September 30, 2007

High school students standing up for their beliefs

Posted in Activism, Children and adolescents, Civil rights at 3:31 pm by The Lizard Queen

When I was in high school, there was a period during which I refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  I would stand while it was being recited over the loudspeakers and by my peers, but would not repeat the words myself.  It never occurred to me to actually try to change the pledge or the school’s policy of reciting it every day.  I suppose I have the excuse of growing up in conservative Orange County, California, as opposed to hippie (and I use that word lovingly) Boulder, Colorado.  Still, I’m impressed with these students at Boulder High School, who staged a protest of the pledge on Thursday:

Members of the student group say they have three main gripes with theway [sic] the traditional pledge is read at the start of second-period classes: It takes away from school time; it’s ignored or disrespected by mocking teens; and the phrase, “one nation, under God,” violates the separation of church and state.

It seems to me that their focus is primarily on the latter two gripes.  As for me, I was never particularly bothered by the phrase “under God,” but that speaks more to my next point than to my being okay with faith being linked to patriotism.

What has bothered me since high school, though, and what I think the second gripe (“it’s ignored or disrespected by mocking teens”) speaks to, is that we were taught the pledge in first grade (and I went to a private kindergarten (my birthday was past the cutoff for public kindergarten, and I was very ready to start school), so I imagine many students learned it a year before I did), and then expected to recite it every school day for the next eleven years.  As a result, how many children and adolescents actually have any idea what they’re saying?  Rote memorization doesn’t generally lead to an engagement of the mind and heart (isn’t the pledge supposed to represent a love of and respect for our country?) — instead, it’s basic indoctrination.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that frightening.

And to be honest, I love my country and am grateful to have been born here, since — among a number of other reasons — there are a lot of countries in which, having been born female, I’d be lucky to be alive now, at 27 — particularly given the amount of dissent I’ve been expressing since I was a teenager.  But ultimately the flag is just a symbol, and I have qualms about pledging my allegiance to a symbol.  I’ve seen references to the idea of pledging allegiance to the Constitution instead; that’s an idea I could get behind.  It’s still a symbol of sorts, but it has more meaning in and of itself than a piece of cloth with a complex pattern can.

Hat tip goes to the Bad Astronomy Blogger, whose post contains some good insight.

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Bloodshed in Burma

Posted in Activism, Language, News at 12:15 pm by The Lizard Queen

Much has been said about the uprising in Myanmar/Burma, and as I’m far from being on the cutting edge of international current events, I’ll point anyone who’s curious in the direction of others: Burma Digest; articles from the most recent edition of The Economist; a graphic video over at Crooks and Liars; a roundup from Arlen (a guest poster) over at Shakesville.

I wanted to address the issue of the country’s name, however, as that had been confusing me a bit before today. I’d known before this current conflagration that Myanmar was the name of the country formerly known as Burma; what confused me was the fact that certain bloggers and activist groups (e.g. MoveOn.org) were continuing to call the country Burma. I knew it had to be deliberate, but that made me wonder why.

Naturally, Wikipedia has the answer: Read the rest of this entry »

September 27, 2007

Legal huzzahs

Posted in Law, News at 5:33 pm by The Lizard Queen

Feminist Carnival 45

Posted in Feminism at 2:59 pm by The Lizard Queen

I’m over a week late, but still wanted to point my readers in the direction of the most recent Carnival of Feminists, which is, as always, chock full of great stuff, from an examination of what the phrase “the personal is political” actually means to an interesting rumination on appearances and women’s beauty rituals and how they relate to not seeming vulnerable.

Thursday YouTubein’ — SNL commercials

Posted in Humor at 1:27 pm by The Lizard Queen

I was going to post serious stuff, but I managed to pick up a virus of some sort on my travels, and that last post made me grumpy, so here are some funnies.

First, speaking of insurance…

Next, do not taunt Happy Fun Ball:

Finally, the classic Little Chocolate Donuts:

Good times.  🙂

Fun with health insurance

Posted in Health care, Medicine, Reproduction at 1:10 pm by The Lizard Queen

As if having a miscarriage weren’t traumatic enough on its own:

Now, on Aug, 29 2007 my husband and I suffered a devastating miscarriage. Being near midnight we went to the ER. The hospital was very compassionate about our loss and was able to get us in quickly and expedited our treatment. The following day I called BCBS and informed them that we had made a visit to the ER, and was told it wasn’t necessary to call them just for ER visits, but only when we are admitted. Believing that BCBS would never make the mistakes at they did the previous and only time we have used our insurance I thought everything would go smoothly. Boy was I wrong!

On, Sep, 21 2007 I received a statement for BCBS that they were denying all of the claim. I called them and asked why they were denying the entire claim, and was told by Jane, “We do not cover ELECTIVE abortions. If you chose to terminate your pregnancy for non-health threatening reasons, BCBS will not cover it.” WTF!!!??? I asked her, “Are you saying that my records state that I had an ELECTIVE abortion, in an ER at 12 o’clock in the morning?” It was then, I think it clicked in Jane’s mind what she was dealing with and told me how sorry she was. I lost my cool and even started crying. I had a miscarriage not an abortion, and being treated in such a condescending way by BCBS really ticked me off. Thinking what an incredibly huge screw up, BCBS will be right on it trying to fix this, well you would be wrong. I was told to call the hospital and have them fax over my records stating I didn’t have an elective abortion. Who the heck can get an elective abortion in a busy ER at 12am, anyway?

And an update, with clarification:

I just got off the phone with the hospital and was told that the claim was not miscoded. The billing clerk told me that the wording clearly stated that I had had a spontaneous miscarriage and not an elective abortion. I was also informed that this is common practice with BCBS of Kansas City to deny miscarriage clams as an “elective abortion.”

On one hand this story leads a number of commenters (and readers, I imagine, myself included) to conclude that universal health insurance would be an improvement over this garbage. Others suggest that what we really need is a more competitive marketplace, with doctors and surgeons (etc.) competing for customers via price wars (because when someone’s cutting me open, cost should totally be more important than the surgeon’s track record [/snark]), and insurance should be more like car insurance, where it’s used for emergencies only, rather than preventative maintenance along with emergencies. Some people said the woman in question obviously should switch insurance companies (like we usually have a choice?); others suggested that she should be sure her policy actually covers expenses related to miscarriage (because it would be acceptable if it didn’t [/snark]).

I don’t really have anything to add; I just wanted to call attention to the story. It’s a fairly extreme example, but as you can see from the comments thread, this kind of thing happens all the time.

September 21, 2007

Won’t somebody think of the hyphens?

Posted in Language at 10:07 am by The Lizard Queen

Interesting (to me, anyway) little tidbit from Yahoo — Thousands of hyphens perish as English marches on:

LONDON (Reuters) – About 16,000 words have succumbed to pressures of the Internet age and lost their hyphens in a new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly.

And if you’ve got a problem, don’t be such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby).

The hyphen has been squeezed as informal ways of communicating, honed in text messages and emails, spread on Web sites and seep into newspapers and books.

“People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they’re not really sure what they are for,” said Angus Stevenson, editor of the Shorter OED, the sixth edition of which was published this week.

I have to confess that that last paragraph applies to me.  I’m not as well-versed in hyphen placement as I could be, and I’m certainly not confident on the subject.

Another factor in the hyphen’s demise is designers’ distaste for its ungainly horizontal bulk between words.

“Printed writing is very much design-led these days in adverts and Web sites, and people feel that hyphens mess up the look of a nice bit of typography,” he said. “The hyphen is seen as messy looking and old-fashioned.”

I’m trying to figure out if Stevenson is trying to be ironic in that last paragraph, given “design-led” and “old-fashioned.”  Either way, it amuses me.

There are lists of the changed words in the linked article, if you’re curious.  Or grammar-driven, if you will.  🙂

September 18, 2007

It’s a trend, apparently

Posted in Books, Censorship at 5:55 pm by The Lizard Queen

No longer a new one on me: a woman comes across a book she finds offensive and, having checked it out, refuses to return it to the library:

LEWISTON, Maine — A Lewiston woman who said she was “horrified” by the content of an acclaimed sex education book has checked out copies from two libraries and refuses to give them back.

JoAn Karkos made her feelings known in letters to the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries. Each letter was accompanied by a check for $20.95 to cover the cost of the book, “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health.”

In one letter, Karkos wrote, “I have been sufficiently horrified of the illustrations and sexually graphic, amoral, abnormal contents. I will not be returning the books.”

I love that she was “sufficiently horrified,” like she has a threshold of horror.  Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret?  Well, it was pretty horrifying… just not sufficiently horrifying.  It’s Perfectly Normal, on the other hand…

The library’s reaction:

Lewiston library director Rick Speer returned the check, along with a form Karkos could use to request that the book be removed from the shelves. But he said he may seek help from police if she doesn’t return what she borrowed.

Spper on Tuesday told News 8, “This is a first. We’ve never had someone come in take it out, remove it on their own accord and decide no one else can have it.”

Good news, everyone: book-banners are taking matters into their own hands!  :facepalm: Read the rest of this entry »

Planned Parenthood news from Aurora, IL

Posted in Feminism, Reproduction at 4:53 pm by The Lizard Queen

Just got this in an e-mail:

BREAKING NEWS FROM AURORA: This morning was set to be the opening day of our new Planned Parenthood clinic near Chicago, but anti-choice protesters have pressured officials into delaying our opening. We WILL open those doors, but we need your help – NOW.

Thank you to the 24,925 of you who sent your message of support to our staff and volunteers in Aurora by tying welcoming ribbons at the clinic.

If you haven’t already, please support our fight for the Aurora clinic by making a gift today. Any amount will help. Help spread the word. And, most importantly, if you know anyone in the Chicago area, please ask them to get involved. Here’s the link: http://www.ppaction.org/ct/-1SLPAS1v4p1/

More info here.

September 17, 2007

A note to my readers

Posted in Blogging at 10:15 pm by The Lizard Queen

I’m not sure how many regular readers I actually have, but just so you know, blogging is likely to be light for the next week or so, as I have to do some revision on my dissertation, and I’m heading back to southern CA for my 10-year high school reunion, and to spend time with friends and family.  In the meantime, go keep Evil Bender company or something.  😉

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