Tuesday, February 28, 2006

When's Break Again?

As I sit here, surrounded by the carnage of at least three small forests, and know that said carnage will be piled higher and deeper over at least the next few days, I have come to this realization: I'm TIRED, DAMN IT! And there's no nap scheduled in the foreseeable future.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Eeyore Smiles

Reading over the last -- oh, shall we say ten? -- posts, it occurs to me that this blog has been suffering from my habit of accentuating the negative. There have been joyous experiences here at Microburg U., and even in my inner circle over the past month.

To wit:
1) The professor who qualifies to mentor me in exactly my academic sub-field has a reputation of eating babies for breakfast in front of their grieving mothers while simultaneously kicking puppies, just for giggles. This has not been my experience of her AT ALL. She's extremely kind and helpful. She is happy to share all manner of insider tips, and she pushes me to do things I'm afraid to do. And, she does all of this with a smile. Couldn't be happier about working with her. Yay!

2) The professor of another specialty that works well with mine (another one with a puppy-kicking reputation) likes my work and wants to work with me on other projects. Again, I don't know where these folks get their reputations from. She's been amazing with me. Yay, again!

3) I spoke to The Reigning Medievalist about creating an interdisciplinary discussion group on campus, sort of a listserv with coffee, and he has put me in charge of the project. I get what I want, a space on campus to do it in, and I get to organize it my way. (I am aware that his having me do it gets me out of his hair and puts the onus on me, but I'm still happy.) Preliminary discussions have indicated strong interest among three of the five represented humanities & social science departments.

On the personal front:

Best friend since H.S.just had her second child. Welcome, new baby!

So, it's not all Orwellian comment-monitoring and sheepishness around here. Just so you know.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Information Women Need

Molly Saves the Day has given the women of South Dakota the information they need to start up their own Jane networks. Sad that it has to come to that for some pinhead's political gain, but there it is.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Iron Cage of Technology

Evidence presented to pre-empt cries of "Luddite!" in response to the following post:
1) I'm a blogger.
2) I benefit personally and academically from many uses of technology. Including, but not limited to: Academic Listservs, The Dictionary of Old English, other searchable databases, other bloggers, recipe lists, online shoe-shopping, and the cut and paste function.

Evidence presented to pre-empt cries of "Lazy Student!" in response to the following post:
1) I spend approximately 6-8 hours per weekday reading primary source materials, both assigned by professors and self-assigned.
2) I spend another 6 hours per weekday (averaged, including weekend marathons) finding, reading, and processing the scholarship of others.
3) I can't tell you how any hours per day I spend on writing my own scholarship, I just keep going until it's done. Then I read it, rearrange everything, and go again until it's done better.

The Post:

In an effort to create a community of active scholars, one of my professors has created an online discussion group which we, as his students, are required to post to at least every three days. If a few of us meet up (by design or on line at the coffee kiosk) and discuss the literature, the class, our ideas about anything having to do with medieval and renaissance culture, we are supposed to log on to the community site and report the findings of our conversation. Although there is a (pretty big) part of me that resents professorial oversight of all intellectual activity in said professor's field, I sort of see where he's going with this scheme. While I refuse to report in, Stasi-like, on outside conversations, there's a good chance my interlocutor will do it and we both are "credited" for our community time.

However, an ugly side of this system has shown through. You see, all discussion group communications are time-stamped. For reasons beyond my comprehension, we live in a world where time of day has morality attached to it. Activities that occur between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm are probably OK. Yet all things happening between 10 pm and 7 am are tainted, somehow. That time/morality bias has crept into the professor's assessment of discussion board posts.

For personal reasons I will not disclose, I do my reading during regular work-day hours, research before dinner, and much of my quiet contemplation after 10 pm. Ergo, I do much of my posting after 10 pm. For clarity, I do not wait until an hour before the class meeting in which we will discuss a work and hurriedly throw up any old comment to satisfy the requirements. Some of my colleagues do just that, and I don't blame them for it. They're busy people, and this community board can feel like the very last thing to which one should attend. Sometimes one doesn't feel comfortable sharing the half-formed opinion, riddled with questions, that one has. Sometimes the demands on you as a grad student get overwhelming, and you really are reading all night in order to be prepared for class. The professor, to his credit, recognizes these issues.

Yet, because my comments are time-stamped at hours later/earlier than most, I seem to have fallen into the category of "unserious scholar" in this professor's eyes. He has told me that he has no compunction about giving poor grades to people who stay up the night before a paper is due to do their writing. ( I don't do that.) He has asked my teammates in a presentation if I have been failing to give input. (I was the first to have read the damned book. I located the secondary scholarship that we are using. I am the editor for written materials created by the group.) Lastly, he has indicated to me that he doesn't "like" people who do their scholarship in a haphazard, rushed fashion.* And this is the part where the skills learned as a 16 year-old sales assistant come into good use. I am able to smile, and smile, and hide my villainy. I refrain from saying "fuck you," and say instead, "Since thinking-style is highly individual, and difficult to document, I assume you're talking about finished product." To which he responds, "I believe that I've made it possible for people to make their process visible to me." As long as one's process doesn't occur after the local evening news it's good enough, I guess.

Again, I like technology. I think really great teaching can occur when aided by technological tools. I even see the uses of the time-stamp function with turn-in deadlines and such. However, using the time-stamp function to assess the seriousness of a student's work, quite apart from the actual content of the work, is asinine. Taking it to the point where you are assessing the student as a good/bad person based on her waking hours is crossing the line. It is, in my opinion, an abuse of the technology.

In an effort to conform to this professor's ideas of when real scholarship can occur, I've started creating my community board posts in a word-processing document at my usual time then posting them the next morning after I check my Email. OK, I'm not really conforming. But I am continuing my work in a way that doesn't activate his bias. No doubt he'll believe he's finally succeeded in frightening me into 'taking my work seriously.' That's fine. What he has really done is successfully threatened me into pretending that I'm safely tucked in by 10pm, like a good girl.

This is now something I have added to my "never allow yourself to be like these people" list of
professional goals.

*I have a visceral reaction to people predicating their assessment of my work on "liking me," or even suggesting that their affection is something I should seek. I have already experienced running around like a headless chicken attempting to earn the affection of a professor who was not inclined to like me. A professor who frequently shifted the marks I had to meet in order to be likeable. In the process, I developed the attitudes and behaviors common to battered children. The experience almost destroyed me, personally and academically. So, stating "I don't like people who do this thing I erroneously think you also do" is not an effective way to inspire me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I Have a Pressing Question.

Who's the timid woman? And who told her she could inhabit my body?

Since matriculating at Microburg U., I have noticed a number of unpleasant changes in my personality, and my sleep patterns. (Sleep? Ha! Must be one of those crazy post-modern European concepts. You know, like 'free time,' 'cultural literacy,' and 'sex.') Anyway, the changes have generally been phases that I've experienced before, and know will eventually pass. This new person, however, is someone I neither recognize nor like. She's deferential and weird. She has no self-confidence. I'm not certain about this, but I think she might be passive-aggressive. Honestly, it would be a relief if I knew she were passive-aggressive, because she behaves liked a whipped puppy. If she were my student, I would take her aside and tell her to toughen up. I would also secretly hate her.
What's happening here?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lenny the Late Bloomer

You ever have one of those friends that you knew right from the moment of meeting was a braying ass, but somehow you befriended the person anyway? I've had many, unfortunately, but the one I'm going to center on today is a young man I met in Evil Undergrad Professor's classes. For legal and ethical reasons, I am giving him a pseudonym. I hereby dub him "Lenny" for the purposes of this post.**

Fighting the good fight together against EUP, Lenny and I developed a trench-buddy relationship. As a woman who speaks, I was frequently the target of EUP's nastiness. As a gay man, so was Lenny. We would draw fire from each other when necessary, defend each other's positions, etc. Now, you guys are smart enough to know that "gay man" and "misogynist bastard" are not mutually exclusive categories, right? Good! We move on. Lenny and I should have been natural enemies, but -- following the adage --the enemy of my enemy became my friend.

Lenny was one of those "liberals" the rest of us lament, a guy who could only see how the world treated him poorly and never made the broader connections. He was against gay-bashing, but was convinced that being a white male was what kept him out of the Ivies. (A damned good private education that still resulted in mediocre test scores and scholarship had nothing to do with it. It was that affirmative action, ruining all his entitlement.) He had no problem with black men being arrested for driving nice cars, because "most black guys can't really afford nice stuff. What are the police supposed to think?" He was convinced that women should pretend to be stupid so men could feel smart, at least that's what he wanted me to do. He was the guy you just know would scrap what existed of his professed "liberal beliefs" and become a neo-conman in a nanosecond if the lottery ticket worked out. But, as I said, Lenny and I had a common enemy and spent a lot of time together.

Shortly after graduating, Lenny moved to another country; a really solid country with national healthcare. Not long after the move, when he was a working person enrolled in the system, he began hormone therapy to become a woman. He began pining for a big, strong, blond man to marry him and let him be a house-wife, like women are supposed to be. He also believed he was living as and behaving like a woman when he acted in the way men pretending to be women act. He flirted badly and obviously, he feigned near-illiteracy, he flounced and fluffed and generally made an even bigger ass out of himself than usual. He also began giving me advice on how to be a better woman, from all of his experience.

It seems that because Lenny had been sporting B-cups for about six months, by his own choice, and at age 25, he knew more about being a woman than I did. He knew, for instance, that having men suddenly develop the habit of staring at your breasts while talking to you is a welcome phenomenon to 11 and 12 year-old girls. Because he chose to be gendered feminine at 25, then all young girls, girls still trying to get past the cognitive dissonance of simultaneously believing that boys are both gross and inexplicably fascinating all of a sudden should be happy to have random men ogling them. The bodies they never asked for and were highly suspicious of since the hostile hormonal take-over, were there for the viewing pleasure of men, and they should get used to it. Nay, revel in it. Whether it came from old or young, creepy or non-creepy, these children should be pleased to have attention like this. Even 25 and 30 year-old women who were trying to do their work should enjoy sexual harassment, according to Lenny.

The only reason I remembered my transition into a gendered body with ill-humor was that I, unlike Lenny, was not a "real woman." Having my ass slapped by a guy driving by while I was walking (in shorts and a top) to the pool in my development when I was 11 wasn't painful. The stuff he said he wanted to do *to* me wasn't in any way threatening to a little girl. It was a compliment. If I had been a real woman, I would know that. The group of yard workers who jumped out of the back of a moving truck to harass my 14 year-old niece were just being friendly. My sister who developed ulcers working in a place where sexual harassment was par for the course, but where she needed to work to feed her child, must not have been a real woman either. My objection to work-place and university sexual harassment was because I wasn't pretty enough for such attention: too tall, too brunette and too old besides. I was just bitter because I was 31, and nobody had married me and put me in my proper place.

Lenny abandoned his new country, and his foray into femininity three months later. He is now a semi-closeted gym-rat, attempting to exude masculinity every moment of every day, because he doesn't want to "be the bitch" in any relationship. After abandoning masculine privilege for less than a year, Lenny wants it back, and he wants it back forever. Sadly, last time I spoke with him, a few years ago, he hadn't learned anything. He still thought I would be much happier and more marriageable if only I were willing to "be the bitch," like I'm supposed to be.

**Pseudonym changed from the original to avoid children accidentally linking to this post.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Call for Posts Deadline Approaching!

The 9th Carnival of Feminists will be at Mind the Gap in just a couple of days. The deadline for submissions is tomorrow, so nominate an entry (even your own) by e-mailing it to mindthegapcardiff@yahoo.co.uk .

Instructions from the Gap-minders:

"Don't forget to submit and nominate posts for the 9th Carnival of Feminists to be hosted here on 22nd February. The official deadline is 19th Feb, but we can probably stretch it to the 20th if you run a little late.

The entirely optional theme is Feminism and the Body.

This topic might include posts on feminism and make-up, the beauty industry, plastic surgery, diet culture, food, eating disorders, fat, fat acceptance, body hair, disability, sex, physical pleasure, pregnancy, menstruation, the menopause, transgendered embodiements, biological determinism, religion and the body, tattooing, piercing .... I'm sure you could think of more.

We will consider posts on men's bodies/male body image, but only if they engage positively and productively with feminist thought, or are written from feminist perspectives.Being as Mind the Gap doesn't have a huge readership, we would be very grateful to anyone who finds it in their hearts to publicise this call for submisisons on their own blog."

Return of the Recreant Blogger & a Meme

Dear Reader,
There was a time, not so very long ago, when I could place myself in front of a computer screen and write. Armed with only a giant mug of coffee, a reasonably well-stocked wordhoard, this outrageously expensive typewriter, and time, I could express my ideas confidently and well. Alas, those days are over. Ideas are now hard to come by, and I seem to have misplaced my nouns. For this sorry situation, I blame philosophy. For when I read philosophy slowly and well, taking time to contemplate existing in a world in which two plus two equals monkey (per the philosopher's instructions), I short out all my favorite neurons. In this state, choosing the level of milkfat I want to include in my coffee confounds any further attempts at reason that day. It is for this reason that I have been quite absent from the fun side of the internets. If you have been angered by my absence, find your friendly neighborhood philosopher and give her a good whack upside the head.


And Now For Something Completely Different ...
The Meme of Five

Instructions: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.

1. Ultimate Writer
2. Golgotha_Tramp
3. FrankenGirl
4. Holly at Self-Portrait as
5. Heo Cwaeth

Next select five people to tag:

(Um, in my absence, everyone I know seems to have completed this meme. If you're still reading, and you haven't done so, consider yourself tagged. We're on the honor system here, people, don't let me down!)

What were you doing 20 years ago?
Trying to work out the following age-old conundrum: If we know that boys have cooties, and suddenly we enjoy the company of clearly cootified boys, does that mean the shots didn't work?
Shouting "Mo-ooom, what matches with neon yellow?"

What were you doing ten years ago?
It was the year of the weddings and the new tradition of Girls Night Out, which then led to the unexpected tradition of cotton-mouth Saturdays.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
Teaching, studying for the GREs, and deciding to devote my free time to reading through the entire Western Canon. I'm still in Greece, by the way.

Five snacks you enjoy:
1. Butter Pecan Ice Cream.
2. Brownies.
3. Toast and hot cocoa.
4. Popcorn!
5. Blueberry flavored anything.

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:
1-5. Think Sondheim. Can't get better snark than in Sondheim.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
1. Buy a great, rickety old house with good bones.
2. Fix it.
3. Pay student loans.
4. Hire a cleaning person to deal with dusting. Oh, how I hate dusting!
5. Wonder at the diminishing power of a million dollars.

Five bad habits:
1. Smoking. (I'm working on it.)
2. Getting lost in my own world.
3. Anticipating tomorrow's worries today.
4. Grudge-holding. This is the story of an angry woman...
5. Making excuses for all of the above.

Five things you like doing:
1. Talking to friends.
2. Hanging out with the family.
3. Playing with the children of friends and family. Children are like mini joy factories, it's amazing!
4. Travelling.
5. Deciphering text written in dead or moribund languages.

Five things you would never wear again:
1. Neon yellow.
2. Fingerless gloves.
3. High heels. (I'm 5'10." I don't need lifts.)
4. Glitter.
5. Tube tops.

Five things that scare you:
1. That I'm willing to incur debt and gray hair to obtain this degree, which will immediately upon completion diminish my salary prospects for the remainder of my life.
2. This week, Greenland.
3. Religious extremists.
4. That we have FOUR 24-hr news stations, and we still aren't given the news.
5. Blind optimism.

Five favorite toys:

1. My CD-player
2. My computer, when it behaves
3. My car, when it behaves
4. My books.
5. My voice. I can do neat stuff with it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Aspiring Academic's Anti-intellectual Averrations

(So I enjoy alliteration. Wanna make something of it?)

Stuff that pisses me off:
1) Philosophers and/or theorists who "perform" their cool, new way of thinking about things in their writing without ever having explained wtf they're doing. Resulting in the impression in those of us reading their prose and expecting, say, an argument (or maybe a stray point), that the Philosopher/theorist studied at the Jackson Pollack School of Critical Analysis.
2) Philosophers and/or theorists who over-simplify their arguments. Ostensibly, this is done to make the argument more readable. Generally, it has the added bonus of eliminating all those irritating and inconvenient little philosophical conundrums that come up when one considers the whole picture.
3) Unexplained neologisms. (Can't look it up, fucker, you're going to have to make the meaning clear.)
4) The separation of root words from their affixes by cute little dashes, or mid-word capitalization, to stress an already well-known meaning of the word being used.
5) Greek.
6) Philosophers and/or theorists who quote, in German, from German philosophers, without bothering to capitalize nouns so that one who speaks actual German, rather than having memorized the German philosophical code words wants to throttle them; "dingen an sich," my ass.
7) Keepers of the Canon, including, but not limited to:
a)The assumption that Everybody Loves Papa.
b)Austrians who obviously can't shoot straight, thus leaving us with Papa.
c)Anybody who is shocked and/or appalled by (b)
8) Intellectuals who write books about subjects they have no expertise in, write them poorly, obfuscate their meaning in "simplicity," and still get to be considered experts on that subject because they're "Professors of Something Entirely Unrelated at Famous University X." (Pinker, Huntington, Rhoades, et al.)
9) Sneaky thesis narrowing. "Hm, this argument doesn't work if I cover all of the tenth century, so I'll start at 950 AD and pretend those other 50 years never happened."
10) The modesty topos in the hands of mediocre writers. Great writers make it gracious, and poor writers make it a fun irony.
11) The Jackson Pollack School of Creative Writing.
a) People who consider stuff they don't understand "profound."
b) People who assume you don't understand their profundity because you disagree with them, or think their stuff needs work.
12) Writers who declare easily translated foreign phrases "thoroughly un-translatable."
13) It really IS all about who you know. (This isn't sour grapes, I'm benefitting from that right now. It just pisses me off that my well-documented qualifications didn't count until they were stamped by the 'right people.')
14) People who are told "Thanks for all the help with Academic and thus Purely Professional Project X," but hear "Come up and see me sometime."

Feel free to add to this list.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Minnesänger Mittwoch.

1) I experience an unnatural joy in the presence of the older siblings of all my favorite languages,
2) It's February,
3) I'm a sap, and
3) I haven't done a medieval post in a while,

I have decided to dedicate this post to the fine tradition of courtly-love poetry, Middle High German style. (Before I begin, you should know that all the information that follows will be broadly generalized, and woefully incomplete. This is just an introduction.) For the non-English majors out there in the world, courtly-love poetry was big in the High Middle Ages, and was most often written by men for an audience of women, and centered on the theme of unrequited love.* The poetic tradition was an extension of the lord-follower relationship in Europe of the time, but replaced the lord with the beloved woman. Duty to one's lord becomes duty to one's lady, often a married lady (hence the neccessity that the love remain unrequited). Following Ovid's description of love-sickness, the speaker/singer of these poems often described himself as becoming weak and pale, dying for love. For the non-German majors, Middle High German was the version of German spoken and written between about 1050 and either 1350 or 1500, depending on how you classify language change. The end date of MHG is still being argued among germanists, so pick your favorite of those two possibilities and go with that. Minnesänger (singular, Minnesang), adopted much form and content from the French and Spanish traditions of courtly love, and were quite popular at courts across the German language areas of Europe during the 12th and 13th century. There were differences, of course, among the traditions. The Germans, ever contemplative, tended to speak/sing more often about the philosophical problems presented by love than their Latin-European contemporaries. /didactic ramble

For February, I am offering to the internets one very small Minnesang, with which you can win friends and influence people. (Ok, geeky people, but geeky people need love too)

Short example, by an unknown poet (possibly female):

Dû bist mîn, ich bin dîn:
des solt dû gewis sîn;
dû bist beslozzen in mînem herzen,
verlorn ist daz slüzzelîn:
dû muost och immer darinne sîn.

My own inexact and very clunky translation:

You are mine, I am thine:
This should be known to you;
You are locked in my heart
The little key is lost
You must always be therein.

*This would change when Walther von der Vogelweide** started a new tradition of courtly-love poetry called nidere minne (lower love) or Mädchenlieder (girl's songs), insisting that love must be "mutual." In short, Walther was a horndog. The problem with nidere minne is that it involves consummation of the relationship, a dangerous prospect if you're talking about the wife of a guy who has the power to kill you, and so those poems are about courtly men and their peasant mistresses. See "unter den linden" for details. Hohe Minne, or high love, poetry was thought to purify a man's soul, all that denying of the flesh stuff.

** This name is close enough to a double entendre to create great joy in my prurient life. Germans call birds Vogeln, but they also use the word vogeln as a replacement for our English verb "to fuck." Ergo, Walther could be from the bird meadow, or ... from that other meadow. Yes, I know, I'm a child.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

We Lost a Founding Mother Today

Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 - February 4, 2006)

I don't want to imagine how the world would have been for women of my generation without her work. Thank you, Ms. Friedan, for all of it.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sound Familiar?

You know, when the Patriot Act was passed, I remarked to friends that it was eerily similar to Germany's Enabling Act. Like, translate the Enabling Act, and stick and American flag on it and voila! Patriot Act. People thought I was being silly then, even though I showed them the translation. So, today I give you this bit of academic work cited directly from The Randi Rhodes Show Newsletter. If you google Lawrence Britt, you can find this same information all over the internets. ( Randi Rhodes is a broadcaster with Air America Radio , in case you didn't know):

Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism
Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

The above is a summary of the more detailed orignal article "Fascism Anyone?" first published in Spring 2003 edition of Free Inquiry

History Carnival XXIV

History Carnival XXIV is up at Elfin Ethicist. And one of my posts made it (types the astonished recreant medievalist blogger). There are many fun things to read there, why are you still here?

* Post edited to correct weird spelling errors.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Forgotten Six

Pandagon reported yesterday that the governor of Ohio is planning a day of purity for St. Valentine's day. A day when good, upright Ohioan (?) minors can celebrate sexual purity. (And God bless the Pandagonians for reading the Agape press so I dont have to do it. 'Cause, like, ew. OTOH, damn those Pandagonians for putting Agape press drivel where I can see it. Bastards.)

I'm not going to write much about how sexual repression and the fixation on sexually repressing others is creepy, and hypersexual in its own way. Nor will I consider the types of people who run around asking 15 through 19 year-olds whether they've engaged in oral sex. I won't even question the journalistic ethics that allow a publication to post their findings on oral sex next to an HIV+ number for kids the same age, thereby suggesting through the placement of the info that oral sex inevitably leads to AIDS. I'm going to practice snark-abstinence on all these issues. I'm so pure.

What's getting my goat is the complete abstinence the most vocal of the religious right practice with regard to all those other mortal sins. I've called Pride about it, and she's pissed too. Pride HATES being upstaged by Lust, makes her downright churlish. Pride and I called a meeting, and we discussed this issue with the four responding Mortal Sins. (Sloth could not be reached for comment) To a Sin, they all expressed rage and confusion about the complete lack of press they were getting, whether Agape-based or otherwise. To rectify this most horrible inequity, I have decided to do the Sins a solid, and post their objections here.

Wrath- Well, wrath responded as one might expect, blustering on about how so very many examples of uncontrolled fury were existing in the political world, and how it's un-fucking-acceptable that Lust would have so much front-page time when Wrath was doing all the heavy lifting in political rhetoric. (Wrath and I are old friends, and I've come to accept his tendency toward tmesis as an endearing personality quirk.)

Envy - Envy agreed with Wrath, as is so often the case, but centered his objections on how *unfair* it is that no discussion of his work would come into play when people are monitoring the personal lives of others, for fear that somebody somewhere might be having a little fun. Or even that young somebodies somewhere might eventually have a little fun. Clearly, Envy's work has been undervalued.

Gluttony - Gluttony showed me thousands of pictures of people who will have too much, whether it be food, drink, drugs, or power, and knew that the evidence he presented clearly marked him as the driving force behind most of the religious right's rhetoric. He was particularly proud of Limbaugh. ("I pulled a hat-trick with that one," he said, "and nobody notices.")

Greed - Save Pride, Greed was the most dissatisfied of the group. Since all the tax cuts that failed to punish Greed at the governmental level have been passed, he's been seeing a major upsurge in business. Last year, people were talking about social security as if the money belonged to them individually, rather than existing for the weakest of the people. Starving grandmothers be damned, Greed said, people need to hoard their gold like they did in the good old days. Greed did good work there, and that's not all he did. Why, just this last quarter, as the elderly made decisions whether to heat their homes or buy their medicine, the oil industry pulled in the biggest profits ever in the history of this country. Not even Cabbage Patch dolls did that kind of business. That has to be worth a mention or two.

As you celebrate purity this February 14th, do remember to keep Pride, Greed, Envy, Gluttony, and Sloth close to your heart as well, and tell your friends. And if anybody is on speaking terms with Sloth, tell him I've been trying to reach him for some time now, and Wrath and I are starting to talk.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Remember Civil Rights? They Were Nice.

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted---nevermore!

Time for a third party. One that actually gives a damn about women citizens.