Monday, March 31, 2008

Quick Hit

Lou Dobbs rants about race, calling the United States the most racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse and progressive nation in the world (actually, in 2007 The Economist ranked the U.S. 17th in the most democratic countries in the world. I guess Lou hasn't heard about those pesky Scandinavian countries.) Anyway, so, Lou is blithering on about how ungrateful these certain politicians are (Condoleeza Rice and Barack Obama, in particular) and...well...see for yourself:

Oh, Lou, you crazy-ass old man.

Mooooooving on, in the news of the completely irrelevant, we have this little gem about who 50 Cent is supporting in the Dem primary. Because 50 Cent is whom I have always turned to first for political advice.

Last, there's an amusing article [via Feministe] over at the New York Times about literary compatibility and how, let's face it, some of us can be kind of snobbish. But it's ok! Says Sloane Crosley in the article:
“If you’re a person who loves Alice Munro and you’re going out with someone whose favorite book is ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ perhaps the flags of incompatibility were there prior to the big reveal.”

Totally. I do wonder, however, about the veracity of the claim that women tend to be more critical of their partners book choices than men. Maybe that's because I know some pretty book snobbish dudes (and I love you all). Also, I'm guilty of really liking The Unbearable Lightness of Being which is derided in the article by one person interviewed as "trendy, bogus metaphysics" (even though he admits in the same sentence that he knew nothing about Kundera or his work at the time of this assumption and, I think, made up his mind based on that god-awful movie). Anyway, I thought it was kind of a fun article. [Update: Amanda Marcotte has a post about this article, too.]

That's all for now. What random stuff have you come across? Sock it to me, dudes!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Summer Fun

PEP is gearing up for the second Wanderlust Bike Tour, launching at the end of May. It's a five week, 1,600 mile bike tour from New Orleans to New York City with several stops along the way to hold seminars on sex education and raise awareness about reproductive health. I would love, love, LOVE to join in on something like this but, unfortunately, I have to take classes this summer, not to mention the fact that I'm not exactly in peak condition for a bike tour. Hopefully, there will be another ride next year that I can be part of. I think it would be so much fun and it's such great work. For now, I will try to get up to Gainesville for the Southern Girls Convention in July.

There's a big debate going on over at Feministe about the newest Vogue cover with LeBron James and Giselle Bundchen. The posts (here and here) discuss how the photo could be seen as racist, with this comparison:

I have a hard time believing that something like that could get past all of the people a Vogue cover needs to go through (art director, photographer, editor, layout designer, publisher) without someone having said, " know....maybe...". It's an Annie Leibovitz image and if anyone should know how much a simple photograph can imply, it's her. When you're that famous of an artiste, can you just get away with stuff like that?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

OMG, For Realz?!?1?

The Journal of Adolescent Health has a new study that says, once again, that comprehensive sex education is, *gasp*, GOOD FOR YOUNG PEOPLE!

Teaching about contraception was not associated with increased risk of adolescent sexual activity or STD. Adolescents who received comprehensive sex education had a lower risk of pregnancy than adolescents who received abstinence-only or no sex education.

You can read the abstract here but really, the conclusion is the most important part. I'd like to read the whole study, but I don't want to pay $31.50 for a subscription to the Science Direct website. Sorry, dudes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Moment as a FanGirl

I wrote into Feministing the other night about a dumb Taco Bell/Sports Illustrated advertising campaign. It's a weird thing to get excited about, I know, but they posted about it and I got a mention!

Reader Karlen wrote, "What this has to do with lousy 'Mexican' fast food is beyond me." Indeed. So I did a little digging. Turns out, Taco Bell has joined up with Sports Illustrated to promote the magazine's swimsuit issue.

See the rest of the post here!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Quick Hit

A good (and short) opinion piece by M. LeBlanc at Bitch, Ph.D. on how Americans view medication. From the post:

In the good old United States of America, you have to have a prescription for every goddamned thing. For birth control pills, for the Nuva ring, for Plan B. For antibiotics, for pain medication that doesn't totally suck, for a cough suppressant that's not intended for children, for a pill to treat yeast infections, for an anti-fungal cream, for anything with any potency that might actually work.

I thought about this, as I flopped one foot in front of the other on Boulevard Richard Lenoir. And then I thought about what would happen if all of a sudden, there were no more prescriptions, except for really serious stuff like chemo drugs or morphine or whatever. In America. What would that be like? Ignoring the fact that that would be incredibly unlikely to happen, I imagine tat people would be flocking to pharmacies, picking up medications for all kinds of ailments we didn't have or didn't need to be treated for. Everyone and their dog would be popping klonopin and prednisone for a nightcap.

But hey. Why don't they do that here? Why do I assume that Americans are hungry to get their grubby little hands on as much medication as they can, unlike the French or the Egyptians? They are, aren't they? Why?

Fragments and Pieces

  • Steven Dutch,professor of Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, brutally dismembers fallacious reasoning of just about every stripe on his home page. Not only does he take on a variety of topics, he does so in incredibly incisive and entertaining prose. It's rare to find a writer so worthy of citation, and just downright hilarious, but Dutch's no-nonsense style fits the bill.
  •, a blog about 'molecular gastronomy,' has a fascinating article with some surprising flavor combinations. For adventurous chefs and those bored with the familiar.
  • One of my favorite rhetorical methods in any evolution debate is to compare and contrast the fruitful research of biologists to the nonexistent research of ID advocates. But we don't have to simply observe, we can model evolutionary algorithms thanks to modern computing. People like Robert T. Pennock, a philosopher now working on the Avida digital organism project at Michigan State University, don't simply debate ideas—they test them. Pennock, and others like him are using Darwinian processes, implemented in computers or in vitro, to evolve complex systems and to provide solutions to design problems in ways that are beyond the power of mere intelligent agents. Check out this page on, for an overview on the research along with video of some of the virtual organisms .

Friday, March 21, 2008

Peer Advising

Ok, guys, in an effort to get some comments going here I'm going to ask for your advice on a few things. Also because I need some advice. You can even respond with one word answers if you want but any help would be cool.

Caecus and I will be done with our schooling here in Daytona this winter and I've been thinking about starting college applications. However, at this point I'm probably going to have to pick a major and here is where the problem lies. I don't know what I want to study! Here are the subjects I've been considering:

Education - While I'm pretty set on becoming a teacher, I don't know what I want to teach. Also, I know I'll have to take some education courses but do I have to major in education specifically? I don't want to teach young children; high school or college level would be my choice.

Photography - I'm already half way there and I could probably get a job teaching photography while working on a masters towards something else if I so desired. But I don't know as I really want to keep studying photography. Don't get me wrong, I definitely love it but I think at this point experience would be the best way to continue learning.

Art History - Ok, this is just a daydream of mine but imagine the awesome career opportunities! Besides teaching, I could be a museum curator, a restorer, a buyer or dealer, I could organize exhibitions, go into investment, authentication, reproduction, so many cool things. I also think it might be a very difficult profession to break into and there's not a whole lot of fall back.

English - I would totally teach high school or college level English. How fun would that be? Designing your own curriculum and deciding which books and stories and plays to read sounds awesome to me. It's something that I think I would get a lot of enjoyment out of and I personally believe that I would be good at it. I think I could get some kids interested in good literature or, at least, I could try. The most influential teachers I've had have been art/photography teachers and English teachers. It's pretty inspiring.

Health - Since comprehensive sex education is one of my pet causes, I've thought that perhaps I should join the good fight and educate people comprehensively about sexual health and safety. I suppose this is usually part and parcel with general health education, nutrition and human development and such, which I'm not quite as enthusiastic about but it's a pretty important field.

Alright, aside from things that I think would be neat but haven't seriously considered (gender studies, pharmacology, poli sci, activism [can one major in activism?], young adult counseling), these are the main considerations. Whatcha'll think? What are you majoring in/want to major in/did major in/planning to make a career in?

Second item on the docket, I have to write a research paper based on one of the speeches I did for my speech class. The speeches I have done so far are the history of NOW, comprehensive sex education, and I'm currently working on how beer is made. I'm leaning toward sex ed. Do either of the others seem like they'd make better papers?

I'm also presently working on a research paper on Kate Chopin's view of womanhood in The Awakening but it's sort of turning into views of upper class, white womanhood in The Awakening and how poor women and women of color were largely ignored even in the realm of feminism and women's rights until rather recently (even though the Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Movement in the 1960s and 70s closely coincided, they were more or less superficially allied forces). Anyway, I'll probably put that up once it's complete.

I'm currently watching a 20/20 report on prostitution in America, which has become a pretty hot topic in light of the Elliot Spitzer ordeal. Diane Sawyer is presenting it and I'm a little wary of her because of her stupid-ass "moral authority" question to Madonna but so far it seems to be a sympathetic and honest piece and she's covering it pretty thoroughly. Prostitution is such a tragic and epidemic problem all over the world. The worst part is that when it does get attention in the media, it's usually covered with this prurient and disapproving attitude, it doesn't help anything. There needs to be some major changes in the way sex work is viewed in this country and people need to realize once and for all that the women should absolutely not be taking 90% of the blame for it. Of course, I'm of the opinion that there needs to be some major changes in the way sex in general is viewed in this country. I might post a review of the program when it's over, we'll see about that. Until someone else starts posting, I'm just going to talk about whatever the heck I feel like and since I pay a lot of attention to U.S. politics and women's issues, I'll talk about that.

Alright, I'm tired of standing on my soapbox for now. Let me know if you have any opinions on the questions I asked!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ, Dick Cheney!

Remember that thing I said about not turning this blog into "kane's political grievances"? I don't want to have to say that was a lie, but I do have to admit that it's a promise I may not be able to keep.

Dick Cheney does not care what you think. And he is not ashamed to let you know.

I'm with this guy.

Also, check out this post from Shakesville, just for a few reminders of what is riding on the next election.

And, why do we have to go to the BBC to find coverage of things like this that are happening in our own country?

Burnt Pages Book Corner

At it's inception, Burnt Pages was planned as a literary blog. That idea went by the wayside when we realized that we're busy people and sometimes reading is a luxury we can't afford. But I believe there is still intention to review books when possible and, probably as an encouragement to myself, I decided to put up my current reading list which is subject to change at a moment's notice.

One day, I swear I will finish Natalie Angier's Woman: An Intimate Geography. I really enjoy this book but for some reason it's taking me a long time to get through it. I go through stretches of time where I just completely forget that it's there and waiting for me. I have to finish Kate Chopin's The Awakening which I read several years ago but am currently writing a research paper on so a rereading is necessary. After that I'd like to read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies at Caecus's suggestion. I've been meaning to read Watership Down by Richard Adams for many years and just haven't done it. And The Darling by Russell Banks. One day, I will get my hands on a copy of Carol Adams' The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory which I want to read so badly that it would make a very quick cut to the top of the list should I possess it anytime soon.

If I ever figure out what happened to my copy of the study "Sex, Lies & Stereotypes: How Abstinence-only Programs Harm Women and Girls" [pdf] by Julie Kay with Ashley Jackson from Legal Momentum, I will read that and probably have an opinion to give on it afterward. I just don't feel like reprinting the entire 80 or so pages. We'll see how that goes...

So guys, what's on your list?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Welcome to the Oval Office, President McCain

Ok, guys, I promise I won't turn this blog into "kane's political grievances" but I DON'T SEE ANYONE ELSE POSTING and this has been weighing on my mind a lot so let me rant for a minute. There's probably a lot of contradictions here and I guess it's more of a "feel" piece than a "think" piece but I'm open to discussion. Anyhoo...

In this week's New Yorker, Ryan Lizza pens an article called "The Iron Lady". The article starts by comparing Hillary Clinton to "Jason or Freddy Krueger...those Hollywood cyborgs and zombies who, despite bullets and stakes and explosions, will not under any circumstances be vanquished." This sets the tone for a sniping dispatch full of backhanded compliments and poorly masked contempt. Obviously, none of this is uncommon in the world of political critique. But Lizza, an apparent Obama man, gives no real solid argument in opposition to Clinton (her policies in particular). Nor does he give any real grounds for backing Obama. It seems, as it does with so many Dems, that he really just likes one more than the other.

I have yet to see enough information comparing the differences between these two candidates to believe that the competition between them really necessitates this much heat. From what I can tell, they're pretty similar. Said Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J. in an interview for MSNBC: "The differences between Republicans and Democrats is much greater than any difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama." It's come down to a regular old popularity contest and while one will win against the other, as with saw in Bush v. Gore, it doesn't mean they will achieve the ultimate goal in the long run.

Obama's lead lies mostly in presidential Red states. What good is a delegate in a state that will go to the GOP anyway? Clinton's strongholds are in those all important swing states but those alone will not be enough. It's a 50/50 split. Neither candidate seems to be at the point to bring out enough voters in November for a Democratic win. The infighting in the party has caused a rift with both campaigns and their supporters getting more and more rabid for THEIR candidate and making claims that if "the other guy" gets the nomination, they just won't vote at all. Meanwhile, John "city of Satan" McCain seems to be settling in for an easy slide right into the Oval Office.

I'm getting tired of both of them and I think I'm probably not alone in that feeling. I'm a non-confrontational person and I tend to simply shut down when there's too much pointless argument rather than engage. To be honest, they're both too moderate on the issues I care about anyway. But at the start, I was starry eyed at the historic qualifiers of this race. The problem I see however, and perhaps I'm being too cynical, is that this race is quickly deteriorating from "The year when a black man and a woman were both viable candidates for the Presidency!" to "The year when a black man and a woman almost won the presidency but ultimately lost to yet another old, rich, conservative white man because everyone that should have been voting for them was too busy bickering to pay attention to what was actually happening."

Anyone who steps into the office next with the intention to actually DO anything for this country may as well put on their tire track suit and wait to be thrown under the bus. Taking over this CF of a nation we have now will pretty much put all of the hope and change on the back burner in favor of cleaning up these more immediate messes, I don't care how much experience you have. We really shouldn't expect so much from these Democratic candidates that we hold them to impossible standards and fight about how great one is over the other when it's just not reality. But to just let it all go because your candidate didn't win in the primary? Can we really stomach another four, possibly eight years with a xenophobic, tropophobic jingoist with a short fuse as our fearless leader? Because, frankly, that's the direction we're headed in.

Back to the Lizza article, the underlying message seems to be that Clinton should just throw in the towel. Like Ralph Nader "stealing" all those votes from Al Gore in 2000, Clinton should stop stirring the pot and concede to Obama, especially since she's going to lose anyway and everyone but her and her stupid perseverance have realized it. Excuse me, but it appears that she's running in the same election and has gotten to the same point. It's still anyone's game, although with press like Lizza's article it's no wonder people seem to think the jig is up for Clinton already.

Really though, at this point, I don't think it will matter who gives in first. The Dem candidate will be the Dem candidate and the Republican candidate will be the Republican candidate. Clinton and Obama will be the same figurehead in a different package. If things keep going as is, they'll be the same "almost" in a different package. If we allow this media circus to continue, allow the talking heads to keep pitting the Dems against themselves, using phrases like "blood on the debate room floor", "final showdown", and "do or die", allow ourselves to ignore the possibility that MAYBE we should be a little more willing to support each other and perhaps be ready to give a little for the greater good then our proverbial goose is cooked already. I'm not saying vote for Clinton. I'm not saying vote for Obama. I'm not saying vote for either, or at all. I am saying that if you're going to vote for one, why not be ready to vote for either?

Then again, perhaps, like me, you feel so despondent about the whole debacle that you don't want to vote at all. It's probably hypocritical of me, but I honestly feel that none of it will do any good anyway. Can someone reignite the fiery interest I had for this election at the start? Can I get some of that audacious hope I keep hearing so much about? Can someone even just lie to me and say that the Dem party will collapse in on itself but if I can cringe through just four more years of a GOP pres. then a new, even more leftist party will emerge that will take power and the U.S. will become a bastion of charitableness, intelligence, and real freedom and equality for all people regardless of race, gender, religion or lack thereof, sexual orientation, ability or disability, or any other factor against which we currently and most likely ferociously discriminate against? That, my friends, would be change. I just don't see it coming from the next U.S. President, whomever that may be.

To read it from someone better at this whole commentary thing than I am, check out this article from Newsweek and this article from Associated Content.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Kickoff

Hello, friends and loved ones, and welcome to our new home on the internet. Many of you have been asking "What are we supposed to talk about?" and I would say that at this point, everything is fair game. I think once we get the blog ball rolling we can sharpen the focus (or not, if it seems to be working itself out) but for now, so as not to limit anyone's creativity and stand in the way of forming a new blogging habit, we will leave the topics up to you. Books, articles, movies, music, anything you find interesting or relevant, post it up and give us your opinion and, hopefully, prepare for some rousing conversation and possibly heated debate. So, dish out your vim and vinegar, allow voice to your spleen and ideal, stick it to 'em and hype what you like. But, most of all, have a good time!