Sunday, August 31, 2008

Twin Cities Police "acting like Nazis" - civil liberties under attack

See Twin Cities Indy Media;

Starhawk on the raids;

Democracy Now (which has several videos from the inside);

More raid coverage (there have apparently been a number of raids).

Although the police are spinning these raids as infiltrations of dangerous criminals who had dangerous materials (home-made pepper spray, for example), they have in fact harassed and arrested citizens dedicated to peaceful protest (and as Starhawk points out, the "home-made pepper spray" was, in fact, soup that included onions and chili powder). Over the last week, several photojournalists have been harassed when walking downtown with cameras. This is an embarrassment to the Twin Cities and a serious blow to civil liberties. If you're in the area, please call the mayors to express your dismay and to demand that civil protest be protected:

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman
(651) 266-8510

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak
(612) 673-2100
(612) 673-3000 outside Minneapolis

(Thanks to Ravenm for links - and check out her blog for more on this.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Can you be a feminist and "pro-life"?

Anna at DakotaWomen has an interesting post up in which she quotes Katha Pollitt to argue "no." My post is mostly in response to this quote. Pollitt writes:

"[Feminists for Life] aren't really feminists--a feminist could not force another woman to bear a child, any more than she could turn a pregnant teenager out into a snowstorm. They are fetalists."

Fetalists they may be - I think that's a fair label. But I don't think it necessarily follows that they aren't feminists. They may indeed not be, but I'm uncomfortable stating flatly that people who aren't pro-choice aren't feminists. This policing of the borders of feminism certainly makes it easy to determine who "we" like, as feminists, and all too often that has meant people who follow the core values (and there are probably more here than I can think to list at the moment) of popular feminism:

- the belief that pornography/prostitution always hurts and exploits women;
- the fear and loathing of transgender;
- the resistance to centering race in ways that decenter white women's experiences;
- the expectation that aborting fetuses with disabilities should be every woman's choice.

I know feminists who work in the sex industry; who are transgendered; whose conception of "women's issues" has little to do with glass ceilings; who see the decision to abort a fetus with a disability as an expression of intolerance (at best) for people with disabilities. I also know feminists who call themselves pro-life, and who spend their lives doing feminist work, teaching Women's Studies, doing work that benefits women. Do I think that forcing a woman to bear a child is a feminist act? Of course not. But I doubt that most pro-life women who call themselves feminists would interpret their actions in this way (nor do most of the pro-life feminists I've known work to actually prevent choice, which, to be fair, I believe Feminists for Life has done).

I don't want Sarah Palin in the White House anymore than I want McCain there, and I'm certainly not claiming her as a feminist. But I don't think drawing the label "feminist" more tightly around our shoulders will serve any purpose in preventing her election - it will only serve to divide feminists.

Instead of looking at the label, it might be more instructive to look at one's actions and at the impact of one's work on women. I'm pretty sure that Sarah Palin doesn't measure up, but I'm also pretty sure that there are some pro-life feminist sisters who do.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

For folks in the Twin Cities who are feeling queasy about next week...

...check this out:

March on the RNC

Mon, Sept 1
St. Paul
Assemble at 11am at the State Capitol
March to the Xcel Energy Center

U.S. Out of Iraq Now!
Say NO to the Republican Agenda!
Money for human needs, not for war!

DEMAND Peace, Justice, and Equality!

Coaltion to March on the RNC and Stop the War:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yarn stress.

I decided that I don't like the yarn, all 14 skeins of it, that I'm working with for my new afghan. It's 25% wool, which is enough wool to itch, and I just don't like the feeling of it while I'm working with it - it makes my hands feel dry (you know how wool does?). Also, it will definitely show cat hairs. I am torn between dropping another huge wad of cash on fleece yarn - provided I can find anything I like, b/c fleece yarns seem to come most often in really atrocious colors - and finishing this one. I guess there's no harm in finishing it - we can certainly use it, and if I really hate it, I can always give it to someone who likes wool and whose house isn't very hairy.

On the other hand, I'm sure that when I'm knitting this thing in January, I will appreciate it's warmth spread across my lap.


My favorite thing to do in the evenings, now, is to knit and watch episodes of "Eureka" on the web.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ah, knitting.

Since school is starting in a week and my syllabus isn't quite done, I figured I should start knitting again in an effort to prevent the job from taking over my life. Two nights ago, I began what will be our new afghan for the living room. It took me a couple of hours to select just the right yarn from my favorite yarn shop: I settled on this (colorcard 7118), which will match the living room furniture and cushions. I had originally wanted something like this, from which I made Bean's afghan, because it is wonderfully light, soft, and warm, and it doesn't show any cat hairs, but I couldn't find a decent color. I'm afraid that the cat hairs will be pretty visible on this new one. We shall see.

I would post pictures of my progress, only I have no program on this computer for managing photos. The other computer ate a year's worth of photos (actually, ALL of my photos, but the others were backed up), and now it no longer has a photo program for my camera on it. So.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Just making trouble for myself.

You might not know this about me, but I have a wildly overactive imagination and I'm afraid of everything. I used to think that I could never live alone because I would spend all my time taking running jumps onto the bed to avoid the monsters grabbing from underneath, locking and barricading the bathroom doors when I was taking a shower, and making sure all the lights were on all the time. I used to lie awake night after night, terrified of every toy and picture in my room. I even tried my hand at a couple of horror stories, because I liked to write and I enjoyed reading the really good scary stories, the ones that would keep me awake nights - and I managed to scare myself even more.

Sometime in the last decade or so, I managed to get over a lot of my fear. I chalk much of this up to my realization that reading Clive Barker and Stephen King was not likely to help me feel more secure, and consequently cutting horror out of my regular reading material. But it was hard, because there is something truly compelling about a master horror tale, the kind that manages to tap into your earliest memories of fears, the shapeless things that go bump in the night.

Every so often, I find myself yearning for the thrill that this type of fear brings. Usually, I distract myself with other things, and I manage not to go down that road. More often, I end up watching something scary on t.v., fully believing that it is silly enough not to affect me. The more I watch, though, the more I feel my sense of the world changing, not unlike the opening credits for that old t.v. show, "The Darkside," in which you see an idyllic pastoral view shift into a gloomy nightmare scene.


I was never much interested in zombies. I thought the whole idea was stupid, even boring, and I didn't get why so many people seemed to find them so frightening. Granted, I was unable to watch "Night of the Living Dead" because it wigged me out, but I figured that had more to do with the creepiness of the first 10 minutes and not so much with the zombie concept. I saw "28 Days Later," and "Land of the Dead" (the second was much better than the first, I think), and by the time I saw "Land" I was ready to grudgingly admit that zombies could be kind of interesting, after all. I saw several others that I don't remember the names of, and I saw others I do remember, like "I am Legend," "Dawn of the Dead," "Shaun of the Dead" (silly AND scary) and "30 Days of Night," which is a vampire movie, but it is set up like a zombie movie (with pretty good results).

Then I started to dream about zombies.

The thing is, the zombie concept isn't what's so scary. What's scary is the notion of being at war with the majority of the populace and not having nearly the weapons or numbers that they do. I found myself waking up at night wondering if I'd locked the door, and what I would do if there really *were* zombies, and whether or not the locked doors would hold them out and if they could climb to our second-story windows to get in.

The idea of zombies made me feel vulnerable in a way that many of the other scary creatures did not - those other things were scary in a "this could never happen, but what if it did?" way, while the zombies were scary in a "just suppose the neighborhood wanted to come and get me - what then?" kind of way.

And so I've added a new fear to my list of sharks, Cthulu, dolls that live, killer clowns, and whatever might be hiding in the poorly-lit garage that still urges me, somewhat unconsiously, to park my car on the street. I managed to go out and find myself something new to be afraid of.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Plain(s)feminist is...

...typing this with the help of her new wireless router (thank you, Mr. P!) while watching cable with the sound off. Bean ran from room to room shouting out the places from which we could now access the internet: "the living room! the kitchen! the hallway!" ("The toilet!" I shouted out helpfully, not entirely joking.)

The cable I am watching with the sound off is important because I spent two hours driving to Little Canada, which is almost as far away as the name implies, to get a new cable box. Our old one, which was a little number about the size of my hand, suddenly and inexplicably died, and when the Comcast guy came to fix it, he replaced it with a box that is larger than my couple-of-generations-ago VCR. You could fit approximately six of the old boxes into this box. It was so big that we had to push the t.v. way over to the side of the coffee table. The whole setup looked like ass.

So I called Comcast and said that the box was too big. Maybe I was huffy (because, really, I think if you have a subtle, little box to begin with and they bring in something the size of Hal from 2001, you know, that's just not acceptable), or maybe the customer service agent was bored or busy and just wanted to get off the phone. But she sent me downtown and promised me that I would be able to swap the gigantic eyesore out for a smaller model. So, I drove downtown, waited for my number to be called, and learned that that particular Comcast payment center did not have any of the smaller models - just the gigundo ones. Fortunately, the agent who helped me was able to call around and find one for me. Unfortunately, I had to drive out and get it.

But we have cable again, and we have wireless internet, and life is good. Because few things in life are better than websurfing and channel-surfing at the exact same time. The only thing that could make this any better is chocolate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm 40 today.

And I don't mind a bit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


* My cats woke me up before getting-up-time this morning to point out a big centipede on the wall in my bedroom, which then scurried behind the pile of crap on my dresser. I am choosing to believe that it was not interested in my stuff and instead continued down the wall and out of the apartment. Mr. P was valiantly ready to catch it with a tissue (ick) when it emerged from behind the dresser, but it never did. The fact that I have not already moved out shows just how far I have come in my acceptance of the insect world around me.

* I've watched the Laura Ingraham video that everyone is talking about, but what I see is not a horrible person, but a professional who is trying to do her job and totally, utterly prevented from doing so by a team of incompetents at FOX "News." I probably still hate her, but in this, she has my understanding.

* Why is it that the entire state of Minnesota seems to have shut down all childcare options (except the ones no one can afford, the ones that cost $300+ for two days) for the last two weeks in August when school doesn't start until September 2?!

* I am annoyed beyond belief at the news (rumor?) that Hillary will be nominated at the convention. Bad move.

* Along these same lines, I'm annoyed at 1) a Hillary supporter I met who was incensed that anyone would suggest that some Hillary supporters have said they will vote for McCain and who believes that the very idea is a fabrication made up to discredit Hillary supporters. I know a few of these Hillary-McCain voters. I'm not making it up; and 2) Hillary supporters who are now voting for McCain who are claiming that McCain isn't such a bad guy. Sheesh. Who do you think you're fooling? You want to be spiteful? Go ahead. But don't expect me to buy that you supported Hillary and you are somehow in line with the McCain plan for America.

* I'm horrified by the NPR report I heard yesterday (while driving in my air-conditioned car in the sweltering heat) that in the next century, temperatures in the Midwest and in parts of Europe and the Middle East will reach the ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTIES. And that the solution is to 1) try to cut down on emissions (my emphasis), and 2) to make air conditioning more widely available to poor people. Not that this last isn't vitally important - but isn't "trying" to cut down on emissions a pretty useless response, and doesn't increasing the number of operating air conditioners actually add to the problem? Shouldn't we work on keeping the temperature from rising? (I am feeling self-righteous in my 80-degree (at 11:30pm) apartment. Self-righteous, and hot.)

* I have been told that Colin Ferguson, Thomas Jane (who looks nothing like that photo, by the way), and Mark Valley are not the same person, but I don't believe it. Also, Gary Cole and Marc Singer? Totally the same person.

* I am pretty sure we're hated by the neighbors for letting our lawn die (well, not actually my fault as I was gone for a month). Also, I think I violated the watering restrictions by watering tonight when no one else was - they seemed to all do it last night. We are *that* family. I am going to be a terrible home owner. I need to start saving now for a lawn service.