Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Thoughtful Introspection and BlogDay 2005

Today was a weird day. First, Roger Abramson called me "overwrought" and then the thread was overrun by the Nashville chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, so I was unable to properly fight with him, for all the idiots screaming. Then Bill Hobbs came after me and by the end of the day, I was wondering if there was some way I could send S-townMike and Chris Wage cookies. The truth is that there are maybe fifty of you who regularly read me. Probably thirty five of you that check in every day. I get used to spouting off and throwing things out for discussion and I feel like we have good, complex discussions, even the ones that feel like LE and W. are just fighting over who's got the better reason for calling me an idiot. I like it and feel lucky and honored that I have such thoughtful and knowledgeable posters, even when we disagree. But every once in a while something catches the attention of a much larger fish and I get thrown a little off-kilter by that. It's just weird. I write for myself first, for the audience I have in mind second (you fifty or so), and don't often consider what the lurkers and folks who just stop by once might think, how they might not get the spirit of things. It's okay. I'm not going to start considering them, since they are usually for all practical purposes imaginary, but I guess I shouldn't forget that they're there. Frog at the awesome Frogblog is recommending me to her readers in honor of BlogDay. In honor of her, here's five I'm recommending to you. Shug--Shug is one of my dearest friends on the planet. She's also the type of person that can do just about anything from changing the tire on your car to painting your kitchen to making delicate roses out of icing. She's new at this whole blog thing, so go swarm her blog and offer her advice on how to come out to people too stupid to realize why she's always got a pretty girl on her arm. Chris--I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been reading Chris on Bloglines now for months and have never bothered to put him on the right. I will rectify that. He's militantly compassionate and I really enjoy his blog and his comments on other blogs. S-townMike--Last weekend, the Professor and I attempted to locate "Salemtown." I'm not sure we found it. Again, another blog I read all the time but haven't done right by on my own. Ginger--She's witty and concise. I will never, ever be able to say as much as she says in so few words. I blog machine gun style. She's a sniper rifle. Peg--Good god, she can cook. She's funny as hell and she's not afraid to tell you your shit stinks. Her Basta series is especially funny. Enjoy!

Hurry Up and Blame the Victims!

If you, like me, were slowly knitting your way through your first cardigan sweater and watching the coverage of the aftermath of Katrina, you might have been struck by how, at about eight o'clock the coverage shifted from the massive devastation and death along the Gulf Coast, the unbearable stories of death and the unbelievable stories of survival, to grilling public officials about "widespread" looting. It was like someone flipped a switch and now the story was going to be about looters, not about victims, when of course, those are the same people. People who lost everything in the hurricane and the flood in New Orleans are the ones looting. There aren't any outside bands of bad guys coming in to swarm down on Walmart and steal diapers and dry shoes and dry clothes and food. Those are people whose whole worlds are destroyed. Why are we vilifying them? Chris Wage at My Quiet Life has been on this from the beginning, pointing out how the media was already framing people staying in the city as them "opting" to remain, when really, if you don't have a car or extra money or relatives who live elsewhere, what options do you have? Boing Boing spells it out even more clearly, talking about how the evacuation plan for the city seemed to be contingent on everyone being able to fund their own evacuations. The people I saw on MSNBC and FoxNews looting were black. Partially, as Boing Boing points out, this is because most of the poor people in New Orleans are black. Partially, as Atrios points out, it's because, according to the media (the AP in this case), black people "loot" and white people "find." But I think it has a great deal to do with the fact that there are a lot of bodies down there, floating around in the streets, crushed under buildings, or suffocating as you read this in their attics. There is no sense to be made of it. The hurricane hit the Gulf coast because there are hurricanes and they hit the coast of the southeast United States and that's just the way it works. It's not that God hates the South. It's not that a giant fetus is wrecking its revenge on abortion providers. It's not that New Orleans is full of savages who were too stupid to leave the city. It just happened. And there isn't any reason for it. There's nothing they could have done better or differently to avoid being hit by the hurricane, because the hurricane is not a sentient being that can be reasoned with. No one "deserved" this. But framing it as if people who didn't leave deserved to die serves two purposes. One, it lets the rest of us continue that comfortable lie that we would have handled things differently, if something like that happened to us. In the face of unfathomable tragedy, it's sad human nature to take comfort in feeling a little smug superiority. But, more importantly, two, it distracts us from questioning why, after the initial event no one could do anything about, is the water in New Orleans still rising? Why is there still chaos in the city? Why isn't there an enormous army of National Guard troops down there with helicopters and field kitchens and medics and the training to go into desolate urban areas and search for people? (In all fairness, the National Guard is responding to the crisis, but I want more of them.) But of course, the water is still rising because there are breeches in the levees that they haven't figured out how to repair. Why are there breeches in the levees? Because Bush cut the budget for shoring up the edges of Lake Pontchartrain and cut the budget for doing research into preparations for a category 4 or 5 hurricane hit on New Orleans. We could be talking about how wise it is to divert resources obviously sorely needed by the states to the "war on terror," but that's a hard and nuanced discussion. Heaven forbid we have a hard and nuanced discussion. It's much easier to just make sure everyone understands that the only people who are suffering are people who deserve it. Rest easy, America.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

You Clean; I'll Fix the Toilet

Fritz has offered to father my children. I've agreed. Due to the fact that we share an appreciation for a handsome penis, we will not be getting married. Also, I've just succeeded in stopping my toilet from running and am feeling all rugged and manly. I'm not sure if those two things--having a total stranger offer to make cantankerous babies with me and minor plumbing successes--are related, but I thought I'd share anyway. Josh Tinley has a thoughtful post on a terrible passage in Judges. I don't know how to make anything positive out of it either, but I look forward to seeing folks wrestle with it. Also, when I got home, all the dirty dishes that were in the living room were in the dish washer. And I finally got my own Tiny Cat Pants t-shirt and it's cute as hell. I am tickled. I'm going to wear it while I walk the dog.

Warning, Cheap Shot

Ah, Kansas, working hard to make sure its child brides get themselves a good edumacation. Obviously, if God hadn't wanted twelve year old girls to be able to marry, He wouldn't have designed it so they could have babies. Nebraska's Attorney General must be some kind of godless communist heathen for prosecuting a twenty-two year old man for the rape of his fourteen year old wife. Clearly, it's not child molestation if Kansas will let him marry her. Really, it's brilliant. I'm going to go to the grocery store right after work and just start grazing through the produce section, because, by God, food is made for eating and girls are made for fucking, laws be damned. Shit, I have half a mind to drive to Kansas and marry me a 12 year old boy. Too bad gas is so damn expensive.

This Morning

This morning I couldn't walk the dog because of the rain and I can already tell that it's going to put me out of sorts for the rest of the day. This morning I heard from my one friend in New Orleans. He's safe in Missouri, but he and his partner are pretty sure they'll have nothing to go back to. I want to say something about the ways towns along the Mississippi put themselves back together after devastating floods, about the ways in which you'll still see the lines on the houses and buildings that survived that let you know how high the muddy water went, but you'll also begin to see new buildings and new houses, but shit like that, though true, sounds pretty trite when it's your house that's gone. This morning I read for the first time Marge Piercy's "The Grand Coolie Damn" and I'm sitting here with my brain blown wide open. This says so much about why I hate the Democratic party--the "progressive" party--and I'm floored that it was written thirty five years ago. How can this shit still be so true? But it is. So I feel like I should clarify my rhetorical stand on abortion, even though I'm pretty sure it's clear to most of you. When it comes to her own body, a woman should have an assortment of tools available to her to keep things working--access to healthy foods, comprehensive health care, a good job, education, self-knowledge, and contraception. But most of all, a woman must have bodily autonomy. Period. She--not her husband, not her boyfriends, not her girlfriends, not her parents, not her god, not her church, not her government--must be in control of her body and its functions. And the most significant factor in being able to have a healthy life and a good job and an education and a family is being able to plan pregnancies and to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It's as simple as that. I don't believe abortion should be the first and only tool a woman uses to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I think women should have thorough knowledge of how their bodies work and easy access to birth control. I don't think one's use of birth control, no matter one's age, should be thought of as a moral issue. When you show us the movie about menstruation in sixth grade, show us how to put a condom on a dildo at the same time. Make it matter of fact. Women who want to go on the Pill should be given the Pill without any lecturing from their doctors about its immorality (which still happens, as I know, because it happened to me). If women want access to Plan B, they should be able to go to their drugstore and get it, no moral questions asked. And, if a woman wants an abortion, even if we find it morally reprehensible, she ought to be able to get it. And though I firmly believe that, if women had real knowledge of how their bodies worked and easy access to contraception--minus the moral lecturing--the number of abortions would dwindle, I refuse to talk about reducing the number of abortions. I refuse to couch my beliefs as "pro-choice" rather than "pro-abortion" because "pro-choice" seems like the softer, less political, less offensive term. And I refuse to support the Democratic party when the use abortion and their willingness to concede ground on the issue as fast as possible in order to try to win (but obviously continue to lose) elections. Because all that talk reinforces the bullshit belief that women's private behavior is up for public judgment and that control of our behavior is an appropriate political negotiating point. And, fuck me, but at least anti-abortion forces are up front about it--they want to tell all women that they must always do the same thing, regardless of their circumstances (carry any and all pregnancies to term). But to see the Democratic party also just accept that as true--that society has the right to control what women do with their own bodies--and to pander to voters by promising that they can control women in ways pleasing to the anti-abortion people makes me sick. So, I'm pro-abortion not because I believe every woman should have bunches of abortions, but because I believe that any political movement that promises to control the behavior of women specifically and promises to curtail their medical options is so offensive that the only appropriate response to it is to meet it with something equally offensive to it.

Monday, August 29, 2005

"If it's a whirling beat, she'll dance to it"

She picked up the drum to play and tore it to pieces, She danced under the Odan tree and tore that to pieces.

I've been thinking all day of Bob Dylan's song "High Water (for Charley Patton)." I don't think it's a song you can so much write about as map. You'd have to put the lyrics down on a big sheet of paper and with colored pens and lines for the direct borrowings, dashes for the associations, and dots for the things that just remind you of something else, draw out the universe in which that song both functions as the center--because it brings all those things together--and the outside edge--since it seems constantly to beckon you to look past it into a rich dark water of American history. There are the bluesmen--Charley Patton and Joe Turner by name, Robert Johnson by lyrical borrowing. With the water rising, you think back to Memphis Minnie's "When the Levee Breaks" and Bessie Smith's "Backwater Blues." There's poor Bertha Mason--the madwoman in the attic who inspired Gilbert and Gubar and, as Rhys reminds us, traveled over the wide Sargasso sea so that two Brits could fall in love. There's cheating (Bertha's plight and the arrival of the cuckoo) and religion and nursery rhymes. The song is less a narrative, less a song, than a way to listen to American history, knowing and dreading something dangerous coming up from the South (first Vicksburg, then Clarksdale) flooding the landscape and drowning us all. There's the banjo, that African instrument now so intimately linked with incestuous, violent rednecks (Deliverance). And the drums, the incessant drumming*, that calls to mind the drums of the voodoo rituals of New Orleans. What woman could be so in love with the drums? So angry at dear Bob that she'd flood all of Mississippi? Whose coffins? Who would throw her panties overboard? Who would have compassion for poor Bertha? Who knows the usefulness of converting to Christianity?

Ah, Bob and his inadvertent love song to Oya, the hurricane herself.

We're hunkering down in Nashville for our dance with Oya, who has not quite spent herself, if the email I got at work is to be believed--"The Nashville area may be subject to severe weather over the next 36 hours as Hurricane Katrina makes its way inland."

In Africa, this is a song they sing her:

Insatiable vagina Wizard's medicine Child who carries the corpse fighting Oya will come into her own fighting Oya will come into her own.

Sunrise hits the sky, pa pa Broom that handles reluctantly May she sweep in money!

Frowning canopy of huge trees beholds the strong wind Purifying stream of air fought the lagoon beat upon the mountain

Honest person who inhabits the sky Honest person of the sky cleaned out the swamp leaped over the mountain stripped off somebody's head.

Oya, don't take offense. Eeepa! Oya, please go easy!

Please go easy.

--------- *This is from this site, which is the most awesome thing I've found on the internet since Rex L. Camino showed me free blues.

Context for the Rest of You

When I lived in the Midwest, I really had no good idea of how large hurricanes were. So, for those of you trying to understand the monstrousness of Katrina, here's some observations. Nashville is about eight hours from the Gulf. Lots of people from this area go down there on vacation, hence its nickname, The Redneck Riviera. We're also about ten hours by car from New Orleans. If you look at a weather map, you'll see that the outer clouds associated with Katrina have already reached us and the eye is not yet on land. It will be a tropical storm by the time it reaches us on Tuesday, but still, here we are, eight hours inland and we're being warned about sustained winds of 30-49 miles an hour with gusts up to 64. Most of our weather comes in from the west or the southwest, so it's always weird when Mrs. Wigglebottom and I are out walking to watch the clouds roll in from the southeast, as they're doing today. It's just a visual warning that things in the atmosphere are not normal. And, of course, things continue to go from bad to worse all along the gulf coast, from New Orleans east and it's going to be very bad for folks down there for a long time. I wish I had something witty to say about the whole situation, but there's really nothing to be said about it at all, except that it doesn't seem like there's any way this isn't going to be an unimaginable nightmare and I'm glued to the coverage, like a gaper at a car wreck.

First the Chicago Tribune, then the New York Times

My favorite dead guys made the New York Times today. That is all. No complaining. You do something cool and I'll hype the shit out of you, too.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Some Folks are Born Made to Wave the Flag

Looking at Bush's 36% approval rating, thinking about the war in Iraq, and watching two episodes of Bill Maher back to back has me wondering about the Dixie Chicks. It's still common Music Row wisdom that the Dixie Chicks' career is pretty much over, that coming out against the President was too big a sin for Nashville to ever forgive. One thing you've got to understand about rural people is that, in general, we don't believe we can have any effect on the world. You can't do anything and if you try to do something that makes you stand out, you will be shot down or banished from the area. Now, it's true that when you get older, if you have the courage or desperation necessary to flee to the city, this can change. But most people don't want to move to the city, where it's scary and dangerous. They want to live in their small communities and that means perpetuating the kind of insular world of that small community. Part of perpetuating the community means that you can never publicly say there is something wrong with the community. Sure, you can talk about it privately and it might seem like everyone agrees with you, but to bring it out in the open in public most often doesn't invite change, it invites your ridicule. The only times I've seen the community, then, successfully rally against something is when the threat to the status quo comes from outside. And even then, as often as not, it's the people agitating for change that are seen as strange. Shoot, I've lived places where you got a notice every six months warning you to still not drink the tap water and no one got angry at the nuclear power plants or the coal companies. They just didn't drink the water. And I've lived places where you could see green sludge dumping into the creeks that flowed through neighborhoods and children in those neighborhoods all getting cancer and no one bothered to stop the green sludge dumping. Bad shit just happens to you and you have to just suck it up and not make waves. Again, we're back to this unspoken seemingly-self-perpetuating understanding we have in our country, that only a select few are allowed to actually do anything and if any of the rest of us presumes to try, if we aren't utterly perfect, our imperfections are the perfect excuse for ignoring or dismissing us. I'm beginning to suspect that some of Bush's appeal goes back to the fact, not that he, himself, really was a "common" guy, but that he understood intrinsically how to tap into this desire a lot of us have to live in an insular community where everything seems fine. One only has to look at the enemies in his base's culture wars--Hollywood, homosexuals, heathens, hedonists, and women who don't know their place--to recognize these as exactly the same enemies that threaten the status quo of rural communities. Those of us who have only ever lived in urban areas, where it's impossible for everyone in your community to be in your business, don't understand the appeal in believing that, if only we could get rid of the troublemakers, everything would be all right. We especially don't understand the small-town paranoia that says "If only we could get rid of the troublemakers, everything would be all right" at the same time the speakers seem almost cognizant that anyone at any moment could become a troublemaker. That's the real energy in Bush's base--the desire to purge the troublemakers coupled with the real possibility of being discovered as a troublemaker yourself, the fact that you must rely on the compassion of a community--because, of course, we can't help but be troublemakers--that you know can't be compassionate towards agitators, because you can't be compassionate towards them, or the small insular community you're so lovingly familiar with can't sustain itself the way it is. See, it's not at all what the Dixie Chicks said; it's that they said it in public. They made trouble at a time when most of the country was clinging to a belief in a safe, insular America we could get back to, if only we got rid of troublemakers. So, 36%. What's changed? I think, for one, high gas prices hit rural people very hard. We don't make very much money and we absolutely have to drive to work, because we don't have public transportation (duh). And this is a war fought by poor people--poor minorities and poor rural whites. According to CNN, as of August 6th, 1,340 of the service people killed in Iraq were white from places like Plumb City, Wisconsin, Seymour, Tennessee, Centreville, Michigan, Gypsum, Colorado, Fairfield, Ohio, Parkston, South Dakota, and a lot of other places you've never heard of. And, of course, this is a volunteer war, recruiting numbers are down, and no one named Bush--not Jenna, not Barbara, not George P., not Jeb Jr., not Noelle, not Lauren, etc.--has felt so compelled by our "need" to take the war to the terrorists that they've enlisted. Why is this a big deal? So what if they don't enlist? Because, to go back to the theme I've been harping on, some people do things and the rest of us just sit back and take it. We perpetuate this nonsense in order to maintain an illusion of unchanging safety. But this war, at this point, represents a fundamental breakdown in our tacit agreement--the people who do things, aren't doing anything themselves when it comes to the war and the people who don't do anything are the ones having to do everything, bear all the devastating cost. And that, my friends, is why I think we're at 36%. It's not that George Bush lied to us about why we should go to war. It's that he's violated the social contract that got him elected in the first place--he's asked the people who do nothing to make all the sacrifices while those that do everything do nothing.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hermaphrodite Porn

So, it was all very mysterious, the way that one of the Professor's 57 lovers was like "I know how to get my hands on some footage of two hermaphrodites having sex." and how he said he would burn it on a CD for her and how he came to her place and she ran down and he handed her the disk and she slipped it in her pocket and he drove away and she gathered her stuff together and came over here in the dark and rainy night. It was even a little titillating, to have to figure out how to get the CD to play on the computer, and it felt like we might see something shocking and scandalous. But when that shit started up, it was very apparent that some woman in the porn industry is making a living through having some slightly greenish fake penis with the fakest of fake public hair stuck to the front of her. Clearly, the intended audience for that porn and I are very different, because I spent the whole time contemplating the "special effects" line in the budget and wondering how she was keeping that thing secured in place--I'm betting toupee glue--rather than getting turned on. I also then wondered why more porn isn't like Annie Sprinkle's, kind of funny and happy and everyone seems to be having a good time? Why, in all the porn I see, is everyone working so hard and yet seems so bored?

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Shill is Smarter than Me

Here are two pieces of wisdom the Shill imparted to me over a decade ago. They are as true now as they were then. 1. If you want to tell if it's ridiculous for you to be dating someone, take the older person's age, divide it by 2 and add seven. If the younger person's age is older than that number, you're fine. If not, you look like an idiot. Hmm. I guess I need to start considering any hot 24 year olds that come my way... 2. Some people, when they meet a person, basically give that person 100 points and take them away as that person disappoints them. Other people, when they meet a person, start that person out at zero and add points as the person impresses them. Those people are not going to have a lot of people they think very highly of.

The Corporate Shill Shills for Me

Yes, it's true, Tiny Cat Pants merchandise makes work 100% more enjoyable, as evidence by the large smile on the Shill's face.

What can dog nuts tell us about human gender issues?

In two of my dad's churches, the front of the churches were set up so that there was a raised area surrounded by the communion rail. The podiums were towards the front of the raised area. Then there was some open space and towards the back, there was a table where the offering plates, Bible, candles, and cross were arranged. Behind the table was a large velvet curtain on the wall. At one church it was red and at the other it was blue. Even as a minister's kid who ran willy-nilly all over the church, I never went behind that table. So, for a long time, I imagined that there was something behind that curtain, maybe another room or a poster of Jesus or something that only the minister was allowed to know. Finally, when I was in high school, I looked behind the curtain and found there was just an unfinished board. I was thinking about this in terms of that porn that's like "let's stick a camera right inside your vagina" and you look at it and wonder who the hell gets off at looking at something that's so devoid of context that it appears to be just a bunch of shiny soft pink billows and folds. It's like the opposite of the curtain at church. The curtain at church pretends to cover something mysterious, but really just hangs there as a backdrop. But the vagina is inscrutable. No matter how long you look at it or how close up you get, you're never going to see that place where the boundary between here and there--the ordinary and the eternal--is always permeable. And yet, there it is--bringing forth life when you want it and sometimes when you don't or remaining silent and unmoved when you beg it to stir something up, making up unviable monsters and viable babies, dumping out blood and tissue and sometimes small humans. The Legal Eagle once said, "Until you can impregnate yourself, men have a role in this thing" when he was arguing that men ought to have a say in abortion. It's a little like the flour saying to the whole kitchen, "You can't have cake without me." Fair enough, but you can't have cake without the oven and the eggs and the bowls for mixing, either. Why does the person who supplies the flour have as much of a say as the person who supplies everything else? The flour is crucial to the production of the cake, but it's not an equal contribution to all the rest of the ingredients and whatever else is in the kitchen combined. Anyway, I'm sure most of you saw this story in the Village Voice this week, about the man who tortures pitbulls (Important quote from story: "Ed Boks, the director of New York City Animal Care & Control, says the blame for pit bulls' negative image is shared equally by the press--which is fascinated by pit bull attacks--and breeders who take advantage of the dogs. 'Pit bulls are actually a rather stable breed,' says Boks. 'The thing about pit bulls is that they are stuck with this bad reputation. They are extraordinarily loyal and loving animals and they will fight to the death just to please you.'") in order to make them monsters. Here's the relevant passage to our discussion:
"The men always say, 'You're taking my manhood away.' We get that every week. They say that they can't walk the dog in their neighborhood anymore because people will see that his testicles are gone. They are adamant about it," Clemmons says.
They're talking about this over at Pandagon, too, and it's the comments that have me thinking. One commenter in particular says, in response to someone talking about dog vasectomies, "That's the solution for me. I'm sorry, I'm not going to be responsible for some other dude, whether human or canine, getting his balls cut off." Isn't this interesting? It's got me wondering if this is an opposite impulse to the "I must make sure those slutty women are punished with babies" or if it's really the same impulse. We could see it as an opposite impulse--some men saying "not my body, not my place to demand its modification to suit me." But I worry that's it's evidence of the same impulse, one that understands the man as being defined by his manhood, which is represented by his ability to control the animals and humans beneath him. Their fecundity is evidence of his manliness. The behavior of others--what a fragile and stupid thing to hang your own self-worth on.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My New Reader & Other Stuff

1. Today when the Butcher came to pick me up from work, he said, "Two dollar beers." To which I said, "Are you going to come?" To which he said, "Can I sign autographs?" To which I said, "If people ask for them." And then I said, "Wait, how did you know?" And he said, "I was reading Tiny Cat Pants today to find out if you were really pissed at me and just not telling me." 2. I've added some fine monotheistic bloggers to the right--Josh Tinley, who is smart and Methodist; Katherine, who I think would probably kick my ass if we ever met in person, but I find her very thought-provoking; and Shaun Groves, who, damn it, I made fun of, but then ended up really digging on his blog. Let us pray that they don't pray for my heathen soul. 3. It's not really my goal to become the chick who rehashes Egalia, but America, how can you look at these girls and not love them? 4. Fisk University is getting a lot of awesome national coverage lately. 5. Every time the Butcher cooks, I eat without issue. Every time I cook, I have to have antacid tablets before bed. I don't think I'm a bad cook, but I might be overdoing it on the garlic.

Why Blog?

You should blog because you just never know. Here we are, one of the most literate societies to ever exist. Almost all of us can read and write. In five hundred years, when historians wonder what that was like, for so many people to be so in touch with each other all the time, they'll turn to forensic computer engineers or techno-archaeologists, and they'll in turn uncover these little shards of zeros and ones, flashes of lights they can replay, and though our English will seem as stilted and strange as Shakespeare's or Chaucer's seems to us, they'll delight in our electronic detritus. You should blog because you'll get arrested if you take a can of spraypaint to the wall by your office. Here's your chance to leave your mark where any stranger might see it and say "What the fuck?" or "Me, too" or "I never considered that." You should blog because these are such strange and shitty times and all we have are each other, lone voices shouting into a vast virtual canyon, listening for the voice that is not an echo, the voice that says, "I am here, too." You should blog because there's no money in books. At least here, you have an audience that has paid $1,000 for a portal to get to you and $30 a month for continued access. You should blog because it pisses the alternative newspapers off. For so long, they were the snarky wit of the community, and now, the best and funniest voices work for free, available for free, undermining the free papers' anti-establishment authority. You should blog because there are more people like you than you think. You should blog because your voice is unique. You should blog because it's fun. You should blog because writing shows you the contours of your own soul. Write because it's the only real magic most of us have, this ability to squash together lines and curves and dots and create worlds, recreate worlds. Write because no one with power wants you to. They don't want to hear from you and they don't want others to hear from you. And this, this weblogged thing, no one in power has learned how to control yet. Write here, write now. Because no one can stop you. Even if they find you out, drop your name, pick up another one. Come back in. Even if they tell you they don't want to hear it, they read it already, come back in. This is not for them. Not only, anyway. Write because we need to hear from you. Write because you need to hear from you. But keep writing.

Doing My Part for John McCain

"McCain told the Star that, like Bush, he believes 'all points of view' should be available to students studying the origins of mankind."--The Arizona Daily Star

Here's one for the kids.

The world started like this: there was a wide gaping nothing for a long time and then at one end of the nothing, it grew very, very cold and at the other end of the nothing, it became hotter and hotter. When the ice from the cold end met the fire from the hot end, the energy that encounter gave off started up the universe and recognizable things began to emerge--the world tree and the forces of chaos and out of chaos, the forces of order.

As things became more ordered, earth emerged and water and mountains and trees and the sky and wind and clouds and animals and people.

Still, because nothing had any relationship to anything else, there was no history, and without history, there was no life as we recognize it.

People were like trees--we grew; we reproduced; we died. We had no way of remembering it.

But, as is the way of the universe--order emerges out of chaos before descending back into it again--and as we were ordered, we developed life as we know it, with wit and emotions, and senses and speech--that "vital spark" if you will.


Woo-hoo. It was hard to strip any mention of the gods out of it, but I think I did without masking my point. Now all I have to do is whoop up some quasi-scientific language to couch it in and I can get science teachers everywhere to further my own religious agenda!

Thanks, Senator McCain!

"I'm Alive!"

Most days, when Mrs. Wigglebottom and I walk by the run down house two in from the corner, there's a loud knock at the window and a hand waves furiously. I wave back. The other day, there was no knock, but after we'd gotten a house away, an old man came running out, "Hey, pretty lady, good morning." "Hey," I said, "Isn't it beautiful out? How are you doing?" He stretched his hands out and looked up at the sky. "I'm alive." He said happily. Now, for two days, all I can think about is the ghosts of the Civil War who stole my fucking can opener. I mean, what if one of them was to start hanging out in the yard of one of my neighbors, waving at Mrs. Wigglebottom and I every time we walked by? I'd never have any reason to suspect he was a ghost. "I'm alive," the old man in the run down house said happily. But is he?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

$2 Beer & $2 Parking

If you're a Nashville blogger, or perhaps driving the car of a Nashville blogger because yours has been repossessed, I expect to see you here. If you're a Murfreesboro blogger, I won't expect to see you, but I'll be holding out hope.

Deals You Make in Your Head--The Remix

"I can't be accountable for deals that never really existed." I keep thinking of Abigail Adams, writing her husband, begging for our rights--"I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. "--while he basically told her not to worry, that not giving women full status as citizens wasn't really a problem; the men would take care of them. This weekend on Meet the Press, Reuel Marc Gerecht said "In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy." This makes me so angry that I just can't stand it, this idea that there can be democracy without the participation of women. But tons of bloggers, like Egalia, have already hashed over this part. What I want to consider is the second utterly tone-deaf sentence: "If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled." Because there's more in that sentence than just "Oh, you know, it's too much fucking trouble to keep the broads happy." America in the early 1900s was not some utopia of pleasantness, except for the bitchy women. It was a mess of shitty things. Chinese people couldn't be citizens. Black people were being denied the right to vote in all kinds of clever, evil ways. Native Americans couldn't be U.S. citizens. Asian people born in the U.S. found themselves unable to reenter the country. White U.S. women who married non-citizens (even the ones born in this country) were stripped of their citizenship. Most of this shit didn't get straightened out until the 1950s. And this, this is what our government thinks is an okay version of democracy to export? But I've been thinking about Dean Dad's words, letting them rattle around in my head, and I have to say that, again, this is a pretty brilliant move on the part of the administration. To say that we're going to export "democracy" to the Middle East and to let everyone--both supporters and opposers of this venture--assume they meant U.S. democracy as it's currently practiced, when really, they just meant "some" democracy, even that threadbare, xenophobic, nasty shit we practiced back in the early 1900s. It's enough to make a girl throw back her head and howl with laughter and tears.

Deals You Make in Your Head

Dean Dad has a brilliant post--or at least I'm assuming it's brilliant, because it's about money and budgeting and I think we're all clear on how little that shit makes sense to me. So, this post seems clear and smart, therefore I want to call it brilliant, but I feel I must warn y'all to consider the fact that it's me who's telling you that something about money is brilliant and to prepare yourself that it might, in fact, be very stupid and I am just not smart enough to know. Anyway... Dean Dad has this brilliant post about how professors often get upset with him because they feel, when he has to communicate unpleasant budgetary realities to them, like he's violating some unspoken but understood agreement between the university and the faculty. Now, obviously, I could give two shits about the problems of faculty, except for how it affects the dear Professor. But reading Dean Dad's post got me thinking about how often I get pissed at the dog for not behaving or, worse yet, pissed at the Butcher for not living up to his end of our bargain, when, in fact, we have no bargain. The other day the Butcher was bitching at me about the mail on the floor. I said, "I don't bring the mail in." And he said, "Yeah, I do and then you go through it and toss the junk in the trash and do something with the rest." Now, folks, there are literally four enormous piles of mail around our living room and one smallish one on the floor. Where he got the idea in his head that I was taking care of the mail, I just don't know. So, I said that very thing, "Where did you get the idea in your head that I was taking care of the mail?" And he thought about it a second and said, "Well, that was the arrangement I made with you in my head." I had nothing to say to him in return, except to laugh, but I wish I'd had Dean Dad's line: "I'm unimpressed; I can't be accountable for deals that never really existed."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Moon

When I worked at Dairy Queen, I used to drive home across the backroads between the town I worked in and the town I lived in. When there was a full moon, I could turn off my lights and drive with the road a silvery ribbon draped through the corn fields. We used to go on hay rides at least once a year as well, and we'd all pile onto the hay rack and snuggle in close together and someone's dad would pull us through the empty fields. The clouds would be racing across the cold October sky and the moon would glow fiercely and then the whole landscape would go dark when the clouds briefly covered it. They keep saying that there's no evidence that the full moon has any effect on people, keep saying it even as nurses and emergency room doctors and police and suicide prevention hotline attendants say otherwise. It's hard not to feel there's something, as you stand out in the dark, waiting for the dog to decide if she's just going to sniff or if she'll shit, and you see the moon high over the old ash tree. You want to take everything off and set it aside and put one foot in front of the other. One hand outstretched and then the other. A twist of hip and flip of shoulder. My rhythm in tune with the moon's. I spend too much time inside, sitting around at my house or standing around at other people's. I want to get out and be in the dark and the moon.

Unhappy Compromise

I'm outraged by the comment spam, but don't want to turn anonymous comments off, so the compromise is that you have to type in the word you see on the comments. Let me know if you think this is stupid or if you have any trouble with it, but shit, people I just had to delete six spam comments from the last post and it pisses me off.


Yes, America, my head hit the pillow at 8:45 last night and I didn't wake up until 6:15. It was marvelous. I love sleeping. Mrs. Wigglebottom, however, did not sleep very well because she's very unhappy about the bicycle in the kitchen. She spent much of last evening growling and eyeing it suspiciously and this morning she barked at it until I moved it a sufficient distance away from her food. I talked to the Butcher about maybe putting it up in his room, but he claims he's going to ride it around this evening. It's times like this when I think of my Australian readers, of which there are, I think, two. So, I think of the two of you and wonder: does this shit seem bizarre to you? And I hope you aren't taking the anecdotes of our stupid behavior as some kind of metaphor for how U.S. foreign policy works. Although, now that I think about it, maybe you should.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Parental Idiocy

Unfortunately my cousin's wedding is becoming the biggest source of drama in my life after the Butcher's vehicle woes. For some reason, the wedding festivities are now stretched out over three days and I've had to enter into tense negotiations with my father about what to do with the dog. My dad wants me to leave the dog with the Professor, who, as you may recall, he and my mother had been telling people was my life partner until I discovered it and we had a big fight about it when they were down here last. Considering how homophobic my parents are, I was shocked and surprised that they would be as okay as they were with the idea that the Professor and I were a couple, but now I see that it was just a manifestation of their dream to have one more woman in the world who could take care of the people in our family. Yes, apparently selfishness trumps hate, at least in my family. I wonder if this might be the basis for a successful public service campaign from PFLAG or some such group. Imagine a television spot where a cranky old guy struggles with some boxes. His son says, "Dad, let Dan and I help." The cranky old homophobe scowls, but looks at Dan, sees that he has two arms and a sturdy back, and acquiesces. Then there could be some slogan at the end like "If you're nice to your gay children, they might make their lovers do stuff for you."

The Cats

Well, what the hell? I can just do what everyone else does when they're out of inspiration: post pet pictures. Here's the tiny cat and the orange cat, for those of you who are curious.

Nope, Nothing

Sorry, y'all. I'm tired and grouchy and am not my witty and thoughtful self and so I can't come up with anything meaningful. Here's a list of topics I was considering writing about. 1. My dog is so great. 2. I am so tired and grouchy. 3. I've said that one thing about the abortion debate that really outrages me is the way it frames pregnancy as the proper punishment for sluts. Amazingly, Bob Krumm argues that pregnancy is also the proper punishment for men. Yep, kids as punishment. That's a really healthy and safe mindset for children. 4. I'm not sure this car thing is going to work, because I'm already resenting being stuck at home or dependent on the Professor for travel on weekends. Yes, that means I didn't go to the park.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

So Tired

Y'all, I am so tired. I went to bed at 4:30 in the morning because I think I'm fucking Jim Morrison or Hunter S. Thompson or something. Well, I don't think I'm actually having sex with Jim Morrison, but I'm too tired to even hit my back space key to fix the sentence so that it says what I really wish it said. So onward and upward. I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning like a rockstar and woke up at 8:00 like your dear old Aunt B., because, indeed, I am just your dear old Aunt B. and not a rock star. You may ask why I stayed up so late. You may ask what the night has to teach me that the day can't get done. I'm going to tell you. I discovered that the Butcher is living two lives. He has a day life of jobs and tv watching and hanging out with his sister. And then I go to bed at the civilized hour of 9:30 and his second life, full of phone calls and people just dropping by to say hello and hang out for a few minutes and soft core porn and Beat poets and their literary progenitors, begins. There is now a bicycle in our kitchen. Our kitchen is so small that I can stand at one end and stir things on the stove at the other end. So, with the bicycle in there, I can't do the dishes because I can't get to the sink. Why is the bicycle in the kitchen? Because the Butcher rode it in there. Some guy I didn't know walked in and after about three minutes, showed me a bottle rocket scar he'd acquired within a hair's breadth of his genitals. I am a little afraid but also secretly delighted to discover that my brother is living a life like a modern-day Monkee. Still, as much fun as it was, I think I will be returning to my regularly scheduled bedtime.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Update on the Tiny Cat

As you may recall, the tiny cat had spent most of the summer upstairs on my suitcase or looking out the bedroom window. Then she spent a week on the step-stool in the kitchen. Lately, she's taken to sleeping on the back of the big green couch. This allows her to come down onto the arm of the couch for some petting when she needs it, but mostly, she spends about 20 hours a day just sitting on the back of the couch. I must admit there's something endearing about the lengths to which she goes to be aloof from things and right in the thick of them.

Man, I Feel Like a Woman

I think, before we go on, it's important to remember how this conversation started, as a rage about what being an imposter means, and then where it went, into a meditation on whether one can ever escape her past, even if the people of her past no longer recognize her. In other words, it was not about Aaron Fox personally, but about the ways in which I felt threatened by the implications of what he was saying. Having now read his article, I can't say that's changed. It's funny. I actually started thinking about all this again after Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon went off on Nashville. She says, in part:
A lot of this came up for me recently, and I would have buried it except tonight my boyfriend went on a standard rant about how Nashville ruined country music. It's true--a bunch of assholes decided country would sell better if you eliminated the fiddle and the steel guitar and the banjo and replaced it with pop music and called it country because an occasional twang could be extracted from the singer. (An aside: I lived in Virginia for a couple months and sang a lot of karaoke. Occasionally people would try country and fail miserably. I cannot sing to save my life, but I would sing Patsy Cline and the Dixie Chicks and because I have the requisite twang, people would be so impressed. It was funny.)
The reason I quote this part is that it inadvertently reveals something very crucial to our discussion, I think, which is that our ideas about what is "country" are very much shaped by what we're told is country music, regardless of what it actually sounds like. At the same moment she says "a bunch of assholes decided country would sell better if you eliminated the fiddle and the steel guitar and the banjo and replaced it with pop music and called it country"--implicating Shania and Faith and them--she evokes Patsy Cline, whose most popular songs don't, by Marcotte's standards, sound country at all. Who does Marcotte see as the "real" country stars, the voices Nashville has left behind? Steve Earle, Dale Watson, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson. Who does Fox identify as the people outside of "Nashville" currently? John Conlee and Waylon Jennings, early Randy Travis, Steve Earle, Dwight Youkum, Hank Williams. Fox says that when he hosted a radio show in New Jersey, he had to find a way to balance listeners' desire to hear the Statler Brothers and Conway Twitty against the need to play what was on the Americana charts. But Fox clearly enjoys the energy of hearing these old, now neglected stars next to these new stars, also neglected by the Nashville establishment. So, he's recognizing a commonality between these older stars and the crowd. And now, my friends, we're in an interesting place. Because, now that you've seen the list of who makes up the alternate universe, who is recognized as being "authentic" and "real," clearly you've noticed who's not real or authentic country music. I'm not going to get too into this--the many ways women are excluded from being "real" country--, because I'm not Barbara Ching, and all I'd be doing is rehashing her kick-ass chapter in A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music. (Yes, the home of that awesome Michael Bertrand essay.) But I want to talk about what it means that women are not automatically recognized as being producers of "real" country music. Let's start with Shania Twain, since everyone seems to point to her as being the most fake, least country thing Nashville has ever produced. She really writes her own songs. She's really from a destitute, working class background. She really put her own dreams on hold to take care of her family and then came to Nashville to pursue her career. She then really made music that appealed to a wide audience of real country music fans (as much as she's had wide success, her fans are made up of a great many regular country music fans). She's got exactly the right characteristics. And yet Marcotte, Fox, and even I (shit, everyone except Steve Pick) characterize her as not a part of this authentic country music that we love. What's going on? I truly don't know. But here's the more interesting question. What's a girl to do? How can a woman be "real"? How can she be "authentic"? If having what seems to be the right credentials isn't good enough, what is? You could sleep with Gram Parsons like Emmylou Harris. You could sing songs about your rough upbringing like Loretta Lynn or Gretchen Wilson. You could make yourself so obviously fake that it circles around into real again like Dolly Parton. Or you can wear your hair back and dress very plain and take what you're doing very, very seriously while being in awe of your opportunities like Gillian Welch. But the truth is you have to do something, even if, like Lynn and Wilson, what you do is to pretend to be who you already are. You can't just be. So, here's where it's really interesting for me. What the fuck does it mean for me to have called Aaron Fox a poseur? With what authority can I indict him for anything? See, and here's where his article suggests some really interesting shit that he doesn't quite get to because of the constraints of the book it's published it (but he hints at the contours of such an argument in his discussion of the kinds of working class masculinities that were celebrated right after September 11th). Being recognized as authentically country means something very different for men than it does for women. For Fox, there is some standard, some core of "authentically country" that he can allude to (even if he disagrees about the fairness of such standard existing). He can rightly say to me "You are, in fact, using class to stereotype me (I put myself through Harvard working two and sometimes three full time jobs, and I'm the son of a professor and a nurse, not a banker or a president, I smoke, and like it sounds as if you do, I live pretty much paycheck to paycheck. What does that make me, a Rockefeller?)"; he can call upon his lived experiences to reinforce his authority to speak--working two or three full time jobs, being a DJ, listening to this music, knowing the cannon, AND, most importantly, he can allude to our common experiences to say "look, you live paycheck to paycheck and I live paycheck to paycheck. In some important ways, I'm very much like you." And that's the crux of the awesome feminist mistake he's making, what he's not getting when he reads me--like Marcotte, I'm not real. I can only access authenticity through Willie and Waylon and the boys. He can't say "In important ways, I'm like you," because the way the whole discourse of country music is set up, it doesn't work that way. I can be like him, but he can't be like me, because I, as an autonomous individual that is real and authentic just by being, don't exist. So, he's mistaking me for as real as him (thank the gods) and I'm mistaking him for as unreal as me, hence the reason I about died of shock when he showed up here in the first place. All very interesting.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I am My Own Accountant/Lawyer/Hairy Biker

Today, I am a grown up. I sucked it up and went to the bank and explained my credit card issues and got some help. It's not going to be easy, what I'm going to do for the next few years, but it's my gift to myself--the real possibility of complete financial independence. Someday, I will pay all of my bills and look in my account and it will not say $10, but, maybe $50 or $100. That day will not be in the immediate future, but that day will come. What's next, America? Will I finally give writing a shot? Will I ask the Kingmaker out to breakfast? Will I meet someone who can teach me how to dance the Black Bottom? Or will I, so used to scraping what little change I could find together to treat myself to one less than $10 activity a month, somehow fuck this up in order to return to the state of soul-sickened panic I've grown so used to? I suspect the real test of a person is not what they do when the chips are down, but what they do with themselves when they get a chip or two ahead. I hope I don't let myself down.

Bumper Nuts

Sometimes you see something so strange that your first thought is "Really, girls, this goes too far. Yes, it's true that many men believe that feminists want nothing better than to tack their testicles to the wall as trophies, but hanging them from the back of your car? As a warning to other men? Funny, but probably over the line." And then you realize this isn't a feminist joke at all. I can't decide if that makes it more or less funny.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Don't Put It In Writing

This is what my dad always says, "Don't put it in writing." He doesn't believe in leaving written evidence of anything--"It'll bite you in the ass, Miss B."--and so, he thinks Tiny Cat Pants is stupid. Him and Aaron Fox. Yep, Aaron Fox has come back to bite me in the ass. Well, Aaron Fox is not biting me in the ass, literally. Something I wrote back in February has just now come to his attention. You can see his comments at the end, but I'll also bring them up here.
Hey, Aaron Fox here. And I would simply point out that you are being unfair by not reading my work, article or book. You are taking a complete simplification of my paper in CMGtW by some reviewer as a correct statement of my views. I self-identify as upper middle class in my book and clearly in the article in question. I am open about my own love for alt country, Gillian very much included. And that "working-class" picture you cite is just me dressed for one of my old jobs, since I made my living for about a decade as a country guitarist. If you're gonna slam me so hard with the class bat in print, it's really kinda obligatory to read *my* words before representing them in yours. I'd love to discuss the paper with you, publicly here or on my blog if you'd like, and would listen most respectfully to this argument if it was informed by a fair representation of my views. I've heard it before, many times, and I concede its force. It's really the same as the argument you accuse me of making (which I don't) that one's class background defines the authenticity of one's experience. Of course it doesn't. You are, in fact, using class to stereotype me (I put myself through Harvard working two and sometimes three full time jobs, and I'm the son of a professor and a nurse, not a banker or a president, I smoke, and like it sounds as if you do, I live pretty much paycheck to paycheck. What does that make me, a Rockefeller?)
Well, America, I have never been so politely called a jackass, and rightfully so. I am a jackass and I was shooting off my mouth without knowing what the hell I was talking about. I don't even have the excuse of saying I was drunk, because as much as I talk about all my drunken adventures, I don't really drink that often and I never post drunk. I have insulted the man's honor and, though I feel bad about it, I'm not sure how to make it up to him. We could have a duel, maybe. Or he could smack me with an umbrella every time he saw me. Something. For starters, I'm going to actually read the essay and talk about it like a grown-up. We'll see how that goes. Shoot, what's next? Nat Hentoff?

All of this and Passionate Kisses

Maybe it's the heat that's making me nostalgic or the good music pouring out of my speakers. But I was thinking of my first kiss. It was very nice. I was in seventh grade playing Truth or Dare at the party of a girl I don't remember much about except that she seemed always on the verge of being very pissed off at someone. This big lunky boy named Kenny was sitting next to me and he was dared to kiss me. And so he did, leaned right over and softly kissed me right on the mouth. After a little bit, he reached over and took my hand. I had never talked to him before and I didn't talk to him after that. My first real kiss--like the French do it--was my sophomore year of high school. I kissed a boy at church! Brilliant, really, because the whole church-going thing was what was preventing me from being kissed in the first place and kissing boys at church solved that little dilemma. I liked it as well, even though he wasn't very good at it. We spent much of the evening making out and then he said, "whatever else you want to do, you're going to have to take the lead." Whatever else I want to do? Until that moment, I wasn't even really sure people kissed each other like that and now he wants me to take the lead? To where? I surely had no idea. Well, I had some idea of where to go. I just didn't know how to even start to get there. My first foray into the menage a trois happened that same year. No sex, just two awkward girls sitting on either side of a Presbyterian minister's son wearing nothing but his tighty-whiteys, giving us each sweet kisses until my dad knocked on the door, opened it, looked confused, shook his head, said the minister's son's mom was here to get him, and shut the door back again. Ten years later, I kissed a girl for the first time. It was also very nice. I was dressed like a cat, but she was wearing my ears. My favorite kiss was in Chicago after dinner with an old, old friend, who bought me dinner and smiled shyly and then, as I turned to go back to my hotel room, grabbed my arm and turned me around and kissed me for a long time. I begged him to come up to my hotel room and he begged me to take the train out to his place and, when both of us realized we were more concerned about the morning commute than getting it on, we kissed again, much differently, and he went home alone.

Obviously, Elias Likes Me Better than You

Well, unless you are JR, but otherwise... In the mail today, from Elias himself, I got Shake Hands with Shorty, and two R.L. Burnside CDs--Too Bad Jim and Wish I was in Heaven Sitting Down. How awesome is that? Must I holler? Must I shake, shake 'em on down? Clearly, I must.

Yes, Feminism Again. Suck it up.

Last night I had the most surreal online discussion about... well, a lot of things. Read it here if you want. But the whole thing bugs the shit out of me. One, why do we just accept that men are shitty and that women need to be protected from them? Doesn't that piss you guys off, that the kind of default belief is that you're going to hurt each other and us? And, to go back to our previous discussion, this is exactly one of the reasons we're afraid of you, because you tell us that we should be afraid of you. Shoot, it's clear to me that we still so desperately need feminism because we women are so fucked up in so many ways. But Christ Jesus, this whole conversation reaffirmed to me that we really need to chuck the whole system for the sake of everyone. And two, again, feminism is not a moral position. Part of the work we have to do is to insist that women criminals be seen for what they are, criminals. Shit, apparently, we have to insist that people recognize that women are capable of committing crimes at all. This idea that a thirteen year old boy isn't really the victim of a crime when a 27 year old woman has sex with him is flabbergasting. Of course it's a crime that has the potential to do a lot of damage to him. Which brings me to three. It's very interesting how we're right back to the idea that, with sex crimes, somehow the victim "deserves" it. Sure, it's slightly different. A woman who's raped "deserves" it because she led the man on or dressed provocatively or whatever. A boy who is raped "deserves" it because of his presumably voracious sexual appetite. Her rape is a punishment for who she is. His rape is a reward for who he is. But still, we're talking in terms of "deserves." I wonder when we'll be able to just assume that children deserve to be free from being used by adults for their own sexual pleasure and that any adult, regardless of gender, deserves to have his or her ass carted to prison for a long time for fucking with them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Last night, the Professor and I were talking about gay marriage, which lead to a discussion of the efficacy of straight people not getting married because gay people can't. I think my position on gay marriage ought to be clear, but in case it isn't, here it is. I don't think the State ought to be getting involved in preferential treatment of any consensual sexual arrangements between adults. I don't think they ought to sanction any marriages--leave them to religions to define them as they see fit and stay the fuck out of it--BUT, if we're going to continue to have state sanctioned marriages, and it appears that we are, then we ought not to privilege some consensual sexual arrangements between adults and not others. Marriage for everyone who wants it, and wedding cake for their guests! But there are some straight people who refuse to get married because gay people can't and some gay people who feel that straight people ought to refrain from getting married out of solidarity with gay people. My question is, is that effective, in any way? And I think, clearly, the answer is "no." The answer is no for two reasons. One is because of a common liberal mistake*. 1. Liberals spend a lot of time figuring out what our position is in the world and trying to be aware of the ways in which we benefit from the oppression of others. You see, we mistakenly believe that, armed with this knowledge, we can somehow get outside the system, that we can untangle ourselves from our privilege, and thus not be implicated in a system we see as inherently unfair. Of course, there is no way to not be implicated. We are born with debts and obligations. But the mistake is greatly compounded by the mistaken belief that, if we give up our own privileged position (if there really is some way to do that), under privileged people can take that space. Which leads us to number 2. 2. Liberals make shitty hostages. Let's stick with gay marriage. I could decide right now to never get married until gay people can get married. So what? James Dobson doesn't want to marry me. It's not like I can say "Uncle Sam, you're getting none of this sweet, sweet pussy until you let my friends get married" (assuming I'm holding out on Uncle Sam until our wedding night, which, frankly, considering how much I get drunk and flash my tits and make out with whoever's near me, is just not possible). My not getting married only matters in terms of the "statement" it makes to gay people. It doesn't do anything to actually help gay people achieve what ought to be a basic right, to marry whoever the fuck you want. It's like this. Say someone is giving out free ice cream, but only to people with wonderfully curly hair. Does it hurt that person if I don't take the ice cream out of solidarity with straight haired people? No, it doesn't affect the ice cream man negatively at all AND it means that I can't have ice cream. Isn't it obviously better to work to get everyone ice cream? ------- *Can we switch tracks here slightly to talk about another misguided liberal strategy? The protesting outside of the 21st Avenue KFC. This is the only KFC I've seen people protesting outside of in Nashville and I think it's because it's both so close to Belmont and Vanderbilt; they can get a lot of do-gooders out on a Saturday. But the problem with this strategy--of driving down sales at only one KFC--is that it doesn't send the message of "stop abusing chickens or we'll run you into the ground" to the corporate headquarters. It sends the message that this particular store doesn't make a whole lot of money on Saturdays, which could result in the owner losing the store or the store closing. This has no effect on the chickens, but it sure as hell has an effect on the people who work at that KFC. Why is chicken welfare more important than the welfare of these humans who really need money or they wouldn't be working that shitty job in the first place?


Enough of that depressing stuff. I live in the South now, and so I will make myself a lovely dress out of draperies (or, in my case, plastic blinds) and drink a little Southern Comfort, and tomorrow will be another day. Meanwhile, if you're curious what a girl can do with Paint & Powerpoint (which lets you save .jpgs), here's what I did with it. If you're sufficiently charmed, you can check out the merchandise. Nothing costs $10,000...yet, but there are some magnets for the Shill and some shirts for whoever else is interested. It won't hurt my feelings if you don't buy something, but if you do, and I see you in it, I promise I will smooch you, right in public, and probably cry a little, too.

Oh, it's one of those days

Well, I was all excited to show you what I'd been up to lately, but I woke up this morning to find that the Butcher's car had been repossessed. Yep. Repossessed. Take away. Silently in the night, without even a chance to get the cell phone out of it. Sure, the dog will bark at the neighbors coming and going as they do all the time, but she didn't bother to wake anyone up to let us know they were carting the Butcher's car off. So, he's got my car so that he can get to work and I had to ask one of my co-workers for a ride home. Up until that point, I thought the whole thing was rather funny in a "what the fuck could possibly be next?" way. But she didn't find it funny and said I was enabling him. And that made me mad and so, of course, I cried. But it still is funny in a "what the fuck?" way. I mean, fucking duh, of course it's upsetting. Christ, the boy doesn't have a job that pays him enough to pay the bills and up until now he's been able to arrange his social life in such a way as to be lively enough that he could avoid thinking about his problems and now, here it is. Everything is come due. He's still got a job that doesn't afford him enough money to pay his bills. I just signed another year-long lease for this place. I still need him to cover the paltry shit he's got to cover and minimum credit card payments are on the verge of doubling, which, as you may have guessed, is going to really affect me. Because I am an idiot, but not the biggest one in our house. I mean, of all the moments he could fuck things up this bad, why not now? Am I enabling him? It's just a side question, but I have to tell you that the answer is "I don't give a fuck." I want the money he can give me when I need it. And as much as it sucks to watch him fuck up repeatedly this much--I mean why the fuck won't he take care of himself?--I still need him here, contributing in his very small way. Even if it's "bad" for him, fuck that. I'm not his mom. It's not my job to do what's right for him. It's my job to keep a roof over our heads and a car under my ass and food in the bellies of the mammals in the house. If I need him here, even driving my car to work every damn day until he can find another fulltime job on a bus route, he can't leave. Plus, seriously, where the fuck would he go? Back to Mom & Dad's house? Well, take the small bedroom, buddy, because if you go, I have to go. See, it is funny. I'm crying, but it's funny as hell.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The problems of feminism wrapped in a sex toy

Lucky for me, the Professor does not have a blog, which means that, whenever she says something interesting, I can immediately steal it for my own. Hurray! Let us talk for a moment about ben-was balls, or, more specifically, the hype surrounding them. Here's a pretty concise look at the problem over at Good Vibrations. But I want to draw your attention to the portion by Dr. Jayne, who says:

Presently, women are taught to perceive their vaginas as either birth canals or as reception rooms for penises. Both of these perceptions involve us in fairly social events which require the presence of another person. The use of penis-like objects for vaginal stimulation (by self or others) only serves to reinforce this deplorably limited state of affairs. In addition, the use of tampons, handy though they are, reinforces our notion that the vagina is insensitive. Optimal use of tampons only teaches us to ignore or disregard subtle sensations in the vagina.

Okay, the idea of birth and vaginal intercourse as social events tickles me, but there's something about her tone--that participants in heterosexual vaginal intercourse as celebrated by our culture fail to understand that the "culture of [ben-was balls'] origin prizes the subtle and understated, not the neon flashing blaze of quick excitement"--that grates. I mean, first of all, if something doesn't work for me, why is that some evidence of my unsophisticated relationship to my body? Shoot, can I go around adding only one grain of salt to my dishes and, when my guests complain that they're bland, chastise them for not prizing "the subtle and understated?" But the other thing that bothers me is the subtle condescension towards the penis. As the Professor wisely asks, "Do we have to be mad at the penis to learn to love our vaginas?" Must we continue to see each other only as binary opposites? Oddly enough, on this very day, Summer reminds us that Cixous is wrestling with this same crap. She (Cixous) says, "The same shadowy impulse, divided in direction, and always its own reverse, pushes you, restraining you, to lose." Now, honestly, I always read through Cixous once and say "what the fuck is she talking about," so I could be wrong about this shit. Still, she's talking about this same thing, in part, I think. I think she's saying that these dichotomies by which we understand each other hurt us. You are the big strong man; I am the small weak woman. You thrust unfeelingly; I envelope in subtle sensations. But on the other hand, I am the strength of fidelity, while you cannot help your weak will and must stray. I am the cold bitch and you are the thoughtful poet. See? Divided in direction and somehow always its own reverse.

Seeing each other as only a collection of stuff that is not us doesn't get us anywhere. It keeps us from each other.

There's got to be ways to do this, to talk lovingly about ourselves in ways that don't degrade you. To talk about the things we need--pleasure, security, well-being, etc.--without conceiving of it as having to come at the expense of someone else.

I truly understand why some feminists hate men and advocate for women-only institutions. I understand it intellectually, but I don't get it in my heart. Again, these are my guys--my brothers, my father, my nephews, my lovers, my friends--and my life would be vastly diminished without them.

Can't we conceive of a feminism that doesn't always have to concern itself with being in opposition to men? What if we just acknowledge the shittiness of the patriarchy and get about the business of figuring out how to enjoy life (which, of course, includes healthy doses of picking on the patriarchy) as best we can?

Again, Cixous: "Let yourself go! Let go of everything! Lose everything! Take to the air. Take to the open sea. Take to letters. Listen: nothing is found. Nothing is lost. Everything remains to be sought."

How can you not want to be a part of that?

Looking for Ways to Make Money

Among my family members, when one has severe money woes, the quickest way to un-woe yourself is, to borrow Flea's delicious phrase, to spend some time on the road as an "unlicensed traveling pharmaceutical salesman." I, however, can't stand the thought of making my mom cry--which she certainly would if I went to jail--and I am, perhaps, the squarest square of them all. I'm constantly telling my friends to be careful in whatever they do lest they be exposed to unsanitary conditions that cause them to get gangrene and have to have their feet chopped off. I would be the person that, when stopped by the police because my tail light was out would immediately confess to having two hundred pounds of marijuana in my trunk. And then I'd beg not to be beaten. So, drug dealing is out for me. Instead, I've been kicking around the idea of selling Tiny Cat Pants t-shirts. I'd buy one, I'm pretty sure Tim Morgan would buy one, and I could probably convince the Shill to buy one. If I could sell three t-shirts, for sure, I'd only have to price them at $7,000 a piece to be completely debt free, excluding my student loan. Sadly, if I had $7,000 with which to buy a t-shirt, I'd have $7,000 to use to, say, pay off my car loan. So, I should not count on me as one of the t-shirt sales, which means I'll have to raise the price to $10,000 a piece. Unfortunately, the only entity I know who would pay $10,000 for anything that should only cost $20, sight unseen, is the federal government. And I don't have any federal government connections. Still, it'd be damn cool to see Dick Cheney in a Tiny Cat Pants t-shirt...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Nashville Love

Y'all, something happened on my way to work this morning. I realized that I love this city. I got a little choked up about it, coming down West End, seeing the hilly street descending down towards the ever-present Batman building. I've never been in love with a place before. I've never lived any place long enough to really get to know it well enough to know what falling in love with it could be like. But this morning, I realized that I could have a very happy life if all my trips ended up with me back here. I mean, before today, there have been lots of things about Nashville that I love--the park, the city cemetery, the Shelby Bottoms greenway, the sound of the interstate like my very own river and the trains like barges around me, my friends, my job, the fountain in Bicentennial Park, the honky-tonks down on lower Broad, the millions of back ways to get places--but finally I feel like this is my home. I'm getting a little emotional even typing that. I've never had a home town before. I've never been from some place. But I've been here six years, which makes it the second longest I've ever lived some place. I've grown attached. It's a weird feeling, to belong to a place. I feel like I should go out and drive around more often, to keep track of how things are and how they're changing. Or that I should join a club or buy season tickets to something. I don't know. It's all new. But it's nice.

A False Fall

Mrs. Wigglebottom and I went out for our regular walk this morning. It was very creepy. Finally, there's a little coolness in the morning air. Not enough to make you comfortable, but enough to reassure you that autumn is coming. The other sad reminder is that the trees have already begun to let go of their leaves. I hear that other parts of town are getting rain, but all we've been getting is the menacing thunder. We've had brown grass for weeks, but now it's starting to show on the trees. Many of them are marbled with brown leaves. Some are dropping leaves. The ones that are still green are curled and dry. The magnolias are stressed and even the evergreens are drooping. This morning was the first time all summer that we weren't surrounded by the noises of birds and bugs chirping and humming. The whole neighborhood was eerily quiet and Mrs. Wigglebottom and I both were on edge. It got me wondering if trees pray--for rain or for sunshine or for fair weather. And I guess if a prayer is a hope you can't do anything about but articulate, then each crunchy leaf we stepped on today was a desperate prayer for an end to hot and dry.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Skeleton Key

I just got back from The Skeleton Key. That's the one nice thing I learned in NYC, how to just go to the movies whether or not you feel like going with anyone. Still, it's the kind of movie that's a little better than it has a right to be and so as much as I was glad to go by myself, I'm a little frustrated that I don't have anyone to talk it over with. So, the movie. It's fine. It has a twist that, if you don't see it coming a mile away, I'm guessing this is your first movie. Really, if Hollywood wants us to be surprised by a surprise ending, they need to stop saying "The biggest twist since The Sixth Sense." I still liked it though. Like I said, it's a little better than it has a right to be and the religious statues that are both themselves and perhaps voudou gods, the blues and jazz listened to by white folks, the folk magic born out of African, European, and Native American traditions, and the "shocking" revelation at the end of the movie makes me think that the movie is actually a lot about cultural appropriation. Yes, a cheesy summer thriller that seems to casually dwell on the kind of creepy energy that comes from us all stealing our precious things from each other.

We're so weird

Rachel has a good post today on labioplasty. Yes, that's right. At the same time we criticize other cultures for mutilating the genitals of their daughters, we're willingly mutilating our own. I don't even know where to start with this. Is what we're doing somehow more "okay" than what they're doing because we're choosing for ourselves to hack up our genitals? Is it okay because it's to make us look more like sluts (Rachel reports that many women bring in pictures of porn stars they want to look like.) instead of keeping us from looking like sluts? And more importantly, if these cosmetic surgeons are willing to perform this surgery, does that mean that there are other cosmetic surgeons who are willing to perform the other kinds of genital mutilation? If not, why not? It's truly a strange to me that it's come to this, and believe me, I'm as shocked as the next person to find myself arguing against situational ethics, but really, if we can't agree that there's something wrong with hacking up a woman's labia so that she can fit some perceived societal norm--whether it happens in the U.S. or in Africa--we're really fucked in the head.

A Fairy Tale for Me

They say you can tell a lot about folks by the stories they tell. I don't have much use for the old "girl pines for distant boy and her love makes him stop being an asshole" stories or the "boy pines for unconscious girl and his kiss awakens her" stories. But there is one fairytale I really wish upon a star would come true for me. Here's that story: Once upon a time there was a brilliant and cute girl who lived in a place between the interstate and the train tracks. She lived there because it was close to work and she could surround herself with animals and brothers, many of which seemed to spend most of the day farting noxious farts. It's unclear why she put up with that. Even though our hero was cute and brilliant, with fun curly hair, she had a deep dark secret. Here's what it was. When it came to personal finance, her strategy was to open the bills, pay what they ordered her to pay, and, when her bank account was empty, ask her brother for enough money to cover the rest. There are many ways that this arrangement was not smart, but for the most part, it made her happy so whenever someone asked her why her brother was not paying more than just what she could not afford to pay, she got very angry and stomped on their left foot. Most people stopped asking. But one day (and here's where it become untrue) a brilliantly funny, hairy, liberal accountant/lawyer with a high tolerance for flatulent pets arrived at her door. "Why," he asked her, "are you making more money than your parents made the whole time you were growing up and still are living basically hand to mouth?" She glared at him and stomped on his foot. He didn't even flinch. "Why don't you do something about it?" She glared at him and stomped on his other foot. He smiled at her, somewhat amused. "Fine," she said, tears streaming down her face, "the truth is that I'm not brilliant when it comes to money and I feel like I'm making all of my decisions based solely out of terror and not out of wise money management strategies. You see, sir, as smart as I am, I am not smart enough to know what right courses of action are available to me. I have no math skills." "Lucky for you," he smiled, or at least he appeared to smile through his lush moustache, "I am an accountant and an attorney with a vast personal fortune. I will buy you a house, consolidate your credit card debt into one easy and manageable payment, and help you budget your money so that you have enough for property taxes, a cleaning service, and a little money so that you can go out with your friends." "Money to go out with my friends?!" She cried. "It's been years since I regularly had money to go out with my friends. Sir, you are too kind." "Thank you, ma'am," He winked at her and came in, sat down at her computer, opened up Excel and, within an afternoon, had made sense of her financial mess, while she sat on the couch, listened to rap music, and admired his steel-toed boots. When he was done, he got up and headed towards the door. "I'll be back next week to take you house hunting. I'm sure we can find you a nice house with some character in a funky neighborhood no problem." "And after that?" she asked, "Will I ever see you again?" "Well," he said, "I spend a great deal of time on the road with my biker gang, but I'd be more than happy to stop by for smooches and to take you out to dinner ever couple of weeks." "That sounds terrific," she said. And it was.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Hollywood Hustler

Because I couldn't find Taketoshi in a timely manner, I ended up going to the Hollywood Hustler twice today. Well, I guess if I had found Taketoshi in a timely manner, I would have still ended up at the Hollywood Hustler twice today, but each time would have been with a different person and that would have been fun, to walk in the second time and wink at the salesperson when she recognized me. Anyway, it's very cute as far as sex shops go. Everything is clean and well-laid out and well-lit. There were as many women in there as there were men, though, I noticed that the women tended to congregate around the toys and books while the men congregated around the videos. As for the toys, I have to say that there was both quite a variety and also not very much variety. You could get the same vibrator in five different colors with five different women on each one. But as for having a lot of different things that seemed like they might be fun while at the same time not quite possible... Not so much. So, that was disappointing. And the staff is so young that you don't really feel like you can ask them questions. I mean, shit, if I don't know what something is, how the hell are they going to? They really need to get a knowledgeable, funny, older woman in there to put folks at ease and show them how to use stuff. But you can get coffee there, so that counts for a lot.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Pondering Hobbies, the Unofficial Sixth Beatle & Other Assorted Items

1. Yesterday, the Professor was all sad because she didn't have any hobbies. I suggested skeet shooting or sex toy designing. Taketoshi thought she should go into blacksmithing. I then voted for combining blacksmithing and sex toy designing, but got quickly laughed out of consideration. As we were having this discussion, we were eating the most fabulous zucchini bread, which I am also eating right now, as we speak. Of course, we then realized that the Professor's hobby is baking. Yum yum. Not quite as great as having a friend in the sex toy business, but great nevertheless. 2. Sarcastro has had a bad week. It's partially Bobby Flay's fault. The post is poignant and touching (and a little funny), but it looks like the comments may be on the verge of something spectacular. Most folks are offering sympathy. Some are writing poetry. One guy is trying to convince Sarcastro's female readership to take shifts in nursing him back to his old self (for the record, I could probably take the 5:30-8 a.m. shift, if Sarcastro doesn't mind Mrs. Wigglebottom). And, AND, his ex-girlfriend is on there calling him a jackass. It's not right to gain amusement from other people's pain, but it's the American way, so enjoy. 3. I've recently heard from the Kingmaker. He told me I was one of the smartest people he'd ever met. I was overcome by the desire to make out with him in public. The trouble with mafia movies is that, though there's a subtle layer of homoeroticism, with all the guns and the kisses of death, they don't explicitly tell you when it's appropriate to smooch the people who could end your career. Still, I realized, pretty much all it takes is for you to say I'm brilliant, and I will make out with you. 4. I'm getting a number of hits from the United Arab Emirate and Saudi Arabia looking for "nephews and aunts fucking" and "I want to fuck my aunt." To which I say, "Yuck!" and "I can almost guarantee that your aunt does not want to fuck you, young man." 5. I stupidly let the dog sleep on my lap this afternoon, even though it is one million degrees out.

ID--The Remix

One thing I don't want to get lost in our talk of Intelligent Design (because it seems like the conversation is going in other interesting directions) is that I don't want us to fail to see this for what it is: a profound theological crisis. Anyone with a basic understanding of the New Testament and a basic understanding of human nature ought to recognize what's going on with this attempt to codify a certain type of Christian belief in the school systems and this attempt to shun homosexuals into non-existence and this attempt to return women to their rightful place under the authority of husbands. What this is, at its heart, is a group of Christians trying to make a deal with God. For those of you who need a short refresher course on how that tends to go, let me remind you. You can make deals with the Devil--even learn to play the blues--but you will lose your soul in the end. You cannot bargain with God. There are a number of theological problems with the ID debate. First Christians again mistake Jesus's nature. If you read the New Testament, you'll see that one of the things that made Jesus unrecognizable as the messiah to most people is that they were expecting a military king, someone to come down and kick some ass for God. Instead, they got a carpenter and his fishermen buddies asking them to give up everything they had, even their dreams of military power. And here we are again, with these Christians transforming themselves into a virtual army of God battling against the evils of the secular world, because, again, they refuse to see that their messiah refuses to be a general. But these Christians really want power. They want a Godly man in the White House so desperately they refuse to see his failings as a human being. They want to have their way so desperately in the court houses that they overlook the pitfall of worshipping false idols. They want to have their way in the public schools so desperately that they ignore Jesus's admonition to render under Caesar what is Caesar's. And they really, really don't want to give themselves over to the transformative power of Jesus, because the only thing Jesus asks, again and again, is to let go of the things you think you can't do without and see how it goes. This, at its heart, is why they don't go after adulterers with the same zeal they go after homosexuals or why they don't go after rich people who refuse to give all they have to the poor with the same zeal they go after women who refuse to submit to men. Because they are the money-hungry. The adulterers are among them. They want to fix what's "wrong" out there. They don't want to look inward at their own problems. They're trying to strike a bargain so that they don't have to change. "God, if you don't expect me to do what Jesus asked, then I will go after those fornicators and blasphemers and heathens. Lord, if you just let me hold onto this power and have a little more, I will be an army against your enemies." Bargaining with God... Good luck with that.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Literacy is the Path to Communism

I'm all out of brilliant things to say after the staggering work of genius that was my Intelligent Design post so I'm on my way to go eat warm zucchini bread at the Professor's. But I'll leave you with this. I am certainly not the first person to note that it's a pretty Commie thing to have government-sponsored marches to commemorate important events. It's probably a pretty Soviet thing to have to register with the government in order to walk down a public street as well. My only hope is that, as we descend into something like a Soviet state, we have awesome posters like this. (Ha, and my dad thought taking Russian was pointless... Little did he know that we'd kill the Red Bear only to wear its corpse around like shaman wanting to invoke its spirit and strength for our own. Well, now that its official, I say bring on our Akhmatova to remind us of the pleasures of "bourgeois decadence" and help save us from our own stupidity.)

Who Benefits from Intelligent Design?

One of the unending ironies of life, as far as I can tell, is that the good shit you do will always bite you in the ass at some point. Take the feminist assault on the canon. In purely literary terms, this meant that many of us were like "What the fuck? Why are we reading Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Whitman and Dumas and all these men and you just toss Dickinson and the Brontes in there for a little decoration and we're all supposed to pretend like that tells us something about the whole human condition? Argh, blegh, grr." Now, let's talk about various feminist strategies as if there are a bunch of guys sitting at the premier table in the lunch room. One very common strategy has been for all the girls who want to be at that table to get their own table and try to convince themselves it's just as good, even though the chair legs are wobbly and the table top hasn't been wiped off in weeks. An uncommon, though loudly criticized, strategy has been for some feminists to go to the table, dump all the men's shit on the floor, and install their own butts in those chairs. The most common strategy has been for us to go up to the table and say, "Excuse me but I noticed that you think this table represents everyone in the whole lunchroom, but you don't have any women." And the men huff and puff and say, "Fine, Toni Morrison, you can fucking sit here, but it means Hemingway's got to go. And, god, that sucks that Hemingway can't sit at the table any more because those god damned feminists think we've got to have some girls here." But the other strategy, and the one I enjoy seeing widely employed and employing myself is this: "Excuse me, but y'all don't have any girls here. Ernest, scoot over, I'm sitting down. Hey, Twain, make room for Oliver. Come on. We can fit a bunch more people here." Then, if some guys want to be pissy, fine. Let them. I'll just wait for them to get settled at their new table and I'll be hauling my chair right over there too. I think one of the important things feminism has done over the last 150 years is to reinforce in the American people a healthy and joyful skepticism of the "way things are done around here." We've been running around poking and prodding and questioning and antagonizing and though we've not yet achieved everything we'd like to, we've done a great deal to nurture and pass along that rebellious quarrelsome American spirit. (You're welcome.) And for how long have we been saying "These are just stories--history, science, economics, politics, etc. All just stories we tell about how things are and we can tell different stories that include everyone. Why can't you tell some stories that include us?" And though you've pissed and moaned, you've done it. But now, we who've done so much to nurture the rebellious and quarrelsome American spirit find that our strategies have bound away from us, like puppies just off the leash, and Conservative Christians have found them and fallen in love with them as much as we love them. If science can expand its scope to accommodate women, why can't science expand its scope to accommodate Intelligent Design? If homosexuals insist on tolerance, why can't Conservative Christians insist on tolerance for their beliefs? (Dan Savage, who is sitting in for Andrew Sullivan this week talks a little about this.) If it weren't so funny, it'd be sad, the way that we liberals have been blindsided by this. And, I think, the reason it's so effective as a weapon with which to blindside the Left is that it exposes our greatest weakness, which is, of course, that we're a bunch of snobs. Yes, yes, we are. We think we're better than the folks who voted for Bush, who live in the "red" states, who listen to country music, who love NASCAR, who don't like the city, who say "ma'am" unironically, who believe what their preachers tell them unconditionally. It's obvious in the way we're all like "fuck 'em." Mike the Mad Biologist calls Matt Yglesias on this very thing. I'm not going to quote the whole post, but I do want to point out that Mike's response to Yglesias's suggestion that it's fine if those people want their kids to learn Intelligent Design because common people don't really need real science, is spot on when he says: "The idea that a basic understanding of the world around us shouldn't belong to the 'little people' is utterly arrogant. Say what you will about us eggheads, at least we think everyone potentially can understand what we're talking about. His attitude is just more stereotypical political-insider arrogance." But you know what? As ridiculous as it is to ask that religious beliefs be taught in science class, it gives me great pleasure in knowing that the paradigm has shifted. Once everyone has started using our tools of persuasion, it establishes our tools as fine tools to use. So, fine, use that rebellious and quarrelsome spirit to your own ends. But don't be surprised when, like us, you find yourself holding an empty leash you thought you'd secured tightly. What do I mean? I mean, you want Intelligent Design taught in science classes by science teachers. Now, I've read through the documents from the Kansas Science Standards website and I can't find any where in there where it says that those science teachers are required to respectfully discuss ID (in fact, from what I can tell, they aren't actually required to mention ID, just required to tell students that evolution is just a theory). No place where they have to treat it with any dignity at all. And no place where they aren't allowed to discuss the controversy surrounding teaching other non-scientific versions of how the world came to be in a science class. I'm sure that ID supporters think that teaching ID alongside evolution will mean that ID will be treated with the same respect evolution is. Maybe in most cases that will happen. I just doubt it will happen in all cases. Still, they want their ideas respected and so they've used our strategies to get their ideas into the classroom. But I don't think they've really thought through what it means using quarrelsome rebellion as a tool to establish the respectful consideration of an idea most scientists find ridiculous. Because, once you've established that quarrelsome rebelliousness is an effective tool of persuasion, it's hard to say "but only we get to use it." Believe me, we tried.