21 July 2009

Meet the GOP grassroots

It's not uncommon for congressmen and congresswomen to have town hall meetings in their districts to discuss important issues with their constituents. The people who show up to these meetings tend to be disproportionately favorable to the official, so these events are less balanced civic summits and more ideological rallies making fun of "the other guys." And I level this as a bipartisan criticism.

Anywho, I bring this up because of footage from a town hall meeting hosted by Republican Congressman Mike Castle of Delaware. Rep. Castle is considered a fairly moderate dude, which pisses off the GOP base to no end.

And why not?!?! Members of Congress are focusing on issues like healthcare, energy, and the economy, and all the while an African -- named Barack Hussein Obama no less -- has been allowed to assume the Presidency!!!
Trust me, I know the Dems have their fair share of crazy, but seriously, step one in GOP recovery should probably start with adding a critical mass of sensibility to the party's base.

Remember some of the rants from the McCain-Palin rallies.... Continue reading this post >>

17 July 2009

Jesse Ventura calls Sarah Palin a "quitter"

You know, I disagree with him on a few (not all) issues, but I always love a good Jesse commentary. Here he is on CNN's Larry King Live, talking about the Sotomayor confirmation, Al Franken, Sarah Palin's resignation, among other things:

I really want to see more of Jesse on 24-hour cable news, particularly Fox News. Continue reading this post >>

16 July 2009

Government-funded genitals covered in fruit loops

The St. Paul City Council held a hearing yesterday on if/how much the city should fund public art projects, which prompted MPR's question of the day: "When, if ever, is public art a good use of taxpayers' money?"

The two extremes of this debate are...
ALWAYS: Public art increases quality-of-life and preserves the soul of our community, and it figures those uncultured rednecks wouldn't understand or appreciate my performance art piece, titled: "The Bowels of Democracy and Fucking Humanity with the Blood-stained Fruit Loops of Capitalism." Whenever money gets tight, they always come after the artists. I'm a martyr!!!

NEVER: Government should only fund defense and public safety, not a performance artist pouring red paint and fruit loops on his genitals while pooping on the American flag. And while we're at it, let's get rid of snow removal -- I can shovel my own damn street, and so can those lazy welfare-loving minorities!
That being said (with a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek), I think there's some interesting room for discussion between these radical poles.

-Since government is supposed to be an objective body (no religion, blind justice, everyone is equal, etc.) and art is an inherently subjective in its expression and interpretation, are the two incompatible at even a basic level?

-When people see more beauty in their surroundings, won't they feel more pride and investment in their community, and isn't that a fundamental aspect/value/goal of America?

-Even if we can agree on the importance of public art, shouldn't we consider the current recession and budget limitations of government (particularly state and local) and prioritize public services over funding for the arts? Is it fair to say that art isn't a necessity?

DISCUSS! Continue reading this post >>

10 July 2009

The future of the mustachio

I could be wrong, but I think the mustache is soon to make the transition from joke to fashionably hip. (Or maybe mustaches are already in again, but I'm from an Iowa farm and, therefore, about 3 years behind the times.) Continue reading this post >>

03 July 2009

Feminism, empowerment, and burkas

The Daily Show tackles the current debate in France over banning the burka:
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I'm not well-versed in the history of the feminist movement, but I've heard this debate play out a lot: does an empowered woman need to act a certain way, or is empowerment simply a woman's ability to choose her lifestyle, whatever it may be (corporate executive, stay-at-home mom, porn star, etc.)?

Earlier this year, Emily produced a radio piece for KFAI about feminism in American Muslim culture (read or listen to it!). She interviewed two professional women, one a community activist and the other an instructor in an arts outreach program in Minneapolis schools. While neither are forced to cover their heads with a hijab, they both choose to do so as a form of empowerment. The argument against this form of empowerment is that the oppression is systematic: a woman feels pressured into a certain lifestyle choice by ingrained societal degradation.

So what does empowerment really look like? Continue reading this post >>

01 July 2009

Gender bender

Salon blogger Katharine Mieszkowski reports on a Swedish couple who won't tell anyone if their baby is a boy or a girl. Here's a snippet:
A Swedish couple believe so strongly that gender is a social construction that they do not reveal whether their 2.5-year-old is a boy or a girl.

Only those who have changed the toddler's diapers know if "Pop," which is not the child's real name, is male or female. "We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mold from the outset," the tot's 24-year-old mother told the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. "It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead."

Pop's wardrobe includes both pants and dresses, and the child usually gets to decide what to wear. "Although Pop knows that there are physical differences between a boy and a girl, Pop's parents never use personal pronouns when referring to the child -- they just say Pop," according to the English-language Swedish site the Local.
An interesting concept, and I'll be curious to see what Pop is like in 10 or so years. (And I'm not being facetious -- I think there's a good chance Pop will be incredibly well-adjusted.)

Growing up on the Iowa farm, gender roles were pretty well-defined, although my parents definitely swapped certain aspects of the typical father-mother divide. My dad doesn't really follow sports or get into competitive stuff much, while my mom follows most professional sports, pushed me to be more athletic, and was the assistant coach of one of my little league teams.

To this day, I generally know what's going on in the sports world, but I'm not the fanatic or religious follower most guys seem to be. I have nothing against sports or the die-hard fans. Not being a typical sports dude is sometimes hard in social situations, where, for guys, sports act like a natural conversation starter. A social commons for men, if you will.

In this way, I feel like I've had to define my own sense of masculinity. I can drink a pink strawberry smoothie (because goddamnit, it just tastes fucking good) and make a fart joke at the same time (because goddamnit, flatulence is just fucking funny).

Right now, society expects gender behavior based on one's nether parts. If you've got a vagina, you should shave excess hair, like the color pink, and think farts are gross. If you've got a penis, you should like cars, never cry, and know Albert Pujols's batting average at all times. It's not wrong to be a boy or a girl. What's wrong is being locked in a mode of behavior because that's what society expects. Continue reading this post >>

Squirrels and breasts and CNN

Jeanne Moos has been a reporter with CNN for 27 years. In her time there, she has covered the United Nations, student protests in Beijing, and has interviewed Mikhail Gorbachev. For her reporting work, she's won some awards.

Yesterday, she filed a story headlined "Squirrel wedged in cleavage," and trust me, it's worth the watch:

My favorite part about the video is that it goes well beyond the, um, actual story about the squirrel in the woman's cleavage, tying in a cartoon dance and a perverted Iowa meteorologist.

Oh, journalism.... Continue reading this post >>