Monday, January 31, 2011

What's So Bad About Poverty?

According to the Jeubs, what this child needs is more brothers and sisters.

The Jeubs are a Quiverfull family that appears to survive by producing books and such encouraging us all to pop out as many babies as is possible until our uteri give up or we die. And boy are they cheerful about it! Think Flanders levels of wholesome good cheer.

They have been asked, repeatedly, "what about poverty"? What about people who simply cannot afford the children they have, let alone another 10? Like all good fundys, the Jeubs just can't answer the question, or even entertain it, really. Which leads us to today's post that ponders the question What's So Bad About Poverty*?

I dunno. Let's see.

Approximately 20% of Americans live in poverty. How does it affect them?

The effects of poverty are serious. Children who grow up in poverty suffer more persistent, frequent, and severe health problems than do children who grow up under better financial circumstances.

  • Many infants born into poverty have a low birth weight, which is associated with many preventable mental and physical disabilities. Not only are these poor infants more likely to be irritable or sickly, they are also more likely to die before their first birthday.

  • Children raised in poverty tend to miss school more often because of illness. These children also have a much higher rate of accidents than do other children, and they are twice as likely to have impaired vision and hearing, iron deficiency anemia, and higher than normal levels of lead in the blood, which can impair brain function.

So, the Jeubs advocate that low birth weight babies likely to grow into children with serious health problems, born into families without the resources to deal with those health problems are a good thing. We should have millions more. Right now.

Levels of stress in the family have also been shown to correlate with economic circumstances. Studies during economic recessions indicate that job loss and subsequent poverty are associated with violence in families, including child and elder abuse.

Seems like something else we'd want to avoid. Unless you're a Jeub, apparently.

It wasn't difficult for me to find this information, and what I quoted was just a drop in the bucket. I do agree with the Jeubs that not having the money for expensive toys or summer camps is hardly child abuse, but consistently not having money for food and clothing and heat is a problem. A problem that will not be solved by adding more children and smiling a lot. Although I suppose buying their book would help them with poverty at least.

Seriously, look at that picture above, borrowed from a great post on Bright Nepenthe. Really look at it. That's unrestrained breeding. That's having babies despite poverty, the sort of extreme poverty we don't really have in the US. Do you really think that, if given the option of controlling fertility, the mother of that child wouldn't have trampled your ass to get some birth control? Do you really think that, if confronted by the Jeubs' cheerful declaration that poverty is no big deal, she wouldn't smack them six times, and then a seventh for good measure? The Jeubs challenge us to "love another child". Look at that child and tell me that love alone is enough.

*They seem determined to prove their poor creds, but in this same article, they cite not being able to buy a van they want as evidence of their own poverty. Cry me a river, asshats.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spock May Have Given Me an Unnatural Lust for Pointed Ears

but when I was 12, I so wanted to marry DeForest Kelley. Who else could put so much pathos into"He's dead, Jim" every time another Redshirt died to prove this danger is really real? And his unwavering determination to save every man, woman, child and telepathic rock that he ran into? Inspiring.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nobody Gets to Wear Black

Grieving. Tasteful grieving.

My boss' mother died two days ago, after a protracted illness. (And being in her late 90s.) She left her son, my boss, written instructions as to her funeral, and by "written instructions", I mean a 10 page typed document detailing the exact colours of the flowers, naming the pallbearers and exactly which direction she wanted the coffin to face.

It got me thinking, what do I want in a funeral? On the one hand, I won't really be there, on the other, funerals are such a depressing bore, and I like to think I'm not. So, since the internet is written in ink*, I thought I'd detail my wishes.

1. I want to be cremated. People look curiously . . . slack . . . once they are dead, and I don't want that to be anyone's last memory of me. I want my ashes distributed to everyone (who wouldn't be entirely freaked out by it) and I want those people to spread my ashes somewhere nice. The ocean, a little urban park, a fabulous accessories shop in France, whatever. I also wouldn't be averse to someone passing off a piece of my femur as the relic of a saint, but it's not necessary.

2. No flowers. Once you pick flowers, they are dead. I hate receiving flowers as a gift, it's like handing me death. I'd much rather receive a bunch of tulip bulbs. Then I could plant them in my front yard and have pretty flowers every spring. So, either distribute bulbs to my mourners or nothing.

3. Dancers. I want dancers, like Britney Spears' backup dancers, dancing behind the people giving eulogies. I like dancing.

4. No prayers, no quoting from holy books. Unless it is the Enuma Elish. In the original Akkadian.

5. Fireworks. Hell, yeah!

6. Bring your kids. I want them loaded up with caffeinated beverages, sugary snacks and loud toys. If they aren't screaming like banshees on a meth bender by the end of my funeral, you have failed me.

7. Music. Funeral music is wholly depressing, if there even is any. I want Trent Reznor and Saul Williams to perform at my funeral, but in lieu of that, at least try to get a New Orleans marching band.

8. No black. I wear black- as a backdrop to make colour pop! Please don't dig some boring black dress/suit out of the back of your closet. Wear colour. Purple, orange, crimson, teal, green, whatever, just wear it.

9. Free food. No celebration is complete without a buffet. I want people to pause in their grieving to exclaim "Are those lobster rolls?!" Remember me as I lived, people- for free food.

So, should I precede anyone reading this, please, make it so.

*Yes, I finally saw The Social Network. First of all, "acting" does not mean "clench your jaw for 2 hours". Secondly, the score (by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) makes that movie significantly more dramatic than it otherwise would be. By far.

Friday, January 28, 2011

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Apparently, the Empire* will have to give mandatory analogy classes to the entire freakin' Earth, because if this happens after I'm in charge, the frenzied apologies will in no way delay the punishment to follow. Let's just say the author will receive a stunningly complete education on exactly how fast one must be to outrun 100 enraged badgers.

Here’s a comment left on Ari’s post about the Reel Love is Equal video:

“What you heterosupremacist tyrannical theocRATS need to do is take your Final Leviticus Solution to the Homosexual Problem hate-filled violence-inciting propaganda and shove it down your own throats and choke on it. Start by shoving this sign down your throats – the one displayed at last summer’s tyrannical theocRAT tour

Now, this normally wouldn’t have gotten past the censors due to all the name calling. However, I’d like to point out first of all that this sign is ridiculous. This is like small-scale bombing of abortion clinics and shouldn’t be condoned by either side.

Yes, that comment is exactly like a bombing. Well, a small-scale bombing. Of an abortion clinic. Not a large-scale bombing. Of a flower shop. Those would be entirely different.

Here are a few other things that comment is exactly like:

The Holocaust
The Lockerbie Bombing
The Vietnam War Moderately Well-Armed But Ultimately Futile Conflict
My ass

This post concludes with a self-satisfied nod to the civility of denying civil rights to Americans that makes me think that when the author looks in a mirror, she's shocked that that person is always in the bathroom with her at the same time. And they never say hello.

This is what I’m talking about. I can’t be the only one seeing this. In general, I’m seeing the SSM side to be nasty, hate-filled people. I’m just not seeing that on the OSM side. Why is that?

*Someday, I will be Empress of the Entire Freakin' World. Be sure to reserve your Cabinet position today! I really need a Cabinet Minister of Oddly Worded and Nonspecific Warnings About Behavior Everyone Should Already Know Is Foolish and Dangerous. (Really, who tries to blow dry their hair in the shower?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

FlufreePA Can Suck It

I just got done watching a PSA from the Commonwealth of PA urging me to stay home if I think i have the flu. Because, apparently, the thought of staying home when sick never occurred to me.

Yes, asshats, the reason people go to work when they are sick is because they just love work so much! And they're too stupid to see the wisdom of resting while sick.

PA has no sick day requirement. Employers* can offer 4 or 2 or none. PA is an "at will" employment state. That means you can be fired at any time for any reason- including being sick. Maybe, instead of using my fucking tax money for stupid fucking PSAs, you fix that.


(posted from some idevice)

*originally, this said "Empire" because the predictive correction on idevices is just weird.

I Am . . . Something

The Swinebird Death Flu has morphed into sinus infection* that makes me wince every time I blink and forget which way is up if I move my head too fast, so posting may be suspended for a few days. Or not. I feel like my brain is kind of sloshing around loosely in my head. And this room is really bright. Like the sun. From 10 feet away.

In other news, egg white flatbreads from Dunkin' Donuts are tasty and filling (and low fat!) and my stomach does feel better with something other than post nasal drip in it.

*Did you know that 90% of sinus infections are viral? Did you know taking antibiotics for sinus infections can cause a fungal infection of the sinuses, which is much harder to treat? Yeah, me neither. It's been a while since I had one, I guess.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ways to Save Money a Millionaire Would Love

Ever notice that there are many, many, many articles promising X number of ways to save money? Ever notice that every single one of those articles positively reeks of privilege? I have.

Small change
This month, turn your thermostat down 5 to 10 degrees at night (or program it to do so automatically) for a 5 to 10 percent savings on your monthly bill. Going away for the weekend? Lower it to 55 degrees.

First of all, a 10% savings on my monthly heating bill wouldn't be small change to me. However, my thermostat is currently set to 62F (17C). I can't set it down another 10 degrees unless I think I might enjoy pneumonia, which I know I won't. This would only be useful to someone setting their thermostat to 75 or above. I'll have to wait until June to enjoy those temperatures again.

Big picture
Draw up a new household budget this month, using or another free online tool. If you've got some specific savings goals in mind, like a vacation or home renovation, consider opening accounts for these and having money directly transferred from your paycheck or checking each month. (Check with your bank for options.) "We put away just $30 a week, but it really helps us at Christmas," says one Motherboard Mom. "Another $30 is put into a separate account for our regular savings," she says.

If I had an excess "just" $30 a week, I really wouldn't need to read these articles. I'm lucky to end the week with enough to buy a coffee, let alone save for a vacation. I also haven't been on vacation in about 10 years.

Small change
Skip the salon and cut your kids' hair (find tips at, for a family savings of $25 or more.

Are these people fucking kidding me? I get a haircut at Fantastic Sam's (not a salon and not fantastic) once or twice a year. I cut my niece's hair myself- because I had to. I would have been delighted to take her to a salon, but it wasn't an option. And again, $25, not small change to me.

Bonus savings
Have the kids make their own valentines out of scrap paper, old magazines, and other craft-friendly household materials. A homemade "Be mine" can be just as meaningful as the store-bought variety.

What, those crappy valentines I used to buy my niece for $1 a box? What are these people smoking? (Apparently, something that makes them think I have a store's worth of craft supplies at hand.)

Big picture
Take a "spend break" this month to help identify the little budget-wreckers that really add up, like that mid-afternoon venti latte or pair of on-sale shoes you didn't really need. At the end of the month, add up your savings: you're bound to be impressed. Keep that sum—and what you might do with it—in mind when little temptations strike in the future.

Must be nice.

Small change
Slash energy bills by unplugging unused small appliances, forgoing the dry cycle on your dishwasher, and turning off unused lights. Everyone in the family can be assigned an energy-saving responsibility. "A child can make a great sergeant-in-arms over electricity—he or she will be relentless about making sure the older siblings turn off lights," says financial expert Beacham.

Who the hell is using the dry cycle on their dishwasher?

Bonus savings
Be on the lookout for great buys on kids' clothes at garage sales and church rummage sales this month (as the weather warms, the sales usually start). You'll walk away with barely worn outfits, shoes, and more. For even more savings, sell the clothes your own kids have outgrown, too, and put the earnings back into the wardrobe budget.

Yeah, that was how I clothed my niece. For several years.

Big picture
Getting a tax refund? Super—but before you run right out and stimulate the economy, sock some of it away to meet those savings goals you set in January, then donate a portion to a favorite organization (it's a write-off for next year's taxes). If you're getting a large refund, consider reducing your withholding, says personal finance expert Ray Lucia: "Instead, use the extra money each payday to pay down high interest-rate credit card debt or fund a Roth IRA." Also, if you tend to rely sporadically on credit to make ends meet, withholding less (and having the funds in hand monthly to cover costs) may be a better strategy. If you have no refund coming your way and you'd like a little windfall to meet a financial goal, "increase the amount withheld from your paycheck so you get a small one next year," Lucia suggests.

You know what I do with my tax return? Pay for things I put off for the last 12 months- replacing shoes with separated soles, buying new glasses, paying for doctors' visits, fixing things around the house. It is stimulative, but it's not 20 new purses, either.

Be sandal-ready but budget-savvy by booking a pedi appointment—with a friend. By doing your own toes with a friend you can save as much as $40 a month.

I want to beat whoever wrote this with a stick named "privilege". I have never, in my life, had a professional pedicure. I can get nail polish for $1 and my arms do indeed reach to my toes (my torso bends, unusual, I guess).

Bonus savings
Planning to don those strappy shoes on...spring break in Paris—or a warm-weather vacay?? Ooh la la! Instead of paying high hotel or resort rates, search for amazing deals on home sublets in your destination.

shut. the. fuck. up. you. privileged. asshat. ooh. la. la.

Bonus savings
Pinch toilet paper rolls so they roll less easily. You'll curb overuse and save up to $5 a month.


The weather's gorgeous—so get out in it, and do your errands by bike or foot. You'll save on gas and boost fitness, which pays off in lower health care costs now and in the future.

Yeah, unless you're already so poor that you don't own a car and you do your errands by foot when it's -5.

When organizing summer recreation, steer your kids toward the same programs: Camps and kids' classes often offer sibling discounts of $10 to $15 per class, says Stacey Bradford, author of The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents. But don't feel like you have to snag a spot in that acrobatics class everyone's talking about, says financial pro Bradford. "You can easily save $200 or more a season by limiting the leagues and classes," she says. Take advantage of freebies—playgrounds, movies in the park, and backyard playdates.

Or you could spend no money at all on such things because you don't have it. Your kids will be fine.

Pay cash exclusively this month. "Research shows that you spend less when you pay with cash than with plastic because it hurts more," says nationally syndicated talk-show host and author Dave Ramsey. For a real summer challenge, Ramsey suggests "an envelope system to help you stick to your budget: Mark envelopes with the names of items you can pay cash for, like gas, groceries, eating out, entertainment, and clothing. Put the amount of cash you budgeted for that topic for the month in the envelope. When the envelope is empty, stop spending."

You could also pay cash for everything because nobody in their right mind would issue you a credit card.

Bonus savings
When you use cash, chuck all the coins you receive as change into a jar. At the end of the month, deposit the stash into savings—or just put it toward summer fun.

When did coins stop being money? I guess this person never bought $7 worth of groceries in nickels.

Small change
Offset a seasonal spike in fuel costs by organizing daily activities into the fewest trips possible. Have a teen driver in your home? Ask her to make a quick grocery run on the way home from her summer job. "I can't tell you how often parents tell me they're just dizzy from all the trips they make," says Beacham. "It's pretty amazing how far a tank of gas can go when you consolidate errands."

Dizzy from all the trips they make? With gas at over $3 a gallon? Who are these people?

Nothing beats the dog-day doldrums like a good film or book, but those media purchases can add up. Hit the public library for DVDs and books instead. Many systems allow you to browse online and put items on hold—no hunting the stacks required. And if you have a stash of personal books or movies you no longer want, trade them in for different ones or for cash

The library is some sort of secret to these people?

With back-to-school excitement comes a dose of dread: staying out of the red with the inevitable list of must-have supplies. Fear not. It's smart to take advantage of sales, but bear in mind that many items will be deeply discounted in just a few weeks. So keep last year's backpack in service until the new ones go on sale—and don't drop your entire clothes budget before the kids have done the inevitable trend scouting. "Let them go to school and see what kids are wearing," Bradford suggests. "That way, you'll have some money left over to let them indulge.

Leftover money? What's that?

The time-tested, proven answer to school-night dinner dilemmas? Pizza. And you can serve it up on the way-cheap with a store-bought crust and sauce, plus your (healthy!) toppings of choice. You'll save $10 to $20 over takeout—and have fun watching the kids prep the pie.

The last time I ate takeout was April 4, 2010. I am not kidding.

Bonus savings
Don't take the kids shopping with you! "I'm not a fan of bringing kids along to the store because that can lead to impulse purchases," says Bradford. Instead, browse online together. The kids can offer input without being swept away by store promotions.

Or you could say, "no."

Couponing is practically an extreme sport for some, but don't worry—you can take advantage of those money-savers without too much effort. Have coupons for products you buy regularly sent to you by sites like, and cruise other coupon sites at the beginning of the month (or week) for those items. Plan shopping trips around double-coupon daysand watch for sales. And use coupons for the smallest size allowed for the greatest savings. Don't hesitate to ask the grocer questions to set up your couponing plan: "Many merchants will actually tell you about sales ahead of time and give you tips to maximize your savings," says Cathy Freund, couponing expert and owner of Money Mailer in South Kansas City. Visit the websites for brands you love. You're highly likely to find discounts and coupons there.

I don't coupon. Generally, coupons are on brand names, and if you've ever been to a store, you know the inhouse brand is generally cheaper than the name brand, even including the coupon. I also really don't have the time to wander from store to store inquiring as to upcoming sales.

Skip foods marketed as especially for toddlers or kids, such as toddler cookies or crackers. The markup on these products is typically 50 percent, says Bradford, while the "adult" versions are perfectly acceptable at any age.

Who the hell is buying toddler food?! We were feeding my niece kalamata olives and feta cheese at 6 months.

No college account yet? Open it now. "A 529 is one of the best plans," says Bradford. Then, if you feel comfortable, you'll be poised to ask grandparents to help fund it with a portion of their gift budget for their grandkids during the coming holidays.

With what money?

Gah! The privilege. It burns!

A Different Perspective, but Still Missing the Point

This critique of the New Atheists (so very unchanged from the old) takes an entirely different tack than I usually see. The author doesn't attempt to prove or disprove the validity of belief in gods or the lack thereof, but instead points out that religion makes people happy. So we should cherish it. Especially for those poor people in developing countries, who have so little reason to be happy.

Not only should the more rational and therapeutic elements be distilled from the opi­ate of re­li­gion. But the wacky, su­per­sti­tious, cloud-cuck­oo-land forms of re­li­gion, too, should be cherished and preserved, for those forms of religion some­times do great good for our emo­tion­al lives, even when they com­pro­mise our more-rational lives.

Here's the thing. I rarely take issue with what makes people happy. For one thing, it's not really my business. For another, I know that happiness is fleeting, yet entirely worthwhile, so if collecting string provides you with happiness, far be it from me to comment.

I will, however, take issue with what makes you happy when it's harming you or others. Collecting string is harmless fun- until you start spending your entire paycheck on string and your house becomes so packed with string that it's dangerous to live in. I will also take issue with your string collecting when it starts to harm your children and your neighbors.

Religion is the same way, especially religion that infringes upon rational facilities. I don't have an issue with people believing in god and attending church or enacting rituals naked under each full moon. Whatever makes you happy. But when that religion starts inspiring you to legislate its rules or deny civil rights to your gay neighbors or withhold medical treatments from your children, that's when I find no issue with stepping in.

I especially take issue with religion in the developing world, which is what this article is about. I have no idea what it is to be poor in the developing world. I can't even imagine. So I understand the argument that religion provides happiness to people who have little to be happy about, ever. I even understand the argument that religious people provide necessary charity in the developing world, without which life would be even worse.

However, I find religion in the developing world, especially as proselytized by privileged Westerners, to be abusive. "Let me tell you about Jesus" is a little different from "Here's the only clean water in 100 miles- now let me tell you about Jesus." I especially take issue with missionaries who care only for the spiritual welfare of their victims intended converts. (You see this in super evangelical communities.) "Hey, don't worry about improving your lot in life or even drinking water that does not contain feces- we've got heaven! It's great!"

Anyway, the author also seems to think the New Atheists don't go far enough- they condemn Christianity and Islam, but not East Asian animism. There's a reason for that: the average American or Western European has little to no experience or knowledge of animism, and nothing makes you look stupider than criticizing something you have absolutely no knowledge of. (See: every evangelical Christian's critique of Islam) Never mind that "you go too far!" is an odd argument to juxtapose with "you don't go far enough!"

Is an­i­mism a mere "opi­ate," as the athe­ists ar­gue? Well, yes, but don't underestimate opi­ates. They can be high­ly in­spi­ra­tion­al and con­sol­ing. Af­ter all, a drunk­en man is usu­al­ly a lit­tle hap­pi­er than a so­ber one. In fact, to con­tin­ue the met­a­phor, op­pos­ing re­li­gion is a lot like pro­hi­bi­tion­ists' oppos­ing drink­—a rath­er cru­el pro­ject in my view. I'd glad­ly give my copies of Mao's Little Red Book, and Daw­kins's The God De­lu­sion for a six-pack of Grolsch. But if all that is too of­fen­sive, we might re­place the word "opi­ate" with "an­al­ge­sic," and my point may be more a­gree­a­ble.

Um, sure some drunks are happier, though some people get morose or pugilistic while drunk, and anyway, you may be happier drunk, but it's not a good idea to be drunk on a regular basis. "Analgesic" doesn't make that argument more agreeable to me. I'm on painkillers 24/7, and have been for years, just like the religious in your argument. It's not like they're only religious a few times a month, which is how often I think healthy people take analgesics. (I really don't know.) Being on painkillers constantly is a problem. It's bad for your body and it reflects a much larger problem: if I were even close to being healthy, I wouldn't have to take painkillers constantly. I'd call this an analogy fail, but it's actually the best analogy I've heard in a while, the author just doesn't realize the import of it.

So how do we dis­crim­i­nate be­tween dan­ger­ous and be­nign re­li­gions? That is the more fruit­ful ques­tion, be­cause it in­vites the oth­er world re­li­gions into the dis­cus­sion.

No, it's not. It's not. Trying to figure out whose invisible pink unicorn is prettier is a waste of time. Some religions lend themselves more readily to abuse, but none of them are true. Helping the developing world will not be accomplished to trying to find the least dangerous religion for people to believe in. It will be accomplished by improving the situation and lives of the people to the point where they don't need emotional aspirin anymore. (Yeah, don't ask me how to do that, I have no idea.)

In short, the re­duc­tion of human suf­fer­ing should be the stand­ard by which we meas­ure ev­ery re­li­gion.

How about it's truth? Really, we can't judge religions by truth? We can't demand proof? It seems more than a little condescending to say that people in developing nations cannot adopt logical thinking or the scientific method. It's not like religion has changed the plight of people in developing nations, maybe we do need to try that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If It's not in Your Uterus, You Don't Get Decision Making Powers

I have heard this argument* (though not so chock full of "execution" and "murder") in real life: Men should have as much say in the decision whether or not to abort as women do. After all, it's half their kid, right?

Bullshit. Bullfuckingshit**.

You know why men don't get say in the decision to have an abortion (unless the woman wants to give him say, the law doesn't)? Because it's not his body that will be in use for the gestation and delivery, that's why. I would actually have no problem with the man having veto power if we were able to then transfer the fetus from the woman's body to his body. If we had that ability, I'd be totally okay with men being able to decide whether or not a woman has an abortion. I also guarantee that not too many men would be voicing opinions once we got that technology.

Look at it this way. You have a choice, right now, to decide whether or not to donate a kidney to a person with End Stage Renal Disease. Right now. Kidneys don't have to match on too many factors, and there are so many people with ESRD I could almost guarantee you that someone needs one of your kidneys. I don't think you're selfish for not doing so. There are a lot of good reasons not to. However, I'm sure if we left the decision up to someone else, say that dying person's husband or daughter, the decision would be a little different.

So, no, until it is the man's body that will be used for the gestational adventure, he has no say.

Note: It's not that Forever in Hell has become an All Abortion, All the Damn Time! blog, it's that the anniversary of Roe v. Wade was Sunday, so my google reader is chock full of obnoxious prolife posts. Also, January tends to be a dead zone in atheist bashing. It doesn't really pick up until a few weeks before Easter.

*Related to today's post here.

**You know what I don't get? Why are words like "fuck" and "bullshit" shocking and the sign of a lazy mind, but using words like "execution" and "murder" 73,000 times in one post is totally okay and civilized? It's like parents who are totally okay with their kid seeing unlimited violence in a movie, but one nipple requires the intervention of Congress.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yes, but What Does He Think?

Today, because it's Monday, and it's 3F (around -17C), and my superpigbirddeathflu has moved on to congestion so severe my left eye is visibly swollen and I'm not annoyed enough*, I clicked on a discussion of gender neutral names for girls.

I should know better.

First of all, multiple studies have shown that gender neutral names are advantageous for women. When compared to women with obviously female names (like mine), women with gender neutral names are more likely to get that first interview, get into college and be elected as a judge. Why? Because neither resumes, college applications nor ballots have any listing of gender on them and we live in a patriarchy. So, if you want to give your girl that little added edge, name her something not obviously female**.

That, however, is not the advice given. Nor is the advice given that it's your child, and unless you feel compelled to name that child "Hilter Motherfucker", you should name them whatever you like.

We named our daughter Kennedy for her first name and Devyn for her middle name. We now realize that when just hearing her name, no one knows if she is a boy or girl, because both first and middle names can belong to a girl or a boy. Did we make a mistake? Should we change her name while she is still very young?

Why is this even an issue? Can anyone think of a situation in which it would be vitally important that a person seeing this person's name, but not seeing them, would need to know their sex? I thought of maybe this girl being put in the boys' dorm at college, but student housing applications include a question about sex, so that still wouldn't be an issue. Really, it's a nonissue. Not to the answerer of the question, who suggested replacing "Devyn" with something girly, as if anyone anywhere is intimately familiar with everyone's middle names. Not in real life. How many people's middle names do you know? I don't even think my husband remembers my middle name. (And I know for a fact he can't spell it when he's reminded of it.)

The comments, however, really put it over the edge. (Some of the comments. A good portion of the commentors were very supportive of little Kennedy Devyn.) Science help you if you give people a moment's doubt as to your sex, apparently.

Yes duh, you gave her two boy names. Imagine she starts dating and her boyfriend starts telling his guy friends that he is dating Kennedy? Think about. Also would parents name their sons Jessica, Brittany, Tiffany, Bianca etc? Kennedy or Devyn isn't a unisex name and if it is eww.

Well, yes, when thinking of girls, we should always consider the men in their lives, even those men that don't exist yet. Pity the poor man who will, 20 years from now, be forced to explain that he is dating a female Kennedy, not a male Kennedy (or one of those Kennedys).

Why would you do this to your poor daughter? I am a teacher and it already gives me the heebe-jeebe's just thinking about calling her a boy's name. It is a detriment, believe me. There is nothing pretty about the name Kennedy for a girl. It is just weird in my opinion. Yuck.

So, in all of the difficulties of teaching, the worst is the visceral pain of calling a girl BY HER NAME.

Yes, you made a mistake by naming a girl Kennedy Devyn. With all the lovely girls names to choose, it was a stupid choice. Typical trendy name.

There are girly names you could be using, idiots! Gah!


*Heehee! Runons!

**The Hubby and I spend an inordinate amount of time naming children we will never have. I have staked out the girl's name, a version of my mother's name, and he will name any boy we don't have as a superhero. (Not "Batman", but a name like "Clark Kent" or "Bruce Wayne". He has this all worked out.)

A Modest Proposal (Hell's Remix)

[trigger warning: infertility. enjoy this happy otter instead.]

The 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the arrest of a butcher in Philadelphia have caused quite the uptick in articles regarding abortion, which explains why I have seen this argument against abortion several times in the last week: There are infertile women* who desperately want a baby, how dare you have an abortion.

First of all, it's the pregnancy equivalent of starving children in China ("fine, send my food to them"), and just as asinine. I doubt any of these people would suggest that starving people in their neighborhood be allowed to enter their homes without permission and take whatever they want out of their pantries, would they? Um, no. I also sincerely doubt any of these people would support a measure to take organs from people without permission to give them to those dying of organ failure. "What? You have two working kidneys, you only need one. She doesn't have any, don't be selfish."

However, perhaps these prolifers have a point. It's so unfair that some women have unwanted pregnancies while others can't have wanted pregnancies**. But it's not enough to outlaw abortion. After all, most women who go through with an unwanted pregnancy don't give the resulting child up for adoption, they keep it and raise it themselves. That doesn't help infertile people. And prolifers are all about helping the infertile.

So here's my modest proposal: Every five years, we figure out exactly how many infertile people there are in the US who desire children. Currently, that's 7.3 million women***. That's a lot of people, but don't worry, there are (as of 2000) 23 million women between the ages of 20 and 34- prime childbearing (yet adult) years, which means there are (subtracting the infertile total from the general total. rough, I know.) 15.7 million women who are fully capable of providing children for the infertile.

Those 15.7 million women are being terribly selfish by not voluntarily getting pregnant with a child solely for the purposes of giving said child to an infertile woman, and that needs to end. So, every 5 years, we'll have a lottery. 7.3 million fertile women of prime child bearing age will be required to immediately get pregnant, have the baby and give it to an infertile women. Some women may have to do this twice, as prime childbearing yet adult years span 14 years, but don't worry, it's only fair.

No, these women will not be compensated for their trouble. I've never heard of anyone invoking infertility as an argument against abortion state that women with unwanted pregnancies should be compensated for their efforts, so it will be up to you if you are chosen in the lottery. Don't complain, as the possessor of a working reproductive system, it's only your duty.

*I do appreciate the pain of infertility. In fact, I think infertility treatments should be covered by insurance in the US at least to the level infertility treatments are covered in the UK. I am not in any way mocking the pain of infertility, merely the argument that one person's infertility justifies taking away the bodily autonomy of another person.

**Terribly unfair, in fact, however two wrongs don't make a right.

***I have no idea why I can only find this statistic for women. I guess men are never infertile.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Here's Your Problem Right Here

This article contains one paragraph that explains everything that is wrong with the way Catholic hospitals (they're everywhere, and many women's only choice) are run:

Since 1971, Catholic hospitals have been guided by the Ethical and Religious Directives , which detail religious and moral justifications for care extending from conception to death. The interpretation of those directives is the responsibility of ethics committees at the hospitals, and the final arbiter is the local bishop. [emphasis mine.]

Stop and read that again. Who is the final arbiter concerning necessary, even life-saving, medical procedures? A bishop?! Are bishops doctors? Doctors in every possible specialty? No. Are bishops chosen for their unique understanding of diseases, conditions, medical procedures and the like? No. Are bishops ever likely to face a life threatening pregnancy or gynecological issue? No. Are bishops even likely to closely know anyone facing a life threatening pregnancy or gynecological issue? No.

In other words, bishops have no knowledge or training that would make them more able to make such a decision, certainly no more than the woman herself, her doctor, or the ethical board of a hospital, but bishops are the final authority in such matters. And you, or someone you love, may very well find yourself at the mercy of such a man, with no other option available to you.


Friday, January 21, 2011

The Problem Isn't That He Called Her Fat

I love that Kim Clijsters called this asshat on his unwarranted, unprofessional and misogynist remarks about her body, but I have noticed something disturbing. Everyone seems to interpret this as "he called her fat! never ask a woman if she is pregnant- it's calling her fat!"

Um, no. Todd Woodbridge made a remark about the size of Ms. Clijster's breasts. That was inappropriate. Commenting on women's breasts in this context is rude, disgusting, harrassing and ultimately misogynistic*. It's not an issue of calling her fat.

It seems as if the people at Sports Center have fully bought the idea that Mr. Woodbridge has the right to say anything he wants about a woman's body- as long as he doesn't hurt her silly feelings by implying she's fat.

Fuck off, Sports Center.

*Yes, yes, I know. It's totally cool to tell your lover you like her breasts. That is, however, different. If I have willingly shown you my breasts, I am inviting you to say something nice about them- to me. Only to me.

Gonna Be a Good Day

That's how far up the unshoveled snow came on me: past my ankles. (My ankles look like I'm smuggling hamsters in my boots because I have on 3 pairs of socks and my boot cut jeans are tucked in there. I'm not retaining 50 gallons of water or something.)

That is my bus stop. It's so nice how the gas station uses it as a handy snow storage space.

That is the reason they cancelled school today. If you live in a warm climate, that probably looks pretty bad, but in northeastern Pennsylvania in January, that's a nicely plowed street. In fact, I was awakened at 5:00 this morning by the plow. I live on a one block long dead end street, so if we get plowed, we get plowed last. The main roads had to have been plowed hours before that. Our school superintendent seems to regard snow the way my dog does: OHGODGETITAWAYFROMMEEEEEE!!!1!!!eleventy!!! In fairness to my dog, he has to stand around naked in it. I'm not sure what the superintendent's excuse is.

I have the Super Pigbird Death Flu. I think. With all of my chronic health problems, a simple head cold tends to feel like Ebola, so maybe it's just Pig Death Flu. It's 14F (-10C) right now, and when I stepped outside I was in raging fever mode and all, "It's so nice outside! I don't need this hat. Or scarf. Or coat. Yay!" That lasted until I got to the bus stop, at which point I began shivering uncontrollably and praying for spontaneous combustion.

It's gonna be a great day, I can tell.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Always Forget I'm Just a Vagina on Legs, Like All the Other Vaginas on Legs

This latest from Salon's "We're liberal, but not in that way ladies" department infuriated me. I was left sputtering with a rage so profound, I couldn't even figure out exactly what was setting me off.

Not a day goes by when we don't hear about the incredible accomplishments of today's kick-butt young women. They outnumber men in college and they are out-earning their male peers when they first enter the work world -- to such a degree that many consider it evidence of a "boy crisis." But the authors of a new book, "Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate and Think About Marrying," say all this success has come at a great cost to women's sexual bargaining power. When it comes to relationships, they say men are calling all the shots -- which means less commitment and more sex.

Because women want wedding rings and men want a place to stick their dicks, hurhur! And it's all your fault, girls, for insisting upon educations and job opportunity. If you'd just stay in the kitchen where you belong, you'd . . . actually, even this article admits that college-educated women are the most likely to get married and stay married, but why let facts get in the way of slut shaming?

I measure the price of sex in a couple of different ways. I didn't write this theory personally, but social psychologists claim that men's sex has no value per se. In the world of prostitution you never see women paying men for sex. Men pay women for sex, men will pay men for sex, but women don't pay men for sex. You get a sense that she has something of value that he wants.

Any discussion of this sort of thing without acknowledging the patriarchy we live, as well as gender roles and the perceived duality of female desire (the whole Madonna/whore thing), as well as the inherent fear of female desire in our society is just missing the point. Or misogyny.

Beyond that, it's absurd to state that men pay prostitutes for sex because they can't get sex any other way. Seriously, Charlie Sheen hired a hooker because Charlie Sheen can't get laid? Really? I'm just not buying that. Some men might pay for sex because they can't get it for free, but the real appeal of bought sex is that you get exactly what you want, when you want it, and then you leave.

Anyway, I can't possibly review everything that is wrong with this article, because there's just so much and I'm only one vagina with legs, so let's cut to the money shot:

That's a terrible environment to try to get men to commit. The women wind up competing with each other -- not necessarily to marry because they're not interested in marriage at that point -- but they compete with each other to attract men. How do you compete with other women to attract men? Well, sex is the way to get his attention. It's the opposite of a cartel effect where women would say, "All right, we need to band together and artificially restrict the price of sex and get it high, even if we don't want to, in order to extract things from men." It used to be women would shame each other for selling low.

. . .

I think it's a bad idea for women collectively to compete with each other for men and to just sort of say I'll do whatever it takes to be in a relationship with men. Women need to somehow reacquire control over the direction of relationships. They feel like they don't have control. They feel like he calls the shots. That is most unfortunate. Part of that, I think, involves -- and this is what some women don't want to hear -- the artificial restriction of sex until later in the relationship. You might not feel like doing that but it's for a greater future goal. Men who have sex early in a relationship feel little impulse to make strong commitments. Women desperately want that to not be true, but it is. Men and women make relationship commitments very differently. It doesn't sound modern and it doesn't sound natural, but I don't care what it sounds like, I'm telling you how things work. Giving it away early gives a great deal of power to him.

Because men don't care about women, just about the vaginas we're attached to. And if he can't get access to my vagina as quickly as he can get access to another vagina, he'll go find that other vagina. The fact that he might like me as a person, might find me interesting, nice, funny, smart and great to hang out with is irrelevant as long as that other vagina is easy to access.

Never forget, ladies, that we're interchangeable. Men have no interest in anything going on above our waists, other than the boobies!- so you're just like any other vagina out there. And if you allow access to your vagina easily, you're ruining it for every other vagina-carrier out there. Which is so rude! We need to form vagina cartels! (He actually says this, btw.)

There Is Nothing Glorious Here

"Oh, did I break your fingers? That's your fault, bitch. Shoulda listened."

God is love. God is grace. God is forgiveness.

God will slam your fingers in a car door and set your house on fire if you don't do what he wants.

God wants you to remain married to your abuser, and if you're very good, he'll kill the bastard for you.

Praise the great and wonderful creator who has so little to do with his time, he breaks fingers and sets stoves on fire in order to get one woman to wear skirts instead of pants.

So in the mean time I was wearing dresses when I would go out into public. I was at Sears and thinking of what a hypocrite I truly was...almost as if God was laughing at me. So I proceeded to shut my finger in the sliding van door..and yes I needed to go to the hospital and yes this cost over 2,000.00. The girls were hysterical and I was just dumbfounded as to why God would allow this to happen. Fast forward to a few months after I had been completely convicted to always wear skirt or a dress, and was doing so...I was cleaning the kitchen....pondering....what would be the big deal if I wore capri's while gardening???? I looked over and my oven was on fire. I had it on cleaning cycle and it was locked shut. I had forgotten the bread drying for stuffing from the night before. After my 16 year old son broke the latch and put it out with the fire extinguisher, the entire kitchen was now covered in soot. I immediately apologized, knowing it was my own fault.

That's . . . horrifying. That's worship of an abuser. It's not like god sent her a letter, "wear skirts or else", she had a "feeling" she ought to wear skirts. And when she didn't, stitches and soot. It's so sad, and, if you've ever read Foreskin's Lament (excellent book), you know it's not an uncommon view of god, a deity with little else to do with his time other than torment his powerless creations. And for this we should praise him. Because god is love. And broken fingers and fire.

I suppose it's unsurprising, given that view of god, that believers often see nothing wrong with women being abused. God does it, why shouldn't husbands?

The only Biblical recourse for a horrible marriage, or any marriage for that matter, is death. If your husband is an abusive, mean, hateful, fill-in-the-blank jerk in spite of you doing your best as a wife, God can kill him whenever He wants to. If he is still alive, God must want you to still be married to him. A wife could pray and fast for her husband/marriage, and for the kids to turn out right in spite of marital problems. If nothing else, it will be a great lesson for the kids, who hopefully will grow up and make wiser and more careful choices regarding their future spouse, rather than learning that marriage can be dissolved at a whim.

That's right, if you pray hard enough, god will kill your abusive spouse. Unless your abusive spouse kills you first, but, hey, them's the breaks. And if you pray even harder, your children, unlike all the other children of abusers, won't be affected at all.

If you just pray hard enough. And do everything god tells you to do. And interpret those feelings just right.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Liar Liar Pants on Fire*

Franklin Graham warns that the spirit of the anti-Christ is everywhere. Including his own mouth, it appears.

But preaching the Gospel may prove difficult, according to Graham, in a society where mentioning the name of Christ is prohibited.

That's not true at all. At all. Not even a little bit. You are more than welcome to talk about Jesus on your own time as much as you want. I checked to see if Graham was talking about China or Iran, but he's not. He's talking about the United States.

He goes on to say this:

Despite the opposition, Graham asked students to take advantage of the abundant opportunities forevangelism in today's era, especially through the Internet. He mentioned some options like purchasing key words like "God," "Jesus," or even "Muhammad."

Now wait a minute, Franky, are you completely prohibited from mentioning Jesus or are there "abundant" opportunities to do so? It's one or the other, but certainly not both, asshat.

Also, um, how does one purchase key words? If anyone knows, I would like "sloth", "pudding" and "gummy worms".

*I'm not sure if this rhyme is popular outside of the US, so for those who may not be familiar with it, the entire phrase is "Liar, liar, pants on fire, hang you by your nose from a telephone wire." No idea how that got started.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Testing Mobile Device

Pls to ignore. Just testing a blogging app.

Atheists Are Fatties

[trigger warning: discussions of body size, use of the word "fat". please enjoy this delightful otter instead.]

Having run out of pseudo intellectual bombast regarding atheists, conservapedia has decided to go with "fatty, fatty, boombalatty!"

I am not kidding you.

Atheism and Obesity

According to the Gallup Organization, "Very religious Americans are more likely to practice healthy behaviors than those who are moderately religious or nonreligious.

The cite, btw, is this:

Very religious Americans are more likely to practice healthy behaviors than those who are moderately religious or nonreligious. The most religious Americans score a 66.3 on the Gallup-Healthways Healthy Behavior Index compared with 60.6 among those who are moderately religious and 58.3 for the nonreligious. This relationship, based on an analysis of more than 550,000 interviews, is statistically significant after controlling for major demographic and regional variables.

Yes, 8% is quite a number there, isn't it? It's huge! Fat, even!

The Gallup study gives some insight into the above average health habits of the very religious and not necessarily the health habits of atheists. The reason is that the Gallup organization defines a non-religious as a person where "Religion is not an important part of daily life and church/synagogue/mosque attendance occurs seldom or never. This group constitutes 29.7% of the adult population."[4] While many Western atheists are non-religious, not all non-religious people are atheists.

What Schafly is trying to tell you is that atheists are around 5% of the population, and I'm not even sure if that's the adult population specified above. This poll has nearly 30% of the entire adult population as "nonreligious". Notice a problem here? Schafly named the article "Atheists and Obesity", but that's not what this poll is about at all.

So why "Atheists and Obesity" rather than "The Nonreligious and Obesity"? Simple. And it's not just that Schafly hates atheists with an unsettling passion. A large portion of Andy's target audience considers themselves nonreligious. A certain percentage of evangelical Christians are proudly nonreligious- they have a relationship with Christ, you see. Not a religion. At all. Also. Too.

Two of the major risk factors for becoming obese according to the Mayo Clinic are poor dietary choices and inactivity, thus given the above cited Gallup research, it appears as if non-religious are more prone to becoming obese than very religious individuals.[8]

Two "of" the major risk factors. (Always check every word with conservapedia.) This is the Mayo Clinic's article, and here are the listings of risk factors for obesity, not in order of importance:


Unhealthy diet and eating habits


Lack of sleep

Certain medications

Medical problems

Huh. Now why would Andy only mention the first two? Easy. Those are the reasonably controllable, "it's your fault your fat" risk factors. He doesn't want to go after pregnant women, because he opposes any control over pregnancy at all, insomnia is difficult at best to treat, and medications and medical conditions aren't anyone's fault. Plus, it's a little difficult to tie insomnia or corticosteroids to what Andy thinks the religious are benefitting from.

The Bible declares that gluttony is a sin.[9]Furthermore, the Bible declares the physical body of Christians to be temples of the Holy Spirit.[10] Therefore, it is not surprising that many very religious Christians would leave healthy lives.

See, you just can't tie corticosteroids (infamous for causing weight gain) to gluttony and temples, ergo, not an important risk factor.

Here's the thing. Religious, in the context of this poll, means actively attending church, probably more than once a week. A thing which is certainly easier to do if one is not suffering from a medical condition. Any number of physical and mental illnesses cause weight gain, and those same illnesses would make attending church difficult to impossible. So, while not attending church, or social functions in general, may be correlated with obesity, correlation does not equal causation.

That's to say nothing about fat shaming in this country. The obese are less likely to attend social functions overall, due to a desire to avoid real or perceived fat shaming (most likely real). So, while an obese person may be less likely to attend church (be religious in this context), it's not nonattendance causing the obesity, it is obesity causing the nonattendance.

None of which Andy even bothers to think about, because why bother when you can call atheists fatties?

the noted Evangelical preacher Rick Warren recently made a public commitment to lose 90 pounds.[22] Have you seen any of the prominent atheists make such a pledge?

lolwut? You just can't beat conservapedia for straight up, eye crossing wtfuckery.

The rest of the article is pictures of fatty atheists interspersed with pictures of, I kid you not, Chuck Norris. This conservapedia entry snarks itself from here on out, so I will let you get on with your morning.

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