Monday, December 31, 2007

Adventures In Meditation

Feeling pensive when I wake I decide to go out and meditate in the chill morning air. I build a fire in my chiminea and sit in the lotus position on my swing. The warmth from the chiminea is soothing me as I close my eyes, take a deep breath and start to relax. "Ommmmmmm...ow, ow, ow, ouch!" I look down and see my orange kitten's teeth latched onto my thumb drawing blood. Dozer, my 60 lb. bulldog hears my yelp of pain and decides he wants in my lap along with the kitten. The kitten gets scared and wraps her paws around my neck and is unwilling to let go as Dozer tries to lick me in the face. Ugh!

Sighing, no longer in the mood to meditate, I wonder if Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ever had these problems?

warmth radiating
from a fire pit
inner peace

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gratuitous Vanity Post

Original, over-exposed image from iSight camera in MacBook Pro:

Imaged sharpened and darkened by me in iPhoto:

Image tweaked by my brother in Photoshop (15 mins work):

I've been married to a flat iron for a few years now, but yesterday my stylist finally showed me what to do with my hair's natural curl. Wheee!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Father's Gone Hunting

As a child I always looked forward to my father going deer hunting because it meant that I'd get to sleep with my Mom. There were four of us children but I was the lucky one who was given the honor of sleeping with Mama. She said she liked sleeping with me because I kept still when I slept and I was the best goochier [her term for cuddling]. When we would get into bed she'd say, "scoot over here, honey and let's goochie up." She would wrap her arms around me and I could feel her smell my hair and sigh. There was no better feeling in the world to my little girl's heart.

cold winter night
wrapped in
warmth and love

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Going Out To Eat

Walking out the door he says "we'll go at noon...I'll give you a call." I jump up and start getting dressed so I'll be ready when he calls. The dog gets excited because he senses we are getting out of the house today. Noon comes and call. I carry the phone around with me everywhere I go so I will not miss his call. 1:00, 2:00, 3:00...still no call. Thirty eight years of waiting for calls that will not come. One day I will learn his word means nothing.

icy wind
raking desolate fields

Heavenly Haiku

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Silver City

Construction begins on Olympic Village.

I took this picture yesterday, looking west from Science World.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Coffee -> Radiation -> Water -> Chocolate -> ?

I have to admit I enjoy having "Benjamin" who hijacked fond adversaria, around.

He arrives with bland advice about food that I can't imagine anyone reading through. He asks for nothing, demands nothing, does not engage.

He doesn't know us, knows that we don't know him, but he writes in the first person about his personal preferences and reommendations. In his water post, he takes care to remind us not to substiture his advice for that of a doctor, and disclaims liability.

So far, we have been treated to his thoughts on coffee, radiation, water, and chocolate. What will be next. How will my diet change next week in response to his latest advice.

I wait....

Dead Hooker Eucharist

This is my body, which is given up for you; do this in remembrance of me.
1 Corinthians 11:24

"A special team investigating the cases," reported the New York Times on Saturday, November 23, 2002, "arrived and found body parts in a freezer, as well as purses and other personal effects later linked to the missing.

Not one body has been found intact, and a wood chipper and Mr. Pickton's pigs are believed to have devoured much of the evidence."*

"The prosecution played a videotape in court of a conversation Mr. Pickton had with his cellmate after he was arrested on Feb. 22, 2002. Mr. Pickton did not know his cellmate was an undercover police officer. Mr. Pickton's cellmate, who said he is in jail on an attempted-murder charge, tells Mr. Pickton the best way to dispose of something is to take it to the ocean.

"I did better than that," Mr. Pickton says. "A rendering plant." * *

Lipstick, soap, animal feed, meat.

"It wasn't just the guests of Piggy's Palace who consumed Pickton's pigs. The unusable remains of the pigs Robert slaughtered and served to his friends and neighbors--pig entrails, brains, bones, nerve tissue, and gore--were taken by truck to a rendering plant near the DES called West Coast Reduction Ltd. Many are certain that the partial remains of the murdered sex workers were also trucked to West Coast Reduction Ltd." *

“[He said] that thousands of people had been to the place [“Piggy Palace”], and, though he had enjoyed some roasted pork, was certain it did not come from 953 Dominion Avenue, that is, from pigs that had been eating the women murdered on the Pickton farm.” *

"As well as beauty products, rendering plants also make food for farm animals that humans consume."

"[P]olice raided the farm in 2002, the property had become a horrific graveyard. Police testified they found Mr. Pickton's trailer strewn with women's clothing, makeup, sex toys, syringes and duct tape. "* *

Crack Whore Confessions in-depth review:
"The page is laid out just like the tour so you know exactly what you’ll be seeing. There is a row of links on top and then the thumbnailed pictures of all the crack heads that he has interviewed and banged . . . There are 73 current crack whores in Crack Whore Confessions. Cracker Jack updates weekly so there is always a new slut to see and hear . . . The videos are amazing. They are so in your face real that you’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat listening to these sluts discuss openly the horrible past that they have lived though . . . every one of these crack whore’s has a story to tell and each is more shocking then the next. It is no wonder these sluts turned to crack as an outlet . . . The videos are all in .wmv format. You can also save the ones you liked the best on your harddrive for watching later. The clarity is good and so is the sound. You almost feel like you are Cracker Jack."

In this brothel called America

She is on the blue path walks against the dawn
White powder her cursed solace
Thievery and lies her language
Needle her core
No judgment in this lake of fire
She is far away as stars
Her eyes small winters of death
Pray for her
She can’t keep warm without this spoon
Takes us on a journey of defeat
Her arms black with scars
Path which comes to silence and stays
Split in the lightning of red and white
Pierced with love for women
She falls to her knees hoarsely cries
I cannot live without oblivion
Pray for her
Let our voices lead her to another way
Pray with all our spirits
Lead her stumbling bruised ashamed
Away from this dark drowning in white
Stars give her strength
Sun turn her eyes
Moon guide her feet
Earth turning hold her
We pray for her
We sing for her
We drum for her
We pray

—Chrystos, 1988

Pickton convicted on six counts of second degree murder.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pro-military/anti-choice or Pro-choice/anti-military?

I can't decide.

One thing's for sure—a jar of fetuses is not as unfunny as some people imagine.

At least they're not racists.

The "Real Problem"

It's been interesting to watch the debate over Saletan's "Created Equal" series here on Wikifray, but at the end of the day, any damage that he's done to the idea of a non-correlation between race and intelligence pales in comparison to this:

Sherri Shepherd Doesn't Get That Whole BC Thing, Insists "Jesus Came First"
Of course, there is the obvious counter-argument that Ms. Shepherd's ignorance stems from a religious upbringing that didn't leave room for a critical understanding of history, but the dearth of other high-profile examples could make that a hard sell.

One of the interesting things about the Black community in the United States is its overall penchant for conspiracy theories, and with this exchange, Shepherd fits herself very nicely into one of them - that the American Media Establishment (tm) is engaged in a perverse form of "affirmative action," intentionally putting Black "knuckleheads" (to borrow the term from Bill Cosby) in front of cameras, as a way of bolstering racist arguments that Blacks are stupid.

In a lot of ways, the most enduring legacy of racism is the expectation of racism, which is why I cringe whenever a Black person makes a fool of themselves on national television. In a way, I expect everyone who has watched Shepherd on television to look at me and say to themselves: "Black person on television: idiot - therefore, Black person in front of me: idiot." Of course, in expecting a person to judge me based on the color of my skin because of the color of their skin, I can't exactly claim the moral high ground, now can I?

Maybe I need to re-evaluate where the "real problem" actually lies...

Lesbian Feminist Phone Sex

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You get in the truck.

SkidRowHooker.jpg It’s cold and you’re shivering. You’ve been out here for three hours with no action and now you’re jonesing. What’s wrong with these dudes tonight? No one’s stopping. You’d call it a night, but it won’t be any better inside, so you stay put, shifting from foot to foot, hugging your arms around you to keep in what heat you’ve got.

Just one date, you whisper to the air, and I’ll be okay until tomorrow. You look down at your legs, bare under the short skirt. They’re thin and covered with goosebumps. Your knees are scabbed and bruised. Johns don’t like it when you’re marked up. Is that why no one’s stopping?

This sucks. If I get a trick, I’ll save some of the money and get something to eat. And tomorrow I’ll go and have breakfast at the drop-in. I’ll call detox and see if they have a bed. I’ll call my mom, too. This is no way to live. Just one trick, and tomorrow I’ll start getting it together. This is a common refrain for you, but you believe it. This time, you'll do it differently.

That truck’s been circling. You remember it because it has some big drums in the back. He sees you look at him and he pulls over. You bend down to peer in the window, making sure your cleavage is visible through the opening of your jacket. You open the door.

“Heya, he says. He’s a choice specimen, ain’t he? Strands of greasy blond hair reach down to his shoulders, and he hasn’t shaved in about a week. And what’s that smell? Eee-yuck. It’s godawful. You’re backing away when he leans over and throws the door wide.

“I’m awful sorry about the stink, he calls, ”but if you can stand it for twenty minutes, we’ll be at my place. I’ll get myself cleaned up, and then we can party.” He gives you a big smile that shows broken, stained teeth, and you stop holding your breath for a moment, testing the air, considering if you can stand the smell long enough to endure the ride back to his place, You grimace. Why don’t you come back to my room? It’s just over there, at the Balmoral. You can get a shower while I go and score.

I got everything we need back home. Got some rock and some down. X, too, if you want. Lotsa booze, of course. People are going to show up for a party later. I got some clothes back there that’ll fit ya, warmer than what you got on. In five minutes you won’t notice the smell. I’ll take care of everything. Just get in.

This isn’t the way you like to go, but you need to get high. Something in the back of your head is trying to get your attention, but it’s vague, like a faint red light blinking far away, and any hope you might have had of feeling the little prickle of warning is overpowered by the stench and your hunger for the drug.

You get in the truck.



Monday, December 03, 2007

The Passion of the Rudy

In February 2001, before 9/11 made him a hero, Rudy Giuliani was having some trouble with religion and the limits of power.

In an exhibit of contemporary black photographers at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, a photograph entitled Yo Mama's Last Supper "feature[d] the photographer, Renee Cox, nude and surrounded by 12 black apostles." Other works in the exhibit depicted a topless woman crucified.

Cox, a native New Yorker and herself Catholic, said the "Last Supper image highlights legitimate criticisms of the church, including its refusal to ordain women as priests."

Giuliani called the work "disgusting" and "outrageous."

"Why can't a woman be Christ?" Cox responded, "we are the givers of life!"

The ACLU objected to Giuliani's use of his office as a means to curtail the museum's first amendment rights. While it was fine for him to object to the exhibit for personal reasons, calling for a task force to pass judgment on the art was unconstitutional.

The mayor was reaching well beyond the purview of his government in a misguided—one might even say hysterical—attempt to control public discourse. Giuliani declared that he was "appointing a task force 'that can set decency standards for those institutions that are using your money, the taxpayers' money.'"

This wasn't the first time Giuliani had tried to use the office of mayor to assuage his delicate sensibilities. In 1999, over an image of the Virgin Mary that had been embellished with elephant dung, "the mayor froze the museum's annual $7.2 million city subsidy -- about a third of its annual budget -- then sued in state court to evict the museum." In the museum's counter suit, a judge ruled "that the city had violated the First Amendment." The museum's funding was restored.

It's a good thing he lost the case, but how much of the city's money did Giuliani spend in a personally-motivated court battle aimed at violating an institution's rights? Undeterred by that failure, Giuliani declared that this time "he would go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, whose decisions he said are based on 'showing decency and respect for religion.'"

We express amusement and dismay over the Sudanese government's claim that a teddy bear named Mohammed constitutes blasphemy, but how different is that from what Rudy did, except in degree? Are either of these reactions proportionate to the offense? Are they rational?

Whether you agree with his objections to the art or not, Giuliani failed to grasp the limits of his office, and he abused his power in the service of a personal issue. Given the current regime's track record with things of this nature, can America really afford a Giuliani presidency? article

— — —

NSFW: image image

Sunday, December 02, 2007

More on Saletan

Saletan asks us to consider a thought experiment in which biological differences make for difficult social choices. The critique of Saletan that makes the most sense to me, and that he does not appear to engage, is that our understanding of biology is already social. It's thus hard to imagine a scenario in which differential/unequal treatment of people would be preferable to a rethinking of our biological categories.

My thought experiment: imagine a world in which social status is based entirely on height. Height is very clearly a biological difference. Tall people could claim that there are any number of areas in which they were biologically superior, in part because they lived in a world devoted to the betterment of tall people. They could even come up with mythic reimaginations of human history in which (for example) reaching the farthest branches had always allowed the tall better access to food, superior living conditions, etc, etc.

Now, I happen to be not especially tall. What counterargument is available to me? The tall have biology on their side -- height is a function of genes. But of course, the real biological difference does not have to correlate to social hierarchies. Hence the argument of the short -- that biology is not destiny, that there are other imaginable worlds that have been systematically not imagined -- that have been discarded or not thought of -- because biological categories have naturalized social inequality.

Surely a just society is one that finds the best way for biological differences to be advantageous to all concerned, that finds opportunities for both short and tall. An unjust society is one that allows prejudice to shape scientific categories, thus justifying discrimination.

Saletan's a smart guy, and I'm sure he understands something about the history of science. I'm sure he thinks (probably correctly) that the fray criticisms are too strongly shaped by current culture wars. But it's not like the categories Saletan uses are any more immune to culture. Surely the history of scientific ideas of race is so horrific that we are justified in being particularly cautious.

Two side points:

1. Any genetic difference is really a difference in phenotypic effect, and those differences in phenotype depend on environment. A gene for digging, for instance, icould easily be a gene for digging when you are on the ground, and splashing when you are in the water. The nature vs. nurture debate is thus a false dichotomy. It thus makes sense to think of "genetic" inequalities as a result of the environment in which the genes express themselves. So even if we take Saletan's thought experiment in a naive way, and conclude that people from Antarctica are genetically more intelligent than people from the Arctic, then surely the appropriate response is to change the Arctic environment such that the phenotypic effect of the genetic difference is not so stark as to create permanent inequality.

2. But I don't particularly want to grant Saletan even that naive interpretation. I just don't believe that there is a truth, out there, independent of our categories of perception. "Intelligence" is a creature of our own manufacture. We made it to serve a purpose in the world -- education. If people are not being educated, then we need to create a different concept that will allow us to order the world in a more equitable way. That seems to me the thrust of much of the disagreement with Saletan, and I don't see how he feels justified in brushing it aside.