Archive for April, 2007

Let’s face it: I’m congenitally inappropriate.

I lumber onto the elevator, clutching a large and heavy Fed Ex package.

Lawyer in elevator, looking at the box: Big package?
Me, grinning wickedly: Why, thank you!

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Proof that we did the right thing.

When we adopted Arthur, it was hard to tell how Gawain felt about it. At first there was a great deal of howling, hissing and brawling, which eventually settled into Gawain refusing to acknowledge Arthur’s existence, and Arthur feeling faintly hurt about it. With the introduction of the blinking-light-ball-in-the-circular-track toy, an agreement was made that two cats could, perhaps, play at the same time, as long as there was no direct contact. One day, they began to play without the mediation of the toy. Lately, we’ve noticed that Gawain has been whining and fussing when Arthur goes outside without him.

And then came yesterday.

Closest kitties have ever been!

We have been vindicated.

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SCOTUS, you displease me mightily.

Yesterday, as I’m sure you’re all aware by now, the Supreme Court of The United States voted to uphold the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,” previously struck down by two circuit courts. In taking this action, please note, the Court did not explicitly limit post-viability abortion – it simply decided that one type of medical procedure – the inadequately defined “intact D&E,” was “gruesome and inhumane,” and “never medically necessary,” because it involves puncturing the skull of the fetus while the body remains intact. The more common method, dismemberment of the fetus in utero, was deemed acceptable. Both of these procedures are used for pre- as well as post-viability abortions.

As Ema eloquently said, regarding a brief she read earlier in this case:

If your argument–as articulated by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), a sponsor of the federal ban–is that you want to ban a medical procedure because it’s barbaric and gruesome and inhumane, on what basis do you declare an intact delivery barbaric and gruesome and inhumane, but one involving dismemberment, not so much?

And since I’m asking questions: Why is a D&E barbaric and gruesome and inhumane, while bleeding out from a torn cervix is civilized and acceptable and humane?

From the same post (italics are quotes from the brief):

(A) the government wishes to ban a medical procedure but fails to define it (The uncontested evidence presented in the New York trial established that any D&E or induction…may fall within the definition of “partial- birth abortion” contained in the Act.)

(B) the government seeks to stigmatize one [procedure] as aberrant [intact D&E] and to embrace the other as “standard [D&E involving dismemberment], despite the fact that whether the fetus is dismembered or removed intact, the physician must reduce the size of the skull to complete the delivery, and that both variants are used at the same point in pregnancy.

While I’m quoting, I honestly don’t feel I can say it much better than Scott Lemieux presciently did here, back in November:

If the Court overturns the health exemption [ed: which it did], this will deal a body blow to Casey, giving states hostile to abortion much more leeway to legally harass doctors and patients in ways likely to have a chilling effect on abortion providers. (Remember that D&X abortions are not limited to post-viability abortions.) If the Court gives a free pass to legislatures that make bogus medical claims to evade the health exemption requirement, as the drafters of Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Act did, this will have the same effect with an extra layer of dishonesty added on top. (It will also send a signal to legislatures that the Court will not scrutinize the motives and consequences of abortion regulations with any seriousness, further diluting the “undue burden” restriction.) If, alternatively, the Court upholds the law pending “as applied” challenges, this will make challenges to abortion laws much more difficult and expensive, exacerbating the class inequities already present in abortion access.

And irrespective of the precise rationale the Court ends up citing, the larger problem is that, because the distinction between D&X abortions and any other procedure is wholly arbitrary, legislatures can invent further distinctions and continue to tie the hands of abortion doctors. As Eve Gartner, the lawyer representing Planned Parenthood, put it during the oral argument, “to allow such an expansion of pre-viability abortions that can be banned would set the stage for continued legislative efforts to ban other iterations of the classic D&E method of abortion, until truly there would be nothing left at all of Casey‘s holding that it is unconstitutional to ban second-trimester abortions.”

Partial-birth abortion bans involve inventing a scary-sounding but scientifically meaningless term, applying it to an abortion procedure morally indistinguishable from any other, and using the legislative results as a Trojan Horse to undermine popular judicial protections of a woman’s right to choose. They are the ultimate example of the increasing cynicism and emptiness of the leadership of the American “pro-life” movement, and the crass exploitation of its rank-and-file by Republicans (and too many Democrats) happy to use the issue to mobilize the base as long as the access to abortion of women in their social milieu aren’t affected. Congress is employing rank dishonesty to play political games with the lives and bodies of American woman. The Supreme Court may not end up telling it to stop, but it certainly should.

But, of course, it didn’t.

Further reading:

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In which I bitch out an advice columnist.

I read advice columns sometimes. I read them for the same reasons I suspect a lot of people do: it’s an opportunity to see that someone else is not only fucking up worse than you are, but that they are so desperate for help that they’re willing to put their problems right out there for public judgment – a state which you have, hopefully, not yet reached. (Unless, of course, you have a blog. Don’t judge me!)

I just read the April 12th “Dear Prudence,” in Slate, and I was not pleased. I was so not pleased, in fact, that I felt obliged to respond. And since I spent so long writing this response, I’m going to make you read it. Because that’s how I am.

First, the original query:

I am a 47-year-old divorced man. I have been through three (yes, three) bad to very bad marriages and have become very cautious about talking to, meeting, and dating women. I am not one of those older guys who goes out looking for younger women; as a matter of fact, all the women I have dated in the past are around my age. I have never been attracted to young women, as I find that most do not possess the maturity level that I’m comfortable with. That is, until recently. I met a girl who instantly grabbed my attention. The attraction grows each time that I see her. But she is only in her mid-20s. I am very outgoing and friendly, yet I find myself hesitating and having a difficult time attempting to ask this young woman on a date. In some ways, I feel I’m doing the right thing by not asking, but then feel I may be keeping myself from finally having a good relationship in my life. I don’t know if the age difference is something that would bother her or not. My daughter (age 22) encourages me to talk to her, but I still hesitate. What should I do?

Scroll down here to read the full response.

And here is my response to that response:

Dear Prudence,

I rarely write letters to advice columnists criticizing their advice – after all, you do this for a living, and you’re usually pretty good at it. But I was absolutely appalled by your April 12th advice to 47 year old Tom, who questioned whether he should ask a 20-something woman out on a date.

You are what every girl is dreaming of: a middle-aged guy with a miserable track record, a daughter her own age, and apparently no self-insight.

This response is not only insulting, but unfounded. If this man had no “self-insight,” he would have charged right ahead and asked the girl out on a date already. Instead he has hesitated, asking his twenty-two year old daughter how she felt about it, and then asking you. The fact that he asked his daughter at all demonstrates that he cares about her feelings, not, as you assert, that he is using her inappropriately as a confidante.

Sure, dating women more than two decades younger after multiple marital disasters is standard behavior for billionaires and movie stars, but at least those guys are billionaires or movie stars.

You pack a lot of insult and reproval into one sentence, I’ll give you that. First, your suggestion that young women date older men solely for their money and/or status is insulting to younger women’s intelligence and ethics. Second, your suggestion that wealthy and powerful men have somehow earned younger women because they have wealth and power is insulting to all women, falling neatly as it does into the old “woman-as-commodity” cliche. Third, your suggestion that somehow the man writing in is less valuable as a person because he is neither a billionaire nor a movie star is insulting to him personally, as well as to every person who falls into neither category.

When I walked into my friend’s dinner party four years ago, I was in my mid-twenties and not dreaming of anyone in particular – I certainly wasn’t dreaming of “a middle aged guy with a miserable track record [and] a [child my] own age.” But a man at that party struck up a conversation. He was in his mid-fifties and had been married three times – death, divorce, divorce. He had a son who was eleven years older than I was. He sure as heck wasn’t a billionaire, nor a movie star. But he was intelligent, handsome and fascinating, and had a wonderful sense of humor. He asked me out on a date. A little over a year later we got married, and we’ve been ridiculously happy ever since.

While I agree that anyone with three failed marriages could probably use some therapy, I don’t see any reason why this should preclude Tom from dating altogether, nor dating this particular woman. If Tom feels a strong attraction and suspects it may be returned, he should ask the girl out on a date. The worst that can happen is that she’ll say no.

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Just Desserts – Chapter 1

Dextrose was feeling smug. That morning he had spent one hour baking cookies, another hour eating them, and then he had watched paint peel for a full forty-five minutes. Now it was afternoon, and he had just finished organizing his socks (by both color and country of origin.) He narrowed his eyes and lowered his chin as he looked in the mirror. “There,” he announced to the empty room, “stands one productive Peep.”

But it wasn’t much fun being fabulous all by himself. He turned away from the mirror and ran to find his best friend.

“Maltose!” He was a little out of breath as he skidded into the room. “You have to come see my sock drawer!”

MALTOSE GAZES OUT OF THE WINDOW

Maltose, staring out the window, only heaved a sigh so deep it seemed bottomless. “Did you ever wonder,” she asked mournfully, “when all the excitement left our lives?”

Dextrose thought about this. “Nope. Life has been nice and quiet since we got back from our journey. So, ready to come see my sock drawer?”

Maltose glanced at him over her shoulder. “You,” she informed him, “are a Philistine.”

“What’s that?”

She looked back out of the window. “I’m not sure, exactly. But I know you are one.” Outside the sky was grey, and the sea in the distance was curling white and high on the rocks. “I’m sorry. I’m just . . . just . . . restless, is all. All day I’ve been feeling like something is wrong – like there’s more to life than Crème Eggs and watching paint peel.”

“I know what your problem is,” Dextrose said. “You’ve been bitten by the Adventure Bug.”

“Oh, Dextrose. Clichés don’t help.”

“I’m sorry,” Dextrose paused, and then said timidly, “but you have been bitten by the Adventure Bug. Look.”

ADVENTURE BUG

“Oh! Well, that explains the itchiness.” Maltose scratched her side. “Then I suppose there’s nothing to be done. We’ll have to go tell the council we’re going on another Adventure.”

“W-w-we?” Dextrose began to back out of the room. “I’ve got an awful lot to do around here, Maltose. I don’t think I can get away. I – I still have to organize my underwear drawer.”

“You don’t wear underwear, Dex. For that matter, you don’t even wear socks.”

“Well, someday I might. Better to be prepared, after all.” Dextrose was out in the hallway, ready to flee. “In fact, I should go get started right now.”

“If you come with me, you can use my camera,” Maltose cajoled.

Dextrose stopped moving. “The one Alice Gator gave you? The shiny one?”

“Yes, that one.”

And so they found themselves in front of Hexopyranose and the Peep Council, explaining about the Adventure Bug.

THE COUNCIL

“Yes, I see,” the elder Peep said slowly. “Well, I suppose if you must leave, you must. Perhaps, in your wanderings, you will find new lands, and claim them in the name of the Yellow Peeps! Perhaps you will find treasures, and bring them back to us! Perhaps you will find out how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop!”

The Council gasped as one, and Pentofuranose fainted.

“This journey could bring about all sorts of wonders. Therefore, we will send you on your way with glad hearts.” Hexopyranose went to the side of the dais, where she opened a drawer and removed something beige and oblong. She gazed reverently at the object as she carried it back.

HAT PRESENTATION

“This is the hat of a true adventurer. Also,” Hexopyranose rapped the top of the hat, “good protection from falling rocks. Small ones, anyway.” She gave the hat to Maltose, who tried it on immediately and began to preen.

Dextrose was a little sad. Not only was he being dragged away from his peeling paint and his wardrobe, but now Maltose had a wonderful hat, while his own head went yellow and bare. Hexopyranose noticed his expression, and thought fast.

“And, of course, we have a hat for you as well, Dextrose.” She motioned to Rhamnopyranose, who began to fish around underneath the dais. He produced something dusty and floppy, which he brushed off as best he could before handing it to Dextrose. It was the most beautiful hat Dextrose had ever seen – even better than Maltose’s. He placed it gently on his head and felt his fluffy heart swell with pride.

Maltose hung the camera around his neck. “Now we’re all ready to go.”

NEW HATS

The Peep Council was there early the next morning to see them off. Hexopyranose quietly pulled them aside.

GOOD WISHES

“If you do find out how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll Center of a Tootsie Pop,” she said hesitantly, “I think perhaps it’s best you keep it to yourself. Some mysteries, truly, are not meant to be known.”

The two Peeps promised solemnly.

FAREWELL CEREMONY

“Now,” Hexopyranose announced loudly. “We say Farewell to our adventurers! We say Farewell, but not Goodbye, for we will see you again! We say Farewell, but not So Long, because it will not be so long before you are back among your Peeps! We say Farewell, but not Toodle-oo, because that would just be silly!”

And with the sounds of raucous cheering ringing in the air, Maltose and Dextrose climbed aboard their vessel and took off. Their new adventure had begun.

LEAVING HOME


Chapter 2

Set-designer, Pith-helmet-and-camera-maker, and Photoshop Genius: Husband.
Story-Writer, Sombrero-maker, and Photo-taker: Uccellina.

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You should learn not to make personal remarks, Alice said with some severity.

Okay, I really, really have to work on this Separate Statement In Support Of Motion To Compel Cranial Infarction In Opposing Counsel, but I’m going to take a quick break to share with you an encounter from my lunch hour. Which is really a lunch ten minutes, but hey.

It is a very windy day here in the City of Angels. I walked to the taco store and back, and was frisked and then molested by the breeze. Fortunately, I was wearing pants rather than a skirt, so no Marilyn Monroe Moment.

As I entered the lobby of my building, I saw an old, fat, balding white guy in a suit and suspenders, standing by the elevator, watching me.

“Boy,” he shook his head, “Your hair is a mess!” He walked over to the door and looked out. “Do you think it’s too windy for me to walk to the store?”

“No, you should try it,” I replied cheerfully. “After all, you don’t have to worry about your hair.”

The elevator came just then, and I got on, so I didn’t see his face. But I like to imagine it was shattered.

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Oh, the crazy.

So, obviously, I have been slightly harried lately, and have had no time to write anything intelligent for this blog. All of my brain cells are otherwise occupied, and I’m trying to kill off the ones that aren’t through heavy drinking.

But I did find time to pull together a couple of stories that were published on the old blog, and put them up here. So, until I get back (Soon! Maybe tomorrow! Maybe Monday!) with a New And Wonderful! Project Which You Will All Adore, please busy yourselves with these.

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Question for the 80s kids.

Is Cyndi Lauper doing something particularly exciting right now? Because I have just one small photo of her on this blog, and I’m getting upwards of 60 hits a day from searches on her name.

Just curious.

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Filler

I know things have gotten bad when I wake up in the morning, stretch and yawn, begin to climb out of bed, and hear the sleepy, plaintive voice of Husband ask, “are you going to update your blog today?”

Let me assure, you, chickadees, that you have not been abandoned. I’m working on something very, very exciting, just for you, which will be posted in the not-too-awfully-distant-future. But because I have one (1) full-time job and one (1) part-time job and have recently signed up for one (1) weekly class and still have three (3) knitting projects and several (?) non-blog writing tasks, my blogging time has been squozened and squashened.

In the meantime, I give you this video, courtesy of The Susan Of Awesome.

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