September 29, 2006

Torture/detention bill passes Senate, 65-34

Posted in Government, News, Politics at 2:33 pm by The Lizard Queen

More info here, here, and here.

Of note: I had to go to a foreign news site to get a story to link to. CNN and Yahoo didn’t have anything.

I came across the following NOFX lyrics, from the song “Regaining Un-consciousness,” a little while ago. They struck me as apropos:

First they put away the dealers,
keep our kids safe and off the street.
Then they put away the prostitutes,
keep married men cloistered at home.Then they shooed away the bums,
then they beat and bashed the queers,
turned away asylum-seekers,
fed us suspicions and fears.
We didn’t raise our voice,
we didn’t make a fuss.
It’s funny there was no one left to notice
when they came for us.

Those lyrics seem to be heavily influenced by the poem “First they came…”, generally attributed to Martin Niemöller:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

In short, I’m worried about the direction in which the government is taking the U.S. Anyone with me?


Fun with toiletries

Posted in Government, News at 1:58 pm by The Lizard Queen

From ‘Idiot’ barb gets passenger detained

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A Wisconsin man who wrote “Kip Hawley is an Idiot” on a plastic bag containing toiletries said he was detained at an airport security checkpoint for about 25 minutes before authorities concluded the statement was not a threat.

First of all, who in their right minds thinks that someone calling someone else an idiot is a threat?

Secondly, can anyone really blame this man, who “said he feels the TSA is imposing unreasonable rules on passengers while ignoring bigger threats,” for his statement? Allow me to digress for a moment: I had a storybook when I was a child whose title escapes me now, but it involves a young man whose mother sends him into town to fetch something for her every day. One day he picks up butter, and it melts on the way home. His mother tells him that he should have carried the butter under his hat to keep it from melting. The next day she sends him into town to pick up a cat to catch the mice that have gotten into the house, and the boy, remembering his mother’s advice from the day before, plops the cat onto his head and tries to pull his hat down over it, and naturally arrives home covered in scratches. The book continues like this: every day the boy follows his mother’s advice from the previous day, only to discover that he’s done the wrong thing yet again.

I thought of that storybook the last time I flew. A few years ago now a man got onto a plane with a bomb in his shoe, so now we all have to put our shoes through the x-ray machine when we go through security. Now because someone snuck liquid explosives, or was perhaps allegedly thinking about doing so, onto a plane, we all have to be extra careful about what liquids we bring on board a plane, and how we package them. (I flew in that several-day window in which I couldn’t even bring a tube of lip balm on board… that was fun.) I sincerely doubt this reactive security is preventing all that much, because who now is going to be stupid enough to try putting a bomb in their shoe, or substituting liquid explosive for the hair gel in a bottle in their carry-on bag? In that respect the TSA is consistently at least one step, and probably more, behind terrorists.

At the same time, though, the idea of more proactive security worries me, given that it would most likely consist of barring people of particular ethnic or social backgrounds from flying. Still, it’s not my job to think of a better solution; it’s Kip Hawley’s, and to get back to my original point, I can hardly blame the man in question above for being frustrated with Hawley.

September 28, 2006

Book meme 2

Posted in Censorship, Literature, Memes, Personal at 8:01 pm by The Lizard Queen

In honor of Banned Books Week, which ends on Saturday, I put together this little meme… if you like it, feel free to use it!

What I did: I winnowed the following list from the American Library Association’s Top 100 Most Challenged Books of 1990-2000. I removed picture books and other books aimed at the under-8 crowd (Where’s Waldo; Bumps in the Night), along with Sex Ed books (What’s Happening to My Body?; Asking About Sex and Growing Up — no answers for you, you naughty puberty-stricken heathen!).

What you’ll do: highlight in bold the books you’ve read; comment as desired; look into reading more banned books!

Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz (read the first one, anyway…)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Sex by Madonna
Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry (Again, read the first one, at least…)
The Goats by Brock Cole
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Blubber by Judy Blume
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying by Derek Humphry
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Deenie by Judy Blume
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) (Huh–are we seeing a pattern here? I read the first one…)
Cujo by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
Fade by Robert Cormier
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Native Son by Richard Wright
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Jack by A.M. Homes
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Carrie by Stephen King
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
Family Secrets by Norma Klein
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
Private Parts by Howard Stern
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
Sex Education [a novel] by Jenny Davis
The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Book meme 1

Posted in Literature, Memes, Personal at 7:37 pm by The Lizard Queen

I was tagged by Evil Bender… I’m not all that into the whole tagging thing; I would love to see the answers of anyone who’s interested.

A book that changed my life: The Fifth Life of the Catwoman (Kathleen Dexter) was the book that made me decide for certain that I would apply to grad school.

A book I’ve read more than once: Ditto what Evil Bender said: Lots of books. I’m currently rereading Bill Bryson’s travel books in my free time (which pretty much means when I’m in the bathroom).

A book I would take with me if I were stuck on a desert island: Echoing EB again: I’d like to have a nice, annotated edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. That ought to keep me occupied for a good long while…

A book that made me laugh: I just re-read Bill Bryson’s I’m A Stranger Here Myself. I first read it while working at Borders, and I would sit in the cafe and read it on my breaks, and people would stare at me because I was laughing so hard.

A book that made me cry: It’s interesting: movies make me cry relatively often; books much less frequently. Still, there were two that got me over the summer: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (I knew someone was going to die, and I even had suspicions that were ultimately confirmed as to who it was, but I was still devastated) and The Sandman trade #9, The Kindly Ones (which caught me entirely off guard–they’re the Endless, fer crissakes!).

A book that I wish had been written: This is a bit of an odd question, since if it doesn’t exist, how would I know I want it to be written? I can think of several books I’d like to be published, though: An Atlas of Desire, What the Dead Want, Gifts from (er, for?) the Dying, etc….

A book that I wish had never been written: Hmm… generally I wouldn’t wish for books to be unwritten, but if James Ellroy hadn’t written The Black Dahlia, then Hollywood wouldn’t have made a movie out of it, and thus I wouldn’t have lost my will to live after seeing said movie (so, so terrible!) nearly two weeks ago…

A book I’ve been meaning to read: Heh–there are so many… James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room is one.

I’m currently reading: Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies; Robert Coover, A Night at the Movies

Today’s horrifying Iraq news

Posted in Iraq, News at 5:07 pm by The Lizard Queen

Iraq police college a symbol of failed U.S. plan

It was intended to showcase U.S. rebuilding efforts in Iraq, but instead Baghdad’s new police academy was declared a health hazard by U.S. inspectors who found human waste dripping from the ceilings.

September 22, 2006

Friday Catblogging: Köchel come home!

Posted in Animals, Personal at 2:11 pm by The Lizard Queen

Originally uploaded by Bassclefgirl.

We had to have our kitchen floor replaced because of a leak in our (crappy crappy and now replaced) dishwasher. The men doing the work left one of the kitchen windows–neither of which have screens–open last Friday, and we didn’t realize it until Saturday morning, at which point Köchel had already made use of it to go on an adventure. (Both our cats are normally indoor-only.) We haven’t seen him since. (He’d actually gotten out the day before as well, but came right back, and seemed annoyed that we weren’t there to open the door for him immediately.) I still have hope that he’ll come back in spite of the weather and the fact that there are coyotes in the area, but it’s beginning to wane…

Friday Random Ten: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t I?

Posted in Music, Personal at 12:14 pm by The Lizard Queen

I would totally go to PZ Myers’s party

My list:
1. The Cure – A Letter to Elise
2. Great Big Sea – Lucky Me
3. Nick Drake – Clothes of Sand
4. They Might Be Giants – I Can Hear You
5. Kim Scanlon – River
6. Indigo Girls – This Train Revised
7. Dave Matthews Band – Captain
8. Dar Williams – Flinty Kind of Woman
9. Simon & Garfunkel – Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall
10. Voices on the Verge – Didn’t They?

I might post commentary on these songs a little later… or I might not. We’ll see.

September 11, 2006

Trivializing rape?

Posted in Musings, Television at 5:54 pm by The Lizard Queen

Last night I caught the season premiere of “Family Guy.” The show has irritated me before, generally because the title character, Peter, has a tendency to be misogynistic. Most of the time its humor overshadows that irritation, but last night, one of the story lines really got under my skin. Peter went to the doctor for a flu shot, and the doctor noted that he was 42 and had never had a prostate exam. He administered one–and Peter thought he had been raped. He was traumatized, and ultimately decided to sue the doctor. Every other man in town, including the judge, agreed that a prostate exam was a form of sexual assault, and the doctor lost his license.

First I was incredulous–any woman who’s had a pelvic exam (and that’s pretty much all of us who have gotten past adolescence) knows that a finger in the rectum isn’t much to cry about. (I have one word for you: speculum. Look it up.)

More seriously, though, I felt that the episode trivialized actual victims of sexual assault. I can’t help it; there are certain things I don’t think are funny, and rape is pretty damn high on the list. Of course, Peter learned his lesson in the end: he developed an enlarged prostate and had to beg the doctor to give him an exam. But is “learning a lesson” enough in this case, even considering Peter went back to court, recanted his version of the story, and got the doctor his license back? What about all those people out there, both men and women but perhaps especially men given that people still often don’t believe a man is capable of being raped, who never get their day in court?

Of course, perhaps this is small potatoes compared to ABC’s 9-11 documentary, but I refused to watch that… and on that note, my heart goes out to all those affected by the events of September 11, 2001. You’re in my thoughts today.