Monday, July 31, 2006

Good reads and I'm passin' them on!

The Case for Breaking Up Wal-Mart - Barry Lynn provides us with an excellent analysis of the newest Wal-Mart era and why the government needs to get its head out of Reagan's ass and do something to stop them.

Death at the Supermarket - Remember the guy who, last week, walked into the Safeway where he had been employed and shot several co-workers then tried to burn the building down? Come to find out, Steve Burd, the current CEO of Safeway, has been taking money away from his employees for decades now while he and a handful of shareholders laugh their way to the bank. Nice isn't it? I'm glad we don't have anymore here otherwise it would be one more store for me to boycott (on top of the Wal-Marts, Cracker Barrel's, Nike's of the world that is).

Clinton Economists: A Storm is Coming - it looks like Robert Rubin has changed his mind on all things economic and free trade. You think Bush helped push him over that edge?

And perhaps I shouldn't feel this way, but I do. Mel Gibson is definitely a hater of Jews. I get much pleasure of seeing his true self show forth under the visage of drunkenness. Then of course, I was further entertained by his statement of apology, thus blaming his big mouth on his alcholism. It's nice to see Mr. Elizabethan Catholic himself hasn't strayed to far from his patriarchal roots.


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Sunday, July 30, 2006

GenderPAC on the D-List

Check out Kathy Griffin mcing a cookoff for GenderPAC in Chicago. Good stuff (much better than what can usually be found on YouTube).


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Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging: "Meet Nascar's kitties" edition

Eventually these 2 will find a home away from each other but thankfully they were all spayed/neutered while I was away on "vacation." Even their mom. Whew!

Anyway, Casper is the mom's name so in keeping with a certain white ghost's honor, we commonly refer to her 3 babies as Stinky, Stretch and Fatso; the first and last being pictured above. We all love Fatso because he is very fluffy and a black tabby. Stretch is an orange tabby who will most likely be showing up at a later time when Nascar's stepdad emails me the picture.

Oh, these were taken with my camera phone one evening 2 weeks ago. Every time my phone flashed, the orange tabby attacked it. It was highly entertaining I promise you that.


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Friday Random Ten: "So it's late, get over it" edition

I think I missed the last 2 Friday's so I'll give you a list of 20 this time, how's that? Not like anyone is really paying too much attention to what my GoGear chooses for me to listen to, but they are all good songs in their own way. If you haven't ever heard the Blind Boys of Alabama I strongly suggest that you do as they are a most awesome group (there are 6 I think and I don't know what a band with six members are called).

1. Heaven by Bryan Adams
2. Seven Years by Norah Jones
3. Amazing Grace by the Blind Boys of Alabama
4. Stricken by Disturbed
5. Both Sides Now by Clannad and Paul Young
6. The Long Way Around by the Dixie Chicks
7. Cosmic Girl by Jamiroquai
8. In my Life from the most awesome musical Les Miserables
9. Everyone's Wrong but You by Ella Fitzgerald (who sings Summertime from Porgy and Bess most awesomely)
10. Wild by Poe
11. Touch by Johnny Lang
12. Where is the Love by Black Eyed Peas (this song is their saving grace, sersiously)
13. Rocks by Ben Jelen
14. Jealous Kind by Jars of Clay
15. Somewhere from the Celtic Woman cd
16. Love and Affection by Joan Armatrading
17. The Cuckoo by Riley Baugus from the Cold Mountain soundtrack
18. Nightingale by Norah Jones
19. Turn Around by Enigma
20. Pretty Baby by Vanessa Carlton

Well, I'm sticking to 10 next time no matter how many Friday's I miss.


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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A person can only rant but so much about the same things

The Senate officially passed a law that would make it a felony to drive a minor woman across state lines in order to avoid the parental consent laws in that state.

Bush, being the great orater that he is, put it eloquently:

In a statement, Bush said that "transporting minors across state lines to bypass parental consent laws regarding abortion undermines state law and jeopardizes the lives of young women."
'Cause yeah, going from one state where it's illegal for a minor woman to get a safe, legal abortion if she so chooses, into another state where she is free to get an abortion without her parents or a judge's consent is somehow endangering her life. It's always mind boogling how they miss such an ironical moment as this.

Did you hear how the Hezbollah are destroying Lebanon? This is a fairly new development but, as the cliche goes, the volcano has been ready to erupt for a while now. So much for peace treaties.

It's certainly telling to watch your country's Secretary of State be the only voice of dissent in a meeting, held in Rome, where everyone else decides working toward a peaceful ceasefire will create optimal results for everyone involved, whether directly or indirectly.

Let's see: there is still talk of invading Iran, thankfully Libya backed down, Iraq is a mess but the US wants to increase American troops in Baghdad under the guise of protecting the capital and now they want to put us down in Lebanon 'cause, ya know, we're pro-Israel but only because we're heavily pro-Christian and hey, we all know where Jesus lived. Nevermind the people who live there now.

Now on to the good news already.

Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

I know she killed her 5 children by drowning them in the bathtub and it's a bad thing to do no matter the mental state. However, by finding her not guilty using the insanity defense, the jury effectively admitted that a woman's psychosis is a very real issue. By proxy, they also admitted the effects of post-pardum depression are not to be messed with no matter what Tom Cruise shouts at Matt Lauer about using vitamins and exercise as a way to keep your mind in a sane place.

The jury announced to the world that post-pardum depression is indeed a true mental illness and for that I am glad.


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Why kids should never be left alone....


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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How's this for irony

I can't get a picture up on blogger because it's not working properly. I finally want to post something that will crack you all up and I can't.



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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's been so long!

And I've been mad busy yo.

The annual conference at Shrine Mont is coming up - in fact, I leave Friday morning sometime to head up there - so I've been a busy beaver.

I've also been on call 2 nights this week for the YWCA doing hospital advocacy and will be again tomorrow night. I've been spending those (and tomorrow's) nights at Nascar's house since he lives 10-15 min away from any of the hospitals. So far I've not had any calls though.

Then there was the dog bathing to help with their fleas and ticks. There have also been rounds of meds so they don't get the parasites in them, too.

And hey y'all, I've been having a fairly active social life!

But I need to tell you a story or two. Nascar Nut's kids will forever herein be referred to as the Pit Crew in order to distinguish between his kids and Peanut so y'all don't get confused. There are actual names (or positions rather) for them, too, but I can't remember what they are right now. (Yes, I just used y'all twice. I'm from the South, it's what we say a lot here, get over it.)

Saturday evening me, Nascar Nut and the Pit Crew went to Kings Dominion for a few hours. While walking to Water Water Canyon, the youngest of the Pit Crew looked up at her dad and asked, "Are you almost married?" We of course chuckled a bit. It wasn't until we were almost on the ride that we found out who she was referring to when Nascar looked down, as M. looked up at him, and asked, "Who am I supposed to be almost married to?"

Without moving her head, she shifted her eyes to me. Naturally we laughed and I added a resounding, "Not even close."

Well, the next day we all wanted to see Pirates of the Caribbean but it was sold out. So we went to play putt-putt instead. We were probably at the halfway point I would guess when we came upon a green in the shape of a ribbon on an incline. The Pit Crew, who had all gone before me, had tried to get it up and around that ribbon with absolutely no luck. When it came time for me to try, I succeeded (naturally :). As I was waiting for it to stop, M. who is only 5 and the youngest referred to above, yelled, "You suck!"

It was almost enough to have us on the ground laughing so hard tears were coming because it was so unexpected. She reveled in this bit of comedic timing of course and tried to recreate it as we played the rest of our game.

After that, we went to a really good ice cream place where I got Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip on a sugar cone. M. ended up wearing most of hers because she had to get what I did but ended up not liking the Peanut Butter therefore was trying to eat around it in order to eat only the chocolate.


This evening I get another husky, Kitka, who was so tick infested they were crawling the walls once the folks at the shelter put frontline on her. In case you aren't aware, ticks, especially in hordes, can kill a dog and/or cat because they suck the blood out; they work like leeches. This is why it's important to use something like Frontline (or something like it) because it protects your dogs/cats from diseases as well as death.

When Kitka and I get home, it'll be more shots and med's then back home for me where I'll do laundry, more Shrine Mont stuff and generally get my shit together since I'll be at Nascar's house again tomorrow night while I'm on call. Then my friends, I won't see you again until next Thursday at least. Maybe tomorrow night I'll put out a long mommy post for this new mommy blog carnival on the west coast I've been invited to participate in....

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What a way to get out of serving jail time

Just die from a massive coronary and you thus have nothing to worry about.
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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Rest in Peace Zeusmarvin, 1995 - 2006

(He's the kitten in the middle)

He lived a loving yet health-complicated 11 years and was the dog tester for cat friendliness since 1998.


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Monday, July 03, 2006

Remember that supposed "boy-crisis?"

Well, finally someone proves this theory is full of shit. Judith Warner, guest columnist through July for TimesSelect, uses her first chance in this most sacred of all printed space to dispel the myth of, Ohmygod, boys are doing horribly in school!

It's been muttered for some time now in feminist academic circles that
the "boy crisis" — the near-ubiquitous belief that our nation's boys
are being academically neglected and emotionally persecuted by teachers
whose training, style and temperament favor girls — is little more than
a myth.
Yessiree. It's been proven time and time again that a teacher, even a feminist-minded one, is still more likely to call on the boys than the girls.

Now a major study has confirmed it. According to "The Truth About Boys
and Girls
," a report from the nonpartisan group Education Sector, most
boys aren't just not failing; they're doing better than ever on most
measures of academic performance. The only boys who aren't — the boys
who skew the scores because they're doing really, really badly — are
Hispanic and black boys and those from low-income homes
Pay close attention to my bolded sentence. The boys who are invariably suffering are the ones who either speak English as a second language or come from an already lagging background economically or educationally.

"But the predominant issues for them," wrote Sara Mead, who based her
conclusions in the study on decades of government statistics, "are race
and class, not gender."
Does anyone need to say this any louder for the Christina Hoff Sommers’ of the world?

"White suburban boys," they wrote in The Washington Post earlier this
year, "are not dropping out of school, avoiding college or lacking in
verbal skills ... among whites, the gender composition of colleges is
pretty balanced. ... In Ivy League colleges, men still outnumber
Did you see it that? Us white folks are doing just fine; it's the persons of black/African American or Hispanic/Latino descent that are lacking due to a system that ultimately favors White Middle-Class Kids to begin with. This is why Head Start and a push to get kids, especially those in high-risk areas, into preschools exist - so they can learn the basics before they get into Kindergarten where, since SOL's have been introduced, it's even harder for a high-risk kid to get a sound grip academically.

A little anecdotal evidence here and it's hearsay since it's a story from my mom, not first hand experience.

She went to help out in my Niece's classroom one Monday a few months back, mostly as a way to check out the teacher. Mom asked Teacher what she could do to help and Teacher pointed her in the direction of an ESL student. This is a 1st grade classroom folks where this kid didn't know English until he started Kindergarten. The Teacher's premise for sending Mom to him was that since he was an ESL student, Teacher thought he was having a hard time and was a "bad" student who needed extra help.

The real problem?

Duh - he was learning English as well as learning about Science and Social Studies! He would end up exhausted by the end of the day but managed to get a B average in the meantime. Also keep in mind this is a very rural school, therefore qualifying as "high risk," and has never passed the SOL's since they became mandatory in 2000. This means Niece's school and that little boy get no money for help thus making them Children Left Behind, a direct contradiction to what Bush supposedly wanted when he signed into law the irritatingly flawed No Child Left Behind Act.

Given these facts — which, when you think of it, were always pretty
obvious — why is it that the notion that their sons are "in crisis" has
persisted among affluent, educated (mostly) white parents and the
similarly privileged journalists, experts and politicians who shape
their opinions?

Blame anti-girl "backlash." Blame media navel gazing. I think, though,
that there's more to it than that.

The notion that boys are in crisis rings true to many middle- and
upper- middle-class parents because it feels true to them. And that's
because these parents are sick of being told that their preschool sons
need occupational therapy because they can't apply stickers with the
right fine-motor finesse. These parents are sick of seeing their
kindergarten boys referred to reading specialists. They're sick of
suggestions that their 9-year-olds have A.D.H.D. if they can't sit
still through school days from which recess has been cut, gym has been
eliminated and even lunch, sometimes, has been all but eradicated to
cram in more hours of test prep.
Exactly. That little boy was not being singled out for his gender, but for his lack in understanding the English language, or more succinctly perhaps, for not being born a White Middle-Class American.

Many dads recall that when they were in school, they were restless,
sometimes turbulent, sometimes aggressive, sometimes disruptive in
class. When they channeled their energy into the workplace, they
thrived — and they don't want their sons pathologized, or girlified,
for the sake of big-size classroom control.
I can't stand the idea that making our boys sit down, shut-up, behave and to respect their teachers when they're talking and trying to teach them stuff they will inevitably need and/or use the rest of their life is "girlifying" them. Why is it we teach girls to sit pretty and mind their manners but not boys? What makes boys so special they get the "boys will be boys" excuse but girls are admonished?

I sympathize with much of this. But what I don't see happening among
parents who complain that their boys are being disserved by educators
is a calling into question of their own complicity with high-pressure
schools that demand way too much of their sons.
I don't sympathize with it at all. Call me un-empathic if you will, I don't care. I get the "boys will be boys" or "he's a boy all right" or "he's all boy" response when I tell other less sociologically aware parents that Peanut got rough with some other boys in school, talked out of turn or disrupted the class for the bazillionth time. (Thank goodness his teachers, thus far anyway, haven't used that excuse and have made him behave or pay the consequences.) And it drives me absofreakinlutely bonkers.

Talk of the boy crisis is a diversion. It draws attention from the real
reasons so many white suburban parents sense that their sons are in
trouble. Those reasons aren't academic; they're behavioral and
emotional. Researchers have found in recent years that anxiety,
depression and self-medicating through drugs and alcohol are
disproportionately on the rise in rich communities, as kids seek escape
from excessive pressures to succeed.

This isn't unique to boys. Girls in these communities are showing an
increased incidence of eating disorders (female athletes are in
particular trouble on that score), and also a disturbing rise in
escapist behaviors like binge drinking and cutting. Experts say girls
are showing crisis signs for the same reasons as boys: because they're
stressed out, overextended and pushed beyond the limits of normal human
endurance. But since girls' forms of acting out tend to be
self-destructive rather than disruptive and often coexist with
excellent academic performance, they often pass under the radar.
It's been proven time and time again that boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD than girls simply because the symptoms manifest themselves in different ways. If this is the first you've heard of it, you haven't been paying close attention.

I've been saying this for a while now: boys explode, girls implode.

And I think it's because they're taught to handle their feelings differently based on gender alone. It's all the supposed hard-wired stuff we hear so much about. Girls are taught that anger is a bad thing, that striking out or raging against the machine is something girls just don’t do. We are taught to sit pretty in our girly dresses and mind our manners. Henceforth, boys are excused for their raping and/or pillaging behaviors because that’s "just what boys do". This excuse allows boys the opportunity to express themselves in whatever way they want as long as they don’t cry or in any way shape or form act like a girl. I think what the boys in this world need is a good dose of “girlifying” so perhaps they will grow up to be more emphatic, adjusted and well rounded adults who learn not to perpetuate the actual problem but to fight it at the source.

The notion that there's a universal boy crisis is expedient for
well-off parents in other ways as well. Talk — about anti-boy
discrimination, about boy-only learning styles — is cheap. Doing the
things necessary to address the real crisis among black, Latino and
rural and poor city boys isn't: it requires money for smaller classes,
better-trained teachers and more support. I'm not sure that white
suburban taxpayers are eager to pay the price. But I do know that if we
can get past gender turf battles, we might be able to address what's
really going wrong with our nation's kids.
Exactly. What I'd like to see is a genuine attempt to make sure no child is truly left behind. And that, my friends, might have to wait until we get a Real President in office.

(Judith Warner, the author of "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" and a contributing columnist for TimesSelect, will be a guest columnist through the end of July.)

So I ended up posting the whole column, but in snippet form. I couldn't pick out any one place that was more important than the rest because the whole article is the point well made; I just added my $.02 worth.

As for that study Warner cited? Here ya go. (Warning: *.pdf version)
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