Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hey You Guys!

Having gone to a women's college and NOT a girls' school, I did get very sensitive to how women are addressed. Especially in an all-female world.

But guys always seemed preferable to girls, the worst of the worst. But an article in today's Alternet makes a decent point that actually, guys is one of those catch-alls that really isn't.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Forth & Towne a Dead End

When retailers get it wrong, they really get it wrong. The whole concept just made me want to spit. You turn over 35-ish and all of a sudden you've forgotten how to dress yourself. You prefer higher waists (mom jeans, anyone?) and clothing that is so boring you fall asleep just looking at it.

Earth to Gap: Sarah Jessica Parker is over 35. You put her in a Gap ad campaign. Now you want to shuttle her off to some super uncool, unhip store in a mall? Thanks, but no thanks.

Well, guess what. Gap agrees! They're shutting down this pathetic excuse for a store. According to the New York Times, most of these super-niche type ideas for women of a certain age (excuse me? when did 35 become the new 55?) who lack style and substance.

My friend gave me a birthday card that said of my age: you're not getting older, you're just becoming a much better shopper. Where do women my age shop? H&M, Zara, Bloomies. Bluefly. Get with it Gap, or get out.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Harvard Shocker

Ellen Goodman's column today explains why she figured the country would have a woman prez way before Harvard. Hell, she figured the Vatican would be female before Harvard. Read her column here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fishy Report

Newsflash: Moms-to-be, eating fish will not retard your children. A long-term study reported in Lancet gives the all-clear to eating fish. The backlash that the fear of mercury consumption resulted in pregnant women eating no fish, actually led to dumber kids. (I'm obviously paraphrasing, but you get the idea). So, eat up that salmon! Dig in to a tuna fish sandwich! Seems to me that the commonsense approach of not overdoing it ( a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, a piece of fish) is not going to do any harm, and may even do good.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What Would Hitler Say?

All this parsing of Barack Obama's blackness reminds me of a similar conversation that Jews have. Or at least, that I use to have in middle school, when my classmates wanted to know if I was going to be bat mitvahed. The answer was no. So I wasn't really a Jew. Oh, really. My mom pointed out that Hitler never made such a distinction when deciding who to gas in the ovens. Leave it to my mom to put some perspective on an innocent childhood remark.

I guess I was Jewish enough for Hitler. Which sure makes Obama black enough for scared cab drivers. After all, Obama is literally an African American. You know, I don't think this is a race issue. I think it's a class issue disguised as a race issue. Obama doesn't come from the southern Baptist preacher tradition. He's Harvard by way of the Heartland. Seems like he's had it pretty easy. Maybe if he starts getting kicked around a bit he'll rally the troops. After all, he may only be half black, but I'm betting the racists will only see that half.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Truth in Advertising

In Alternet today is a piece about the mommy industrial complex -- the selling of motherhood, and the reality that doesn't measure up. The hot fashions, the cool strollers, the cute babies showcased on cuter celebrities all create a vision that the author says, can come crashing down to some deluded moms-to-be. Alternet's Janina Stajic writes:

Comments from these mothers include such thoughts as “children are mind-numbingly boring,” and “looking after children makes women depressed” to the slightly more disturbing: “I was an attractive, fulfilled career woman before these kids. Now I’m an overly-exhausted wreck who misses her job and sees very little of her husband,” and the even more disturbing: “It is no secret to my children that I consider myself to be carrying out a prison sentence and I'm counting the days 'til I am free."

Gee, if life decisions are made as easily as purchasing decisions, whose fault is that? One accomplishment of the women's movement, I think, is the acknowledgement of how major a life change to have kids is -- that it's not something done automatically, but with more thought than purchasing a good pair of shoes (even a really good pair).

Earth to fun-loving moms: care-giving is hard work. Note to editorial boards: perhaps a back story on how much help money can buy celebrity parents. Just as some women can't see past the airbrushed images of the perfect visions of scary skinny model/actresses on the cover of slick women's mags, there needs to be some truth in advertising the perfect celeb moms.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sometimes, Newer Isn't Better

Turns out, that old birth control pill you've been on for years? Much safer when it comes to blood clots. Its newer form's got a synthetic version of progestin that increases the risk of blood clots. No, thanks. Isn't it enough to worry about getting pregnant without worrying that you'll die from a clot that's traveled from your leg to your lung? The watch-dog organization founded by Ralph Nader, Public Citizen, is petitioning the FDA to recall certain newer versions of the pill for just these reasons. Thank you, Ralph.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Smith Connection

I knew there had to be one. After all, Harvard is hardly breaking any barriers by hiring the first woman prez in its 371-year history, Drew Gilpin Faust. The new head of Harvard crossed paths with Dr. Mary Maples Dunn when they were students at Bryn Mawr. Dunn was president of Smith when I was there. Dunn was known to us as NOT Jill Ker Conway, the groundbreaking first female president of Smith, a feminist who attained celeb status in the academic world with her book Road from Coorain. Dunn did boring things like establish an engineering program and beefed up the math and science in the school, which I suppose is a good thing if one wants to compete with the big boys, and I do think it paid off. But her legacy was easily overshadowed by the next president of Smith, Ruth Simmons, an African American, who went on to become the president of Brown. I digress. Point is, that after the former President Lawrence Summers made his notrious comment that women are genetically predisposed to be bad at science -- he demonstrated that he was genetically predisposed to put foot in mouth. Which led to this Faustian bargain. Check mate.

Friday, February 09, 2007

It's a Massachusetts Miracle!
Who knew Harvard would pull a Smith and hire a woman as prez!

From the New York Times:

Harvard Plans to Name Its First Female President

Published: February 9, 2007

Harvard University is planning to name the first woman president in its 371-year history — Drew Gilpin Faust, a historian who runs a research institute at the university, according to university officials close to selection process.

Skip to next paragraph
Tony Rinaldo, Harvard University via Associated Press

Drew Gilpin Faust is currently dean of the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, by far the smallest of Harvard’s schools.


The Harvard Crimson
Audio Back Story With Alan Finder

Dr. Faust’s ascension would come a year after Lawrence H. Summers, a former Treasury secretary, resigned from the post amid fierce faculty discontent. The opposition erupted in part over Dr. Summers suggestion that intrinsic aptitude could help explain why fewer women than men reach the highest ranks of science and math in universities.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What Next? No reading on the Subway?

From Reuters:

NEW YORK, Feb 7 (Reuters) - New Yorkers who blithely cross the street listening to an iPod or talking on a cell phone could soon face a $100 fine.

New York State Sen. Carl Kruger says three pedestrians in his Brooklyn district have been killed since September upon stepping into traffic while distracted by an electronic device. In one case bystanders screamed "watch out" to no avail.

Kruger says he will introduce legislation on Wednesday to ban the use of gadgets such as Blackberry devices and video games while crossing the street.

"Government has an obligation to protect its citizenry," Kruger said in a telephone interview from Albany, the state capital. "This electronic gadgetry is reaching the point where it's becoming not only endemic but it's creating an atmosphere where we have a major public safety crisis at hand."

Tech-consuming New Yorkers trudge to work on sidewalks and subways like an army of drones, appearing to talk to themselves on wireless devices or swaying to seemingly silent tunes.

"I'm not trying to intrude on that," Kruger said. "But what's happening is when they're tuning into their iPod or Blackberry or cell phone or video game, they're walking into speeding buses and moving automobiles. It's becoming a nationwide problem." © Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.
NOTE: Technical Difficulty

I will be attempting to upload to the new blogger format, so please be patient if my posts are delayed for the next day or so. Should stop the awful spam, I hope!
Death and Taxes

It's weird what goes through your head when you're calculating your worth to the government. Somehow I went from itemized deductions to, what is happiness?

We spend our time going to and from work, work that while we hope is meaningful, many days is not. We spend time agonizing over stupid petty things. Put the hours in. Bring home the bacon. Cook it. Maybe a little Heroes and Daily Show and it starts all over again.

Which made me think about my sister.

Carolla, who died from cancer in 2004, knew from the get-go office life wasn’t for her. In college she and her best friend ran a nonprofit art gallery. After college they started their own business. It didn’t make a killing, but it paid the bills. It wasn’t about the money, Carolla told me, but about doing what she loved, living the life she wanted.

She made it look easy, but it’s harder than it looks.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Out of Africa

As the war wages on in Iraq, it's easy to forget there are other wars that have been going on way longer. The hideous conflict that's been going on since the 1980s in Sudan has displaced a generation of mainly men. This documentary I saw tonight with a friend was on a postage-stamp size screen, but the story was larger than life and will break your heart. Go see it before it disappears: God Grew Tired of Us. You won't forget it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Jock and Smithie

Here are two things you might not know about Molly Ivins. She was a basketball player when she was young. And she was a Smithie. She received a Smith College Medal in 2001. You can read Ivins’ 1993 Rally Day address, but here is one part I enjoyed:

Well, in Austin, Texas, there is a fundamentalist divine, the Reverend Mark Weaver by name. Reverend Weaver heads an organization called Citizens Against Pornography. He is hell-bent on driving sin out of Austin, Texas. I believe that he has his last work cut out for him. Reverend Weaver and his group march around outside the dirty bookstores and movie theaters of our town with signs that say, “Honk if you hate pornography.” I always honk. I do hate pornography. And besides, I think those signs add a certain je ne sais quoi to our municipal life.

Weaver and his group had come up with proposals for an ordinance under which you could not have a dirty bookstore or dirty movie theater within so many feet of a home, or school, or church. The upshot of it would be to drive all the dirty bookstores and dirty movie theaters out of Austin, Texas, to the general cultural deprivation of the citizenry.

Now, as a matter of fact, I do hate pornography, don’t like it worth a damn. On the other hand, I did not think it was a good idea to have Reverend Weaver deciding what movies we could watch and what books we could read. And so I hastened that very night to a meeting of the city planning commission and found there 350 citizens against pornography and four of us from the American Civil Liberties Union. I’m here to tell you there is nothing like sitting in the midst of a sea of citizens against pornography to make you notice that your friends look like perverts.

Now Weaver was up to speak first on behalf of his amendment, and Reverend Weaver is a fine preacher; he has a certain old-fashioned style of preaching, and he got preaching that very day.

That very day he got a telephone call from a lady who lives behind the dirty movie theater on South Congress Avenue. Well, I perked right up at the mention of that; it’s my neighborhood dirty movie theater.

In fact, driving up to the meeting that night I noticed they’d changed the billing. The new quadruple-X attraction was called The Nun’s Bad Habit.

“Yes,” said Reverend Weaver, “and after the five o’clock show a man came out of that theater, he went in the alley behind that theater, which is directly behind that lady’s home, and he there masturbated.”

Three hundred and fifty people simultaneously went “Ohhhhhhhh”—it made a very odd sound. “Yes,” said Reverend Weaver, “that man masturbated, and that lady has two little girls, two little girls who might have seen that man do that terrible thing, except, praise Jesus, she has a large wooden fence around her back yard.”

Whereupon, we all praised Jesus, and with that he was off and running, cussing sin up one side and down the other, and by the time he got through, it looked bad for the First Amendment.

We decided to send up our oldest living member, Mr. John Henry Faulk, who, doing his well-known impersonation of an enfeebled senior citizen, shuffled up to the microphone, and said, “Members of the planning commission, Revered Weaver, Citizens Against, ladies and gentlemen, my name is John Henry Faulk. I am 75 years old. I was born and raised in south Austin, Texas, not a quarter of a mile from where the dirty movie theater stands on South Congress Avenue today. I think you should all know that there was a great deal of masturbation in south Austin before there was ever a dirty movie theater.”

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Stand Up Against the Surge

Molly Ivins' last column advocated that we, her readers, the real deciders, stand up against Bush's escalation of the war in Iraq.