Empty Chair is the Most Popular Guest at the RNC

Mitt Romney upstaged by Empty Chair!!

Apathy, Lies, and the Fall of Democracy…

Great post by thejumbledmind. Reading Noam Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent” opened my eyes to just how controlled we are. I compare it to waking up from The Matrix.

thejumbledmind

http://www.flixya.com/files-photo/m/i/h/mihai209-1922093.jpg

Why have we so easily relinquished control of our society to the corporate elite?  Are we so caught up in ourselves, in our so-called “individualism”, in our sense of entitlement, in the busy-ness of our lives that we haven’t been able to see the systemic destruction of our society?  Are we so caught up in who will “survive” on Survivor or be the “lucky” person remaining in some quasi-reality show that typifies the moral decay of our culture?  Are we more concerned with with who will win the World Series, Super Bowl, or Stanley Cup, than we are who wins the presidency or who assumes control in the House or Senate, or what Justices preside in our Supreme Court?  Are we so caught up in maintaining our daily schedules that we can’t see what is happening to our world?  It is happening right before our eyes…

We have been deceived…

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Something Women Have Needed For Centuries: Their Very Own Pens!

“Thanks to BIC, we women are no longer forced to write in a man’s world. Now we don’t have to suffer from pens envy.”

LMAO, funny stuff from Carolina Courtland at Staked in the Heart!

Staked in the Heart

BIC has created a line of pens exclusively for women. I’ve been so tired of struggling my whole life to use those regular man pens with their massive barrels and  unmatched plug and ink colors.

Finally, I will be able to write things down!

They are called Cristal for Her, come in special girlie colors like Amber for Her and are “elegantly designed just for her!”  Here are their key features (these are real pens):

  • Tinted barrel (pink, purple, blue, green or orange) thinner for a better handling for women – You don’t have to write your feminist manifesto in hairy masculine colors like black and blue. *shudder* You can write in rainbow vagina colors as it should be
  • Quality ink, quick drying and smooth writing – For effortless drawing of unicorns and smiley faces. The pen practically dots each “i” with a heart by itself!
  • Tungsten carbide ball, perfect…

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Coal miners lost pay when Mitt Romney visited their mine to promote coal jobs

When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited an Ohio coal mine this month to promote jobs in the coal industry, workers who appeared with him at the rally lost pay because their mine was shut down.

The Pepper Pike company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday morning in a West Virginia radio interview.

A group of employees who feared they’d be fired if they didn’t attend the campaign rally in Beallsville, Ohio, complained about it to WWVA radio station talk show host David Blomquist. Blomquist discussed their beefs on the air Monday with Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore.

Moore told Blomquist that managers “communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.”

via Coal miners lost pay when Mitt Romney visited their mine to promote coal jobs | cleveland.com.

Hmm, wonder if the miners knew that “mandatory” meant “optional” before the event? 

Ohio Miners Turn on Obama” reported hard-hitting, facts-based FOX news on August 20. Curious how they haven’t made a peep about this new information…

Arctic Ice Shatters Melt Record | Mother Jones

The Arctic sea ice extent yesterday fell below its previous record low and is currently losing frozen sea at the rate of ~29,000 square miles (~75,000 square kilometers) a day. That’s equivalent to an area the size of South Carolina every 24 hours.

Here’s what happened:.

On 26 August 2012 sea ice extent fell to 1.58 million square miles (4.10 million square kilometers).

That’s 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) below the previous record set on 18 September 2007.

The 2007 record low ice extent was 1.61 million square miles (4.17 million square kilometers).

Note that this year’s record low was set more than three weeks earlier than the 2007 record. And summer isn’t over yet. There’s more melting to come.

via Arctic Ice Shatters Melt Record | Mother Jones.

More inconvenient facts for us to ignore while watching The Bachelor. 

FDA trying to ban gay men as sperm donors | The Raw Story

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is preparing to implement new rules that will ban men who have had sex with other men from acting as anonymous sperm donors. The agency claims to be adopting the measures as a means of protecting recipients from HIV transmission, but according to the Associated Press, LGBT rights groups have been quick to point out that not only is the policy discriminatory on its face, it isn’t based in scientific reality.

“The part I find most offensive — and a little frightening — is that it isn’t based on good science,” Kevin Cathcart of Lambda Legal told the AP. “There’s a steadily increasing trend of heterosexual transmission of HIV, and yet the FDA still has this notion that you protect people by putting gay men out of the pool.”

FDA officials insist that gay men are at higher-than-average risk for contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but critics of the new policy say that the agency would be better served by screening procedures that identify high-risk behaviors in all donors, regardless of sexual orientation. Activists have also asked that the FDA reverse its ruling that bars gay men from donating blood, particularly now that more effective HIV tests are in common use.

via FDA trying to ban gay men as sperm donors | The Raw Story.

SIGH. More unscientific silliness and government-sponsored discrimination for no good reason. All blood and semen donations are tested for HIV and other transmissible diseases. Senseless. 

The GOP’s Todd Akin Problem

Todd Akin’s actual comments on women getting pregnant after being raped are more ridiculous than any parody:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

BUT, there’s some pretty funny spoofs out there. A few of my favorites:

Yes, Todd, you’re gonna be “Akin” from the ass kicking you’re about to receive.
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With voter ID laws, purging voter rolls and by closing polls early in Democrat-leaning districts.
Don’t call this a vagina! It’s a childbearing vestibule.

All joking aside, I suggest that you read Eve Ensler’s open letter to Todd Akin over at Huff Po, which asks him to put himself in the position of a woman impregnated by her rapist. Everyone should try to do the same, to really understand what is at the heart of this issue. We cannot afford to be complacent. Women’s lives are at risk as long as this assault on women’s  rights continues. Personhood amendments threaten to make abortion a criminal act. Cuts to Planned Parenthood and other tactics are being used to further restrict women’s access to preventive healthcare and birth control. Several states have placed so many restrictions on abortion facilities that it is virtually impossible for a woman with limited resources to obtain one. 

The good thing about Akin’s ignorant comments is that it highlights the mentality of the far-right and is encouraging many to really scrutinize the positions of politicians on the subject. Republicans have been swift to repudiate Akin’s opinions, but the truth is that many of them agree with him, including Paul Ryan, who attempted to restrict abortions to women who have been victims of “forcible” rape (a.k.a. “legitimate” rape). Todd Akin, who is currently on the House Science and Technology Committee (seriously!), and Paul Ryan co-sponsored H.R. 3, or “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” last year, which attempted to broaden the ban on federal funds used to provide abortions. Federal law already prohibits federal funding for abortion unless a woman has been raped or her life is in danger. “Forcible” rape would exclude statutory or marital rape victims from the right to terminate their pregnancies, and presumably “shut down that whole thing” of women who “cry rape” for the convenience of an abortion:

Liberals may wish us to believe that no woman would ever stoop so low as to lie about being raped. But this simply does not comport with what we Christians know about fallen human nature. We, conservatives, all agree that millions of women annually conspire to commit murder on their unborn babies. So do you expect me to feel it unacceptable to believe they would lie about why? This is political correctness run amok. Why, after all, would someone willing to kill out of convenience not also lie for various reasons out of convenience?–Joel McDurmon

McDurman, the Director of Research for the Christian group American Vision, likens Republican calls for Akin to withdraw from the senate race to a “legitimate political gang rape.” He is outraged at the fact that conservatives have not leaped to the aid of Akin-not even Ann Coulter! And all for simply pointing out that LEGITIMATE rape is a different beast than other “rapes”:

He [Akin] was referring to cases of actual, criminal, forcible rape as opposed to several other conceivable definitions that are not actually “rape,” but only legally, socially, or anecdotally reported so, or claimed as such for whatever reason—true or otherwise.

Oh, actual, criminal, forcible rape is a different thing than other types unauthorized entry into an unwilling vagina. If the guy punches, physically subdues, chokes, brandishes a weapon, it is different than using size, intimidation, isolation, or other coercive means to impose his will on her. This jackass continues to elucidate the difference between legitimate rape and that other, softer, less rapey type of sex act. Rape-lite, maybe? He cites some dubious statistics and sources to back up the claim that legitimate rape babies hardly ever happen. THEN he goes on to say that the whole thing doesn’t matter anyway, because a woman should still be forced to bear a child conceived as a consequence of rape or incest. 

Although Paul Ryan now distances himself from Todd Akin, in the past he has said that he opposes ALL abortions, other than to save the life of the mother. No exclusions for victims of any kind of rape OR incest. His record on reproductive rights for women is very clear and unambiguous, as is Akin’s. The political chameleon Mitt Romney has also made his CURRENT position clear, that he would be “delighted” to overturn Roe vs. Wade. 

H.R. 358, the “Protect Life Act,” which passed the House last year, would allow doctors and hospitals to deny lifesaving emergency abortions to women. It would also eliminate funding for preventive cancer screenings for women and would even bar state insurance exchanges from offering abortion-related coverage EVEN IF PAID FOR OUT OF POCKET. There are several other hateful provisions in this bill that makes clear that there is a very real “war on women.” There are MANY other such bills that seek to restrict abortion access, criminalize abortions and miscarriages, and strip women of basic rights over her own person. At both the state and federal levels, the rights of women are under attack. 

It would be great if there were no need for abortion. How can we possibly reduce the number of abortions? NOT by outlawing them. Been there before, wasn’t pretty. We would just end up with dead women, unwanted children and more strain on the system. 

First of all, sex education and access to birth control is absolutely necessary. No more of this “abstinence only” BS. It doesn’t work! The other key to reducing abortions is reducing the economic strain on a woman who chooses to have a child. The single greatest reason that women cite for having an abortion is financial hardship. Republicans decrying the national debt want to privatize Medicare, gut Social Security, cut welfare and other services for the poor, and vigorously oppose Obamacare. Mothers who can’t afford to stay home with their babies are not even guaranteed more than 12 weeks without pay to care for her newborn (and even FMLA has restrictions). How will we care for these children after they are born? Republicans have been very clear on the position that once a baby is out of the uterus, they don’t care about the “sanctity of life,” at least where public policy is concerned. 

The cognitive disconnect between these two goals of the GOP of reducing spending and ending abortion means that if they are successful, we are going to have an even bigger mess on our hands in the future. Do we really want to throw women in jail for having an abortion or miscarrying? If women are FORCED to bear a child conceived in rape, will this make our society a better place? Will we provide her with counseling, help her support her child after it is born? What about if the father/rapist wants visitation or custody?

One thing is clear: far-right extremists are becoming more and more mainstream in the Republican party. With some advocating deadly force to “protect the unborn,” living, breathing women are being subjected to second-class status, as was the case before Roe vs. Wade. Todd Akin may have done women a favor by saying what others were really thinking. How betrayed he must feel after his party has largely forsaken him for being true to the Republican platform. Paul Ryan and others have now backed off from their previously espoused extremist views. I only hope that women and people who support true freedom are paying close attention. 

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Further Reading:

Giving Birth to a “Rapist’s Child”: A Discussion
and Analysis of the Limited Legal Protections
Afforded toWomen Who Become Mothers
Through Rape

Sexy Little Geisha – Racist Stereotypes Perpetuated By Pop Culture and Fashion

I admit I am highly sensitized to racist attitudes about Asian stereotypes because I am part Asian. So when I saw this today, I got pissed:

“Your ticket to an exotic adventure: a sexy mesh teddy with flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals. Sexy little fantasies, there’s one for every sexy you.”

via Sexy Little Geisha – Sexy Little Things® – Victoria’s Secret.

Victoria’s Secret’s new “GO EAST” line of lingerie indulges in “touches of eastern delight.” Now, I am no prude, these models are all lovely, but the stereotype perpetuated here with the “sexy little geisha” is offensive to my roots. Complete with chopsticks, fan, and ridiculous removable obi sash, this frankly hideous costume bears no resemblance to Japanese Geisha. I find it interesting that not a single Asian model was used for the entire line.

Contrary to popular belief, Geisha is not synonymous with prostitute. Geisha are highly trained, accomplished entertainers. Some of the first Geisha were actually male. Unfortunately, prostitutes who solicited American servicemen after World War II called themselves “geisha girls,” which has served to perpetuate the stereotype.

This skimpy outfit is an affront to the tradition of Geisha, which celebrates the beauty of a woman through subtlety. A traditional Geisha exposes very little flesh. Only her hands, her face, and the nape of her neck is exposed. She is mostly covered in white makeup, with a few strips left bare. Her beauty is accentuated by her elaborate dress and hairstyle.

Being half-Japanese, I have experienced male attention inspired solely by my Asian appearance. I have been told how “exotic” I look, like a “china-doll.” I enjoyed the attention when I was younger, until I realized that the attraction was based on stereotypes that reduced me to a sexual object.

Perhaps I sound like an asshole, complaining about male attention and being thought attractive. In the past, men accused me of being “stuck up.” I was a bitch for not appreciating their “compliments.” Girls often called me names as well, telling me “go back to your own country.” Once a girl said that I was “dirty-looking” and that I was “lucky” to get a man to look my way. It is the KIND of male attention that disturbed me, with its threatening and aggressively sexual nature. Men inferred that I was a sexual submissive, well-versed in pleasure by virtue of birth, not experience. They wondered if my anatomy “down there” was slanted, like my eyes. Yes, they asked.

Neither the white half nor the Japanese half of my family knew how to accept my sister and me fully. My own mother, when we went to visit family in Japan, introduced family members as “my cousin” and “my uncle.” They were her family, not mine. White family members whispered that my mother was an opportunist who “took advantage” of my father with her exotic charms. They questioned my and my sister’s parentage, unhappy that my father had sired “mixed breeds.” I internalized this sense of “otherness” that essentially handicapped my relationships with others. I remain uncomfortable with intimacy and expressing my emotions. I cry when I get angry and I get angry when I cry.

For some reason, it’s still okay to make racist comments about Asians in pop culture. Consider the “Amasian” Jeremy Lin, who has wowed sportscasters with his uncharacteristically athletic powers-I mean HOW can an Asian guy be THIS good at basketball? This is a common point of discussion during  games. ESPN probably couldn’t WAIT to use the clever little pun, “a chink in the armor” after a Knicks loss.

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Hahaha, get it? Because Asian men have tiny penises, amiright?

Asian American students experience far more incidents of bullying than any other ethnic group in the United States. 54 percent of Asian-American students report being bullied. 31.3 percent of whites, 38.4 percent of blacks and 34.3 percent of Hispanic students report that they are bullied in school. Part of the problem could be language and cultural barriers, along with a reluctance to tell anyone about being harassed. Army private Danny Chen apparently took his own life while stationed in Afghanistan following severe and brutal hazing by fellow soldiers. The only Chinese-American soldier in his unit, he was physically assaulted and humiliated while being called such names ans “gook,” “chink,” and “dragon lady.” On the day of his death he was made to crawl on gravel for 100 meters as others pelted him with rocks. So far one of his tormentors has been demoted and sentenced to 30 days in jail, with seven others still awaiting trial.

As a child, I heard similar taunts, though thankfully I was never physically assaulted. I have since always felt extraordinary anger when I see another person being victimized. I have confronted much larger men, calling them bitches and questioning their manhood, which was unwise, but reflects the depth of my scorn. My passion for equality for gay people was inspired by my own wish for acceptance and to feel like I belong. My experiences have opened my eyes to the plight of others who have suffered far greater injustice and suffering for things such as skin color, weight, or sexual orientation. I try to root out my own prejudices by recognizing that they exist.

Anxious to dispel false assumptions of  my submissive and dainty nature, I developed the propensity to use foul language, laugh loudly and voice strong opinions. I made myself more abrasive to counter racist perceptions. Some myths I used to my advantage, such as the silly notion that I knew karate and that I was blessed with higher than average intelligence.  I now openly mock the thought that I might walk three steps behind my man and whisper quietly “as you wish.” I imitate the Vietnamese prostitute in Full Metal Jacket (“me love you long time”) for laughs. By throwing the stereotypes out there I hope to dispel their power, though I’m not sure if I should. Black people have claimed the “N-word,” taking away some of its negative power, but it is still an ugly word that is used in an ugly way by haters.

I am guilty of racist and classist attitudes myself, I can’t deny it. We are all products of our environments and prevailing attitudes about race and socioeconomic status. Studies have shown that black children have internalized the message that they are not as pretty or smart as a white child. The lower middle class and the poor similarly blame themselves for their own plight, judging by their voting habits and slavish adherence to the myth of the American Dream. We often unconsciously live out the assumptions that have been made about us.

Assaulted daily by propaganda and advertisements that reinforce these unconscious attitudes, it is no wonder that people find it difficult to overcome bias, especially when it pertains to their own identities. Many choose instead to embrace it, laugh at it, and claim it proudly. How else to explain the popularity of Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, who make money by mocking their “redneck” audience? TLC has made an industry of perpetuating and reinforcing stereotypical images.

I’m afraid that all of those images and hateful words are never going to go away. I am worried that although Americans come in all races, colors, and religions, the prevailing image of an American will always be a white male. The idea of the United States as “the Melting Pot” is dead, replaced with the mantra of “take our country back.” From whom can only be the “other,” Hispanics, Asians, black people, Muslims…anyone NOT white/Anglo/protestant/bearing a penis. This division is what allows the power-brokers to guide our thoughts and actions. Mindlessly buying their definitions of what a “real American” is only serves to perpetuate the endless divisive rhetoric that serves no other purpose than to keep us distracted from our own freedoms being slowly stripped away.

Profiles in Wingnuttery, Y’all

Here’s some Tea Party Madness for you. Missouri Tea Party Senate Candidate Todd Akin on abortion after a “legitimate rape”:

Yeah, the female body can just “shut down” its biological mechanisms, but only if it was LEGITIMATE. You just can’t make this shit up!

In other crazy GOP news, Rick Santorum took offense to Joe Biden’s remarks that Wall Street would “put y’all back in chains.” Not so much the “chains” part, but his highly racially charged use of “y’all.” This guy, who doesn’t want to make “bla… people’s life better,” says that the use of the word “y’all” was trying to develop some sort of affinity with “those groups,” meaning bla… people, I guess.

The Obama campaign is “class warfare at its worst…and then, you saw Vice President Biden play the race card in Virginia.”

“Did he play the race card?” asks host Jim Acosta.

“There’s no…you know, y’all? I mean, y’all is y’all!

“And when you’re in a group, you know, I’ve been in groups like that, and it’s very easy when you’re in a group of people that, you know, when you’re in the South or when you’re up in different areas of the country and different groups of people, you develop an affinity with the group that you’re speaking in front of. That’s what Vice President was doing. He was trying to develop that affinity, and he did so in a very horrendous way. And he should apologize for it. But it is exactly the tone of this campaign.”

Again, you just CAN’T make this up. I mean, you could, but it would be too ridiculous to believe without the magic of video. Here’s a nice little tutorial on how NOT to pander:

Scientists Convert a 53,000-Word Book Into DNA

In a scientific first, Harvard University researches successfully transformed a 53,426-word book into DNA, the same substance that provides the genetic template for all living things. The achievement could eventually lead to the mass adoption of DNA as a long-term storage medium.

Published Thursday in the journal Science, the experiment aimed to demonstrate the viability of storing large amounts of data on DNA molecules. Since the data is recorded on individual nucleobase pairs in the DNA strand (those adenine-guanine/cytosine-thymine pairs you may be straining to remember from high school biology), DNA can actually store more information per cubic millimeter than flash memory or even some experimental storage techs, IEEE Spectrum reports.

The difficulty is in the translation — both to DNA and back again (summarized in the diagram below). The researchers started with the book’s content, which included the text as well as 11 images and a javascript program, and converted it to binary code. Then they assigned every 0 and 1 a nucleobase.

After that came the heavy lifting: synthesizing the DNA strand, which would be 5.27 million bases long. They made the journey by splitting it into baby steps, each 96 bases long. When they were done, the book was a tiny speck of synthesized DNA that had about one-millionth the weight of a grain of sand. That’s got to look pretty attractive to anyone with a Big Data problem.

via Scientists Convert a 53,000-Word Book Into DNA.

This is so cool. DNA can last for MILLIONS of years and since it is the code of life, it can be decoded by future intelligent beings. Better than science fiction!