Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good in the Health Care Bill

This significant law — for which we all fought so hard — will finally stop insurance companies from treating women like a pre-existing condition. This is a law that will stop them from charging individual women higher premiums than men — simply because they are women. It is a law that ensures that no insurance company can reject a woman for coverage as a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault, or for ever having had a Cesarean section. 
 Judy Waxman
Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights
National Women's Law Center

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sexualized, Depraved, Cheese Products

"A Manhattan chef recently began serving cheese made from his nursing wife's milk."
OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD!  How could a human being eat cheese made from breast milk??? Don't people know that stuff isn't edible?!!  PANIC!!  PAAANIIIC!!  This is outrageous.  This is disgusting.  This is unnatural.  We should outlaw it.*  What else can be done to protect God fearing, righteous folks from having such sexualized, depraved, cheese products inflicted upon them?  Obviously, nothing.

Oh, wait.  That's right.  Human babies drink breast milk - sometimes exclusively.  In fact, breast milk is, in all actuality, a nutritious substance produced by humans for perfect human nourishment.  Most of us have probably consumed it ourselves, at some point in our lives.  I mean, when you take a moment to really consider the issue, isn't it a heck of a lot weirder for us to be consuming milk products that have the makeup and protein content specific to developing baby cows?  And we wonder how we got to be so gosh darned obese in this country.  Some of us even look like...well...cows.  Odd.

 Wicked Cheese

Of course, this raises interesting issues, from a feminist perspective, given feminists' valid concerns regarding the animalization of women and the feminization of animals.  We can't very well harness women to industrialized milking machines can we?  Only lowly animals deserve that sort of treatment.  Women are already expected to do more than their fair share of child rearing and domestic chores.  Now, we expect them to feed us from their very teets?  That simply won't do. 

On the other hand (teet?), we are mammals. If a woman is producing extra milk in this terrible economy and she decides to sell the excess, shouldn't that be her prerogative?   Who exactly are we to ban women from engaging in a viable financial pursuit?  Especially a new mother - I'd expect new mothers need the cash even more than the rest of us do.  America is a free country, after all.

If you want to read Iron Chef Daniel Angerer's blog regarding this "daring" take on cheese, you can here.

Om shanti.

*Yes, the New York Health Department did recently take this very action, as apparently "cheese made from breast milk is not for public consumption."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Regarding "First Cause"

If everything has a first cause, then God does, too, and there is no first cause. . . . If someone asserts that God is the uncaused first cause . . . we should thus inquire, "Why cannot the physical world itself be taken to be the uncaused first cause?  After all, the venerable principle of Occam's razor advises us to 'shave off' unnecessary assumptions, and taking the world itself as the uncaused first cause has the great virtue of not introducing the unnecessary hypothesis of God." 
 John Allen Paulos, Irreligion

Sunday, March 14, 2010

120 Days of Deceit

Question:  "Why is it that you so quickly torpedoed me, instead of relying on the truth to shine through?"

Answer:  You've been lying to me for the past four months about being clean.  One hundred milligrams of methadone a day is hardly free of drugs.  In fact, you said yourself that a non-user would be unconscious for three days if they took that dose.

Moral:  Don't ask fucking asinine questions.

Sisterly Deals

1)  Neither Cayleen nor I will have second helpings for thirty days.  My family will be reporting back to me on her progress and you all will have to report back here, if you see me break my end of the bargain.  If either of us fails - no ice cream for thirty days (I know, it is for serious!); and

2) I promised Julia Rose I would be her 200th Facebook friend. So I guess this means I will have to reactivate my Facebook page.  The humanity.

Om shanti.

ADDENDUM:  Already on Facebook.  Apparently that child becomes friends w/ folks much quicker than I first anticipated...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday's Random 10

As per Feministe (and a day late)--
  1. Diego Stocco - Music From a Tree;
  2. Tori Amos - Song for Eric;
  3. Talib Kweli, Hi-Tek, De La Soul - Soul Rebels;
  4. Patti Smith - Land;
  5. Flying Lotus - Camel;
  6. Firewater - Anything at All;
  7. Ween - Roses are Free;
  8. Jane's Addiction - Slow Divers;
  9. kutiman, et al. - Mother of All Funk Chords; and
  10. Tom Waits - All Stripped Down.
Om shanti.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Losing My Christian

As I've alluded on my Twitter feed, I did not see Alice in Wonderland on the day that it was released b/c the person who was SUPPOSED to have attended with me that night had bailed.  What I did not previously mention was that he was with me at a restaurant across the street from the theater and that it was about forty-five minutes prior to the movie commencing when he had summarily abandoned our plans (and my pair of pre-paid, non-refundable tickets).  He straight walked out on me w/ nary a word of explanation.

Well, let me back up a bit.  We were drinking (enough said).  I was on my second jumbo margarita and he was on his first (having already consumed approx. two cans of beers).  We were having a lively conversation and the topic was changed (by him, I might add) to the madness of urban riots.  Apparently, he had been listening to some morning talk show (The Bob & Tom Show or something equally inane) and he had heard a story about rioters behaving badly.  I can't remember the exact details, but he had segued from that situation to the Rodney King riots and he was pontificating on how the LA people who had rioted were portrayed as animals and how idiotic it was of them to have destroyed their own neighborhoods.  It was his position that they should have proceeded in a non-violent fashion a la MLK and/or Ghandi.

Now, normally, I would have agreed with him on this.  I, too, believe in nonviolence and I deplore warfare and all other forms of violence.  I was a vegetarian for over a decade and I've never even held a gun in my life--much less shot one.  I've only been in one physical altercation (other than those I've had with my younger brothers when we were kids) and that was because the girl had struck me in the face first and I had to beat her in response (it happened in a public high school and I felt it was incumbent upon me to demonstrate that I wasn't going to allow such nonsense to go down - or else I would have been a walking target; also, I was a stupid, impulsive teenager).

However, I completely disagreed with his assertion of nonviolence, in this instance, for several reasons, as follows:
  1. He was taking this situation out of context.  It wasn't as though these people had decided to riot willy-nilly one day w/ no provocation.  We were talking about American citizens who had been systematically disenfranchised for generations--centuries, really.  They were at their wits' end.  Theirs was an emotional reaction to a graphic, racially motivated beating by police officers who had unjustly harmed a member of their community (on video no less) for what, they vowed, would be the last time.

    If you aren't familiar with the history that precipitated this event, watch this film (you can find it on Netflix instant play) - Crips and Bloods: Made in America (particularly, the second clip listed)
  2. He had arrived at his conclusion w/ little to no forethought.  He told me himself that he had only begun thinking about this topic, as a result of some silly radio show.  I, on the other hand, had thought about and studied this issue extensively over the past fifteen years.  I've read numerous academic texts and had countless thoughtful discussions regarding racism, classicism, police brutality, and the history of segregation in America.  I had arrived at a very nuanced viewpoint and I was trying to get him to THINK about his position rather than casually adopting a rather shallow and overly simplistic argument.
  3. I deeply resented his being judgmental of these people when he had no concept whatsoever of what their situation was like nor what it was like to be abused and disenfranchised.  In fact, he had been telling me earlier that night about how he should have rightfully gone to prison on multiple occasions, but that he had gotten out of the sentence b/c he is "too pretty for jail."  What I heard was:  "I escaped jail time b/c I am a white male with upper-class parents and a good attorney."  His judgment was particularly offensive considering that he is a self-professed Christian and it was his God who was supposed to be the one doing the judging - not him.
  4. Finally, I felt he was being HIGHLY hypocritical in his non-violence stance, given that he had only moments before been bragging about how he had been charged with disorderly conduct in the past for getting into an ugly dispute with his neighbor (over the neighbor having hit his escaped dog with a stick - not too big of a deal compared to centuries of oppression, but I digress).  In addition, that evening he had told me a story about how he had been followed home in his car one night and how, in retaliation, he had gotten a shovel to hit the driver of the vehicle who had followed him home. So I concluded that he believed it was a-okay for him to be violent.  Just not those savages. 
To return to the night in question:  he is doubling down on his position and telling me how fucked up I am to be arguing for violent uprisings.  I am simply staring at him, angrily stirring my drink around and around.  At this point, I'm so pissed-off that I mutter something like: "Easy for you to judge these people, since you are a white dude living in West County with your rich parents."  His eyes widened.  I think he continued to attempt to protest my position, but all I did was shake my head in disagreement and repeatedly state, "You're speaking from a place of privilege and wildly taking this situation out of context."  I'm pretty sure I was shooting hate rays out of my eyes at him.  He ceased to be my friend at that point and became The Man.

Shortly thereafter, he stood up, threw some money on the table for his unpaid drink and walked out saying, "This has gotten really weird, Jen.  I'm leaving."  I haven't heard from him since.  I've actually tried contacting him five or six times since the argument happened (four times the night of and twice yesterday) to try to soberly explain my position and to apologize for the ad hominem attacks (low blows on my part), but he won't answer my calls.

To be honest, I'm not sure that I really feel that I am the one in the wrong here, but I know him and I have known him for a very long time; I know that he has a good heart and that if he really considered this, he would come around.  Also, it seems exceedingly bizarre to end our friendship in this manner.  At the very least, I'd like to discuss this one last time to clarify, but I don't know if that is even realistic.  Maybe we are far too different to try to continue our friendship.  It seems this remains to be seen.

Om shanti.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm investigating things that begin with the letter M...

********Alice in Wonderland Spoiler Review********

Full disclosure - I probably qualify as one of those fervent Alice in Wonderland admirers.  As evidenced by the fact that I memorized Carol's lengthy The Walrus and the Carpenter poem and performed it for my storytelling seminar in college.*  But I’m not AIW obsessed.  My interest is not at all comparable to Erin's, who has an Alice sleeve, or to Jess', who owned a respectable collection of books and images relating to this subject and who produced her own AIW-inspired art.  So my qualms with the film were not entirely purist based.

I feel one reviewer put it best when s/he wrote something to the effect of, “I think it is time that Burton and Depp started seeing other people.”  Had I never watched one of their joint projects before (much less nearly every single one repeatedly), this movie would probably have been much more satisfying for me. However, each time Depp was filmed with that defeated, hangdog look, I thought “Edward Scissorhands.”  So I had no tolerance for more than one sad Hatter scene.

Furthermore, what the fuck is up with a sad hatter anyway?  He was a MAD hatter.  When he surrendered to the fully nutty in the film on his walk through the woods with Alice and began reciting the Jabberwocky poem - THAT was the stuff that I could appreciate.  THAT was the real meat and marrow of the story, for me.  Dark, ominous, out-of-control muttering is, in my estimation, the true epitome of the Mad Hatter character.

Similarly, the scenes at the tea party were quite wonderful–the completely nonsensical, surreal, deranged stuff.  I mean, if you can’t play, if you can’t be phantasmagorical and harebrained** in Wonderland, where can you be?

Hmm...wait a minute, maybe I am a purist!

In addition, I enjoyed the sly Cheshire Cat vignettes (he got better and better as the movie progressed).  Those were some of the most visually spectacular pieces, too.  Then again, I haven’t seen Avatar, so maybe I don’t have any real understanding so far as three dimensional cinematography is concerned.  But I did see Coraline and I maintain that AIW blew that film out of the water pictorially.

Still, I do so want to like this film.  When Burton was at the top of his game and working his strange Gothic magic, I sat rapt before him, literally leaning forward and perched on the edge of my seat.  Truth be told, I’ll probably watch AIW another three times in IMAX before it completes it’s run in the theater. 

Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

One of them might be that I can somehow cultivate an undying love for this film.

Om shanti.

*Granted, this was from Through the Looking-glass, but Burton freely intermixed the stories/characters so I think it relates.

**All puns intended.

Don't Ask About His Goggles

[Poke to Embiggin]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Adventures in Health Care

I attended my first physical therapy appointment today, for which I had high hopes. I know I am going to the best possible facility, b/c my boss is also treating there and, given that he has more money than the law should allow (ha-ha; such deep irony in that statement), he is accustomed to receiving the finest health care available.  In fact, when I inquired with him as to where he was treating, he replied, "They are pretty expensive; are you sure your insurance will cover it?"  Stifling the urge to deck him, I thought to myself, "Well, boss, you are providing me with that coverage.  Are you acknowledging that the plan you extend to your employees is shit?  ...boy are you a peach." 

The offices for our mutual physical therapy provider are located near the Galleria in a rather costly sky rise. So far, so good.  As I walked into the building, I observed that their facility occupied the flagship suite on the floor. Impressive.  I completed an online survey of my symptoms.  Technology, excellent.  However, as I was walking into the treatment area from the lobby, I recognized with dawning horror that those cheesy damned motivational posters were plastered all over their walls.  I inwardly cringed, "If the walls are this woefully passe, what must their treatment plans be like?"

I was soon to learn.  Jim did my evaluation.  Apparently, he is a licensed physical therapist (or at least this title was embroidered on his shirt - so that was...comforting).   He took my history, then put me through some range of motion tests, then demonstrated a few home exercises.  After that he left the room and a technician arrived who performed some "treatments" on me including ultrasound therapy and electrical stimulation.  I've linked to the best research I could find in a cursory search for the reputation of same.  As implied by the quotation marks around the word treatment, the results of these efficacy studies seem to be dubious at best - especially with reference to the ultrasound therapy (which sort of feels the way those fuzzy face toys look - in that my musculature felt attracted to the wand like the metal shavings were attracted to the magnet).

Also of note, when Jim was saying goodbye to me, he kept resting his hand on my shoulder, which was an inherently creepy gesture, having just met the man, but progressed to new creepster frontiers when you consider that he was standing behind me, while I was sitting in a chair, wearing one of those open-backed gowns, and receiving my "treatment."  What, was he doing there exactly? Attempting to get an extended side-boob glimpse?  Or was he just trying to engender a closer rapport with me - you know, on a therapist/patient level? 

It was my impression that physical therapy was a much more reputable form of treatment than dealing with a chiropractic "physician," but thus far, I'm not convinced.  Maybe they are hoping to appeal to the placebo effect with these treatments?  (Which is, to be fair, a powerful thing.) Still, the cynic in me wonders if they are simply padding my bills.  I'm paying $50 co-pays + the cost of "supplies" (ie: the pads that are used for the e-stim at $10 a pop).  My carrier is probably paying exponentially more.

I just want my freaking injuries to heal so that I can safely do yoga again and be able to go back to my weight lifting program.  Instead, it seems that I am getting bilked.  I'm also learning from experience that the most costly health care is not necessarily the most effective care (huge surprise, huh?).  At least, when I was scheduling my appointments for the next two weeks, I was fortunate enough to get time slots with a different PT named Virginia.  Let's hope she is better than ol' Jim. 

Om shanti.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Well, I think The Good Book is missing some pages...

And when they say, "Take of his body," I think I'll take from mine instead.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Better than Sesame Street!

Everyone kept saying, "Watch the new OK Go video." But I'm a contrarian, so I felt compelled to ignore the hype. That was until AFP told me to watch it. Since I do everything she says...

This is EVEN BETTER than that one Sesame Street vignette w/ the little red ball and metal track (a/k/a a Rube Goldberg machine). Oh, please watch it and remember, "This too shall pass."


PS  The glass harp aspect was absolutely perfect.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I need to be clear.  I'm not sure how exactly these misconceptions made it out into the world, but I must unequivocally state that my study of astrophysics and quantum physics does not imply in any way that I am interested in or believe in the following:

1) 2012 conjecture;
2) Astrology; and/or
3) The Secret, et al.

Relating me or my thinking to any and all of the above I find to be deeply, deeply insulting to my ability to reason critically, skeptically, and maturely about the world around me.  I won't go into why I find these topics to be absurdly untrue (b/c the more I write, the more I am potentially creating a rift b/t myself and believers in the above - some of whom I otherwise quite respect).  I simply want it to be known.

That said. I am wholeheartedly interested in learning more about the following areas of concern*:

1. Prana and practices of the breath
2. Agni Yoga; harnessing the inner fire
3. The Chakras
4. Divine Mother practices, the MahaVidyas, 10 wisdom goddesses, Gates to Enlightenment
5. Chanting: Mantra and japa (using the mala, or "rosary" beads)
6. Meditation and mindfulness practices
7. The Gurus and Masters: Yogic lineages
8. The Yoga Sutras, and other vedic texts
9. Consciousness; developing awareness in the Advaita traditions

I feel that there is considerable value in calming the parasympathetic nervous system, mind, and body.  I am interested in mysticism, but not in the traditional mode of relating to any sort of deity, per se.  It seems readily apparent that there is an inherent order and connectivity to the universe (from heavenly bodies right down to the smallest atoms).  I don't profess to perfectly understand the mysteries of being and so I want to learn more about certain paths to wisdom and evaluate them on my own terms.  This doesn't mean that I am willing or able to subscribe to dogmatic thinking--be it Christian, Jewish, Hindu or otherwise.

How do you say these things to seekers without coming off as a self-important ass?  Also, is it right to pay to learn about these subjects?  It seems to me that if one wanted to share these traditions, that would be akin to holy teaching.  Is it right to sell the divine?  On the other hand, I was perfectly willing to pay (quite dearly) to learn non-secular things.  In this society, if something is valuable (ie another person's time, effort and attention), you must pay for it.  Right?

I'm being purposefully vague here, since this is a public venue and I don't want to call anyone out specifically.  I just wonder, what is ethically correct?  Am I being insincere in participating in a spiritual community when I do not adhere to some of its most basic assumptions?  To what extent should I be open about my own beliefs?  And what exactly should money buy?    

Om shanti.

*Full disclosure: Someone else compiled this list - again, for reasons of confidentiality, I'm not crediting him/her

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thirteen STL Blogs

Some intriguing blog selections presented by the RFT in their new article, including St. Louis Activist Hub (local, liberal, political news), One Hot Stove (yummy home cooking - particularly Indian), Urban Science Adventures! (local flora and fauna), Subterranean Books (which I actually already follow - I've wholeheartedly supported this shop since I was a fresh, 13-year-old, Loop rat), and Ecology of Absence (endangered STL architecture), among others.  Check out the whole list here.

Let me also take a moment to promote my personal STL favorite (egregiously omitted from said list), Erin's Ephemera Etc.

Om shanti.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ga Ga Ooh La La

I never thought I would say something like this publicly, in writing, but I LOVE GAGA.  I fucking do.  I want to have her teacup-headed children.  I want to do it to her wearing twelve foot high stilettos and an electric blond wig. Oh, she inspires such passion in me...

As per Feministe today--

Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore. - Lady GaGa

Fucking A, GaGa.  X