June 2008 Archives

The North Pole, Neat

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One of those things I didn't learn while I was still a practicing Mormon is that the opposite of "on the rocks" is "neat," as in, "I'll have a shot of herradura, neat."

Pretty soon, the drink (my favorite term, by far, for the sea) in general might just well be neat. As in, all the ice at the north pole just might melt this summer.

It's one kind of neat, but not another. In fact, this kind of neat in this context SUCKS, literally, in that it sucks heat into a dark liquid ocean and warms the planet up even more.

Yeah. That totally sucks.

Someone Who Really Should Be Named Joy


I know I'm being the laziest blogger in the world lately, but hey, I'm busy. And at least I'm interrupting my laziness from time to time to bring you headlines and videos some of you might not have seen already. Like this. Which is awesome, and made me cry, with the discussion of looking at pictures of ourselves taken we were 13 years old:

After the Deluge

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Here's a great NY Times op-ed by Joe Blair, one of my friends my grad school, about the flooding in Iowa.

The guy who created that horrible racist button I mentioned earlier has apologized and withdrawn it, and the Texas Republican Party is DONATING TO CHARITY (probably the only time in the history of the organization it has ever done such a thing) the money it collected by leasing a booth him at the party's convention.

But all his nasty pins insulting Hillary and her gender? Those you can still buy.

They're Voting Republican

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In case you didn't see it:



Turns out a couple in Utah created an Obama sock monkey doll, but these Utahns claim the doll isn't racist. No! Aimed at Obama supporters, it's "a charming association between a candidate and a toy we had when we were little," and something that helps us "really try and transcend still existing racial biases." They're shocked and hurt that so many people are REALLY offended by this horrifically offensive doll, and have concluded sadly that "there is an element of naviete [sic] on our part, in that we don't think in terms of myths, fables, fairy tales and folklore."

The one bit of good news in this particular story is that according to the company's website, they will not proceed with the manufacture of this toy.

I don't want to ignore the fact that this toy is REALLY gross. But I do want to point out that the reaction to the toy supports Katie Couric's contention that truly egregious racism against Obama isn't tolerated by the mainstream, while truly egregious sexism against Hillary is shrugged off as no big deal. (You paying attention, Mr. Nighttime?) As she says, if Obama regularly confronted attacks equivalent to those Hillary endured, "the outrage wouldn't be a footnote; it would be front-page news." Indeed the sock monkey story was the lead story for the ABC news station I link to, and at the time I'm writing, the video of the news clip is the website's most popular clip.

There is one, uh, mainstream-ish venue, however, where racism is tolerated: the Texas Republican party. At the state convention, you could buy a button reading, "If Obama is President... will we still call it the White House?"

The answer to the question, is, of course, obviously YES. I mean, despite all the blockheads who've worked in the Pentagon, it's still referred to by a name denoting its five sides.

I have been obsessed with coverage of the flooding in Iowa, and every morning I look at photos of the damage and read news stories about the entire area and about my alma mater. Most of the images are very upsetting, and most of the news is devastating. I wanted to share this photo because it is not only upsetting, but witty and ironic, and I wanted to share this bit of information because it demonstrates a certain resilience and understated humor that reassures me that Iowa City will somehow manage to recover from this.

The Easiest Targets for Violence


The easiest targets for violence are women and female children.

I don't know what to say about Nicholas Kristof's editorial on rape as a weapon. Of course I've known about things like this for ages; of course my understanding that this sort of thing happens is one reason I'm a feminist. I guess I'll quote a passage:

it has become clear that mass rape is not just a byproduct of war but also sometimes a deliberate weapon.

“Rape in war has been going on since time immemorial,” said Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian ambassador who was the U.N.’s envoy for AIDS in Africa. “But it has taken a new twist as commanders have used it as a strategy of war.”

There are two reasons for this. First, mass rape is very effective militarily. From the viewpoint of a militia, getting into a firefight is risky, so it’s preferable to terrorize civilians sympathetic to a rival group and drive them away, depriving the rivals of support.

Second, mass rape attracts less international scrutiny than piles of bodies do, because the issue is indelicate and the victims are usually too ashamed to speak up.

I guess I'll say this:

Windy, Soggy Iowa


It took me a long time to realize that I liked Iowa City. I was often very unhappy there, but eventually I figured out that had more to do with the fact that I was in a PhD program than with Iowa City itself, which, I eventually saw, was pretty cool and remarkably livable. (It also got cooler the longer I was there. It's quite hip these days, or was, before it started filling up like a kitchen sink.)

Not so much now. You probably heard about the terrible tornado that devastated Parkersburg, Iowa a few weeks ago. Or the tornado that killed four boy scouts two days ago (and would have killed more except that the other boy scouts knew how to do things like apply tourniquets or give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the 48 who were injured). Now there's terrible flooding in eastern Iowa; downtown Cedar Rapids, all of the Coralville strip (Coralville being a suburb of Iowa City, where I lived for a few years when I first started grad school because that was the only place I could find an apartment--Iowa City historically has a very tight housing market) and much of the University of Iowa campus--including, I would guess, my old office, which was in the basement of the English-Philosophy Building--are under water.

Iowa City was recovering from a terrible flood when I moved there in 1993. This flood is already much, much worse, and the river hasn't even crested. I realize it's not Katrina, the typhoon in Burma or the earthquakes in China, but it's still pretty awful, and it's hurting a place I care about.

Katie knows what she's talking about:


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