Monday, October 29, 2007

Global Warming Makes Strange Bedfellows

Well it’s official now, everyone wants to appear green. Actually, it turns out Newt Gingrich thought of himself as a conservationist before worrying about global warming was hot. The difference now is that he has written a book about global warming. Is that de rigeur for politicians who have fallen from grace?

Anyhoo, today in an interview about said book, Newt said this about global warming: “Caution is key. . . you don’t have to prove the argument about carbon loading the atmosphere to think it would be prudent to try to find economically useful ways to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.” Agreeing with the words coming out of his mouth produced so much cognitive dissonance I almost had to stop driving.

Things returned to normal fairly quickly. First, Newt proposed Nuclear energy as the answer to our carbon woes. Brilliant--- let’s switch to an energy source that doesn’t emit carbon when burned, but takes carbon to mine/transport/process, is non-renewable, and produces very hazardous waste that we will have to store pretty much forever. How environmentally responsible. It even violates point 5 of his own contract, “think long term.” Before, and after, that slam dunk of a suggestion, Newt failed to impress. Just like most other politicians, when it comes to the environment, he seemed like all talk and no action. Even so, I’ll probably give the book a chance. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell I’d elect him for anything, but if he actually works to solve our environmental problems, I’ll pay attention.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It'll Come In Handy Someday?

Yesterday Kate Bornstein gave me a get out of hell free card. As rule of thumb, I don't stay up nights worrying about my fate in the afterlife. Even so, I'll file it with the Queer card. Just to have it around. In case it comes in handy.

I'd like to think the card was a personal gift, but that's stretching it. She gave the cards to me and 600 of her closest friends after a speaking engagement yesterday, and you can download your very own off her website.

Of course, the card is 9/10ths marketing ploy, as are most cute freebies. The back side is an advertisement for Bornstein's new book.

Bornstein is an entertaining speaker, and self-described gender outlaw, two kinds of people the world needs more of. Otherwise I don't know much about her.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Diversions

Call Me Lazy. No really, please do. It’s Friday. The work day is over. I’ll do what I damn well please, even if it means sticking a lot of hyperlinks on a page and calling it a post.

As usual, fake news, cuts right to the heart of things. Check out The Onion’s take on a Portland, ME school board’s decision to make birth control available to students through a health clinic on the school grounds. For those of you who missed the back story read all about it on RH reality check, then let me know how you avoided the story. Did you wear ear plugs and a blindfold 24 hours a day for the past two weeks? Run for cover each time someone flipped to Fox News?

Also, thanks to 802 online for pointing out the Which Dyke to Watch Out For (DTWOF) are you quiz. I had lots more fun at work because of it. Take a gander at it yourselves. You don’t have to be a mo for it to be fun, but being a DTWOF reader prolly helps. Oh, and I’m most like Mo. Was there ever any question?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Come Again?

Lynne Cheney (when asked whether, as the mother of a gay daughter, she supports ENDA): “I don’t like questions that don’t reflect the fact I have two daughters . . .that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.”

Cheney said this in a speech to the National Press Club that aired on NPR tonight. NPR is my best friend and constant companion, so I was listening. So that’s how Cheney deals with the cognitive dissonance of loving her gay daughter and being part of the Bush Administration? By pretending it’s a snub to acknowledge that Mary has different rights than Liz? What a silly (non)answer.

On a positive, and not entirely unrelated, note, it turns out I have a crush on the Unitarian Universalists sex-ed curriculum. Read all about it in this week’s Seven Days. Our Whole Lives (OWL), is aggressively sex-positive, and realistic. As such, it covers everything from body parts to “abortion, masturbation, sexual fantasies, incest, rape, and gender re-assignment surgery.” If only every teen had the opportunity to take such a course.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Words Aren't Everything, But They Do Matter

I was mean today. For no apparent reason I referred to someone short as “that midget girl.” It spilled out of her mouth in place of a proper name. A friend called me on my snarky ways with a swift retort: “that was so politically incorrect.” Point taken: I shouldn’t have said what I said. It was mean. Politically incorrect though? Ugh. That phrase makes my skin crawl. I also dislike its sister, politically correct (PC).

Here’s the definition of politically correct: n Marked by or adhering to a typically progressive orthodoxy on issues involving especially race, gender, sexual affinity, or ecology.

Let me be clear: it’s not the definition of political correctness that makes me queasy. What irks me is how Americans use, and react to the word.

The way I see it, we frame actions as PC to diffuse their significance. This hit home last month as I talked to a student about her new “action hero” t-shirt, part of a college sponsored anti-racism, sexism, violence effort. The student eagerly volunteered that she’d gone out of her way and waited in line for the coveted garment, so I asked her what it was about. “Oh, just some PC stuff” she replied breezily. End of conversation.

Last I checked, diminishing any of the “isms” mentioned on the “action-hero” shirt is vital work. Work that allows previously excluded people to participate safely, and comfortably in the public sphere. Work that benefits society as a whole. When we label a cause PC, however, it is reduced to just being PC-- the only reason to take it up is to hew to a party line. Then we are able to dismiss it without thought.

Similarly, we call things politically incorrect to make bigotry, harassment, disrespect, just plain meanness more palatable. Those are all words whose meaning we understand, and take seriously. Labeling an action harassment, or mean, for that matter, condemns the perpetrator, and acknowledges the damage it does. Labeling an action politically incorrect does neither. Instead, it suggests the only harm in the action is that it is unpopular, and the worst damage it does is insult an over-sensitive, un-specified other. In some circles, it even gives the perpetrator a rogue-ish charm.

When seen in this light, the model of political (in)correctness is a barrier, not an aid, to social change. That’s why it makes me cringe. I wish I understood why the phrase holds such transformative power. Many ideas follow other orthodoxies without becoming one dimensional. Any thoughts?

For now though, I’ll just keep coming up with other ways to talk about progressive causes I care about. It isn’t hard. While many things worth doing are also PC, few things are worth doing because they are PC.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Air Out Your Closet

Happy Coming out day everybody! Celebrate by calling your Congressmen to come out in favor of a trans-inclusive ENDA. (more on that later).

When you're done with that, watch this concise bit on marriage equality. It's courtsey of Pam's House Blend, my new favorite blog.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What I Wouldn't Do With My Spare Millions

(WIWDWMSM for those of you who prefer acronyms)

When I was in MD recently, messages like these were a noticeable presence. They piqued my curiosity.Marriage works? Heck, bank robbery “works” if your aim is to get sacks of cash. Lots of things work, but I don’t see them floating around the city on the sides of buses.

Oh, right, it’s a message about talking about sex, and relationships. I was confused.

It turns out this ad campaign is all about ending teen pregnancy. Which promoting marriage will do, of course. If kids know magical marriage is they will forget about sex, and wait around dreamily for prince charming to propose. Unless they are guys---wouldn’t want them turning out homos--- the guys will stop thinking about sex and start acting responsibly virile. I am so happy I was exposed to this effective, hard hitting campaign. Can’t wait to go get that marriage license.

*****End Sarcasm*****

This is the oddest abstinence until marriage campaign I have ever seen. If you think sex should be reserved for husband-wife procreative uses, just come out and say it. If you care about preventing teen pregnancy, skip the abstinence only message. It doesn’t work. Instead, give kids actual information about sexual health, birth control, and building healthy relationships. If you care about ending poverty, building health families, which the adds certainly hint at, work for better education, day care, health care, anything. Stop wasting money on inane billboards.

It is tempting to poke holes in the message for pages: does marriage alone cause the promised goodies, or are the two just correlated? What if the baby’s dad is a lying sack of sh—t abuser? Does marriage work then? What about same-sex couples who want to get married, but can’t? Instead I will assume the campaign’s shortcomings are obvious and stop now.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

Thanks to the VT department of transportation for reminding us to be wary of houses of worship.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Even Funnier

Friday Night Funnies

Scene: walking home from the farmers’ market this unseasonably warm October evening.

B: You know, I really like buying local meat,”

CD: Snaps out of admiring the late season local tomatoes to wonder why girlfriend is lavishing love on the grass-fed ground chuck: Why?

B: In short, local meat is better for the environment than that factory farmed stuff.

CD: But mass produced vegetables are bad for the environment too.

B: I know. Why do you think I boycott vegetables?

And in doing so single-handedly keep the Hot Pocket industry afloat.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Its getting hot in here?

This afternoon I went swimming. In Vermont. In October. Voluntarily.

On an October day like this, when one is sitting outside in shorts & a t-shirt after a dip in the river, it is hard not to think about Global warming.

Global warming is about the earth’s climate----trends in weather---- getting hotter. One warm day does not global warming make. Even so, looking back over the past decade I remember a parade of warm winters, when we didn’t heat until the end of December, when it thawed in January, and so on. Since "atypically" warm winters are typical it is hard to resist linking shorter term weather observations to the reality of climate change.