Sunday, September 23, 2007

General Strike

Begin a general strike on Election Day, November 6, 2007. Well, would it work?

Vigilante Censorship Leads to Book Reviews

Wow. Library Stuff linked to me. As that's one of my favorite sites I'm pleased and honored. In my post I talked about a case of vigilante censorship, in which a woman stole a book from a couple of libraries in order to protect children from the contents of the book. I visited my local library and flipped through the book, but then decided it deserved an even closer look, so I went back and checked it out. My library had two copies on the shelf. I may end up buying a copy of the book for myself. As I pointed out, vigilante censorship doesn't work, and in this case backfired big time.

The book in question is "It's Perfectly Normal". The book is aimed at children who are starting puberty. It's goal is to demystify the changes that a person goes through, and does so in a very straightforward way. It also has plenty of illustrations, in a gentle style that is not clinical, but not titillating.

I'm going to reiterate that I wish I'd had this book when I was going through puberty. My parents were great, don't get me wrong, but I didn't know what questions to ask. This book would have given me both the vocabulary I needed and answers to a number of questions I dared not ask. And it wouldn't have changed my religious beliefs at all, except perhaps to make me more confident. Something I desperately needed at that time in my life, and didn't get until many years later.

First off, there are about 40 penises in the artwork in this book. There are about an equal or slightly higher number of graphic depictions of female genitalia. Almost every picture is surrounded by text that explains something about the human body. My personal suspicion is that many kids who read this book may focus at first on the pictures, but the text is easy to understand and interesting enough quickly draw them in. And it's great text.

As guides throughout the book, we are introduced to a cartoon bird and bee. The bird is eager to learn, while the bee thinks sex is "gross". These characters appear on almost every page, commenting on the text. They are a way for some readers to distance themselves a bit from the intensity of the subject matter, and a clever narrative device.

The book first defines the word "sex": gender, reproduction system, desire, and the act itself. A quick three pages at the end of this first section describes what people mean by "straight" and "gay", and the last paragraph of this section reflects a theme the entire book takes: "If a person has any questions of thoughts about his or her sexual feelings, talking to someone he or she knows and trusts -- a parent, relative, good friend, teacher, doctor, nurse, or clergy member -- can be helpful." The book is constantly referring the reader (who is presumed to be a child) back to the adults in his or her life.

Of course, for some folks, just the fact that the book doesn't declare homosexuals to be sinners destined for hell makes it a bad book.

The next section of the book talks about the human body. And on page 20-21 there is an impressive double page spread of a bunch of naked people of every shape, size, color, and age. No doubt these pages would give fundamentalists a heart attack. What the fundamentalists don't seem to understand or remember is that children are extremely curious about the human body at that age. Isn't it better for them to look at cartoons in a book than seek out a fellow child to experiment with? Just because you do not acknowledge their curiousity does not mean it will go away. This book is all about satisfying curiousity.

The section continues with a detailed overview of the sexual parts of a female body, then an overview of the sexual parts of a male body. It's illustrated, of course, and there is a LOT of emphasis on the fact that these body parts are designed for making babies. It sure seems like a lot of the point of this book is to make sure children understand that sex generally results in babies... a fact that I would think any fundamentalist would want their child to learn.

The section ends with a bit about "dirty" words, and how sex is taboo. Again, it ends with the suggestion that children seek out a trusted adult if they have questions.

The third section is all about puberty and what happens to a body as it goes through puberty. This section talks about periods, wet dreams, and erections. Again, it emphasizes that having sex can result in pregnancy. Over and over. It also talks about acne (the bane of all youth), bras, and jockstraps. It discusses hygiene and health, and the new emotions that come along with puberty. And, horror of horrors, the very end of the section covers masturbation.

The fourth section talks about families and babies. It starts with the difficulties of caring for babies, then talks about genetics, then moves into the actual acts that lead to babies. Again, there is a massive emphasis on how likely it is for a baby to result from intercourse. This section also goes into birth control, and what doesn't work. There appear to be a lot of myths out there, and this book attempts to de-mystify and de-mythify. The rest of the section is devoted to actually having a baby, and what the woman goes through. Frankly, if that part doesn't convince girls to be careful, I'm not sure what would. The final bit of this section talks about other ways to have a child, including in vitro and adoption.

The fifth section is about decision making. It covers abstinence and birth control, and emphasizes that the only way to make sure you won't have a baby is to not have sex. The end of the birth control part again refers the child to a trusted adult. The last part of this section is about abortion, and covers it as fairly as I've seen. There's a slight overriding disapproval of the whole matter, which is only to be expected from a book celebrating the human body and life, but it doesn't condemn abortion. Again, the mere fact that it doesn't condemn it is probably enough to make it a bad book for some folks.

The last section deals with the very serious topics of sexual abuse and sexually transmitted disease. The book advises children to go to an adult if they are abused, and then to another if they are not listened to. It's good advice, and something that some children, sadly, really ought to know. Like the overview of pregnancy, the pages on STDs ought to scare some children into being careful. There is a longer part on AIDS, and then the book finishes up with more about making choices.

Again, this is a great book. I would not hesitate to hand it to my own children. I wouldn't give it to someone else's children, but I'd recommend it for the parents to read and decide for themselves. It's a book that requires an adult to be ready to answer questions. I don't consider that a bad thing at all.

Top 10 Modern Differences Between Progressives and Conservatives

The Top 10 Modern Differences Between Progressives and Conservatives:

Number 10
  • Progressives want to improve America for everyone.
  • Conservatives believe America is #1; improvement is impossible by definition.

    Number 9
  • Progressives believe in facts.
  • Conservatives believe that anything that does not explicitly favor them is biased against them.

    Number 8
  • Conservatives would rather die than have gay soldiers help win the wars they start.
  • Progressives would let any qualified citizen serve in the military, but would rather not start wars.

    Number 7
  • Progressives manipulate language to elucidate their own opinions.
  • Conservatives manipulate language to distort progressives' opinions.

    Number 6
  • Progressives dislike hypocrisy.
  • Conservatives dislike Progressives' hypocrisy.

    Number 5
  • Progressives believe that protecting life means protecting people who are alive.
  • Conservatives believe that protecting life means protecting people who are in hopeless vegetative states, microscopic cells, flags, virginity and ignorance.

    Number 4
  • Progressives criticize the media because they don't like how it behaves.
  • Conservatives criticize the media because they don't like that it exists.

    Number 3
  • Progressives believe that everyone is entitled to the pursuit of happiness.
  • Conservatives believe that everyone is entitled to the pursuit of happiness except women, minorities, gays, atheists, Muslims, pot smokers, immigrants, foreigners, the impoverished and the Clintons.

    Number 2
  • Conservatives believe that 9/11 "changed everything," so we must do anything not let the terrorists win.
  • Progressives believe that convincing ourselves that 9/11 changed anything lets the terrorists win.

    And, the Number 1 Modern Difference Between Progressives and Conservatives
  • Progressives believe that "we are all in it together."
  • Conservatives believe that "you are on your own."
  • Saturday, September 22, 2007

    Why We Need Net Neutrality

    Here's a graphical illustration of what will likely happen if we do not get Net Neutrality:

    No Neutral Net

    "While his hired captains jeer us in the street."

    Mercenaries are Making a Killing in Iraq. There are more Blackwater "security" guards in Iraq than American soldiers. Blackwater doesn't answer to US Military law, nor are they responsible for their actions to the Iraq government. And they ignored the demand by the Iraq government that they leave. Think about it. A bunch of macho mercenaries answerable to NO ONE, running around in Iraq shooting innocent people without fear of punishment. And we wonder why we are losing the occupation??!??

    Winning Season

    The Mariners have a winning season this year! Yay!

    (the key to being an M's fan is to keep your expectations low for most years)

    Friday, September 21, 2007


    The Ten Steps To Fascism:
    1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy ("terrorists")
    2. Create a gulag (Guantánamo Bay, CIA "black sites")
    3. Develop a thug caste (Blackwater, young Republicans)
    4. Set up an internal surveillance system (wiretaps)
    5. Harass citizens' groups (anti-war protests stopped, animal rights protestors defined as "terrorists")
    6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release (no fly lists)
    7. Target key individuals (whistleblowers punished)
    8. Control the press (Fox Propaganda Channel)
    9. Dissent equals treason (McCain suggests kicking MoveOn out of the country)
    10. Suspend the rule of law (habeas corpus anyone?)
    Bush and Cheney should have been in prison for treason four years ago. When we finally start goose-stepping, then are we allowed to compare Bush to Hitler?

    Lotsa Links and Rants

    Some phone numbers on the national Do Not Call list will expire soon, so make sure your numbers are re-upped at You can verify your phone numbers are on the list at the website (mine are good until 2011), or add a phone number to the list. I have gotten VERY few unwanted calls since I put our numbers on the list.

    Stephen Colbert on the Simpsons (YouTube).

    Bush hates poor children.

    Heavily monitored areas in London are NOT seeing a reduction in crime. Apparently Big Brother is pretty much ineffectual.

    Newsweek has a good summary of what happened in Jena, LA. If you don't know about it, read. If it doesn't disgust you, then you aren't human, like the driver of the truck in this article.

    Guantanama Underwear Flap. Military accuses lawyers of sneaking underwear into their clients... clients they haven't been allowed to see in a year, and underwear that is popular with military (not lawyers).

    Iraq: Yesterday, Congress learned that $6 billion worth of contracts are under criminal review. $6 BILLION stolen from American taxpayers. By a lot of companies run by close friends of Bush and Cheney. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    If there is a World War III, this is the start of it.

    The Opposite of Progress...

    Congress wastes time condemning a freaking NEWSPAPER AD while Bush gets away with murdering our troops in Iraq. And then Bush, who insulted our armed forces far more than Move On ever has, whines about the ad as well. Whatever happened to FREE SPEECH???

    Here's Olbermann on the hypocrisy of our "president".

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Guns in School

    Should a teacher be allowed to carry a gun to school? My first instinct is "NO!"

    But read this story, and this article. Has your opinion changed?

    I think mine has. I've never been opposed to guns. I've been opposed to people with no training carrying guns. This woman has gone through training. She knows what she's doing. And she has a VERY good reason to carry a weapon. It still bothers me that she may carry a gun, but I'd rather that than she die at the hands of her ex-husband.

    The Mariners

    Yay. They won't have a losing season this year.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Book Banning!

    Human Filtering... a woman checks out multiple copies of a sex education book from the library and refuses to return them, proudly proclaiming that she is taking them to prevent any children from reading the books. As a result, the library has to order more copies of the books due to requests from the publicity resulting, and the book gets more sales.

    Vigilante censorship doesn't work.

    Out of curiosity, I went to my local library and looked at the book in question, "It's Perfectly Normal." I flipped through it and immediately saw what the book thief was no doubt horrified by: accurate cartoons of the human body showing sexual organs. I read through the words that accompanied the offending pictures, and found that it was a very straightforward, basic text on the human body. The kind of book I really deeply wish I'd had when I was a teenager/pre-teen going through puberty. The book emphasized acceptance, intelligent decision making, and hygiene. Altogether, a really great book that I'd be happy to get for my own kids (if I had any).

    Of course, it's also a book that requires a parent to actually be involved in parenting. You don't just hand this to a kid and say, "here, figure it out!" Clearly, though, parenting is too difficult for parents like the book thief. Better to just make sure the kids never see anything you disagree with. It's like The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg all over again.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Political Rants

    Happy Constitution Day.

    The Annotated Constitution. If you haven't read the constitution recently, read it again now.

    Iraqi Blog Roundup.

    Two of the seven soldiers who contributed to an op-ed about the war are now dead. Another is wounded. Read the column.

    The almost non-existent Iraq Government has banned Blackwater, the mercenary criminals who are being paid far more than our troops with no oversight. I knew an extremely pro-Bush Vietnam vet who planned to join Blackwater because it paid more than the military and would let him "kill terrorists".

    Only a neocon would be stupid enough to believe in the "amero" coin. Speaking of stupid, the Museum of Hoaxes has a couple of election hoaxes that were entirely successful.

    The war on drugs terrorizes another innocent family. The war on drugs has to stop. There's got to be a better way to reduce drug use than attacking and murdering innocents in ill-conceived drug raids. At least this time no one was killed.

    And on another war topic, The ACLU files a "friend of court" brief in support of Larry Craig. Basically, their complaint boils down to the fact that the sting operation was not crafted to avoid capturing innocent people. While I find a certain morbid glee in a hypocrite getting caught while doing something he's publicly condemned, the whole sting seemed pretty dodgy to me.

    Distracted Driving. Don't we have laws against driving while distracted? Like "negligent driving" and such? Why do we need new laws? Just punish people to the full extent of the current laws. Sheesh. Why do we have to spell out what people can or cannot do?

    More on fixing healthcare. It seems that some people think computerizing medical records will magically solve everything. If it's done correctly, computerization can help. But the way most systems are run simply adds another layer to the mess a patient has to work through to get help. One key to a good health care system is allowing doctors to be the final word on treatment instead of insurance companies.

    Quote of the Day:
    "The President has been allowed to spy on Americans without a warrant, and our U.S. Senate is letting it continue... You know something is wrong when the New England Patriots face stiffer penalties for spying on innocent Americans than Dick Cheney and George Bush."

    -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, quoted by NBC News.
    Appeals court throws out conviction in the Jena Six case. If you haven't heard about this yet, go read and be prepared to become very angry or very sick at how barbaric and backwards our country still is.

    Another Republican finally realizes what true conservatives have been saying for years and quits the party.

    McCain thinks that people who legally express their opinion should be deported if they don't agree with Bush and his mouthpieces.

    Good-bye waterfront. Whether or not we caused it, global warming affects us dramatically. Maybe it would be a good idea to at least try to stop it? Unless we really want to end the human race.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Six Years Later

    Six years ago we were attacked, on American soil, by Osama Bin Laden. Our leader claimed at that point that he was going to capture Osama Bin Laden, dead or alive. Our leader didn't. In fact, he diverted all resources from the search for Bin Laden to a war profiteering adventure, totally unrelated to the War on Terror.

    George W Bush could've been the most popular President ever, if only he had kept his promise and just FINISHED what he started in Afghanistan by capturing Bin Laden and destroying the Taliban.

    Instead, he decided to give his old buddies taxpayers' money by creating a threat in Iraq and invading a country that had nothing to do with the attacks on America.

    Six years later, and we are in Hell thanks to Bush. Heckuva job, Bushie.

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    The Surge Has Failed

    Iraqis believe the Surge has failed. But hey, who cares about the Iraqis, right? They're only the people totally affected by whatever Bush and his fellow war profiteers intend to do to the country. I mean, we can't have the general populace having a say in matters, that would be entirely too much like democracy. And you can't have war profiteers and democracy!

    So, we know the Surge is a complete failure and that the best choice would be to start withdrawing American troops from the illegal and immoral war in Iraq immediately. Let's see how the White House and their pets spin this.

    Sunday, September 09, 2007

    Various Links

    Another failure of infrastructure. More people died in the heatwave than the bridge collapse, but no one seems to be screaming about power companies needing to upgrade their systems like bridges need to be repaired. But at the root, it's the same problem. Money isn't going into maintaining what we have. The result is preventable deaths.

    Do you understand where you are?

    Is the lastest Bin Laden video a forgery?

    Iraqi inside Iraq:
    My son is a coin collector and was quite impressed and said out loud, "Mum , let's go down to the al-Rasheed tomorrow (my day off) and look up this place, the items are good and the prices are right. Let's Mum!"

    "I'm sorry baby, we can't. I will take you to another shop near al-Mutanebbi, you might find similar things."

    "Why, Mum? Why can't I go to this shop?"

    "Because it's in the green zone baby, and you're Iraqi."

    Football and Politics

    Football and politics collide. As a Seahawks fan I have this to say: Disliking Matt Hasselbeck and Mack Strong for their action, even criticizing them heavily for it, is fine. Harrassing them personally is not. There's a line. Free speech is important, but from the sounds of it, some of the anti-Bush crowd went over the line. That's wrong.

    I loved Steve Largent as a player, but was horribly disappointed in his actions as a politician after he left the game. But at least Largent kept politics and football apart (mostly). Hasselbeck and Strong made a starkly political presentation to a traitor who was in town for no other reason than to raise money for a lackey. And they pulled the hometown team into the mud with them. For that, I really don't like either man anymore. But I would never harrass them personally. They are entitled to their opinions, just as I'm entitled to mine.

    I just watched Shut Up and Sing last night. As the Dixie Chicks made clear, they had no problem with people not liking them for that single comment. What was wrong was the death threats, harrassment, and the way that people who were still fans weren't allowed to express their opinions at all. This is the same sort of situation. Hasselbeck and Strong are allowed to be stupid, but only a complete moron would harrass them for it.

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Impeach Now

    The GAO Report on Iraq. Conclusion? Things are getting worse. Most benchmarks weren't met. The "surge" didn't work. But watch and see how the Bushies spin it!

    Nuns call for inpeachment of Bush and Cheney. I think we ought to turn the pair of criminals over to the Hague for war crimes trials, as well.

    A summary of Iraqi stories. One example:
    I tried to stop the bleeding but wasn't skilled enough to do it. I was losing them – they were dying in front of my eyes!

    Suddenly the door was kicked in. American troops poured into the house, shouting "What the ... ..."

    They came to a stunned stop.

    Looking at us – at the blood – at my broken family...

    They said they were sorry. They had set up an ambush for somebody and we had walked into it. They thought he had taken refuge in this house, and followed him in.

    They said they were sorry, again and again. Asked if we needed first aid; help in bandaging the wounds; asked if we wanted to be taken to hospital.

    Why did you shoot at us?? We had our headlights turned off as you asked, and the dome lights turned on

    Why did you shoot?? Couldn't you see it was a family in the car?? Couldn't you see?

    Just make way for us to get to our home, please.

    And they did.

    My daughter lost two fingers. My husband has a punctured lung and a steel sliver embedded in his arm, still to be seen to.
    This is Bush's definition of success in Iraq. Attacking innocent families in a war zone so confused that it's nearly impossible to tell friend from foe. Four-year old girls having their fingers blown off in a case of mistaken identity. THIS IS BUSH'S IRAQ.

    We lost Iraq the day that Bush and his war profiteering buddies decided they didn't need to plan for occupying Iraq. Staying in Iraq now is just denying the inevitable, and by that denial wasting the sacrifice of our troops. We should impeach Bush and Cheney, and any other member of their administration that participated in the Iraq debacle, and withdraw our troops from Iraq as quickly as feasible.

    Speaking of withdrawing... Riverbend has left Iraq and fled to Syria, joining at least 2.35 million fellow Iraqis in exile.

    Better Hope You Can Swim

    The Melting Arctic Sea:

    Arctic Ice

    Worse, it's happening much faster than scientists expected it to happen. Better build an ark.

    Dorothy Counts

    The Dorothy Counts Story. On Sept. 4th, 1957, a 15-year-old girl named Dorothy Counts took a walk that changed Charlotte. Fifty years later, Charlotte remembers.

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    Stopping Terrorism

    German police have stopped a terrorist plot. Using good, old fashioned police work. The Germans didn't have to invade an unrelated country to stop the plot. They didn't have to take away every right of their citizens. They used common sense and good police work.

    Why is America incapable of the same level of competence?

    Massive Linkdump (with rants!)

    Yikes. This story is both a warning to not post personal information on the internet, and a indication that the far Right find nothing wrong with casually destroying other people's lives over petty stupidity.

    Good-bye Mountains (of course, to someone who lives in Seattle, it isn't a mountain unless it's got snow on it year-round, so these are actually "hills" being destroyed, which is still very bad).

    The American Taliban continues to mock itself, by once again making the comparison of the Radical Right to our enemies in terrorism too obvious to ignore.

    Woman punished for registering her dog to vote. She did it to prove that identification requirements are too lax. She proved her point. Now the problem needs to be fixed. Oddly, the reports focus on the dog, not on the voting registration problems.

    Wal-Mart sucks. A memorial marker.

    Petraus is just another Bushie who allows Republican propaganda to be given to the troops.

    Make people scared, then make them vote, and they'll always vote for the more extreme option. Republicans want all voters to be terrified, so they'll vote to continue to destroy the Constitution.

    The drug war continues to attack the wrong people. Check out this map of botched raids. The war on drugs is stupid, murderous, often illegal and should be stopped. Make drugs legal and tax the heck out of them, with heavy penalties for any crimes committed while under the influence of any drug. And stop arming police officers to make war on the people they are supposed to protect.

    Do you have to show ID? At least one cop thought so. "Papers, please," we're slowly becoming a fascist state.

    Lucky to be Insured... ok, Not really. Even the insured can't get covered for live-saving procedures. And I'm one of the uninsured.

    Never accept a phone from your employer if you intend to sneak out early.

    The White House "wholeheartedly disagree" with the fact that Bush's "surprise" visit to Iraq was just another stupid photo op. But then, the White House always disagrees with the facts.