Being Of Sound Mind & Body

The Archive Series by the David Garcia Studio are art installation pieces, experimental architectural platforms, specifically “investigations on space and books, aiming to blur the borders between art and design. Clearly non functional, they aim to appeal to the senses.” However, this second installation does have a function — serving as a hamster wheel for readers, or, if you prefer, an alternative to the exercise bike, treadmill, and other gym equipment that the bored read upon. The Archive Series is available for sale in custom made pieces too.

Found via this post at the Bookshelf blog.

Barbiturates Like Candy

I’ve been listing a lot on eBay, so be prepared for observations and odd thoughts on what I find — like this gem: a vintage medical advertising blotter for triple-barbiturate capsules by Wyeth called Ethobral.

“for all patients who cannot sleep…”
“nearest to the ideal hypnotic…”

What strikes me most about this promotional piece is the sexist ageism. First, note that illustration: A little old lady, complete with her hair in the “granny bun,” has what appears to be a box of open chocolates on her lap — and still she weeps.

Above that, in extra-fine print, “Sleep for the menopausal patient.”

We’ve all heard about the misogyny in medicine; we’ve all heard about the medicating of women for all sorts of “mysterious ailments” that men just don’t suffer from. And we all know about the giving away of barbiturates to women as if they were candy. But seeing this, seeing a “menopausal patient” — which can only be female — depicted as a crying grandmother trying to self-medicate, ineffectively and stupidly, with chocolate, as the only image on this advertising piece for medication “for all patients who cannot sleep” drives the point home like a railroad spike. To the chest.

No More Wire Hangers, Ever!

I’m invoking the name and memory of Joan Crawford to make a plea for those of you in the US to take action against those who would force women to face the wire hangers of the past.

You must realize that the wealthy will always send their sisters, daughters, wives and girlfriends to other places for safe, legal abortions — even while they seek to deny the rest of us the rights to such “padded hangers.” So even if an abortion is against your morality, if it’s not a choice you could make, recognize the rights each of us has to make our own choices — safe choices which allow for the right to have future children, rather than render ourselves infertile (or worse) by seeking alternatives.

The women are already here, already have rights. Let each woman choose. If you believe it is against God’s will, then let him hand down the decree; you don’t get to play God in the name of preventing others from doing so.

Take action today.

Help Stop the “Stupak on Steroid” Agenda and Sign The Petition to stop the GOP war on women’s health.

“Snake Oil Is Wonderful Stuff” (I Fear A New Anti-Obama Slogan *sigh*)

A vintage ad (Newsweek, 1950), in which those wise and merciful corporations, Electric Light & Power Companies, expose their virtues while exposing the menace that is government regulation, comparing it to snake oil. My fav line is one that Glenn Beck himself could have written or spit: “What they don’t realize is: when any government takes over enough things, socialism comes automatically.”  I guess we all just need to tell government to back off and entrust our lives to corporations.  Not.

The Dark Side Of Medicine

For those of you who question my concerns regarding ethics in medical studies — most heatedly debated in my discussion regarding the “science” of “deadly corsets” (the heat there surprised me greatly; I expected it regarding the flack to come regarding feminist use of the corset), I urge you to read Susan Perry’s Too many clinical trials still exploit the poor and other vulnerable people, says U of M bioethics professor:

Are there enough protections in place?

No, says Dr. Carl Elliott, a professor of bioethics at the University of Minnesota and author of the just-published “White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine.” (Last month, Elliott also published a Mother Jones article that focused on the 2004 suicide of a young mentally ill man who was enrolled at the time in a U of M industry-funded clinical trial of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel.)

Clinical trials can still exploit study subjects, only the exploitation has taken a different form, Elliott told me in a phone interview earlier this week. Medical researchers may no longer be going out and intentionally making people sick, as they did in the Guatemala study (and in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study), but they still can — and do — recruit vulnerable people (the uninsured, the poor) and often fail to give them adequate treatment while the subjects are in the trial.

“In a lot of ways, what’s going on now is even worse,” said Elliott.

You know I’m getting this book.

I’m putting it on my wish list right after I puke; it’s not so satisfying being right when the issue is so horribly wrong.

Too Many Babies, Not Enough Babies, WTF

The ladies of The View were not immune to the irony of having a show about infertility one day after the show with Nadya Suleman aka the Octomom. In their Hot Topics discussion (always my favorite part of the show), Whoopi noted it and there was brief discussion on why Suleman arouses so much heated debate.

At first I was surprised when Hasselbeck defended Suleman — I expected her to be a hard-line republican on the welfare business at the expense of fetal life, even though that fetal life was a medical “opt in” not a manual one — and by a single mother yet. And I was more than a bit surprised by Whoopi as well. I wasn’t surprised at her talk of responsibility in having so many kid so much as what was missing from the conversation.

See, what bothers me the most about all the Octomom haters is the lack of compassion and tolerance. Not just for the buckets of crazy that motivate having so many children, but for outrage expressed at her while folks like the Duggars (of 101 Christian Pups & Counting) continue to skate — even past Jon & Kate Plus 8 before the marital drama. I vented about all this before, but here it is again:

Before watching the Dateline interview of Nadya Suleman, my only interest in this story was the passing thought of, “Will this family replace Jon & Kate Plus 8??” I honestly had no idea of the squawking & hostility towards this mother of six who just gave birth to octuplets. In fact, I was surprised to hear of it — and that’s what drew me towards the show.

(Personally, I’d like to lay a large part of this concerned indignation from our nation on the bitterly infertile; but even the fertile seem to be pissed off. So it’s larger than that… Hit a larger American nerve.)

What I saw was an articulate young woman who managed to keep her own anger at bay, who seemed understanding and forgiving of people who do not accept her decision, and was composed yet passionate as she tactfully mentioned her beliefs about the sanctity of life. But it was her earliest statements, regarding other large families, which seemed to lie at the root of all of the hullabaloo.

When two parent families give birth to &/or adopt other children, people seem to respect them. We’re fascinated, yes; we’ve got television shows, both series and ‘specials’, dedicated to such large & extraordinary families. But we treat them with respect in those shows.

However, few seem to respect this woman. As they said on Chelsea Lately, single, unemployed moms who aren’t entrenched in their community church aren’t cute. Funny? Sure. But too true; and that’s what’s not funny. As were the comments Chelsea Handler made tonight (Tuesday, February 10th) about a new mom having a French tip manicure — seeing those nails near such paper-fragile premature baby skin made me whine and wince. And yes, there are some questions about where the money for manicures and whatever is going on with mom’s new lips… But would these statements be made with such heat about other new moms?

Would we trust the judgment of children? When her older children are questioned on Dateline, they mention ‘squishy’ (aka crowded living space) and crying babies. Those may be true things, and even un-coached or non-parroted statements they heard from adults; but are children known for their unselfishness? Not all children welcome additional siblings period. Does that mean parents or persons considering becoming parents take the advice or sentiments of their children to heart and not increase their family’s size because their children complained?

I’m no pro-lifer, but as the mother of special needs children are the plethora of haters (& Dateline) actually saying that it is irresponsible for a family to increase in size because they have special needs children? And sure, special needs kids come with extra bills — but I don’t see anyone worried about me and my family struggling to care for my special needs kids… Where’s the concern for us?

I’m not saying I think Ms. Suleman has all answers or answers that I’d like to hear when it comes to caring for her children; but then, see, that’s the point: This is not my family, these are not my questions to answer, I am not the judge. I’m not a Christian, but I think that’s supposed to be the Christian way; to leave the judging to God.

This is not to say that I, or anyone, shouldn’t care about the welfare of this family, these 14 children — but then most of the people worried are freaking out about the word ‘welfare’ so maybe I shouldn’t use that word…

We currently have no test or licensing practices for parenthood; even adoption has few rules if one has enough money. And don’t let money fool you either; money doesn’t free any family from neglect and abuse — which is what most everyone is talking about in defense of their questioning this woman’s right to a large family.

But it seems to me, too much emphasis is this woman’s single status. It seems to be the bottom line of all the upset reminding me of the old fuss about Murhpy Brown having a baby; a big moral debate about choosing to be a single mom.

Have a two-parent family who keeps popping out children because they don’t believe in birth control, and few take them to task for their lack of common sense, even when they live on the government dole, or in a house that is ‘squishy’. Extra points if they evoke God a lot. And when they have specific religious or church affiliations, no one dares to really berate them because they have religious protections & a coven of church brothers and sisters.

You want examples? Fine. Those annoying Duggars (of 17 and Counting) take their kids to a “wild life refuge” and allow/encourage their kids to feed animals pasty white bread from their mouths, run & chase animals despite the “do not chase the animals” signs — and when asked, bozo dad Duggar says he wasn’t worried about his kids. Apparently God will protect his kids from his own stupidity. Plus they do all sorts of impractical and stunting things to their kids in the name of religion — so we aren’t supposed to judge. Even my beloved Kate of Jon & Kate Plus 8 totes & promotes her faith.

Most egregiously of all, the Murphy family, headed by John and Jeanette Murphy, who, already the parents of four, opened up their home — aka privately adopted — 23 children with Down Syndrome and were the subject of Our 27 Kids. If you want to talk about what’s fair to the children you already have, where’s the outrage that they placed upon their young biological children (two who existed before they began adopting, and two born after) the burdens of special needs siblings? It’s not just the daily grind either — it’s for the lifetime of those children they’ve adopted. As a mom who has had to deal with the safety of one child’s future — aka legal guardianship — in light of other children’s needs, I can’t imagine saddling children with 23 such responsibilities.

But we don’t talk about these issues. Or their economic dole. The Murphy’s admit they too take food stamps, like Ms. Suleman; Jon & Kate likely don’t need them due to their TV deal, their church, etc.; and I bet the Duggars took food stamps & more — at least before the TV deal — and their children, ill-prepared for the real world, are destined to return to such public assistance in the future. But we don’t talk about them because these are two parent families who evoke the name of God & their idea of His vision of morality when speaking of their large families. In the case of the Gosselins & the Murphys, their marital status is a tacit approval of God for most of the gossip-mongering public so ready to judge Suleman.

I guess Suleman should get all kooky with an old time religion and marry a man; preferably the man who biologically fathered her kids — the man her mother claims offered to married her. Then would everyone just shut up about her — or at least just talk about the blessings and realities of raising so many tiny babies? Judging isn’t going to diaper and feed those eight babies. Or her six other children. Nor is is going to help a new mom with her stress. It’s just empty finger pointing.

Well, it’s not completely empty finger pointing… Every finger pointed at Suleman has three more fingers pointed back the the finger pointer. And maybe those people should start there, looking at what makes them so judgmental.

Whew. I’m glad to have that all off my chest. Again.

But back to The View.

(Not that this whole discussion wasn’t about The View; it was. Like I said, Hot Topics is my favorite part of the show, primarily because it’s just like how women talk. But it’s time to leave the Octomom alone and move along.)

Yesterday’s episode was a “special episode” about infertility. While I am not without my sympathies for this issue (something my sister and most of her friends have had to deal with), I am waiting for today– Friday’s — Hot Topic fallout regarding the segment with Bill and Giuliana Rancic. (I know it will be there — especially as Joy mentioned it on her HLN show this evening.)

The short version, for those too lazy to click the above link and watch, it that Giuliana stated that her doctor advised her to gain 5 to 10 pounds to assist conception — and Giuliana resisted.

Now I get that her career is to be a thin woman-child waif on the red carpet etc., and that such a gig requires her to be thin, plus lose an extra 10 for the camera. But her reluctance seemed to have exposed a resentment that she should have to do such a thing in order to have a baby — as opposed to the more sane response that her career ideal weight would be so low that it would interfere with her basic biology.

Giuliana and Bill are both to be admired for sharing their intimate problems for, as they state, the ability to remove the taboo from fertility issues. So I don’t want to sound too harsh or kick folks when they are already down. But…

Giuliana’s statements regarding her earlier career-formed impressions that as a 20-something watching 40-somethings having babies had led her astray, given her the wrong impression about how much time she and her biological clock really had. So perhaps it’s time for Giuliana to see that she too is sending unfortunate messages to women.

By resisting those baby-needed 10 pounds, by emotionally fearing the horrid industry standard of “fat” rather than be horrified by just what those standards do to her and other women who aim to be so slim, she is not only receiving the wrong message, but sending it too.

She would do herself and those who view and idolize her better by accepting the literal baby fat and making a stink about the fictitious and unhealthy standards.

*****

As a Brand Ambassador for The View, I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items to facilitate my review; as you can tell from my long-winded posts about The View, the tote or whatever I may get is not my priority, but I mention it to be ethical.

Corsets Are Too Sexy?

While I do not suggest that women should whittle away our waists as we while away our days in the constriction of too-tightly-laced corsets, I do believe there is good reason to at least examine the claims and assertions made about corsets by the 19th century medical community and the suffrage movement.

But if the medial claims weren’t true, if they were as exaggerated as the corseted female form, why?

french-corset-humorWhile many state that Victorian fashions for women were used as a means of control (and admiration through objectification) of women in a male dominated society, there is evidence to the contrary. In fact, many in 19th century, responding to fears of poverty and moral decay brought about by the Industrial Revolution’s over-crowding of cities, cried in outrage over the corset — but they saw the corset as impure and promoting impure behaviors among women (ever responsible for all of societies ills).

Victorian phrenologist Orson S. Fowler, an American, warned that wearing a corset excited dangerous “amative desires” by pressing blood to bowels. In Intemperance and Tightlacing, he argues that this made blood become “impure and corrupt,” caused “disease to the brain,” and inevitably led to “impure feelings” as “weak-minded” ladies were, obviously, easily prey to temptation. Illustrations mocking the too-trusting, if not cuckolded, husband conveyed such possibilities.

Perceived as (and raised to be) innocent, Victorian women on pedestals were void of any “animal feelings” such as sexual love, but this “special nature” made her a trusting, giving and warm person which, combined with her lack of intellect, made her not only prey to sexual seduction, but once introduced to such ‘sins’ she would be insatiable.

Such views of women convinced Victorian professionals that corset wearing led to such sins as hyper-sexuality and masturbation. In A Textbook on Sex Education (London, 1918), Walter Gallichen wrote:

The early wearing of stays is said to cause precocious sexuality. When it is known that a degenerate cult of tight corset wearers exists in England with a journal devoted to their craze between tightlacing and sex hyperaesthesia [heightened feeling] seems to be well established.

Ahh, so now the corset wasn’t just about seducing men, but ourselves. We were deemed dangerous dames because, poor things that we are, we’re too weak to resist sexual desires. We’d easily fall for any man, any time, any where. Worse yet, what if we opted to masturbate?! Men, as always, feared our ability to make choices. (In truth, what need do multiple-orgasmic creatures have for inconsiderate three-huffs-and-puffs-to-climax lovers who seek to control us?)

So, just how would you stop a corset-wearing woman from screwing around and diddling herself? Well, you get her out of that corset by any means possible — including scaring the crap out of her with exaggerated (or completely falsified) science.

According to this article on the brothers Lucien C. and I. DeVer Warner, founders of Warner Brothers (now Warnaco) knew the power of medical alignment selling foundation garments:

It took a couple of doctors to sell women on the idea that “rearranging” the human body via the old-fashioned corset was not practical. Doctors Lucien C. and I. DeVer Warner put their heads together and came up with a corset to fit a woman’s body, unlike other Victorian undergarments which “tied” her in.

They weren’t the first to sell corsets with doctor names, but they were among the first in the U.S. to push the “new” corsets; I’m sure it was made all that much easier (and profitable) with medical science telling those frightening anecdotal stories of death by too-restrictive corset.

Just where did the feminists fit into all of this? Well, that’s for part three.

What If Everything You Knew About The Corset Was Wrong?

fig6-7-squishy-guts-from-corsetsIt’s fashionable these days for folks to denounce the historical use of corsets as akin to Chinese footbinding — an early form of plastic surgery.

Corsets and tight lacing are said to have controlled women to their physical detriment; corsets have been blamed for breathing problems, broken ribs, curvature of the spine, hunchbacks, prolapsed uterus, miscarriages, hysteria and other mental illness, fainting spells, epilepsy, and even fatalities. Supposedly, in 1859, a 23 year old Parisian woman at a ball was “proved to be the envy of all with her thirteen inch waist; two days later she was found dead.”

As one who has held antique corsets in her hands, I find some of this a bit hard to swallow. Holding antique corsets which have been worn, one sees the evidence that the human body is not so easily molded; along with stretched fabric and folds from human flesh, there are torn seams and broken boning, all proof that female forms made the corsets conform to them.

1874-thomsons-underthings-adBut you don’t have to take my anecdotal word for it; there’s an ephemera trail of advertisements to prove this too. This 1874 ad for Thomson’s undergarments features The Unbreakable, which by its claim that it “greatly reduces the risk of fracture, while permitting the use of most highly-tempered steel,” proves that women’s bodies forced damages on corsets and their structures.

But you don’t have to take this to heart either — you can, at least for now, remain as firmly fixed on the idea that corsets were bad as you believe the horrible contraptions were on the female forms they mangled. You wouldn’t be the first…

In 1653, Dr. John Bulwer wrote in Anthropometamorphosis, Man Transform’d (aka The Artificial Changeling, London 1650), that ‘straight lacing’ was said to be the cause of “stinking breath” leading to “consumptions and a withering rottennesse.” (Bulwer also was anti-circumcision, but that’s another ‘piece’ altogether.) However Bulwer’s B.S. (consumption, for example, was tuberculosis and not caused by corsets; halitosis is rarely, if ever, a result of stomach issues, rottennesse or otherwise), is generally aimed to ridicule and condemn female vanity and following of fashion than it is aimed at helping physical ailments.

Fashion, especially women’s dress, has always reflected the the morals, values, and dynamic changes of society. And fashion (as well as its icons) have also been used to sway public opinion and create changes in society to reflect new norms. Which part of this rule, reflection of or tool used, is the corset?

Am I to believe that by the late 19th century the medical community — which was still neither treating female patients nor studying their physiology — suddenly cared about women? Even if they seemed to agree with the feminists of the time, the suffragettes, they seem too much like the proverbial odd bedfellows to me…

Let’s start by looking at the facts about where the so-called medical evidence of health problems from wearing corsets (such as in The New York Medical Journal, November 5, 1887) came from.

Fact: It was (and still is) easier to obtain permission to study the bodies of the lower and working classes. As with any ‘scandal’, the wealthy have the privilege of privacy — both in their lifetimes and afterwards. Not only are the wealthy protected from any examinations, but from stories about their lives and deaths — real or fanciful. Publicity could and would bring lawsuits. The poor or not-wealthy have less might to preserve any rights; prostitutes and others who either dropped dead on the streets or otherwise would have had their bodies dumped in pauper’s graves (and mass burials) have virtually no rights at death. These are the bodies science used. As a result, the information available would be skewed at best, completely false at worst..

Fact: The health of the lower classes was (and comparatively still is) horrible. Among the anecdotal examples of the corset as undergarment of death and destruction:

  • A 21 year old prostitute who died of syphilis, consumption, and corsets while sitting in a police station.
  • A chambermaid who was found dead after suffering from extreme stomach pains. Upon her death, her stomach was found to be nearly severed in half “leaving a canal only as narrow as a raven’s feather.”

These stories are horrific, yes; but are they accurate?

fig17-the-tilting-of-the-liver-in-certain-cases-of-tight-lacingClearly dead women had health problems, but from corsets alone? When you read such things (which are said to be documented in Fashion and Fetishism by David Kunzle), you simply have to consider the alternatives to “the corset did it.” These deaths are more likely attributed to general health problems of the poor and working class. Diseases such as TB, syphilis (and other STDs), reproductive problems from multiple pregnancies, dietary deficiencies such as rickets, etc. were incredibly common.

It’s more than possible that these stories have been exaggerated or even made up (Who would question the ‘findings’ or rush to the defense of a prostitute or a chambermaid?) to further an agenda. But if the stories were made up, why? What was the motivation, the agenda?

Come back Monday, for more

Stupak Amendment To Penalize & Impoverish Women & Children

One of the sins of the recently House passed health care plan is that it denies poor women access to the constitutionally protected right to abortion, thus screwing with their right to self-determination. From the National Organization for Women:

The Stupak Amendment goes far beyond the abusive Hyde Amendment, which has denied federal funding of abortion since 1976. The Stupak Amendment, if incorporated into the final version of health insurance reform legislation, will:

  • Prevent women receiving tax subsidies from using their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
  • Prevent women participating in the public health insurance exchange, administered by private insurance companies, from using 100 percent of their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
  • Prevent low-income women from accessing abortion entirely, in many cases.

If that’s all you needed to hear, then contact your representative now (and, if you’re so inclined and able, join &/or donate to NOW too).

If you need a little more convincing, I present to you bits of what I wrote last year for Poverty Blog Action Day:

Years ago, when I lived in Wisconsin, I ran a single mother support group. One of the issues that reared its ugly head was the matter of choice and poverty; specifically as it related to those receiving government assistance.

“Welfare” is a dirty word, loaded with connotations about “laziness”, “sexual promiscuity”, “race”, “stupidity” — and “evil manipulation”. As a white woman on welfare at the time I’d seen it first hand. It was horrifically ugly. …But none more offensive to me than the matter of what happens to a woman on welfare who becomes pregnant.

At that time anyway (I have not bothered to see if this still exists in Wisconsin, but *do* know that it still exists in other states), a woman on welfare usually received health insurance through the state. It was the same insurance state employees had — but with one special, dirty, caveat: women on welfare did not have the right to choice.

Women on welfare were not allowed abortion services/coverage.

State employees would have them covered, but not the poor, lazy, sexually promiscuous welfare women.

Why? Because women on welfare lack the moral fiber to make such decisions.

Further angering me, is the fact that the media, and Tommy Thompson, went on & on about how the fine people of the state of Wisconsin were tired of paying for the free-loading welfare queens. They bitched about having to pay for someone else’s brats. They bitched we didn’t work enough. But mainly they bitched about how we got filthy rich off the system, sucking at the state’s teat as we popped out more & more babies for the extra $17 a month.

OK, I can no longer swear it was exactly $17 — but I did do the math at the time and the ‘extra’ amount didn’t even cover diapers (which, by the way, are like condoms and cannot be purchased with food stamps).

But in any case, and despite ‘everyone’ wanting us off welfare, women on welfare were not allowed abortions unless they themselves came up with the $300-$700 the procedure cost. When you can’t afford what you have, how are you supposed to come up with that amount cash? From the guy? :snort: Are you serious? The whole welfare system, and the majority of our society, does not hold men accountable for such things as a woman’s pregnancy. While you debate, insist, demand and cry, the fetus grows… And your window of a safe procedure closes.

Now, if you can’t afford the abortion, imagine how well you do supporting another child.

It’s poverty by entrapment.

Just when you might see light at the end of a day care required tunnel, just when you might have thought you could turn this corner and be the next Horatio Alger story, you realize you’re back where you started. No. You’re back where you started minus 100 steps.

And ‘society’ isn’t just requiring mothers to sacrifice themselves for a new child, but to sacrifice their other children as well.

While uppity citizens like to deny the realities of what happens to a woman in this country when she ‘finds herself pregnant’ and condemn her to her scarlet letters (an ‘A’ for adultery and a ‘W’ for welfare), the fact remains that the woman who finds herself pregnant is at the mercy of their wickedness. While religious groups like to scream that they won’t pay for the ‘murder of an unborn innocent’, they do so for government workers.

Poverty is more than an economic line, it’s a barrier to choice. And what’s worse, at the root of all this evil is the false preaching & mean-spirited perpetuation of the stereotype that all poor women are dumb, loose, and morally bankrupt.

No one can pretend they do not know the realties of being pregnant here in the US. No one can feign ignorance to the ties between parenting and poverty. Yet they willingly turn their blind-eyes, let moral-deafness protect their delicate ears, and continue to abuse the poor women and families of this country.

If you don’t believe me, how about some facts from experts?

Co-authors Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat, Jonathan Gruber, Phillip Levine, and Douglas Staiger can show you the importance of the phenomenon of selection (meaning how, on average, children’s outcomes may have improved because they were more likely to be born into a household in which they were wanted) in Abortion and Selection. From the digest at the National Bureau of Economic Research:

Taken together with earlier research results, the authors’ findings suggest that the improved living circumstances experienced by children born after the legalization of abortion had a lasting impact on their lifelong prospects. Children who were “born unwanted” prior to the legalization of abortion not only grew up in more disadvantaged households, but also grew up to be more disadvantaged as adults. This conclusion is in line with a broad literature documenting the intergenerational correlation in income and showing that adverse living circumstances as a child are associated with poorer outcomes as an adult.

So, if you can’t support women and their original sin, I’ll use the cry conservatives do, “Think of the children!” — and by that, I mean the millions here, not the children-in-waiting called fetuses. You do this by admitting women — all women, including the poor — have the right to self-determination and the constitutionally protected right to abortion. These are the very things the Stupak Amendment strips away.

Of Monday Movie Memes & Media Use

This week’s Monday Movie Meme is Deep Impact: Movies That Have Changed Your Life:

Our blogging buddy Cardiogirl wanted to know if we had ever covered movies that changed our lives or our world view.

Fundamentally, I don’t believe movies — or any media, for that matter — makes people do anything. I don’t think films have changed my life. Or yours. Enhanced your life, sure; if you’re lucky (and smart), movies have provoked thought; but primarily, because people mostly choose what they watch and therefore their selections are based on notions previously held, films confirm what you & I already know or believe.

Seeing that in pixel-ized print makes me rethink why I bother writing then… Rather depressing. So I take another look at the challenge. “What movies had such an impact that they caused a change in our behavior, beliefs, or exposed us to a new passion?”

Ah, that last one — that’s the ticket! Movies and media can expose us to new passions. They can, if we are open to learning, educate us and inspire us to find out more about something we were ignorant of before — and that may include facts or plights presented in such a way that they open our eyes to a new position or point of view.

deadly-deception-videoIn that sense, Debra Chasnoff‘s documentary, Deadly Deception: General Electric, Nuclear Weapons, and Our Environment, opened my eyes and I changed my behaviors; to this day, I won’t buy anything made by GE. Not even a light bulb.

And if I’m forced to buy a GE product because it’s the only option on the shelf, I rant about babies born without skulls.

And then there was Mississippi Burning. That film had a profound impact on me spiritually. (Please note that this is not a review of the film, nor a commentary on it’s historical accuracy or depictions of reality; just about my personal epiphany.)

Prior to renting the film (shortly after it’s home video release) I had known of the events it was based on, namely the real-life murders of three civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney; as I said, we are drawn mainly to those things we know &/or already believe in, so I was drawn to a film about civil rights, equality, and humanity (and its converse). But after inserting the tape, once seeing the date on the screen, “June 21, 1964,” in white letters on a black screen, I was shocked. That date was news to me.

I know I didn’t know that exact date because I would have remembered it; it’s my birthday.

mississippi-burning-dvdThe fact that I was being born while those men were murdered shocked me; the next few minutes of the movie blurred (don’t worry, I rewound it and starting the film over) as I checked in with my spirit, my soul… And then, in a moment of crystal clarity, I knew.

I knew that my profound pain and connection with civil rights issues wasn’t just because I was a nice person or something. It was more than that.. Deeper. It was due to the fact that I could not join my house of flesh on this plane while those souls suffered their way out of it and not be touched by it.

You can call me crazy for such thinking; many do. And you’d be correct to hold me accountable for such thoughts, not those who made the film. Because I still argue that these films didn’t change me; I changed me.

Yes, the facts opened my eyes — because my mind was open to being informed — and I took action (or belief) because my values (and sensitivities) dictate I must. And so I have to take as much — or more — responsibility for my actions than I’m willing to give to media creators for their efforts.

If all of this seems contradictory, or like I’m splitting hairs, it’s because I think we need to draw these lines for ourselves.

I am thankful my college professor showed us Deadly Deception; and I feel blessed to have learned a fact that somehow clarifies spiritual holdings in Mississippi Burning. I admire all involved in those projects greatly (and those sentiments are equal to the feelings of mourning sickness both projects inspire). But if I hand over the responsibility for my actions to anyone, I run big risks. So do you.

We run the risk of expecting people to plop things in front of us, rather than owning our responsibility to be seekers.

We run the risk of relaxing our personal accountability for our own actions, placing blame & credit alike on others for what we ourselves do or fail to do.

So splitting these hairs isn’t cosmetic or even a matter of semantics; it’s about ownership of our actions, beliefs, and passions. This distinction between ‘media which moves us’ and the actions we opt to make is incredibly important.

‘They’ can bombard & pressure us all they’d like, to buy shoes, kill people, vote for candidate A, believe the religious rhetoric of god B, drink beer, mutilate ourselves in efforts to be ‘beautiful’; but we make the choices. We must accept our personal accountability for those choices.

We consume media, and we are what we eat; but in this case, we need to know that we digest in order to properly digest it. And to digest it, we must be diligent in our seeking and consumption of media; as equally open to ideas and points of view that counter our own as we are critically thinking about what we see/hear/read.

Great films, or crappy ones, great books or crappy video games, do not make us do things. We do.

Alcohol Consumption, Alcohol Policies, and Risky Sexual Behaviors

According to work by Sara Markowitz, Robert Kaestner, and Michael Grossman, “There appears to be no evidence suggesting a causal role of alcohol use in determining the probability of having sex.”

Linda Gorman breaks it down:

The consequences of risky sexual behavior fall heavily on teenagers and young adults. In 2002, the incidence rate for chlamydia was 297 per 100,000 population for persons of all ages, 1483 for teenagers, and 1610 for young adults. Similar age disparities are found for gonorrhea, with incidence rates per 100,000 population of 125, 476, and 593, respectively. Moreover, approximately half of all new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in the United States occur among people under age 25. Current teen rates of pregnancy and out-of-wedlock birth in the United States are high by historical standards and high relative to other developed countries.

Although alcohol use has traditionally been associated with risky sexual behavior, there is still a question as to whether excess alcohol consumption causes an increase of risky sexual behavior among young adults. In An Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol Policies on Youth Risky Sexual Behaviors (NBER Working Paper No. 11378), co-authors Sara Markowitz, Robert Kaestner, and Michael Grossman ask whether alcohol use promotes risky sexual behavior and whether there are public policies that can reduce risky sexual behavior by reducing alcohol use.

The authors look at the influence of alcohol consumption on individual behavior using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. Alcohol use was defined as the number of days in the past 30 days that an individual reported having had at least one drink of alcohol and the number of days on which five or more drinks were consumed. They conclude that, “there appears to be no evidence suggesting a causal role of alcohol use in determining the probability of having sex.” There was some evidence, however, suggesting that alcohol consumption does “lower the probabilities of using birth control and condoms” among sexually active teens.

The authors use aggregate data on the reported incidence of gonorrhea and AIDS infections by state to measure whether state and federal taxes on beer, county laws banning alcohol sales, laws governing blood alcohol levels, and zero tolerance laws for underage drinking and driving affect infection rates. Though women appear unaffected, zero tolerance laws appear to decrease the gonorrhea rate in males aged 15-19, and a one percent increase in beer taxes is associated a 1.1 percent reduction in the gonorrhea rate in young men aged 15-19 and 20-24. Neither the percentage of the population living in dry counties nor laws controlling blood alcohol rates affected either rate of infection.

Now compare and contrast that to Sara Markowitz’s research on the links between alcohol and violence and you’ll see the real reasons why drinking alcohol can be a problem for women.

Stand with the National Equality March in October

From my NOW newsletter…

No woman will have full equality until all women have full equality, and we must seize every opportunity to ensure equal rights under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The National Organization for Women has proudly endorsed the National Equality March taking place in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11, 2009. Read the official statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill here.

March for Equality! Join activists on Facebook
take action

After taking action, please support our work!

Here are three ways you can stand with the National Equality March this October:

1. Ask your chapter to endorse the National Equality March.

2. If you can make it to Washington, bring your NOW rounds, put on a NOW National Equality March T-shirt and join the NOW delegation in the march. Grassroots activists from chapters around the country are meeting in Farragut Square park at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Please gather at the corner of 17th and K (northeast portion of the park).

If you have questions, Pacific Shore NOW President Zoe Nicholson is serving as NOW National Equality March Lead and can be reached through this Facebook group for NOW activists.

Follow this link for travel tips from Equality Across America.

3. If you can’t make it to Washington, consider organizing a solidarity event in your community. Be sure to link it to the March for Equality NOW Facebook group.

take action and then donate

Lessons In Swine

I am recovering from H1N1, the “swine flu.” I know this from Dr. Sanjay Gupta. No, he’s not my personal physician, but unable to sleep, I caught Dr. Gupta on Anderson Cooper 360, discussing how he suffered through H1N1 while he and Cooper were in Afghanistan and when he recounted how he’s never been sicker, describing the worst chills he’s ever had — in Afghanistan! — I knew how he felt.

Even with Advil, my temp was over 101 (and my normal body temp is 1 degree under normal — something I used to get out of gym class all the time), yet I was soooo cold. That’s why I was up, watching CNN: I was too cold to sleep. My goosebumps were like the teeth of a saw and I was shivering so hard I was forced to wind blankets around & between my limbs so that so that my saw-tooth-covered flesh would not cut me while I shivered.

But this is not all I learned from TV this week.

Rod Blagojevich was on both Chelsea Lately and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart — and god help me, he, especially on The Daily Show, sounds rather convincing.  At least far more convincing than ever seemed possible before to me; I am now primed for a larger scandal involving criminal activity on the part of the state of Illinois. (Then again, as a native of Wisconsin, we can believe just about anything bad or criminal of those flatlanders.)

I may not be able to trace my illness back to where I caught it; but I think my ability to entertain the idea of Blagojevich’s innocence stems not so much from my own fever but rather from Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, and her appearance on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Patti’s staunch support may not have convinced me at the time, but it planted seeds… She made him human, and the rest can be recovered from.

And if you don’t believe me, consider that Tom DeLay has enough fans to save him on Dancing With The Stars.

Author reserves the right to fully recover and recant.

Get Creative In The Kitchen For Breast Cancer Awareness

PartSelect is hosting a Paint Your Appliance Pink Sweeps to help raise awareness and $10,000 for Breast Cancer Research — and they’re giving prizes away to those who help.

To participate, simply paint a pink ribbon on any major household appliance, photograph it, and then email, blog, or Tweet your entry (using the #pinkappliance hashtag).

paint-your-appliance-pink

For each entry received, PartSelect will donate $25 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, up to a maximum of $10,000. And everyone who sends in a photo will be entered to win 1 of 3 Pink Prize Packages valued at $369.97, including a Pink KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Pink Mixer Cover and more.

pink-prizes

They’ve already announced the winners for July and August, but there’s still the September contest. Entries are accepted until midnight on September 30, 2009.

And Another Thing… Are You The Shallow Person You Refuse To Date?

America, your apathy offends me.

Based on trending Twitter topics, popular blog stories, and popular keyword action, you are more concerned with the rude comments made by Kanye West and Taylor Swift’s hurt feelings than you are with the institutionalized victim blaming and other crimes of health care. What are the acts of one classless man when compared to the battered and shattered lives of women and children?

Based on trending Twitter topics, popular blog stories, and popular keyword action at the time, you were more concerned about Chris Brown‘s bow tie selection than his acts of violence towards Rihanna and his paltry sentencing — combined. Is deriding fashion more important than denouncing violence towards women?

What’s wrong with you?

Where do your priorities lie?

Are you the shallow person you say you want to avoid when dating?

If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem; if you aren’t willing to acknowledge the problem, if you won’t even express outrage at issues that matter but would rather focus on unimportant celeb dish, then you perpetuate the problem.

You, yes – you, are condoning acts of violence when pay attention to classless clutter. You, yes – you, are sanctioning the blaming of victims with your silence.

Your silly preoccupation with nothingness in light of what really matters offends me.

You are the shallow person you say you wish to avoid.

What Country Is This That We Condone Victim Blaming?

I’ve been crying all day…

I just learned that in eight states and Washington, D.C., insurance companies are legally allowed to blame victims of domestic violence by denying them coverage — claiming that it’s a “pre-existing condition.”

As a survivor of domestic violence, I find this appalling, unacceptable, immoral, and intolerable. Even if I had not lived it, did not still struggle with the impact and effects upon myself and my family, I’d still be horrified.

Why do we, as a country, go on talking about those “bad men” in other places who impose sexist rules and prohibit their women from the same rights afforded to men, but allow the victimization of American women & children with such foul practices disguised as legal business practices? Why do we condone and sanction victim blaming?

Insurance industry executives will be appearing before a House subcommittee hearing this Thursday to testify on insurance industry practices like this one — will you join me in asking the subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Kucinich, to demand answers from them about this policy?

It’s easy online — just use this form. Or you can make phone calls to your representatives. Please be sure to address the issue of domestic violence coverage, that the institutionalized victim blaming is flat-out unacceptable.

I used the form and made phone calls.

But I’m still crying — what country is this?!

Less Physical Dating Violence & Greater Condom Use — Among Boys Only?

Research done at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, reveals that a course on dating violence and healthy relationships may provide benefits for high school students, particularly boys.

According to ModernMedicine.com:

David A. Wolfe, Ph.D., of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,722 ninth-grade students attending schools that were randomly assigned to the intervention or to serve as controls. The intervention was a 21-lesson program led by teachers, integrating dating violence prevention with core lessons about sexual health, substance abuse prevention and healthy relationships.

After 2.5 years, the researchers found that physical dating violence was higher in control versus intervention students (adjusted odds ratio, 2.42). Although boys in intervention schools were less likely than the controls to engage in dating violence, girls in both groups had similar physical dating violence rates. Condom use was higher among sexually active boys in intervention schools (67.9 versus 58.6 percent).

“We found support for the hypothesis that teaching youth about healthy relationships and ways to avoid physical dating violence in Grade 9 Health classes would reduce physical dating violence 2.5 years later, but this effect may be limited to boys,” the authors write. “Although overall rates of substance use and peer violence were unaffected by the intervention, exploratory analyses indicated that boys in the intervention schools reported safer sexual practices (indicated by always using condoms).”

Before I say anything else, let me give a great big “Hooray!” that more young men were using condoms!

And a giant “Wo0t!” as the kids would say, that the boys were less likely to be involved in dating violence.

But isn’t it interesting that while the boys in the class were less likely to participate in dating violence, the girls in class were still experiencing the same amount of dating violence…

That sorta changes that “Wo0t!” to a “Shoot.”

Do we conclude that there was some gender bias in teaching &/or course work, and so the girls didn’t learn or accept the information as readily as the boys?

Do we conclude that a large number of the girls date boys outside those classes — and that the girls “knew better” but in the intimidation of the moment(s), they fell prey to boys with a more predatory nature?

Are there just a few bad boys dating all the girls?

Or do we conclude there is some sort of discrepancy between what the boys reported and what the boys did — *cough* LIARS!

Because the abstract gives very little information & reading the full report & findings published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine requires a fee, I can’t really say for certain what I think…

Do you have any ideas?

~~~

This post is part of the blogathon for Hope For Healing; Twolia generously sponsored me in this wonderful event raising awareness of domestic violence & funds for supporting victims!

You can help too: Comment, link, Tweet & use this special link to iSearch.iGive.comclicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

Preventing Intimate Partner Violence, Is Screening Enough?

According to a recent study, the answer is “No.”

Screening for domestic violence followed by referral to a clinician does not reduce the recurrence of violence among women, according to a study for the the McMaster Violence Against Women Research Group, published in the August 5, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Full text here.) In the published editorial on the study, the authors have this to say:

[This study] should dispel any illusions that universal screening with passive referrals to community services is an adequate response to violence in intimate relationships.

The findings are not overly surprising to me…. And it reminds me of how that “Are you safe at home?” questions is addressed whenever I visit doctors offices, the emergency room, walk-in clinics etc. The question in terms of words varies only slightly (from “Are you safe” to “Do you feel safe” to “How would you rate your sense of safety at home?” etc.), but the manner and tone in which it’s asked varies quite a bit.

For some, it’s such a routine question, it seems as if your answer isn’t even going to register. Others try to toss it in with the litany of other questions, like a sneaky curve ball, hoping you’ll be caught off guard and give away the truth you might otherwise resist. Still others seem embarrassed to ask it — but they are fine with my “dignity” hanging out the back of a paper gown.

I wonder if there have been any studies on how effective the actual questioning aka screening itself is.

Fishy French Tampax

I found this French ad for Tampax via Tom Murphy at The Ephemera Network. Tom doubts this ad campaign could be run here in America — for quite obvious reasons.

french-fish-tampax-ad

The French translates to “I am like a fish in water.” Not that that clears anything up.

Because no matter what language or the word for “fish,” any society with a female population is aware of that fishy smell — though less realize it’s likely due to Bacterial Vaginosis; they just mock it and women in general with tacky references to hyper-sexuality. So I’m really surprised that this ad could run anywhere.

Not just because of it’s potentially suggestive humor, but because why would a company, especially a feminine hygiene product, want to link itself to such an offensive thing? Especially as some experts believe that tampons can change the normal balance of vaginal bacteria; don’t think that’s how you want your target audience to think of you, Tampax.

Your Momma Wears Capri Pants

I was reminded the other day (details to follow) of Christopher Titus & his stand-up bit where he hates on Capri pants, saying that they are butt-widening, leg-stumpifying, pasty-white-cankle-showcasing monstrosities that are neither pants nor shorts. Who can argue? Few can face the bottom (or leg) line of Capri pants.

audrey-hepburn-1953-mark-shaw-photographer

But the point of Capri pants is not to make you hate yourself for not being able to mold yourself into the (physical) ideal of Hepburn (Audrey, not Kate; Kate eschewed skirts and wore tailored “men’s” pants and was far more shocking than fashion-trend-setting Audrey) — Capri pants were supposed to be liberating.

Frankly, the discernible characteristics between Capri pants and peddle pushers (and, sometimes, leggings & stirrup pants — hello, 1980’s!) are few and fuzzy. I’m not just talking about fabric pilling on the knit versions either. Strictly speaking, Carpi pants are supposed to be a tad shorter and looser than peddle pushers, but for the sake of this post I won’t split hairs, except to give credit where credit is due — and the credit for peddle pushers goes to designer Lynn Eccleston in the 1940’s. Eccleston experimented with shortening the legs of women’s slacks and the sporty look caught on with active women who, like those who abandoned their corsets in at the end of the 1800’s, wanted more ease in riding bicycles — thus the term “pedal pushers.”

audrey-hepburn-in-dress-on-bike

audrey-hepburn-pedal-pushing-reporting-for-makeup-during-filming-of-sabrina

Some credit Mary Tyler Moore for making the pedal pusher and other pants fashionable; others prefer to cite Audrey Hepburn. Technically speaking, Audrey sported pants in the 50’s while Mary’s Laura Petrie didn’t hit small screens until the 60’s.

marytylermoorepetriepants

But for our purposes of discussion today, it’s tomato tomato — not tomato tomatoe — because both babes had figures to carry off the slim look.

And this, my friends, is the reason for the, “Yer momma wears Capri pants” slur.

Most women wearing pedal pushers have stopped pushing pedals. If they continued the liberating exercise of exercising, they wouldn’t end up being the (wide) butts of Titus’ jokes. Even the middle-age spread would limit itself to some thickening of the torso, rather than the pear and apple shaped figures most now have. (And even liberal use of sunscreen wouldn’t keep us pasty-cankle bound.)

But, by & large, we’ve stopped pushing pedals; now we’re just large. And so maybe we should stop wearing peddle pushers and Capri pants. No, not even with the “over-sized” tees, sweaters, and tunics we think hide all the problem areas. (Notice where Mary Tyler Moore’s sweater sits; she doesn’t need to hide hips, belly or behind.)

mary-tyler-moore-wearing-pants

I don’t wear Capri pants or pedal pushers, but I know why other women do. Like Titus said, they are neither shorts nor pants, so they seem to provide the middle of the road not-too-formal, not-too-casual fashion needs for summer. And if we had more choices, like we did in the 70’s and 80’s for light-weight colored denim and cotton pants, maybe we’d feel less pressed to push ourselves into unflattering butt-widening, cankle-baring pants. (Back then you could find warm-weather friendly pants in shades of watermelon, sunny yellow, every shade of Caribbean azuree inspired blue… Far more then today’s white & navy.)

OK, and some women wear these shorter length pants to show off their shoes. (And yes, Titus is right, this does include cork wedges.)

But mostly Capri pants are worn for physical comfort; not to be posing like the pedal pushers we aren’t.

What started me thinking about all this was spotting a young man at an outdoor event last week. In a display of teenage fashion defiance, he was wearing all black — from head-to-toe in the sweltering high temperatures. Following the solid, if somewhat wash-faded, black line of t-shirt to canvas belt to jeans, I was jerked to a stop at the wide folded denim cuffs at his calf where a 4-6 inch wide white swatch of pasty mid-west skin glowed glared behind its decorative tufts of hair. From there, more black: black socks over the edge of comically huge black combat boots. Seriously, clown shoes are smaller.

Between the heat, the black clothing, & the weight of those shoes, he half-crawled to his seat where he tried to make it look like he was nonchalantly sprawling himself instead of, as he was, stumbling towards & falling to a seated rescue.

The only thing that kept me from bringing him some water to revive him was the knowing look his white Capri pants wearing, non-heatstroke affected mother and I shared. (And then I had to turn away and make a non-related animated conversation with hubby so that I could release my held laughter.)

My point is, if you missed it and insist that I have one, is this: He was a poser, hiding behind his costume.

If over-weight women are to be mocked for exposing their least flattering sides (physical attributes and the attitudes which created them), then I feel the need to point out the ridiculousness of faux poser cool melting in the sun.

So the next time you want to mock someone’s momma for wearing Capri pants, be sure you & yours are not equally guilty of some fashion posing; I assure you, your sacrifice of comfort (and health) is no more flattering and it is equally noticeable.

And while we’re talking about such things, let me say, “Get on your bike and ride it!” Whatever you’re wearing, you’ll look & feel better for it.

audrey-hepburn-in-capri-pants-on-bike

Republicans Suffer From Dementia & Can’t Understand Satire

In celebration of what is looking more & more like (knock wood) Al Franken’s seat filling the Senate seat and the recent publication of Ohio State University’s study on satire (The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report, April edition of the International Journal of Press/Politics), I’m reposting something I wrote 11 months ago… Because, as you’ll see, it’s more ironic to reread this than to rewrite it.

First republicans were actually using comedian Steven Colbert’s satirical works to push their agendas, and now ABC reports that the Minnesota Republican Party’s released a letter, signed by a whopping six GOP women, attacking comedian Al Franken who was then running for United States Senate in Minnesota:

Eight years ago, Franken penned a column for Playboy called “Porn-O-Rama!” in which the former Saturday Night Live comedian wrote about visiting a made-up sex institute where he takes part in sexual acts with humans and machines.

“While you may attempt to defend your writing as satire, we hardly find anything defensible about your finding humor in your desire to have sex with women or robots that look like women simply to give yourself a good time,” the Minnesota GOP women wrote in the letter. “This column is at its worst, an extreme example of the kind of disrespect for the role of women in society that all of us have fought our entire lives. At best, it is the disrespectful writings of a nearly 50-year-old man who seems to think that women’s bodies are the domain of a man who just wants to have a good time.”

“Denounce this article and apologize immediately,” read the letter.

Sheesh. And they say feminists have no sense of humor…

Perhaps too many republicans suffer from frontotemporal dementia and therefore cannot process sarcasm. (It’s funny because it’s true.)

Meanwhile, for those suffering from a poor sense of humor, an dementia-induced inability to recognize sarcasm, or a fundamental ignorance of humor ~ including satire ~ and its historical use as social protest, the Franken camp’s response (via ABC) should help clarify things a bit:

The Franken campaign said the Playboy column was written as a satire.

“Al had a long career as a satirist,” said Jess McIntosh of the Franken campaign. “But he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator. And as a senator, Norm Coleman has disrespected the people of Minnesota by putting the Exxons and Halliburtons ahead of working families. And there’s nothing funny about that.”

You don’t have to be an Al Franken fan (though I am) to love the “he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator”.

sarcasmbrainMaybe a little remedial reading, via the links here, would help those six GOP ladies… Or lobotomies. Hey, Dr. Katherine P. Rankin, do they do parahippocampal gyrus lobotomies for the sarcasm impaired?

Related: In the New York Times article on sarcasm, Dr. Rankin is quoted as saying, “I bet Jon Stewart has a huge right frontal lobe; that’s where the sense of humor is detected on M.R.I.”

And now you know how to spot all the smart funny people (who are happy to see you). Bet there are few bulging lobes in today’s republican party.

Then again, they are rarely happy to see me.

The Postman Always Rings Twice — Unless He’s Delivering Swine Flu

Philip Alcabes was on The Daily Show recently promoting his book, Dread: How Fear and Fantasy have Fueled Epidemics from the Black Death to the Avian Flu, and talking about how our fears play a huge part in epidemics — like the recent return of the swine flu. So, with this on my mind, I find Frank DeFreitas’ post on historical hysteria over postal pieces as “carriers” of disease timely and fascinating:

Many letters in the past were opened for fumigation, then closed using sealing wax. The list of diseases that were singled out include plague, yellow fever, typhus fever, cholera and leprosy.

disinfected-ephemera

DeFreitas’ post contains many links to suit the most die-hard history detectives (obsessive nerds); I wonder if Alcabes’ book does — and if it even contains the story of disinfected mail?

Making Giving & Getting STDs Cute?

herpes-simplex-virus-2I’ll be honest; I’ve got herpes. Yup, down there, not on my mouth. It’s not a relationship or sex death sentence — and should presenting such facts to a potential partner be a deal breaker for him or her, just count your blessings that you didn’t have the chance to catch their rigid, unforgiving, inflexible, judgmental-ism.

My husband and I joke around about herpes a lot — we have to because herpes and other STDs are often the punchlines in many jokes. Sometimes, when it’s in the context of assuming that a person with an STD is indiscriminately promiscuous, it’s hard to laugh…

But hey, even this rabid feminist has a sense of humor.

So when I found stuffed plush Herpes, I just had to laugh.

herpes

Herpes is part of the the Venereals line of GIANTmicrobes® by Drew Oliver.  GIANTmicrobes® are stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes — only a million times actual size!  The Venereals collection also includes The Clap – Gonorrhea, The Pox – Syphilis and Chlamydia too — each in their own little Petri dish!

chlamydia-petri

Sure, the Venereals are in kitschy; and I certainly don’t recommend using one of these alarmingly cute plush to announce your condition to a potential mate. But it might be a cute and funny way to alert your partner who alredy knows to infestation, inflammation, etc. Because as the website says, “Breaking out is hard to do,” so why not have a little something to make it a little more fun?

These plush critters may not cure you, but they will help you with your dis-ease!

It’s 1936: How Badly Do You Want To Be In Moving Pictures?

So you want to be a glamorous Hollywood star, hmm? Well, it’s time to get beautiful, baby!

Have a few extra pounds, but exercise is leaving you without your pep? Did dieting only take the weight off of your face and neck, leaving you feeling irritable and looking like a scarecrow? Did diet pills take too much weight off, leaving you without your feminine curves? What’s a woman to do?!

Well, if it was 1936, you’d have The Roving Reporter to help you. But then, she’d be stuffing you into a girdle. Like a sausage maybe even.

Apparently it takes a long time to get you into this girdle; you have 10 days to lose 3 inches — or is that 3 pounds in 10 days? The ad states both… Maybe that’s the way around the money-back offer; confusion.

The good news is that the Perfolastic Girdle also massages you. I can’t imagine how… Damn, now I can’t stop imagining it. Ack!

Meanwhile, as your nether-regions sweat it out, your hair is breezing through life.

In that same 1936 issue of True Confessions, an ad for the “Air-Conditioned” Hollywood Rapid Dry Curler:

Hollywood stars like Jane Hamilton fawn over these curlers — likely that’s what they used to set their hair (while sitting in girdles), preparing for a chance to get in the movies. Which is exactly what the next ad from this vintage magazine is about.

Hey, little girl, step into my truck and I’ll make you a star!

Super Bonus Points for the talent truck to be sponsored by The Hump Hairpin Mfg. Co. (makers of Hold-Bob bobbypins).

My mom would totally kick my ass if I went near that truck.