liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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Minor FYIs...

Heh. Sorry about the silence all. I'm trying to line up my ducks in Water Hold Me Down (Part 11 is here) and I'm not happy with the way they keep quacking at me. And flapping. And pointing out that I'm missing a duck. Then when I find the missing duck, another duck has gone running off.

Mysteries. Why can't they be easy to write?

Bah. I'm hoping to get a new chapter up by Friday (so much for daily updates). Sorry nwhepcat. My simple idea got pretty complicated on me pretty fast. I should've never let alterna-Willow stay alive. That's the culprit right there. Plus, I suspect that Xander's been organizing a union among my fanfic characters, both media-based and original, while I wasn't looking. I think this might account for the work slow-down.

On, the name of the union? CALEB--Characters Against Lizbeth's Emotional Beatings.

I've been served with notice that they're holding a vote to organize.

I could deal with unionization, really, I could. Except he's got Faith heading up the enforcers, all of whom are Slayers.

And they say Hoffa was trouble.

Ahem. Sorry. I'm working on gynecology today. I'm giddy with amusement.

One sentence I had to correct: A male condom is a nonporous, elastic covering placed over penis during intercourse.

Gold star to the person who sees what's wrong with the above statement.

Anyway, some things that made me laugh:

Hamlet. In PowerPOINT. Heh.

Dubya the Movie, with Don Knotts playing Gee Dubbya. The whole sneak preview real is done using Knotts' own movies. Bwah! Too fucking funny.

Some things that made me pissed:

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a report on On how absinance-only education is a joke. Well, duh! Keep kids ignorant and tell them "Don't do that!" is like lighting up a big-ass neon sign begging kids to do it! Jesus. I went to a fucking Catholic School and they at least talked about condoms and the rhythm method! Don't do it? Is that like "Just say no!" which works about as well?

Read the report and you'll be asking: "We're fucking paying for this shit? With federal tax dollars?" *headdesk*

The highlights:

The report finds that over 80% of the abstinence-only curricula, used by over two-thirds of SPRANS grantees in 2003, contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health. Specifically, the report finds:

  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Contain False Information about the Effectiveness of Contraceptives. Many of the curricula misrepresent the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. One curriculum says that "the popular claim that 'condoms help prevent the spread of STDs,' is not supported by the data"; another states that "[i]n heterosexual sex, condoms fail to prevent HIV approximately 31% of the time"; and another teaches that a pregnancy occurs one out of every seven times that couples use condoms. These erroneous statements are presented as proven scientific facts.

  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Contain False Information about the Risks of Abortion. One curriculum states that 5% to 10% of women who have legal abortions will become sterile; that "[p]remature birth, a major cause of mental retardation, is increased following the abortion of a first pregnancy"; and that "[t]ubal and cervical pregnancies are increased following abortions." In fact, these risks do not rise after the procedure used in most abortions in the United States.

  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Blur Religion and Science. Many of the curricula present as scientific fact the religious view that life begins at conception. For example, one lesson states: "Conception, also known as fertilization, occurs when one sperm unites with one egg in the upper third of the fallopian tube. This is when life begins." Another curriculum calls a 43-day-old fetus a "thinking person."

  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Treat Stereotypes about Girls and Boys as Scientific Fact. One curriculum teaches that women need "financial support," while men need "admiration." Another instructs: "Women gauge their happiness and judge their success on their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments."

  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Contain Scientific Errors. In numerous instances, the abstinence-only curricula teach erroneous scientific
    information. One curriculum incorrectly lists exposure to sweat and tears as risk factors for HIV transmission. Another curriculum states that "twenty-four chromosomes from the mother and twenty-four chromosomes from the father join to create this new individual"; the correct number is 23.

The report finds numerous examples of these errors. Serious and pervasive problems with the accuracy of abstine nce-only curricula may help explain why these programs have not been shown to protect adolescents from sexually transmitted diseases and why youth who pledge abstinence are significantly less likely to make informed choices about precautions when they do have sex.

Personally, I'm most amused (for amused, read fucking furious) about gender roles:

E. Abstinence-Only Curricula Treat Stereotypes about Girls and Boys as Scientific Fact

Many abstinence-only curricula begin with a detailed discussion of differences between boys and girls. Some of the differences presented are simply biological. Several of the curricula, however, present stereotypes as scientific fact.

  • Stereotypes that Undermine Girls’ Achievement
    Several curricula teach that girls care less about achievement and their futures than do boys. One curriculum instructs: "Women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments." This curriculum also teaches:

    "Men tend to be more tuned in to what is happening today and what needs to be done for a secure future. When women began to enter the work force at an equal pace with men, companies noticed that women were not as concerned about preparing for retirement. This stems from the priority men and women place on the past, present, and future."

    Another curriculum lists "Financial Support" as one of the "5 Major Needs of Women," and "Domestic Support" as one of the "5 Major Needs of Men." The curriculum states:

    "Just as a woman needs to feel a man’s devotion to her, a man has a primary need to feel a woman’s admiration. To admire a man is to regard him with wonder, delight, and approval. A man feels admired when his unique characteristics and talents happily amaze her."

    A third curriculum depicts emotions as limiting girls’ ability to focus. It states:

    "Generally, guys are able to focus better on one activity at a time and may not connect feelings with actions. Girls access both sides of the brain at once, so they often experience feelings and emotions as part of every situation."

  • Stereotypes that Girls Are Weak and Need Protection
    Some of the curricula describe girls as helpless or dependent upon men. In a discussion of wedding traditions, one curriculum writes: "Tell the class that the Bride price is actually an honor to the bride. It says she is valuable to the groom and he is willing to give something valuable for her."

    The curriculum also teaches: "The father gives the bride to the groom because he is the one man who has had the responsibility of protecting her throughout her life. He is now giving his daughter to the only other man who will take over this protective role."

    One book in the "Choosing the Best" series presents a story about a knight who saves a princess from a dragon. The next time the dragon arrives, the princess advises the knight to kill the dragon with a noose, and the following time with poison, both of which work but leave the knight feeling "ashamed." The knight eventually decides to marry a village maiden, but did so "only after making sure she knew nothing about nooses or poison." The curriculum concludes:

    "Moral of the story: Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess."

  • Stereotypes that Reinforce Male Sexual Aggressiveness
    One curriculum teaches that men are sexually aggressive and lack deep emotions. In a chart of the top five women’s and men’s basic needs, the curriculum lists "sexual fulfillment" and "physical attractiveness" as two of the top five "needs" in the men’s section. "Affection," "Conversation," "Honesty and Openness," and "Family Commitment" are listed only as women’s needs. The curriculum teaches: "A male is usually less discriminating about those to whom he is sexually attracted. . . . Women usually have greater intuitive awareness of how to develop a loving relationship."

    The same curriculum tells participants: "While a man needs little or no preparation for sex, a woman often needs hours of emotional and mental preparation."

Well, that tells us all we really need to know about this bullshit right here. It basically tells us:

1) Women aren't as great as men, so suck it up honey and stop bitching when you think you've been treated unfairly in the workplace.

2) Women who are smart and opinionated should shut the fuck up otherwise they'll die spinsters, and we all know that all a woman wants out of life is a man and to breed.

3) Women really are property, first of daddy and then of hubby, so do what you're told by the men in your life because really, see points one and two above.

4) You got raped? Sorry honey, it's your fault. Men can't help themselves because they're sexually aggressive and lack deep emotions, so what did you do to lead him to believe he could jump on you?

Unh, wait a seond, but is it me? Or is this pretty fucking insulting to men, too? I mean, a knight that doesn't want a clever princess who'll help him defeat his foes and move ahead in the world? Men being fucking emotionally shallow and incapable of deep feeling?

Really, guys, maybe you should join in the outrage on this one.

One more thing:

U.S. Generals Were Told of Abuse Early Inquiry Finds. (The article is from The Washington Post, so free registration may be required.) The article is about a December 2003 report lead by retired Col. Stuart A. Herrington (a veteran of "human intelligence operations" in Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, and Panama) that warned of abuses at Abu Ghraib looooong before it went public. He pointed out in his report that the torture at Abu Ghraib was not only creating more enemies than the U.S. needed, but failed to get the information U.S. forces desperately wanted. Some snippets from the article:

The report also provided an early account of the practice of holding some detainees -- sometimes called "ghost detainees" -- in secret and keeping them from international humanitarian organizations. Herrington also wrote that agents from other government agencies, which commonly refers to the CIA, regularly kept ghost detainees by not logging their arrests.


Herrington's report also noted that sweeps pulled in hundreds and even thousands of detainees who had no connection to the war. Abu Ghraib, for example, swelled to several thousand more detainees than it could handle. Herrington wrote that aggressive and indiscriminate tactics by the 4th Infantry Division, rounding up random scores of detainees and "dumping them at the door," was a glaring example.

As the United States recently has picked up its counterinsurgency efforts, the number of new detainees has again surged.

"Between the losers and dead end elements from the former regime and foreign fighters, there are enough people in Iraq who already don't like us," Herrington wrote. "Adding to these numbers by conducting sweep operations . . . is counterproductive to the Coalition's efforts to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry. Similarly, mistreatment of captives as has been reported to me and our team is unacceptable, and bound to be known by the population."

One thing the report makes clear (as if the Red Cross Gitmo report yesterday didn't underline it for you): the use of torture (let's call it what it is) is systematic and not limited to a "few bad apples" like Faux would like you to believe. Remember how our own State Department issues "Human Rights Report Cards" on other countries every year? I'm thinking between Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, we probably should clean our own goddamn house before pointing fingers at other people.

As Molly Ivins said in her latest column:

It is both peculiar and chilling to find oneself discussing the problem of American torture. I have considered support of basic human rights and dignity so much a part of our national identity that this feels as strange as though I'd suddenly become Chinese or found Fidel Castro in the refrigerator.

One's first response to the report by the International Red Cross about torture at our prison at Guantanamo is denial. "I don't want to think about it; I don't want to hear about it; we're the good guys, they're the bad guys; shut up. And besides, they attacked us first."

But our country has opposed torture since its founding. One of our founding principles is that cruel and unusual punishment is both illegal and wrong. Every year, our State Department issues a report grading other countries on their support for or violations of human rights.

I know some people might find it strange that I'm nailed by these accounts of abuse at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, but I can't help but see them as symptoms of a larger issue. Nobody is even fucking blinking about the non-stop revelations of torture, the fact that Dubbya's Administration has basically ripped up the Geneva Convention and said it didn't apply to us (read: Gitmo and Abu Ghraib), yet we expect enemy combatants to comply with the Convention when they've got our soldiers in their hot little hands. Unh, yeah. Not going to happen. It reveals a bullying meanness in this administration. It reveals a coarsening of American culture and the beginning of the loss of our soul. The "We are Right" Administration, even though there's evidence piling up that we're going to be paying through the nose for Dubbya and his cronies for a long time to come.

Gitmo and Abu Gharib is the canary in the coal mine.

When no one even blinked at the pictures from Abu Ghraib; when no one in the administration demanded Rumsfeld's head on a platter; when Dubbya didn't woefully announce a list of resignations among high government officials when Abu Ghraib came to light, it was a sign that the bullying was going to come home. No one was made to take responsibility and now we've got the "I didn't do it" Administration marching forward as if 48% of the country doesn't vehemently disagree with Dubbya. It's going to start here. It is starting here (the reports of TSA bullying at the airports is big news here in Boston; Logan International is one of the big spots where it's happening).

And it's only going to get worse. I know I'm being cynical here, but then, if you told me four years ago that we'd be here today, I would've never believed it.

Wonder how many people 20 years from now are going to claim that they didn't know (when really, they knew but they didn't want to see)? How many people who voted for Bush are going to claim they voted for Kerry 20 years from now (a prediction: people are going to wonder how Bush got elected with zero votes)?

I'm telling you: It's going to happen. History has a habit of repeating itself and it's repeating in a bad way right now.

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