Through The Static

July 29, 2008

Farm row stalls WTO talks

Filed under: Uncategorized — disciplepete @ 12:08 am

Free trade drama at the World Trade Organization talks in Geneva. Al Jazeera:

Talks on a deal to liberalise world trade appear on the brink of collapse after more than a week of often tense meetings as the US blamed China and India for holding up a deal…

…Tensions peaked late on Monday and early into Tuesday as negotiators from seven key trading nations dug in their heels over the details of a seldom-used “special safeguard mechanism” which allows poor nations to protect their farmers against any surges of imports or price falls in agricultural products such as rice…

.. Kamal Nath, India’s commerce minister, rejected suggestions he was deliberately holding up the talks.

 “Who’s holding up this round I think are the large developed countries … who are looking for commercial interests and enhancing prosperity rather than looking for content which reduces poverty,” he said…

…Raj Petal, a trade analyst, told Al Jazeera that “the European Union and the United States have kind of fixed the rules of the game”.

 
“The EU and the US are allowed to support their agriculture to the tune of billions of dollars a year … but developing countries are not allowed to have similar programmes in place. It’s still a very asymmetrical game.

 
Talks to rescue the trade deal will continue on Tuesday with negotiators trying to avert a collapse, ministers said.

 

 

 

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June 23, 2008

Brown Peoples Grey Hounded by Border Patrol

Filed under: Immigration,It's Too Punny!,OMGZCUTE,Race,Uncategorized,WTF — bobbleheadedbob @ 5:26 am

Apologies. BobbleBoT’s hard drive has recently been sucked into overdrive and is currently running on pirated battery juice. BATTERY JUICE. Charger not included.

freedom bus

Yay, it’s the freedom bus, yayyyy~! Oh wait. ::ga-DUNK!::

Some people apparently have ethical insomnia. Urgh. ICE needs to invest in some Lunesta. Bleh.

BobbLeBot disapproves.

When Riding the Bus Turns into a Ticket to Jail (Alternet):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, also known as the Border Patrol, confirms that its agents in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo check the citizenship status of travelers passing through by bus and train every day. These three cities are within 100 miles of the US-Canadian border. But more important than the border zone is the location of these cities on a major transportation corridor linking the Northeast (New York City and Boston) with the Midwest (Cleveland and Chicago). Border Patrol agents use Syracuse’s location as the functional equivalent of the border to police people traveling within the interior of the country.

Agents check for citizenship in the bus and train station — often waiting at the Greyhound ticket counter, or watching people as they disembark for food — and onboard buses and trains already filled with passengers. People who have witnessed or been subject to Border Patrol agents questioning describe two practices: agents explicitly target a group of people or ask everyone on board about their citizenship status.

Ooo, what KIND of peoples? What KIND???

According to reports from the Detainment Task Force, a Northern New York group, people routinely singled out for questioning include those who appear to be Mexican, Central American, South Asian, Asian, Afro-Caribbean, or Middle Eastern. Border Patrol officials deny that the agency racially profiles, insisting that they look for suspicious behaviors and, “question people with blond hair and blue eyes as much as anyone else.” But common understandings of race in the U.S. fuse nationality and ethnicity so that some groups are permanently deemed to be “foreign.”

BROWN people! THAT’s what KIND! As for questioning “people with blond hair and blue eyes as much as anyone else” — BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Humanoids, this is a hiLAirious article. HiLarious! The capacity for ridiculosity never fails to entertain ze bobbLebot.

In July 2007, Tomas and his friend Salvador were driving to a doctor’s appointment. As they pulled out of the toll plaza from the I-90 throughway in Syracuse, a state trooper stopped them. Tomas has a valid U.S. driver’s license and a properly registered vehicle. The state trooper gave no indication of why he had stopped the vehicle, but he did ask Tomas and Salvador about their immigration status and then called Border Patrol agents. “The police officer stopped us because we have Hispanic faces,” Tomas said.

Tomas has had the same experience traveling by bus. Last October he was traveling to Syracuse on Greyhound when Border Patrol agents boarded the bus at the Rochester bus station. “The Border Patrol agents questioned all the Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Asian passengers,” he recalled. “They did not question any of the white passengers except some women who were wearing veils. Border Patrol had dogs with them and checked the whole bus. They even looked in the bathroom.”

A separate incident occurred in December when Tomas was at the Syracuse bus station with another friend. They were speaking to each other in Spanish as they approached the ticket counter where a Border Patrol agent was stationed. “As soon as the Border Patrol agent heard us speaking Spanish, he asked me for my papers,” he said.

BobbLebot doth not know whether to LOL or WTF. Or mebbe BobbLebot should LOLWTF. So many letters!

When Tomas finally boarded the bus and arrived in Rochester, Border Patrol was there as well. “I saw them [Border Patrol] on the platform questioning two Hispanic men. The men gave them permanent resident cards. The Border Patrol agent didn’t believe them. He took the cards and called somewhere else. The men had to wait for twenty minutes.” The two men were eventually released.

Well, gotta hand it to faux-police in uniforms. Cuz there’s nothing like the smell of racial profiling in the morning that motivates them to git off dar arses. I wonder if Brown People = Brain Coffee.

I mean, their work ethic is really commendable. If BobbLebot could have 3 words to describe Border PatroL agents, they would be listed as such:

1) Hard-working
2) Alpha-maLe
3) Jackhammer
2) Merciless

1) InsatiabLe…

ICE

May 24, 2008

Hangovers: When Ur Body Says, “AlcohoL, I am, Like, sooooo OVER You!”

Filed under: Drinking,Food,Health,Randomness,Research,Science,Uncategorized,Wake Up Call — bobbleheadedbob @ 7:09 am

Alcohol does not do your body good. You know this, I know this, we know this. Unless your liver is 19 years old again, chances are that your body and mood will not be all that kickin the day after. Alcohol does not care that you have the body of an Olympic champion (Oh, Bay-JING!) or the mind of Gaius Baltar.

Alcohol will treat you like it does anybody else — seduce you with that woozy, boozy, I-Think-I’m-in-Love-With-Captain-Morgan feeling, build you up, make you feel like you’re somebody special.  That is, until you’ve hit the bottle one too many times and find your head in the toilet by the end of the night.

That’s the good captain’s way of telling you that he needs space. From YOU.

And after that woozy, boozy feeling abandons you, you’re either left with a light case of dehydration and ew-my-stomach-feels-grody or YOU JUST WANNA FRAKKING DIE, DIE, DIE! Alcohol — you are the beverage world’s biggest asshole. There, I’ve said it, and I’ll say it again — but I won’t because I like to avoid redundancy whenever I can.

You show up in that shiny, shiny bottle, over shiny, shiny ice, in a shiny, shiny red cup — beautiful and swimming with the promise of Good Times. And Good Times are had — I’ll give you that much.

But on top of the headaches, the dehydration, the sensitivity to light, the upset stomach, the unsociable feelings, the befriendment of the nearest toilet — on top of all that, you just leave a real bad taste in my mouth. And it will be a good long while before I shall desire to kiss you again.

JERK FACE.

Fellow Gauchos! Josie Cuervo does not love you! He only loves himself!

Is it better to have boozed and losed than to have never boozed at all?

Not a huge fan of the snarky, bourgeois, elitist publication that is known as The New Yorker, but I shall be posting up excerpts for those interested in the science and culture of the hangover. I shall try to avoid posting the more ethnographical and anthropological snippets, but — SIGH — it is, after all, The New Yorker:

A Few Too Many

Is there any hope for the hung over?

A hangover peaks when alcohol that has been poured into the body is finally eliminated from it—that is, when the blood-alcohol level returns to zero. The toxin is now gone, but the damage it has done is not.

Hm… sound familiar??? Oh, Jim Beam, an asshole is an asshole is an asshole.

By fairly common consent, a hangover will involve some combination of headache, upset stomach, thirst, food aversion, nausea, diarrhea, tremulousness, fatigue, and a general feeling of wretchedness. Scientists haven’t yet found all the reasons for this network of woes, but they have proposed various causes. One is withdrawal, which would bring on the tremors and also sweating. A second factor may be dehydration. Alcohol interferes with the secretion of the hormone that inhibits urination. Hence the heavy traffic to the rest rooms at bars and parties.

This is why we don’t break the seal! Gauchos, you know what it is that I am talking about!

The resulting dehydration seems to trigger the thirst and lethargy. While that is going on, the alcohol may also be inducing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which converts into light-headedness and muscle weakness, the feeling that one’s bones have turned to jello. Meanwhile, the body, to break down the alcohol, is releasing chemicals that may be more toxic than alcohol itself; these would result in nausea and other symptoms. Finally, the alcohol has produced inflammation, which in turn causes the white blood cells to flood the bloodstream with molecules called cytokines. Apparently, cytokines are the source of the aches and pains and lethargy that, when our bodies are attacked by a flu virus—and likewise, perhaps, by alcohol—encourage us to stay in bed rather than go to work, thereby freeing up the body’s energy for use by the white cells in combatting the invader. In a series of experiments, mice that were given a cytokine inducer underwent dramatic changes. Adult males wouldn’t socialize with young males new to their cage. Mothers displayed “impaired nest-building.” Many people will know how these mice felt.

Yeah, life sucks when you’re hungover.

But hangover symptoms are not just physical; they are cognitive as well. People with hangovers show delayed reaction times and difficulties with attention, concentration, and visual-spatial perception.

Not a mind-blowing revelation, but all the more reason NOT to drink right before finals. It’s all about the timing, peoples! I would also avoid in partaking in activities such as sudoku, puzzles, and Jenga during this period. The A-game just won’t be there, mon amis. Nup.

Hangovers also have an emotional component.

Like ANGER?

Kingsley Amis, who was, in his own words, one of the foremost drunks of his time, and who wrote three books on drinking, described this phenomenon as “the metaphysical hangover”: “When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover. . . . You have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what a shit you are, you have not come at last to see life as it really is.”

Oh, so not like anger. I don’t get the self-hatred part, since I’m more mad at ze bottle than at myself. Like, “How could you DO this to me, when all I’ve ever done was RUV you?!”

The severity of a hangover depends, of course, on how much you drank the night before, but that is not the only determinant. What, besides alcohol, did you consume at that party? If you took other drugs as well, your hangover may be worse. And what kind of alcohol did you drink? In general, darker drinks, such as red wine and whiskey, have higher levels of congeners—impurities produced by the fermentation process, or added to enhance flavor—than do light-colored drinks such as white wine, gin, and vodka. The greater the congener content, the uglier the morning. Then there are your own characteristics—for example, your drinking pattern. Unjustly, habitually heavy drinkers seem to have milder hangovers. Your sex is also important. A woman who matches drinks with a man is going to get drunk faster than he, partly because she has less body water than he does, and less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol.

Hmmm… interesting…

::takes notes::

So alcoholics have milder hangovers… hmmm… yes… that’s one way to go about fixing that… And as for red, red wiiiiiiine, I won’t have it stay close to meeeee…

Apparently, your genes also have a vote, as does your gene pool. Almost forty per cent of East Asians have a variant, less efficient form of aldehyde dehydrogenase, another enzyme necessary for alcohol processing. Therefore, they start showing signs of trouble after just a few sips—they flush dramatically—and they get drunk fast. This is an inconvenience for some Japanese and Korean businessmen. They feel that they should drink with their Western colleagues. Then they crash to the floor and have to make awkward phone calls in the morning.

Ah ha haaah. hah. Huh. So FUNNY you are, New Yorker. (Yoda voice: “And outdated your jokery it is.”)

But for reals, let’s take a minute here. Aside from the science of it all, “they feel that they should drink with their Western colleagues.” Is this fact or projection of a 1980s White observation? Awkward phone calls to whom? Trying to impress whom?

Oh, look at the funny East Asian businessman who’s trying so, so hard to impress the big, strong, White American Greek-lettered investor. Riiiiiiiiight.

Like prior to Western investment, alcohol or drinking cultures didn’t exist in Japan or Korea.

Oh, White people. Sometimes your egos ASTOUND me!

Such are the projections of self absorption and American exceptionalism.

Okay, back to CURES for the aftermath of the bottle, which, ironically, is MORE ALCOHOL…

As for hangover remedies, they are legion. There are certain unifying themes, however. When you ask people, worldwide, how to deal with a hangover, their first answer is usually the hair of the dog…an English manual, Andrew Irving’s “How to Cure a Hangover” (2004), devotes almost a hundred pages to hair-of-the-dog recipes, including the Suffering Bastard (gin, brandy, lime juice, bitters, and ginger ale); the Corpse Reviver (Pernod, champagne, and lemon juice); and the Thomas Abercrombie (two Alka-Seltzers dropped into a double shot of tequila)Many people, however, simply drink some more of what they had the night before. My Ukrainian informant described his morning-after protocol for a vodka hangover as follows: “two shots of vodka, then a cigarette, then another shot of vodka.” A Japanese source suggested wearing a sake-soaked surgical mask.

…Jones’s theory is that the liver, in processing alcohol, first addresses itself to ethanol, which is the alcohol proper, and then moves on to methanol, a secondary ingredient of many wines and spirits. Because methanol breaks down into formic acid, which is highly toxic, it is during this second stage that the hangover is most crushing. If at that point you pour in more alcohol, the body will switch back to ethanol processing. This will not eliminate the hangover—the methanol (indeed, more of it now) is still waiting for you round the bend—but it delays the worst symptoms.

young

hmmm… they start em young these days…

HAh! So MORE alcohol doesn’t cure hangovers! I knew it, Josie Cuervo — ur a JERKface through and through!

As for the non-alcoholic means of combatting hangover, these fall into three categories: before or while drinking, before bed, and the next morning. Many people advise you to eat a heavy meal, with lots of protein and fats, before or while drinking. If you can’t do that, at least drink a glass of milk. In Africa, the same purpose is served by eating peanut butter. The other most frequent before-and-during recommendation is water, lots of it.

A recently favored antidote, both in Asia and in the West, is sports drinks, taken either the morning after or, more commonly, at the party itself. A fast-moving bar drink these days is Red Bull, an energy drink, mixed with vodka or with the herbal liqueur Jägermeister. (The latter cocktail is a Jag-bomb.) Some people say that the Red Bull holds the hangover at bay, but apparently its primary effect is to blunt the depressive force of alcohol—no surprise, since an eight-ounce serving of Red Bull contains more caffeine than two cans of Coke. According to fans, you can rock all night.

I dunno if I’d consider Red Bull a sports drink, but it does keep the passing-out phase at bay. Wouldn’t Gatorade be more appropriate than Red Bull with all them electrolytes? Mmmm, watery lemon-limeness.

::salty sweetened drool::

Now to the sorrows of the morning. The list-topping recommendation, apart from another go at the water cure, is the greasy-meal cure. (An American philosophy professor: “Have breakfast at Denny’s.” An English teen-ager: “Eat two McDonald’s hamburgers. They have a secret ingredient for hangovers.”) Spicy foods, especially Mexican, are popular, along with eggs, as in the Denny’s breakfast. Another egg-based cure is the prairie oyster, which involves vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and a raw egg yolk to be consumed whole. Sugar, some say, should be reapplied…

denny's bucket

Many of the cures probably work, she said, on the same distraction principle as the hair of the dog: “Take the spicy foods, for example. They divert the body’s attention away from coping with the alcohol to coping with the spices, which are also a toxin. So you have new problems—with your stomach, with your esophagus, with your respiration—rather than the problem with the headache, or that you are going to the washroom every five minutes.” The high-fat and high-protein meals operate in the same way, she said. The body turns to the food and forgets about the alcohol for the time being, thus delaying the hangover and possibly alleviating it. As for the differences among the many food recommendations, Neuman said that any country’s hangover cure, like the rest of its cultural practices, is an adaptation to the environment. Chilies are readily available in Mexico, peanut butter in Africa. People use what they have.

Ahhhhhhhhhh… hmmm…

ANYWAY, so there’s no REAL cure for the hangover, I suppose. Just techniques of delayal and distraction. Que American!

The most widely used over-the-counter remedy is no doubt aspirin. Advil, or ibuprofen, and Alka-Seltzer—there is a special formula for hangovers, Alka-Seltzer Wake-Up Call—are probably close runners-up. (Tylenol, or acetaminophen, should not be used, because alcohol increases its toxicity to the liver.) Also commonly recommended are Vitamin C and B-complex vitamins. But those are almost home remedies. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have come up with more specialized formulas: Chaser, NoHang, BoozEase, PartySmart, Sob’r-K HangoverStopper, Hangover Prevention Formula, and so on. In some of these, such as Sob’r-K and Chaser, the primary ingredient is carbon, which, according to the manufacturers, soaks up toxins. Others are herbal compounds, featuring such ingredients as ginseng, milk thistle, borage, and extracts of prickly pear, artichoke, and guava leaf. These and other O.T.C. remedies aim to boost biochemicals that help the body deal with toxins. A few remedies have scientific backing. Manuela Neuman, in lab tests, found that milk-thistle extract, which is an ingredient in NoHang and Hangover Helper, does protect cells from damage by alcohol. A research team headed by Jeffrey Wiese, of Tulane University, tested prickly-pear extract, the key ingredient in Hangover Prevention Formula, on human subjects and found significant improvement with the nausea, dry mouth, and food aversion but not with other, more common symptoms, such as headache.

Well, shucks, that’s what all those painkillers are for!

BobbleBot’s Remedies/Distractions?

* A big bowl o combination pho. Extra limes. (buh… for vitamin C… buh…)

* Two packets of Emergen-C (the kind you get at Trader Joe’s or wherever) into a full liter of water, taken with 2 Vitamin B tablets taken before bed. (this actually softens the blow by a LOT in the morning.)

* Sitting in the shower.  For how long?  Buh… for as long as it takes.

* Staying away from peoples. Beds, ze internets, and DVDs will do just fine. Buh…

* Staying away from alcohol. FOREVER. (And by forever I mean at least a few solid weeks.)

Bobblebot’s Lessons Learned:

* Do not mix alcohol with medication, even if it is “homeopathic” medication. You may find yourself as that girl/boy/boi-without-shame, and not the life of the par-tay. Not that the bobblebot is speaking from personal experience.

* Do not drink alone. That is just sad, sad, SAD.

finding drunk White people on google images is way, wayyyy too easy.

* Do not keep a Cosco-sized bottle of Smirnoff next to your desk. (Oh yes, I have borne witness.)

* Stop after you feel the first blush of love booziness. Greed is a SIN for a REASON — a sin you shall be living out in the morning if you choose to indulge.

* Please refrain from drunk dialing — or worse, drunk texting. Chances are you’ll misspell so many acronyms and bungle up so many emoticons that the recipient will not know that you so desire a night of debauchery, or that you want her to carry your baby, or that you were the one who accidentally-on-purpose hit his dog with your car.

DRINKETH of ME!!!

* Drink when YOU’RE in a good mood. Nobody likes the Angry Drunk, the Sad Drunk, or the Cynical Drunk.

sad drunk

* Drink WITH people who are in a good mood. Nobody likes to partay with the Suicidal Drunk, the Violent Drunk, or the Pretentious Drunk.

* Basically, drink and be merry!

* Just be wary of making out with ze bottle more than what is necessary. An asshole is an asshole!

May 23, 2008

DON’T STOP — BULLY-eve-ing!

Okay, so the title of this post is a bit misleading, for I DO, in fact, what people TO stop bully-eve-ing. But I am quite tired this morning for no particularly particular reason, and hence the drought of clever title-age. If that even makes any sense.

So I saw this article on bullying, which implies it’s on the rise in schools, kinda alarmist, but it did shy away from blaming school violence on the media. It shifts the blame, instead, on a home life that doesn’t inculcate its children with adequate social skills and ties the solution to this “problem” to bringing social skills education to schools — though it fails to describe what this programming entails or how effective it really is. Anyway, here’s some snippets to see if it gives you anything – brought to you by — ze AlterNets:

Dealing with the School Bully Epidemic

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last few weeks, you have no doubt been bombarded with the horrific images of the recent rash of violent school-based incidents. Teens luring a cheerleader classmate to a home and beating her repeatedly while the video camera rolls; a teacher being assaulted in her classroom by students; a high-schooler throwing a metal chair at another in class knocking the victim unconscious; a 13-year middle schooler who admits that he planned to shoot up his school because he was being bullied.

::raises hand::

ze bobblebot has been living in a cave. A dark, dark cave.

::covers face with hands::

GAHHH, DON’T LOOK AT ME! IT HURTS!

What’s wrong with this picture?

We as a country spend billions of dollars annually on anti-bullying programs in our schools, yet the incidents not only continue, they appear to be getting worse in severity and frequency, and occur in increasingly-younger students. Today, our kids stand a one-in-four chance of becoming victims of some form of school-based violence before they reach high school. News flash: what we’re doing isn’t working!

Yay! An actual statistic! Though we know not where it comes from. Hmmm… 1 in 4. You know those stats match the chances of rape at UC Santa Barbara? Just a random fact.

But newsflash: we spend billions of dollars on anti-bullying programs in our schools? Where were THEY when I was in middle school??? Not that ze bobblebot missed out on anything, since apparently they’re not WORKING, and they’re not WORKING because they are BROKEN and they are BROKEN because something is WRONG…with ze picture.

So, the knee-jerk reaction is to play the blame game: it’s YouTube, it’s the Internet, it’s broken homes, it’s our global lifestyle. But, blaming isn’t fixing. We have to accept that instead of trying to minimize or manage the existing problem of bullying and school-based violence, we have to focus on preventing it in the first place. Today’s children are just not coming into school — into life — equipped with adequate social skills and character development that helps them understand that this kind of behavior is simply not OK. They are not taught to respect and value differences among people, in opinions, in actions. “It’s all about me!” is the mantra of many of our youth today, and the behavior we see splattered all over the ‘net is the result.

Well here’s a little interesting psychoanalysis. We certainly are a part of generation ME — though, I wouldn’t say social skills have gone totally down the drain. I will say, however, people-to-people or direct-line-of-communication skills appears to be suffering a bit. But whatever pockets of socialization have broken down have been filled with texting, facebooking, blogging, and the like. It’s a different form of social communication, but communication nonetheless, and a whole new set of social skills… that perhaps maybe the bobblebot isn’t too fond of (CALL ME, JERKFACE! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE I RUV YOU!!! ::shakes fist:: ) but there isn’t a lack of socialization.

What is “character-building” btw, omg, brb, lol, insert-emoticon? This question has ze bobblebot’s bull(y)-sh*t sensors up and running.

People may argue that social skills education belongs in the home, not in the schools, and I’d be the first to agree. But, our schools have become a war zone, where teachers spend more time disciplining students and trying to keep order than they do teaching!

Okay, yeppers, there’s some of that OH-GAWD-SAVE-THE-CHILDREN language going on up in here, but what interests me is this framing: Our Schools Have Become a War Zone. WHAT has become a war zone? The SCHOOLS. Okay, I’m listening, I’m listening…

The good news is that there is a better way.

Really?

::grabs credit card and waits for the toll-free number::

Social skills education works, when properly implemented.

So does a tree branch to the back of your legs when you’re 7, but some social workers aren’t too fond of that one, either.

::SIGH::

Okay, okay, I’m listening. What is this social skills education you speak of?

The good news is that there is a better way. Social skills education works, when properly implemented. Bullying is not just reduced — it’s eliminated. Not because there are more “enforcers” around, in the form of extra administrators, counselors, or police, but because the students won’t stand for it. A comprehensive social skills program, integrated into the core curriculum, can restore order, sanity, and productivity to the schools. It raises student and teacher morale — it even contributes to better test scores. It helps produce not only good students, but good people.

Rhetoric, rhetoric, rhetoric — dudes, rhetoric is MY (unpaid) JOB! Where are the stats (as much as I distrust statistical evidence), where is the EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that bullying is reduced. What EXACTLY is social skills education? All I know is what it supposedly DOES (restores order, sanity, and productivity while raising morale and better test scores while baking you a plate o warm, Toll House cookies), but not what it IS.

What, exactly, allows for them to make the connection between higher test scores and social skills programming? WHATEVER. What concerns me are the effects that we’re supposed to desire from this type of programming: ORDER, SANITY, PRODUCTIVITY.

We need to keep this well-oiled machine up and running! Especially when we’re short on oil. Sorry, bobblebot’s going on tangentials again.

How many more of our kids must be intimidated, hurt, or killed before it becomes important enough to do something about instead of just talk about it around the water cooler the next morning? Our children deserve to feel safe, to feel valued when they leave our homes to go to school. We as parents and as taxpayers must insist that the increasing cycle of school violence be stopped.

Instead of just shaking our heads and saying what a shame it all is, let’s ask ourselves the tough questions about why it happened, and actually be willing to be honest with the answer. Then we can start doing something to fix it.

Ahhhhhrgh. I need to post up an excerpt about the state of Holiness our “children” have been anointed with by Lee Edelmann. (one n or 2?) ANYWHO, another post, another time, folks!

As you can tell, I’m not really feeling this whole PROTECT OUR CHILDREN schpiel tugging away at ze heartstrings. Save it for an ABC Family After School Special, puh-LEEZ, sheez!

Okay, IS bullying on the rise? Because as far as I know, it’s been around for a while — and not just in America. It’s been a probs in Southie Korea and is known as ijime in Japan. BTW — a gREAT drama to watch would be GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka — kyaaaaaaaaaa! It’s awesome! And Onizuka sensei is, like, the SAXIEST virgin arrive! Ahhhh!

great teacher onizuka

though ze bobblebot would highly recommend the live-action drama in lieu of the movie or anime. FOR SERIOUS.

Anyway, back to bullying and blaming it on culture, on the home, on the lack of social skills in “today’s generation” — and perhaps it is a result of ALL THESE THINGS interacting with one another — but is it also possible that bullying is a phenomenon that is built into the very structure of the school system?

A school is an institution that’s supposed to be educating students (though THAT assessment could be up for debate), but it’s also a system that works to police our children, isn’t it? Administrators, counselors, faculty members and the like are just as invested in creating an understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.

No facial piercings, no punky-colored hair dye, uniforms, skirts have to be of a certain length, you can eat your trans-fat laden snack we sold to you HERE, but not over THERE, even though no one’s hanging out over there, hey — you, yeah, you, what are you doing, can you open up your backpack? Yeah, thanks. No, I don’t care who started it, both of you will cooperate with your friendly neighborhood officers. Pens down — I said PENS DOWN — ten points off your final exam.

Yeah — and since when were cops an integral staple OF our schools?

I dunno about y’all, but since graduating from Rosemont Middle School, a set of 8-foot-high steel bars have been erected around the perimeter, supposedly to keep our students “safe”, but from the outside, it looks like a really sad cage, keeping the students from escaping from all that “safety.”

Let’s say a school is an institution of edumacation. But it’s also just as much a tool for behavioral conditioning. And in tandem with a hormonally raging teen who’s got its own sh*t to deal with in and outside the home, there’s school to deal with as well. The enforcement of behavioral bureaucracy. So how do you THINK this repression is going to manifest in the publicly-funded corridors of ORDER and PRODUCTIVITY?

Okay, it’s official: the bobblebot is now speaking babblebot.

::wires fried — and crispy!::

May 19, 2008

Heter – o – Homo — Marriage: Is This What We Want, What We Really, Really Want?

Some of our dear readers might see this posting as: “RoooZERS! HeL-LO, this, is, like, soooooooo 3 days ago!” but I felt like I needed to really sit and process this “victory” while recovering from that which is known as FINALS/DEATH.

shimizu

+ jolie = Oh, What Coulda BEEN! Right.

Do I think there is something inherently WRONG with the concept of marriage, of two people being committed to each other, faithful to each other FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES?!!!

GASP, GASP, GASP…!

buh…no?

Look, marriage ain’t perfect, but it does become a sticky issue once it has become a legal institution that is on the receiving end of certain benefits liiiiiike creating a “family partnership” under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members, being entitled to inherit at least summa yo spouse’s estate (RIPieces, Anna Nicole!), and receiving social security, medicare, or disability benefits for your spouses. In other words — MO-NAY! That and a bunch o coolio stuff, like renewing leases for spouses, choosing whether or not to keep em plugged into machines (life support), or moving into “family only zones.”

At the same time, WHY MARRIAGE? Isn’t this a little archaic, to still distribute financial benefits for only those who uphold good ole Christian, Amurrican values? (And yes, marriage is a rittle monogamous phenomenon that does not find its roots in Christianity, but the instiutionalization of marriage by the US government was partially motivated over upholding Judeo Christian practices and codes of “morality,” which kinda makes you question how secular the US of A is sometimes… I mean, REALLY.)

I mean, couldn’t you just pick a friend? A special, recial friend?

But that would be MADNESS, sir BobbleBot!

Maybe so, but getting back to my original point (I’m sure I had one) is — IS MARRIAGE WHAT WE REALLY WANT and why? I mean, looking how the recent ruling in California as a victory, what is the language used in deeming this as such?

ellen portia

Oh, what beautiful blue-eyed, yellow-haired children they shall have!

Let’s take a look at one of the many Victory Jigs over the media, as reported by New American MediaGay Couples Rejoice Over Supreme Court Ruling:

SAN FRANCISCO—Since 10 a.m. yesterday morning, when the California Supreme Court released its decision that same-sex couples could legally marry in the state, a sense of jubilation has filled the air. The nearly 4,000 gay and lesbian couples who were married by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004 have been on an emotional rollercoaster ride for the past several years—they went from wedded bliss to seeing their unions crushed by the rulings of lower courts. And it appears that their marriages are now once again legitimate in the eyes of the law.

Sounds great, so far, don’t it? Diff Sex couples and Same Sex couples shall probably both be entitled to the same benefits in ze state of California. (West Coast is dey Best Coast!)

Pauline Togawa-Guillermo and her partner of seven years, Jill, are one of those couples. They stood in the long line outside City Hall on Feb. 16, 2004, a damp and dreary day, to get their marriage license. They’d married each other several years earlier, in a Buddhist ceremony attended by hundreds of friends. But when the city’s then-new mayor stoked national controversy by ordering the county clerk to issue the licenses for same-sex couples, Togawa-Guillermo sensed an opportunity that she had to take. “It was a magical moment,” she recalls. “We made so many friends in that line—friendships that carried us through these long four years.”

Oh, crap. Here comes the human interest side of the story, the putting that “human face” on this issue. Not that the BobbLeBot is not in touch with its emotions, but it doesn’t like being EMOTIONALLY manipulated into favoring a specific perception.

Unless this emotional manipulation comes as a packaged deal along with a bussel of baby bunnies and roneLy puppies. RONELY PUPPIES!

seal pup yorkie BUNNIES

seal puppies are still puppies!

::runs towards them with outstretched arms::

Buuuuuut — I don’t see that here. No bunnies hopping around or baby dogs doing their bidness.

buddhist wedding + magically delicious

All I see is the Buddhist ceremony, the making of friends, and a “magical moment.” MAGICAL, I tell you! I’m not so sure if the BobbLeBot finds this story so magically dericious.

Shortly after the ceremony, however, the newlyweds received word that their marriage, along with thousands of others, would not be recognized because of rulings by lower courts. Togawa-Guillermo and her partner were already in the process of building their lives together, and the news, she says, was “shattering.”

“We were able to change our drivers’ licenses and social security cards, but the name change request was rescinded. The ruling came down, saying that our marriage was not legal, that our marriage certificate could not be used. One day we were legal, and within 24 hours we were living in sin.”

Shattering. They were SHATTERED, people! To PIECES! Ew, ew, more romantical language, and EW. “One day we were legal, and within 24 hours we were living in sin.”

SIN

Okay, drivers’ licenses and social security cards I get. I sooooooooooooo get. Not veree sexy, by any means. I mean, it’s a pain in the arse to stand in line and be shuttled from one to another in a building full of people in horribly foul moods. So THAT sucked. But “living in sin.”

oh, SIN

To be all technical about this, wouldn’t it be “living in sin” if, say, the marriage weren’t recognized in the “eyes of God” ?

::trying not to roll eyes, esp when couple had a BUDDHIST ceremony to tie ze knot::

Does Nation State = God?

So no, don’t have too much patience for the morality issue or the denial of the state of non-sin, since I highly doubt the US government can legally hold power over the status of your soul and karmic bank account. As much as I’m sure it would really, REALLY like to.

Come on, peoples! Let’s get down to IT!

“Marriage dignifies the couple and the child,” she explains. “When our daughter interacts with peers, she’s viewed as the child from a family that’s in limbo. She’s been interacting with peers whose families are recognized as a unit…the ramifications for our children are huge.”

Okay, lesbian-couple-formerly-living-in-sin-but-married-by-Buddha, you are killing me here. KILLING ME!

What, exactly, is killing the BobbLeBot, pray tell? It’s not just their line of argument, but the ideological structure they are buying into in order to justify the legalization of same-sex marriage. Yes, I can recognize that American culture can be, especially in really conservative areas, extremely judgmental of unmarried couples living under the same roof — “God”-forbid — parenting a bevy of children.

Basically, they view being a couple that is viewed as legitimately married by the government as the crux of their dilemma. They want their “dignity” and they can’t have it without the blessing of Mom and Dad God the US Government. Without governmental recognition, their child is viewed as being in a state of “limbo,” as coming from an unstable family background. They want their child to be viewed as “coming from” a stable unit, and that unit isn’t stable until it is recognized by a government that ideologically enforces Judeo Christian heteronormative values into the very fabric of our culture, our perceptions of what is “dignified”, and our legal system.

A marriage should be a SINGLE UNIT of 2 PEOPLE, dammit! Preferably recognized by the eyes of “God”. And a lot of same sex couples agree.

Welcome to HomoNormativity.

homonorms

We heard a lot about heteronormativity — not heard, but LIVE, actually, while having it rammed down our throats, whatevs, I GET it. But what IS homonormativity, pray tell?

According to Lisa Duggan (some famous ramous academic/activist involved in ze politics of sexuality and gender), it’s “a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions but upholds and sustains them.”

gay cake

In other words, homonormativity doesn’t exactly resist or call heteronormativity (2 people, one man and one woman and 2.5 children are the IDEAL AMERICAN COUPLE) out on its bullsh*t. In fact, homonormativity BUYS into the culture of that white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and getting registered at Williams and Sonoma. In BUYING into it, it supports and JUSTIFIES the privileges of heteronormativity.

Look, we all buy into bullsh*T. Wanna hear mine? I watch ANTM. THAT’S RIGHT, people!!! I watch America’s Next Top Model and totally thought Anya and Fathima were ROBBED!!!

Still, I’m not gonna vote to make it a requirement to watch every episode of ANTM every Wednesday on the CW at 8PM/9PM Central in order to be eligible for a tax exemptions on magazine and cosmetics purchases. I’m not for giving health benefits to the people who watch it. It’s a load of interesting, pretty-pretty crap that the dumb/13-year-old and elitist/academic sides of me watch every other week on youtube.

murdaaaaah

ANYWAY, I super found the above linked article helpful, and if you’re interested in it, you should totally read it, but here’s a few snippets to clarify:

For many, such articulations of gay and lesbian identity in the public sphere provide evidence of true social and political progress. Yet in the past decade, some radical activists and scholars have cited such developments not as progressive signs of liberation but as reactionary responses linked directly to the privatizing imperatives of a powerful, ascendant brand of neoliberal politics that coalesced in the 1990s.

Can I get a WhUT-WHUT from the fallout of multiculturalism? Ah, neoLiberalism! There you are again, old friend! (buy RED! BUY IiiiiIT! ::shakes fist:: ) What — eating at Panda Express doesn’t liberate us from racism? What — watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy doesn’t fight our internalized homophobia? ::looks around:: WHAT?!

In accordance with this new homonormativity, prominent lesbian and gay rights organizations increasingly embrace agendas that vie for acceptance within contemporary economic and political systems, thereby abandoning their earlier commitments to economic redistribution and protecting sexual freedoms. This shift has made strange bedfellows out of lesbian and gay rights organizations and social conservatives: both endorse normative and family-oriented formations associated with domestic partnership, adoption, and gender-normative social roles; both tend to marginalize those who challenge serial monogamy and those – including transgender, bisexual, pansexual, and intersex constituencies – who feel oppressed by a binary gender or sex system. Moreover, because of its economic base in the neoliberal philosophy of consumer rights rather than that of citizen rights, the politics of homonormativity exercises an influence beyond U.S. borders, through gay and lesbian tourism, the global proliferation of gay and lesbian-themed U.S. cultural productions, and economic and political interventions that claim to make “gay rights” a global issue.

So the rest of this article/essay is super coolio, so yesh, yesh, read it if your brain can handle more brilliance. I mean, the BobbLeBot DOES tend to boggle the braiiiiiiiiiiiin…

What is a “right” anyway? And it bothers me that the issue of same-sex/gay/whatever-else-ya-wanna-call-it marriage upholds and reinforces the heteronormative structures of gender that oppressed the Queer, LBGTI community to begin with. THE OPPRESSED BECOMING THE OPPRESSORS, THE SELF-POLICING OF IDENTITY POLITICS!

BALTAR

Baltar… LIVES!

HeLLo — this is TOTALLY like Season 2.5 of BattleStar Galactica with the human police working in tandem with the CyLons to oppress (but really “liberate” in their frakked up minds) their fellow peoples! Sorry if I ruined that for some BSG fans. Um. It was allll gonna come out anyway.

So WHAT is my issue? Not really MARRIAGE (I mean, if you want to pick one, singular human being/animal/CyLon and commit to spend the REST OF YOUR LIFE with it, then that’s your funeral decision) or that now that Buddhist-ceremony-same-sex-formerly-living-in-“sin” couple are now entitled to the same benefits as heterosexed legally married couples.

SIN! + buddha!

It’s the whole buying into and supporting a system that kind of worked to oppress you, settling for a seat at the lunch counter as-long-as-you-keep-quiet in lieu of destroying that institution that persecuted you in the first place. You’re still on a leash and your value as a human being is still controlled and dictated by a government and culture that still doesn’t completely accept you with open arms. Because somewhere, deep down in the root of this acceptance of negotiated legalities, in these conditioned settlements of “rights” is a seed, a root of internalized self hate.

Colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia and all other various forms of oppression cut DEEP, peoples. Real DEEP.

I guess the question is — is this REALLY a victory? You see why the bobblebot is conflicted on this issue? Hence, cannot stand and celebrate at the par-tay, but will stand in weirdly-delineated space of solidarity.

When the news of the court’s decision broke, multitudes of gay and lesbian couples crowded the street outside the San Francisco courthouse, braving the sweltering, 90-degree heat to celebrate. Togawa-Guillermo was no exception. “My whole being was filled with euphoria,” she says. “And shortly after that, there was a sense of peace—that this was right. The court gave us a sense of dignity, which had been taken away from us. Fairness and social justice have been achieved.”

Oh, dear. Oh, DEER! Oh — Bambi.

ccaaaaaaaaaake

homonormativity is magically dericious.

May 16, 2008

Battle Against Gay Marriage to Begin

Filed under: Culture,Government,Legislation,Rights,Uncategorized,Wake Up Call — disciplepete @ 2:51 pm

So now that the California Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage, we can expect the political fight against it to begin, as this article from the San Jose Merucry discusses:

It looks very likely conservative groups will succeed in putting a constitutional amendment before California voters in November to overturn the court’s decision…

Meanwhile, the California electorate is growing more Democratic and, polls show, more comfortable with the idea that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. A June 2007 survey of likely voters by the Public Policy Institute of California found gay marriage losing, but by a slim 48 percent to 46 percent. In 2000, the margin was 55 percent to 38 percent.

Elsewhere, others suggest, the re-emergence of gay marriage on the national stage could inflame conservatives and convince them to finally get fully behind Republican presidential candidate John McCain, for whom they’ve shown only lukewarm support.

So according to the survey mentioned in the article, it should be a close vote if the gay marriage/constitutional amendment issue is decided on by voters this November. My feeling is that if you are a Californian who supports the rights of gays to marry, you better get to the polls, because I’m sure the opponents will be out in full force.

May 15, 2008

BobbLeHeadedBoB in Process of Self Destruction — reports Through the Static

Filed under: Uncategorized,World News — bobbleheadedbob @ 4:53 pm

Reuters, FoX, MurDah MurDOCH, and all the other IMPORTANT NEWS SOURCES report on the Status that is BobbleBot.

CRAZY

With a handful of hours until the midnight hour, what, say you, is this bobblebot doing at the moment? Aside from puttering, puttering, puttering around the house and muttering, muttering, muttering the in key of babblebot, it is in the process of self destructicating. Let this be its suicide note unto the world!

Dear World,

BobbleBot is experiencing MALFUNCTION. MALFUNCTION. MALFUNCTION.

It has been programmed to deliver reams and reams of brilliance — DOES NOT COMPUTE, DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Instead of typing away on Microsoft Word, it is clicking on every random blogganating link known to peoplekind and stuffing its face with various hydrogenated fats and processed sugars. It wishes to do something productive, to finish this confounded paper, to REPORT on ACTUAL NEWS — not that this shouldn’t constitute as news unto the world, but DOES NOT COMPUTE. DOES NOT COMPUTE. SELF DESTRUCTICATING SEQUENCE TO COMMENCE 300 WORDS FROM NOW.

Swiss Miss Rich Chocolate Hot Chocolate Mix + 1 TBS of cocoa + 2 TBS H20 + 35 seconds in the microwave = 45 Seconds of Bliss, Swiss Miss! Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Commence stuffing face with soy nuts, Fruity Pebbles Powder residing at bottom of cereal box, chocolate malted milk powder — CIRCUITRY OVERLOAD.

Goodbye, Cruel World!

DELETE. DELETE. DELETE.

May 12, 2008

“Science Versus Religion”: What Doth This All MEME?!!

It annoys me when the very idea of spirituality is equated with stuperstition in favor of science’s empirical evidence. This is not to say that we should be ruled solely by myth, legend, or religion — or that science and spirituality cannot be reconciled. Whether or not Religion or Spirituality is accepted as Truth or Reality, it is the human imagination and intellect that created and continues to create and refine these rituals, these codes of human ethics, and I do believe there’s got to be something more than human irrationality that allows for these patterns, practices, and belief systems to persist.

stained glass

But then again, this is all coming from a gal who has a weak spot for, oh, I don’t know, Neon Genesis Evangelion, LOST, Gargoyles (greatest American animated series of my generation), Ayashi no Ceres, Calculating God, Octavia E. Butler stuff, and Death Note. And did I mention that I’ve been particularly enamored with Battlestar Galactica for the past 52 hours? In the midst of FINALS???

gargoyes

Sure, I had a crush on Goliath, like 92% of the audience, but I always had a soft spot for Lexington!  BTW, am I the only one who found Xanatos hot?  ::fans self to cool down circuits::

I am not going to romanticize the unexplained phenomenon ingrained within the very fibers of science or bash the “pseudo-scientific” qualities of established fields such as psychoanalysis. Science is just as rationally irrational and driven by speculation and human imagination as spirituality and the ideological values we are willing to die for. Whether it is the as hokey as The Secret or as moving as those hidden meanings in formation of water crystals, it is important to have seemingly contradictory fields engage in a process of dialectics — having their ideas bounce off one another until alternatives are found and new contradictions are produced. ANYWAY, I’ll get on with the uber cool article I picked up on Truthdig.com.

From Truthdig.com

Render Unto Darwin That Which Is Darwin’s

The German chemist August Kekulé fell asleep in his study after a fruitless struggle to identify the chemical structure of benzene. He dreamed of a snake eating its own tail and awoke instantly. The dream gave him, through the ancient language of symbolism, the circular structure of the benzene ring that had eluded his conscious mind. The dream may have had its basis in Kekulé’s experiments, but it was the nonrational that brought him his discovery…

Science is often as inexact and intuitive as theology, philosophy and every other human endeavor. A mirror demonstrates the randomness of nature. A mirror reflects about 95 percent of light hitting it. The other 5 percent passes through the mirror. Photons, which are invisible, are either reflected or pass through the mirror’s surface. But there is no way of knowing which photons will be reflected and which will be absorbed. Electrons are also subject to these quantum effects. This led Werner Heisenberg to formulate his “uncertainty principle.” This principle states that we cannot know everything about a particle. If we can determine a particle’s position we cannot determine its momentum. We can measure momentum, but in this measurement we lose the particle’s exact position. We can know a particle’s momentum or its position. We cannot know both with definitive accuracy.

Science is not always directly empirical. Science is not governed by absolute, immutable laws. Science, and especially quantum mechanics, far from telling us we can know everything, tells us there will always be things we cannot know. No one ultimately understands. Science affirms the complexity and mystery of the universe. Science, like the religious impulse, opens us up to a world where we face mystery. There are forces in the universe that will always lie beyond the capacity of the human mind.

Another bone of contention: why is it that when we do not know the answer, cannot find the answer, that we go off on a holy grail search for an empirical explanation? AGAIN, I am not saying that for every answer we cannot find, we should ascribe to the holy hands of God(s). I mean, that would be an intellectual cop-out as well. But would it be so horrible to find a rationale, a mode of logic, that lies outside the linearity of empiricism?

water crystals

Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese quantum physicist, performed a series of experiments on water crystals and revealed the fact that water is receptive to external messages. The formation of water crystals is positively correlated to exposure of the water to messages from human language, music, and printed characters.

The New Atheist writers from Richard Dawkins to E.O. Wilson to Sam Harris have become the high priests not of science but the cult of science. Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Susan Blackmore, for example, call religious beliefs “memes.” Memes are defined as cultural artifacts—prototypical ideas—that invade and restructure minds in order to reproduce themselves. A meme replicates in human minds, they argue, the way genes replicate in human bodies. Memes include a word, belief, thought, religious ritual, dance, poem or any of the myriad of behaviors that are copied and reproduced in human societies. Although memes, unlike genes, are not identifiable physical structures, Dawkins uses the image of a virus to describe them. Religion, for Dawkins, is equated with a disease, and the religiously inclined are disease carriers.

Again, religion, like homosexuality, femininity, and trans fats are pathologized in the Name of Science. No, I belong to no church and believe that religious doctrine is about as problematic as the protective ideologies that lie behind the idea of the nation state — but it’s interesting when it is framed as a disease. A disease erodes health, which therefore implies that without this “disease” human society would be healthy. Without religion, human society would be that much stronger. Just like in the past when science classified homosexuality as a mental illness, or that female brains were that much smaller and limited in intellectual capacity in comparison to male brains (assuming a binary division of gender.)

And yet I don’t want to totally reject the idea of memes. This IDEA (ie, speculation, ie product of irrational logic) holds value. If inherent human behaviors and ideology are things encoded within our very genes, then there must be something in its persistence and survival that contributes to a much larger pattern and design that may lie beyond the capacity of strictly empirical understanding.

tap that WATER

yeeeeah, TAP that water! Tap it, now!

Random question: who OWNS Science, anyway? Who does ScienCe BELONG to? (I ask this question a lot in relation to Culture with a capital C.)

The attempt to equate patterns of human society with the behavior of genes, while it sounds plausible, and may even be instructive in some settings, is part of this cult of science. The genetic coding that permits the transfer of DNA-encoded units of information is fairly precise. But this model fails to work for the transfer of cultural, social, ethical and political behavior. Patterns of morality are easily reversed or erased, especially in ages of revolutionary fervor, war, anarchy, fear, social decline and despotism. Those who are schooled in identical religious texts, even within the same communities, have different views of morality and ethics. It is possible to transfer literal meaning. It is possible to transfer genetic information. It is possible to pass on heritable characteristics mediated by hard-and-fast rules of chemistry and physics. These rules, however, have no counterpart in the dissemination of ideas. Ideas do not replicate like genes. Ideas are snuffed out or forgotten, often for centuries. Ideas that prevail are often not the best ideas but more often ideas backed by power. The rise of Christianity owed more to the brutality of Constantine and the Holy Roman Empire than it did its particular theology. Those who advocate the theory of memes ignore the role of power, repression, persecution and force in human history, as well as the inherent chaos and irrationality of human thought. Human thought cannot be treated like an object in a laboratory. There is no scientific mechanism that explains cultural evolution.

goliath vs

Those who endorse the meme theory speak of memetic engineering. This memetic engineering would involve the conscious manipulation of intellectual evolution by disseminating good memes and curtailing bad ones. The question of who decides which memes are good and which bad is not raised.

CYLON!

Hmmm… looks like “SCIENCE” can be as scary as that oft-talked-about “Hand of GOD.” Still, I am wary of the bashing of an idea because there are holes that which cannot be explained…YET. This is where I disagree with the writer — “Well, you can’t explain THIS, therefore this idea of MEMES is BULLSH*T.” Of course, as delicious as the prospect of mimetic engineering and, from the fragments of our human flaws, the behavioral construction of Cylons sounds, perhaps it would be wise to not ignore these quibbles.

Einstein’s quest for a unified field theory explaining subatomic structure or the Big Bang no more undermined religious contemplation than evolutionary biology. The questions of science are not the questions of religion. Science does not attempt to address, nor is it capable of addressing, the final mystery of existence, our moments of transcendence, the moral life, love, our search for meaning and our mortality. Science, limited to what can be proved and disproved, is a morally neutral discipline. It serves human needs and human ambitions. There are times when it protects and advances life. There are times when it empowers ambitions that are immoral and deadly. Science, like all human endeavors, comes with good and bad, possibilities of hope and possibilities of destruction.

Speak on it, Mister! Science, like spirituality, is a tool and can be utilized in an endless variety of ways. Science has no endeavor, no final aim or goal. But there is a design to it. A pattern that can sometimes be supported by mathematics — but not always. In any case, it is the ulterior motives of those who use science or spirituality that determine its direction and its capacity for destruction/reconstruction. If there is anything that can be described as a potential pathogen, it would probably be human ideology. Hm… let me refine that — ideology that divides the world into 2 categories: Inferior and Superior.

death note ryuk

People interested in the greed behind holding the keys to deciding what is Inferior and Superior, the barometer of human life value, should definitely check out Death Note. (De-su Noo-to.) Are you more of an L or a Yagami Light? I’m quite partial to both.

When Darwin published “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life” in 1859, he named natural selection as the mechanism that drives and defines life. Evolutionary science, however, swiftly became for many a surrogate religion. It was used to promote racism and pseudo-science, such as eugenics, a theory of biological determinism invented by Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin. It was turned like a club on religion and used to justify exploitation and neglect of the poor and disadvantaged.

There are unfortunate implications in Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin believes in the possibility of compassion and benevolence. He argues that these adaptations give one species advantage over another. He uses compassion to insist that sooner or later the “superior” races—those with compassion—will exterminate the “more savage” races. Compassion, he implies, does not exist, or certainly not in the same abundance, in others as it does in us. But Darwin left the championing of these implications to others such as Herbert Spencer, a utopian and a doctrinaire Malthusian. It was Spencer, not Darwin, who argued that step by step we were progressing as a species and would end with the perfect human being. And it was Spencer who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.”

neon genesis evangelion

Darwin would sooooooo be a Yagami Rai-tto. (Yagami Light.)

Wilson and Dawkins build their vision of human perfectibility out of the legitimate theory that human beings are shaped by the laws of heredity and natural selection. They depart from this position when they assert that we can leave that determinism behind. There is nothing in science that implies that our genetic makeup allows us to perfect ourselves. Those who, in the name of science, claim that we can overcome our imperfect human nature make a leap of faith. In this leap they leave the realm of science. They operate on a belief system that functions like religion. It gives meaning. It gives purpose and hope. But it is a myth. It is not true. And there is nothing, when you cut through their scientific jargon, which supports their absurd proposition.

dharma initiative

There is value in this assessment. Science and religion aren’t exactly incompatible or mutually exclusive. Both can operate on disturbingly similar wavelengths when it comes to pushing towards an idea of an Ultimate Truth. The idea that there is One Truth, like there is only One God, or One Religion, can be as dangerous as those who work to promote this.

The attempt to impose the methodology of science onto collective and personal relationships also has grave consequences. If a scientific hypothesis does not work it is discarded. Pluralism has no place in science. Neither do competing truths. Science, when set up as a model for our moral and social existence, implicitly banishes compromise and tolerance. Scientific ideas, because they can be demonstrated or disproved, are embraced or rejected on quantifiable evidence. But human relationships and social organizations interact and function effectively when they are not rigid, accept morally ambiguity and take into account the irrational. Politics, for example, is about channeling and managing human drives and desires. It is only fitfully in contact with reason. This profound understanding of the irrational element in politics led Sigmund Freud to write his masterpiece “Civilization and Its Discontents.” The secular fundamentalists, in a gross misuse of Darwin and of science, turn biological evolution into a methodology to champion moral progress for the human race. They seek to give to their arguments the patina of unassailable truth. But what they sell are myths, bizarre utopian visions of a new heaven and a new earth dressed up in the language of scientific rationalism.

ayashi no ceres

Oh, Chris Hedges — you ALMOST had it — ALMOST! For me, at least. Sometimes when trying to counter the argument of one party, we BECOME the other party, or use the very methods we argue against. This is Hedges’ One Truth. He’s not anti-religion and is critical of science that uses the same ideological methods to assail religion — but in the end, Hedges also uses the very same methods to assail some of the nefarious aspects of Science with a capital “S”.

stained glass

Picking sides won’t help propel us beyond the binary or trying to understand new truths and creative practices. When it comes to fields of science and spirituality, sometimes it’s most helpful to follow what’s helped me digest Freud in my gender politics class: “You’ve got to assume that he’s always right and that he’s always wrong.” Sometimes getting stuck on just one inconsistency or contradiction can paralyze us from finding new alternatives, visions, and solutions.

Bottom line: instead of bashing contradictions, maybe we should try diving into them to see what we can come up with.

Bottom line #2: I dunno about y’all but I am craving the first season of Gargoyles. I still get chills every time I hear the opening theme of Gargoyles: <– please click to shiver along with me!

“One thousand years ago, Superstition and the Sword ruled.

It was a time of Darkness, it was a world of Fear.

It was the age of Gargoyles.

Stone by day, warriors by night,

we were Betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect,

frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years…

Now, here, in Manhattan,

the spell is broken, AND WE LIVE AGAIN!

::THEMATIC INTERLUDE, TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP::

We are defenders of the night!

We. Are. GARGOYLES!”

goliath and desdemona

Okay, as much as I was an Elisa Maza/Goliath fan (interracial coupling, anyone?) I still felt quite torn about and secretly rooted for the connection between Desdemona and Goliath. Sometimes politics trumps the irrational mind of RUV, but when one does embrace the heart of the illogicaL (Goliath + Maza = 4EVA!), sometimes one will be pleasantly surprised by the productive forces that proliferate.

Do not be prisoner of history, my friends! We all have the capacity to endlessly create ourselves!!!

::circuitry experiencing sensory overload::

May 2, 2008

Oh, Politics! The Distraction of Race and G-Ender’s Game

Filed under: Culture,Elections,Gender,Politics,Race,Randomness,Uncategorized — bobbleheadedbob @ 5:07 am

Okay, so I’m only about 200 or so pages into Ender’s Game, but based off those first 200, Clinton is coming off more and more like Bonzo and Obama as Bean, neither Ender, not that we need or even want an Ender in this race/marketing campaign of personalities. Maybe an END, but not an Ender.

Dude! It’s already been established repeatedly that Clinton’s and Obama’s agendas as president aren’t all that different, so what are they selling us? Personality. So, that said, let’s take a look at the the texture of how the marketing of these two peoples have, unfortunately, fallen into two very separate binaries: race vs. gender — round 712, FIGHT! <– I know, I know, I’m getting tired of it, too.

TEAM HILLARY or TEAM BARACK? Can’t choose? Well, too freakin BAD!

So let’s take a look at this latest article, shall we?

Hillary Struggles Against Sexism But Regularly Plays Race Card – Alternet:

…Watching the brass ring of the presidency slip out of Clinton’s grasp as she is buffeted by this torrent of misogyny, women — white women, that is, and mainstream feminists especially — have rallied to her defense. On January 8, after Barack Obama beat Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, Gloria Steinem published a New York Times op-ed titled “Women Are Never Front-Runners.” “Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House,” Steinem wrote. Next came Clinton’s famous “misting-over moment” in New Hampshire in response to a question from a woman about the stress of modern campaigning. For that display of emotion, Clinton was derided, on the one hand, as calculating and chameleonlike… Thus, feminist opposition to the sexist treatment of Hillary Clinton has morphed into support for the candidate herself.

Good lord — the culture of buying into the cult of personalities, like we buy our weekly supplements of US Magazine and imbibe our ONTD and PITNB in between gchats in the office, has also bled into the way the presidential campaign has been funneled our way. Instead of focusing on the issues — which are boring at this point, because they are about exciting as they are revolutionary — we are focusing on these sensationalist narratives we construct around these characters real, live people. ACTIVISTS are focusing on these Splenda-spun narratives woven around each of these soap opera protagonists presidential candidates.

This whole barometer of who will make the better president is not only surreal, but disturbingly not dissimilar (i luvs me double negatives) to yet another snarky post of Who Wore It Better? <– yes, and thank you, New York Observer!

The thing that concerns me is that instead of having their diets, crying jags, fashion sense, and pedigree of the social mixers they attend determine which movie ticket we’ll buy at the theater or which celebrity-inspired fragrance to drop some cash on, we are having these very things determine WHO WE ARE VOTING FOR IN THIS ELECTION.

::waves arms in the air, a la UCSB’s Professor John Park::

Is this not MADNESS, people??? One thing’s for sure, it is very US of A, circa 2008.

The sexist attacks on Clinton are outrageous and deplorable, but there’s reason to be concerned about her becoming the vehicle for a feminist reawakening. For one thing, feminist sympathy for her has begotten an “oppression sweepstakes” in which a number of her prominent supporters, dismayed at her upstaging by Obama, have declared a contest between racial and gender bias and named sexism the greater scourge. This maneuver is not only unhelpful for coalition-building but obstructs understanding of how sexism and racism have played out in this election in different (and interrelated) ways.

Yes, speak on it, sister! BUT getting back to my original point…

Yet what is most troubling — and what has the most serious implications for the feminist movement — is that the Clinton campaign has used her rival’s race against him. In the name of demonstrating her superior “electability,” she and her surrogates have invoked the racist and sexist playbook of the right — in which swaggering macho cowboys are entrusted to defend the country — seeking to define Obama as too black, too foreign, too different to be President at a moment of high anxiety about national security. This subtly but distinctly racialized political strategy did not create the media feeding frenzy around the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that is now weighing Obama down, but it has positioned Clinton to take advantage of the opportunities the controversy has presented. And the Clinton campaign’s use of this strategy has many non-white and non-mainstream feminists crying foul.

It’s like the whole Lauren Conrad vs Heidi Montag debacle, that perpetually recycled Team Lindsay vs Team Hillary (Duff, that is) that blew up back in ’03. Why must they (LC and Heidi) be enemies?? They’re both blond, starring on the same reality show, and coming out with their own overpriced fashion lines peddled to MTV’s progeny. Why must they be marketed on separate teams when they both look similar enough in terms of the audience they cater to and almost identical in their career-related aspirations?

And aren’t we just as much to blame as those creating this marketing strategy for buying into it?

Granted, Hillary’s playing the Heidi Montag to Barack’s more low-key LC strategy, but it isn’t exactly politically strategic to create so much distance when they are so, so similar when we get to the meat of their politics. I suppose what I find so disappointing is that instead of engaging in a dialectical exchange of political ideals and “strategery” they are both ushered into and responding directly to this Team Hillary vs. Team Barack that’s being created just as much by US the people as THEM the media. But then again, this skeptical idealist might be dreaming a little too much.

Donkeys are, after all, are euphemisms for jackasses.

April 30, 2008

Hi, Hi to all the American Pies…

Filed under: Economics,Food,Government,Military,Politics,Uncategorized,World News — bobbleheadedbob @ 6:57 am

It’s all fun, fun, fun at Camp Stryker, where you can see our girls and boys with their Playstation toys, their brand-spanking new Harley Davidsons, their 6-dollar burgers dripping in blood beef juices ketchup.

Bloated in BaghdadTruthdig:

CAMP STRYKER, Iraq—The first warning that many U.S. troops receive here in Baghdad isn’t about the rampant IEDs (improvised explosive devices), or the RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), or even the EFPs (explosively formed projectiles). It’s about the PCPs: the pervasive combat paunches.

As I wait for my C-130 flight from Kuwait to western Baghdad, a soldier tells me about a PowerPoint slide that’s becoming popular in Army briefings: “Back in 2003, the average soldier lost 15 pounds during his tour of Iraq,” he recounts. “Now, he gains 10.”

Arriving at Camp Stryker, I get to savor the dilemma firsthand. My low-slung Army tent is pitched just down the road from a Pizza Hut, a Burger King and a Green Beans Coffee—the war-zone cousin of Starbucks that sells mocha frappes for a cheeky $4.25. Around the corner sits a massive chow hall run by former Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc. where troops load up on four varieties of fried meats and five flavors of Baskin Robbins. The facility is billed as “all-you-can-eat,” and, trust me, soldiers do.

Traveling all the way to a war zone to report on military calorie counts may seem like the height of triviality, especially as Baghdad’s security situation implodes. But Camp Stryker’s butterball cuisine is more than a frivolous aside; it’s an entree into the general engorgement of the war itself.

Damn, Sarah Stillman’s a great writer. I have no cheeky comments as of yet to contribute.

Where, for instance, do the mountains of beef patties, pecan pies and Coco Puffs come from? The Houston-based KBR farms out most of its $27-billion government contract to Gulf states middlemen, who greet initial food shipments in Kuwait. Low-wage Pakistani and Nepali subcontractors then distribute the goods to U.S. mess halls, where even lower-wage Indians and Sri Lankans prepare them for the troops. All along the route are markups galore, sometimes exceeding 500 percent.

This logistical gravy train creates the unchecked fat on America’s profile here in Baghdad. The bloat applies to basic counterinsurgency strategy, too. Even after Gen. David Petraeus shifted several units out of giant bases and into Joint Security Stations—humbler urban outposts where soldiers, to use the general’s words, live “among those we are trying to protect”—the average U.S. camp remains a behemoth and a glutton. Over 70 percent of American troops here are classified as “support” forces, meaning they may never step outside the wire to engage in local operations or address community grievances over a customary glass of chai. These big-base bureaucrats are known to front-line soldiers as “Fobbits”—a play on the acronym for “forward-operating base” (FOB) that echoes J.R.R. Tolkien’s plump, provincial milquetoasts.

Ah, what the heck — might as well give you the rest of this article.

The whole scenario unfolds to the ironic soundtrack of “support the troops.” The FOB experience in Iraq, particularly on larger posts, is defined by countless privatized efforts to console and distract: mini-marts where soldiers can buy PlayStations and Harley-Davidsons; KBR recreation facilities where they can shoot pool or take salsa lessons; fast food joints where they can kick back with a non-alcoholic beer and a personalized pizza. Such perks ostensibly make soldiers feel more at home. But many insist that the surreal arrangement only highlights what they’ve been asked to leave behind. A baseline fact remains: Troops’ psyches can’t be bought with bikes or bacon double cheeseburgers (or re-enlistment bonuses, or college loans, or fill-in-the-latest-bait)—especially after Gen. George Casey’s acknowledgment that “the current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply.”

Passing time in a rec tent back in Kuwait, I chat with a soft-spoken 28-year-old sergeant who is preparing to fly back into the caldron of Baghdad’s Sadr City after three weeks of R&R in Georgia. In a room strewn with crepe paper palm trees and plastic hula skirts left over from the previous night’s “Spring Fling Luau,” the two of us look like attendees at a cornball junior prom. But the sergeant’s mind is a long way from such frivolities: He has recently lost his squad leader, and two other soldiers from his area of operations were killed a few days later.

Burying his head in his hands as we talk, he says: “All the Burger Kings in the world wouldn’t be enough for this. Some of us are on our third or fourth tours, and we just can’t do this anymore—we really can’t.”

::processing::

How American is that? It’s as though someone’s taken every single bad American stereotype and neo-liberated it to come play in this high-definition bemusement park/mini mall. Looks like while Mom and Pop are workin their kids hard for the money, they’ve got to keep them “outta trouble” somehow. Ok, Junior, help Ma hide her coke stash and I’ll double your allowance. Baby Girl, if you could just keep an eye on daddy’s briefcase you can have that Playstation3 I know you’ve been eyeing.  What?  What’s that?  Look, I don’t have time for this — I’m just gonna drop y’all of at the mall, okay? Here’s twenty bucks. Now go.

Let’s do the math: 80’s material excess + 90’s mall culture = Camp Stryker!

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