Monday, July 30, 2007

Woman and Salary Negotiations: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

I can’t think of anything I’ve read that depressed me as much as this article in the Washington Post today about gender and salary negotiations.

Salary, Gender and the Social Cost of Haggling

The long and short of it is that women do not negotiate for salary (and other benefits) but that they might have good reason not to do so because there are social costs that say “be aggressive and we won’t like you.”

The traditional explanation for the gender differences that Babcock found is that men are simply more aggressive than women, perhaps because of a combination of genetics and upbringing. The solution to gender disparities, this school of thought suggests, is to train women to be more assertive and to ask for more. However, a new set of experiments by Babcock and Hannah Riley Bowles, who studies the psychology of organizations at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, offers an entirely different explanation.

Their study, which was coauthored by Carnegie Mellon researcher Lei Lai, found that men and women get very different responses when they initiate negotiations. Although it may well be true that women often hurt themselves by not trying to negotiate, this study found that women's reluctance was based on an entirely reasonable and accurate view of how they were likely to be treated if they did. Both men and women were more likely to subtly penalize women who asked for more -- the perception was that women who asked for more were "less nice."

"What we found across all the studies is men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not," Bowles said. "They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not."
The only thing that might give me pause about the study’s conclusion is that the social cost of being perceived negatively may be short-term. Because it was a lab experiment, it’s difficult to gauge whether after watching people negotiate is really going to have a lasting impression upon a coworker/boss. You only negotiate salary a few times, maybe once. And there will be far more interpersonal interaction between real employee/employers than what this study observed --which was basically asking strangers to evaluate strangers and then form opinions. It might be true that in the abstract we judge women more harshly for negotiating but in the individual cases other factors weigh in.

The other explanation however that I did appreciate is learning that this wage gap issue is not about the moral failings of women who simply aren’t assertive enough.
This isn't about fixing the women," Bowles said. "It isn't about telling women,'You need self-confidence or training.' They are responding to incentives within the social environment."

"It is not that women always act one way and men act another way; it tends to be moderated by situational factors," Bowles said. "The point of this paper is: Yes, there is an economic rationale to negotiate, but you have to weigh that against social risks of negotiating. What we show is those risks are higher for women than for men."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Makin Hay Out Of Her Breasts

Oh Lord will Clinton’s breasts ever go away? Now both The Washington Post and Hillary Clinton’s campaign are trying to spin this into gold. “Controversy and breasts, boys! That’s what brings in the Sacagaweas!”

Now on some part I can’t blame the continuing coverage entirely on the Post. Apparently more than Ms. Magazine cited the Post story to get attention. The Clinton campaign also used the article in a fundraising letter. That act keeps the angle alive.

So now we have the Post’s Let the Cleavage Conversation Begin

Begin?! I want this story to fucking die a fast crib death!

But have you noticed that whenever the Post get any kind of criticism, when they talk about it in their own pages (or webpages) it always comes out like “we examined the critique and decided our writers are smart people and can’t possible be incorrect or be taken the wrong way.” (They have pure hearts so alternate interpretations don’t factor either).

One week after the piece, by fashion writer Robin Givhan, took note of the Democratic candidate's low neckline during a speech on the Senate floor, senior Clinton adviser Ann Lewis urged donors to help fight treatment she termed "insulting." [Hmmm…it’s like only connected people criticized the story? Well only them and one Boston Globe columnist.]

Givhan, who won a Pulitzer Prize last year, [SO SUCK IT CRITICS] said she disagreed "that there was anything in the column that was coarse, insulting or belittling. It was a piece about a public person's appearance on the Senate floor that was surprising because of the location and because of the person. It's disingenuous to think that revealing cleavage, any amount of it, in that kind of situation is a non-issue.
So did you get that? Givhan doesn’t think there was anything wrong with the column…so that’s that I guess.

This article isn’t actually by Givhan, it’s Howard Kurtz with Anne E. Kornblut. I swear I think it was really Howard Kurtz’s article and he probably felt he needed a beard to "co-sign” his column, hence Kornblut’s byline. Without that feminine touch it might just seem…I don’t know ... sexist.

The Washington Post’s editorial voice, even its ombudswoman is always “I can see why you might think that but you are wrong.” I’m not just talking about facts. This wasn’t an issue about facts. It was an issue of coverage. What is appropriate, what is fair, and what is sexist. There is more than one way to view their coverage, but the Post acts as if there’s only way see their stories, their way.

I love how utterly dismissive of all the criticism the last paragraphs are. As if everyone is getting impossibly upset over nothing. Boy what is all the fuss about? No one could possibly fault Givhan (or by extension) the Post for its writing. Well, people can but they'd be just plain mistaken or, even worse, have an agenda for their criticism.

Politicians often rip the media over what they see as unfavorable coverage, hoping to score points against an unpopular institution. But the cleavage letter is undoubtedly a first in the annals of campaign counterpunching.

"I would never say the column was about a body part," Givhan said. "It was about a style of dress. People have gone down the road of saying, 'I can't believe you're writing about her breasts.' I wasn't writing about her breasts. I was writing about her neckline."
See, you haters all were wrong! It wasn’t about breasts at all!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Playing Around With Formatting Again

You might be able to tell the formatting looks a little different. Once again I switched to Blogger Beta. Unfortunately I know very little about modifying layouts. But I'm trying. I know this blog looks inelegant. I'm trying to figure out ways to make it look better. I really want to find a better way to handle labels (and separate them from my digg it, and buttons, I haven't figured that out yet).

One stupid thing I should have added years ago..."title box" so I can more accurately name my blog posts. That's why they have all been run-on sentences.

My Spider Senses Are Tingling…Down There

Holy Shit! Spider-Man and Planned Parenthood! Spidey is pro-choice!? In the 1970s?! This is the awesomest comic crossover ever!

Via Feministing.

Washington Post: Women Wear Clothes. No! Really?

I think this is going to have to be a regular feature here: Tracking the number of times the Washington Post reporters feel fit to describe what a female politician is wearing but not anyone else. Especially when such descriptions add nothing to the story.

Today’s example, Dana Milbank in his Washington Sketch column. He’s describing the debate in the House about citing Alberto Gonzales with contempt of Congress.

Alternatively, history may choose to focus on the words of Conyers himself, who suspected foul play when Rep. Loretta Sanchez (Calif.), the Democrats' point woman on the contempt matter, discovered that her microphone wasn't working. "We'll have to have that investigated to see if it's pure accident," Conyers proposed to Sanchez, who, resplendent in a black outfit with silver sparkles, shifted to her neighbor's microphone.
Maybe this little nugget seems harmless. But Milbank doesn’t describe any other politician’s dress in the article. He doesn’t write “Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), looking fully Texan in a black suit and wingtips.” Nor does knowing Loretta Sanchez wore black with silver sparkles add anything to “scene” he was setting.

So why did he add that little detail. Other readers can interpret it differently but I think Milbank is demeaning Sanchez. I think some corner of his mind thought her outfit ostentatious and wanted to call attention to it. In doing so he’s attempting, in a small way, to disparage Sanchez. “Look she’s wearing silver sparkles!”

It’s a small thing, but it grates. I doubt Milbank even notices how he treated Sanchez differently from Gohmert or Chairman John Conyers in his column.

UPDATE: I e-mailed the Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell a slightly modified version of this post. (I didn't tell her I was a blogger. She doesn't like bloggers and would probably discount my point if she had known.)

Unexpectedly she wrote me back.

I'll send this to him. He probably did it because her clothing stood out and others did not. -- Deborah

I wrote her back saying:
I'm sure that *is* what he is going to say. But the concept of "male clothing" being unremarkable but female clothing being always a point of interest is a HUGE issue when covering female politicians and tricky onewithout having a double-standard for men and women. Of course men like Milbank probably thinks Conyers clothing is unremarkable. Maybe though another person (say a woman) would have thought Sanchez' clothing wasn't any less unremarkable. Milbank is sort of defining 'normality' of dress inhis mind through his writing. He need to watch it though. Otherwise he willbe putting a double-standard to his subjects by defining what he perceivesis "correct" fashion worth noting.
To which she responded:
I've seen male dress noted in his column on a number of occasions. I watch for that sort of thing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More CNN/YouTube Debate Follow Up

I have to do a little self-blogwhoring again. At my second blog I have a breakdown of the number of male verses female question askers. What I couldn't say about the guy who asked Hillary Clinton if Arab and Muslim nations would deal with a *gasp* woman, I pretty much say here in the comments.

Let it be known that it's not *actually* my regular second blog (that's this one)...we were having issues with blogger and had to put it in the second site. Which is kind of why I'm blogwhoring it because otherwise no one will ever find it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Post CNN/YouTube Debate Comments

That debate was aggressive! There were a lot of questions that are things that people talk about, like the man who asked Hillary Clinton about two families running the country for 20 years, that people rarely get asked to their face.

Too many similar questions on Iraq. I know we're democrats but I would have rather seen a greater selection of topics.

Some of the videos were very good. But the “funny” videos mostly made me cringe. Any video with anyone singing. The snowman one about global warming. It's a little like it was "America's Got Talent" night.

I can't blame the video makers, but CNN which was ultimate gatekeeper here. So what exactly was their criteria? How about some transparency in the selection process or was it just the big black box that spits out YouTube video questions at random?

It seemed to me there were a lot of questions which were framed as if a Republican was asking the question. “Will you raise taxes like the way every Democrat usually does.” The gun owner who called his assault rifle his “child.”

I don’t mind that, Republicans are citizens who vote. Checking people’s party registration isn’t the way to handle citizen questions.

But it does make me wonder if now I can ask an abortion question Kitty Dukakis-style to the Republicans.

Something like “If your daughter/niece was raped, would you tell her she can’t have emergency contraception? Would you tell her she can’t get an abortion if she found herself pregnant?”

A Split In The Anti-Abortion Movement

I wrote about this a while back, about a potential breaking off of the more extreme crazy-fringe of the anti-abortion groups from the politically-savvy ones. I was less than optimistic that it was really going to happen but there’s more evidence that the “crazed” and the “savvies” are starting to rupture.

Following the weeklong siege of Birmingham (and Tuscaloosa) Alabama which I’ve been writing about at my second blog Real Women’s Voices, there’s an interesting article in the Birmingham News about a rift between Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Operation Rescue/Operation Save America leader Flip Benham.

Sharp differences appear between evangelicals in fight against abortion

[Anti-choice] Activists took out a full-page advertisement in The Birmingham News on Monday, [July 16] criticizing Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and other evangelicals for not taking a more strident stance against abortion.

Flip Benham, director of Operation Save America, signed the statement that called Dobson a "moral relativist" for praising the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion.

Benham and others say the ruling actually reinforces the right to an abortion, and that churches should be more adamant in opposing all abortion.

On Sunday morning, protesters showed up in front of four of Birmingham's largest evangelical churches - Briarwood Presbyterian, Lakeside Baptist, Metropolitan Church of God and Liberty Church. Their giant graphic posters of aborted fetuses were not well-received, said Rebecca Tibbs, who attends Metro Church of God.

"We just came away thinking, `We're on your side, but this is not the way we choose to do it,'" said Tibbs. "I would never join up with them. People with small children were very disappointed. The pictures were not necessary. People were shocked and appalled."

I was digging around Technorati and I found quite a few blog comments from what you might think of as pro-life people who absolutely hated the crazed protestors who make the movement/city/the south look bad. Even nice church-going Christians who want to be against abortion don’t want to see their horrible, horrible pictures, no matter how much they personally disagree with abortion.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter 7: For Those Who Want to Discuss the Final Chapter

I’m giving you fair warning...spoiler alert. Warning, warning, warning. Read no further if you don’t know or don’t want to know how the book ends.

You’ve been warned...

So I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows about two hours ago and I’m still digesting it. I feel strangely depressed and I’m trying to sort out why. Yes partially because it means the series is over. And yes somewhat because of who dies.

But I think I also figured out why its ultimately making me melancholy it’s exactly the last chapter. “Nineteen Years Later...”

I wasn’t certain Rowling was going to do a chapter like that. A “future present tense” where we will look back upon the characters now grown up and grown old. She might have left it more speculative...leaving Harry at age 17 but with a wink towards a future we imagine but do not know.

As a whole those kind of future-present-tense chapters tend to depress me and here’s why. Because they ultimately will remind you that your own life is finite and that it’s all a big carousal anyway.

I went to an unusual family reunion a month ago. It was a reunion of descendants really. We were all related to a family that immigrated to America over a hundred years ago. My aunt was showing me pictures of my great-grandmother (the others were either her children’s children or her siblings’ children’s children) and I realized I could see her entire live spread out in little snapshots. My great-grandmother as a young child, as a young woman, as a middle-aged housewife and finally as an elderly grandmother. There were other people whose entire lives I could see spread out in photographs.

It set me to realize that, of course, someday I’d die too and maybe there’d only be my descendants looking at my life in photographs.

The problem I’m having with “Nineteen Years Later” is that when we leave Harry the page before he’s 17 years old. Then we jump ahead and he’s practically middle-aged and it’s his children’s stories that are starting. His whole life goes by in a blink.

Part of the interesting aspect of reading Harry Potter in this decade is the sense that Harry is aging as we are aging. He grows only as old as we do. (He’s not quite getting only one year older each year, but close enough for comfort to something like that.)

Future readers won’t have that mutual experience of aging with a character. (Not that I was a kid when I started reading theses...but I was younger than I am now. I picked up the series sometime between when the third and the fourth book came out.)

I don’t fault J.K. Rowling for including the chapter. She left enough ambiguity to spark plenty of discussion, interpretation, and fan fiction. Not to mention leaving the door open for other books. (Amongst the many unmentioned fates of the final characters...Luna’s future isn’t mentioned. And what happened to Crookshanks?!)

But at the same time, seeing Harry’s life fast-forward so fast is disconcerting.

His life moves so forward so fast that we’re now watching something like Hogwarts’ class of 2014 board the trains. Every graduating senior has that experience of realizing you are about to leave the school forever, but it’s going to go on without you. But we have the rest of our lives as blank pages.

Rowling has filled in most of Harry’s pages before I even got the sense to take stock of what had happened. We don’t even get to enjoy Harry’s twenties or sense what they were like. (Or rather they’re going to be like everyone else’s twenties and thirties; we live, we date, we marry, we breed, we grow old, we die.)

I’m not saying it was a bad piece of writing. But it does leave one feeling like death is stalking all of us. Where are those Deathly Hallows again? I understand now why Harry wanted them.

UPDATE: Apparently J.K. Rowling a lot more she wanted to add to the epilogue. None of which makes me like it any more. Before the book came out my roommate speculated a much better future for Harry. It fit so well I just assumed it was what Rowling was going to do.

My roommate thought Harry was not going to end up as a Auror because he'd become somewhat anti-authoritarian. And Rowling did not ultimately paint a good picture of being a bureaucrat. It seemed too stodgy a future for Harry. Instead my roommate thought he'd end up becoming (at some point) the new Defense Against the Dark Arts fact potentially becoming headmaster eventually. It fit perfectly because Harry was a good teacher and, Voldemort having "cursed" the position, it would take Harry taking it over to "break" the curse.

I thought that ending was so perfect it's what Rowling was going to write. How wrong we both were. I still like my roommate's ending better than hers.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

We Interrupt This Blog For Harry Potter

No posting until I find out whether Harry lives or not.

UPDATE: 7/22/07, 4:55 p.m. EST

Okay got my answer. Blogging resumed.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Breasts of Hillary Clinton

I know this blog post is going to get a few accidental perverts, but it wasn’t until I looked at the cover of the Washington Post’s Style section today that I realized Hillary Clinton has breasts. I mean, not only does she have them, but they are obscene. Truly. Look at that picture. They’re all hanging out there. It’s practically the J. Lo dress. What kind of woman allows her breasts to be out in public? Clearly not the kind of woman we need to take seriously.

What, you think I’m just making this up? Well how else to take the Washington Post’s fashion writer Robin Givhan’s oh-so-demeaning take on Hillary chest.

There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton. She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

It’s almost like Hillary is some kind of…woman? What is she doing with those breasts of hers! (I don't know...talking about education or something...I wasn't paying attention).
The cleavage, however, is an exceptional kind of flourish. After all, it's not a matter of what she's wearing but rather what's being revealed. It's tempting to say that the cleavage stirs the same kind of discomfort that might be churned up after spotting Rudy Giuliani with his shirt unbuttoned just a smidge too far. No one wants to see that. But really, it was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!
So a v-neck shirt is just like an embarrassing faux pas? That’s good to know Robin.

This new emerging meme on Mrs. Clinton’s breasts isn’t just Robin’s idea however. It’s the beginning of pack journalism. I realized that when I saw on Feministing this story by Susan Donaldson James at ABC News, on the exact same subject but dated a few weeks ago. Next the New York Times will do a piece. Or some conservative columnists will write a whole “witty” column about “Hillary’s sexiness.” And once again somehow Mrs. Clinton didn’t satisfy the 250 million conflicting opinions about how she should dress, speak and behave in public.

Robin is just one more reporter jumping into the herd mentality that if one media outlet has an angle then, by golly! the Post will push that angle too.
“But if people are talking about Mrs. Clinton and fashion…why shouldn’t we cover it?” the editors will whine if criticized.

What “people” are talking? No it’s bus mentality. One person writes a story and then everyone writes a story. Someone was bored writing about Iraq and make a crack about Hillary’s neckline which inspired a story. The fact that, at the moment, its women reporters doing it, makes me realize that women covering politics doesn’t exactly guarantee that the coverage isn’t misogynist.
To display cleavage in a setting that does not involve cocktails and hors d'oeuvres is a provocation. It requires that a woman be utterly at ease in her skin, coolly confident about her appearance, unflinching about her sense of style. Any hint of ambivalence makes everyone uncomfortable. And in matters of style, Clinton is as noncommittal as ever.
In other words to have breasts you must have balls of steels. That’s not even a joke.

Friday Cat Blogging: Guest Cat Edition

It's a first for Friday Cat Blogging, we have a friend's kitty displaying excellent use of the theme "cats-and-newspapers."

Here is Morgan clearly enjoying the Washington Post's style section.

Thanks Abby for the pics!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Second Blog

I’ve become a lot more public about who I am but I guess today’s the day I explicitly step out of the shadows in order to point to my second blogging gig.

As part of my job working with National Women’s Editorial Forum I’m their new official blogmistress.

Here is our blog, Real Women, Real Voices.

And, to pimp my reportage skills I have a bit of a scoop with a first-person account of the arrest of the abortion clinic worker in Tuscaloosa. Since Sunday July 15 Operation Save America has been doing their regular “shut down an abortion clinic” sieges, this time in Birmingham. But on Tuesday they packed up and trekked to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to harass the West Alabama Women’s Center. Somehow though it was the clinic director who ended up getting arrested, not any of the protestors. I wanted to find out why and the blog has the story.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: Lena Cross-Legged

Since last week was an Al picture this week it's Lena's turn. This is a picture I've been trying to snap for a while since Lena has an imperial, almost queenly, look when she sits cross-legged. I'm not sure the photo *really* does the position justice.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In Defense Of Girly Drinkers

The Washington Post has a regular “liquor & spirits” columnist Jason Wilson who writes pretty harshly about so-called Girly Drinks. His column this week vacillates between blaming women and blaming marketing for these poor-quality drinks. (Poor quality, meaning both in terms of discernment of class and of flavor. )

The topic of so-called "girly drinks" may very well be the third rail of spirits commentary. But let's be perfectly honest: The cocktail bar is a place where gender stereotypes remain stark and divided.
Although he certainly doesn’t mind helping that stereotype along.

And I get the impression that liquor companies like to keep it that way.
I wish he had explored the marketing side of this equation more. Marketing sweet drinks towards women is perhaps a big reason why girly drinks are associated with women. Does Wilson know that the reason Coke came out with Coke Zero is because men apparently didn’t want to be seen drinking “diet” products like diet coke? (By my favorite penis-branding ad company Crispin Porter & Bogusky)

How else to explain the continued rise of brightly colored drinks targeted at women? How to explain the use of "Girls Night Out" in so many marketing campaigns? You used to be able to blame it all on "Sex and the City." But now? Get over it, ladies. There haven't been new episodes of that show since 2004; it can't possibly still be setting the trend. (But it may yet again; the recent news that a movie is in the works must have bartenders everywhere dusting off their Cosmo recipes.)
Yes ladies, you need to get over your cosmo and appletini desires because apparently a TV show was canceled three years ago. You women are so stupid to like those drinks because of a TV show, ya know? God women are dumb sweet-sucking morons distracted by pretty-colored alcohols.

The column itself actually had an interesting idea. I’ve been pretty curious about all those eye-catching bottles of pre-mixed “cocktail” spirits. (Not the ever present T.G.I.Fridays premixed Mudslides or Stirrings high-fructose corn syrup-and-sugar-rimmer mixers, stuff like Smirnoff's Vodka Mojito.) What do you get buying a vodka or a rum that is pretty much a pre-made cocktail? Unfortunately Wilson doesn’t go into much detail.

My bar looked like a candy store. It also smelled like a candy store and tasted like a candy store. I wish I could tell you I enjoyed these. But, sadly, every one is just too sweet for me. Cloyingly so. Perhaps I, as a man, should admit my own shortcomings and move on.
Does Wilson even like Mojitos or cosmos when not made in a pre-mixed concoction?

He then talks to some storied female bartender (who of course only drinks manly drinks) and at first was “appalled at the very thought” of girly drinks and then later, over e-mail, vainly defends the female taste in cocktails.
While noting that pre-mixed cocktail products are "a shame" and that "there are other ways of making a drink pretty, feminine or suitable for the 'not ready for straight liquor yet' palate," Voisey noted that "females are generally more prone to experiment and try new and unusual things, including mixed drinks."
Wilson’s column pretty much generates a straight up male vision that drinking non-sweet things is manly and sweet drinks are feminine (and therefore immature, at least in terms of palate.) He’s clearly struggling to say nice things about women who don’t share his taste in alcohol (Look, a girl introduced me to the Beastie Boys!) but he can’t help but hold them in a minor kind of contempt.

It’s columns like this that give me complexes about the kind of cocktails I drink. If I’m out on a date or even just drinking with new male friends, I *always* freaking apologize for being a “girl drink drunk” as if it’s a personal character flaw that I should fix. If I feel the need to go neutral and not draw attention to my liquor choice I just order a diet-coke-and-rum, a nice non-gendered drink. But when I’m home its nothing but the girliest drinks I choose to make.

There are certain types of men who will judge women poorly because they only drink sweet cocktails or wine, but it just kind of sucks that non-sweet drinking is considered a kind of maturity and therefore there’s an implied immaturity to women who drink the girly drinking cocktails.

Friday, July 06, 2007

News Flash: Women Aren't Chatty Cathys

Remember all the hubbub about that book The Female Brain which carelessly tossed in a so-called scientific figure that “women talk almost three times as much as men.”

Well it’s not true and there even science this time to back it up.

“Stereotypes of Quiet Men, Chatty Women Not Sound Science”

One recorded nearly 400 college students for days and found that members of each sex uttered virtually the same number of words.


The second, an analysis of 63 studies of gender differences in talkativeness, found that men actually yakked slightly more than women, especially when interacting with spouses or strangers, and when the topic of conversation was non-personal.

Even before this study the claim had been pounded to dust and has been subsequently removed from editions of the book. (Language Log has the goods).

But my guess is that the stereotype is going to continue to exist. It will exist (and the pseudo-scientific number will be cited by idiots) because it conforms to some pre-set beliefs about the sexes. I’m sure shock-jocks and cable TV pundits will simply want to belief that women talk more than men and therefore it simply must be so.

Friday Cat Blogging: The Chair Surfing Cat

It's official. Al the deaf cat is nearly 15 lbs. My roommate took him to the vet for a check up and he weighed in at something like 14 lbs and some change.

Despite his massive bulk, Al still manages to climb my computer desk chair and perch on top of it. It doesn't seem to hurt the chair although I'm positive one day he's going to tip it over in his endeavor. He's actually nimble enough that he can get up on the tip and turn himself around. I don't understand why a cat of his bulk would find perching like that (and on my roommate's similarly narrow chair arm) comfortable, but at least he gets some exercise climbing to the peak of Mt. Computer-Desk-Chair.

In any case there will be more posts coming today. (Spoiler alert: women don't talk more than men...)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Its Illegal To Stimulate Genitals In Mississippi

The Jackson, Mississippi police arrested three people for selling sex toys.

“Sting Operation Uncovers Illegal Sex Toys” (Illegal in this case meaning, "any sex toys.")

Has anyone asked about the concept of an undercover sting operation at an adult bookstore? Oooo…so undercover! It’s a frigging store that sells adult material and has a license to do so.

Apparently in Mississippi:

It is illegal in Mississippi to sell any device designed to stimulate human genitals, Gladney said.
(So does that include butt plugs? This definitely makes me think it was vibrators and dildos, not butt plugs since the ass isn’t part of the genitals).

You know I’m thinking this might be a good test case for the Supreme Court. Yes even our current Supreme Court. It was Kennedy who wrote the stirring speech about Lawrence v. Texas. (Apparently the last time this came up was in March when the Fifth Circuit upheld the dismissal of lawsuit challenging the law.)

Anyway my guess is that if the citizens of Jackson, Mississippi become national laughingstocks for this arrest the police will drop the charges. (Although good luck getting their stock bad, legitimate business owners!) I feel bad for the poor clerks who didn’t even own the business and got arrested.

BTW, Sgt. William Gladney of the Vice/Narcotics Unit in Jackson, you’re kind of an ass. Please tell me the worst thing going on in Jackson right now is the sex toys. Yes you got 12 complaints from “the neighborhood.” Big flipping deal. Did you *have* to go get a warrant? (Granted I suppose the call could have come from higher up to initiate the warrant after the “sting operation.”)

Via Feministing.

Dan Savage Apologizes (Sort Of) About Beth Ditto

A month ago I wrote about Dan Savage dinging Beth Ditto about her making a comment about gay fashion designers and him responding about fat people, calling them “dumb motherfuckers” who apparently are getting what’s coming to them, beauty-wise anyway.

Well "Savage Love" this week is ALL about fat people and I think it’s pretty much as close to an apology as Beth and his readers are going to get (or at least a retraction about his previous comments). The very first letter is a man (which I’m pretty sure is a spammer/troll, the letter-writing equivalent of a crank-caller) saying that despite the fact he only dates/has skinny athletic women as girlfriends, fundamentally he’s attracted to poor, dumb, fat, ugly cowish women (whom he finds in the suburbs). Dan rips him a new one and then the rest of the column is about the sexual attractiveness some fetists find in fat people.

None of the letters are directly about Beth Ditto, her comments, or Dan’s column about her. But my guess is he got a lot shit because of that column and this week is sort of “inspired by all the anger I got because I called fat people ‘dumb motherfuckers.’” (The very fact the first letter is about someone claiming fat women are dumb is a tip-off, also why I think the letter isn’t even real, although not because Dan himself wrote it).

This non-apology-apologist move is something I’ve seen Dan do previously, which I went into details in the comments. I’ve not heard a word from Dan either on his podcast or on the slog about the Beth Ditto comments, but I bet he got a shitstorm about them.

UPDATE: Brian at Red No. 3 has the low-down on Savage Love's long history of poorly-written comments about fat people, and fat women in particular, that I eluded to in comments here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Everything I Predict Is Wrong

First Gonzales and now this. Scooter Skates (actually headling on CNN). On the plus side, my brother owes me $20.

Although, come to think of it, we never did discuss what is the outcome of a non-pardon commuted sentence. Does that make it a draw?

Hey does my powers of non-prediction mean that if I “predict” Hillary to get the democratic nomination it won't happen? Or is this only the power to lose at gambling? (Which, btw, apparently don't stand next to me in Vegas, also according to my brother.)

New Hampshire Repeals Abortion Parental Notice Law

This is a good example of what happens when state legislature and senates go “blue.” Apparently New Hampshire is the first state to repeal a parental notice law (which never went into effect due to legal challenges). The article pointed out Washington state removed a parental consent law in 1991.

Because so much reproductive rights news always seems like its “all bad, all the time” its nice to hear that for once a state legislature actually went to broaden reproductive rights instead of restrict them.

Hat tip to feministing…I missed this story in the Washington Post on Friday. (And I typically read the dead tree version too!)