merchimerch: (Default)
And important re-post about a law that Mississippians will be voting on this fall that could criminalize women who have miscarriages and outlaw certain kinds of birthcontrol:

Originally posted by [ profile] gabrielleabelle at Mississippi Personhood Amendment
Okay, so I don't usually do this, but this is an issue near and dear to me and this is getting very little no attention in the mainstream media.

Mississippi is voting on November 8th on whether to pass Amendment 26, the "Personhood Amendment". This amendment would grant fertilized eggs and fetuses personhood status.

Putting aside the contentious issue of abortion, this would effectively outlaw birth control and criminalize women who have miscarriages. This is not a good thing.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only place women can get abortions in the entire state, and they are trying to launch a grassroots movement against this amendment. This doesn't just apply to Mississippi, though, as Personhood USA, the group that introduced this amendment, is trying to introduce identical amendments in all 50 states.

What's more, in Mississippi, this amendment is expected to pass. It even has Mississippi Democrats, including the Attorney General, Jim Hood, backing it.

The reason I'm posting this here is because I made a meager donation to the Jackson Women's Health Organization this morning, and I received a personal email back hours later - on a Sunday - thanking me and noting that I'm one of the first "outside" people to contribute.

So if you sometimes pass on political action because you figure that enough other people will do something to make a difference, make an exception on this one. My RSS reader is near silent on this amendment. I only found out about it through a feminist blog. The mainstream media is not reporting on it.

If there is ever a time to donate or send a letter in protest, this would be it.

What to do?

- Read up on it. Wake Up, Mississippi is the home of the grassroots effort to fight this amendment. Daily Kos also has a thorough story on it.

- If you can afford it, you can donate at the site's link.

- You can contact the Democratic National Committee to see why more of our representatives aren't speaking out against this.

- Like this Facebook page to help spread awareness.

merchimerch: (Default)
I'm inspired by the My Planned Parenthood Carnival that is going on at Shakesville (, What Tami Said (http://, and a bunch of other feminist blogs, and I'd like to tell my story as well.

Planned Parenthood is the organization that first introduced me to natural birth control. I would probably have been on hormonal birth control for much longer if it weren't for the wonderful doctors and employees at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Seattle in 2004.

I wonder what all of the anti-PP, anti-abortion, anti-birth control people would think of that.

That's the thing about Planned Parenthood: they educate women about their bodies and their reproductive choices, so that women can make the best decisions for themselves. They also provide really important services for a wide range of people, and I depended on them while in grad school, especially when my insurance lapsed over summers and other periods.

So here's my story of how Planned Parenthood helped me get off of hormonal birth control, a choice that I feel is much healthier for me:

I generally used my college clinic to get hormonal birth control, but it was getting more and more problematic as the different pills and rings that I used would first be on and then pushed off of the insurance plan. Different side effects were starting to show up from the different types of pills/rings, but I never thought to look for other options. My mother was on the pill when not having kids and my grandmother was one of the early adopters of the birth control pill. It was the way that all the women that I knew avoided pregnancy.

In 2004, I was set to head out for my dissertation research abroad, so I went to Planned Parenthood in Seattle to get some pill packs to tide me over until I could get some in the country that I was travelling to. My appointment happened to be scheduled for the day that there was a bombing in the city that I was due to live in for the next year. As a result, I was beyond panicked and edgy, but I went to my appointment all the same. Once at the appointment, one of the first things that they did was take my blood pressure and it was off the charts. I don't remember the numbers, but they were shockingly high.

I was only in Seattle for a summer language program, so the doctor had no medical history for me, and couldn't really take my word that my blood pressure is always 120/80 or below. She had the nurse wait a bit and take the BP later, but it was still high, and the doctor said that she couldn't prescribe hormonal birth control for someone with such high blood pressure readings.

I was incredibly disappointed and stressed when she told me that she couldn't prescribe me birth control pills or rings that day; I was due to run out just a few days later. What the doctor did instead was fit me for a diaphragm and talk to me about FAM, the fertility awareness method (she also gave me some free Plan B, in case I couldn't get it in my host country). The doctor gave me a handout and pointed me toward some websites, saying that she thought that I might be a good fit for FAM, since I was in a long-term committed relationship and wanted children eventually. I was resistant at first and disappointed that my long-standing, low-risk go-to birth control wasn't going to be readily available because of my blood pressure.

Despite my disappointment, I did read the literature on FAM, including Toni Weschler's _Taking Charge of Your Fertility_. The rigor appealed to me and I trusted the science around it. For someone who was used to taking pills every day, taking a temperature every morning didn't seem like a stretch. I later went to doctors and my blood pressure was diagnosed as normal, but I stayed on FAM. It has worked wonders, and I've never had an unwanted pregnancy as a result. The guidance that I received from Planned Parenthood helped me make informed choices about my fertility.

Here's the hub post of all the My Planned Parenthood stories from today: They're really inspiring, and make a very clear argument why we need Planned Parenthood for so much more than legal and safe abortion.
merchimerch: (Default)
My mother outlaw just got shafted by Chase Bank.

She was a loyal WaMu customer, and had her Social Security and supplemental checks direct deposited into a free checking account.

As you all know, WaMu went bankrupt and Chase bought them out.

They've now decided that they need $10 a month from her in fees, because she doesn't have a single check that amounts to $500 directly deposited every month.

This is just awful. She's getting squeezed in so many directions, with cuts in her Social Security payments and now this.

At this point we'd like to transfer her stuff to a credit union, but that's going to take a lot of hassle and paperwork. Thank goodness she has two strong English speakers to help her.

The new reality of financial reform really does seem to be taking from the poor to benefit the corporations.
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Until a few months ago it was the North African side of the Mediterranean. I hope that things settle down into prosperous democracies soon enough for that to be my get away fantasy of choice again.
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Rant-Man said it very well, but I want to chime in:

The facebook memes that go by every so often do annoy me, not because I have anything about announcing bra color or displaying cartoon characters on facebook, but because of that false feeling of having accomplished something that results from participating in these mass activities.

Rant-Man said that doing so doesn't help out, but opening one's checkbook does. Well yes, but there are other things to be done from the comfort of one's computer that are also effective -- writing congress people about such issues, searching for relevant local organizations where one can help out in person, etc. I don't like the idea that the ONLY way to help child abuse, breast cancer, etc. is to open one's wallet.

And on that score, I see the facebook charity/awareness memes as just another extension of the green/pink/rainbow-washing phenomenon. Buying a pink vacuum will not help find a cure for breast cancer, especially since the paltry 1-5% of profits that are promised to the Susan G. Komen foundation often never even shows up. The same is true with purportedly environmentally friendly products. Has anyone noticed the trend in packaging to label itself "recyclable" in the same spot that other products state their recycled and/or post consumer waste percentage?

Also, it seems like the X-washing practices often obscure certain charitable organizations efforts that are truly effective. The Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz is an incredibly worthy cause, and a building owner downtown donated them an empty storefront for the holiday season. In their gift shop, you can buy candles, baking mixes, lavender sachets, etc. that came from their garden and directly benefits the project. It's the kind of charitable (and local) consumption that I'd like to see more of.

All of this preys on our desire to help out and our feelings of disconnectedness. But really, facebook and consumption are not going to contribute to solutions for these complex problems, and I worry that such memes provide a balm for people's charitable impulses that would otherwise be directed to more effective practices.
merchimerch: (Default)

This is really awesome. It makes the decisions that need to be made about spending and taxes so much more tangible and conceivable to me.

Having played with it for a little while, I'm really convinced that spending cuts are so ineffectual at really addressing the budget problem, especially if military spending is untouchable. Every time I clicked on the spending cut links, it seemed like tiny slivers of the forecasted budget shortfall were repaired. Bringing taxes to Clinton era levels seems to be the way to fix the budget the quickest. I don't understand why people are so averse to this idea.
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I just returned from my walk to courthouse to complete my early voting. It was easy and fast and will mean that I don't have to try and make it to the polls right when they open at 7 before rushing to my 8 a.m. bus to work. Plus it was a beautiful day outside -- bonus!

My Bosnian also completed his ballot by mail yesterday and our discussion over props 20 and 27 just underscores how bad the prop system is in California. Yes props like 23 also illustrate that point, but at least engaged, intelligent, net savvy folks can trace the funding, read the bills, and make a clear decision.

Redistricting, even after considering the issue from a variety of angles and reading a lot of opinions on it, remains a puzzle that I don't think that the electorate can solve. It would be great to vote on who is put on these committees, but voting as to their existence seems like a really complex issues. Plus, I'm not sure what hidden powers might be vested in these committees through the prop. It just seems to complex for a yes/no vote.

I like the idea that elected officials, rather than appointees are making decisions, but I don't know how I feel about elected officials drawing the lines of their own districts. I don't like the idea of appointed oligarchs doing it either. Someone else made the point that at a national level, other states like Texas aren't engaging in this kind of reform and wouldn't it be bad if California enacted a more moderate/mixed district policy, while Tom DeLay still gets to draw his own.

Broken system on so many levels.

Will someone please write a prop that ends all props for the next election cycle? That is one petition that I'd actually sign.

(The broken prop system is why I don't sign any of the petitions that the poor saps who are hired to collect them outside the TJ ask me to).
merchimerch: (Default)
Also, since we're moving, we need to pare down our furniture.

We'd love to get rid of our love seat and 3 bookcases: 1 low dark stained real wood bookcase and 2 tall white target-type particle board ones.

Anybody want them? Just let me know and you can come and take them away.
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Also, the one big furniture item that we're sure that we want to get rid of is the love seat that was once my parents and will probably be too much furniture in the new place.

Anyone local need a couch? It's plush and good quality and in good shape. I'm happy to pass it along to anyone who wants to pick it up in San Jose before Sept. 10.
merchimerch: (Default)
Slate has an interesting article bemoaning the loss of the paper-book for e-book, since it makes people harder to judge by their bookshelves.

It makes an interesting point, but it forgets that we have found other ways to advertise our reading habits to potential friends and mates. Facebook has it's own "books" category in interests and there are all kinds of "Good Reads" type apps. Never mind the book section of OK Cupid and most online dating sites.

I TOTALLY found my Bosnian because of his taste in books, and I did so without the benefit of peering at his bookshelves or catching him reading in public.

Our first online conversation was me berating his choice of Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson as his favorite book. "Diamond Age, are you kidding? When you could have chosen the most exciting pizza delivery scene in literature or Cryptonomicon?" That was the gist of my first message to my beloved Bosnian at a time when I was looking for socializing but feeling too wounded from previous douchebags to hunt for romance. We chatted for a month about sci fi and European culture before I wanted to meet him in person. I don't think we'd have been able to manage 9 hours of chat in person without gaining access to each others' bookshelves via social media.

So, it's a neat article, but I don't think that we're losing what Mark Oppenheimer fears. Although our books may be hidden in our kindles as our album covers are now snuggled into our ipods, we still advertise our preferences.
merchimerch: (Default)
Happy Pride to all those in the Bay Area! Hope you're enjoying the festivities.
merchimerch: (Default)
This is an NYT article that really got to me. It's a major downer, but very well written and thought provoking. The article focuses on the author's father's decision to have a pacemaker, which caused an extension of the end of his life.

I'm posting it to make sure that folks have a chance to see it and also to remind myself about the whole living will issue (and also since it seems a little too long and heavy for a facebook post).
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I'm not a big St. Patty's person, as I find that most folks with a lot of Irish ancestry aren't.

My mom used to make us corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's, but it's never been a blotto holiday for me.

All the same, I'm contemplating walking over to the Hooters across the road at around 10 p.m. tonight just for the ethnographic experience...
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I found the body of superbowl commercials that dealt with a "reassertion" of manliness through consumer goods to be really tiring. I get tired of the stereotypes of women that go reinscribed over and over and over again, but maybe this emasculated stupid man (usually stupid oafish dad -- seriously, what does the media have against dads?) that then finds access to manliness through weak beer and big trucks really off mark.

Then again I'm a leftist Californian feminist academic -- not exactly the target market for those ads.

Still, this reaction vid made me laugh and was EXACTLY what I was thinking about when I saw the dodge ad on the superbowl:

And yes I watched the Superbowl, in fact I made chili and guacamole and the Bosnian and I took it over to inflict some blatant Americanism on the Bosnian mommy. It was really good fun -- very relaxed and everyone got into the spirit. Apparently Bosnia's crest had fleur de lis on it, so she was very happy that the Saints won. The Bosnian and I were rooting for them as well after their coverage on the Rachel Maddow show the night before.
merchimerch: (Default)
Dan Choi is put back on active duty. This surprises me in how swiftly it happened. I'm so pleased!
merchimerch: (Default)

This made my morning and my kettle is just boiling :)

My favorite line: "When I say oo, you say long -- oo long oo long!"

Mu Zest?

Jan. 26th, 2010 11:57 am
merchimerch: (Default)
So I was at my favorite natural foods store in Santa Cruz last night after work picking up all manner of sundries (it's my 1 stop shop for Chinese herbal formulas, lip balm, brussel sprouts, tempeh, and bulk foods).

I was refilling my spices, since I'm low on a few and I started smelling the teas that they have in bulk in jars above the spice racks. I ran across one that I hadn't seen or smelled before: Mu Zest. It smelled delicious and had chickory and yerba mate and black tea and some other goodness in it. I knew that it would be a good morning tea with both mate and black tea in it.

I was so excited -- I had new tea that I'd never tried and it smelled SO GOOD.

Brewed up a pot and yuck.

I like tea. I like all kinds of tea -- black green, white, red, yellow, herbal, whatever. I like flavored teas and roasted teas and smoked teas.

I do not, however, like tea that is trying to be coffee.

After brewing this up I think that's what's going on (isn't mate often recommended for coffee drinkers trying to give it up?).

I think I'm going to try some almond milk in it to see if it cuts the odd bitter thing it has going that doesn't taste like over brewed tea.

ETA: Yes, almond milk hits the spot -- it figures, since I like milk in my coffee.
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My Bosnian and I got a great deal on a PC desktop in the after Thanksgiving sales. Unfortunately, we got what we paid for and our spanky new LCD monitor died this afternoon.

HP is shipping us a replacement, but it won't arrive until the 27th. Does anyone local have an old monitor lying around that we could borrow until the new one arrives?
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There's a special dance in Mountain View with the touring band Elixr ( My Bosnian is going to busy learning python, but I'm hell bent on going, even if I'm exhausted from teaching 2 classes, office hours, and the last remnants of my cold (I don't think I'm contagious anymore).

Would anyone like to come with me? I'll be happy to drive if you want to be at my house by 7 p.m. tomorrow.

So excited about having a special dance only 20 minutes from my house!!!!!
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I always appreciate writing that emphasizes that science, medicine, and facts are all culturally embedded (so it's not just art, music, language, and opinion). This does an interesting job of looking at madness and mental illness in other cultures and a little bit historically, and examines the phenomenon of exporting American concepts of mental illness and the accompanying pharmacological cures to other places with different understandings. My favorite quote is: "The problem is that our biomedical advances are hard to separate from our particular cultural beliefs."
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