Friday, February 26, 2010

One More Thing on Team Canada

Skip Bayless and Jay Feely? Get the fuck over yourselves. Particularly you, Skip; at least Feely managed to not tremble in spitting indignation while decrying alcohol (eeek!) and cigars (quelle horreur!) playing visible roles in a team's championship celebration.

I don't recall Bayless getting the vapors when Michael Jordan smoked cigars in front of the cameras after his NBA championships, or when Red Sox players sprayed fans with champagne from the warning track, nor do I recall him, you know, wondering what message it sends the children (tremble, sputter) when NHL hockey players have been shown drinking champagne out of the Stanley Cup on the sacred stage of their sport (ZOMG!!!!11!1!1eleventy uno uno!).

Won't someone please think of the children?

Oh, it wouldn't be that big a deal for Sidney Crosby to take a Molson and a Cohiba along on his victory lap because NHL players are hardcore professionals, Bayless says, so that's different. With "hardcore" here meaning, of course, "men," and "professionals" also meaning "men" since there's no professional women's hockey league around awarding cups for their players to drink champagne out of on national TV, or at least as national as Versus is.

As Dana points out, it's not like they were drinking and then jumping into cars to drive. But they were drinking while female in the presence of cameras, and role modeling and decorum are apparently very very serious matters when it's women involved. Bayless and Feely toss in some very concerned concern trolling over perpetuating drunk-Canadian stereotypes, just in case they looked like they were focusing too much on the hockey players' failure to uphold the standards of decency and chaste pure holy Olympic honor that exist mostly in their heads, but I haven't seen many people tsk-tsking over the Jon Montgomery (male skeleton gold-medal winner) chugging a pitcher of beer as he walked down the street.

In other words, this.

Summary: Some hockey players drank and smoked in an empty arena, and one of them is less than a month shy of legal drinking age in BC, although she is of legal age in her home province of Quebec. Evaluation: (1) They're hockey players; and (2) big fucking deal.

Don't clutch those pearls too tightly, Skip. Your head is liable to explode clean off your neck.

Oh Canada!

The IOC has its collective shorts in a knot over Team Canada's (women, hockey) post-gold-medal beers-and-cigars-on-ice celebration. Just look at the pure joy and try not to be happy. I mean, if the US had to lose to somebody, it might as well be this lot.

I don't see the problem here.

My shorts are in a knot too, if only because hockey was my absolute favorite sport to play when I was in high school, but wasn't available as a women's sport when and where I went to college, so I never got to do anything approaching this after a game:

Then again, I'm not sure any of my teammates were this hot. No offense, y'all, but damn.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When the Fetus Trumps All

This is a story about Nicaragua. Actually, this is a story about a Nicaraguan woman who has been sentenced to death by her government and her church because of two medical conditions, cancer and pregnancy. Guess which one they care about more.
Nicaraguan authorities have withheld life-saving treatment from a pregnant cancer patient because it could harm the foetus and violate a total ban on abortion.

A state-run hospital has monitored the cancer spreading in the body of the 27-year-old named only as Amalia since her admission on February 12 but has not offered chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a therapeutic abortion, citing the law.

The decision has ignited furious protests from relatives and campaigners who say the woman, who has a 10-year-old daughter and is 10 weeks pregnant, will die unless treated. The cancer is suspected to have spread to her brain, lungs and breasts. They have petitioned the courts, government and the pan-regional Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to intervene.

The case has revived controversy over the 2007 law which made Nicaragua one of the few countries to prohibit abortion under any circumstances. Girls and women who seek an abortion, and health professionals who provide health services associated with abortion, face jail.

Abortion is prohibited under any circumstances. Let that sink in for a moment. Under. Any. Circumstances. Ectopic pregnancies--in which the fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tube instead of traveling into the uterus, and which always lead to a tubal rupture and the death of the embryo within a couple of months, and frequently the death of the woman as well--must be carried to term. Let that one sink in. A woman who is found to have an embryo implanted in her fallopian tube, an embryo that by definition has no possibility of forming into a full-term baby that can be delivered and will survive outside the woman's body, is prohibited from having surgery that will remove the embryo and save her life. She simply has to wait until her fallopian tube ruptures, and then hope she can get to the hospital before she hemorrhages to death. Anencephalic fetuses--in which the brain fails to develop, leaving a tiny skull void of anything but spinal fluid, and a body that cannot sustain itself once the umbilical cord is cut--must be left in place for the full forty weeks, with the woman forced to undergo weeks of heartache carrying a doomed baby, all so she can also endure the dangers and pain of delivering a baby that may or may not already be dead by the time she is allowed to push it out of her body.

But there's more. If, like Amalia, you find you have cancer shortly after you find you are pregnant, you are not allowed to have the treatments that might save your life. Because of a ten-week-old fetus. Because as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, a 27-year-old, living, breathing, thinking, feeling, existing woman has no value compared to a ten-week-old fetus that is the size of a medium shrimp, and it certainly doesn't matter that by sentencing Amalia to a slow, painful death, said fetus will die as well (it will have reached four inches in length if she lives another month, maybe six or six and a half inches if she makes it four weeks past that). Nor does it matter that Amalia has an existing ten-year-old daughter who will be left motherless, or that she has parents, siblings, a significant other, friends. Or that she simply exists. None of that matters. The fetus in the immediate now trumps everything, even its own assured destruction when its repairable incubator is simply allowed to cease functioning.

Yeah, incubator. It's pointless to even discuss women as women, as people, under this kind of reasoning, pointless to call death what it is. Under Daniel Ortega's shameless and soulless alliance with the Church, there is no logic, and there are no longer women in Nicaragua. Just ambulatory incubators.

As Marxist rebels in the 1970s and as a revolutionary government in the 1980s, the Sandinistas championed women's rights – including limited abortion rights.After losing power in 1990 their veteran leader, Daniel Ortega, embraced Catholicism. When making a comeback in a tight 2006 election he joined conservative foes in backing a church-led iniative for a total abortion ban.

Amalia's story is only the most recent, and one of the few we've actually heard about here. Her cancer is metastatic, and even with aggressive treatment her prognosis is probably bleak. But there are untold numbers of women in similar situations who are being denied treatments that would be life-saving, to say nothing of women and girls who are pregnant as the result of rape. Amnesty International reported last summer on the total abortion ban's toll, and I don't recall it making the US papers.

Amnesty International delegates met with young girls who, having been subjected to sexual violence at the hands of close family members or friends, were compelled to carry the resulting pregnancies to term –giving birth in many instances to their own brothers or sisters –because they were denied access to alternatives. It is deeply troubling that there was a recorded rise in pregnant teenagers committing suicide by consuming poison in 2008.

Obstetricians, gynaecologists and family doctors in Nicaragua told Amnesty International that under this Penal Code they can no longer legally provide effective medical treatment for life threatening diseases in pregnant women and girls because of the potential risk to the foetus.

One doctor told Amnesty International that she prays she will not receive a patient with an anencephalic pregnancy (a condition which means the foetus cannot survive) because of the prospect of telling the woman she will be compelled to carry the pregnancy to full term, despite its devastating physiological and psychological impact on the woman.

"There’s only one way to describe what we have seen in Nicaragua: sheer horror," said Kate Gilmore. "Children are being compelled to bear children. Pregnant women are being denied essential including life saving medical care."

"What alternatives is this government offering a 10-year-old pregnant as a result of rape? And to a cancer sufferer who is denied life saving treatment just because she is pregnant, while she has other children waiting at home?" said Kate Gilmore.

"Girls pregnant as a result of incest had the courage to meet with us to speak out against the situation but President Ortega did not. It appears the Nicaraguan authorities could not stand up for the law, would not be accountable for the law nor commit themselves to its urgent repeal."

This is the Religious Right's vision for America writ large. This is the outcome when Bart Stupak gets what he wants, when the Utah legislature get what they want, when South Dakota gets what it wants. This is what happens when the venom you heard in John McCain's voice spitting "the woman's health" between gritted teeth is allowed to flow, in the name of religion, into law. Amalia is being left to die, her daughter being left without a mother, her parents without their child, Amalia without her life. All in service of the fetishizing of the fetus, in lip service to a god who I hope would be appalled, in true service to propping up power structures. Political power, religious power, brokered deals and favors traded back and forth, with women crushed at the bottom.

more from The Guardian here.

What the Whuh?

The health care conference/summit/roundtable convenes in a few minutes, with President Obama pushing for comprehensive changes in the current system rather than the incremental approach favored by many Republicans. It should be fascinating, assuming Lamar Alexander speaks for the Republican contingent as a whole when he says
The White House seems to be obsessed with this idea that a bunch of professors sitting around a table can come up with a comprehensive bill and change one seventh of the American economy all at once. We're not that smart. We don't do comprehensive that well.

Seriously? News flash for Republican senators and potential presidential candidates: you're supposed to be smarter than the rest of us. You're fucking running the country, and that's not a job for the average American schlub who can't think critically enough to figure out that a subprime adjustable rate mortgage is a bad idea. Professors are smart. People running the country are also supposed to be smart. You don't do comprehensive? Your job sorta requires it. If you're not smart enough to do comprehensive, then get the fuck outta the way and let somebody with half a brain do it. Jesus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In the House.

The Olympics have inspired me. In short, curling. Curling! The untold hours in college I sacrificed to bar games instead of studying can finally pay off! Because, seriously, me, a couple buddies, and a few beers would have to add up to a better performance than anything the US teams have done this time around. Maybe they're not drunk enough? Because they're playing mini-shuffleboard with the zoom set at about 1000%, on ice, with feckin' brooms! Clearly! Another game that you play better when drinking! And they're in Canada, for fuck's sake! Bring on the Labatt's!

Also, there are hats, and I dearly want one. Preferably yellow.

Now if the Olympics would just add Those Mini Bowling Machines That Are Sorta Like Skee-Ball With The Pins On Strings as a demonstration sport, Team Boltgirl could be bringing home the gold in two events!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Red Flags Snapping in the Breeze

When you're the biggest asshole in the room, it's generally a problem no matter what. When you're the biggest asshole in the room at CPAC, well, that should probably tell you you have a huge problem.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Today in Religion

The first thing Imma do when I get home today is take some measurements and then file for a patent on the magical miracle transporter chamber that must exist somewhere in the vicinity of my pillowtop Serta, because I went to bed in Arizona and swear I woke up in Alabama.
Saying the minority must be tolerant of the majority, Republicans who control the Senate Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to require a copy of the Ten Commandments to be erected in front of the old state Capitol.

Tempting as it may be to suspect Roy Moore of taking over the bodies of several state legislators in Phoenix, at least Ol' Roy was straightforward with his motivation when he erected his own two-ton block of granite in front of the Alabama state courthouse. In contrast, the AZ Republicans are falling over each other to see who can be the most disingenuous.

Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who crafted the measure, said it's wrong to think of the Ten Commandments as religious. Instead, he called them "10 little rules," saying that if everyone honored them, "boy, what a better place this would be."

Anyway, Pearce said it is clear the United States was founded on those principles. And he said the intent of the First Amendment, providing freedom of religion, is not to keep the government from displaying symbols like this but to keep the government from interfering with religious worship.

What, the Ten Commandments are religious? Shoooooot. Them's just ten little rules! Not religious at all! Oh, those first four little rules about I AM THE LORD THY GOD, BITCHEZ, SO DON'T GO WORSHIPPING ANYBODY ELSE OR BOWING DOWN TO STATUES, AND YES, CATHOLICS, I AM LOOKING AT YOU you can probably just ignore. Or don't ignore, actually, because anyway, the United States was founded on religious principles and the First Amendment doesn't say the government can't display religious symbols, which you should not think of this particular religious symbol as. Religious, that is. Because it's just ten little rules.

"Tolerance works two ways," responded Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake. "People need to be tolerant of the majority's beliefs as well as the majority needs to be tolerant of the minority's beliefs.

"I don't know why it would be that offensive," she continued. Allen said anyone who doesn't believe in what the Ten Commandments say is free to ignore the words, even if they are posted next to a government building.

"There are many things on TV that I'm offended by," she continued. "Everybody says, 'Just turn it off.' "

Because a commercial TV broadcast is exactly the same as a government-sanctioned (and, in this case, government-mandated) display of one particular religion's rules on the grounds of the state Capitol.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, said his colleagues are worrying too much about running afoul of the First Amendment. It says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

"The 'establishment' clause of the United States Constitution doesn't apply to the states," he said.

Gould said states such as Virginia actually had state religions before the formation of the federal government. He said the deal that resulted in the Constitution was designed to let states continue down that path with a promise Congress would not get in the way.

Yes, colonies and states did have their own religions, and that worked so well--say, in Massachusetts--that Roger Williams ended up creating Rhode Island so that non-Puritans could live without worrying about paying state taxes directed to churches, or being jailed for not going to church, or, you know, being executed for heresy. Not that such things are likely to happen now, at least not the jailing and dying bits, but once a church is made an official organ of a state, it gets state funding. Interesting as it might be to watch the resulting mental gymnastics on the part of legislators who firmly oppose taxation in Arizona for anything but Joe Arpaio's pink tent jail--and that only grudgingly--it's really not a road I would like to see any state try to travel.

The revisionist history of Christian Reconstructionism has been thoroughly debunked (Chris Rodda has done most of the heavy lifting; go here when you have a few evenings to devote to reading), leaving Pearce's assertion that the US was founded on the principles of the Ten Commandments in the dust. Even if that were true, however, he's forgetting that the US was at its core founded on the principles of individual liberty with minimal interference from the government, and as we have evolved into a pluralistic nation of more belief systems than the founders could have imagined, government cheerleading on behalf of a single creed doesn't wash. Pearce is free to post a monument with "little rules" he thinks would improve life. Shit, make it a ten-ton block of granite inscribed with "don't kill" and "don't steal" and "don't be a dick." I'm all over it. Just don't include appeals to a deity, or reminders of that deity's jealousy and the generations of hurt promised to anyone who breaks on of its rules.

Let's review the past couple of weeks in Arizona. We have had the Take an Extra Four Months to Get Divorced bill, the No Booze or Cigarettes if You're on Public Assistance bill, the No Gay Adoptions Married Straight Couples Get Dibs on Adoptions bill, and now a Ten Commandments Are Required but They're not Religious Honest We Mean It bill. Oh, in case you forgot, we also have a governor who thinks God picked her to be governor and relies on team prayer to address state business. I can't wait to see what they come up with today in the legislature in lieu of addressing the state's squintillion-dollar deficit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remember the Married-Preference Adoption BIll? It Lives.

Remember, you read it here first.
Saying children do better in a home with a mother and a father, the state House voted Monday to give married couples preference when placing children for adoption.

HB 2148 would overrule the existing practice of the Department of Economic Security that makes the "best interests of the child" the primary factor when considering placing a child for adoption. Instead, it would require the DES and agencies that contract with the state to give "primary consideration to placement with a married couple."

The DES could consider a single person "only if a qualified married couple is not available."

The measure is being pushed by Rep. Warde Nichols, R-Gilbert. He said married couples should be "moved to the head of the line" for adoption if they've gone through the certification process.

About the only new interesting twist is what they're all not saying, and while "what they're not saying" does admittedly provide acres of leeway for conjecture, one quote in particular makes it pretty clear what the point of this exercise really is. After pointing out several exceptions, including placing a child with an unmarried relative, or with an unmarried person who has established a meaningful relationship with the child, or with any qualified unmarried person if the alternative is extended foster care, Mr. Nichols sums up:

"This will not leave more children in the system at all," he said. "It just sets up a preference priority to say that, in the best interest of the child, they go to a married man and woman."

Ah yes, one man, one woman. C'mon, guys, just come out and say it already. You want to keep kids away from The Gay unless they're otherwise unadoptable. By the by, your no-confidence vote for single parents will also be very much appreciated by my single (and straight) neighbor, who adopted her son two and a half years ago and has been quite happily bringing him up with occasional assists from family and friends. You know, just like a "real" parent would.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Jokes Write Themselves

Arizona may be the single best state to be blogging from these days, as its legislature is the gift that just keeps on giving. The newest proposed attempt to annoy the citizenry--amazingly enough, aimed at straight people this time--comes from perennial all-star Rep. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), who wants to require people to be super duper double dog secret squirrel sure they want to be divorced before they can, well, finalize things and move on with their lives.
State lawmakers are moving to make couples who have decided their marriage isn't working wait four months longer to divorce.

And those with children would first have to go through education programs telling them about alternatives to divorce and the resources available to improve or strengthen their marriages.

Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, the sponsor of HB 2650, said she believes requiring couples to wait 180 days will result in more people deciding they actually should stay together.

And, surprise surprise, the driving force behind this one is the Center for Arizona Policy, a group that has been a chronic burr under the saddle of gay, liberal, progressive, inclusive, non-racist, and other reality-based factions in the state for some time. One the one hand, it's gratifying to see them taking baby steps toward the logical conclusion their perpetual sanctity-of-marriage must lead to (banning divorce); it's always nice when hypocrisy of any stripe gets dialed down a notch. It's also inevitable, however, that this must go hand in hand with some unintended consequences, such as imposing undue hardships on people whose marriages are abusive or simply over.

Colleen McNally, the presiding family court judge for Maricopa County, warned that stretching out the process actually could be dangerous. She said domestic-violence attacks actually increase the moment a spouse tries to get out of an abusive marriage.

Barto said she is willing to alter her measure when it goes to the full House to keep the waiting period at 60 days for domestic-violence victims. But foes said that still doesn't answer the question of why the state should be prolonging decisions that may have been mutually agreed on by couples.

So, just to review the past 48 hours in Arizona, we have (1) one legislator who believes adults don't have the right to consume alcohol if they're receiving any form of government assistance, and now (2) another who believes adults don't have the right to quickly end a legal arrangement they both agree isn't working out for them. And if you want to go back a full 72 hours, (3) yet another state representative thinks voters shouldn't be allowed to choose their U.S. Senate candidates in primaries, but should leave the nominating process to the brainiacs in Phoenix who brought you nos. (1) and (2) above.

Coming from Illinois, this level of hackery is almost cute in a toddler sort of way--I mean, no money, patronage, or Senate seats are changing hands--but still, I gotta live here. When Jon Kyl and John McCain have gravitas in comparison to the minor leagues, there's a problem.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Frank Antenori's Interesting Approach to Cost Containment

The state of Arizona is pretty well broke. The feds are pretty well broke. Intrepid Arizona state legislator Frank Antenori (R-Southern Arizona But Not Tucson Fer Crissakes) decided to tackle part of the problem by introducing legislation limiting the kinds of products and services people on public assistance are allowed to buy. No alcohol, no cigarettes. Not a surprise, right, since you can't buy those things with food stamps anyway? Mmm, Frank would like to push it a titch further. It's not simply a matter of what products are food-stamp (or, more accurately, Electronic Benefit Transfer card)- eligible. It's what people on assistance can purchase, period, whether it's on their EBT or with cash, and what happens to them if they break the rules.
While welfare recipients would not be able to buy alcohol and tobacco products, they could acquire other items that are not a necessity - up to a point. His proposal would allow assistance beneficiaries to buy a vehicle worth no more than $5,000 or a television, as long as it doesn't cost more than $300.

That's no alcohol or tobacco, period, no matter how you pay for it. No cell phones, either, unless you don't have a landline, and basic cable only. And--hang on, this is the best part--should the bill become law, until the legislature figures out an enforcement mechanism, it primarily hinges on the most reliable compliance system known to humanity: ratting somebody out.

But until the law gets some legal teeth, Antenori said he foresees a system in which people report those they see at the grocery store using food stamps and then pulling out cash for that bottle of wine or pack of smokes.

"People put $100 of food up on the register, run the EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer card) through, and then throw two big jugs of booze and two cartons of cigarettes (onto the conveyor belt) and pull $100 out of their pocket. If you see that, you call a 1-800 number and notify somebody," Antenori said.

Awesome. No potential for abuse there! None!

The larger problem here is that Antenori is, quite simply, attempting to legislate morality from a position of unexamined privilege, reducing a problem that comes in a dog's-eye-view rainbow of gray to overly simplified black and white, complete with draconian penalties.

That would mean a single bottle of beer could cost a family its food stamps, free health care and any other welfare benefits. Antenori said he has no problem with that.

"If you don't have enough money to buy your own food to exist for your own sustenance, and you need some other hardworking taxpayer that's out there and working and paying taxes to subsidize your food, then you shouldn't have the luxury, at the expense of some other taxpayer, to go out and enjoy the niceties in life," he said.

Frank's indignation at "two big jugs of booze" being rung up for cash mean a bottle of cheap red wine will cost you your healthcare, and that's really going to bite you in the ass when the big jugs of syrupy juice drink and cases of salt-soaked ramen he is happy to subsidize contribute to you developing diabetes and hypertension. I do understand what he's trying to accomplish; if you're on government assistance, yeah, it would be a really good idea to prioritize your cash spending and limit it to things you and your family absolutely need to survive, and cigarettes are never on that list (although processed flour and corn syrup are a-ok). If your budgeting skills suck to the extent that you're blowing your extra cash on a 50" plasma TV and Chivas by the quart, well, I don't see you moving into an actual tax bracket anytime soon, and maybe that's its own punishment. But does accepting food stamps mean you surrender your agency as an adult, so long as your craptastic decision-making stays on the legal side of the line? In Frank Antenori's world, yeah, you do. And Frank gets to decide what you need and don't need, apparently based on rather Monopoly-esque notions of luxury and Marie Antionettish notions of how people should solve any problems this law might cause them.

Antenori said he had not considered whether there should be programs to help those on public assistance quit smoking so they don't lose their benefits. But he said he's not sure they're necessary, adding that people could just quit.

And you know, if they don't want the welfare restrictions, they could just get off welfare. And if they want a beer, they're gonna to be off welfare soon enough anyway, AMIRITE? As long as the good people of Arizona do their jobs and call the 800 number, that is. Not another peep from any of the twelve co-sponsors of this bill decrying the nanny state, 'k?

Edited to add: The bill includes a provision that is sheer morality-legislating, which I did not notice before:

A person shall not receive assistance or cash assistance under this title if the person is found:

1. in possession of, consuming or purchasing alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or illegal drugs.

So merely drinking a beer bought for you by a buddy will get your kids kicked off AHCCCS. This has absolutely nothing to do with people misusing taxpayer dollars, and the argument that it simply keeps people from lying to 1-800-ANTENORI that hey man, it's not mine, it's my friend's is the equivalent of making the entire team run sprints for an hour because one guy's fucking around. Career welfare sucks for society, but this isn't the way to end it. It's not even enforceable. You either grant people some level of funding and accept that some of them are going to piss their last dime away on booze and other things you don't like, or you take complete control of their subsistence behaviors and deliver a box of approved food to the debtor's jail once a week, and the latter isn't going to wash in a free society. Educate people and make quality subsistence both affordable and accessible. But selectively applying 24-hour blue laws to them because you think they're all lazy bastards while you go home to Oro Valley smacks far less of proaction and far more of punitive legislation.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Never Mind Who Dat, What the Fuck Dat?

Damn, what a call--opening the second half with an onside kick? The Saints converted that bit of ballsiness into a touchdown, grabbed the momentum, and 30 minutes and several clutch plays later, grabbed the Lombardi Trophy. And, as my friend India pointed out, felt no need for Jesus shout-outs in the postgame interviews.

That was the good. The bad? The breathtaking misogyny in the commercials. Forget Tim Tebow and his mom; against the baseline set by, FloTV, and Bridgestone, Focus on the Family rated a giant meh. What knocked the Tebows completely off my radar? Oh look, here's Danica Patrick abandoning her last shred of dignity and getting into a strip-off, with the promise of additional unrated web content. Ah, here's Jim Nance saying that a guy who goes shopping with his girlfriend has lost his spine! Oh, here's a guy who gets conceived, grows up, gets a job, gets married, and sires a kid of his own--whew, he deserves a break after all that! And here's a guy who abandons his wife to a Road Warrior gang rather than give up his tires! Oh, look, men strike back! Because they're been so grievously put upon for the past couple of decades out of the last 160,000 years of anatomically modern human history!

Fuck. Oh, want to see them? Here.

In happier news, chocolate Chex + rice Chex + chocolate Cheerios + pretzel sticks + mini marshmallows + mini chocolate chips + butter + vanilla + NUTELLA = OMFG awesome snackies. Also, roasting thinly sliced cauliflower with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary results in some stunning crunchy/tender bits of FUCK YES CAULIFLOWER IS GOOD. Who knew? My mom always boiled it to death. I would have eaten a lot more of it without complaining if she'd roasted it instead.

Offerred Without Comment


Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Week in Sports

The WPS LA Sol fire sale Dispersal Draft took place yesterday. Oddly, despite usually sending out more Tweets per fan than any other professional sports league, the Twitterfeed was silent until it was all over, leaving dozens of people biting their nails wondering where Marta would land. She wound up going third, to the apparently named by an AYSO U-14 girls team that won the lottery Gold Pride, newly of the East Bay. Former Notre Dame and current women's national team stalwart holding midfielder Shannon Boxx was the first pick, going to St. Louis, which totally cleaned up by also adding Aya Miyama and Tina DiMartino; red hot Candian keeper Karina LeBlanc went to Philadelphia. My hometown Red Stars passed on veteran players, grabbing rookie Tarheel Casey Nogueira with pick #4, and with that decision hopefully both saved a lot of cash and (potentially) increased their anemic scoring output by a factor of maybe four. Of course, without Tarpley in the midfield any more, that's a lot of reliance on Megan Rapinoe's ability to remember she can pass the ball now instead of having to do it all on her own.

In baseball news, Big Z showed up early (!) to spring training, with a shiny new good attitude and svelte physique, both of which should asplode right on schedule the first time he walks three guys in a row and blows a two-run lead, which we'll peg at 'round about April 8.

And in other baseball news, this.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Admiral Mike Mullen. For. The. Win.

No additional comments from my end are necessary. Oh, except that John McCain is an awful, awful man.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

BOTL: Now with More Tebow, More Abstinence, More Kerfuffle

A laundry list of items, and the sun isn't even up yet.

The Daily Star ran an editorial the New York Times flung out on Sunday, which I missed at the time.
A letter sent to CBS by the Women's Media Center and other groups argues that the commercial "uses one family's story to dictate morality to the American public, and encourages young women to disregard medical advice, putting their lives at risk" - a lame attempt to portray the ad as life-threatening.

The would-be censors are on the wrong track.

Instead of trying to silence an opponent, advocates for allowing women to make their own decisions about whether to have a child should be using the Super Bowl spotlight to convey what their movement is all about: protecting the right of women like Pam Tebow to make their private reproductive choices.

The editorial notes that the Tebows' story is being brought to you by Focus on the Family, but conveniently omits the fact that FoF works tirelessly--with nearly bottomless funding from their adherents--to increasingly restrict women's rights to make choices about their pregnancies, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the choice of abortion altogether, as well as eliminating many forms of contraception as well. Pam Tebow ostensibly had a choice (although abortion for any reason has been illegal since 1930 in the Phillippines, where Tim was born, it's questionable whether she actually had the choice she claims to have made), and she's shilling the story of that choice on behalf of an organization that is committed to removing the same choice from other women. Nice job on nuance, NYT and Daily Star!

Next up, abstinence!

A new study shows for the first time that a sex-education class emphasizing abstinence only - ignoring moral implications of sexual activity - can reduce sexual activity by nearly a third in 12- and 13-year-olds compared with students who received no sex education.

"This study, in our view, is game-changing science," said Bill Albert, chief program officer at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group based in Washington, D.C.

"It provides for the first time evidence that abstinence-only intervention helped young teens delay sexual activity."

The study reported here covered 600+ low-income African-American 12- and 13-year-olds in the Northeast, who were split into four groups who received different eight hour courses in 8th grade. The control group got generic healthy living, the first test group got abstinence-only, the second safe sex (excluding abstinence), and the third got a combination of safe sex and abstinence. Over the following two years, half the safe-sex kids reported sexual activity, while only a third of the abstinence-only kids did; the comprehensive group was in the middle.

Okay, so abstinence-only education was tops at keeping 12- and 13-year-olds from having sex before they turned 14 or 15. Fair enough. But is there a kicker?

None of the classes appeared to influence the use of condoms or other birth control when the students did have sex. The children thus remained at risk of pregnancy and venereal disease.

About 8.8 percent of participants in the comprehensive class reported activity with multiple partners, compared with 14.1 percent in the control group, indicating that the comprehensive class reduced the risk of disease. Neither diseases nor pregnancies were monitored, however.

Ding ding ding! Maybe abstinence should be hammered at the younger kids--this study certainly suggests it's an effective tactic--but I have to ask if 55 kids (33% of the control group) having sex at 14 with no understanding of contraception is really a preferable outcome to 86 kids having sex at 14 after at least having been taught about condoms. The difference is statistically significant, but in terms of actual lives, 55 and 86 are pretty much a wash. If anything, the study does make it horribly clear that a huge unresolved problem is how to convince kids to use the goddamn condoms and other contraception once they've learned about them. Too bad disease and pregnancy were not monitored; since those are the two conditions abstinence-only and comprehensive sex ed agree need to be minimized, those are the outcomes that would seem to be the most salient.

Oh, and on the teeny tiny kerfuffle of the NYT gays-aren't-monogamous story? A few commenters elsewhere have read my objections as being objections to open relationships and rational thinking about partnering, and possibly to gay men as well. No, no, no. Got no problem with people negotiating relationship parameters that work for them, and am not unaware of the high incidence of infidelity in hetero marriages and the problems that causes when couples don't write external affairs into their rules but go on to have them anyway. Nor do I think all gay partnerships must hew to the mythological Ozzie-and-Harriet model in order for us to have a chance at marriage equality; what works for me might not work for you, and that's fine. I just despair when I see glosses reported as science, particularly when I know exactly the kinds of bozos in my own state and possibly own family who will pounce on the pronouncement that half of all gay relationships incorporate non-monogamy and use it as the only justification they will ever need to keep voting against full civil rights for us and to keep throwing money at organizations that think we should all be executed, or jailed, or maybe just subjected to compulsory reparative therapy.