Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'm gonna be lazy and not do all the proper coding, mostly because I just need to get this down. First, I cannot express how much I am going to miss reading both Brownfemipower and Black Amazon (Having Read the Fine Print). See my blog roll for links. Both have chosen to take a break from blogging, I'm not trying to suggest they don't deserve a rest and some major pampering. They have been expressing themselves eloquently on issues that tend to make a lot of people uncomfortable. I'd come to rely on their common sense and straight talk. They have renewed my faith that there are intelligent, militant and awesome women in the world willing to take on major challenges. I'm sure they are still kicking ass. I'm just going to miss the privilege of having a window into their worlds.

I comment a lot on other people's blogs, but this blog I use mostly to help keep track of the activist work I do. In the past, I always felt too busy to keep track of all the work that gets done locally. At the end of the year I would be exhausted, but never remember all we had done. The internet and blogging is making it possible for me to look back over time and see that, yes, Virginia, there really is an activist movement and I really am a part of it.

You only have to look back at activist movements of the past to see how much progress has been made. In the anti-Vietnam War movement, there would be major conferences bringing together activists in Cleveland and San Francisco and New York. Then snail mail would go out and local activists would post notices about upcoming activities in local bars, bookstores and on college campuses. But unless you already knew about those spaces, the odds an individual person who opposed the war would actually hear about an event were very small. Today, you can Google "anti-war" and find a gazillion people doing activist work of all kinds. Today, a decision made by national organizations for specific actions around the world can be communicated within moments. And being able to track that movement has been a valuable tool for me.

However, I don't have a practice of posting my political opinions and concerns in the way that most of the people on my blog roll manage to do. Lately, that has seemed like a cop out. I comment on other blogs, but I don't place long opinion pieces here so that people made curious by my comments can learn more about where I stand.

It seems especially weird now, since the discussions at Twisty's and at Brownfemipower, have made clear some major divisions within the feminist blogosphere. I consider these latest conflicts different than Burqagate and the Fire Dog Lake blow ups because in those cases, the posters were liberals and Democrats, not leftists. I didn't believe we were involved in the same struggle.

The conflicts lately are between groups of people who want a total break from the status quo. And so the pain is a bit deeper, the bitterness a bit more intense.

In Minneapolis, divisions between revolutionaries of all persuasions have been confronted and ways of working together have been developed over the years.

For instance, the local anti-war coalition, the Iraq Peace Action Coalition, made several decisions from the beginning in 2001. First, they would not take a stand on Saddam Hussein. This isn't because some of us thought he was a great guy. Instead, it was because most of us thought that it wasn't up to U.S. citizens to decide who should lead Iraq.

Second, we agreed to not take a stand on which political party to support. For some of us, there was no difference between the two capitalist parties. More importantly, some member groups were 501c3 organizations that are legally barred from taking a stance on political parties.

Third, we agreed to make connections between the war abroad and the war at home. Issues of welfare reform, affordable housing, money for education, racism and sexism were included in our events. Some activists see this as a way of diluting the antiwar message. But our experience has been that people who begin to become politically active because of their opposition to the war are in a space that allows them to start questioning the system as a whole.

Fourth, we agreed that individual groups should be supported in the various ways in which they choose to oppose the war. Visiting anti-war speakers would be shared among different groups: religious, academic, spiritual, student. Our skills would be shared and our various groups supported in their efforts. Some groups do rallies. Some groups do educational events. Some groups do civil disobedience. Some groups do regular vigils. Some groups do agitprop. Some groups do cultural events. Some groups do work in the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) party.

Some actions became widespread. Anti-war lawn signs were a new and important part of the movement this time around. Thousands of signs were produced and displayed by individual home owners throughout the area.

A weekly anti-war vigil that occurs on a bridge across the Mississippi River between the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul became a safe space in which newbies to the anti-war movement were able to feel safe and comfortable in expressing opposition to the war. They could learn about other antiwar activities, and they could realize they were not alone by meeting antiwar activists of all persuasions. They could hear the supportive honks and see the thumbs up signals from people driving across the bridge.

Local e-mail lists collated activist activities into calendars that gave each of us numerous opportunities to become educated, activated and rejuvenated.

So I have to say that I believe we are making progress. Things still suck. Soldiers continue to die. Iraqis are suffering tremendously. And yet progress is being made. Or as Willy Loman's wife said, "Attention must be paid."

All of us need to give ourselves props for doing good work and making a difference in the world. Sure we have problems, disagreements and irritations every single day. But we are also blessed with amazing tools to bring us together, to educate ourselves and to help one another in our work to make this world a better place.

I'm gonna stop here for now. Happy New Year to one and all. May you and your loved ones be happy and healthy and may the new year bring all of us a better world.

What I am saying in my very long-winded way is that we can have different goals, different definitions of what is wrong in the world and even different views of who is the main enemy and we can still work together. I've experienced it. I treasure it. I believe it can happen even on the internets.

All we need do is make the effort. My experience is that it is definitely worth it. Won't you join me?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

300 Minnesotans protest the war

Our story and Bert Kayakbiker's images can be found here. It's been a holiday tradition for many years to protest on one of the pre-Xmas shopping days. It's a great time and rejuvenating for the movement. These days, the support from people walking and driving by is almost unanimous. Santa came to visit, the Counter-Propaganda Singers sang anti-war carols and toy soldiers with the message "bring me home" were hung on a pine tree in the park.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, And Became a Feminist Rebel, by Bettina F. Aptheker, Seal Press, October 2006, 549 pp, Paperback.

I read this book over the last few days and it's been weighing heavily on my mind for a number of reasons. First, a summary from Publisher's Weekly:

"Now professor of feminist studies at UC-Santa Cruz, Aptheker was an activist participant in some of the major events of the '60s and '70s the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, the antiwar movement and the Angela Davis trial. As the daughter of U.S. Communist Party leader Herbert Aptheker, she was virtually a red-diaper princess, only to 'fall from grace' with the party in her late 20s. Her highly politicized New York City upbringing was one of middle class comfort, although sorely affected by McCarthyist persecution as well as sexual abuse by her father, deeply repressed memories of which she uncovered in adulthood. The author, who taught her first women's studies course in 1977, describes herself as a latecomer to the women's movement (the Communist Party considered it 'petit bourgeois'). A personal transformation paralleled the political, as her repressed lesbianism also surfaced and gradually culminated in a fulfilling long-term relationship. Though pedestrian prose and prolix detail obscure what ought to be a compelling account of events with powerful social as well as personal meaning, Aptheker's memoir (after Tapestries of Life) is a significant document for students and historians of feminism, communism and the '60s." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

A digression:

The Seal Press was one of the first truly successful feminist presses, supporting independent booksellers throughout the country. It was sold to Avalon Publishing in 2002 and it is greatly disappointing to see that their website connects directly to amazon(cough!) for details on any book they publish. That sucks! Wilson donated the records of Seal Press to Oberlin College and you can read more about it here.

Aptheker's memoir has sparked a couple of controversies. Fellow red-diaper baby now right-wing attack dog David Horowitz has a long attack that serves to further his own agenda rather than provide an accurate portrayal of the book.

The defense of the memory of Herbert Aptheker, Bettina's father, is very interesting. Herbert Aptheker is a noted historian who dispelled the myth of the compliant slave by collecting the stories of heroic revolts by black slaves in the south. For some, the thought that this admirable historian could have been flawed in some way is anathema. And this disbelief gets expressed in some of the most condescending and sexist blather as excellently shown by this post by DeAndra found via Feral Scholar's thread about the memoir.

That's the background. Now for my own responses.

Aptheker's tales of being an activist in the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at Berkeley resonated deeply with me. Activist politics can be an amazing, invigorating experience, with moments of incredible highs and lows with bizarre twists that challenge our expectations. For instance, Aptheker was worried about coming out as a member of the Communist party during the FSM struggle so soon after the era of witch hunts which destroyed her own father's career:

"Everyone knew that I was a member of the party. I thought that perhaps it would be best if I took a less conspicuous position in the movement. These thoughts were interrupted by Mario [Savio]. Slapping his knee with glee, he said, "I've got it! Bettina should speak at the noon rally on Monday!" It was typical of Mario's tactical humor to fling the one real Communist defiantly into the administration's lap."

Aptheker was extremely active, and yet she maintained her class schedule and plowed through battles of deep depression. I also dealt with depression throughout my most activist years. I recognize that need for constant activity in order to avoid dealing with psychologically destructive thoughts and moods. It is an effective technique for postponing a confrontation with a profound medical crisis.

The memoir describes Aptheker's marriage, the birth of her two children and her participation in the upper echelons of the Communist Party, as she avoided major contradictions in her life. She found herself falling in love and having affairs with women. She found herself chafing at the Communist Party's critique of the feminist movement as "petit-bourgeois". Over time, she found the courage to come out as a lesbian and to leave the Communist Party. She met and fell in love with a woman who continues to share her life. She discovered a spiritual practice, Buddhism, that helped her live a more centered and productive life.

After many years, she recalled memories of incest that she had repressed. Some of her critics pretend that she is describing the de-bunked "recovered memory" field of psychology. What has been debunked has been the malpractice of some shitball therapists who convince people that they had been molested when they have not. This is completely different from the reality that we human beings repress memories if they are too violent or emotionally damaging.

This is another way in which I identify with Aptheker. My father was nowhere near as successful as Aptheker's. Nevertheless, dear old Dad was a college professor and administrator with power and privilege. But to those of us who had to live with him, he was a psychotic and viciously self-centered person who used whatever means necessary to achieve his goals. My mind has done me the favor of hiding some of the most unbearable aspects of dealing with his psychosis.

In particular, there is one night from when I was 13 years old that leaves a gap in memory. I was visiting my father and his third wife in upstate New York over the Xmas holidays. The three of us had gone out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. My father made a huge scene out of the fact that I had eaten my (inexpensive) vegetables while not finishing my (expensive, and therefore better) steak. I wasn't the real target of his anger. Rather, I was an excuse for him to make an obnoxious scene in public and to shame the two females accompanying him into embarrassed silence.

We left the restaurant and started the drive home when he decided he needed to stop off at the house of a "colleague." In fact, the "colleague" was a graduate student that Dad was coercing into giving him sexual favors in return for good grades. Or they were just having an affair. I don't know which is true. What I do know is that Dad decided to punish his wife by having us wait in the car while he indulged in a quickie with his latest conquest.

After a half hour or so, my stepmother told me to get out of the car and to demand that my father come out and return with us to their home. This is where my memory goes blank. Next thing I know, the three of us are driving home, my stepmother at the wheel driving excessively fast on icy roads. My father repeatedly reaches over and turns off the key to slow the car down as the two of them scream at each other.

Once we arrive home, Dad goes upstairs and gets his gun, then proceeds to tell us how we must behave in his presence. When his wife doesn't immediately approve, he beats the shit out of her. I stand in the kitchen doorway watching him crouching over her body and swinging his fists into her face. Right. Left. Right. Left.

The night seemed to last forever. To cope, I swallowed dozens of pills I found in the bathroom but managed only to make myself vomit repeatedly. The next morning, my stepmother took me aside, her face swollen beyond recognition, and apologized for her behavior and explained it was because she was having her period.

The only real clue I have to what happened during that memory lapse is my over-the-top reaction to a movie-of-the-week I watched a couple of decades later. In the movie, two children kill their father after he viciously attacked their mother. My response: guilt and nonstop tears. I suspect I somehow convinced myself that it was my responsibility, as a 13-year-old child, to incapacitate my father in some way so that the rest of that horrifying evening would never have happened.

To this day, though, my memory is blank. And I have always considered that a blessing. There are some things we just don't need to know and I give thanks to biology for allowing amnesia to protect me from whatever the hell happened that night. What I do remember is bad enough.

In this way and in others, I can identify with Aptheker and her experiences. Yes, it's true that successful men can be deeply flawed. Yes, it's true that these memories can be repressed only to be revealed later in life.

But, but…..

As Aptheker talks about her healing process, she discusses Buddhism and her process of adopting its practices. She talks about attending events in which the Dalai Lama appears. She learns from the process and admires the person, while acknowledging the sexism in Buddhist practices that consider women as second-class citizens.

What amazes me is that she never mentions that fact that the Dalai Lama was a slaveholder in Tibet before the Maoist revolution in 1949. The omission of this fact seems especially obscene given that Aptheker's father specialized in the study of slave revolts. It is inexplicable to me that Bettina acknowledges the sexism of the religious practice of the Dalai Lama but ignores the slavery that existed in Tibet right up until the middle of the 20th century.

As far as I can tell, this aspect has not been addressed in the various reviews and criticism of this memoir. I suppose I will have to get my act together and send a letter to Professor Aptheker about this subject.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Twin Citians denounce ICE raids

I missed it. Worked 12 hours yesterday to finish up enough to be able to take the rest of the week off. Which is ludicrous, I know.

Meanwhile, local labor activists (including Ravenhub) rallied at Sen. Coleman's office to denounce the recent raids on illegal immigrants working at the Swift meat packing plant in Worthington, as part of raids all over the country. Here's the article from today's St. Paul Pioneer Press:


Immigration arrests denounced at rally

20 from Minnesota indicted; charges include identity theft


Pioneer Press

They came to tell the stories they say aren't being told.

In the wake of last Tuesday's raids at Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in Worthington, Minn., and five other states, a group of about 200 people gathered Monday afternoon outside the St. Paul offices of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman to condemn the federal action and demand immigration reform.

After a 40-minute rally, a smaller group walked into the Republican senator's office and read stories about families affected by the Minnesota roundup of more than 200 workers on alleged immigration violations.

"One woman is pregnant and is terrified to leave her home. She'll only communicate by telephone," said Patrick Leet, an activist who collected stories last weekend in Worthington. "She's psychologically devastated."

The stories were told to Coleman's staff members; rally organizers were informed that the senator is out of the country. A few of the people visiting the office said the storytelling was necessary because the government is using accusations of identity theft as an excuse to round up undocumented workers.

"The only identity fraud that's going on here is people having to leave their countries" and their families to find work in the United States, said Eduardo Cardenas of the Center for Labor Rights.

The assembly came the same afternoon the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis announced the indictment of 20 of the 230 people detained in the Worthington raid.

According to prosecutors, a federal grand jury indicted 19 of the detainees on charges of use of an unlawfully obtained document for employment and use of a false document for employment eligibility verification.

Fifteen of those people also face an additional charge of aggravated identity theft.

Authorities said the 19 defendants used the Social Security cards and numbers of other persons to gain employment at Swift. They also used Minnesota ID cards, driver's licenses and other forms of identification to satisfy employment requirements.

A 20th person was charged with re-entering the United States after being previously deported.

Bruce Nestor, a Minneapolis-based immigration attorney, said 21 detainees are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis at 8:30 a.m. today. He reported that 15 other detainees had bond hearings Monday in immigration court. The timing wasn't coincidental, he said.

"The government is feeling pressure to file criminal charges because of the condemnation, the bad publicity that they've gotten because of this," he said. "They want to try to portray this as an identity theft crackdown. It's an attempt by the government to shift focus back to what they want the focus to be on."

A call to the U.S. attorney's office for comment was not immediately returned.

Despite the criminal charges, activists at the rally called the raids unwarranted and demoralizing. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement action netted 1,282 arrests at six Swift meatpacking plants across the country.

Mike Potter, president of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1161 at the Swift pork-processing plant in Worthington, said he had no words to describe how the ICE sweep damaged his southwestern Minnesota community of 11,000.

"This can never happen again," he said through a bullhorn. "Never."

The crowd held candles against the cold wind on University Avenue as cars passed; some honked in support. A few people held banners. The largest read, "Reunify Families; No More Raids."

The Rev. Grant Stevensen, with St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in St. Paul, called on politicians to take a moral stand on the immigration issue.

"We need our elected officials to step forward with a sense of decency," he said.

As the light faded, the crowd chanted.

"¡Sí, se puede!" they said, repeating a slogan made famous by the late labor organizer Cesar Chavez: "Yes, it can be done!"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Notice how the forces of power have bought a PR clue and called this "identity theft" rather than drastic economic need. As if these people are common criminals trying to steal directly from the earnings of hard-working white people. Bullshit.

Unfortunately, some folks will be fooled by it. Which means we have some more educating to do.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lebanon is suffering under ... rebuilding?!?

Today's USA today article on Lebanon is a lovely example of the sort of thing that makes sense only to journalists and cynics.

The poor Lebanese people are having to suffer from groups of volunteers cleaning up and rebuilding after a major disaster. Gee, that really sucks, eh? Wouldn't want to be doing that sort of thing in our country, now would we? Or in Iraq, for that matter.

Here are some of the horrible things Hezbollah has done to Lebanese, snipped from the article:

"...plans to complete repairs on damaged homes in three months and replace homes that were destroyed within a year. "

"...deployed a force of about 1,000 volunteer engineers, architects and contractors. ... to survey and catalogue damage to homes and businesses in Shiite areas that Israel bombed."

"...distributed $12,000 — almost double Lebanon's $6,200 per-capita income — to each family that had lost a home so they could rent elsewhere for a year. "

"...has hired local contractors to redo bathrooms, fix elevators and replace kitchen appliances."

Of course, I've edited all those comments out of an article whose entire tone is that Hezbollah's only reason for action is to make the Lebanese government look bad.

It reminds me of an article I read back in the 80s when Reagan was bombing Libya. A reporter asked a member of a London group that was hoping to overthrow Qadaffi and take power, why they hated his regime so much. The man said Qadaffi was evil because he had eliminated land speculation and given equal rights to women.

That bastard! Heh.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fun videos

I've received these two videos in the last few days. Silly and fun.

Bunny letter opener

Panda Sneeze

Blogroll Update

I finally got around to updating my blogroll to include folks I'm actually reading these days. Check them out!

How Hard Is That?

Little known fact: I was a professional sports writer for several years in the 1970s. I covered high school sports, which was like covering religion in rural Minnesota. But I burned out on sports several years ago and I barely pay attention now. I usually pass over the sports on TV. However, while flipping through channels I stumbled on this quote:

"I really screwed up," Mora said at a news conference from Blank's office. "Any criticism I get, I deserve. I couldn't feel worse about letting people down with my poor judgment and that's what it was."

Source: Mora regrets comments/Coach says he was joking about leaving Falcons for college job

In light of several racial dust-ups in the blogosphere, plus Michael Richards and Rosie O'Donnell fucking up royally, I wonder why it is that a football coach is the only person able to get it right. There's more:

Talking about his boss, Mora said: "He's disappointed in me and he should be," Mora said. "I'm more disappointed in myself than he could ever be in me. I assured him my intent was not to say I don't want to be here. This is the job I want. I'm lucky to have it and as disappointed as he is — and he should be, and I deserve it — I'm more disappointed. I opened my mouth and let people down."

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's back!

"I remember back in the 1970s we literally took weeks pirating unwanted strokes."

"Everybody knows the Chinese first started commissioning Inscriptional beziers."

"Last year's Typophile Film Festival had a remarkable short film about typesetting bitmap matrices."

Check out the updated Typophile Smalltalk Editor. A very limited audience.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Friday, November 24, 2006


'Truthiness' and 'Wikiality' named Top Television Buzzwords of 2006 Followed by 'Katrina’, ‘Katie,' and ‘Dr. McDreamy’

The Annual Survey by the Global Language Monitor

Released in Conjunction With the Prime Time Emmy Awards

San Diego, Calif. August 27, 2006. ‘Truthiness' from the multi-Emmy nominated 'Colbert Report' was named the Top TeleWORD of the year in The Global Language Monitor's (HTTP:// annual survey of words from television that profoundly influenced the English Language. In an unprecedented move, 'Wikiality,' also from the Colbert Report was named No. 2. Closely following were ‘Katrina’ referring to the on-going stories about the hurricane's devestating destruction, ‘Katie' in regard to Katie Couric's move into the top seat at CBS News, and 'Dr. McDreamy' from the break-out drama, 'Grey's Anatomy'.

Rounding out the Top Ten were ‘Bush's War,' heard often on the News, 'Man of the Hours,' citing '24's' Keifer Sutherland, 'Tourette's,' from 'I have Tourette's but Tourette's doesn't have me,' 'Dysfunctional' from 'The Office,' and 'Falling Starr,' referring to the 'View's' embattled Starr Jones.

This year's Bonus Phrase is 'You're going to Hollywood!' from Simon Cowell's wunderkind 'American Idol'.

"Television, once again, has helped to define our culture and its impact upon spoken English is profound,“ said Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor. "Some of these buzzwords will quickly pass, while others will be embedded in the language for years to come." "Though 'truthiness' in some form has existed in the language for centuries, it could not have been revived in more relevant times than the early 21st century; while 'wikiality' can be observed even today, where Pluto has been voted out of the Solar System by a convention of Astronomers," Payack concluded.

The San Diego-based media metrics and analysis company, The Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English.

The Top TeleWORDS are released in conjunction with the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, to be broadcast from Los Angeles on Sunday, August 28th, at 8:00 pm Eastern on the NBC Television Network.

The Top TeleWORDS for the 2005 - 2006 Television season with commentary, follow:

1. Truthiness -- (Colbert Report) Truth unemcumbered by the facts.

2. Wikiality -- (Colbert Report) Reality as determined by majority vote. See Pluto, the former planet. First time ever with two words from the same show.

3. Katrina -- (The News) First hit of the 2005-'06 season; unfortunately a direct hit on New Orleans.

4. Katie -- (CBS Evening News) Did we ever refer to Walter Crondkite as Wally or Dan Rather as Dannie? Will Katie help us redefine the term, gravitas?

5. Dr. McDreamy -- (Grey's Anatomy) Patrick Dempsey follows in a long line of television 'dream-boat' physicians dating back to 'Dr. Kildare'.

6. Bush's War -- (Heard often on the News) Echoing the label bestowed upon Mr. Lincoln (Mr. Lincoln's War) two centuries past. After his assassination and the end of what we now know as the Civil War, Lincoln rose steadily in stature.

7. Man of the hours -- (24) Keifer Sutherland finally gets the nod.

8. Tourette's -- (I have Tourette's but Tourette's doesn't have me) Replaces Tony Sholub's OCD as the lesser known disease going mainstream this season.

9. Dysfunctional -- (The Office) The office as family, dysfunctional family that is.

10. Falling Starr -- (The View) Starr Jones that is, in her battle with BaBa Walters.

Bonus Phrase: 'You're going to Hollywood!' -- (American Idol) Simon Cowell's wunderkind might actually win an Emmy this time around.

Last year: 'Refugee' from the on-going coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina topped 'Desperation' from Desperate Housewives and 'Camp Cupcake' from the on-going Martha Stewart follies.

The previous year "You're Fired!" edged "Mess O' Potamia" followed by "Girlie Men," "God," and "Wardrobe Malfunction".

The 25 Funniest Analogies

Here. Found via Presurfer.

The 25 Funniest Analogies (Collected by High School English Teachers)
I have to share these “funniest analogies” with you. They came in an e-mail from my sister. She got them from a cousin, who got them from a friend, who got them from… so they are circulating around. My apologies if you have already seen them.

The e-mail says they are taken from actual high school essays and collected by English teachers across the country for their own amusement. Some of these kids may have bright futures as humor writers. What do you think?

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a ThighMaster.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fast Food Nation

Through a connection with an animal rights activist, I was able to attend a free showing of the new movie, "Fast Food Nation" last Thursday. First off, I want to say that the book is fascinating. I learned so much from reading it. I did my stint of working for the fast food industry before I got a job as a sports writer at my local newspaper. So I appreciate the thorough investigation of the industry presented in the book.

But the movie ... um, well. I don't know. Between growing up on a farm and working to defend the rights of workers at Iowa Pork and Hormel, I'm fairly familiar with the realities of slaughtering animals for food.

The movie, however, seems to assume that the viewer is completely unaware that their food comes from actual animals and that these animals need to be killed in order to become food. We are supposed to be appalled by the sight of skinless disembodied cow heads.

I suppose the there are people who really don't get it. But what about all those people who understand completely and say, "yeah, so what's your point?"

This movie assumes people are stupid. And maybe they are, but I think we can do better than that. Because the fast food industry does suck. But it's not because animals die for our food. It's because they do so much more to fuck us up in the pursuit of the all-mighty profit.

In explaining that, this movie failed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Have some "pop"

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
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Sunday, November 05, 2006


Some holdiay antiwar event flyers from the past:

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Movie at Mayday Books

First draft of a new flyer.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Things I've Done

Seen at Kate's.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse

34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends.
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales

45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing.
49. Midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving.
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken.
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently well enough to have a decent conversation
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking

103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Book review

I stopped by one of my favorite independent bookstores, Once Upon A Crime, and checked out the book they are reading for the monthly discussion at the store. This time it is Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman. I read it once quickly and I'm reading it a second time to clear up some of the confusion from the first reading.

The main story revolves around two adolescent girls who are sentenced to prison for the murder of a baby. The girls had discovered the baby in its carriage in front of a house that appeared to be deserted. They took the baby and after a few days one or both of the girls murdered the baby. The book begins as both girls are released from prison after seven years. No one other than the girls, seems to know or understand what really happened to the baby and this mystery and fear affects the actions of several of the main characters. And then another baby disappears. It is time to clear up all the mysteries.

Lippman fills the book with a bunch of female characters and that becomes unweidly at times. Each of these women is flawed, some irrevocably, and yet not one of them acts with evil intent. Class and race are prominent throughout the book.

Although the plot kept me interested, I've got to say that almost no one in this book held my interest for long. Lippman made the decision of granting each of her characters some serious flaws. In the end, it was hard to care for any of them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Author event at Mayday Books

First draft...

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Monday, October 23, 2006

For me:
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

For Ravenhub:
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Monday, October 16, 2006

More Burqa Information

I bought a new book from Seven Stories Press called Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence by Sonali Kolhatkar and James Ingalls. They have an entire chapter devoted to the politics of the burqa called: "Liberation" Rhetoric and Burqa Obsession scare quotes in the original.

Here is a great quote from an interview with Kolhatkar on from the Afghan Women's Mission website:

SK: I think the main thing that they've missed is that most Afghan women live in grinding poverty. What good is a right not to wear a burqa if you can't put food on your table? Many people still wear the burqa for a lot of reasons, but a lot of women wear it out of shame to cover their rags that expose how poor they are. They have no jobs, no literacy. Between 4 and 10 percent of Afghan women can read and write.

There are some really, really extreme issues like honor killings, women being jailed because of adultery, women burning themselves to death. There was a woman last year, Amina, who was stoned to death. Boy, did the media miss that one. There was no uproar.

The poverty issue is not a sexy issue. It's not dramatic; it's more abstract, more elusive and there's no easy fix to it. Afghanistan was one of the world's poorest countries before 9/11 and it is still one of the poorest countries.

The book also refers to an Amnesty International Report called "Afghanistan 'No one listens to us and no one treats us as human beings': Justice denied to women" which documents that the abuse of women has continued under the puppet regimes the U.S. "liberation" put in place.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bummer sticker thingy

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I wanted to use the silhouette image that was used on the "America Stands With Cindy" flyers from last year along with the headline chosen for this event. I used compacta for the letter one and Mistral for the words. I think I like it, but I may fuss with it some more. Hm.

Leaflet for Sheehan event

First draft:

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Memory seems apropos

In the mid 1980s I was involved in political activity against the U.S. invasions in Central America. I helped to build several very large mass demonstrations in St. Paul. Local activists worked with the Catholic church to hold memorial services on March 24, the anniversary of the assassination of Archibishop Oscar Romero by death squads in San Salvador. We'd have an inter-faith service at the Cathedral and a march down the street to a political rally at the Capitol.

One of the traditions in the movement was to carry several hundred white crosses with the names of the dead and disappeared in El Salvador. Sometimes we would pound them into the soil outside the Cathedral of St. Paul. Sometimes we would carry them on our marches. Often we would read the names and shout, "!Presente!" in unison to honor their lives.

One year it was particularly cold and dark due to clouds and an impending snow storm. Somebody got the idea of bringing those tiki-type burners to the rally. They would provide light and keep us warm on a freezing day in Minnesota.

I swear, it was not until we saw a couple of thousand people walking down the streets of St. Paul with flaming torches and white crosses that we realized what a colossal error that particular image presented. Some of the Episcopal preachers leading the march had long flowing white robes as well.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

No, we had not meant to be racist. And we certainly weren't opening a new branch of the klan in our state. Perhaps if we had more black people in on the planning we could have envisioned the outcome better,. But we didn't.

We created an incredibly racist image. Hell, I'm a white northerner and I saw it the minute I stepped out into the street.

Any one of us can inadvertently create a racist image. There is something wrong if we can't acknowledge that. We are wrong if we can't listen to people who have responses that differ from our own. We must try to avoid such mistakes in the future.

I know I will never combine white crosses and torches in a mass demonstration ever again. I feel awful for having done it only once.

And, no, we did not get any blowback from that march. Not one complaint. It was still wrong. And we were lucky we didn't get our asses kicked for allowing it to happen.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Attack of the Hillary Clones

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I did a really crappy quick-ass job of it, too. But I think it tells us what Clinton really wanted from the event.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Lucy? You've got some 'splainin' to do!

My stat counter says I'm getting hits from my recent comments, so this is a bit of an explanation of where I'm coming from.

That title has a zillion self-references. To old folks like me, that's a well-known line that Desi Arnez used on the show "I Love Lucy" whenever his wife did something utterly whacked and inane. Because, of course, women are illogical and silly and need to explain their actions patiently to their husbands.. The Cuban accent is emphasized and meant to be highly comical. So we've our sexism wrapped up in a racist accent in order to make white people (the only people who owned TVs at the time) laugh.

I haven't posted on the blog lately, which is primarily a place where I post the fliers and posters I make for activities I'm involved in, because I've gotten wrapped up in an internet discussion occurring over at Pandagon.

For some reason, I just love the heck out of this shit. I am fascinated by exploring issues that contain multiple meaning. I can go on and on about it. I can devote hours of time dissecting and picking out more and more meaning from the subject at hand. It's like those pictures from children's magazines that are ostensibly pictures of children at play. But the artist has inserted other images into the drawing and the contest is to pick out the bird, the hammer, the baseball bat, etc. Or like Hirschfield's caricatures of stars that always contained the letters of his daughter's name, NINA, somewhere in the drawing. I enjoyed looking for Hitchcock's cameo appearance in each one of his movies. I enjoy those pictures that look like a vase when looked at one way but look like two faces when viewed the other.

I used to be involved in TV fandom on the internet and I was always the last poster commenting long after everyone else had given up and said "I don't care about these details any more, Ravenmn. I just want to enjoy the show."

I enjoy books like "Wrapped in Plastic" that examines various aspects of "Twin Peaks". I have books examining the social implications of the OJ Case, Madonna's use of sexuality, the role of women in feminist science fiction, the rise of the female lesbian detective genre. All of these are significant cultural trends that affected people differently and had profound impacts on people's outlook and choices in life.

I like detail and I like the different meanings we take from life and in culture. Also, I'm a white, feminist, anti-imperialist woman engaged in political activism. So this current discussion seems to have met all the criteria to keep me interested long after almost everyone else has given up and gone to bed or back to enjoying the show.

The background

For a good introduction into the controversy that is Burqagate, read Bitch|Lab

Then you can head over to the I seem to be prolonging into infinity at Pandagon in which Amanda apologies for the image and a circus ensues.

Go and read more

I'm not going to turn this blog into a discussion blog, because it is done much better in other places. So go forth and learn my new visitors. There are valuable lessons to be learned. We are indeed fortunate that this information is being freely shared and available at the click of a button. Woman of Color Blog Bitch|Lab My Private Casbah Le Colonel Chabert Slant Truth Having Read the Fine Print Fetch Me My Axe

Friday, September 22, 2006

Another net bruhaha

Former President Clinton meets with a bunch of Democrat-friendly bloggers in Harlem. A picture is posted. Guess what? Let's meet in Harlem with a bucnh of white people. One of the bloggers who attended is questioned about it. Said blogger goes on the offensive against the blogger who questions him.

Some good posts about it:

the internet, racism and women of color by the Brownfemipower.

Bill Clinton Lunches With Whites. Also, Firedoglake sucks. by Ampersand.

Sometimes It's The Best You Can Do by Bint.

On being Electra or why the Democratic Party continues to suck by Black Amazon.

Diversity in the Blogosphere by Pam’s House Blend.


I can't saying anything better than these posters have, except that, man the Democratic Party really really sucks at PR. I've been doing political work for over 20 years in one of the whitest states in the nation, and I can't remember the last time I participated in an all-white forum. It's just a stupid thing to do. If it looks like you're going to an all-white event, the thing to do is cancel the event. At the very least, don't take pictures.

The discussion is, however, a good way to view all the different ways we white people react badly to charges of racism and how easy it is to focus on ourselves rather than the issue. I hope to hell someone is listening.

Draft number 2

Not sure of the place as yet. Plus got some suggestions from the committee.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

More flyers

Not as busy as usual, but here are a couple of flyers I've done recently.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Jackson Pollock

Turn your internet browser into a Jackson Pollock painting. Got to the web site, move your cursor around. click the mouse to change colors. Have fun!

Monday, September 11, 2006


On Labor Day, I participated in a rally in St. Paul of a couple of thousand people supporting Immigrant Rights -- both legal and illegal. The rally was a wonderful event.

Last Saturday, I attended a forum on the history of Lebanon and the Israeli occupation that began in 1982 and has yet to end.

Today I went to an anti-war rally on the anniversary of 9/11.

Yet I feel as if I am taking a vacation from activism. The trip to Boston and the focus on typesetting and printing has kept me wrapped up in thoughts and activities on the creative side of my life. The activism has significantly decreased as a result.

I've also read a lot of books lately without blogging about them. None of them were particularly good although all of them were on somebody's recommended list.

My youngest daughter turns 24 on Saturday. Does that make me old?


Friday, September 08, 2006


I had to work late tonight because a particular project had to go to the printer, no deadlines allowed. So I hung around waiting for the final OKs from everyone involved. And I mentioned my recent run in with the evil bicylicst that has left me battered and bruised.

And I realized what a tremendous benefit I have been to a complete stranger. After all, this bicyclist could have been seriously injured by running into an innocent pedestrian walking on the green light. Instead, she had the benefit of falling on top of my pleasantly plump body, thus protecting herself from the harshness of pavement.

See? I can be an unwitting benefit for complete strangers. How fulfilling!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


So there I was walking across the street in front of my workplace on the green light and "walk" sign and the next thing I know, I'm flat on the pavement with a bicycle and a woman on top of me.

Apparently, this twit was so intent on crossing on the red that she didn't bother to see if there was a pedestrian in her path. As far as I can tell, her HEAD hit my head first and then the rest of her came tumbling down on top of me. Several strangers helped me up and to the curb. I was basically in shock. And TwitWoman .... loser that she is ... took off! Hit and run with bicycle!

Apparently, I have a very hard head. I stepped into a nearby Starbucks where I got an icepack for my head and the bruise on my leg. Then I sat waiting for my bus for a half and hour and went home.

Ravenhub was here when I got home and immediately began pampering me. He made me call the nurseline so now I know what symptoms to watch for in case I have a concussion.

Who's the President? Abraham Lincoln!

I can't take painkillers -- it would mask the headache that would be a warning of a concussion. So I'm achy and cranky. What a lovely combination! And very pissed.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lost Access

I think Blogger has finally upgraded enough and my computer at home has NOT been updated enough so that I no longer can access blogger from home. Thus the lack of posts.

Today I am at work, continuing to work on my Mom's multi-volume book. We're planning on self-publishing this fall. It's a ton of work, but it's good work. I have so much grunt work to do on it, that I haven't had a chance to think creatively. Fortunately I have a good friend with experience in book design who is willing to take a look at it and help spark some ideas. I'm really looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, I'm just formatting, paginated, laying out the illustrations and checking line endings through the first 100 or so pages of copy. Good for me.

There's a ton of things I've been meaning to post about and I'll try to list a few:

Blackademic has a great post critiquing the new "I am African" campaign by the Keep a Child Alive campaign.

Also, check out her post about the Sorry Ass Baby Dadies website in which she questions whether blaming is effective. Of course, many commenters discussed WHO they blamed whether than whether blaming was worthwhile. Nubian should get some award for commenters ignoring what she's actually saying. She's a wonderful writer, so there must be something else going on there. Hmmm.....


Now I have to confess to a really odd habit I've gotten into lately. There have been extremely long, involved, multi-site discussions in the feminist blogosphere over the last few weeks and months. I often get into them late in the game and I find myself reading every one of the 600 plus comments, trying to get my mind around all the opposition and anger going on.

There have been discussions of blowjobs and of high heels and of pro-sex versus anti-sex feminists and pro-porn and anti-porn feminists.

The latest one has the interesting feature in that a relatively unknown blogger, Random Bird. I first noticed it via BitchLab who directed me Pandagon's post which is as good as any place to start.

An odd thing that occurred in that debate, which is now at 335 comments, is a dust-up that occurred betwen two of the commenters, KH and Delphyne based on a quote about, of all things, Willy Loman.

First, my love of Willy Loman and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is off the charts. I am continually reminded by the "attentionn must be paid" speach by Linda Loman, that even the lowest among us are important:

I don't say he's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person. You called him crazy... no, a lot of people think he's lost his... balance. But you don't have to be very smart to know what his trouble is. The man is exhausted. A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man.

But, back to the discussion at Pandagon. Apparently KH used this line in a discussion:

"more Willy Lomans have died slowly in front of their customers than all the hookers in the world"

Delphyne proceded to use this quote as proof that KH was fundamentally flawed and that was the ONLY possible interpretation of that quote. KH proceeded to put the quote in context and to explain her reasoning.

But Delphyne was relentless. KH was wrong because of that quote, the quote could only mean what Delphyne decided it meant and no one could disuade Delphyne from explaining the point of view of KH, least of all KH herself.

Bi-zarre. But familiar. I used to be part of an internet community in which I was known for various harsh viewpoints. But at some point it was decided that I believed X and my whole goal was to be Anti-Z Nothing I could do would change that false belief of me or my goals. It got so that if I even dared to comment in certain places, it was assumed I was there to attack someone or something. I had ceased to be a person and had become an Enemy and every word I wrote was suspect.

Seeing the same thing occur from the outside, I have to wonder what the hell people like Delphyne think they are doing? Do you really think I'm going to believe you have a better interpretation of somebody's point of view than the person herself? Even if you convince one or two people, what kind of morons have you now got lined up as friends? And how long before they do the same to you?

That was my final conclusion about my old hangouts. If people were going to take someone else's word for what I believed, then what was the point?

So here are a couple of feminist places I've been hanging out lately and enjoying. I don't agree with everything said there, but I like the way the discussions are handled:

Bitch Lab "where lefties and feminists have dirty minds, too".

Fetch Me My Axe by BelleDame who also posts at BitchLab.

Woman of Color Blog by Brownfemipower.

Blackademic by Nubian.

I'll be back when I get a chance!

Friday, August 18, 2006


I flew back from Boston on Monday and have been tied up in work and recovery every since.

First, I need to mention what an amazing thing the world of typography is. Over the past week I have met many wonderful, intelligent, thoughtful and generous people. Typography is a weird combination of working class craft combined with aesthetic vision. It has the mystery of the old-time guild system combined with the solidarity of working class unionism. I have yet to meet a typographer who isn't interested in helping others to achieve their goals. Sometimes I am amazed that I somehow happened upon this craft and thereby have the privilege to meet and interact with such wonderful people.

If I can give even half of what has been given to me, I will be happy.

In that spirit, let me introduce you to Susan Vass. Today, she is a comedienne working as a successful speaker at all kinds of events. But when I met her, she was a typesetter. I was working at Graphtronics, a subsidiary company of Dahl & Curry, for something like $5 an hour. The Typesetters Union sent Susan in to see if she could stir up some organizing activity. She was the one who informed me that union scale for people with my skills was $13 an hour. Inspired by her agitating, I walked into my supervisor's office and demanded a raise. And I got it.

It is things like this that make a profound difference. Never doubt that you can change someone else's life for the better. Susan did so for me. I've done my best to pass it on.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


How odd to be in a wonderful new city, but so impressed by the conference that I'm spending most of my time inside learning more and more. Opening ceremonies begin in a moment.


Monday, August 07, 2006


Tomorrow I fly to Boston for work. Blogging will resume when I return.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Literal Biblical Horrors

Every time I hear someone ranting about violence in the Koran, I wonder whethery they've ever actually read the Bible! Artist Dread Scott has an exhibit that makes it quite clear:

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Literal Biblical Horror is a phantasm that envisions the punishment and death repeatedly called for in the bible and which would be mandated by a literal and fundamentalist application of it. It consists of 11 hooded bound and covered representations of people embedded in the ground up to their waists, piles of rocks, and bibles on lecterns. The bibles and figures will weather and age over time. Each bible is open to a passage prescribing for death for violation of its codes or laws.

For example:

For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. Leviticus 20: 9

Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, "Naboth has cursed both God and the king." So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 1 Kings 21:13

O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.-

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Psalms 137:8-9

The passages are highlighted in blood.

The work is installed at Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer, Minnesota

Updated flyers

Going to a demonstration against the U.S./Israel attack on Lebanon today so I updated the fall actions flyers. See them here:

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Photo Hosted at Buzznet

As always, anyone who wants to use portions of these flyers for their own events is more than welcome!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Selective Memory

A great article from FAIR about how coverage of the current bombing of Lebanon by Syria is framed:

Down the Memory Hole
Israeli contribution to conflict is forgotten by leading papers


In the wake of the most serious outbreak of Israeli/Arab violence in years, three leading U.S. papers—the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times—have each strongly editorialized that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were solely responsible for sparking violence, and that the Israeli military response was predictable and unavoidable. These editorials ignored recent events that indicate a much more complicated situation.

Beginning with the Israeli attack on Gaza, a New York Times editorial (6/29/06) headlined "Hamas Provokes a Fight" declared that "the responsibility for this latest escalation rests squarely with Hamas," and that "an Israeli military response was inevitable." The paper (7/15/06) was similarly sure in its assignment of blame after the fighting spread to Lebanon: "It is important to be clear about not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak, but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation. Both questions have the same answer: Hamas and Hezbollah."

The Washington Post (7/14/06) agreed, writing that "Hezbollah and its backers have instigated the current fighting and should be held responsible for the consequences." The L.A. Times (7/14/06) likewise wrote that "in both cases Israel was provoked." Three days and scores of civilian deaths later, the Times (7/17/06) was even more direct: "Make no mistake about it: Responsibility for the escalating carnage in Lebanon and northern Israel lies with one side...and that is Hezbollah."

As FAIR noted in a recent Action Alert (7/19/06), the portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim in the Gaza conflict is hard to square with the death toll in the months leading up to the current crisis; between September 2005 and June 2006, 144 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem; 29 of those killed were children. During the same period, no Israelis were killed as a result of violence from Gaza.

In a July 21 CounterPunch column, Alexander Cockburn highlighted some of the violent incidents that have dropped out of the media’s collective memory:

Let's go on a brief excursion into pre-history. I’m talking about June 20, 2006, when Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City. The missile missed the car. Instead it killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.

Back we go again to June 13, 2006. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in another attempted extrajudicial assassination. The successive barrages killed nine innocent Palestinians.

Now we're really in the dark ages, reaching far, far back to June 9, 2006, when Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya killing eight civilians and injuring 32.

That's just a brief trip down Memory Lane, and we trip over the bodies of twenty dead and forty-seven wounded, all of them Palestinians, most of them women and children.

On June 24, the day before Hamas' cross-border raid, Israel made an incursion of its own, capturing two Palestinians that it said were members of Hamas (something Hamas denied—L.A. Times, 6/25/06). This incident received far less coverage in U.S. media than the subsequent seizure of the Israeli soldier; the few papers that covered it mostly dismissed it in a one-paragraph brief (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 6/25/06), while the Israeli taken prisoner got front-page headlines all over the world. It's likely that most Gazans don’t share U.S. news outlets' apparent sense that captured Israelis are far more interesting or important than captured Palestinians.

The situation in Lebanon is also more complicated than its portrayal in U.S. media, with the roots of the current crisis extending well before the July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. A major incident fueling the latest cycle of violence was a May 26, 2006 car bombing in Sidon, Lebanon, that killed a senior official of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group allied with Hezbollah. Lebanon later arrested a suspect, Mahmoud Rafeh, whom Lebanese authorities claimed had confessed to carrying out the assassination on behalf of Mossad (London Times, 6/17/06).

Israel denied involvement with the bombing, but even some Israelis are skeptical. "If it turns out this operation was effectively carried out by Mossad or another Israeli secret service," wrote Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s top-selling daily (6/16/06; cited in AFP, 6/16/06), "an outsider from the intelligence world should be appointed to know whether it was worth it and whether it lays groups open to risk."

In Lebanon, Israel's culpability was taken as a given. "The Israelis, in hitting Islamic Jihad, knew they would get Hezbollah involved too," Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a professor at Beirut’s Lebanese American University, told the New York Times (5/29/06). "The Israelis had to be aware that if they assassinated this guy they would get a response."

And, indeed, on May 28, Lebanese militants in Hezbollah-controlled territory fired Katyusha rockets at a military vehicle and a military base inside Israel. Israel responded with airstrikes against Palestinian camps deep inside Lebanon, which in turn were met by Hezbollah rocket and mortar attacks on more Israeli military bases, which prompted further Israeli airstrikes and "a steady artillery barrage at suspected Hezbollah positions" (New York Times, 5/29/06). Gen. Udi Adam, the commander of Israel’s northern forces, boasted that "our response was the harshest and most severe since the withdrawal" of Israeli troops from Lebanon in 2000 (Chicago Tribune, 5/29/06).

This intense fighting was the prelude to the all-out warfare that began on July 12, portrayed in U.S. media as beginning with an attack out of the blue by Hezbollah. While Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers may have reignited the smoldering conflict, the Israeli air campaign that followed was not a spontaneous reaction to aggression but a well-planned operation that was years in the making.

"Of all of Israel’s wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared," Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, told the San Francisco Chronicle (7/21/05). "By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we’re seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it’s been simulated and rehearsed across the board." The Chronicle reported that a "senior Israeli army officer" has been giving PowerPoint presentations for more than a year to "U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks" outlining the coming war with Lebanon, explaining that a combination of air and ground forces would target Hezbollah and "transportation and communication arteries."

Which raises a question: If journalists have been told by Israel for more than a year that a war was coming, why are they pretending that it all started on July 12? By truncating the cause-and-effect timelines of both the Gaza and Lebanon conflicts, editorial boards at major U.S. dailies gravely oversimplify the decidedly more complex nature of the facts on the ground.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Fun Stuff

787 pieces of Clip art humans in a loop

Anti-Abortion article cites the Onion

Preserved comments for above article

Harry Potter fan from hell Ms Scribe

Nerd Baby Alphabet

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Go, read, learn.

I've just been googling for some good blogs on the war Israel is raging against Lebanon. I can't vouch for all of these, but check them out yourselves. If anyone has suggestions for great feminist blogging from Lebanon or by Lebanese women, I'd love the links!

Moorish Girl

Dove's Eye View

Left i on the news

Lenin's Tomb

Beirut Update

Witnessing Again beautiful art and commentary!

Go, read, learn.

I've just been googling for some good blogs on the war Israel is raging against Lebanon. I can't vouch for all of these, but check them out yourselves. If anyone has suggestions for great feminist blogging from Lebanon or by Lebanese women, I'd love the links!

Moorish Girl

Dove's Eye View

Left i on the news

Lenin's Tomb

Beirut Update

Witnessing Again beautiful art and commentary!

Go, read, learn.

I've just been googling for some good blogs on the war Israel is raging against Lebanon. I can't vouch for all of these, but check them out yourselves. If anyone has suggestions for great feminist blogging from Lebanon or by Lebanese women, I'd love the links!

Moorish Girl

Dove's Eye View

Left i on the news

Lenin's Tomb

Beirut Update

Witnessing Again beautiful art and commentary!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Flyer to hand out at today's demo

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Fall Actions flyer

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Friday, July 21, 2006

Yesterday's Demonstration Against Israel's Attacks on Lebanon

CircleVision has pictures from yesterdays demonstration downtown. There were 200 people at Peavey Plaza getting a lot of friendly honks from passsersby.

Osama Bin Parkinsons and The War on Terrorble Diseases

Jon Stewart on Stem Cell Veto and "Murder"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Demonstration tonight!

From the Women Against Military Madness website:

Thursday, July 20, 2006
Stop the U.S.-Israeli War on the People of Gaza and Lebanon!
No More U.S. Tax Dollars to Occupy Palestine and to Destroy Lebanon!

4:30 - 5:30 pm
Peavey Plaza, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

Israel's attacks on Gaza in response to the capture of an Israeli soldier constitute collective punishment of the entire Gaza population and have left close to 100 Palestinians dead, hundreds wounded and countless homeless and without water and electricity and in an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.

This is only the most recent step in Israel's brutal and unending, illegal occupation of Palestine. Israel's massive assault on Lebanon after the capture of two Israeli soldiers and killing of eight is also collective punishment of the people of Lebanon in clear violation of Geneva Conventions and international law.

Even as the U.S. blames Syria and Lebanon for arming Hezbollah, the U.S. government is the main military supplier, funder and protector of Israel and has expressed its open and complete support for Israel in its two-front war. Possibilities loom to expand the war to include attacks on Iran and Syria.

Join us in opposing these assaults on Gaza and Lebanon and the looming possibility of attacks expanded to include Iran and Syria.

Organized by the Coalition for Palestinian Rights

In preparation for tonight, I created this flyer about the Fall Actions against the War in Iraq:

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Mizna had a terrific journal release event last Friday at the University of Minnesota book store. Over 70 people attended and nine contributing authors read from their work. It was wonderful.

Today I finally managed to put together a flyer asking people to subscribe to the journal. For some reason, I found this particular assignment very difficult. I can do event flyers, but I wasn't sure how to put together a flyer publicizing the journal. The journal is wonderful and has terrific writing about a subject of great importance today. And yet I put it off until the last possible minute. The journal mailing was tonight and I managed to finish the flyer at around 2 p.m. this afternoon. Sheesh!

Tonight there were ten of us mailing out the most recent version of the journal along with my fliers and other information to journal readers. The mailing went relatively quickly and much hilarity transpired.

So even though Israel and Lebanon are once again at war and many of my friends are currently in Lebanon, trying to get out, there is comradery and soldarity from our small corner of the world. If you can, please subscribe to Mizna. It has great writing and artistry. You won't be disappointed.

Photo Hosted at

Monday, July 10, 2006

New and Used Terms for the Times

I just got this in an e-mail. I tried to find the source. I think a lot of them came from Dilbert, but I can't find the web locale.

404: Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error Message "404 Not Found," meaning that the requested site could not be located.

ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they claim to solve.

ALPHA GEEK: The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work group.

ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.

BATMOBILING: putting up emotional shields. Refers to the retracting armor that covers the Batmobile as in “she started talking marriage and he started batmobiling”

BEEPILEPSY: The brief siezure people sometimes suffer when their beepers go off, especially in vibrator mode. Characterized by physical spasms, goofy facial expressions, and stopping speech in mid-sentence.

BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

BODY NAZIS: Hard-core exercise and weightlifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn't work out obsessively.

BOZONE: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

CAREER LIMITING MOVE (CLM): Used among microserfs to describe an ill-advised activity. Trashing your boss while he or she is within earshot is a serious CLM.

CHAINSAW CONSULTANT: An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the brass with clean hands.

CONTRATEMPS: The resentment permanent workers feel toward the fill-in workers.

CROP DUSTING: Surreptitiously passing gas while passing through a Cube Farm.

CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles

DEAD TREE EDITION: The paper version of a publication available in both paper and electronic forms.

DILBERTED: To be exploited and oppressed by your boss. Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the geek-in-hell comic strip character."I've been dilberted again. The old man revised the specs for the fourth time this week."

DORITO SYNDROME: Feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction triggered by addictive substances that lack nutritional content. "I just spent six hours surfing the Web, and now I've got a bad case of Dorito Syndrome."

EGO SURFING: Scanning the Net, databases, print media and so on, looking for references to one's own name.

ELVIS YEAR: The peak year of something's popularity. "Barney the dinosaur's Elvis year was 1993."

FLIGHT RISK: Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave the company or department soon.

GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.

GLAZING: Corporate-speak for sleeping with your eyes open; a popular pastime at conferences and early-morning meetings. “Didn’t he notice that by the second session half the room was glazing?”

GOING POSTAL: Euphemism for being totally stressed out, for losing it. Makes reference to the unfortunate track record of postal employees who have snapped and gone on shooting rampages.

GOOD JOB: A "Get-Out-Of-Debt" job. A well-paying job people take in order to pay off their debts, one that they will quit as soon as they are solvent again.

IDEA HAMSTERS: People whose idea generators are always running.

IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The J-Lo and Ben wedding (or not) was a prime example -- Michael Jackson, another.

KEYBOARD PLAQUE: The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on computer keyboards.

KINSTIPATION: A painful inability to move relatives who come to visit.

MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.

OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake. (Like after hitting send on an email by mistake)

ORF: Old Retired Fart - the retired officer or NCO who has returned as a contractor to do the same job he did on active duty.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

SARCHASM: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn't get it.

SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

SNOOPERVISION: A management or regulatory style characterized by intrusiveness or excessive prying.


STARTER MARRIAGE: A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.

STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

TELEPHONE NUMBER SALARY: A salary (or project budget) that has seven digits.

TINK: Acronym for a highly paid single consultant. Ten Incomes, No Kids!

UMFRIEND: A sexual relation of dubious standing or a concealed intimate relationship, as in "This is Dale,"

WOOFS: Well-Off Older Folks.

XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

YUPPIE FOOD STAMPS: The ubiquitous $20 bills spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when trying to split the bill after a meal: "We owe $8 each, but all anybody's got are yuppie food stamps."