Saturday, December 29, 2007


gURL.comI took the "If You Were a Poet..." quiz on
I am...
Gertrude Stein

Do you have a thing for words? You're in good company. Gertrude Stein did too. Who else could write a line like, "A rose is a rose is a rose," and call it poetry? Read more...

Which poet are you?

The always awesome Ms. Crip Chick

A story about a disabled child in the Chicago Tribune launches a rain of ignorant comments and Ms. Crip Chick's response strikes a huge chord with me.

Confronted with such massive ignorance, it may seem as if all that hard work activists have done for disability rights has had no effect whatsoever. The truth is not that people aren't doing some kick ass organizing. The truth is a bit more disturbing:

"If it isn’t apparent to you yet with 2007 cases like Christe Reimer, Ruben Navarro, Katie Thorpe, Ashley X, (I’m too tired to link but go over to FRIDA’s website, Not Dead Yet’s, or Cilla’s), the truth is there are people that actually hate disabled people. Sorry to break the news but they literally want us gone. Dead. Locked in basements. Starved. Suffocated. Drowned. Overly medicated."

Sounds kinda depressing, eh? And it would be if she stopped there. Which she doesn't, of course:

"Prettying it up by saying we just need them to understand us better, quoting Dr. King over and over, and settling for what table scraps we’re given is not going to cut it. Awareness without systemic change never will never work and our people our suffering because of it.

"We have to RISE up. We have to take control of our movement and the direction it’s headed (let’s start by putting the focus on COMMUNITY and not promotion of the individual.) We have to make it our responsibility to tell our OWN people that to be a part of this community is a blessing, not a curse. We have to take power. There aren’t any options left."

Speak it!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A book proposal and its consequences


Over at, there is a Call for submissions for a new book to be published by Seal Press.

Imagine a world where women enjoy sex on their own terms and aren't shamed for it. Imagine a world where men treat their sexual partners as collaborators, not conquests. Imagine a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished.

Welcome to the world of Yes Means Yes.

Yes Means Yes! will fly in the face of the conventional feminist wisdom that rape has nothing to do with sex. We are looking to collect sharp and insightful essays, from voices both established and new, that demonstrate how empowering female sexual pleasure is the key to dismantling rape culture.....

What follows is a series of bullet points suggesting topics to write about.

Make of it what you will. This could turn it to be a decent book. But what a narrow concept of rape!

One good thing, is the quality of the responses to this badly written cfp. Read and enjoy:





Fire fly

Black Amazon



I'm falling up

Elaine Vigneault

Responses from at least one of the editors, Jacklyn Friedman, have been exceptional in the lack of defensive I normally see when valid criticism arises:

Jacklyn's response to Tekanji

Jacklyn's respose to Firefly

Thursday, December 20, 2007

To assume or not to assume

I've recently been insulted by a blogger I will refer to as Ms. X. that I have considered a friend for quite a while. Here's her capper:

"That kind of stuff is worthy of Bill Clinton, no[t] you."

I'm not going to link to the post because it contains private e-mails from another blogger, Ms. Y, I also consider a friend that have been posted without her permission.

That crosses a line for me. If you have to make your point about a private conversation, find a creative way to do it. Posting someone's private e-mail and address is not only wrong, it's fucking lazy.

The issue is a private e-mail list. Ms. X's original post mentioned some private e-mail lists she'd heard of among feminists. Finding out there were private lists pissed Ms. X off. Ms. X infers that private e-mail lists are all about "posses". A posse is a group of supporters a blogger can count on to come to her defense whenever anyone dares to question her behavior. So for Ms. X, it seemed, participation in a private e-mail list was equivalent to fomenting posses. She asked her readers to offer reasons why they would participate in such a list.

There are all kinds of private mailing lists and I have been on several over the years. I offered reasons why I believe private conversations in a mailing list and out of the public eye are useful and healthy.

In Ms. X's next comment, she mentions a specific list and a specific list owner, Ms. Y, without naming the list itself. I happen to be on a mailing list owned by Ms. Y. The list I'm a member of is private.

Is Ms. X talking about the private mailing list I'm on or is she talking about another private mailing list owned by Ms. X? I don't know. I'd have to learn a lot more about the list before I can make that decision. Also, of course, I have pledged privacy to Ms. Y and I intend to uphold that pledge. But I don't feel as if I'm in danger of violating that privacy simply by interacting with Ms. X in a conversation about the usefulness of private mailing lists in general.

Next Ms. X claims that she was banned from a specific private mailing list owned by Ms. Y and that she is receiving traffic directly from that private mailing list. Understandably, this makes Ms. X feel bad. People are linking to her blog posts directly from this private list and Ms. X can see that in her blog statistics. Ms. X asks that members of the list from which she was banned either speak with Ms. X directly or copy and paste her posts to the mailing list, rather than linking.

This is also the post in which Ms. X starts revealing private discussions between herself and Ms. Y. She claims Ms. Y told her her presence on the mailing list would be unwelcome. This leads Ms. X to believe that Ms. Y is using this mailing list to say bad things about her behind her back. Combine that with the direct linking and you've got a recipe for paranoia.

Or not.

Here's a couple of reasons why paranoia might not be the first stop for that particular conclusion train.

First and foremost, there are lot of reasons why people on private mailing lists post links to other people's blogs. List members may be linking to posts they admire. List members may be linking to posts they don't understand, so that they ask for clarification from fellow list members. If you are a blogger that has posted about feminism consistently and for a long time, it is likely you will be linked by other feminists. Pretty cool.

Second, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of privacy that is going to be a trend in this story. Ms. Y happens to have a healthy respect for privacy and private conversation. I hadn't read Ms. Y revealing any private conversations. No mention of banning, no mention of unwelcome bloggers.

A commenter asks a question about why Ms. X was banned, and this prompts Ms. X to post a series of private e-mails between herself and Ms. Y.

Now a new story emerges. Rather than being banned, it is revealed the Ms. X wanted to JOIN the mailing list. Ms. Y replies that the list is in a rough period and the membership is currently frozen. Ms. Y assures Ms. X that there will be future opportunities to participate in private mailing lists together.

Do you see how things are shifting now? At first the argument is that mailing lists are bad. Now it is revealed that Ms. X wanted to join a list and was told she could not.

I responded in shock that Ms. X would post private e-mails. But I want to keep the discussion going. I point out that lots of people aren't comfortable with direct interaction. People say bad things behind our backs. The thing to remember is that I'm not going to change my opinion of Ms. X based on gossip (and remember, nobody has gossiped about Ms. X at this point). I pledged that I'd judge Ms. X by my own standards and that I'd expect she would do the same for me.

Alas, not true. Time for another side trip on the wayward conclusion train.

Ms. X now claims that horrible things are being said about her behind her back by someone who pretends to be a friend to her face. Next, she asserts that the mailing list she wanted to join is, in actuality, a list designed specifically to reject her and another blogger. She now returns to the argument that private mailing lists are always bad.

If you've read this far, and seen the twists and turns, I suppose you have figured out what a losing cause my further participation is. But I try to take Ms. X at her word. She claims that our friend, Ms. Y, has created a list whose purpose is to exclude her and talk about her behind her back. This obviously isn't the list I'm on, since Ms. X isn't a topic of discussion there.

But, maybe Ms. Y need to vent somewhere and has created the "I hate Ms. X" mailing list. Maybe she has recruited members from all over the internets. Perhaps they have badges, and cute little names and a theme song.

OK, maybe not.

Many comments ensue and eventually, the mailing list is named.

Yup. It's the one I'm on. Of course it's in completely unrecognizable form. I've got to wonder where Ms. X is getting these crazy ideas about the content of a list she isn't allowed to read. And now that she's revealed the name of the list, she feels free to reveal that I am a member of that list.

Remember what I said about privacy? I intended to keep my pledge to Ms. Y. But Ms. X didn't want to let that happen. So not only does Ms. Y's privacy get tossed to wind, but Ms. X chooses to throw mine along for the ride.

I suppose I should be angry.

Yes, the thread is patently absurd.

MailingList/Bad, MailingList/Good, MailingList/Bad.

But, dammit, I respected this woman right up until that thread. I've learned from her. I've laughed with her. I want her to be healthy and ready to rock and roll. I want to read more of her wonderful thoughts and opinions and be able to follow along as her mind zips from one interesting subject to another.

She's not there now. She's in a bad place. I'm not what she needs right now.

I hope one day she'll be back blogging and making me laugh and cry and think and smile.

Activism 101 part two

The text version of the News Release:

News Alert

For Release: Friday, December 21, 2007

Protest and Vigil: Send an Anti-War Message
for the Holidays: Out of Iraq • End the War
Bring the Troops Home Now!
Friday, December 21, 2007 • 6:30–7:30 PM
Library Plaza, Hennepin & Lagoon Aves. in Minneapolis

Minneapolis event is part of national day of peace actions

Minnesota anti-war activists plan
Friday rally to mark “season of peace”

A Minneapolis antiwar vigil and rally to be held this Friday, December 21, will be one of 90 events planned across the country. The nationally coordinated day of local antiwar actions expresses opposition to the continued U.S. war and occupation of Iraq.

The Friday afternoon event in Minneapolis will begin at 6:30 pm on the Library Plaza at Hennepin and Lagoon Avenues in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. The event is being organized under the call of: “Send an Anti-War Message for the Holidays – Out of Iraq – End the War – Bring the Troops Home Now.”

The event will include signs, banners and candles. Anti-war holiday carol singers, organized by the Counter Propaganda Coalition, will perform. Organizers expect to be a visible presence at one of the busiest intersections in Minneapolis at the beginning of the holiday weekend.

A statement issued by organizers says in part, “During the holiday season, these celebrations of peace are overshadowed by the continuing U.S. war in Iraq. On December 21, people across the country will gather in a variety of ways to call for an end to the war and to bring the troops home.”

The statement goes on to say, “The U.S. is an occupying power in Iraq. The Iraqi people want U.S. troops to leave and the majority of people in the U.S. want the troops brought home. While the Bush Administration says there is ‘progress in Iraq,’ the reality is that there will not be peace in Iraq as long as the occupation continues.”

A series of focus groups conducted for the U.S. military in Iraq last month found that “Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of ‘occupying forces’ as the key to national reconciliation...” as reported in the Washington Post on December 19.

The December 21 event in Minneapolis is initiated by Iraq Peace Action Coalition and endorsed by Anti-War Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Students for a Democratic Society, Twin Cities Peace Campaign–Focus on Iraq, Veterans for Peace, Women Against Military Madness and others.

The Iraq Moratorium Campaign, which was launched in September 2007, seeks to mark the third Friday of every month with antiwar activities. The Minneapolis event is one of 90 listed on the Iraq Moratorium website ( to be held this Friday. The Iraq Moratorium asks individuals to act alone or in groups on Moratorium Day to show their support for withdrawal of U.S. troops and to call for an end to the war in Iraq.

Activism 101: the News Release

If you want to get press coverage for your event, you need to alert the press that your event is happening. For years, Ravenhub and I have been writing news releases for events we support. We both were journalists in the distant past and have a familiarity with the lingo, plus the knowledge of what a working reporter needs to know in order to pitch and/or cover a story.

This piece will be going out in a couple of hours. I'm particularly proud of it for a number of reasons. It covers all the bases: who, what, when, where and why. It puts the event in context and it notes a recent news story that a reporter can cite if the editors allow more than a paragraph or photo of the event.

I've posting the images so you can see the standard set-up for a news release. I'll also post the text below. Feel free to use this and adapt it for your own events.

Once you write and produce the press release, you need to get it to the press. We create a pdf file that can be e-mailed as well as print copies that can be faxed. We have a list of media contacts we've built up over the years. These are both reporters that we've worked with in the past as well as the generic "city desk" address in news rooms for local media outlets.

Our fax machine is programmable, so we scan in the info, load up a bunch of contact numbers and let the thing go until it's done. When our kids lived at home, they were willing to do this part for us, for a small tip. Our land line is tied up for a while, but that just means a bit of peace and quiet.

In addition to the press release, we'll include a copy of the flyer we made for the event (posted earlier in the blog somewhere).

Please, let's not reinvent the wheel every time. Copy whatever you need and go forth into the life of presstitution!


News release front - Photo Hosted at Buzznet


News release back - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Official Apology

Found via Presurfer. Send someone an Official Apology. I sent this one to a co-worker who is also addicted to LOLcats:

Apology - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Top 10 Worst Logos


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Author event next month in Minneapolis

My first draft of a flyer for a visit by Antonia Juhasz:

Antonia Juhasz speaking in Minneapolis - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Friday, December 14, 2007

A great man passes

Recently, the partner of one of the women in my book group, died after a long and difficult battle with cancer. I knew Peter only as a partner to Priscilla. We knew each other's names and could make pleasant conversation. But I can't say I ever spent more than 30 minutes in his presence.

I did know his work however, Peter was an ornithologist with a specialty. He could preserve birds as study skins or mounts for museums. The next time you see an exhibit that contains a preserved animal, you might notice something important: the people who do the work are not credited. Peter was one of those people.

The following is information I have discovered about Peter since his passing. I never knew what an amazing person he was.

Peter was a bird lover who was a walking encyclopedia on birds. He could mimic bird song and bird calls. He could describe the science and the behavior of hundreds of species of birds. The birds he used for exhibits were birds that had died from window strikes or vehicle strikes. He studied the bird's behavior and structure intensely so that he could arrange the mounts in realistic settings and positions. He was a scientist and a master craftsman.

Because I was Priscilla's friend, I had the opportunity to see many of Peter's birds in process. His craft involves tedious, patient practice that combines science and artistry. There are no taxidermy stores where you can pick up a few eagle eyes or falcon feathers to put together a bird. Peter began with a dead bird, but he would use anything and everything he could find to create a realistic looking model. He was self-taught and his amazing skill is lost with his passing.

He work is in the Smithsonian, in the museums across the world, and in DNR displays here in Minnesota. If you go to Lake Itasca, the birthplace of the Mississippi, you can see one of Peter's eagles.

So this is what I didn't know about the man I knew slightly and who has passed away recently.

His work was a passion and did not pay well. He had no insurance when he got sick and his care became Priscilla's full-time job. Because I did not know Peter well, I was not able to help as much as I would have liked. He did have many amazing friends and people who did what they could. The process of being ill and uninsured in the U.S. was a never-ending battle for the two of them. It was unbelievably frustrating and incredibly sad.

Priscilla has been forwarding eulogies from ornithologists expressing their memories and fondness for Peter and I am suprised to learn how widely respected and admired he was in his little corner of the universe. It seems I was in the presence of a genius and true artist, but I never knew it. Neither Peter nor Priscilla talked about his genuis or bragged about his accomplishments. To me, he was simply a nice guy, a good partner to my friend, and he had an unusual job.

This has reminded me that our fellow human beings can do amazing things, make awesome contributions to the world, and we may never know it. And, of course, it reminds me that capitalism sucks. Why should a man with his knowledge and skill be allowed to wither away without any real help? Why should his entire care be placed on the back of my friend, with no hope of relief?

I fucking hate cancer.

Edited to add:

I got together with Priscilla and a bunch of friends today. Apparently Peter was told there was nothing the doctors could do for him. He left the hospital and went into hospice care. Two weeks later, he passed.

I don't know what to say. I'm angry and I'm sad.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Don't miss it!

This awesome video is from the fabulous Sudy! Enjoy!

Not very bionic of me, eh?

See What You're Made Of - Visit The Official Site

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Collected Sayings

You know how, over time, you build up a vocabulary based on shared experiences? Here's some from my circle of friends:

To Burke, being Burked
Sample sentence: I can Burke you on that!
This is to one-up somebody who has just told you an anecdote. I had a co-worker who was a really nice guy and a good friend. But he also had a nasty habit of ALWAYS having a story worse than yours, no matter what story you relate. The word has been a part of my vocabulary for years, and I try to teach it to other people al the time. I have tons of friends who have never met the man who now use this term. It's pretty handy.

The idiocy was conistered throughout your argument.
This is based on another co-worker. She was an excellent customer representative. People loved her and she was very efficient. But she couldn't spell. It led to hilarious results, and this is one of my favorites. She asked me to change the subheads to bold to keep the look conistered throughout. I assumed she meant consistent. But conistered has such a nice sound to it and it really should be a word, so I've been spreading that term around as well.

Delicate Little Flower
Nothing new about this one, but something I tend to call myself whenever I either don't want to do something or when I want someone to do something for me. Always said sarcastically.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A near-flattening experience

Today I got a treat. Ravenhub worked late so he decided to come downtown and pick me up for a ride home. Normally I take the bus. We agreed to meet around the corner from work, since the street in front of the building is full of people picking up, dropping off, plus all manner of buses. I thought I had it timed well so that I would be waiting for him when he arrived. But he got lucky and got there first. He was waiting in the driveway to a parking lot. I was happy to see him and rushed to the car. From the corner of my eye I something flying at me. It was a fucking huge honking SUV. Some woman had found a break in the traffic and had decided she should take a left turn through a break in the traffic and barrel into the parking lot. Not bothering to notice there was a pedestrian (moi), walking across the driveway at the exact same moment.

Quick thinking that I am, I put my hand out. Because my awesome hand is the most likely thing to stop 3,000 pounds of metal, right? That wasn't going to be enough, so I jumped back and still had to push off the car before the nitwit driver slammed on her breaks.

Next I was treated to something I have simply never before seen in my life. Ravenhub came barrelling out of our car and screamed at the woman who had very nearly hit me. You have to understand. Ravenhub is the sweet and well-behaved one. Ravenhub is the one who can control impulses. Ravenhub is always trying to tell me to control my urge to mouth off in public.

The woman is mortified. The woman is wondering what the fuck this strange man is doing screaming at her. Ravenhub is at full bore, but he uses his "social worker" language: "You have no idea of the consequences of your actions!" he screams. Now who the hell screams that?

I am just staring at this car in front of my face. And at the toddler buckled into a safety seat in SUV. This woman has got some extreme priority issues. Smashing my face in is one thing. But she could have seriously injured that child as well.

Meanwhile she is apologizing over and over. I climb into our waiting car and ask the still-fulminating Ravenhub to get in with me. SUV driving woman pulls up beside our car and rolls down her window. What, she thinks we want to have a chat over this?

I tell her to be careful from now on and we slowly drive away. Whew!

Friday, December 07, 2007


Ravenhub and I went to see Enchanted yesterday afternoon. It was a lot of fun. Took a lot of pot shots at Disney fairy tales in general. But the most amazing thing was the way Amy Adams pulled off being a beautiful and innocent princess plopped down in the middle of New York City.

Everything about the story was totally predictable, and some of the most fun were details that weren't even mentioned. Like the fact that the princess could whip together the most complicated costumes overnight by cutting a few holes in her host's curtains. James Marsden as the prince was a hoot. What a completely adorable and vain moron.

There was a sweetness to the entire movie. The princess would break into song at inappropriate moments and amazing things would happen regardless. Completely ludicrous events occurred, but they were played with such fun and delight that we just went along with them.

Definitely a great way to spend a couple of hours on a cold and snowy day.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hanukkah Special

A store in New York City, of all places, screws up big time when it comes to multicultural knowledge:

New York store red faced over 'Hanukkah hams'

Dec 6 12:55 PM US/Eastern

A posh food store in New York's Greenwich Village has found itself red faced after offering hams for sale with the slogan "Delicious for Hanukkah," the current Jewish religious holiday.
The non-kosher labelling was spotted at the weekend by Manhattan novelist Nancy Kay Shapiro, 46, who decided instead of alerting management to take a picture of the unorthodox sign and post it on the Internet.

"I just thought it was funny," Shapiro, who described herself as an unobservant Jew, told the New York Post. "I wasn't offended in any way. I just thought, here's somebody who knows nothing about what Jews eat."

By the time Shapiro returned to the store on Tuesday, the first night of Hanukkah, the signs had vanished, the newspaper reported.

A manager at the Balducci's gourmet grocery store told the newspaper that the sign was a mistake and blamed it on a stock clerk.

Pork and shellfish are among the foods considered unclean under Jewish law.

Copyright AFP 2007, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium

Monday, December 03, 2007

Crazy Frog Bros

This looks like its been around, but I haven't seen it before. Comrades, I give you the Crazy Frog Brothers video on You Tube.

I adore the enthusiasm of these guys!

But, wait, there's more:

Here are the same two kids 15 years later.

And someone put the two videos together here.