Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pretty... and CurrentTV

I'm not in Current TV's demographic, but since the station started (unfortunately taking out the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Newsworld International, damn!), I occasionally tune in and see what the kids are up to. Most of the stories are not in-depth, and a little too kiddie for me, but sometimes they have some pretty cool stuff, particularly on the Google portion of the neverending MTV-like montage of stories, videos and cutesy commentators. And they show stuff over and over and over again. And over again.

But today I saw two things I found interesting (I've only watched it about 6 or 7 times since it started on August 1); a Google piece on NASA's Spitzer Telescope (see above photo) and a piece on how global warming is affecting Eskimos lifestyle, along with a fascinating look at what they eat.

Oh, and I shouldn't forget the piece on laser therapy for smoking cessation. I even checked out the place in the piece, the Freedom Quit Smoking Laser Therapy site. There are two of these particular centers in the country right now, Santa Monica and Royal Oak, MI. Since I smoke, I could do it while I'm at home in Michigan, but at $399 for a session, I think I'm gonna have to take a pass. Sounds like a good franchise to open up, eh? (There are others in the country, I should check it out... ) From what I understand, this type of therapy started in Europe and Canada.

I was also impressed with a piece on French youth during the recent riots. I think it's the first time that I've seen French youth actually talking about and exploring their own neighborhoods for an American television audience.

On that note, I was speaking with a much older person from work the other day, who is originally from Europe and has been living in the U.S. for a long time. He's got relatives in France now. We were talking about other matters, and the riots came up in conversation; he said that, in his opinion, the youth had it all... housing, welfare and a job if they wanted... and that Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister of France, was right. Which I guess means that the African and Arab youth were "scum" or "rabble" or however you want to translate it, indigent petty and thieving criminals with no respect for the police or French society.

Hey, if you really want to, you can always blame rap music, like some members of the French government or David Brooks did. Of course, you can't really blame entrenched French society and its treatment of Africans or Arabs... nope, you really wouldn't want to do that. /snark.

There's more than one quick and simple reason for the whole bloody mess... it's a combination of things, that all work their ugly heads together to form a big complicated mess. Life is not simple, people, because people are not simple entities, though they all want simple things... like Liberté, Egalité, et Fraternité. Go fucking figure, eh?

I didn't say anything to him. I've come to the conclusion that it's useless to argue about race with certain people over 80. This is the second time I've found myself in a conversation with an octogenerian about race (both times not intentionally), and just kept my mouth shut. Hell, they're almost out of here anyway, so what's the point? "Set in their ways" comes to mind. The first time was with this Italian fellow who lives upstairs and kinda mentioned how bad black kids are. I've never told him that I was black. I also didn't tell him that most of the Italian kids in the neighborhood have certain penchants for disruption and hooligoonism. I just politely said, well, I don't know about any of that.

Anyway, CurrentTV was a little thought provoking for me today. It may not be my regular TV (I miss Newsworld International), but hopefully it's thought provoking for its 18-34 demographic... one can only hope to stir them up somehow.

Here's another pretty picture...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Ben's Thanksgiving

I received the following message from a friend of mine today, about Thanksgiving, written by Benjamin Franklin. Now, I like old Ben, and it's a great little story (though I do have a bit of a problem regarding the source from which it came). Read on:


"There is a tradition that in the planting of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships, as is generally the case when a civiliz'd people attempt to establish themselves in a wilderness country. Being so piously dispos'd, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented, and like the children of Israel there were many dispos'd to return to the Egypt which persecution had induc'd them to abandon.

"At length, when it was proposed in the Assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose and remark'd that the inconveniences they suffer'd, and concerning which they had so often weary'd heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthen'd; that the earth began to reward their labour and furnish liberally for their subsistence; that their seas and rivers were full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy, and above all, they were in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious.

"He therefore thought that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable and lead more to make them contented with their situation; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they ow'd to the divine being, if instead of a fast they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken, and from that day to this, they have in every year observ'd circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a Thanksgiving Day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed."
I thought to myself, wow, no matter how you might think of Thanksgiving (I, in particular, think that it's the best holiday ever... sorry turkeys...), so I went looking for the text on the Internet, the larger Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. If you don't know about Project Gutenberg, I highly recommend the site. It's got a lot of old books that are no longer under copyright, and you can download them onto your various portable devices. Ben's original autobiography can be found here.

But I couldn't find Ben's thoughtful Thanksgiving story in it. Why couldn't I find it in Ben's original autobiography? Well, because the story is written not in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Franklin, but in a book from right-wing publishing company, Regnery, and their updated version of the Autobiography, compiled by Mark Skousen, entitled The Compleated Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Real cool, spelling "compleated" the old-fashioned way, eh?

Skousen's book blurb is thus:
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was the most famous American of his age -- a world-renowned inventor, essayist, philosopher, diplomat, wit, and the only Founding Father to sign the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, and the United States Constitution. His Autobiography, though considered the most popular and influential memoir ever written, ends abruptly in 1757, when he was just 51 years old; another 33 years of his life were still to be recorded when he died, including the most eventful years of his illustrious political career. Now, in honor of the 300th anniversary of Franklin's birth, Mark Skousen has accomplished what the old philosopher could not. Drawing from Franklin's own papers, correspondence, and a detailed outline Franklin left behind, Skousen has completed the Autobiography -- using Franklin's own words.
33 more years of Ben! Woohoo!

Well, that's great, helping Ben finish his "Autobiography" (which would then make it a "biography," cause, let's face it, you can only write an "autobiography" if you're alive), and it's great that it is originally posted on the right-wing Adam Smith Institute blog *clears throat of sarcasm*. So what if Skousen finishes Franklin's life for him? Fine, not a problem.

What I do have a problem with is the site where the book is sold (linked on, and the books that are linked to Ben's (buy both books, for $XX.XX dollars, guaranteed delivery by 12/13, just in time for Christmas, not the damned "HOLIDAYS"!) "autobiography," including:

100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37 by Bernard Goldberg
The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas Woods

The Heritage Guide to the Constitution by Edwin Meese, ed.

Do As I Say (Not As I Do) by Peter Schweizer

How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must) by Ann Coulter

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer

I'd like to think that ultimately, Ben wouldn't approve. Here's to you, Ben, on this Thanksgiving Day. It was, afterall, Franklin that said this:

QUOTATION:“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

The response is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation—in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.

McHenry’s notes were first published in The American Historical Review, vol. 11, 1906, and the anecdote on p. 618 reads: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” When McHenry’s notes were included in The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand, vol. 3, appendix A, p. 85 (1911, reprinted 1934), a footnote stated that the date this anecdote was written is uncertain.

Indeed. A Republic with Thanksgiving for all. If you can keep it. (Though I will apologize to all turkeys on behalf of Franklin, he wanted the turkey to be our National Bird, not our National Meal...)

Happy Thanksgiving, folks.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

NYC City Hall Electronic Voting Machine Meeting

So, I'm on this lady's political list, and she sends out bunches of emails a day about the shape of the political world. Sometimes she sends out actions as well. I won't be able to do this, but if you're in NYC, and feel like trotting down to City Hall on your lunch break, there's a meeting on the use of electronic voting machines in NYC.

Mark Crispin Miller will be giving testimony. Lots of people should attend and show the City Council that electronic voting machines need to be accountable down to the last vote.
Committee on Governmental Operations
hearing, Monday, November 21, 2005, 10:00 AM-1 PM

on the 2005 Election and the Help America Vote Act

Council Chambers, 2nd floor, City Hall, New York, NY
N or R train to City Hall
4 or 5 or 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge
1-2-3 to Park Place

Vendor will be there with their DREs and OpScans
My political friend also urges you to write local newspapers. I believe writing to local newspapers is a state-wide issue. Here's an EXAMPLE letter:


To the Editor:

Soon all counties throughout New York State will be upgrading their old lever voting machines. As a voting citizen I'm deeply concerned about which technology will be used to count my vote. I want to feel confident that the voting machine will be secure, reliable and cost effective. I believe that the best choice is the paper ballot counted by the optical scanner. But it seems that if left up to the corporate vendors of voting machines this will not be an option for the county Boards of Elections.

Representatives of the New York State Board of Elections, who are in charge of certifying the machines that county commissioners will choose from, have recently claimed that they cannot compel voting machines manufacturers to submit their optical scanners for certification. This is an outrageous position, given that citizens, state and county legislators, and newspapers all around the New York State are calling for adoption of the paper ballots and scanners rather than expensive, insecure, error prone touch screen computerized voting machines that the vendors would prefer to sell us.

In a huge state like NY, it's absurd for the Board to claim that they have no power to require vendors to submit scanners--unless we now live under an oligarchy instead of the capitalist system. The market is king under capitalism and we, the people, are the market. The Board of Elections is supposed to represent the voters not the voting machines manufacturers, unless they have been hopelessly compromised by undue corporate influence. If that is so, the members of the New York State Board of Elections should be investigated for possible corruption.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Word to Ya Murtha

Well, the American world (or at least people who pay attention), are paying attention to two things today: Bob Woodward's little "I knew about the Plame thing all along, but lookee me! I'm not gonna tell YOU about it"; and a big fella, happens to be a Pennsylvanian Democrat, a Vietnam war veteran, and a conservative Congressman, John Murtha.

There's word on the street that Dems are finding their balls, particularly as Bush and Cheney go around all Godzilla-like calling Dems undemocratic, dishonest and reprehensible. Man, what fire-breathing monsters Boo and Horrorshow are! Maybe President Bush will bring back a little Gojira from his trip to Japan to remind him how a real radioactive monster does it.

President Bush starring as Godzilla!

So now, John Murtha is coming out, after being an avid supporter of the war, and basically saying, "Whoa! You people in that White House are illin'! I've been to that Iraq, and it's a uncontrolled mess! And don't be talking about going to war when you can't even bother to get your ass fighting during Vietnam, not once, but five times."


Ok, he didn't say 'motherfucker,' but I have one thing to say to you, Representative Murtha ...

... Word.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Dowd vs. Gore

I read a great post linked from Crooks and Liars from "Lawyers, Guns and Lawyers" called Dowd and the Kneecapping of Gore. I've written about Maureen Dowd twice on my nascent blog, one in which I was fully behind her regarding her op-ed on Judith Miller, and then more ambiguously when her book, "Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide" was excerpted in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. So it's probably a good time to remember just what role she played in helping to demonize Al Gore during the 2000 election. She's one of the reasons, among others, that we now have President George W. Bush. And that just makes me cringe.

Scott Lemieux writes:

But when he was busy being elected, Dowd was lying about Gore's fundraising, peddling the "invented the internet" and "summer chores" lies, accusing Gore of flip-flopping with no evidence, writing idiotic pop-psych nonsense including the "earth tones" crap, discussing Hillary Clinton's haircuts, spreading the "Alpha Male" meme, attacking Gore for having the temerity to discuss actual issues in a Presidential campaign, and on and on and on. (And any feminist defense of Dowd should explain her attacks of Gore in re Naomi Wolf's salary. Anybody think she would comment on the salary of a political consultant if said consultant had a penis?) And she didn't just repeat the empty cliches and lies of others. She actually created some: Dowd invented the bullshit Love Story smear.
Yes, it's certainly good to look back and remember what Dowd hath helped wrought the next time I'm leading a cheer when she slams someone I don't like, like Judith Miller.

I had the opportunity to see Al Gore speak twice last year, once for Move On's environmental conference and then his explosive speech at New York University regarding the Bush administration. I must say that I wish he had shown the fire in those speeches that he lacked somewhat during the 2000 election. I think most of that had to do with the hullabaloo during the last of the Clinton years, and Gore wasn't able to find his feet, trying to distance himself from the scandal and stepping out on his own.

But Dowd didn't help Gore with her columns, and her Love Story smear. And that, I should never forget.

The Experience of Life: Death

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream --
Lingering in the golden dream --
Life, what is it but a dream?
--Lewis Carroll, "A Boat beneath a Sunny Sky"
I remember, as a kid, my first nightmare about being dead. I was laying in a casket, under the earth, and I couldn't get out. I knew I was still alive, that I shouldn't have been in that casket, and there was no way out.

I woke up screaming, in my bed, alive.

Now, I'm not sure why I had this dream. I may have read one too many Edgar Allan Poe stories by that time, and I do remember watching a very terrifying movie, the name of which escapes me right now. It was about a person who was kidnapped, and then buried alive with a water tube, light, and no means of communication with the outside, above-ground world. The air supply was limited, and tied into the time that the ransom had to be paid. I'm sure someone remembers the name of this movie!

A friend of mine's dad died recently, and I went to the funeral. It was a beautiful goodbye. I haven't had anyone really close to me pass away yet. Now that I face the impending passing of my cat (she's still strong, but the heart disease is irreversible and I have a feeling that it's going to be within the next six months), as well as the aging of my parents, and hell, even myself, the life experience of death is inevitable.

Kitties and people don't live forever. But life is so damned short that I don't understand why people are continually at each other's throats with war, hatred, and a myriad of other social ills and complaints that put us on a blood rage against each other.

Life. Is. Too. Damned. Short.

When I was growing up, my mother found Pentacostal religion and took me to church every Sunday for five-hour services for about 12 years. Most of what I got out of the sessions was that I was bad, gospel music was good, and everyone thought way too much about the afterlife and not this life. It was all about the future, what happens when you die, if you're not right by God. There's so much focus on death that it's hard to actually live life.

Life. Is. Too. Damned. Short.

As I approach a close experience of death (the first of what will be many) I'm going to try my best to remember that life, though not good, is here and should be lived to the fullest. I hope that somehow, we all learn one lesson: life is too damn short to kill each other.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sometimes, you gotta say, "Wha?"

Is Iran trying to get bombed by us? Are we trying to get on the bombing train toward them? Are they upping the rhetoric for their own internal purposes or because they want us to finally come after them and finally fight the war both they and us have wanted to fight since 1979? Are we upping our rhetoric to finally get even for one of the most humiliating events in the history of the U.S.? Are the Iranians funding terrorism in Palestine and Iraq? Are we funding dissident groups to attempt to overthrow the clerical administration of Iraq and install a new Shah? Will the tit-for-tat upscaling of rhetoric between "us and them" get so heated as to explode?

Of course, most of these questions are up for interpretation, but I have to finally get the words out: The U.S. and Iran are on a collision course that, since the Iranian Hostage Crisis (and the overthrow of the Shah that we helped installed before that) has been brewing for a long damned time.

And I doubt this time either side is really going to back down.

I use to know this Iranian guy in Detroit. We went to college together back in 1983. Well spoken, with the most beautiful green eyes, he use to make fun of his Arab friends by saying, "Just remember, I'm Persian, not Arab!" I always thought it was pretty funny, because even though he hung out with them and shared the same religion, he wanted to make sure that his Arab friends remembered he was different. Plus, it just goes to prove that everyone wants to be different in a crowd.

College was really my first exposure to people of Muslim persuasion. I have to say, however, that there was a bit of tension between the Black and Arab populations of Detroit when I was growing up. Many Arabs owned the liquor stores/minimarts in Detroit, and this created a great tension as many blacks didn't have access to the capital to buy and sustain stores, and Arabs were trying to not get robbed in their workplaces. There was a definite disconnect between the two groups in Detroit, and it was always kinda sad.

But back to Iran.

Here's the "wha?" part that I refer to in the title.

I've tried to be as open-minded as I possibly can toward Iran. Not easy, but I try. It's mostly because of the Iranian guy I met in Detroit and others I've met in New York. I appreciate, for the most part, their centuries-old heritage, and there may have been a good reason why the Iranian Revolution happened. I'm not sure what their or our endgame is, the only thing I know is that the road to collision is evident.

I was a bit appalled, along with others, with the rhetoric recently coming out of Tehran when their new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made comments regarding Israel. Rhetoric, of course, is one of several tools that leaders use to stir their people up, be it to spur them on to greater heights or bolster them in the face of an enemy. But whether President Bush is claiming to "Bring Them On" or Ahmadinejad is proclaiming that America is the "Great Satan," the rhetoric gets a little overtired, stale, and wretched.

President Ahmadinejad, recently spoke at a "World Without Zionism" rally in Tehran. Oh boy, that must have been a fun gathering. According to Wikipedia, here's what happened at that rally.
"[Ahmadinejad,] quoting Ayatollah Khomeini the late Supreme Leader of Iran, [called] Israel a "disgraceful blot" that ought to be "wiped off the map." He went on to decry attempts to normalize relations with Israel and condemned all Islamic leaders who recognize Israel's existence as "acknowledging a surrender and defeat of the Islamic world"; many believe this attack was aimed at nearby nations Qatar, Bahrain, and Pakistan, who have taken steps towards improving relations with Israel."
Ok. That's going to go over well with folks that don't buy into the 'death to Israel' team. No wonder Islamic leaders are pigeonholed into difficult positions when non-Islamic leaders demand that they 'find' their voices when it comes to speaking out against radical Islamist violence, not to mention their own internal problems. Do so, and you'll be condemned by your own. This, in addition to the fact that many fall under the classic term of dictator, and it's just another volatile ingredient in the whole vile mix.

There's a website that I regularly visit when I want some sane opinions about Iranian politics. It's published by an Iranian-American, located in California. He publishes pieces from exiled Iranians from all over the world, mostly outside of Iran. It's written in English, with occasional Persian-language pieces. (Please note: Iranians speak Persian, not Arabic. My old friend from Detroit would want you to know this.) is secular, encourages debate, and above all, does not want to be 'bored to death' by bad writing, according to its FAQ.

So, to gain a little perspective on Ahmadinejad's words, I read some of the remarks from this primarily moderate site.

"The Mouse That Roared," by Iqbal Latif
Why anyone in his right mind would expose Iran to such brutal multifaceted retribution from entire international community. Iran and Iranians deserve better, they are creator of civilizations, this country has been overtaken by clerical thugs who want to put Iran on to a game of chicken, two heavy duty trucks hurtling down towards each other challenging each one to deviate, the one who does first is a chicken, weaker nations with in-house convulsions such as Iran some time can only survive if they are 'chicken' the real issue of Iran is prosperity of its proud, and worthy people.
"Old Policy, New Fears" by Masoud Kazemzadeh
Most observers have asserted that Ahmadinejad's words are the result of his inexperience and that they do not reflect the views of the fundamentalist regime or his faction. One of the more extreme examples of the dominant view is expressed by Columbia University Professor Gary Sick, who said: "Ahmadinejad's role has been very substantially reduced... He's been in office for a hundred days. He's done nothing. I think people are looking around and saying 'This guy is a disaster'. I think they [the regime] are going to isolate him and quarantine him." [See]

In this article, I present evidence which proves that the dominant explanation is false. I show that Ahmadinejad's words are the expression of the actual consensus of the ruling faction of the regime. In other words, Ahmadinejad's words are not the mere utterance of one inexperienced person. Rather, Ahmadinejad expressed the views of the Young Conservative sub-faction and the consensus of the hard-line faction which control virtually all the main levers of power in Iran.[2] This is not mere academic exercise. If the dominant explanation is correct, one may not be too concerned about the off-the-cuff remarks of one man. However, if my analysis is correct, we should expect a more confrontational foreign policy by the regime.

[snip] Instead of dismissing fundamentalists as idiots or their actions as amateurish, we should attempt to analyze and understand the motives behind their actions. This could help those who wish to replace the current nightmarish tyranny with a secular and democratic system.
"Deliberate Mistake?" by Yassamine Mather
There is no doubt that many inside the regime were quick to distance Iran from the implications of the words. One observer in Tehran wrote that Ahmadinejad's comments sounded like an invitation to Bush and the US to attack Iran. Others have written with sarcasm that maybe Ahmadinejad is a secret royalist who is keen to give the US a pretext to invade....Even before Ahmadinejad's alleged faux pas, Tehran was full of rumours that every day his office receives phone calls from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, ticking him off for making this or that mistake....One explanation of Ahmadinejad's comments is that, following its victory of seeing a Shia state established in Iraq (the main component of the occupation government being pro-Iran Shias), the Iranian regime's image is tainted by its support for the US-UK-imposed government in Iraq....Over the last few months, especially since the coming to power in Baghdad of Iran's main allies, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Daawa Party, as well as most of the Arab press are critical of Iran's influence in the region. This could explain Ahmadinejad's outburst, as Tehran tries to distance itself from accusations of complicity with US policies....Another explanation could be found in the increasing role of Israel and Mossad agents in Iraqi Kurdistan....Iran sees Iraqi Kurdistan as being used by Israel and the USA as a base to strengthen their opposition to Tehran in the same way that Iraqi Kurdistan was used to destabilise the Baathist regime.

So here we have several opinions regarding Ahmadinejad's reasoning behind his rhetoric: Iran is playing "chicken" in order to bolster its status in the world; this language is nothing new, just a continuation of official policy, only this time, it was televised loudly in the West; he's expressing the hardline core of the country's conservatives and clerics; he's constantly being upbraided by current Supreme Leader Khamenei and therefore wanted to say things that would please the clerical leadership; Iran can't afford to stay silent as Israel and the Mossad gain footholds in a new Iraq; Iran is trying to step away from its tacit support of US-UK involvement in Iraq; Iraqi Kurdistan is a problem for Iran, and therefore Iran must up the ante for its own ruling majority to feel empowered.

Whatever the reasons, one thing is for sure, Israel is a sovereign nation, and when threats are made against it or any other nation, one must take notice, no matter what one's opinions regarding said country is. Words are like knives and people are on edge these days. It would be no wonder if Israel didn't take retaliatory measures. But it's also a tip in their favor that Israel didn't retaliate with force. Israel is use to words like this, but there will come a day when words lead to action, and no one can say Israel wasn't provoked.

Which means that the U.S. will be provoked as well.

I don't know if we'll ever really go to war with Iran, but they and we are on notice. Remember the "Axis of Evil?" One country down, so to speak, two to go. I don't want to fight with anyone, and I was against the war in Iraq. But if rhetoric turns into action on the part of Iran, I may have to reconsider. It also depends on what the U.S. does in the next few months as well.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Today's Yesterday Woman

"What's a Modern Girl to Do?" asks Maureen Dowd in this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Apparently, in this day and age, not much. Feminism, says Dowd, has suffered a massive blow in that the forward momentum of the female empowerment movement at the start of the Feminist Revolution in the 70s has now reverted back to about 1955. Dowd is no lover of the hardcore feminism of the 1970s in that feminists wanted (according to her) more of a conformity to a uniform lifestyle. Dowd writes:
What I didn't like at the start of the feminist movement was that young women were dressing alike, looking alike and thinking alike. They were supposed to be liberated, but it just seemed like stifling conformity.
Though I would take a bit of an exception as to when this "feminist movement" that Dowd speaks of started (see Wikipedia for a history of feminism from the 1850s on), Dowd goes on to say that what she dislikes about what's happening now to women in America is just as bad:
What I don't like now is that the young women rejecting the feminist movement are dressing alike, looking alike and thinking alike. The plumage is more colorful, the shapes are more curvey, the look is more plastic, the message is diametrically opposite - before it was don't be a sex object; now it's be a sex object - but the conformity is just as stifling.
Dowd is promoting her new book, Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide, to be published in December. I'm not sure if I'll read her book when it comes out, because the essay in itself scared and depressed me to no end. Advanced critiques aren't so great, either. But still, Dowd's premise might be apropos: Apparently women are making great strides backwards, back into the dark ages, though it can be argued that even the 1970s Feminist Revolution didn't bring us too far forward anyway.

Glass ceilings, lower wages in high and low positions, sex sells. It's hard to be a woman in a 'liberated' Western world. Granted, it's hard to be an unliberated woman in a small Third-World backwater as well, but when I was growing up, I actually had the nerve to believe that I could, as a woman, have a career, make my own money, and make my own way. I was never big on the family thing, but the career was something I wanted badly. Of course, it was a career in acting, but hey, it was something I loved to no end, and I was pretty damned good at it, too.

As to the family thing, well, the sexual thing, I missed the chance at full-on sexual experimentation and debauchery. I could have done some wild and crazy things, but both Jesus's and my mother's voices were way too loud in my head when I had the chance. It's like that sometimes. And as I approach 42, I'm about to miss out on the family thing, too. I think that's suppose to mean that I'm not fulfilled as a woman, and maybe that's true. The little box that is suppose to be a woman's life makes me wanna punch something sometimes.

Dowd also talks about the games that women are suppose to play in courtship. She writes that her mother gave her the book How to Catch and Hold a Man by Yvonne Antelle and how her friends are now clamoring to borrow her out-of-print copy of the precursor to the the 199o's book, The Rules. I tried to read the latter book. I thought I was going to be ill. I can't play that game of look coy, look hot, flirt, be skinny, be tall, be thin, be dumb, I've never gotten the whole thing down. I've never liked to play the game. Therefore, I will probably end up sitting in front of my t.v. for the remainder of my life.

So, what's a 21st Century Woman suppose to do?

Well, let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Let's take a quick look at what women are facing right now. Reproductive rights are under attack, and while not likely to be overturned in America, these rights could certainly suffer major blows. Playboy Club bunnies, clad in new sadomaschist chic, are back and while I wanted to be a Playboy pinup when I was younger (and still do), there is a part of me that objects to the image of women that bunnies project. Religious zeal is hotter than ever, and with many religious tenets, there rests the idea that women are second-class citizens, unclean at certain times of the month, and liable to death at the whim of the village elders. Political leaders in our country claim that they have won a "moral mandate" upon the 2004 election, even beyond the clear blunders of waging a war in Iraq and inept leadership in America. If "moral mandate" is code for "Christian or fundamentalist mandate," we'd be well advised to remember exactly what evangelicals and some other Christians believe about the delineation of the roles of men and women (but if you really want to be a Christian, you can always check out "Christian feminism," for a hoot).

All I'm saying is that I personally don't want to be a 1955 lady. I want women to move forward, into a new 21st century, a new century that I dreamed would be different from all the centuries that preceded it (unless, of course, Jesus does come back and then, everything is pretty much moot). Today's Yesterday Woman is a myth that should be ripped to shreds. Move forward, ladies, and never look back in fear and trepidation. Easier said than done, granted.

Malcolm X, after he traveled throughout Africa, came back with an insight regarding women.
"If you are in a country that is progressive, the woman is progressive. If you're in a country that reflects the consciousness toward the importance of education, it's because the woman is aware of the importance of education. But in every backward country you'll find the women are backward, and in every country where education is not stressed its because the women don't have education."

While Malcolm X would not have condoned a promiscuous lifestyle, his insight is apt. Progressive societies need thriving, educated women, ones that are aware of the value of knowledge. We've come too far and have much too far to go to stop educating ourselves and moving forward.

While I wouldn't want to live under the conformity of rigid feminism, neither would I want to live under the conformity of the sex object. Neither role is fully appealing, and neither role is fully fulfilling. As soon as I figure out what exact role, if any, that I would want to conform to, I'll let you know.

After all, what's a 1964 Girl to do?