a bird and a bottle

Some News…and Travel
June 13, 2007, 1:11 pm
Filed under: blogsturbation, frivolity, me

Whew. Things are flying at a breakneck pace ’round these parts.

And I’ve got some less than exciting news and some really exciting news.

The less stuff first: I will be traveling for business until Friday and am not sure whether or how much I will have access to the internets and blog-o-sphere. I am hoping to post at least once between now and Friday…but we all know how that goes.

The more exciting stuff is this: The dudes over at Lawyers, Guns & Money have very generously invited me aboard there. So I will be joining the ranks at LG&M, and am proud to be their first female full-time blogger. I am not yet sure what I will do with AB&B. I may keep it up and cross post. I may keep it up only for posterity. We shall see. But beginning Monday, look for me over at my new virtual home.


Not Gonna Knock Knocked Up
June 10, 2007, 10:28 pm
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, frivolity, funnies, media, news, reproductive justice, sexuality

Well, color me surprised.

knocked up

I was already to write a post deriding Judd Apatow‘s new film Knocked Up. I haven’t seen Apatow’s other work (Freaks & Geeks, the 40-year-old virgin), so this was not what you might call an educated opinion, but I figured that a movie called “knocked up” couldn’t be good. The phrase knocked up just rings of misogyny.

But I was pleasantly surprised. SF and I saw it last night. A.O. Scott was right. It was funny. It was sweet. And, for the most part, it lacked the misogyny that often pervades the two genres with which it toyed: so-called chick flicks and stoner movies.

I was nervous about the film’s treatment — or lack thereof — of abortion. I had heard that the film sort of glosses over it. Apparently, the topic was interesting, and obvious enough, to make its way into the NY Times Styles section this week. While it’s true that “abortion” is never uttered in the film, the issue is not ignored either. More than that, what (admittedly little) conversation there is about abortion in the film seemed to me to be a fairly biting satire of our inability to talk honestly and apolitically about abortion in the U.S. And the film’s general treatment of pregnancy, reproduction, and birth (in a very impressive Stan Brakhage-esque scene) is often much better than the Hollywood standard.

And I’m not alone in my relief: Amanda Marcotte’s review at her new blog Unsprung echoes a lot of my thoughts.

Still, I can see why some pea-brained conservatives seek validation for their misogynist political opinions from the previews of the movie. From the preview, the movie seems like a wet dream for anti-choicers, a story of an uppity bitch who gets hers by getting trashed and sleeping with the wrong guy, which leads to punishment-by-pregnancy. Add in the college Republican fantasy of being able to trap a wife through pregnancy, and you’ve got a bit of anti-choice propaganda. Those folks will be sorely disappointed by the movie, unless they’re too dumb to pick up on the not-really-subtle subtleties, particularly with the way that the movie sides with Alison’s right to have her own life and career despite being pregnant.

All of this praise doesn’t mean I don’t have a bone to pick with the film. And that nit to pick is this: why is it that the only people who actually sorta kinda talk about abortion in the film are men? Ben’s (the guy who gets Katherine Heigl’s Allison pregnant) stoner friends are the ones who get closest to saying the word “abortion,” while Allison’s mother says only that Allison should “get it taken care of,” or something to that effect. One of Amanda’s commenters also picked up on this; she sees it as yet another example of the “father knows best” mindset. I’m not so sure. Maybe it just speaks to the fact that it’s easier sometimes for men than for women to talk about abortion — and to pontificate about it. But maybe I’m just being too optimistic.

Whatever the case, I was impressed by the film. Anyone else seen it and have an opinion? I’d love to know…

I Might Have to Switch Cell Phone Carriers
June 7, 2007, 8:44 pm
Filed under: frivolity, me

I *heart* Apple.

Justice for the Rest of Us?
June 5, 2007, 11:58 pm
Filed under: civil rights, criminal justice, frivolity, news

So you can’t go anywhere these days without hearing about Lindsay Lohan’s ignominious return to rehab or seeing Paris Hilton’s most recent mugshot. For the most part, celebrities have tended to get away with snorting and driving — a stark contrast to the rest of us, and particularly to those of us living in communities of color. It’s been a jarring and almost blinding hypocrisy.

Today, in an article on TomPaine, the Brennan Center‘s Kirsten Livingston calls our attention to the hypocrisy of American justice. And it’s not only drug rehabilitation that has failed people like Lohan and Hilton — it’s carcereal rehabilitation that has failed them and the wider public. And especially women:

These trends have been especially harsh for women. Since 1970, the rate of incarceration of women has increased more than twelvefold, and although about half of women in state prisons had been using drugs or alcohol at the time they committed the offense for which they were incarcerated, treatment for substance abuse remains grossly inadequate in our prisons and jails. Similarly, there is limited mental health treatment available, though nearly three-quarters (73.1 percent) of women in state prison in 2005 had a mental health problem, compared to 55 percent of men.

As our incarceration rate has grown, moreover, governments have adopted policies that limit the access of people convicted of crimes to student loans, jobs and the right to vote long after they have paid their debts to society. Together, these trends mean that staggering numbers of Americans are either behind bars or disabled from reclaiming responsible, productive lives after prison. Their substance abuse and mental health problems go untreated and, predictably, are often greatly exacerbated by life behind bars.

Research and common sense show that these punitive responses fail to prevent future crimes or provide rehabilitation, while wrecking lives and devastating families. Seven in 10 women enmeshed in the criminal justice system, for example, have minor children to care for.

Not surprisingly, the system has been unduly harsh not only on women but also on racial minorities:

Although African Americans and whites use illegal substances at about the same rates, African Americans are far more likely to be incarcerated for drug offences. Between 1990 and 2000 the number of African Americans incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses increased by over 80 percent to 145,000, a number that is 2.5 times higher than that for whites. Affluent whites like Ms. Lohan are far more likely to be let go with a warning, to avoid prison time, or to avoid criminal scrutiny at all. Their substance abuse problems lead them to places like Promises, not the penitentiary. Race and class, then, play a powerful role in determining the consequences of unlawful behavior.

Livingston is optimistic though. She sees glimmers of hope in programs being implemented around the country, from New York’s Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison program to a California program that — shock! — is in jeopardy and may lose its funding. I’m not as optimistic as Livingston. I wonder, as Professor Plum pointed out in a comment yesterday, if the racism in our criminal justice system is so ingrained at this point that we don’t even see it anymore except for when it’s smacking us in the face.

I mean, we make jokes at Paris Hilton’s expense, and at the expense of the myriad other celebrities who get caught with drugs but get away scot free. Given today’s biased system, isn’t it they who should be laughing?

A Haiku
May 31, 2007, 9:35 pm
Filed under: frivolity, me, NYC

A Haiku that will give you some insight into my current extracurricular activity:

Manhattan Island
Apartment Hunting Is A
Bummer in Summer.

Bad Bean
May 28, 2007, 11:10 pm
Filed under: frivolity, laziness, me

I keep promising more posts — at least daily — and I keep failing to deliver. Alas.

Here’s the scoop: I am working full time this summer. I can’t blog during the workday. I try to blog either in the early morning or late night hours, but I don’t always get to (sleep, the gym, a social life get in the way).

But I’ll make you a deal: I’ll continue to post as often as possible, though maybe not every day. And you keep reading, looking forward to the day later this summer when posting will resume at its breakneck pace. Mmmkay?

From Zeus to Hammerheads
May 23, 2007, 10:49 pm
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, frivolity, news, sexuality

The NY Times today ran what is bar none the most interesting article I’ve seen in a very very long time.

Turns out, that parthenogenic reproduction is not just the stuff of Greek myth. It actually happens! And not just in plants. In vertebrates too.

According to the Times, a female hammerhead shark recently gave birth to a baby shark that has no male DNA. How does such a thing happen? Well, it goes a little something like this:

the female shark’s own genetic material combined during the process of cell division that produces an egg. A cell called the secondary oocyte, which contains half the female chromosomes and normally becomes the egg, fused with another cell called the secondary polar body, which contains the identical genetic material.

Whoa. What’s funny to me about this is that there was recently a flurry of news about the possibility of parthenogenic reproduction in other animals.

What’s interesting to me is this: the first — or at least most famous — instance of parthenogenesis is the birth of Athena, fully formed, from Zeus’s head. Athena had no mother. Parthenogenesis, in Greek times, wrote women totally out of the picture. But today that equation is reversed. Now it is men’s role that parthenogensis threatens. If reproduction can take place without the contribution of men, might that make men obsolete?

And what, I wonder, would that mean for the raging debates around human sexuality today? If, sexually speaking, men were less important for reproduction than for sexual pleasure, might we lose some of our puritanism? It’s sci fi for now, but I can’t help but wonder….