Last night, I finally got around to watching Fox's new dating reality show, More to Love.
While I enjoyed it, in the same way that I enjoy watching other reality shows in which people are humiliated and cry on camera, I felt even dirtier than usual watching it. And not just because I felt sorry for these "curvy" women and their shameful exploitation at the hands of Fox.
The problem was that while I was excited to finally see a dating show that featured women (and a man) who aren't size 2, and with whom people like me could identify, I quickly realized that the show wasn't about finally giving us fat folks our time in the sun.
It was about creating a spectacle in which fat women could be gawked at, and laughed at, by America.
One of the pleasures of watching The Bachelor, on which this show is modeled, is seeing women who desperately crave male love and attention go insane before the camera, weeping over a man they've only met that week (or sometimes that night). Certainly schadenfreude is one of the most compelling reasons to watch reality tv.
But More to Love hit close to home for me. I am, like many Americans, a fat woman, and I am evidently quite lucky that someone loves me. (Of course my husband and I met when I was substantially thinner than I am now.)
But the women on this show, during their "confessionals," tell us that a fat woman is not worthy of love. They all told remarkably similar, and heartbreaking, stories about not having had dates before, having been rejected over and over because of their weight, and being consigned to the role of the fat friend--always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Not only never the bride, but most of these women have apparently never even made it to first base. On this show, fat is not empowering or beautiful, but pathetic and sad.
While ostensibly the show intends to demonstrate that all women, regardless of size, can be beautiful and can be loved, clearly that won't be the lesson for either the viewer or the participants. In fact, of the five women who were sent home in the show's first episode, at least one said that it was her "last chance" to find love. So being rejected by Luke, the show's bachelor, means that there is no one out there to love them, even though the set up of the show--20 women competing for one man--means, by definition, that 19 women will be rejected.
And to make matters worse, not only have many of these women not had a single bit of amorous attention in their lives, but Luke gave out diamond rings to all of the women, as a symbol of his promise to accept them the way that they are. After a few of them cry (again, the women go from never having dated to wearing a diamond ring on their ring finger) in relief and delight, they are told to remove the rings, because only those women who are asked to stay get to keep their rings. Those women being sent home go home ring-less, hopeless, and even more despondent than when they arrived.
Oh, I'll keep watching. But I'll feel shameful and ashamed--for the women on the show, most of whom will end up feeling more defeated and deflated than ever, for other fat women watching the show, who are being told that this exploitative show is "inspirational," and for me, who feels grateful that I have a husband, yet sickened at the notion that if I didn't, I would never find love again.
Because as we learned last night, between all the tears, fat women are not worthy of love.
I haven't posted for a number of weeks, because I've been overwhelmed by a local rabbit crisis here in New Mexico. We have ended up with over 300 rabbits who badly need placement; we have sent out 190 to new homes and other rescue groups so far, but still have 132 to place. If you are interested in helping one of these adorable babies, please contact me at email@example.com. To find out more, please visit www.rabbit.org/newmexico.
After the passage of Proposition 8—which outlawed gay marriage—in California last year, I never expected to see a rising tide of states in the last few months pass their own laws allowing gay marriage.
In the past three months, three new states have joined Massachusetts and Connecticut in allowing gay couples to marry: Iowa, Vermont, and now, Maine. And the District of Columbia City Council just voted to recognize same sex marriages in the District, which some say may lead to such marriages being allowed in DC. (New York has already passed such a law.)
Conservative forces have been mobilizing against these new developments, with new "spokesperson" Miss California Carrie Prejean joining the National Organization for Marriage in speaking out against gay marriage and warning of the many "threats" that gay marriage will cause this country.
But here's the thing about the anti-gay marriage forces in this country. It's one thing to view marriage from a Christian perspective; it's a very different thing to force those Christian views onto everyone else. Marriage is a religious institution, yes. But in this country, it's also a legal institution that is governed by the state, and that provides very real benefits to those who marry.
What are the benefits of marriage? At last count, the United States General Accounting Office reported 1,138 federal rights, protections and benefits that come with marriage. That means heterosexual married couples automatically receive these rights and protections, while same-sex couples — even those in civil unions or domestic partnerships — do not.
This includes filing joint taxes, getting family insurance rates, getting the same tax breaks for paying for insurance, using the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for a sick partner, claiming survivor benefits from social security and life insurance, getting spousal employee benefits, having the right to petition for a partner’s immigration, and having their beneficiary status in wills contested by “real” family members.
To provide these legal and financial benefits to some couples, and to deny them to others based on who they are, is fundamentally un-American, and smacks of the days when states still had anti-miscegenation laws which prohibited interracial marriage.
While the first few states to pass gay marriage laws did so via the courts, causing conservatives to accuse those courts of forcing their will on the people, the laws in Vermont and Maine were passed by the states' legislatures, who were, of course, elected into office by the voting public.
But even if every state with a gay marriage law saw that law arise thanks to the work of the courts, that would not make the laws any less binding, nor any less morally correct. In fact, if we look back at some of the most important civil rights gains in this country, such as the law banning racial segregation (Brown vs. Board of Education), the law allowing interracial marriage (Loving vs. Virginia), or the law banning racial discrimination in home sales and rentals (Jones vs. Mayer Co.), they were passed by the Supreme Court well before much of the public was in favor of them.
Should we have waited to desegregate the nation's schools to give the country's racists a chance to catch up? And should we now wait to give gay Americans the same basic civil rights as all Americans, to give the homophobes and the religious bigots a chance to catch up?
Everyone has heard by now about swine flu, the newest disease to move from animals into humans, which has so far killed perhaps 150 people in Mexico and infected thousands worldwide. Today the World Health Organization warned that a pandemic is imminent as the disease continues to spread.
But while officials warn against traveling to Mexico, and some communities even in the United States have closed schools and canceled public events to prevent further transmission, no one is talking about the fact that diseases like swine flu and avian flu both come directly from the raising of animals for meat, and are exacerbated by the intensive confinement of many of those animals.
But because no government official can stand up to the agribusiness industry and recommend that we eat less meat (in fact, the World Health Organization even went out of their way to state that "there is no danger from contracting swine flu from eating pork"), or even raise animals for food in different conditions, we will continue to see dangerous viruses like this put human lives at risk--especially in poor countries like Mexico, where many of the infected will not be able to access the drugs needed to treat the infection.
A 2005 quote from Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, executive editor of Poultry magazine, is especially illuminating about the priorities of those who make their living off of animal agriculture:
"The prospect of a virulent flu to which we have absolutely no resistance is frightening. However, to me, the threat is much greater to the poultry industry. I'm not as worried about the US human population dying from bird flu as I am that there will be no chicken to eat."
Today, the FBI added the name of Daniel Andreas San Diego to the agency's list of 25 most wanted terrorists in the world.
Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of 9/11 as well as of other deadly attacks like the 1998 bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, is #1 on the list.
San Diego, who allegedly set off three pipe bombs, early in the morning, at two empty corporate offices in 2003, is #24.
Really, an animal rights activist is the 24th most dangerous man in the world, and is the only American on a list populated entirely by Muslim fundamentalists who have killed Americans?
I am astounded by Andreas' inclusion on this list, and not just because I once knew him. (We worked together at In Defense of Animals a few years back; I remember him as a sweet, idealistic, young kid.)
I am astounded because including Andreas on the same list as Osama bin Laden implies that both men's crimes are, if not equivalent, at least comparable.
But how is that possible? If Andreas is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, he indeed broke the law. Property destruction is indeed a crime, and it is a crime for which many animal rights activists have gone to jail. But comparing destruction of property to the killing of thousands of people? It bears repeating (although no news article that I saw on this story today even mentioned it) that even radical direct action like Andreas is accused of has never, not once, resulted in harm to any human being.
Many people are wondering about the timing of today's announcement. Was it made to counter right-wing outrage aimed at the Obama administration after last week's release of a memo by Homeland Security warning of a rise in right-wing extremism?
But even then, the activities of "left wing extremists" like Andreas, who break into buildings, destroy property, and often rescue animals, and right wing extremists who preach white supremacy, death to doctors who perform abortions, and armed anti-government activity, are hardly comparable.
If Andreas is caught (he is thought to be in Costa Rica), at least he can be thankful that the Bush Administration is no longer in power; otherwise he would most likely be sent to Guantanamo Bay and be subject to "enhanced interrogation techniques."
As everyone has by now heard, President Obama finally made good on his campaign promise to get his daughters a dog.
Unfortunately, as we've also now learned, he's broken another campaign promise to adopt a rescued dog.
While it's true that the Obamas did not buy a dog directly from a breeder, they accepted a gift of a 6 month old Portuguese Water Dog from Senator Ted Kennedy, via the breeder that Kennedy originally bought the dog from. (The Obamas wanted a PWD because Malia is allergic to most dogs, but this breed does not cause allergies.)
Certainly, there are many more important issues for Americans, and certainly for the President, to worry about. So in some ways it seems trivial and small-minded for animal welfare advocates to criticize the President's decision. Not only are there many more things to worry about than whether or not the President adopted a dog, but most Presidents have bought purebred dogs.
But still, something about this decision just doesn't sit well. It's not just that Obama broke a promise to get a "mutt" like him (as he famously said). And it's not that we can shortly expect a rush to breeders and pet stores as idiots with a lot of money to spend will buy themselves this now-trendy dog. And it's not even that the timing of the whole thing seems oddly suspicious--as if this dog was planned for the Obamas the whole time, even while the President told the nation that he was planning to adopt a dog.
Besides all that, it just seems like it sends the wrong message to Americans, especially at this time. Not only did the President pick a purebred dog, originally purchased from a breeder and intended (probably) for the President's family, but at this time, many Americans, struggling to pay their bills, are surrendering their own animals to local shelters because they can no longer care for them.
This is Jasmine, a rescued greyhound who serves as surrogate mom to dozens of animals at the Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary in
“She simply dotes on the animals as if they were her own,” says Geoff Grewcock, operator of Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary. “She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings.”
International shoe-throwing coverage was on overdrive today, with stories out of both India and Iraq.
In New Delhi today, a Sikh journalist named Jarnail Singh threw his sneaker at India's Home Minister in order to protest the acquittal of a lawmaker who allegedly incited violence against Sikhs following the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. Singh's family had been victimized in the violence, which claimed over 3,000 Sikhs.
Unlike the treatment of Muntadhar al-Zaidi who threw his shoes at President George Bush at a press conference in Baghdad, Singh was released by the police without charge today. Al-Zaidi, also a journalist, was arrested, allegedly beaten by guards, and last month sentenced to three years in jail.
Today, however, al-Zaidi's sentence was reduced from three years to one year. The reduction in al-Zaidi's sentence came after extensive public criticism aimed at the Iraqi judicial system. The journalist has been considered a folk hero in Iraq for standing up to President Bush, and for doing what many Iraqis dreamed of doing.
Shoes are considered unclean in much of the world, with etiquette throughout most of Asia requiring that shoes be removed before entering a home. So throwing a shoe at someone, or hitting someone or something with the sole of one's shoe (as Iraqi protesters did to the statue of Saddam Hussein after the American occupation of Iraq began), demonstrates a great insult, especially in Muslim countries.
While Westerners typically don't share this concern with shoes, the trend of shoe throwing as a form of political protest has spread into Western countries anyway. In February, a British student threw a shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao when the lawmaker was visiting London.
And finally, a fourteen year old girl is facing a felony charge of battery on an officer after throwing her shoe (and a bag of pretzels) at a police officer in Florida last week.
It seems that the shoe's symbolic power as a defiling agent transcends national and cultural borders.
This week, there are two horrifying stories in the news about dogs being dragged to their deaths; in one case, an Oklahoma man named Antonio Ray is in court on charges that he dragged his pit bull to death behind his bike last month. Witnesses reported that the dogs' front legs were tied behind his back and that he was dragged for almost a half mile, until he died in a pool of his own blood.
And in rural Washington last Friday, another dog was tied to a car with a rope around his neck and dragged to his death, with his mangled and bloody body left in a parking lot like an old discarded mattress.
In the Washington case, the police have no suspects, but in the Oklahoma case, Ray, the suspect, has a lengthy criminal history which includes domestic violence and a host of other charges. There is a good chance that whoever killed the dog in Washington has a similar background, because social workers, law enforcement officials and academics all know that there is a strong connection between violence to animals and violence to humans--especially to child abuse and domestic violence.
Animal protection organizations like Animals & Society Institute and the Humane Society of the United States provide training to social workers and members of the law enforcement community on how to recognize signs of animal cruelty in children, in order to both prevent the abuse of animals, and to prevent this abuse from escalating into humans.
But until all members of society take cruelty to animals seriously, cases like these two horror shows will continue to occur. While most Americans are rightly horrified by these stories, we also continue to hear from people who wonder what the fuss is all about--after all, these are just dogs, right?
That's why educating the public about the connection between violence to animals and violence to humans is so important--it demonstrates why we must take this kind of violence seriously.
The sad news is that violence to animals, in and of itself, is not that great of a concern. For instance, we don't even know the name of Ray's dog. We know that he was a pit bull, and statistically, pit bulls are subject to the greatest level of human violence of all dogs. But we don't know his name, how he lived, and whether anyone will miss him. All we know is the horrific circumstances of his death.
Until our society begins to take cruelty to animals seriously, even without recognizing its relationship to human-on-human violence, I fear we will continue to hear stories like this. Both of these dogs matter, and those of us who want to live in a just and compassionate society need to mourn their deaths.
Joe the Plumber is currently touring the rust belt on behalf of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group, to campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act.
So Joe the Plumber, who basically impersonated a working class plumber during the Presidential campaign and parlayed his fame into a quickie book deal, a TV infomercial, a gig as a "war correspondent," and a bunch of invites to Republican political events, is now not only a working class hero, but a working class hero who is working to defeat a pro-union piece of legislation.
The only explanation for hiring a "working class hero" to stump on behalf of big business and against organized labor is that Joe (or Sam) is no such thing at all.
Joe the Plumber is really just an insufferable opportunist who has hitched his fortune onto conservative commentators and organizations who are only too happy to use Joe's minor fame for their political agendas. And Joe's just as happy to reciprocate, pretending to be a financial analyst, an expert on Mid East policies, and a tax and budget expert. And now he, the unemployed, un-licensed plumber, is an expert on labor issues.
If America's working people fall for Joe's shtick this time, and see EFCA fail in Congress, well, then they deserve it, and deserve to have Joe as their spokesman.
This week, the Texas Board of Education is debating whether to teach science in science classes, or to let all of the state's students grow up to be idiots.
More specifically, they are deciding whether to allow teachers to teach evolution--which is one of the most important scientific theories EVER, and has been accepted as fact by all natural and physical scientists for over 150 years--without also teaching its "weaknesses."
Some Texas citizens think they know better than teachers and scientists, and many are arguing that Texas should continue teaching the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific paradigms like evolution, which allows for local school districts to quietly slip Creationism into the curriculum.
The AP reports on the high level of intelligence of those in favor of keeping the current law: "'My grandfather was not a monkey!' one woman shouted at a crowd before the meeting began."
Definitely, we need to hear scientific testimony from people who think that evolution means that one's grandfather was a monkey.
Thankfully, the Board of Education did the right thing and voted to reject the "strengths and weaknesses" provision, and to allow teachers to teach evolution with out having to include Creationist critiques of the theory. However, the vote was 7-7, with half of the board (all Republicans) wanting to continue to teach evolution as if it were some ridiculous idea full of holes and flaws.
People who think God should be taught in science classes may not have monkeys for grandfathers, but they do have shit for brains.
Right wing radio crackpot Tammy Bruce called Michelle Obama "trash" yesterday. Her comments were in response to a visit by the First Lady to a school in Washington DC, and to her comments to the students.
Obama noted that when she was growing up, African American kids often had to hide their intelligence or risk being mocked by the other kids for acting "too white." Of course, this still happens today, which is why Obama used this anecdote, to try to encourage young black kids to excel in school and to not worry about whether or not getting good grades was cool.
Because Tammy Bruce is ignorant of this very simple fact, she chose to lash out at Obama by saying "we've got trash in the White House."
During the Presidential campaign, Bruce, like other right wing idiots, called the Obamas "elitist" because "elitism" is code word for smart, and we have arrived at a place in this country where intelligence, thoughtfulness and education are characteristics to be mocked.
But now Michelle Obama is not only elitist, but trashy?
It's difficult to understand how an epithet used to disparage working class whites (and ignorant ones at that) could be used to criticize the highly educated First Lady. Perhaps because she was talking about herself? Or because she lapsed into a more "black" sounding accent when talking to the kids? (This is called code-switching and is done by millions of people who speak different dialects.)
Or perhaps it's because Tammy Bruce wanted to really call her "the N word" but couldn't risk it, and thought that trash would easily substitute.
Buster is an Irish hare who was found as a baby sitting in the middle of a road. Emaciated and dehydrated, he was taken into care with the intention of releasing him once he was weaned. Along the way, his caretakers discovered he was blind, so not suitable for release. Check out http://busterjourney.blogspot.com/ to find out the progress of this little guy, who is now a big handsome hare.
Pope Benedict XVI is visiting Africa this week and, in a continent that sees 2 million people die of AIDS every year, with 25 million dead so far, proclaimed that not only do condoms not protect against AIDS, they could make the crisis worse.
A statement like this, frankly, boggles the mind.
I understand that the Pope wants to encourage sexual relations only in the confines of a committed, loving, heterosexual marriage. While this of course means that Catholic gays and lesbians must either live a celibate life or choose damnation (and the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases), it also means that heterosexuals, even those who are faithful to their partners, cannot be protected from deadly diseases.
It is not just the immoral and irresponsibile who have sex outside of marriage and thus risk exposure to HIV and other diseases. Especially in Africa, where at least 50% of all HIV infections are now found in women and girls, victims are very often drawn from married women, whose partners have sex outside of the relationship.
In much of Sub-Saharan Africa, women are at especially high risk of AIDS not because they have sex outside of their marriage, although many do, but because many African cultures allow multiple sexual partners for men, and, for migrant workers, prostitutes. Because women in many African cultures cannot say no to sex, and because violence, and sexual violence, are very high in these cultures, women are especially at risk.
For a woman, then, even a committed and faithful one, a condom could be her only way of keeping herself safe, whether having sex with her husband, boyfriend, or other man.
For the Pope to ignore the realities of these women (and girls) is horrifying, and makes me feel as if he is more interested in maintaining strict control over believers than in protecting millions of lives per year.
Tonight HBO is airing the premier of a new documentary entitled "Death on a Factory Farm," which looks at the treatment of pigs at an Ohio pig farm. Based on undercover footage taken by the Humane Farming Association, the film shows how cruelly pigs and other animals raised in factory farms are treated.
Most people who eat meat think that, while it's true that animals must die in order for humans to eat them, they at least are treated well until they die. The reality is very, very different.
Animals raised on industrialized farms are little more than products, and are treated as such. There are only two laws in this country that protect animals--the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which mandates that most (excepting poultry and rabbits) animals are stunned before they are killed, and the 28 hour law, which mandates that animals transported on trains are given food, water and rest--which means that for the entirety of a farm animal's life, until the moment that they are killed, their lives are totally without legal protection.
The result is a life of unmitigated misery, in which farm animals are confined in situations without fresh air, sunlight, grass or straw; where they have no comfort, no love, and no companionship; and where conditions are so brutal that they must have their beaks or tails removed so that they don't cannibalize each other from the stress. Farmed animals are so sick from these conditions that they are pumped full of antibiotics from birth till death.
Why do we, a country which holds human rights and human dignity as two of our most prized values, allow for the most inhumane treatment of billions of animals per year? How do we reconcile their treatment with how we wish we were treated, and how we in turn treat our beloved companion animals?
No one, except for the psychopaths among us, would tolerate some of the ways in which farm animals are treated, and which are included in this film: "...piglets being tossed into crates from across a room, impregnated sows held in pens that don't allow them to move, an unhealthy piglet being slammed against a wall to euthanize it, and a sick sow being hung by a chain from a forklift until it choked to death..." Yet while we don't tolerate this kind of treatment, we all allow it to continue, unabated, because most Americans continue to do the one thing that allows it: eating meat.
It seems like every month or so, some zoo somewhere sends out publicity photos and videos of a brand new baby animal, and animal lovers around the world spend countless work hours ogling the brand new baby giraffe/orangutan/elephant.
If you don't believe me, check out Zooborns.com, a website that specializes in photos of baby zoo animals.
Yet the untold story is that while zoos celebrate the new baby animals, which mean more visitors and thus more profits, many zoos can't actually afford to keep those animals. In fact, one of zoos' dirty little secrets is the way that they "retire" old zoo animals, by selling them via the exotic animal trade to other zoos, to roadside zoos, into the pet market, and sometimes, into canned hunting operations where they'll be shot point blank by some rich asshole like Dick Cheney.
Usually, however, the babies are safe. But not always.
The Basel Zoo in Switzerland recently celebrated the birth of little Farasi, an African hippopotamus born in November. The zoo has no room to keep him, and in cases like this, the zoo's policy is to kill "surplus" animals and to feed them to the carnivores. Because of public protest, the zoo is trying instead to find a new home for the hippo.
Whether or not Farasi gets fed to the lions or ends up in another zoo, this story brings up an important issue that the public (and especially the zoo-going public) needs to know about. As long as we buy the zoo industry's spin that zoos are about education and conservation, and that captive breeding programs somehow help conserve species or aid wild animals, then we will be shocked at stories like this one.
But the reality is that zoos are not in the business of conservation, or even education. They're in the business of displaying animals as entertainment for a paying public, a public that loves animals. So what if a photogenic baby hippo has to lose his life to help the zoos' bottom line?
The last couple of days have seen so much right-wing insanity it seems much more efficient to just include them all in one post.
--South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is one of a handful of Republic governors (including Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, and Idaho) who is planning on turning down the federal dollars--most earmarked for education--for his state included in the Stimulus package. This will result in the loss of 7,500 teachers and the continued state of disrepair for South Carolina schools. (Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell says that those governors who turn down stimulus funds in a recession are not putting their citizens' welfare first, and are not acting in accordance with Christian values.) --Fox News crackpot Glenn Beck blames liberal "political correctness" and the "disenfranchisement" of conservatives during the Obama administration for the killing rampage in Alabama. --Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary for the Bush administration, publically said that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. --Republican Congressman David Vitter and John Shadegg are proposing a new stimulus plan that would reinvigorate the economy by opening up new areas of protected land for oil drilling, and would remove many of the environmental regulations that oil companies dislike. --Republican party head Michael Steele once again stuck his foot into his mouth when he said that abortion should be a woman's choice during an interview with GQ Magazine; he later had to apologize and "clarify" his statements. --Republicans have been up in arms about President Obama's use of teleprompters, as if teleprompters are some sort of new agey, left wing conspiracy (and as if every Republican lawmaker does not rely on them). --Cook County (Illinois) Republican Chair Gary Skoien was evidently caught by his wife cavorting with two prostitutes in his children's playroom --Chuck Norris wants to run for the President of Texas, once Texas secedes from the United States.
But in better news:
--President Obama signed an executive order rescinding George Bush's ban on federally funded embryonic stem cell research; this order will mean that scientists can now use stem cells from embryos created for in vitro fertilization procedures, and which would have been otherwise destroyed, in order to find the cures for human diseases. --The White House is reviewing the idiotic "Don't ask, don't tell" policy that has resulted in the firing of over 12,500 gay service members (and 11 in January alone) since it was made official policy in 1993. Let's hope they make the right decision and scrap it entirely. --President Obama this week created a White House Council on Women and Girls in order to address issues that specifically impact women
Last night's American Idol was better than usual, with a handful of excellent performances, some so-so performances, and a couple of really terrible ones. The theme for the evening was Michael Jackson songs, and, surprisingly, there was far fewer cringe-worthy performances than one would expect given the choice of songs.
Sadly, Anoop, my favorite, gave us one of the weakest performances of the evening, and may be at the end of his rope.
Adam did an amazing job snarling and stomping his way through "Black or White," and deserved all the praise that he got, even if Paula did go a little insane in her comments. Allison, the sixteen year old who sounds (and looks a bit) like someone who's spent the last forty years of her life sucking down Marlboros and Jack and Cokes, sang "Give in to me," one of the evening's best. I thought Alexis also did a great job with her rendition of Dirty Diana, although the judges didn't seem wowed. I still think she'll survive, although millions of teenybopper voters may be confused by her phone number (thanks to the sex line snafu) that may leave her at the bottom anyway. My other top picks for the evening are Lil Rounds and Matt, whose work on the piano was, I thought, amazing.
I wasn't moved, however, by Kris, who played a guitar that we never even heard, or by Danny, who the judges continue to adore, but who, to me, continues to perform admirably by not extraordinarily.
The bottom of the list would have to be Megan, whose singing I honestly love (even last night) but whose performance of "Rockin Robin" was frankly embarrassing, thanks especially to her twitchy and juvenile dancing throughout. Also pulling up the rear for me is working guy Michael, blind guy Scott, Puerto Rican Jorge, and teeny bopper Jasmine, all of whom sang nicely but bored me to tears.
And then, sadly, we have Anoop.
Anoop has been my favorite since his first audition, when he charmed the judges and the audience with his nerdy intelligence and sweet singing. But I am beginning to realize that nerdy and sweet alone won't get Anoop to the top.
The AP reports on a study in Current Biology that demonstrates that animals can plan ahead. The study include a story about a chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo who collects rocks and, when irritated at zoo visitors, throws them at the visitors. The chimpanzee featured in the study, Santino, also was observed breaking up stones that are too big to throw, into pieces that would work better for his planned task.
This account clearly demonstrates that animals (or at least primates) do not just react instinctively, but think, plan, and take careful action--just like we do.
It's been forty years since primatologist Jane Goodall first observed chimpanzees making, and using, tools. After her discovery, anthropologists had to re-examine the human/animal border, since tool making had always been one of the major lines of demarcation.
Now, with the latest observations, we have to move the line separating humans and animals yet again, because clearly, thoughtful planned behavior is no longer a human characteristic.
The more we find out about the capabilities of non-human animals, the more we will also need to begin re-evaluating our treatment of them. Because if we can no longer justify the extreme levels of exploitation and abuse that we inflict upon animals on the basis of their lack of rationality, we must eventually come up with an entirely different way of treating them.
The Humane Society of the United States just released a disturbing new video about the care and treatment of chimpanzees and monkeys at the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) at the University of Louisiana.
The undercover investigation revealed routine abuses, both physical and emotional, on some of our closest relatives, and the intense suffering and distress that results. In violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), monkeys and apes are living in barren cages, with no environmental enhancement or social contact, and are subject to painful procedures. The animals respond by screaming, crying, rocking, and self-mutilating.
Primatologists Roger Fouts and Jane Goodall viewed the evidence, and both expressed horror at the way the animals are treated. Chimpanzees are not only our closest living relative, but are endangered; yet US law (unlike any other western nation) still allows for the use of these intelligent, social and sensitive animals in medical research, as well as in the pet trade and for entertainment.
HSUS has provided the video and other evidence to the USDA. In response, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said that the agency will investigate the treatment, and will enforce the AWA. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Senator Mary Landrieu both also called for an investigation. Predictably, NIRC released a statement defending their practices and saying that the video "distorts" the treatment of the animals.
At the same time, Congressmen Edolphus Towns, David Reichert, Jim Langevin, and Roscoe Bartlett have once again introduced the Great Ape Protect Act into Congress, which would end the use of chimpanzees as laboratory animals and provide for the humane retirement of living research chimps.
Let's hope this year this important piece of legislation passes, freeing over 1,000 chimpanzees from the most wretched form of existence imaginable. Unfortunately, the thousands of other primates who live in similar conditions will get no respite from their suffering.
After last night's wild card nominees were chosen, I'm eagerly awaiting tonight's episode, and at the same time, am a bit perplexed by some of the judge's choices.
While I'm thrilled that they brought back talented (and dreamy) Anoop, I am confused about some of the other choices.
Tatiana--really? Did she ever sing good enough to make it into even the semi-finals? I have to wonder if she's on deck again because of the obvious drama that she will bring to the show. Many of the finalists have been, as Simon says, forgettable, and that is a term that can't be used to describe Tatiana.
The other wild cards weren't terrible picks, but they weren't really my picks either. I wanted to see Jackie Tohn come back, and like Arianna, although she did a horrific job the other night. I am happy to see Jasmine back, and like Jesse and Megan as well. But the others leave me feeling blah. And something about Von Smith--I have to look away when he sings, because he makes me uncomfortable.
Beyond the wild card choices, America's choices leave me with mixed feelings. Some of the top twelve clearly deserve to be here, based on talent alone: Alexis, Adam, Allison and Lil Rounds. But I think some of the finalists won votes thanks to their personalities or backstories: Danny (dead wife), Michael (working guy), Jorge (first Spanish speaker), and Scott (blind). They're not bad singers, but I don't think they're finalist quality.
Still, this season has some great performers, and I'll admit that the backstories do make for interesting watching.
But if Anoop doesn't make it onto the finals tonight, I will be DONE with this show. DONE.
Since Michael Steele's groveling apology to Rush Limbaugh for daring to say that his ugly, incendiary radio show is ugly and incendiary, conservatives and liberals alike are saying that Steele's reign as leader of the GOP is coming to a quick end, and that Limbaugh is now the defacto leader of the party.
(By the way, we can all follow Steele and other apologists like Congressman Phil Gingrey and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and can send our own apologies to Rush via the website I'm Sorry Rush.)
I hope all Republicans are excited about these developments, and about their new leader Rush.
I'm sure that they're thrilled, for example, that they have as their new King a man who says that poverty levels are lower today than in the 1950s, that the poorest Americans are better off than middle class Europeans, that nicotine is not addictive, that condoms don't protect against AIDS, that there are more Native Americans alive today than when America was colonized, that American women were better off before feminism, and that Sarah Palin is qualified to be President. You certainly can't argue with facts like these!
I know this isn't new news, but I guess I haven't been following Oprah's book club lately, and didn't realize that Joe the Plumber has "written" a book.
It's been reported that this douchebag, who is now one of the leading experts in the Republican party on such diverse topics as the economic disaster and the Palestinian/Israeli confict, has been doing readings at book stores to less than full crowds.
Yet my question is: how did he even get a book deal to start with? How did this semi-employed plumber manage to write one, and get it accepted and published within the few short months since he's enjoyed his fame? And why did anyone--anyone at all--show up at his book signings?
If I sound a bit bitter, it's because I am.
I've written or co-written six books, and all of them have taken years' of work, and sometimes dozens and dozens of rejection letters from publishers and agents. And then, once the books made it into print, publicizing them is yet more work, as is trying to get people to buy the books. So Joe's dozen attendees at his recent book signing at a Borders' in DC, while not Stephen King-worthy, is still pretty good, for a man who until a few months ago was an unknown plumber.
Granted, it appears that Joe hasn't gotten a lot of reviews for the book. In fact, in the "editorial reviews" section of the book's Amazon page, where reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Booklist are typically posted, Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream has posted quotes from folks like Margaret, who writes: "I had some major goosebumps several times. Read this book! You will be truly inspired" or from Glynnis who says " I just finished reading Joe's book and all I can say is WOW! I love how he thinks and expresses himself. I laughed during every chapter - it was so entertaining!"
Well, at least I didn't have to rely on my friends to write things like "I laughed, and I cried" as a substitute for my books' editorial reviews.
Unbelievably, more prominent Republicans are joining Rush Limbaugh in openly hoping that President Obama fails.
Oh, they say that they don't want him to fail in bringing the global economy back from the edge of disaster. They say they want his policies to fail, or as the Red State blog states, they want him to fail at "destroying liberty and freedom," since that is so obviously our communist President's intent. In fact, if Obama succeeds, that will result in, according to these crazies, the failure of the American dream, and, in fact, America itself.
For me, the American dream is about freedom, and liberty, and democracy, and equality, and human rights for all. What George Bush gave us, on the other hand, was a steady erosion of those freedoms in favor of a system in which corporate pals of the President accumulated vast amounts of wealth at the expense of the environment, the economy, and the vast majority of Americans.
What a disgusting bunch of selfish hypocrites. After they've championed policies for the past eight years that resulted in a astounding wealth for the few and greater poverty for the many, the gutting of this nation's environmental laws, a ginormous deficit, and a loss of civil freedoms, they pretend as if President Obama's policies will make things worse?
At least it will make it harder for Republicans to accuse Democrats, as they typically do, of being anti-American.
Good news: The House just voted and approved the Captive Primate Safety Act, which would ban transporting primates across state lines to use as pets. The Senate will vote on a companion bill later this year.
Sadly, it took the death of Travis the chimpanzee, killed last week after attacking a person, to spur Congress to move. But it is a good move nevertheless, and should prevent tragedies like this one from happening in the future.
While the act passed overwhelmingly in the House, still, 95 representatives opposed the bill. Who, other than those who profit from the exotic pet industry, could possibly think that having primates as pets is a good thing, especially after what happened last week?
Unfortunately, the bill does not specifically prohibit people from keeping or purchasing primates as pets, so it does not go nearly as far as it needs to. But it is, at least, a start.
Pcs Matt Jackson and Yasmin Mossadegh, of Kent Police, came across the two-foot long, 20lbs animal - the size of a small dog - hopping along a road in Canterbury at 2.20am on Sunday.
They admitted that at first it seemed like "something out of Alice in Wonderland". But detaining the albino rabbit before it caused an accident proved to be more of a handful than they first thought.
After spending 10 minutes fruitlessly trying to grab the animal - even resorting to using their jackets as matador capes in a bid to snare the creature - they had to call on eight members of the public to help out.
Pc Jackson said: "After several failed attempts trying to grab the rabbit, we removed our coats to try and cover it with a bullfighting technique. Again this failed.
"Pet-loving members of the public who were passing by saw us struggling and rushed to our assistance. Now, with 10 pairs of hands at the ready, the rabbit's time on the run was coming to an end."
The officers and members of the public pursued it for about 200 yards before it was finally caught.
Pc Jackson added with a smile: "Inquiries are ongoing into unconfirmed reports that Bunny had an accomplice called Clyde who assisted in the hare-brained escape idea."
The rabbit has been nicknamed Tiny and is currently being cared for by staff at Barton Veterinary Hospital in New Dover Road.
It is still unknown where the animal came from.
Veterinary nurse Jenny Gooderham said: "I think it is someone's pet as it is in good condition and is used to being handled. We've certainly never had a stray giant rabbit before - they are not very common."
Two inseparable sea lions got their very own Valentine's gift this morning – a return to the freedom of the open sea. Dozens of beachgoers watched as the Pacific Marine Mammal Center released Makia and Alto, two California sea lions who forged a tight bond during their month-long rehabilitation.
The sea lions were found during separate rescues in November, both spotted by lifeguards off the shore of Huntington Beach. The males were brought to the Laguna Beach-based Pacific Marine Mammal Center within 10 days of each other.
Both sea lions were in dire need of medical attention, showing signs of malnutrition. Makia also suffered from respiratory distress, while Alto had conjunctivitis in his right eye.
Even in a center where an average of 200 hundred animals a year are rescued, Makia and Alto stood out, volunteers said, largely due to the bond the two formed as they were nursed back to health.
"Sea lions are very social animals. Some just really bond with one another," said Michele Hunter, animal care director. "You have the little buddies and stuff, but these two were just inseparable." Hunter said the two couldn't even bear to be apart for short periods of time – such as when volunteers would weigh or tag them – and would holler until they were reunited.
Given their relationship, Hunter said it seemed appropriate to release Makia and Alto on a holiday symbolizing love and companionship.
"We see a lot go through, but there are special ones like these that we will always remember," she said.
Pacific Marine volunteers and staff watched this morning as the truck transporting the two sea lions arrived at Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach. While volunteers said they do their best to maintain their distance from the animals in order to preserve their ability to go back into the wild, it was still an emotional moment for some who had watched Makia and Alto's rehabilitation. "Each of them has different personalities, and they are so much fun," said Kelly Bonett, a Pacific Marine volunteer.
The crowd watched in anticipation as workers carried the crate bearing the two sea lions onto the sand. Pacific Marine board member Mary Ferguson urged Makia and Alto toward freedom as she opened their cage.
"Go home little guys, go home," Ferguson said.
After a moment's hesitation, the two sea lions made a quick dash toward the sea, swimming away side by side. The onlookers cheered as they briefly popped their heads out of the surf several times before swimming out of sight.
"They're gone, but they are happy and where they should be," Ferguson said, as she watched them move out of sight. "Those two will be together forever. There is no doubt about it."
The release was particularly exciting for the many children on the beach, who waited in anticipation for a glimpse of Alto and Makia.
"I liked it when they ran into the water and started playing," said Shane Lawson, 6, of Laguna Beach, as he played in the sand minutes after the release.
"They were a little timid, then they charged," added Taylor Scott, 9, of Laguna Beach.
Dumbass animal-killer Sarah Palin is working out new ways to terrorize wildlife in Alaska.
She's already sued the federal government to stop them from listing the polar bear as threatened; now she is suing them again to challenge their protection of the beluga whale, whose population in Cook Inlet, Alaska, has dwindled to about 375 individuals.
Ironically, it was the National Marine Fisheries Service under the Bush administration who listed this population of whales as endangered; during Bush's tenure, the numbers of animals added to the endangered or threatened list was smaller than any other President since the Endangered Species Act was passed: 61 species over Bush's eight years, compared to 522 protected during the Clinton administration.
Yet, for all of the Bush administration's indifference to the disappearance of wildlife, at least they protected a few animals. Sarah Palin's treatment of her state's wild animals, on the other hand, is without precedent, and involves suing the feds for those few animals that they have protected, in order to protect the interests of the oil industry.
Remember how the "maverick" Palin stood up to Alaska's oil industry? Clearly, standing up to them means bending over backwards and sacrificing the state's animals so that their profits will not be threatened, even one bit.
In a remarkably intelligent move, legislators in Washington state are considering a new bill which would include family pets in domestic violence restraining orders. HB 1148 overwhelmingly passed the House and is moving to the Senate for a vote.
Animal advocates, social workers, and sociologists have long known of the links between domestic abuse of women, and violence towards animals. Many abusers target the family pet as a way to terrorize their partners, and, because so few domestic violence shelters accept pets, to keep the woman from fleeing her home.
Hopefully, the Senate will quickly pass this common-sense and humane bill, and other states will follow.
MSNBC just reported that government spending on family planning (ie birth control) not only prevents millions of unwanted pregnancies, and prevents abortions, but actually saves money!
Oh, yes. Smart people already knew that providing not only access to birth control, but funding for the poor to get it, prevents unwanted pregnancies, which is one reason why funds for family planning were initially inserted into the big stimulus package, but were then removed because conservatives freaked out.
The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health policy institute, reports that for each dollar spent on family planning (primarily through Medicaid), four dollars are saved in costs associated with unplanned pregnancies and births, and that almost 2 million unintended pregnancies were avoided (including 400,000 teen pregnancies) in 2006 alone. That means either 2 million unwanted babies, or two million abortions, were avoided that year, because of federal and state-funded family planning for the poor.
While feminists and women's health activists have long considered birth control to be basic health care for women, much of this country's right wing still considers access to contraception to be a sign of loose morals, and a slippery slope leading to baby killing.
If right wingers were truly concerned about "baby killing," they would realize that access to affordable and reliable contraception actually prevents abortions.
But preventing abortions, ultimately, is obviously not important to people like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council who said, "The issue is whether taxpayers should fund, and thereby encourage, behavior that's risky and morally questionable."
Way to see the big picture, Tony. Fretting about unmarried people having non-reproductive sex is the moral concern; not the millions of unwanted pregnancies, unwanted babies, and abortions which result from poor education, lack of opportunities, and lack of funds.
Katha Pollitt, in a new article in the Guardian, said everything I've been thinking about Nadya Suleman, the crazy "octomom," but am not eloquent enough to say. My favorite line: she's the "maternal equivalent of a cat collector."
Last year, France proposed a new UN declaration which would encourage the rest of the world to decriminalize homosexuality, thereby giving basic human rights to perhaps 5% of the world's population. Homosexuality is currently illegal in approximately 85 countries and is punishable by death in a handful of them.
Sixty countries voted with France to support the measure.
The United States, under the Bush Administration, opposed the measure, joining China and all of the Muslim countries in opposition to this most basic of human rights.
This month, however, at the Durban Review Conference in Geneva, another proposal condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation was made, and this time, the United States under the Obama administration supported the measure, although it still failed to get a majority vote.
Thankfully, however, for those of us who see the United States as a leader in human and civil rights, we have finally made the right decision.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider whether to protect a rabbit-like, alpine creature known as the American pika because of habitat loss. The decision comes in an agreement announced Thursday with the Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice. The groups sued in August to protect the so-called "boulder bunny" under the federal Endangered Species Act. The government has until May to decide if protection is warranted. Environmentalists say the pika is losing its cold, high-altitude habitat because of global warming. The American pika cannot survive in warm climate and has been moving to higher elevations as temperatures at lower elevations rise.
Attorney General Eric Holder is in hot water right now, having said that America is a "nation of cowards" when it comes to talking about race. Conservatives immediately freaked out, maintaining that because we now have an African American President (not to mention an African American Attorney General), there is--voila!--no more racism in America.
Bigot radio show host Rush Limbaugh and idiot columnist Michell Malkin both chastised Holder, and Malkin, in another in a long line of ignorant statements, said that if anyone is a racial coward, it's Obama, because he sat in Jeremiah Wright's church, "saying nothing about the separatist demagoguery echoing from the pulpit to the pews." Malkin displays her astonishing ignorance about the realities of black churches in America and, in fact, the history of the segregated church.
It's true--we have come a very long way, since the days of our parents and grandparents when segregation was legal, and blacks could not attend the same schools or live in the same neighborhoods as whites. But those days are not very far behind us, and the legacy of those days, which lasted for over a hundred years after the end of the Civil War, remain with us today.
Blacks, and other minorities, still:
-suffer from poverty at much greater rates than whites -suffer from, and die from, most major diseases at greater rates than whites -have lower incomes than whites -have less property, and wealth, than whites -have a lower life expectancy than whites -have a greater chance of being imprisoned than whites -have a greater chance of being victimized by violent crime than whites -have a harder chance getting credit or home loans than whites -and, thirty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, still go to segregated schools that whites long ago fled
Yes, it's true; we have a black President. But Barack Obama, during his campaign, was careful to portray himself in a way that did not scare white voters, and that allowed us to think of him as "safe." White voters could safely vote for him as long as he didn't make them think too much about race, or about his own blackness.
While Obama was elected by both black and white voters, it's also true that in those states in which blacks made up more than 20% of the electorate (but less than 55% of Democrats), he lost among whites, who were less likely to vote for a black man. Obama won soundly in states with hardly any blacks, and states with huge numbers of blacks. Outside of that, he did not, even among Democrats.
So yes, we, and by that I mean white America, are afraid of race. We are afraid to talk about race, and we are still afraid of people who don't look like us, because we still think that they are different from us, and different is scary.
The New York Post cartoon in which two white cops shoot a chimpanzee while saying "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," is both a reference to the horrific shooting of Travis the chimpanzee, but it also, very clearly, draws from three hundred years of imagery relating African Americans to monkeys and apes. That the Post chose to ignore this obvious history, and simply shrug off the charges of racism by noting that Al Sharpton (one of the first to complain) is a publicity hound, just demonstrates that they are afraid to cop to the racial implications of the cartoon.
We are indeed a nation of cowards when it comes to race.
Last night's American Idol had one amazing performance, a couple of good ones, and some truly terrible, almost shameful performances.
Alexis Grace, who I never even noticed during the auditions or Hollywood week, did an amazing job with Aretha's "Never Loved a Man." My own favorites leading up to the evening, Anoop and Jackie Tohn, did alright, but not as great as they could have done. Another favorite, Danny, did a fine job although for some reason Paula, Randy and Kara thought he turned water into wine.
Who humiliated themselves? Casey Carlson, who I don't remember ever seeing before, and Stevie Wright, who is normally a fine singer but sang a bubblegum song that made the judges, and me, cringe. Stephen Fowler, while he didn't humiliate himself exactly, sure didn't do himself any favors with that Michael Jackson impersonation.
The biggest surprise of the evening was Tatiana, who not only did quite a nice job with Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love for You," but also behaved as if she were in a cloud of Xanax, an interesting change (although not necessarily an improvement) from her Ecstacy-induced performances during Hollywood week.
I suspect that tonight we'll see Danny, Alexis, and I hope Anoop move on to the next round, although America loves a working man, which means we'll probably see Michael or Brent in the third position.
Yesterday, a pet chimpanzee named Travis was shot and killed after mauling his "owner's" friend. The chimpanzee lived in Connecticut with Sandy and Jerome Herold, who apparently thought a wild chimpanzee would make a good pet.
Today, Travis is dead.
Every few months, another story hits the news about a wild "pet," whether chimpanzee, tiger, leopard or snake, who mauls his owner or another unlucky person.
When will idiots like the Herolds realize that wild animals are not pets? That just because you raise a chimpanzee in your home, that doesn't make him a person, or even a dog? It was reported that the Herolds fed Travis wine, and that yesterday, when he began acting odd, Mr. Herold gave him a Xanax to calm him down.
After Mrs. Herold tried to stop Travis' attack by stabbing him with a knife, a police officer arrived and shot him; he didn't die right away, though. Instead, he limped back to his cage where he died in a pool of his own blood.
Let's hope this tragic story stops some other idiot who thinks bringing home a wild animal and making it into a pet is a great idea.
So CNN reported today that in Bristol Palin's first interview since she gave birth to her baby boy, Bristol admitted that "telling young people to be abstinent is 'not realistic at all.'"
Imagine that--Telling hormonal teenagers not to have sex may not work!
Another surprise: she also noted that having babies is not glamorous!
Will wonders never cease.
It's common knowledge that most teenagers have babies because of all the glamour, so it's interesting to hear that it may not be all it's cracked up to be! And ever since 1996, when President Clinton signed into law the Welfare Reform Act, with its federal dollars allocated to abstinence only education, we all thought that telling horny teens to not have sex was the best way to prevent these exciting teen births. Certainly that's what Sarah Palin has always believed.
Who knew that telling teens not to have sex, and withholding any information about birth control and STD's (except to tell them that condoms don't work), wouldn't be the best way to combat teen pregnancy?
Well, as it turns out, lots of people knew that.
Two decades after abstinence only education became the only federally-approved form of sex education in the country, and 1.5 BILLION dollars in abstinence funding later, we now know, from numerous studies, that IT DOESN'T WORK.
Kids who are given abstinence-only sex education not only don't delay their first sexual experience beyond those who take comprehensive sex education courses, but are more likely to get pregnant and to contract sexually transmitted diseases.
For decades, schools had to decide whether to take federal sex education funds, which means they had to teach abstinence only, or to reject those funds in favor of giving kids comprehensive sex education, thus reducing teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. In recent years, more and more schools have been rejecting the funds and providing education, rather than morality, to kids.
Let's hope that more schools will wake up to reality and do the same.
So for once, this year I am happy about the top 36. I come from a long line of gamblers, so my money is on the following for the top 12:
1. Anoop Desai (did I mention he's smart AND dreamy?) 2. Adam Lambert (but please, please, get rid of that haircut) 3. Jackie Tohn (with the whiskey & ciggies voice) 4. Tatiana del Toro (because the judges know we need someone to despise) 5. Ariana Afsar (sweet voice, sweet girl) 6. Jasmine Murray (the r&b choice) 7. Lil Rounds (see #6) 8. Matt or Michael (because there's only one blue collar spot) 9. Nathaniel Marshall (the openly gay spot cries out for him) 10. Scott McIntyre (because, well, he's blind) 11. Danny Gokey (because his wife died) 12. Brent Smith (the country spot)
I imagine one of the many blondes will make it onto the show as well, but given that I can't tell one from the other, I'm not going to bother to guess who it might be.
A story just came out on CNN which reports that Iraqi officials have been "culling" stray dogs in Baghdad by killing and poisoning them, to reduce disease and attacks on people.
What the fuck?
So far we have spent 596 BILLION dollars on this insane war, and the result is a country where government officials poison and shoot dogs to death?
$596 billion, and there's no money for even the most routine vaccinations or tranquilizer guns?
An Iraqi woman quoted in the article says that "critics of the culling program should consider human rights before animal rights."
That's fantastic that at least some Iraqis have the same ignorant response as many Americans when faced with criticism over our own inhumane treatment of animals: that we cannot care about both human and animal rights.
You would think that some of the billions that we pour every day into this non-winnable war could be used to provide for human medicine AND vaccinations for animals, so that a country that is supposed to be the beacon for democracy in the Middle East would not be forced to deal so brutally with its non-human residents.
So tonight American Idol will, after a long two hours, reveal the 36 semi finalists. I've always found it strange that, given that there are no more performances after last night's show, that the final 36 were not just chosen last night. Instead, each year, the judges winnow down the Hollywood group until there are about 48 people left, and then, with no new information, winnow them down the next day until we reach our 36 who will be featured on the show.
Anyhoo, I'm rooting for:
To go home, FAST:
Drama queen Tatiana Ridiculous waste of time Bikini Girl (she's gone already, but still) Could he be any lamer Nick/Norm Gentle Let's not have a pity vote Scott the Blind guy
To stay on to the finals:
Dreamy and smart Anoop Widower and sweetheart Danny and his pal Jamar Lovely and soulful Frankie Jordan Joplin sound-alike Jackie Tohn Working class guys Michael and Matt Adam with the Pete Wentz hair Matt who played the piano
If Anoop goes home, I vow that I will not watch this show ever again.
Propublica has released a comparison of the House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill, allowing us to easily compare the two versions.
What's different? In a nutshell, the compromisey Senate bill has huge cuts in aid to low income families (the poor are poor for a reason), including COBRA health care for the unemployed, hunger relief, job training and programs for the disabled; aid to states, including Medicaid; funds for energy, including energy efficiency projects (weaning ourselves off of oil is too expensive!) and twenty five billion dollars cut from educational funding, because, seriously, who needs smart people?
However, there are seventy five billion dollars more in tax cuts, so if the Senate bill ultimately becomes law, I guess we can all spend our $500 checks at Walmart while unemployed, illiterate, and burning coal to cook our cat food for dinner.
The new cast of Dancing with the Has Beens was just announced, and it was, for the most part, a predictable collection of former stars, never-were stars, and wanna be stars (but Steve Wozniak, seriously?). I, however, will not be tuning in this season.
I would, however, watch if my own dream cast was featured. Please, for your enjoyment, my Dream List:
1. Kim and NeNe from Real Housewives of Atlanta 2. Omorosa 3. Anna Nicole Smith (back from the grave!) 4. Jessica Simpson 5. Bea Arthur 6. Courtney Love 7. Janice Dickinson 8. That little guy on Chelsea Handler's show 9. Pete Doherty 10. Star Jones 11. Sarah Palin 12. Joe the Plumber 13. Rod Blagojevich
Fun fact: I once had dinner with Bea Arthur for a charity event, and she is an ANGRY DRUNK. She would make Cloris Leachman's time on the show seem tame!
So Obama's stimulus package, now filled with far more Republican-added tax breaks (which economists agree won't help the economy in the long term but which make Republicans look like they care about "main street"), is being debated in the Senate, with a vote expected tomorrow.
And even though economists (or, as the Republicans like to say, Socialists) maintain that direct spending on infrastructure is what is needed to stimulate the economy, Republicans continue to cut billions in proposed spending on education (who needs that?) and aid to states in the form of funds for health care, energy, roads, and other infrastructure. So ultimately, the bill that will be voted on (and which will be opposed by all but three moderate Republicans), will be a much worse bill, that will do far less, than the original House bill.
It's awfully easy to look at Republicans adding ridiculous amendments and removing important features from a bill they're going to oppose anyway, and think that they do it because they want the economy to fail. They certainly don't seem to want it to improve, given that their own proposal involves doing exactly the same thing that got us into this boat: cutting taxes for the wealthy. Because that will surely fix things this time.
And in other news, Obama bumped his head on Air Force One while traveling to sell the stimulus package to Americans!
The Fish & Wildlife Service just announced that there are only 52 gray wolves in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The endangered gray wolf had been reintroduced into these areas in 1998, and FWS and environmentalists had hoped that by the end of 2006, the wolves would number at least 100.
Instead, wolves have been killed or removed for killing or threatening livestock, or for leaving their narrow reintroduction area, with 19 wolves shot or trapped by Fish and Wildlife in 2007 alone. In 2008, on the other hand, because the government did not kill any wolves, ranchers took the law into their own hands and illegally shot at least 5, which brings the total of wolves illegally shot to 30 since the program began.
As long as federal wildlife policy continues to view wildlife, even endangered animals such as the gray wolf, as being less worthy of protection than the ranchers' profits, wolves will continue to die. The feds need to expand the wolves' area and clamp down on the killings in order to allow this majestic animal to survive.
Lost is, like Heroes, one of those shows you have to COMMIT to. It's got a complicated story line, multiple characters, and jumps back and forth across the space/time continuum (as Hiro would say).
That said, it's a hell of a lot of work.
After the thousand year hiatus from last season, of course I'd forgotten everything that happened last season on Lost, so I planned to watch all of the reprisal episodes they've been running lately. I taped six hours' worth of them, and the tapes (because I'm too poor to afford Tivo) just sat on my tv, mocking me.
Finally, we decided to just skip all the old tapes, and just watch the new episodes this week when they finally aired on Wednesday. It'd be fun, right? Catching up with old characters, figuring out what they're doing now, trying to figure out who the hell is even alive anymore?
Well, of course we didn't watch it when it aired. We taped it and finally, my hubby and I, we decided to sit down last night and watch it once and for all.
We turned it on, and immediately started fighting because we didn't understand it. We kept rewinding, over and over, to try to make out what was happening by reading the subtitles. And who the hell are all these new people? Where did they come from? What did they want?
After about twenty minutes, we both looked at each other and admitted: this is like homework. Worse than homework. It's like a final exam that we didn't study for.
Who wants to fail Lost? Not me. We also realized, belatedly, that we don't actually even LIKE any of the characters. I certainly don't like sanctimonious Jack, and while Sawyer is hot in a greasy sort of way, I don't like him either. I find Locke to be creepy, with his passion for hunting and killing, and don't really care for sexy Kate with the troubled past. Nope, I realized. I don't much like these people and don't much care whether they are still on that island or not.
Now my Wednesday nights are free and clear for Biggest Loser and American Idol!
So yesterday in local news, an Albuquerque man plead guilty to pimping out college students from UNM. I don't actually have a problem with sex work per se; where it's legal and regulated, women (or men) can choose, in as much as one chooses to be a prostitute, to work in conditions that are free of violence and disease, as in some European countries and much of Nevada.
But when there's a pimp involved, there's just nothing going on but exploitation. James Bays, who ran a service called Desert Divas, is called by his lawyer a "man with a loving family... a man that's got the potential to do something with his life."
Let's hope the devoted family man chooses for his next career a job that doesn't make money off of young women have sex.
So last night I watched "the first ever cross over episode" of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. Grey's Anatomy was not as all about Meredith as is typical, as they let Yang develop her relationship with the studly red head, but much of the focus was Derek's intention to propose to Meredith, so I guess it was really all about her anyway. Thankfully, they seem to be pushing both George and Izzy off of the show, since their story lines (especially now that Izzy's dead stalker boyfriend is finally gone) seem to have fizzled down to nothing.
But I really want to talk about Private Practice. What do I NOT hate about this show? It's certainly not the constant drama in their one-patient-a-week private practice, in which every episode is two-to-three "issues" which, predictably, divide the doctors in half. It's definitely not judgemental Dell, who, since coming out as anti-abortion a few episodes ago, needs to make sure to be both sensitive and condemning in his dealings with all of the female characters on the show. I know it's not how spastic and insecure and nutty (but in a cute way!) all of the accomplished, beautiful women are on the show, and how they spend most of their time (which there is plenty of since they have only one patient a week) agonizing over their love lives and how much sex they're having. And it's clearly not the over the top ridiculousness of the fact that they run a practice that sees one patient a week and yet they all live next door to each other in huge (but comfy!) houses Right On The Beach In Malibu.
I guess what I don't hate is the fact that Shonda Rhimes, the creator of both shows, has populated Private Practice with an ethnically diverse cast, like Grey's. Unfortunately, that diversity doesn't extend to any other social feature, as there are apparently no gay people in Santa Monica, and definitely no fat people. There are, however, a surprising number of poor people as patients, who drive (or take the bus?) from Working Classville to have their children tended to and their fertility needs met, evidently for free, by the doctors of Oceanside Wellness Center. I also don't hate the fact that Violet, played by Amy Brenneman, appears to be refreshingly free of plastic surgery.
Last night's show was a predictable mix of polarizing "issues" like Addison's brother having a brain tumor (which turned out to be parasites, perhaps earwigs, he picked up in some Latin American country)--should Naomi (or NeNe as Addison calls her) tell Addison or keep Archer's secret? Should Addison call her ex Derek, the best brain surgeon in the universe, to come help?; like judgemental Dell's worrying over whether he may have harmed the new baby he helped deliver; like Cooper's contining problems with the blond harpie (with a heart of gold!) who runs the practice upstairs; and like Violet's adolescent angst over whether to tell the potential fathers of her baby (the good looking guy and the older troll) that she's pregnant.
It was a two-parter so we can look forward to the continuing of last night's issues next week, when: 1. Derek will save Addison's brother, but could put his relationship with Meredith in jeopardy 2. Cooper will continue to beg Blondie to take him back, yet will not be man enough to give her any good reason to 3. Violet will continue to agonize over whether or not she will be a good mother 4. Dell will have another patient to judge an unfit parent