November 29, 2007
Liss posted this video today, and I couldn’t help but snap it up for myself, as I too am a lover of Dolly and Amy:
I also very much appreciated what Liss had to say about the song in the above-linked post’s comment thread:
Normally, that sort of “pull yourself up” Oprah-y, “The Secret”-y message bugs me
Me, too. But the difference with Dolly is that she doesn’t say you need to “fix” yourself if your house is a mess or you’re overweight or whatevthefuck; she’s saying, “That’s fine — don’t let it stop you!”
In a subtle but real way, this song is the antidote to that other stuff, which is based on letting you know something’s wrong with you that needs to get fixed. Here, the message is specifically that you shouldn’t feel that way. Go out and live your life and be happy and strive and try and achieve, no matter what.
November 28, 2007
Cantos ceremoniales: XIII
Qué podía decir sin tocar tierra?
A quién me dirigía sin la lluvia?
Por eso nunca estuve donde estuve
y no navegué más que de regreso
y de las catedrales no guardé
retrato ni cabellos: he tratado
de fundar piedra mía a plena mano,
con razón, sin razón, con desvarío,
con furia y equilibrio: a toda hora
toqué los territorios del león
y la torre intranquila de la abeja,
por eso cuando vi lo que ya había visto
y toqué tierra y lodo, piedra y espuma mía,
seres que reconocen mis pasos, mi palabra,
plantas ensortijadas que besaban mi boca,
dije: “aquí estoy,” me desnudé en la luz,
dejé caer las manos en el mar,
y cuando todo estaba transparente,
bajo la tierra, me quedé tranquilo.
—Pablo Neruda, 1961
(Translation below the fold:) Read the rest of this entry »
In case there was any doubt that I am a ginormous nerd, I give you Free Rice, which is essentially a vocabulary quiz, but with a great twist: for every correct answer, the site gives 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme — between Evil Bender and me we’re already well into the thousands. Fellow word nerds should go check it out!
November 22, 2007
Happy Thanksgiving, all! To mark a day on which we generally stuff ourselves silly, I thought I’d give you some fuzzy belly pictures (below the fold). Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »
November 21, 2007
Mary Ann and the Professor wish you a happy and stress-free (or stress-as-minimal-as-possible) day-before Thanksgiving! (Also, the Professor says “Shiver me timbers — where’s me grog, wench? Yar.”)
November 20, 2007
Today marks the 9th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. From the website:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgendered people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
There’s also a great post over at Feministing marking the day and discussing the idea of gender “deception.” Well worth checking out.
November 19, 2007
This is how the link at Feministing reads: “Women on the Pill are at higher risk for cervical cancer.” It’s in their weekly feminist roundup, which is always good reading. Given that I’m on the Pill and that cancer is present in my family’s history, I was curious, and followed the link. The article is titled Study Confirms Link Between Oral Contraceptive Use & Cervical Cancer, and it begins with the following paragraph:
An international review of 24 studies, involving more than 50,000 women, confirms findings of a link between birth-control pills and the incidence of cervical cancer. Researchers found that women who use oral contraceptives are at an increased risk of cervical cancer for up to 10 years after they stop.
Yikes, right? Except… here is the second half of the article, with emphasis added:
The authors of the report, who hail Oxford University in England, contend that the overall risks still remain small and should be seen in context.
“In the long term, the extra risk of cervical cancer in oral contraceptive users is more than outweighed by a reduction in risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.”
In developed countries, in a group of 1000 women there would normally be 3.8 cases of invasive cervical cancer by the time they were 50. If they used oral contraception for 10 years from the age of 20 and then stopped use, the figure would increase to 4.5 per 1000.
An editorial was published in “The Lancet” along with the study, in which Peter Sasieni from Queen Mary University of London said that the results should “reassure women that fear of cervical cancer should not be a reason to avoid use of oral contraception.”
To reiterate: use of the Pill for ten years raises a woman’s risk of cervical cancer by a mere .07 percent. (It’s a 20% increase in overall occurrence, but the rate of occurrence is low enough that 20% is not as impressive as it might sound out of context.) Enough to mention in a medical journal? Sure. Enough to write an article for a mainstream news outlet with the aforementioned title and opening paragraph? Not so much, really, I’m thinking.
I think the primary problem here is an outgrowth of the disconnect between and differing aims of medicine and journalism. That opening paragraph is a great hook; it sure kept me reading. And news outlets misunderstand and/or misreport statistics all the time (case in point: if Giuliani polled three points higher than Romney in Indifferenceville but the margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 points, Giuliani is not, in fact, in the lead).
However, it’s hard for me to ignore the overall implications of this article: “Are you sure you want to take the Pill?” Which means, “Are you really sure you want to be having sex that doesn’t result in teh baybies?”
November 17, 2007
Evil Bender and I went to see Beowulf last night. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and while part of that no doubt had to do with EB’s and my running commentary (the epitome of which is the title phrase of this post, which EB gets full credit for), I think a good deal of it also had to do with my not really expecting all that much, and approaching the film on its own terms. I read Neil Gaiman’s blog, and he mentions that this Boston Globe review is his “favourite review so far today — in terms of feeling that it reviews the film [he and Roger Avary] wrote.” I’m inclined to agree. It’s certainly ridiculous at parts, but overall I got the impression that it served much the same purpose the epic poem once did: entertainment. My advice to any interested parties, then, is this: go read the Boston Globe review, and if that sounds like the kind of movie you want to see, I highly recommend you do so.
November 14, 2007
I just came across this article via Shakesville. The basic story is this: a young teenage girl, Megan, met a boy on myspace. Her mother monitored her myspace use, but found nothing objectionable about the boy, nor anything objectionable in their correspondence. The boy started saying nasty things to Megan, which culminated in her running up to her room and hanging herself.
That would be bad enough. Megan suffered from depression and ADD, and one of the symptoms of the latter is poor impulse control. The combination, in this case, was deadly. The mother is racked with guilt; she monitored Megan’s myspace use, but still feels like there’s more she could have done.
But the worst is still to come. The boy didn’t exist. A family down the street had created the persona; the following is information from a related police report, with the mother’s name redacted and replaced with (She):
“(She) said she, with the help of temporary employee named —— constructed a profile of ‘good looking’ male on ‘my space’ in order to ‘find out what Megan (Meier’s daughter) was saying on-line’ about her daughter. (She) explained the communication between the fake male profile and Megan was aimed at gaining Megan’s confidence and finding out what Megan felt about her daughter and other people.
“(She) stated she, her daughter and (the temporary employee) all typed, read and monitored the communication between the fake male profile and Megan . . .”
“(She) stated she knew ‘arguments’ had broken out between Megan and others on ‘my space.’ (She) felt this incident contributed to Megan’s suicide, but she did not feel ‘as guilty’ because at the funeral she found out ‘Megan had tried to commit suicide before.’”
First of all, I don’t think it’s ever possible to place blame on anything other than mental illness when it comes to someone committing suicide*. That said, though, the actions of the adults in creating and maintaining the fake myspace account disgust me. And the fact that the woman ostensibly felt less guilty because someone told her that Megan had attempted suicide in the past? “Utterly reprehensible” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Read the rest of this entry »
November 13, 2007
seeker of visions
what does this mean
to see walking men
wrapped in the color of death,
to hear from their tongue
such difficult syllables?
are they the spirits
of our hope
or the pale ghosts of our future?
who will believe the red road
will not run on forever?
who will believe
a tribe of ice might live
and we might not?
columbus day ’91