Sunday, February 29, 2004


      >> 4:24 PM

Thursday, February 26, 2004

[World Views]:

Today, in Brent, London's most multicultural borough, some 20 immigrants to the United Kingdom will take part in a first-ever, "American-style citizenship [swearing-in] ceremony." The high-profile event, which Prince Charles and a host of government officials will attend, is part of a new effort spearheaded by Home Secretary David Blunkett "to force ... such arrival[s to the United Kingdom] to show they are committed to their new nationality."

I just came across this weekly digest of international news. Really quite fascinating....

      >> 3:37 PM

When do ducks wake up?

At the quack of dawn.

      >> 3:20 PM

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

[Monster storm slams into Bay Area]:

"There was so much rain in San Francisco in such a short period that manhole covers popped off because of the pressure of the water. Cars were trapped on Interstate 280 with the drivers and passengers inside. The intersection of Skyline and Westmoor boulevards in Daly City turned into an inland lake. Some parked cars floated off from the side of the street and landed on sidewalks."

Freaky weather. Wonder when the fundies will jump on this as a sign of God's wrath against the sodomites of San Francisco....

      >> 3:34 PM

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

[Mayor raps Bush on same-sex marriage license decision]:

"'It's a desperate act by a desperate man who has lost control of the economy and job flight, the war on terrorism and the war he began in Iraq,' said Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who has a bill pending that would allow gays and lesbians to marry in California.
'The president is saying to America that everything will be OK if we just stop the homosexuals from destroying marriage. It's classic scapegoating,' Leno said. 'It's a very dark day in American history when for the first time an American president has endorsed codifying discrimination in our most precious document.'"

It's a very sad day when people think amending the Constitution this way is a good thing. But what can we do about it? There's so much wrong about wanting to make such an amendment if we want to think of ourselves as making a democracy. But is demystification useful anymore? For example, [poet of the future] points out how the statement W makes about man+woman=holy/forever-and-always is just flat out false. Is talking at people who support this amendment to explain to them how it is working as a kind of distraction from other political issues helpful, as Leno does? One of my students wrote a response paper to readings in class that touched on this sense of frustration. There are so many things that are just clearly discriminatory in this country, and yet they persist. How can we change that?

[Tommy] calls the work of calling for an amendment to ban same-sex marriages fearmongering, which it certainly is. Why is it that fearmongering and scapegoating work so well? Is it classical rhetoric holds no sway over the American public anymore? Maybe all we care about are things like ad hominem attacks, slanderous gossip, and such....

      >> 3:19 PM

Monday, February 23, 2004

So last night I caught a part of [TV's Illest Minority Moments Presented by Ego Trip] on VH1 before I zonked out on the couch (a common occurence, unfortunately). Loved Aaron Gruder on it. Feel the same in general about the "talking heads" format of these VH1 shows, though -- many of the people are trying too hard to be funny. I've never heard of these "Ego Trip" people, either, but apparently they are big somewhere. Apparently, sticking "presented by ego trip" on the title of the show means something to someone....

I found it odd that a few minutes into the show, the talking heads people began to be labeled on the screen not by their name and occupation, but by their name and ethnic mix. Interesting how this question of the visibility of ethnicities is often about the anxiety of not recognizing ethnic diversity in our mix. Did you know that Lynda Carter is not "white," but half English and half Mexican? That Casey Kasem is Lebanese? So much can be said about all this visibility of ethnic difference, passing, and the stakes of recognizing that difference (or forcing people to recognize it). I think it's great that Wonder Woman is chicana.

      >> 3:05 PM

[For a Day, Same-Sex Pairs Get a Warm Reception]:

"In San Francisco it's a license for marriage of same sex," Mr. Schwarzenegger said. "Maybe the next thing is another city that hands out licenses for assault weapons and someone else hands out licenses for selling drugs ó I mean, you can't do that. We have to stay within the law. There's a state law that says specific things, and if you want to challenge those laws, then you can go to the court."

Ugh. I guess the people who voted for Guv'ner S. are getting what they want -- a tough guy who enforces the law. Whatever. Why is that some people are so gung-ho about THE LAW and using it to control bodies as long as they perceive that control not to apply to them (or to affect them since they are law-abiding to begin with)? And not to point out hypocrisy like it's something that, if recognized, would change how people see Schwarzenegger, but hello assault weapons? I'd hazard a guess that he owns a few himself. How could he not when he drives Humvees around town because he likes the feeling of being able to run people and other cars over (not that he would actually do it)?

      >> 11:02 AM

Friday, February 20, 2004

[New Mexico county begins issuing marriage licenses to gay couples]:

At least a half-dozen gay and lesbian couples waited outside the Sandoval County courthouse after county clerk Victoria Dunlap began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

Rock on.

[Some gay folks are saying 'I don't' or 'not now']:

While most gay denizens enthusiastically greeted the news that the county clerk's office was issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, many longtime partners chose not to tie the knot for various legal, philosophical, logistical and romantic reasons.

Some news coverage (finally?) about why marriage is not the solution to all woes. I would love to see more sustained critiques of marriage in general. More talk about Bush's plans to "educate" poor people about staying (getting) married, etc. and how that might shed light on the limits of gay marriage as an act of equality (whatever that might mean).

      >> 2:38 PM

      >> 2:08 PM

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

[Whale Explodes On Taiwanese Street]:

Right in the middle of traffic, the carcass exploded -- splattering its innards across the street.


      >> 3:53 PM

[angry asian man] writes:

Aw, come on. The Puma website asks, "Why do you run?" and pictures an Asian man running. Answer: "My girlfriend got a girlfriend" next to a picture of too women embracing. Once again, the Asian man can't catch a break. Not even in a freakin' shoe ad! That's racist!

I went to the [site] and saw the noted images. Frankly, I don't see why it is racist. It really just doesn't make any sense. Is the guy running away from the two women? Wouldn't he want to, like, stay and watch? (Isn't that how straight guys think?) Huh? Is the Asian guy running because he is sad his girlfriend left him? Is he running because he is so happy his girlfriend found another girl? I guess the angry reading is that the Asian guy not only can't keep a girl but also drives her to lesbianism. As if that's a bad thing....

Yesterday at a women's studies discussion with undergraduates, we heard the usual shtick from women who think of themselves as empowered, progressive women not really identifying as feminist. The main reason, apparently, being that if you are feminist, you are (seen as) lesbian. And I say, hell ya. That in itself is a reason to be feminist. Call me a dyke, please.

      >> 3:31 PM

[Gay Rights Information Taken Off Site]:

Scott J. Bloch, the agency head, said he ordered the material removed because of uncertainty over whether a provision of civil service law applies to federal workers who claim unfair treatment because they are gay, bisexual or heterosexual.
"It is wrong to discriminate against any federal employee, or any employee, based on discrimination," Bloch said. But, he added, "it is wrong for me, as a federal government official, to extend my jurisdiction beyond what Congress gives me in the actual interpretation of the statutes."

What? Huh? This is so weird that a lot of the debate about gay rights currently seems to play out for anti-gay people as a question of adhering to what is written in the law. This is the argument Bloch seems to be making about not wanting to over-interpret the policies of the agency. This is the argument people are making against same-sex marriage, that even though it isn't really written anywhere that same-sex couples can't be married, it would be a feat of judicial activism or something to allow it.

      >> 3:02 PM

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

[Rushing to Say 'I Do' Before City Is Told 'You Can't']:

The clerk's staff, the sheriff's department and volunteers from other offices worked through the three-day holiday weekend without pay, Ms. Teng said, adding, "It's purely out of love and commitment to equal rights."

[Judge Leaves City's Approval of Gay Marriages Intact For Now]:

Opponents are seeking to nullify the marriages and block the city from continuing to distribute the licenses that began last week under an order from Newsom. The newly elected mayor's decision to permit gay marriages, while still legally unsettled, has intensified the national debate over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

I must say that while I agreed with many critics over the last few years about the limits of focusing on gay marriage as a strategy for addressing gay rights issues, this stuff happening in SF boggles my mind. I like how the earlier article I posted called the act one of "civil disobedience," even as it came not just from the couples getting married but also from the city of San Francisco as a governing body. My question is, who is this Newsom guy?

[S.F. staffers labor for love as gay nuptials top 2,200]:

"If you see someone with a volunteer sticker, give them a hug, because that's all they're going to get today," said a weary yet beaming City Assessor Mabel Teng, who has overseen the marriages since Thursday.
To tearful shouts of "We love you, Mabel," Teng outlined her staff's efforts to conduct a record-breaking number of nuptials. Deputy Assessor-Recorder Minna Tao stayed up most of Sunday night reprogramming computers that normally perform property valuations so they could process the marriages. The modification enabled city workers to increase the number of recorded unions from 485 on Saturday and 487 on Sunday to 650 on Monday.

In a lot of ways, what is happening in SF is great because something is actually happening that is about taking a defensive position (gay is okay, gay sex shouldn't be illegal....). It's like people are finally getting fed up and saying that we are doing what we damn well please instead of merely fighting against stuff that happens.

[Same-sex marriages face legal challenges]:

"'I see a world that I saw over the course of this weekend where people were literally coming, from states across this nation, coming together because they have been in a loving relationship for decade after decade, and they want the same privileges and rights and obligations that were extended to my wife and I,' Newsom said.
'That's the kind of world that I want to live in,' Newsom said. 'That's the kind of world that I think the constitution of the state of California, for that matter, the U.S. Constitution, provides and protects.' "

      >> 2:52 PM

Friday, February 13, 2004

[Protesters, please be warned. Fans of my work are not the nicest people in the world. If you are into me, you have been through it. And if you don't know what that means, you just don't know me yet. The great fanbase I have built up over many years in the "business" come to see me with a lot of anticipation, and have a lot invested in what I might have to say. And they can fucking fight. They will throw down in a fucking split second, and really I don't want to see any of you protesters get hurt. Queens do not play. They will fucking kill you. Lesbians know how to throw a punch that will leave a very large bruise, and aren't opposed to kicking protesting men right in the balls. The underrepresented, unvoiced, ignored part of our population, the great many that make up the Cho Army are something you are unaware of, and pretty much the gang not to fuck with. We are the baddest motherfuckers on the block. I don't want to see you protesters get injured, emotionally or physically. I don't want to see a drag queen make you cry. Which will happen, if you actually do show up with picket signs and all your protester accessories. ]

      >> 3:37 PM

      >> 3:15 PM

[S.F. defies laws, marries gays]:

In a historic act of civil disobedience, San Francisco defied state law and issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday, a move expected to ignite a constitutional showdown as early as today.


      >> 1:26 PM

      >> 7:00 AM

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

It should be of no surprise to anyone that I love [Kelis], especially that naughty video for "Milkshake."

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard
And they're like, it's better than yours,
Damn right, it's better than yours,
I could teach you, but I'd have to charge

Why I love the song so much I don't know. I bought the album yesterday and am enjoying it much.

      >> 2:31 PM

OMG! [Trunk Monkey.]

I was so enamored with the way the guest speaker I had dinner with Monday night used words like "peripatetic" and "trogdolytic" in a very everyday way.

      >> 11:00 AM

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

['Peanut Butter' finally free from 'Jelly': Turtles joined at the side successfully separated]:

Bobby Ehasz, 29, said he and his wife routinely flipped over the tortoises, carefully logging the time one stayed on its back while the other was upright.

Odd. Touching. Sort of.

      >> 3:29 PM

Friday, February 06, 2004

[Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name]:

This growing body of science has been increasingly drawn into charged debates about homosexuality in American society, on subjects from gay marriage to sodomy laws, despite reluctance from experts in the field to extrapolate from animals to humans. Gay groups argue that if homosexual behavior occurs in animals, it is natural, and therefore the rights of homosexuals should be protected. On the other hand, some conservative religious groups have condemned the same practices in the past, calling them "animalistic."
Sexual expression means more than making babies," Ms. Zuk said. "Why are we surprised? People are animals."

Yay gay penguins! Quite an interesting article. What's really interesting is that the article understands the various ways we can use the observation of other-species homosexualities in arguments for or against accepting homosexual persons as full citizens. In other words, even if being gay is genetic, natural, or somehow written in our biology (and thus unchangeable?), we don't necessarily come to the same understanding about the moral or political status of homosexuality. Anti-gay people might claim that though homosexuality is natural and occurs in other animals, it is the show of restraint that makes us human -- that is, being able to repress our biological urges for homosexual encounters in favor of procreative heterosex. Of course, lots of gay advocates try to argue, on the other hand, that homosexuality should be accepted and gay people should be granted full citizen status (marriage rights, etc.) because it is a natural occurence. The focus on sexual orientation rather than sexual preference generally supports this kind of logic. It is the move away from a choice about sexual behavior and attraction to a sense of security and groundedness in the biological.

What is really interesting is how moral, social, and political arguments based in biology do tend to focus on reproduction and the continuation of humanity as a reason for championing heterosexuality over homosexuality. But this shouldn't necessarily be so. Just because procreative sexuality is necessary for the reproduction of the human race doesn't mean other sexualities should be prohibited. Lots of heterosex is non-procreative, after all...

      >> 11:15 PM

After the lunch seminar today with Elizabeth Grosz, I just wanted to go home and read some stuff or continue a conversation with Cindy about the seminar. But I had to come to work. And though I have some lee-way to sit here and blog and think, it's really not the same. After I get all the mail processed, meter packages, and do other miscellaneous office-assistant tasks and answer the phone constantly (the phone calls are the most annoying -- always the phone rings as soon as I get a few sentences into a chapter or article.... and then I have to start over after directing the call to its recipient), I lose my train of thought. I'm fairly convinced I will not be staying with this job past this next summer. The extra income has been great, but I just have not been able to do any school work this whole past year.

Rob and I stopped by the pre-leasing office for this new "urban living" complex going up in a great, convenient location in Durham. We were excited about moving there once the lease to our current apartment ends in May. However, we were fooled by the "opening in early 2004" sign at the construction site because apparently the first apartments won't be ready until June and many of the floor plans won't be available until even later. The kicker, though, was how incredibly expensive the apartments are -- starting at $880/month for a one-bedroom apartment. While that might not seem like a lot for y'all who live in expensive places like NYC and San Francisco, it's outrageous for places here. Our current two-bedroom apartment (more space per square feet as well), for example, is only $545/month. And the other really annoying thing was the perkiness of the woman in the pre-leasing office. My god I wanted to throw up. I can't stand perky. This is where my Seventies feminism (a phrase that came up today at the Grosz seminar) really comes out. Women who smile and fawn and try to please can be so off-putting. It just wasn't enough for her to be welcoming and attentive, but she had to be so excited about her work and try to make us excited as well. But sorry, not going to work with two gay lovers. (The way she talked to us, too, kept pushing us into the framework of "roommates" or friends living together rather than a couple.)

Question of the day: Who could get you to commit a crime simply by suggesting a tryst? (Inspired by [TinManic's post on "The Hottie Defense"].)

      >> 3:16 PM

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Hey, who knew? [Yogis go to court over poses]:

Choudhury, America's best known and most controversial yogi, opened one of his first yoga schools in San Francisco in 1973 and now boasts 900 studios worldwide. He copyrighted, trademarked and franchised his poses, breathing techniques and dialogue, creating the first chain of its kind.
Speaking in a lilting accent, Choudhury said he has copyrighted the sequence, not the postures. He arranged the poses in a certain way, matched each pose to a precise dialogue used by the instructor and set the 90 minutes of exercises in a mirrored, carpeted room heated like a sauna. That, he says, is his intellectual property.
"Do-re-mi is in the public domain until you make a melody and turn it into a song and copyright it,'' Choudhury said. "The English language is public domain but if you write a book, on any subject, you get a copyright."

Intellectual property is such a sticky concept. I haven't done much thinking about it so these comments might be completely ignorant.... But really, it seems that intellectual property rights, like private property rights, but more so, are focused less on ownership and personal use than on money. The question isn't whether or not you can own something like a sequence of yoga poses so much as whether or not you should get money for other people doing (teaching) those poses. This seems weird to me. Is it a question of anxiety over being able to control the cultural reproduction of something you made? Why is it hard for people to see their "work" being transmuted into something else? I think there are still continual rumblings about the extent to which hip hop musicians can and should sample from other songs.... But it does seem that there it is at least understood that cultural products are always a mish-mash of other cultural products -- not just the bricks-and-stones of musical notes or words, but other songs and lyrics. It's a bricolage sense of cultural production and reproduction...

      >> 1:47 PM

      >> 9:28 AM

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Keeping in mind BJ's post [Super Bowl Death] about how the media sensationalism around Janet's breast kind of covers over some really unpleasant things that did happen as a result of Super Bowl rioting -- namely, the death of a man -- I still am utterly baffled by why this thing is such a big deal. [Janet Jackson Takes Responsibility for Breast-Baring]:

"I think everybody's focusing on the finale, but a lot of what we've heard in terms of complaints and the breadth of the investigation is a little broader than just that incident," Powell said on ABC's "Good Morning America. "I personally was offended by the entire production."

It is kind of troubling how being offended, finding something offensive, is such an operative charge for cultural policing. It seems like such a charge is borrowed from civil rights struggles, of people who (legitimately) argue that the way they are treated points to institutional inequalities. It is definitely the language of charges raised around pornography and public sex. But frankly I just don't get it. How does baring body parts or even other people having sex offend? I might think some people are being nasty having sex where I can see them, but in what way is that offensive more than personal disgust? Just because I might not find those people attractive or want to watch them doesn't mean their exhibitionism (or simple lack of caring about being seen) somehow attacks me....

In happier news, [Massachusetts Courts Back Gay Marriage]:

The Massachusetts high court ruled Wednesday that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples -- rather than civil unions -- are constitutional, clearing the way for the nation's first same-sex marriages in the state as early as May.

Go judicial activism! ;)

      >> 1:34 PM

Sort of a follow up to the computer virus/e-mail spam post from yesterday: [Spam invasion targets mobile phones]. I would kill people if I started getting spam on my phone the way I get spam via e-mail.

      >> 1:03 PM

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

[Why This One Is Scarier]:

So far, there is no evidence behind the notion that the worm was created as a form of political activism.
The public's growing level of sophistication pushed virus writers to develop a new ploy: They wrote deceptive subject lines and messages that some recipients just couldn't resist responding to.
This tactic, known as "social engineering," won success with the LoveBug, a virus with an attachment titled "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU."

Mmm... Social engineering. Not just pushing people's buttons, but getting them to push the buttons for you...

      >> 3:14 PM

Yesterday went by too quickly. Where do my Mondays go in general? In the morning, Rob called and said he had just found his mom's cat dead in the middle of the road. Very sad. Then I think I made it to the gym an hour-and-a-half later than I had planned. Then I made it to the international studies office for my office hours for the first time all semester (we're in our fifth week or something outrageous like that).

I'm currently thinking about nationalism (again) because we're reading Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities for class now. It always strikes me as funny that Anderson's "imagined communities" has become such a useful term for many cultural critics even as they leave aside most of the interesting insights that Anderson makes. Most people just take up his idea that nations must be invented or imagined by the people -- in other words, it is not a pre-existing entity or something that gets imposed. Rather, it is a sense of community that people must actively and passively endorse in generating the nation as such a powerful model for thinking about the world. But not many people take up things like Anderson's claim that nationalism arises in and because of the encounter with the New World or his arguments that it gets articulated to geographical locations through newspapers and markets.

      >> 12:02 PM

Monday, February 02, 2004

Oh. My. God. I am so over this world. [Janet, Justin, MTV Apologize For Super Bowl Flash]:

CBS, which broadcast the Super Bowl and its halftime show live Sunday evening, also apologized, saying, "CBS deeply regrets the incident that occurred during the Super Bowl halftime show. We attended all rehearsals throughout the week and there was no indication that any such thing would happen. The moment did not conform to CBS broadcast standards and we would like to apologize to anyone who was offended."

I spent this weekend in a particularly cranky mood. I'm just not particularly interested anymore in trying to figure out why people are so messed up and what we all might do to stop being so messed up. But when a flashed breast in a pop music performance is cause for scandal... My god, I think I just need to curl up in a corner and die. How is it that a bared breast offends? I just don't get it. Really. Why must people worry over and tread this boundary between sexy and pornolicious as if there is a moment of nakedness that is just too much and offends? And yet being a pop star is synonymous with being sexy and scandalous. Whatever.

      >> 3:29 PM

Sunday, February 01, 2004

[Interview with Elizabeth Grosz]:

I think psychoanalysis is incredibly important in its sphere, which is exactly the one Freud delimited, the sphere of psychotherapy, subjective identity, the wishes, desires, dreams and symptoms of private individuals. I think it is an important, perhaps even indispensable, discourse. But, it has become the discourse, or one of them, that now inscribes the political and I donít think that it is able to carry that burden. Iím also not sure that either Freud or Lacan would want to see it carried that way. And this is one of the problems I have with áiáek. I donít know if we can, for example, derive a theory of fascism from psychoanalysis. I donít want to because fascism is more than a psychology, more than psychoanalysis, more than economics or any one discourse.

[State v. Limon, Kansas Court of Appeals, J. Pierron, dissenting opinion]:

The United States Supreme Court applies three levels of scrutiny or review when examining legislative enactments which treat differently classified persons unequally to determine if there is a denial of constitutional due process or equal protection. Classifications involving "suspect" classes or fundamental rights are examined under "strict scrutiny," which shifts the presumption against a statute's usually presumed constitutionality and requires the State to demonstrate that the classification is necessary to serve a compelling state interest. Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 634, 22 L. Ed. 2d 600, 89 S. Ct. 1322 (1969). Fundamental rights recognized by the Supreme Court include marriage, contraception, voting, and travel. See Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 87 S. Ct. 1817, 18 L. Ed. 2d 1010 (1967); Griswold, 381 U.S. 479; Hill v. Stone, 421 U.S. 289, 44 L. Ed. 2d 172, 95 S. Ct. 1637 (1975); Shapiro, 394 U.S. 618. The suspect classes which the Court has recognized include alienage, race, and ancestry. See Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 29 L. Ed. 2d 534, 91 S. Ct. 1848 (1971); McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U.S. 184, 13 L. Ed. 2d 222, 85 S. Ct. 283 (1964);Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633, 92 L. Ed. 249, 68 S. Ct. 269 (1948).

This is what makes me want to jump ship from the humanities to a legal education.

      >> 10:20 PM

Whoah.... I don't have any immediate friends who have married yet. But I just realized that I am actually invited to two weddings this year. And the weirder thing is that I haven't met either of the brides-to-be.

      >> 6:18 AM

[Study Reveals Roles for Two Kinds of Sleep in Establishing Memories]:

"Based on all these results, we're proposing that the two stages play separate and complementary roles in memory consolidation," he said. "Periods of slow-wave sleep are very long and produce a recall and probably amplification of memory traces. Ensuing episodes of REM sleep, which are very short, trigger the expression of genes to store what was processed during slow-wave sleep." In principle, this model explains studies such as those by Robert Stickgold and his colleagues at Harvard University, showing that both slow-wave and REM sleep have beneficial effects on memory consolidation, he said. According to Nicolelis, the new experiments remedy shortcomings of previous studies.

I came across this news story earlier this week. It came to mind shortly after I woke up this morning. I was thinking how novel it would be to see someone riding a horse around campus. I imagined myself as that person riding a horse along the streets, a sight now never seen, but perhaps quite common in the past.

Dreams, sleep, and memory were of great interest to me in college. I thought at one point I wanted to be a psychologist studying the connections between the three. I sometimes wake up, feeling quite refreshed, with a single, vivid thought or image. The thought or image is usually a bit off-beat, like this idea of seeing a horse on campus. The feeling of the thought or image continuing to develop as I lie awake in bed is wonderful. It is the feeling that my brain is doing something on its own, the thought or image coming to its own fruition. Once, I woke up thinking that "cheddar," the word, was almost a palindrome. But not really. And then suddenly, I was thinking that "tidbit" was a mirror image of itself (I recall blogging this thought). This experience of a thought, upon waking, moving itself is much better than waking from a nightmare about being a bad teacher (how I woke up yesterday).

      >> 6:02 AM