about to peak soon.

He also makes the really dated (albeit still accurate) note that Starbucks is actually selling milkshakes and not coffee.

Dr. Nicholas Perricone, a cosmetologist and diet-book author, made a mint after he told Oprah she would lose 10 pounds in six weeks if she switched from coffee to green tea. (This might actually happen to some people, but from cutting out the cream and sugar, not the coffee.)
Ten pounds is a lot, and it does make me wonder what “kind” of coffee someone is drinking. However losing 10 pounds over the course of a year doesn’t sound unreasonable or even unlikely if someone was a heavy coffee drinker and didn’t take their coffee black. And I am one of those people. Just this morning I just shelled out $4 for a medium vanilla non-fat latte. It’s not something I have every morning, or even every week, but I probably drink a mocha or a latte semi-frequently. (My reasoning, if I can shell out $4.50 for a cider and buy 2-3 a night why is buying a $4 latte a less rational choice?)

Weisberg has a point about green tea being marketed as Orientalism in consumerist form. (“Hey Asians are skinny and live long, so you can to!”) but he is pretty dismissive about drinking green tea itself. However I have noticed that, for myself at least, its an all-around different kind of drink. Everything else I drink, aside from water, is sweet. I don’t even drink beer (did I mention the cider?) My coffee is even extra, extra-sweet. (I blend a mixture of Sweet’n’low and real sugar).

What’s odd is that while I drink juice, milk, sodas, diet sodas, sweetened iced tea and incredibly sweet cocktails, I actually like it when my (hot) green tea is straight up. No sugar. I don’t even like the green teas that are blended or “fruity.” Give me a nice grassy tasting kind.

For whatever reason, green tea is calming and I do think makes me think sharper. If I have two cups of coffee I can start feeling wired in a wound-up way (which could be the sugar). If I have two cups of green tea I start feeling philosophical. (I used to order it in coffee shops if I wanted to study for a while). Plus, while green tea goes cold, it reheats well, unlike coffee. I can make a pot, drink half, and an hour later pour a cup and reheat it. It’s fine.

So thinking about this here’s my plan. For a month, I’m only going to allow myself one day a week to drink coffee (usually this’ll be Sunday). Let’s see in four weeks (May 6) if there’s any day-to-day difference I can notice.

UPDATE: 4/16/07
Who am I kidding??? I have been "cheating" on this plan already. I've been drinking coffee all weekend and today, due to extreme tiredness at work, I'm allowing myself my first "weekday" cup.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Presidential Recount: The Movie

The Hill seems to seriously doubt that a movie about the 2000 presidential recount that is funded by, written by, and directed by Democrats could be “unbiased.”

HBO is planning to make an unbiased film, titled “Recount” and scheduled to premiere early next year, about the 2000 presidential election.That could be difficult, if not impossible, to pull off, because the director, executive producer, and writer of the movie are all Democrats. Oh, and Colin Callender, the president of HBO Films, is also a D.

The Hollywood Reporter this week quoted Callender as saying the movie won’t take sides and instead would be “a fascinating look at democracy.” Callender has made political donations to then-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
The Hill is right to figuratively roll its eyes, but that’s just because looking at this movie using the terminology of “bias” is the wrong way to judge it. It seems as if it was the president of HBO Films who decided that was how he wanted this movie to be judged. (Although I can’t discount the fact that it might have been the reporter at The Hollywood Reporter who selected the frame, “Can your movie be unbiased” and then The Hill, in turn, is amplifying the concept of “bias versus unbiased” as a way screen the movie.)

I'm not certain but it seems like this is going to be a scripted drama, not a documentary. Personally I think this is unwise. It's extremely difficult to dramaticize recent events that everyone has their own personal "memory" of because the audience will think about what parts of the story the director isn't telling. (And it's impossible to tell all stories at once).

Bias is the wrong way to judge movies. There’s no such thing as programming without a point of view. Any editorial choice reflects the bias of the creator. There’s no person out there who lacks biases. It’s just not possible.

I would say if you need a yardstick to judge a fictional movie about history what you are looking for is accuracy. To use the term “bias” is to imply that a film can’t be accurate. But even an accurate film can't cater to all viewpoints simultaneously. Ultimately it will have a point-of-view.

And it was downright stupid for HBO to try to claim otherwise because it's a perfect strawman to set aflame.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Crispin Porter & Bogusky: The Penis Branding Company

Seth Stevenson at Slate has a pretty awesome slam against the ad agency that brought you the creepy Burger King and the “man food” ads.

What I really like about the article is that he manages to notice a not-too-subtle trend in all of the ads coming from the same ad agency: no matter the product, it’s only for dicks. (Literal and figurative).

Crispin also appears to have a strange obsession with dictating the bounds of male identity. In the "Un-pimp Your Ride" spots for VW, a somewhat cruel protagonist ridicules young men who dare to seek self-expression through the art of modifying their cars. In the "Making Things Right" campaign for Haggar, two middle-aged guys gruffly rule their suburban neighborhood—advocating physical force against any young men who dare to wear earrings, or listen to rap music, or date your daughter. And then there's that Man Law campaign for Miller, where the concept achieves its most literal form.
Which makes me think there’s an awesome Saturday Night Live sketch in there somewhere when Cripin Porter & Bogusky via for the Tampax tampon campaign. I can just picture them having young women brag about having the heaviest menstrual period. “Mine is way heavier than yours.”

Dumping Dan Savage

There’s a lot of reasons why someone might choose not to read Savage Love anymore. But this article, doesn’t make much sense.

Novak Does A Solid For Fred

Novak’s column in the Post today is all about showing conservatives that Fred Thompson really could be their guy.

I met Fred Thompson in 1974 when he was Howard Baker's 31-year-old minority counsel on the Watergate investigation. I considered him cool, careful and conservative. He still is, and that is how he would run for president, which appears in the offing.

I’m really wondering why Novak likes Thompson? Just because he was conservative in 1974 (which meant something different than it does today) doesn't mean he might not be a bit more wobbly today. This is a guy who has spent a lot of time with homosexuals and liberals in the world of theatre after all (I'm just assuming). I'm sure being surrounded by loose women, cocaine and Dick Wolf hasn't changed his opinions on anything since 1974.

I would have expected Novak to be a tiny bit more cautious in promoting Thompson. Novak’s column is doing two things really; one telling people Thompson could be their conservative candidate and the other saying he really is serious about running.

But it he? I kind of doubt it. I think he’s flirting with the media attention the same way Al Gore is. He wants to be drafted but he isn’t really certain he wants the hard work of running.

What’s particularly interesting to note is that Novak raises that Thompson’s already got a rap against him for what you might call “laziness.”

The rap is that he does not burn the midnight oil -- the identical criticism of Reagan. That carping may betray resentment that Thompson has emerged as a full-blown contender without backbreaking campaign travel and tedious fundraising.

Or maybe it represents a real concern that Republicans, after watching a distant CEO president (Senor Above-it-All) wreck their party, actually want to bring in a guy with strong opinions of his own and someone who will do the work of reading briefing memos. You would think that Republican donors, no less than Democrats, don’t want to hand a nomination, much less a presidency again to someone who seems lazy and isn't all that certain he wants the job.