Thursday, June 28, 2007

Drip, Drip, Drip Goes New Orleans

Luckily, this time New Orleans' water problem doesn't involve the kind falling from the sky. Instead, there's concern with the kind that comes out of your tap. I don't know why I never bothered to think about this before, but it turns out that NOLA has some pretty gnarly issues with "consumable" water. The city's drinking water comes straight out of the mighty, murky Mississippi--the great river that lots of the rest of the country uses as a dumping ground. Add to that the trauma of Katrina (broken pipes, backed up sewage, etc) and you've got a recipe for a less that tasty glass of H2O.

This first person dispatch on Grist from Wayne Curtis, who recently moved to the city, breaks it down pretty poetically. I'll give you the results of my own taste test in October, when I'm there for my friend Trina's wedding. Not that I tend to drink much water anyway when I'm down there... my MO is usually to stick with the portable alcoholic beverages (is there anything better than a margarita in a to-go cup??) to help wash down those powder-perfect beignets.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

National HIV Testing Day is TODAY!

Did you know that each day, more than 13,000 people across the globe are newly infected with HIV? Or that here in the US, HIV is the largest killer of African-American women ages 25-34? Or that the rates among all US women have skyrocketed in the last 20 years, from 8% of total infections in 1985 to more than 27% today?

Well, if you didn't know, now you do. And, as we say in the African-American tradition, when you know better, you do better. So today, in honor of National HIV Testing Day, go out there and do better. Get tested. Tell your friends to do the same. Donate time or money to one of the many good organizations out there that are doing work on behalf of people with AIDS. And educate yourself: check out this piece from the National Women and AIDS Collective to learn more about the ways in which women are left out of the picture when it comes to funding the war on HIV.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Being Deported's Not the Worst of It

Amidst all this Paris Hilton nonsense, it's nice to be reminded here and there of what journalism's really supposed to be about. Today in the NYT, Nina Bernstein's piece on the 62 individuals who have died in custody since 2004 (after being detained on alleged immigration violations) is a perfect example of what kind of horrors we're ignoring while we bury ourselves in US Weekly.

Interestingly, I'd just been thinking about this issue of how immigrants are treated in detention because of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love." In it, she describes how an Indonesian friend of hers was basically "disappeared" from the US after 9/11 in a manner that closely echoes what is outlined in Bernstein's article today. Hell of a world we live in, huh?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Title IX!

This weekend, Title IX--the crucial piece of Civil Rights legislation that made it illegal for educational institutions that receive federal funding to discriminate on the basis of sex--turned 35 years old. That's something to celebrate, even despite (or especially because of) the fact that the amendment has recently been given a swift kick in the gut by the Bush Administration.

In today's HuffPo, Rep. Linda Sanchez offers up a brief look at why Title IX is worth defending, pointing out that it's not just female athletes who have benefited from the legislation, but any and all females in search of education. That's one aspect that doesn't get mentioned enough, in my opinion.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Need Another Reason to Hate Trent Lott? Got One For Ya

On Wednesday, Trent Lott, the Republican Senator from Mississippi, offered yet another example of why it is best we take control of our nation back from the set of hateful people who are currently governing it. Speaking in reference to the immigration bill that is gasping for breath in the Congress right now, Lott informed a gathered crowd that all we need to keep them furrnerrs out is a good, ole electrified fence--much like the one he uses on his goats.

Thought for Trent: perhaps the reason those goats kept trying to jump the fence was to get away from the likes of you. I, too, would hurl myself into electrified wire for that cause.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Food Safety for Fido

If, like me, you love your dog more than life itself (cats count here, too), give this article on the pet food recall a read. It reveals more than a few of the pet food industry's nasty secrets (including how they use pieces of euthanized dogs and cats to make food for our living dogs and cats), and pretty much compels you to think twice about pouring out another few cups of Purina for your four-legged mate.

Though I've been happy with having Jackson on the Whole Foods 365 Lean Blend--which was not affected by the recall and, coming from Whole Foods, makes me feel a little safer--I'm now thinking about a switch to Wellness brand, which seems even safer still.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Being a Black Man"--Interactive Series on WaPo

I have no idea how long this remarkable series has been running, but I just found out about it via one of my list serves today. It's an interactive experience that's not only thoroughly engaging and moving, but also multifaceted (see the inclusion of gay black men AND women in this conversation for proof).

Kudos to the Washington Post for taking up the life and times of the black American male like it matters... it's about time somebody did.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Myth of the Conservative Majority

Late last week I got an email from Media Matters informing me that (no surprise here) I've been in the right all along: extensive polling and research has now found that the majority of Americans are, like me, PROGRESSIVE.

Never mind what the conservative thought leaders and media-makers tell you--the majority of us in this country believe in Government taking responsibility for its citizenry--even if it means more spending. The majority of us want a higher minimum wage; are for conservation; want to protect a woman's right to choose; want health care coverage for all; and see that it's long since been time to get the hell out of Iraq.

I like being right, so this is very good news, indeed. For more details, see Eric Lotke's article on AlterNet this morning (via

Friday, June 15, 2007

More Proof George Bush Hates Black People

In case you forgot that the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ even exists within this administration, here's a good review from Talking Points Memo's Muckraker of what the NYT is reporting the division has been up to since Bush, Ashcroft, Gonzalez, et al have been minding the farm. (Here's a hint: black people lose.)

MA Stands Firm on Same-Sex Marriage Rights

To be honest, I didn't really enjoy living in the state of Massachusetts when I had to be there for graduate school. Boston was too cold for me, and too parochial in too many ways. But despite my own hard feelings about the place, today I find myself wanting the legislature of Massachusetts a big old pat on the back for defending the rights of gays in their state to marry.

Yesterday, the legislature "blocked a proposed constitutional amendment that would have let voters decide whether to ban same-sex marriage." The amendment was defeated 45-151 (it needed 50 votes to pass), which, as you can guess, it a good thing for those of us who believe that equality means giving the same right to all people (not just those we deem somehow "worthy"). No vote among the public means that same-sex marriage in Mass is safe for now... God bless all those lawmakers who stood up and just said enough already. Maybe they could have a few words with their brethren here in New York?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Quipping with the Queen of Quirk

I've admitted before on this blog how taken I am with Miranda July and her work. Today, via the Powells Books newsletter, I've found a great new interview with our Quirky Queen, who expounds on, among other things, the exhaustion of coming face to face with her public (been there--and yes, it really can be a mind-numbingly depleting experience). Worth a read, if you love kooky as much as I do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rather Callow, Mr. Rather

Is Dan Rather so piqued by his lack of a career these days that he's got nothing better to do than bash Katie Couric? Yesterday on MSNBC the veteran deposed news anchor gave Couric a tongue lashing for sullying the evening news by, in his estimation, "dumbing it down" and "tarting it up."

Mostly, this is just embarrassing for Dan, who, before engineering his own demise, really was a trusted name in journalism. Now, he's just another old man throwing around sexist remarks at a woman who could be his daughter and probably makes four times what he ever did in that spot. (Even CBS chief Les Moonves saw sexism in what Rather said.)

Sad, really. Very sad. Not that I don't agree with the idea that television news has slid, perhaps inexorably, into the tabloid genre--but it just seems so tasteless for one anchor to say these kind of trashy things about another. Or perhaps Rather is our proof that, even though we couldn't see it, television has been trashy all along.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The High Cost of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Thanks to Maureen Dowd's column of yesterday, I was alerted to an op-ed piece that ran in the Times last Friday, written by one Stephen Benjamin. Benjamin was formerly a petty officer in the United States Navy, serving as an Arabic translation specialist--a post in which, in case you hadn't heard, our military is severely understaffed.

About a year ago, Benjamin was expelled from service under the "Don't ask, Don't tell" rule, which bars gays from serving
openly in the military. His op-ed portrays as well as any other I've ever read just how hypocritical and dangerous the policy is, and why, for all of our safety, we would do well to be rid of it.

And this one we can't even blame on the Republicans alone. Dammit, Bill...

Who Died???

[Spoiler alert: If you haven't already seen last night's final episode of The Sopranos, you may want to skip this post.]

Besides Phil Leotardo that is (truly, truly a brilliant scene). Jess and I spent several minutes trying to parse what we think might have happened after our screen went black (and yes, we were among those people who thought their cable had gone out). Is it Meadow who takes the bullet? Or Tony? Or does Meadow arrive just in time to see her whole family blown to bits?

I suppose we'll be pondering this for a long time--or at least as long as it takes David Chase to convince James Gandolfini to pick up that white bathrobe and continue slouching towards Bethlehem. A remarkable ending to one hell of a show. Thanks for the memories, guys.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Homophobes, Take Note

There is, believe it or not, a price to be paid for spouting your hatred in the open air. It may take half a year for that tax to be levied, but levied it shall be... at least of you're part of the cast of Grey's Anatomy.

Isaiah Washington, he whose tendency to rail against a specific co-star with homophobic epithets has been well documented, has now been released from his contract, according to both ABC News and the NY Times.

Apparently, though, Isaiah is pissed about all this retaliation, and swears we haven't heard the last of him. Oh, but can't a girl dare to dream???

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tell It, Andrea!

Further to my last post, check out Andrea Otanez's opinion piece from yesterday's Seattle Times (via the Women's Media Center). I'd say it's not just a turning tide, but a tidal wave of opposition to women's voices and issues we're witnessing--but whatever your metaphor of choice, this piece gives some good food for thought... and a touch of hope.

Blogging for HuffPo

So somehow I forgot to mention that I'm now also blogging for the HuffPo, and yesterday, my first piece ran. It's about violence and women and sports and dogs, and if you'd like to take a gander at it, you can find it here.

If you read the comments section, and you're a thinking person, you'll get a good laugh... It's great when folks get outraged and claim that violence against women isn't a "real" political issue. It's comments like those, from so called progressives no less, that make it the clearer to me why we need more women speaking the truth in the public forum. Otherwise, it all gets cast as sideline chatter. Pheh.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How Energy Efficient Are Americans?

Turns out, it depends on what state you live in. Via Grist, news today of a ranking of all 50 states in terms of their energy-efficiency, put out by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Topping the list: California (way to go, Governator), Vermont and Connecticut, who all tied for first place.

As a born and bred New Yorker, I was pleased (and, frankly, shocked) to see that we come in at No. 7 on the list. Maybe we don't need those hybrid taxis after all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pirate News (In Honor of Katie Sherwin)

My friend Katie is not a real pirate, but she did sail around the world, which we think gives her a bit of credibility (and a really good opener at bars). In any case, I had some questions about pirates that Katie never seemed to be able to answer for me--but thankfully, Slate has come through and set the record straight, answering once and for all a question that has kept many of us up and wondering way into the wee hours: Did pirates really ever say, "Arrrgh"??

(The answer is no. And nobody ever walked the plank either. What a freakin' bummer.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Altercation: This Time It's For Real

Or, sort of for real: Eric Alterman, columnist for The Nation and sometime HuffPo blogger, explains the how and why behind his arrest last night at the Democratic debate hosted by CNN. The story that was originally reported by CNN spins a much feistier tale of Alterman's arrest; Alterman's own clarification on the HuffPo paints a picture of a rather milder sort of "misunderstanding." Best part of the whole thing? When Congressman Ed Markey sees Alterman being handcuffed and essentially does nothing to help him. You can't make this stuff up!