Sunday, May 31, 2009

RIP Dr. Tiller

I couldn't wait until tomorrow to express my complete lack of faith in humanity upon finding out that Dr. George Tiller, one of the few late term abortion doctors left in the US, was killed in the sanctity of the foyer of his own church today. A doctor who held onto his beliefs, his practice, and the fight for women's rights even after being shot once in each arm, through multiple legal fights, and through constant harassment and vandalism at his clinic was shot in cold blood. With all of my heart, WTF?

NYT Article about the murder

thank the good lord for mt rainier

photo credit: cdr

oh mt rainier, how i love thee. i may have spent very little time in close proximity to you, but with a topographic prominence of 13,210 feet you are often such a beautiful sight from seattle and this weekend from my fabulous hike. you automatically put a smile on my face. i may be the only person that calls you the great boob of seattle, but i mean that in the most complimentary way. while many human made tall constructions, like skyscrapers, have phallic shapes, mt. rainier i claim you for the ladies. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How is marriage not a fundamental right?

Today marks a sad day in a long line of sad days for same-sex couples in California, who have been given the right to marry and then had it taken away more times then I would like to count at this point. Unlike the multiple other states who within the past year have passed same-sex marriage laws (holla Iowa, Vermont, Maine, and the other states that are on their way), California has now been set back yet again due to its sometimes preposterous proposition process. The hearing today was not on the legality of same-sex marriage itself, but instead about the idea that Prop. 8 was not an amendment to the California constitution, but instead a revision of it. There are arguments for both sides of this case, but for me it really does come down to a fundamental issue of equal rights (which are very clearly written into the CA Constitution). While it can be said that same-sex couples in CA have all of the legal rights of opposite-sex couples given their rights to civil unions, they are still lacking the actual right to "marriage". Yes, it all comes down to a word. As Shannon Minter, an attorney for plaintiffs, stated, that without the right to the word “marriage,” same-sex couples in CA find their "outsider status enshrined in [the California] Constitution.” Is it really fair to say that same-sex couples are truly being given the same rights as opposite-sex couples when they don't have the right to the word "marriage"? and should that type of discrimination be written into the California Constitution? I think not!

NYT Article

SF Chronicle Article

Monday, May 25, 2009

memorial day

regardless of my opinions of the current wars the US is waging, i mourn the loss of life that these wars have brought upon both sides of the conflict.

to describe these losses here is the iraq page stories of fallen soldiers of "operation iraqi freedom" (4630 from the US), stories of fallen soldiers of "operation enduring freedom" in afganistan (684 from the US), a site with a downloadable map for google earth of causalities and the nejm article that approximates 151,000 iraqi causalities (includes civilians)

The Death of a Soldier

by Wallace Stevens

Life contracts and death is expected,
As in a season of autumn.
The soldier falls.

He does not become a three-days personage,
Imposing his separation,
Calling for pomp.

Death is absolute and without memorial,
As in a season of autumn,
When the wind stops,

When the wind stops and, over the heavens,
The clouds go, nevertheless,
In their direction.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thank God for the opening of white shoe season!

Today is day two of a lovely memorial day weekend and the beginning of white shoe season! As such, BBQing is in order, and what better thing to grill in the Pac NW then salmon. So I would like to give a big old thank God for the beginning of nice weather and the availability of amazing, high quality, and awesome salmon for a reasonable price! Holla!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

is outrage enough for outing?

it's one of those days i have a few different ideas for the blog, from doomsday cheney to an amazingly horrible protest scheduled for UW campus that equates abortion to genocide.... but, it's a beautiful day out and our topics have been pretty serious this week... so i decided on my third idea.

for those that haven't heard, kirby dick has come out with a new film (see trailer below) that "outs" anti-gay politicians that also happen to be allegedly gay. i agree with the filmmaker that gay rights is one of the most important "civil rights issue of its time in this country" (see interview below), but i'm struggling a bit about whether outing these politicians is ethical. i guess i'm lean towards yes... they are public figures, they are taking advantage of prejudice as a political device, it is totally hypocritical and straight politicians that mess around get "outed" for their non-monogamy all the time. but, i kinda feel uncomfortable about that last one too. hmmmm. what do you guys think?

interview with kirby dick in the advocate

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

If we just give the kids guns we will all be safe!

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained.
“I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

Above is a quote from a Boarder Patrol agent who was teaching 14 year old kids how to track and apprehend potential illegal boarder crossers as part of The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America. This program's goal is to train young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence including the use of guns, poisonous gas, and intimidation. All under the guise that they are teaching kids discipline and preparing them for future jobs in our post 9/11 world. They are even supposed to learn how to apprehend and deal with terrorists (who in the article below are described as often wearing traditional Arab dress). The kids are subject to all kinds of forms of violence that they are then supposed to be able to deal with.

While I agree that sometimes it can be very empowering for teenagers to be trained in skills that are applicable to future job prospects, this program really gives me the chills. They are not only exposing children to a lot of violence, but they are actually training them to be violent. The kids are told that they are not supposed to use these skills outside of the training environment, but if I know teenagers at all, the chance that they will not try to apply these skills in their daily life or even attempt some sort of actual apprehension of boarder crossers or potential terrorists is ridiculous. Additionally, they are only supposed to take kids from 14-21, but then admitted in the article that sometimes they take younger kids, which they say just means 13 and a half, but you know that when they are not being interviewed by the NYT they probably take kids even younger then that. Finally, they dress up the theoretical terrorists in their drills in traditional Arab garb? Seriously? Cause what we need to do is teach our kids how to be violent and then build in a good amount of stereotyping too. Oh and then hope that they will be the ones who "protect" us from all that is evil in the world in the future. WTF????

NYT Article

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

a wall

inspired by this artistic blog entry (which i fully recommend!), i decided to post pictures i took of what remains of the berlin wall (click on the pictures to see in more detail).

there are many different accounts of what the wall meant for the city, but it clearly separated it, to the terror of some of its inhabitants. of course, now that the wall is down one can move freely across the city. however, the division is still evident even to a newcomer. in other words, i almost always could tell if i was in what used to be east or west berlin, just by looking around. construction is all over parts of "east berlin", and this growth amongst many reminders of a brutal history (world wars included), make berlin a very interesting city.

seeing the wall's remnants made me think about borders and separatism. good fences may make good neighbors, but they do certainly do not always make happy citizens.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is Obama afraid of needles?

Buried deep within the budget (pg. 795 to be specific) released last Thursday by the Obama administration there is a paragraph banning the federal funding of needle exchange programs in the US. This is a complete about-face from Obama's campaign promises, in complete opposition of Obama's new found desire to ensure more national HIV prevention work, and a slap in the face to one of the most effective HIV prevention programs to date. The administration is now saying that they still intend to lift the ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs, but that they just aren't going to do it quite yet. WTF? What is the holdup? It isn't like there is a lack of data and scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of needle exchange programs for HIV prevention. In fact there is much more support for these programs then really any other prevention interventions out there.

The main argument used to justify the lack of funds for these programs is the stupid war on drugs. Basically, by upholding the ban the administration is saying that it is more important to support the war on drugs then protect the lives of people who are addicted to them. In my opinion this is a seriously immoral and shortsighted view that will ultimately lead to many deaths that could have easily been prevented (the needle users, their partners, their partner's partners, and on and on...). Are we really a country where politics and appearances are more important then the lives of human beings?

Time Article

Sunday, May 17, 2009

thank god for home...

i'm back after interesting and fun travels, certainly enjoying the comforts of home.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Is a life without google no life at all?

You will not believe my total and utter panic this morning when I got up and not only was my gmail not working, but neither was blogger, or google. ACK! My world went upside down! I couldn't email, I couldn't do any of my work, I couldn't blog, and I couldn't even look things up without having to resort to a search engine that was foreign to me. What was a girl to do???

And then it hit me, is this what life has become? Is the majority of my world now not only tied to having the interwebs but more specifically tied to a single company, where if they go down, I go down with them? Holy crap! I had dinner with a friend this week who in all seriousness told me that she wished we could go back to writing letters and didn't have email anymore. I told her that would be rediculous and horrible all at the same time, but now that I know that I am incapable of living and engaging in my life without the interwebs and specifically without google, maybe this doesn't seem like such a bad idea anymore.

Monday, May 11, 2009

another trave(b)log: ups and downs of a conference

hotpants is now in sweden at a conference. unfortunately, swedes don't all sound like the swedish chef muppet, but fortunately for us lazy english speakers i don't have to worry about learning their language. tack you very much. i have enjoyed the little that i have seen of their country so far. as far as the food, i'm not sure i will get to like the heavy cream sauces, but the smoked salmon reminds of the lox of the land of my upbringing and the fish that swim up the fish ladder right near where i live now (not that i'm homesick or anything... ;) ) is it me or did that last sentence sound like a bad version of scandanvian writing? i didn't do it on purpose i swear.

ok, enough rambling...

this may be a wtf for just the scientists out there, b/c i don't know what other conferences are like... but does anyone really think 8 hours of talks for 4 days is a good way to learn? especially when some of the talks are less than 10 minutes.

now, i appreciate a good lecture more than most people i know. if it's really good i can appreciate a lecture a couple hours long. i like good stories. but, i'd much rather throw in a few round tables, discussion panels, q&a sessions and other such things even if it would mean actually having to talk to each other in an organized fashion (maybe even before the conference!). it might be better than a snippet of everyone's papers soon to be published. i know that conversations like these are sometimes found in the q&a of presentations (speedily) and sometimes conducted between talks, but they are often only among the most senior faculty.

if i ran conferences, i'd have everyone do a poster, have 2-10 major lectures and have the rest of the sessions be interactive, but we'd still get to go to places like sweden. what do you think future PIs? are you with me?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thank God for Moms!

On this Mother's Day I would like to give a big thanks to God for my mom. I can not imagine having a better mother, she has been a good friend, a source of constant support, and a role model for me. I love her very much and am sure that all the people out there in the blogging land will agree that we wouldn't be the people we are today without our mothers. So thank you God for mothers around the world, and thanks for having a fake hallmark holiday to celebrate them!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

metza metza berlin

hey all. hotpants here, from berlin. i'm having an awesome time, but for the sake of the blog i choose to fill this blank a few ways:

berlin is _______(fill the blank) cooler than the US.

blank=very much
---> they have a phrase here called the "american condition," as in we don't want to fall into the american condition w/ no universal health care, only 2 weeks of vacation (they get 6 weeks) and more than 40 hour work weeks (many get 35s). oh and with homeless people that the gov't doesn't care for via a constitutional amendment that everyone is guaranteed housing.

blank=not that much
---> there are a ton of turks that live here that don't to have citizenship, even if they are born here. however, they do get to be "legal" immigrants and get all the cool things i described above... maybe that is a more humane immigration policy. you know, acknowledging that the labor is needed... something to think about...

---> i got a ticket today on public transportation, not for not buying a ticket but for not getting it stamped. it was a stupid error (that not one a sign had told me to do... or the guidebook...), and even though the ticket had the time on it and it was clear that i had made a silly mistake and not jumped the train w/o paying, the guy gave me a ticket. now i know that cops in the states can use their judgment the wrong way sometimes too, but i'm glad that sometimes they let things slide that are obviously not harmful or just not important. silly germans with their rules. oh and seeing the reichstag did scare me momentarily. good thing i saw defiance on the plane ride over here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Senseless violence at my alma mater

Around 1pm today an unidentified man (potentially the victim's boyfriend) wearing a wig entered the Wesleyan University bookstore, shot, and killed Johanna Justin-Jinich, a 22 year old Wesleyan Junior. After the event the University, all the schools in Middletown, and the town itself went on lock down. One senseless act of violence has taken the life of a young woman and impacted everyone in a community. When will people learn that violence is not the answer. This is truly a sad day.

Hartford Courant Article

Wesleyan Argus Article

Monday, May 4, 2009

If I enter a pageant, does that mean that I can have bigger boobs too?!?

Over the weekend it was confirmed that in preparation to be a Miss USA contestant, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, received a boob job courtesy of the Miss California pageant itself. You heard me, the pageant paid for her to get a breast augmentation. When I first heard about this story, I could barely believe it. Seriously, the pageant paid for her boob job? As if it wasn't bad enough that young women are bombarded with images endorsing the idea that fake boobs are good and big boobs are necessary to be desirable and considered beautiful, now we actually have a beauty pageant paying a young woman to get work done.

In the stupid interview with the co-director of the pageant, he said that they asked her what would make her more confident and she expressed an interest in getting the boob job, so their excuse is that they wanted to help her confidence. OK, seriously, that is your excuse? When you want to boost a woman's confidence is the best way really to say, yes even though you are already a beauty contestant winner, your boobs are definitely the thing that should be changed to give you that little omph when you walk onto that national stage. Like it wasn't bad enough for women around the country already knowing that they will never be able to live up to the idealized version of beauty endorsed by these pageants. Now being naturally endowed with insane amounts of the stereotypical beauty is not enough, now you also need to have your boobs done. WTF?

Huffington Post Article with Interview

Saturday, May 2, 2009

my 16 year-old self would be astonished by this but.....

thank goodness for weddings. i know many of you that won't agree with me on this one, whether it was b/c your wedding was a pain in the ass, b/c you don't believe in the tradition of marriage, or you are tired of them. but, those of you that know me, know that i can be a little bit of a cheese-meister. however, you should also know i'm not married, have never been and i am a miserable bride's maid b/c i am not a wedding perfectionist in any way, shape or form. there are certain wedding traditions i cannot stand. for example, despite my mom's pleas, if i do get married some day i might wanna do it in a red dress.

that being said, here are a few things i love about weddings. i love the vows that the couple say to each other, even if they didn't write them. it's just endearing to see two people speak to each other about private love in front of a crowd of people that love them. i also look forward to the speeches at the reception. i love that there is a usually at least one honest, heartfelt expression among these speeches. at the wedding i went to this weekend, one that struck me was the father of the groom telling his son how much his son had taught him. and most of all, i'm a big fan of the inter-generational dancing that goes on for hours. why can't we do that more often? and we can take our ouchy shoes off! fabulous.

thanks g and l, for a great wedding weekend and for cultivating such awesome relationships w/ your friends and family (and with each other of course) that made it possible to have such a loving event.

an alternative wedding registry site

Friday, May 1, 2009

Why isn't rape being taken more seriously?

A few months ago a friend of mine sent me a story about the plethora of rape kits that sit untested in California (thanks AG!), now that story has made it into the NYT. Kinda like the plethora of untested kits, I sat on this story waiting to blog about it. I don't know what the hold up was, but I suspect that other stories for whatever reason took precedence in my mind. Maybe thinking to myself that this news wasn't likely to change at any moment, and that it could be blogged about at any time. But on the other hand, as this story points out, maybe I just wasn't taking it seriously enough and had stored is as just one of many injustices against women that happen in our society.

This is a problem of huge proportions! Women are being raped on a regular basis, are going through the grueling process of having to do a rape kit (which can take many hours and is incredibly invasive), and then the rape kit isn't even tested or if it is, it is tested a year to a couple years later. In the case of one woman, the police suspected that her rapist was a repeat offender, thus asked for a rush on the kit testing. They were told it would be a delay of about a year. When they personally drove it to the state lab 350 miles away, they still had to wait over 4 weeks to get a test result that should take less then a week to do. And this is in the case of someone being incredibly proactive and urgent. Once the kit was tested they found a DNA match. Unfortunately, while they were waiting for the results the DNA matched man had sexually assaulted two other women. This could have been avoided had the test been run in a timely manner.

All and all, this points to the fact that rape is often not taken seriously enough. It is a combination of taboo subjects in our puritanical culture, we are talking about sex and issues of power, domination, and crime in sex. If people are incapable of taking about sex with their own sexual partners, think about how hard it is for the raped women who are asked to talk about sex while having a rape kit done and then in front of a jury. For these brave women to step up and go through this process, the least we can do is take them seriously and do everything within our power to ensure that their assailant is brought to justice. We may not want to think about this horrible crime, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it.

NYT Article

Human Rights Watch Report