Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Women Bleed Too--And Newsweek Knows It

Kudos to Newsweek for not only tackling one of the many hidden results of this War of Terror--our tens of thousands of wounded Vets--but for also putting a wounded female soldier on their cover. If you read the whole article, you get a better sense of what this war is going to mean for us here at home for a generation or more; plus, it leaves you with the bitter taste of outrage at how poorly we're treating folks who put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms we're all so used to taking advantage of. Despicable. Really.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

To Do: Stop Rape Now

My neighbor, who works with UNIFEM, let me know about an event taking place this coming Monday, March 5, at the UN. The panel, entitled "Stop Rape Now" will take up the issue of what the UN can do "to intensify its efforts to end sexual violence in conflict." Panelists will include: Fatou Bensouda, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; General Daniel Opande, UN Force Commander, Liberia and Sierra Leone; Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues; Sapana Pradhan Malla, Director, Forum from Women, Law and Development; and will be moderated by CNN anchor Isha Sesay.

The event is scheduled to take place in Conference Room 4 of the General Assembly Building at UN Headquarters in NY, and will run from 1:15 to 2:45 pm. Guests who do not have a UN pass must pre-register for the event by emailing:

Take the time to lend the folks at UNIFEM your support on this important issue.

Oprah Winfrey is Rad (Seriously)

Last night after getting our Heroes fix, Jessica and I watched Oprah's prime-time special on the founding of her new Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Call me predictable ('cause I am), but I was utterly and profoundly moved by what Oprah has done in giving these girls nothing short of the education they truly deserve. The lives of each of the girls she selected to attend the Academy is a lesson to each of us about all that we take for granted, and Oprah's generosity in providing for the well-being of their bodies, minds and souls is, simply put, awe inspiring. To be able to change lives on such a grand level is clearly rewarding for Oprah, but I imagine that the bigger reward--for her and for humanity--will be seeing how many other people of privilege (which means most of us in the Western world) will be moved to be generous as well, thanks to her own good deeds.

So Oprah is my hero for today. Anybody who chooses to do, and inspire, that much good, definitely deserves our applause. The special will be airing again this Saturday, March 3rd at 8pm EST--check it out, and keep your Kleenex close at hand.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"When women speak more than 30% of the time, men perceive them as dominating the conversation."

That's an old truism from writer Ursula K. Le Guin, and it still holds its water today, irritatingly enough. On the CBC News site, Heather Mallick writes of her frustration with Harper's Magazine, which still seems to be publishing entire issues with nary a byline from a woman in sight. It's infuriating, and it simply is not enough for these male publishers to keep claiming that they are just publishing the "best" writing--irrespective of gender (or race or class). We ought to be holding them to a higher standard, given that we (women) make up MORE THAN 50% of the total US population. By what measure does that make us a minority, a pocket of the population these guys can continue to ignore? The Women's Media Center has been working on this issue for over a year, alongside operations like SheSource and WIMN. It'll be great to finally see them get some traction, but in the meantime I think it is up to us, as individuals, to do what Mallick did and start writing letters demanding we see more women in print (and on air). Like my mother said this weekend: The media belongs to us.

Weekend Round-up

Does anyone else have the same Academy Awards hangover I do? So much hype, and now it's all over. Which is good, I guess, because that means we can get back to thinking about topics other than Tinseltown.

My picks for great reading from the past weekend:

Do the Lives of Mothers Matter?: While here in the US we're taking ever greater measures to ensure the quality of maternal health, around the world, pregnant women continue to die by the millions. Go to the Times' front page to watch a 3 minute video about the plight of pregnant women in East Africa, or, if you have a Times Select membership, read the full article.

Feminist Votes = Hillary Votes??: On AlterNet, an interesting meditation from a young woman who ponders whether her feminist beliefs oblige her to vote for Hillary. It's a question a lot of women are asking.

Women Take It to the Turf: Almost 2 years ago now, I spent a Saturday afternoon at a women's professional football game. It was dope, and the tailgating beforehand wasn't bad either. Now, MSNBC's picked up on the fact that there's a women's league out there worth paying attention to. Plus, Ickey Woods (remember the Ickey Shuffle?) is coaching in Cincinnati! It's an older story, but still relevant.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Must Writers Be Good?

At writing, yes--but this article by Tania Kindersley of The Guardian asks us to think again about why we insist these days that authors be morally "good" as well. I'm not sure that I entirely agree we do, but still worth the read, especially for the readers' comments/dialog at the end.

"The thing is, you can embarrass somebody to death."

It was never my intention in starting this blog to spend much, if any, time giving further attention to the overhyped actions of the celebrity caste. And I can pretty much promise you that the occasions will be rare that I focus my lens on the comings and goings of people whose contributions to building a better society are minimal at best (for that, there is Gawker). But Rebecca Traister's article in Salon today about the tragedy that has become Britney Spears' life, touched a nerve with me--mostly because it asks us to stop and consider our own (lack of) humanity in reveling at this girl's mishaps.

For the record, I am 100% tired of the sideshow Spears inspires, but I am twice as tired at having to listen to the blame adult people seem to lump on this relative child for the dissolution of her sanity--a dissolution, once could argue, we are all complicit in by way of our support of the celebrity magazines that hound her day and night. Yes, I've bought People Magazine, too, and those other ones on occasion... but as priggish as it sounds, I've really tried to curb my fiduciary support of those publications because I do believe that buying them destroys lives.

In any case, Traister's article is worth the read; plus, it's nice to see public figures like Craig Ferguson take a stand on the issue.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Yale Names Woman to Physics Chair

Via the Yale ELIne newsletter we learn that C. Megan Urry has been named Chair of the Physics Department at that little school in Connecticut. This makes her "the first woman to chair the physics department at Yale and the only female physics chair in the Ivy League." Urry's specialty? Researching super-massive black holes. Take that, Larry Summers.

Wimbledon Does Women Right, Finally

After 123 years of play, the powers that be at Wimbledon have finally agreed that women deserve pay that is equal to that of their male counterparts: Starting with the 2007 event, female and male competitors receive equal payment at every stage of the tourney. This brings Wimbledon on par with both the US Open and the Australian, which have been matching dollars for a few years now. Of the Grand Slam titles, now only the French Open remains somewhat in dark ages: they match money at the championship level, but tilt the playing field in favor of the men throughout the rest of the tournament. I wonder if this new development means Amelie Mauresmo can sue retroactively for the $600,000 difference between her winnings at Wimbledon last year and co-champion Roger Federer's??

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

To Do: Get Thee to The Gallery, Feminist

I was late in discovering this, so, sadly, you're going to have to run not walk if you'd like to see it before it closes on the 24th. But still important to mention that Ceres has a show up called "Agents of Change: Women, Art and Intellect", a group exhibition celebrating women’s achievements in the visual arts, curated by Dr. Leslie King-Hammond, artist and Dean of Graduate Studies at Maryland Institute College of Art.

The show features the work of artists Miriam Schapiro, Faith Ringgold, Ana Mendieta, Renee Cox, Judy Chicago, Kara Walker and the Guerrilla Girls, among others, and represents "a multiethnic, multigenerational selection of work," according to the Times' Holland Cotter. In the same feminist vein, Cotter also recommends fans check out “Re:Generation,” a survey of emerging female artists at Smack Mellon in Dumbo, Brooklyn (closes March 11), as well as “What F Word?” at Cynthia Broan Gallery in Chelsea (closes March 17).

Iowa's Granny Ballers Rock!!

At the insistence of my little friend Katie Sherwin, I am posting this article about a Granny Basketball League that's winning hearts in the Midwest. It's a six-on-six basketball league for "older" women (the oldest member is 81 years old), and from what I can tell they're playing the kind of basketball my grandmother played when she was a girl--making it somewhat of a history lesson for those who are keeping score. You can learn more about the league by visiting Frankly, the best part about it to me are the uniforms: bloomers and stripey tights!!! Plus, the rules clearly state that neither running nor jumping are allowed. I KNEW there was a sport out there for me!

Prison Time for Egyptian Blogger

Good thing I don't live in Egypt: According to this column in The Washington Post, a 22 year old blogger named Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman is sitting in an Egyptian prison as we speak, all for the crime of "expressing his opinions on a blog." He's due to be sentenced tomorrow, not that he's had any reliable access to his lawyers during the time of his imprisonment (he first appeared in court on Nov. 7). He's been accused of a number of things since being ordered to court, including "spreading information disruptive of public order", but his great sin, in the eyes of the Egyptian government is most likely connected to the fact that Soliman is well acknowledged as a champion of the rights of women and religious minorities. He has also denounced religious extremism, and in certain places in this world, it turns out (and we should remember) that is enough to justify terminating your freedom.

To learn more about Soliman's case and how to speak out in support of him, visit:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Add Color, Add Curves

Not that my mother and I needed more proof that we're on the absolute cutting edge of thought in America, but thanks to Robin Givhan for assuring us that we are. Just recently as we rode the subway together, Mommy and I had a little conversation about how none of the women of color we could think of in the entertainment world have the standard "Hollywood" (read: rail-thin) body --and concluded that maybe it is the case that if you're Black in the entertainment world you have to be a little rounder, a little curvier, than the average blond in order to make the grade, be desirable to your target audience, and be believable to the public at large. It's a problematic structure, for sure, this rearticulation of what Givhan calls the "stereotype of the large black woman as the diva-like sexpot: strong, aggressive and entitled", but also interesting for what it tells us about how race/color mediates gender. And then there's the part of me that wonders: is it possible that Black women might come out on top on this issue--if only in the sense that they are able to avoid starving themselves to feel pretty? Not sure, but glad to see some bodies on the covers of the bigs that look like what God meant a body to be.

It's MARDI GRAS, y'all!!

Laissez les bons temps rouler, as they say down in the Bayou! I don't know how I almost forgot about this but very glad this article in the Times reminded me... May be necessary to see if I can pick myself up a King Cake on my way home; at least I had the subconscious sense to wear purple today. Do something to celebrate, Cajun-style, and remember all those folks down in New Orleans who are still waiting to get their lives back.

Anglican Church Continues Frenzy Over Gay Rights

I can't say I envy Katharine Jefferts Schori. The (first female) head of the Episcopal Church here in the US just spent her weekend getting her head handed to her, thanks to a meeting of the worldwide Anglican Communion, held in Tanzania.

If you've been paying attention you know that there's a schism in the Anglican Church: Episcopalians make up the US arm of Anglicanism, and for quite some time now, most of those of us who call ourselves Episcopalian have found ourselves at odds with the Anglican leadership--specifically over the ordination of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions (the majority of Episcopalians support those actions, while a very vocal faction of conservative Anglican leaders do not).

Things came to a head this weekend, according to the NY Times, which reports that "the Anglican Communion gave its Episcopal branch in the United States less than eight months to ban blessings of same-sex unions or risk a reduced role in the world’s third-largest Christian denomination." Jefferts Schori, who runs the Episcopal Church, also agreed to the appointment of
a special vicar to tend to the needs of conservative members who feel alienated by the fact that the mainline US church is moving in a more liberal direction.

What will it all mean? No one's exactly sure, but it's certainly not a good thing for those of us who believe that the church should be inclusive to all members, gay or otherwise. And the appointment of the "special vicar" (reminds one of the Ken Starr days, doesn't it?) is universally agreed to represent a major "check" on Jefferts Schori's powers. Add to that the fact that a number of bishops at the gathering refused to share communion with the US leader, and you understand why I say hers is not a position to envy. Still, I'm glad we've got her there. She needs all the support she can get.

Monday, February 19, 2007

One month ago today

Sunset in Aruba

Weekend Round-up

Happy President's Day! If, like me, you're one of those folks lucky enough to have the day off, I'm sure you'll be reading this on Tuesday. But if, like Katie Sherwin, you're one of those whose job screws you out of mid-major holidays, here are a few tidbits to keep you happy while the rest of us are cavorting:

Reading Barack's Blackness: Another article on the question of Barack's racial identity, our perceptions of it, and why we should find the question itself utterly infuriating. (21 months out from the election and I already do.)

Siblings with Difference: A close look at the reality of being a typically functioning child whose sibling has developmental and/or emotional disabilities.

Another Woman Takes the Lead: Though last week was all about Harvard's big female appointment, Yale also took a big step in elevating a woman this month: Sharon Kugler-- a Catholic-- is about to take the helm as Yale's new chaplain.

Friday, February 16, 2007

NY Catholics Outraged by Condoms

I don't know why this gives me such perverse joy, but a story in the Post today reports that Cardinal Edward Egan and Bklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio are "outraged" that the city has decided to distribute, free of charge, some 26 million subway themed condoms. The religious leaders say such an act on the city's part threatens to "degrade society." Who are they kidding? What's truly degrading is their church's continued ban on contraception, which, if you ask some people, is tantamount to inducing homicide. Thankfully, Bloomberg and his administration are holding firm. Add another check in my book in favor of Mayor Mike.

FEMA Trailers Poisoning Katrina's Homeless

I wish I could get you the full text of this article, but in order to read it online you have to be an actual subscriber to the print edition of The Nation (they need to rethink that model, for sure). But regardless, it's important for all of us to remember that the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is ongoing, and Amanda Spake's article in the 2/26/07 issue of the magazine highlights an issue nobody is talking enough about: the apparently dire health risks of living in FEMA trailers never designed for long-term use.

According to Spake's article,
"Along the Gulf Coast, in the towns and fishing villages from New Orleans to Mobile, survivors of Hurricane Katrina are suffering from a constellation of similar health problems. They wake up wheezing, coughing and gasping for breath. Their eyes burn; their heads ache; they feel tired, lethargic. Nosebleeds are common, as are sinus infections and asthma attacks. Children and seniors are most severely afflicted, but no one is immune."
What's to blame for these ailments? It turns out that most of the trailers that were constructed at breakneck speed to house those left homeless by Katrina were built with "composite wood, particle board and other materials that emit formaldehyde, a common but toxic chemical." Tests of currently occupied trailers have registered levels of formaldehyde well in excess of the EPA's recommended limit.

Given FEMA's initial response to the Hurricane, it should be no surprise that they are doing close to nothing to help the folks who are currently being poisoned by the homes they have no choice but to live in. I imagine that the only thing that will make any sort of difference is public pressure--and, as Spake suggests, pressure from the new Congress. So write your representative and remind him/her that killing people because they're poor is not ok. And if you subscribe to The Nation, write them a letter thanking them for uncovering yet another horrible truth about what it means to be poor in America.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

On the Hill, Doing It All

Washington Post scribe Lois Romano writes of the realities behind being a Congresswoman and a mother of young children. Apparently of the record 87 women now in Congress, only a handful are actually faced with the balancing act of raising kidlings while also raising their profiles on the floor. And yes, there are plenty of Congressmen who are able to manage a family and a vibrant political career-- but they have wives to deal with the kids, remember?

To Read: INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Just reviewed in the NY Times yesterday, Infidel is one of those books we should all be reading. It's the memoir of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose name you may recognize from the coverage she's received in the international press. As William Grimes writes in his review:
"Ayaan Hirsi Ali came to the attention of the wider world in an extraordinary way. In 2004 a Muslim fanatic, after shooting the filmmaker Theo van Gogh dead on an Amsterdam street, pinned a letter to Mr. van Gogh’s chest with a knife. Addressed to Ms. Hirsi Ali, the letter called for holy war against the West and, more specifically, for her death.

A Somali by birth and a recently elected member of the Dutch Parliament, Ms. Hirsi Ali had waged a personal crusade to improve the lot of Muslim women. Her warnings about the dangers posed to the Netherlands by unassimilated Muslims made her Public Enemy No. 1 for Muslim extremists, a feminist counterpart to Salman Rushdie."
My plan is to pick this one up on my way home tonight. Any feminist counterpart to Salman Rushdie (who might take umbrage at the remark) is hot in my book.

Lani Guinier and Juan Williams to Debate at Yale

For anyone who lives close enough to attend, this one is free and open to the public.

What: Debate on "Black Responsibility: By Whom and For What?"

When: Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Time: 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Where: Yale Law School Auditorium, 127 Wall Street, New Haven

As part of Black History Month events at Yale, don't miss this fascinating exchange of views as Lani Guinier and Juan Williams debate the topic "Black Responsibility: By Whom and For What?" It will be held on February 20th at 7pm at the Yale Law School Auditorium. The event promises to be a lively debate in the Buckley/Sloan Coffin tradition.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Viva Inside Mexico!!

It's not often in life that one can honestly say, "I was there right in the beginning," but for me, this is actually one of those times--so indulge me here for a moment.

Back in the summer of 2004, after my book tour had wrapped and I was still flush enough in cash to be able to travel at will, my friend Aran Shetterly and I ended up chatting over dinner in Maine about our upcoming plans. Mine were yet to be fully formulated; his were more definite--and definitely exciting. He had a plan, he told me, to travel down to Mexico and do a little research about whether there was room for an English language newspaper in the city of Oaxaca, a town that prior to its recent uprisings, was a mecca for foreign language students from the United States and Europe.

It was one of those dinners I imagine I'll feel lucky to have had for the rest of my life, one where the commerce of ideas felt real and important, and the companionship complete. I remember thinking how proud I was of Aran, and of how much sense--both business and political--his idea made; and I remember meditating to myself as I fell asleep that night about how cool (yes, cool is the word that came to me) it would be to be part of such an endeavor.

I think it was the next morning, might have been afternoon, that Aran called and invited me to join him on his trip to Oaxaca. I don't think I hesitated long before saying yes. And so I traveled with him, for two weeks, down to the south of Mexico to see what the opportunities might be for this newspaper of his. It was an amazing journey for me, and I fell in love with Mexico in ways I never would have imagined possible for someone who spoke, upon arrival, not a word of Spanish. And when Aran left at the end of our two weeks of exploration, I stayed behind, on my own, to write and to think and to feel again what it means to be what I believe I am. I am still learning from those lessons.

Since then, life has taken me in a number of different directions, and for the most part those have not involved Mexico or the newspaper. But Aran has stayed true to his goal. In November, Inside Mexico, the paper he founded with Margot, his partner in life and in work, launched to great fanfare. And today, it is profiled in the L.A. Times. The newspaper is beautiful to me on its own merits for certain, and I encourage you all to check it out. But it is also particularly miraculous to me in that it represents a very tangible example of the notion that, despite what anyone tells us, we really can create worlds. What a wonderful thing Aran and Margot have done... I am so proud of them I could burst.

For Your Calendar--GOP Debate at Reagan Library

I'm sure the first question is: why should we care? Well here's the hook: the event is being sponsored by MSNBC and (which you should be reading if you aren't already) and will allow for viewers watching from the Politico website to submit their questions to the candidates in real-time, via email. It'll take place May 3rd, and represents the first time the Reagan Library will be used for a debate. This is your chance to ask the slippery little dudes the hard questions... or at least its our best shot at flooding the question pool with hostile inquiries about war, health care and the economy. Be there!

King James!

No, not LeBron... This time we're talking about someone smaller and furrier--the ultimate champion of the 2007 Westminster Dog Show: CH Felicity's Diamond Jim, also known as James. Though a Parson Russell did not claim the crown, I was still tickled pink to be able to correctly identify this dog on sight during his morning turn on The Today Show.

James is an English Springer Spaniel--and a real sight to behold. When my Jackson was but a wee pup he spent some time hanging our with Cavalier King Charles named Roger, who changed my mind about the relative merits of Spaniels (prior to that I had no love for them, my Spaniel experience having mostly been limited to Cockers--ugh). Since then, I've found a real place in my heart for these guys--particularly the English Springer--so it's great to see James win.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"White Men Are Nothing Special"

God bless Jane Smiley for this quote of the day, from her very astute contribution to HuffPo on the debacle that is this war in Iraq. Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bush, Bolton and Rummy-- I think they pretty much prove the point. It's long for a blog post, but well worth the read.

Plan A? Romance. Plan B? Ask Planned Parenthood.

Folks in Pittsburgh sure are lucky: not only do they get to live in what is without a doubt one of the more beautiful (yet underrated) cities in the U.S., but on Valentine's Day they'll be able to access FREE emergency contraception from their local Planned Parenthood chapter. Starting tomorrow at 7:30 a.m., the downtown clinic in Pittsburgh will be handing out Plan B to any passersby who want it--and can prove they're over 18 years of age. Ingrid and Big Al: you FINALLY have something to be proud of Pennsylvania for!!

Ready to get Romney-fied?

Until today, the total body of my knowledge about Mitt Romney was made up of these 2 facts: 1) He is the former (one-term) governor of the state of Massachusetts, and 2) He is a Mormon. Now, thanks to the LA Times, I know one other thing: he's running to become the 44th president of the United States of America.

Ok, that's not quite all: Romney, like a certain African-American Democratic candidate we know, has already figured out that he's duty-bound to talk about how Washington can't be changed by "insiders", if his campaign is going to have any chance at viability. This may be true, but for some reason I have the feeling that Republicans --with all their staid, stay-the-course logic--will be less likely than the free-wheeling Dems to accept the argument that experience doesn't matter...making Romney's path to the nomination that much more difficult.

And then there's this: is America ready for a Mormon president? Should I be scared by the fact that one longstanding belief of the Mormon church is/was that Blacks were "cursed" and children of the devil" and could, therefore, not hold positions of priesthood in the LDS church? I know from reading "Under the Banner of Heaven ", Jon Krakauer's compelling portrait of extreme Mormonism, that BYU recently elected its first black Saint to the presidency of the student body--but I can't say that quite quells my worries.

What's clear is that this race--a black man, a white woman, and a Mormon, so far-- will be a great referendum on just how tolerant the United States has really become. Whoever is left standing at the end of this one will certainly offer an important lesson on our progress as a nation--or lack thereof.

Prime-time Doggies--Live!

Today marks the opening of the 131st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, taking place here in NYC at Madison Square Garden. This time last year, Jessica's company got us tickets to the event and we spent the early portion of the evening trawling around backstage, petting and oohing over dogs of all shapes and sizes. For my money (or non-money, as the case may have been) the doggy show ranks up there among some of the best events I've ever been to at the Garden, precisely because any ticket to the show grants you access to this backstage area--where, one year, Jessica saw a woman sleeping in a crate, curled up right next to her enormous dog.

We don't have tickets this year, so I, like most others, will be reduced to watching the championship on television. I've got my fingers crossed, as an owner of the breed, that the Parson Russell Terrier will take home the gold this year. It's a long-shot, but as lovers of Underbiscuit know, you can never count the little man out!!!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Waking Up with Tiki Barber...

... sounds just grand to me. And now, those of us who are devotees of The Today Show will likely have the opportunity to do just that: Barber has reportedly signed a "multi-year, multi-million dollar" deal with NBC to be a special correspondant to their morning money-maker, along with a few nights of commentating duties on their Sunday Night Football franchise smartly packed in there. How great for Tiki to finally be part of a winning team.

Who Says Sorors Aren't Politically Active?

Certainly not me... But seriously: though I know in the past I may have been guilty of being anti-sorority sister, this article about how some UT Austin sisters are getting real about cutting carbon emissions is making me rethink my bias. Rock on Alpha Phi!

Weekend Round-up

Sorry to have been MIA since Thursday, but board duty called... Unbelievably, it was warmer in the Northwest corner of CT (read: Berkshire Mountains) than it has been here in NYC of late. I don't know what that means in terms of climate change, but I'm betting it's not good.

In any case, here are the stories that had my heart aflutter over the weekend:

HARVARD'S LADY LEADER: After 371 years, Harvard has finally seen the light and appointed its first female President in the person of Drew Gilpin Faust.

THE (IN)HUMANITY OF LETHAL INJECTION: Read this article and then keep trying to argue in favor of capital punishment. I ain't buying it--and neither are an increasing number of judges.

MARK CUBAN--VOICE OF REASON?: His argument may be a little simplistic, but it's nice to see somebody in the business trying to convince players it might actually be to their advantage to come out.

That's it for the moment... More updates to come.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Peek-a-boo, Andy-pooh!

Don't know how I missed it, but one of the only Republicans I love to love has moved his blog yet again. Thanks to Glynnis MacNicol of HuffPo's Eat the Press for pointing out that Andrew Sullivan's blog, late of Time magazine's online site, is now a part of The Atlantic. Boon for them, boo for Time.

By Not Living the Truth You Are Supporting the Lie

Props to L.Z. Granderson of for being courageous enough to ask the tough questions about the politics of former NBA player John Amaechi's coming out. Though if I met him, I'd probably give Amaechi a long hug and a pat on the back for telling his truth now, Granderson is right that sooner or later some pro-athlete is going to have to be brave enough to tell that truth while he's still in uniform. Will it be easy? Hardly--and I don't at all dismiss the very real threat to life and limb that said individual might face. But that's what real warriors do: they stare danger in the eye in the name of right, in the name of truth. Isn't it interesting that amidst all this talk of masculinity, Sheryl Swoopes and Amelie Mauresmo--both women--turn out to be the mightiest warriors of all?

Another Ex-Athlete Comes Out? Not Impressed.

Bloggers profane? Who knew?

I can't help but wonder what John Edwards thought he was getting when he hired bloggers to join his campaign... Apparently nobody told him this World Wide Web thingy isn't really about being polite all the time. But no worries: today, he's fired the nasty buggers. Perhaps from here on out he'll stick to courting the MSM.

Edwards's Bloggers Cross the Line, Critic Says

Edwards Campaign Fires Bloggers (Salon, site pass required)

What Would Caesar Do?

For those who pay attention to these sorts of things, interesting article on AlterNet today (via Women's eNews) about the rise in C-section rates in the U.S. and whether that number is getting just too high. According to the article,
"C-sections are being performed in the U.S. at a rate that far exceeds international recommendations. A clash over the high rate and related health issues has broken out between midwives and obstetricians."
Are we really surprised that the incidence of a procedure that earns hospitals exponentially more money than a non-invasive one (and reduces the risk of litigation to boot) has skyrocketed? I don't know how we can be... It's disingenuous of all of us--physicians included--to conduct this debate in terms that assume that "what's best" for the mother and child is the major determining factor in the choice between C-section and vaginal birth; my guess is, the bottom line feeds this equation as much, if not more, than any other consideration, and addressing that fact is really the more pressing issue--and the more socially damning one, when you look right at it.

Are Women Having Too Many C-Sections?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Penn State Bias Case--Over and Out

Anyone paying attention to the Jennifer Harris/ Rene Portland debacle at Penn State (you know, where the former accused the latter of dumping her from the team for being a lesbian--which, interestingly enough, the former claims not to actually be) will want to take note that the fighting is now over and a settlement has been reached. ESPN reports no figures, a few facts, and a lot of "no comments"; Mechelle Voepel has lots to say about the cop-out the settlement represents for all concerned.

The Hillary/Barack Non-Divide

Great op-ed in the NYTimes today written by Gloria Steinem, on why those of us who consider ourselves progressive should avoid the trap of pitting Hillary and Barack (and their respective subject positions) against one another. The set up:
"EVEN before Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton threw their exploratory committees into the ring, every reporter seemed to be asking which candidate are Americans more ready for, a white woman or a black man?

With all due respect to the journalistic dilemma of reporting two 'firsts' at the same time — two viable presidential candidates who aren’t the usual white faces over collars and ties — I think this is a dumb and destructive question."
Read the full article for the "why" behind the "dumb and destructive" comment. Makes you think again about how history--should we actually choose to pay attention to it--really does inform both present and future.

Women 'n Wal-Mart: Court Says, Class Action OK

Wal-Mart--the superstore with the lowest prices on earth, where everybody (yes, everybody) has shopped at least once and wondered how in the world these items could be SO CHEAP--has just gotten a kick in the pants from the legal system. On Feb 6th, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court's certification of the largest class in American history, which has now grown to include 2 million women workers at Wal-Mart.

What's all the fuss about? Well, the suit claims that Wal-Mart discriminates against women in pay and promotions. If the plaintiffs win, Wal-Mart might actually be forced to pay and promote its female workers at a rate similar to that at which it pays and promotes its male workers. (Genius.) But be prepared for Wal-Mart to fight back--months, if not years, of appeals are ahead.

You can read the official press advisory for a sound-bite version or you can take a little more time and read the full decision. Either way, it begins to get a lot clearer just how Wal-Mart is able to sell so much for so little. Like somebody's mama once said: ain't no such thing as a free ride, my friend.