Monthly Archives: September 2005

vagina dentata: prior art?

South African inventor Sonette Ehlers has developed the “rapex”, a barbed female condom aimed at discouraging rapists. A coordinator for Rape Crisis cautions that the device could backfire, and rapists in penile pain might respond with increased violence.

Of course, Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash (1992) was all over this idea: his teenage protagonist wore a similar device cleverly named the ‘vagina dentata’. But rather than just putting a rapist in pain, the v.d. actually disarmed him, by injecting a super-fast-acting tranquilizer directly into his penis.

[Yahoo! News 9/1 via slate 9/12]

update 15 minutes later: Wikipedia rocks; there’s simply no other way to say it. See the entry on anti-rape female condom.

religious use of copyright, again

a little interest of mine: religious texts and copyright.

  • Michael Geist covers a Canadian copyright case by the Watch Tower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) suing a website for posting religious texts. [link via boingboing]
  • Scientologists do this all the time: Operation Clambake has its own response to copyright issues. A few cites: Religious Technology Center v. Netcom On-Line communication Services, Inc., 923 F.Supp. 1231 (N.D. Cal. 1995); Religious Technology Center v. F.A.C.T.Net, Inc., 901 F.Supp. 1519 (D.Col. 1995).
  • Worldwide Church of God sued Philadelphia Church of God, 227 F.3d 1110 (9th Cir. 2000), for distributing the WCG founders’ earlier, racist works after WCG had disavowed them.

more later …

Katrina (9/1-9/15, ongoing)

9/1: Between work-stuff and watching Katrina, I’ve been too busy & too sad to post much the last few days.

To sum it all up:, a letter from Switzerland (9/3) [via daily kos 9/4]:

Watching the events in New Orleans unfold from here in Europe, mostly via BBC World, we have the impression that the storm blew up a corner of the carpet beneath which America had long been sweeping some of its fundamental problems.

Among the fundamental problems revealed are:

(1) the enormous divide between rich and poor (which has expanded rapidly in the past two or three decades);

(2) the racial divide leaving blacks in the poorest class (nearly all the stranded, angry, unassisted poor we see on the TV screen are black),

(3) the failure to invest in infrastructure (not only the failure to protect the dikes and levies, but the failure to storm-proof the electric and telephone systems by burying cables, etc.);

And, perhaps most striking of all,

(4) the bizarre law-and-order mentality which orders the National Guard to shoot-to-kill looters (that is, to give priority to protecting property more than human lives).

Perhaps it is going too far to state that we are watching a collapse similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union fifteen years ago. Much as the total-collectivization and total-centralization of society in the USSR collapsed, eventually, of its own internal contradictions, we wonder whether or not America, too, with its ultra-individualistic, ultra-material ideology and its absence of much concern about the collective needs of society (health care, education, infrastructure, etc.) will collapse of its own internal contradictions.

Here’s the rest of the best & most useful of what I’ve seen on Katrina, below the fold:

Continue reading

they speak for themselves

Dept. of Homeland Security [DHS Website via america blog 9/3]:

In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort. The new Department will also prioritize the important issue of citizen preparedness. Educating America’s families on how best to prepare their homes for a disaster and tips for citizens on how to respond in a crisis will be given special attention at DHS.

Dennis Hastert, W 8/31 [via salon.com 9/2]:

Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Wednesday that it “doesn’t make sense” to rebuild New Orleans. “It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed.”

“It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed,” the Illinois Republican said in an interview Wednesday with The Daily Herald of Arlington, Ill.

Hastert, in a transcript supplied by the newspaper, said there was no question that the people of New Orleans would rebuild their city, but noted that federal insurance and other federal aid was involved. “We ought to take a second look at it. But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures and they rebuild too. Stubbornness.”

CNN reporters [CNN 9/1]:

MCINTYRE: And as to your question about political, I talked to a lot of people at the Pentagon today who were very frustrated about the fact that the perception was being created that the military didn’t move fast enough. And they did it somewhat as political. They thought that part of the motivation was the critics of the administration to make the president look bad.

And they seemed to question the motives of some of our reporters who were out there and hearing these stories from the victims about why they had so much sympathy for the victims, and not as much sympathy for the challenges that the government met in meeting this challenge.

George W. Bush, Th 9/1 [Good Morning America via crooks & liars 9/1]:

I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the breach of the levees.

Mike Brown, Th 9/1 [CNN 9/1]:

Michael Brown also agreed with other public officials that the death toll in the city could reach into the thousands. “Unfortunately, that’s going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings,” Brown told CNN. “I don’t make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans,” he said. “And to find people still there is just heart-wrenching to me because, you know, the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there. So, we’ve got to figure out some way to convince people that whenever warnings go out it’s for their own good,” Brown said. “Now, I don’t want to second guess why they did that. My job now is to get relief to them.”

“What we had in New Orleans is a growing disaster: The hurricane hit, that was one disaster; then the levees broke, that was another disaster; then the floods came; that became a third disaster.”

Michael Chertoff, Th 9/1 [on NPR All Things Considered, transcript via Here's What's Left, 9/1, link via Kevin Drum, 9/1]:

“I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the Convention Center who don’t have food and water.”

Mike Brown, Th 9/1, head of FEMA, interviewed by Paula Zahn [CNN; see also NYT 9/3]:

PZ: How can it be that hundreds and hundreds of thousands of victims have not received any food and water more than 100 hours after Katrina hit

MB: I will tell you this though, every person in that convention center, we just learned about that today. And so I had directed that we have all available resources to get to that convention center to make certain that they have the food and water, the medical care they need…

PZ: Sir, you’re not telling me, you’re not telling me you just learned that the folks at the convention center didn’t have food and water until today did you? You had no idea they were completely cut off?

MB: Paula, the federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today.

Mike Brown, Th 9/1, head of FEMA, interviewed by Ted Koppel [via americablog 9/2]:

MB: We just learned of the convention center — we being the federal government — today.

TKl: I’ve heard you say during the course of a number of interviews that you found out about the convention center today. Don’t you guys watch television? Don’t you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today.

MB: We learned about (the convention center) FACTUALLY today that that’s what existed.

Col. Terry Ebbert, director of Homeland Security for New Orleans [NYT 9/1]:

Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been “carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days,” he said “the rest of the goddamn nation can’t get us any resources for security.”

“We are like little birds with our mouths open and you don’t have to be very smart to know where to drop the worm,” Colonel Ebbert said. “It’s criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren’t force-feeding us. It’s like FEMA has never been to a hurricane.”

Trent Lott, F 9/2, interview with Anderson Cooper [CNN]:

Cooper: So you’re pleased with the Federal government’s response?

Lott: I AM pleased with the federal government’s response…this is not a time for complaining…I am really shocked at the comments that are coming.

George W. Bush, F 9/2, Mobile, Alabama [transcript via looka! 9/2]:

The good news is — and it’s hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house — he’s lost his entire house — there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)

Laura Bush [via salon.com 9/2]:

Bush was asked about the fact that most of them are poor and black. That’s just the way it is, she said. “This is what happens when there’s a natural disaster of this scope,” Bush said. “The poorer people are usually in the neighborhoods that are the lowest or the most exposed or the most vulnerable. Their housing is the most vulnerable to natural disaster. And that is just always what happens.”

Tom DeLay [via salon.com 9/3]:

In an interview with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Lester Holt, the African-American MSNBC anchor, asked, “People are now beginning to voice what we’ve all been seeing with our own eyes — the majority of people left in New Orleans are black, they are poor, they are the underbelly of society. When you look at this, what does this say about where we are as a country and where our government is in terms of how it views the people of this country?”

DeLay would have none of it. His boilerplate response: “What it tells me is we’re doing a wonderful job and we are an incredibly compassionate people.” The aid being contributed by the people in Texas and other parts of the South showed how wonderful the American people really are, DeLay explained.

Rick Warren [Fox, via salon.com 9/3]:

Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” told Cavuto. “I would say play it down and pray it up,” Warren said. “In other words, you know when you lose everything it forces you to redefine your life. If your view of who you are is based on all the things you’ve accumulated — your car, your pool, your house, your boat — and all of a sudden you wake up one day and those belongings are absolutely blown away, you have to redefine what your life is. If your definition of family is tied to the neighborhood you live in or the security gates you live behind or your made-over home, and suddenly that’s gone, then you’re going to have to rethink what your family is … In the next few days millions of these Gulf State residents and millions of us who are watching it unfold are going to have to struggle with these questions. What is life really all about?”

Mike Brown, Sa 9/3, head of FEMA [Wash Post 9/3]:

Brown, a frequent target of New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s wrath, said Saturday that “the mayor can order an evacuation and try to evacuate the city, but if the mayor does not have the resources to get the poor, elderly, the disabled, those who cannot, out, or if he does not even have police capacity to enforce the mandatory evacuation, to make people leave, then you end up with the kind of situation we have right now in New Orleans.”

“Senior White House Official”, Sa 9/3 [Wash Post, 9/3]:

As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco declared a state of emergency on Friday, Aug. 26.

Mike Chertoff, Homeland Security chief 9/4 [Meet the Press 9/4, transcript; quote via thinkprogress 9/4]:

Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, “New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.” Because if you recall, the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse. It was on Tuesday that the levee — may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday — that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city. I think that second catastrophe really caught everybody by surprise.

This one speaks for itself so long as you know that as of Monday morning Mayor Nevin was already talking on NBC’s “Today Show” about the levees overtopping; and as long as you imagine that flooding following a hurricane is a “second catastrophe”.

Rick Santorum, S 9/4 [Interview with WTAE-TV CH 4 in Pittsburgh, via whiskey bar, 9/6]:

I mean, you have people who don’t heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.

Barbara Bush, M 9/5 [American Public Media's "Marketplace", via Editor & Publisher, 9/5]:

“What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this–this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.”

US Rep. Richard Baker [quoted at Booman Tribune 9/9]:

“We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”

US Rep. (House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay F 9/9 [quoted at Dome Blog 9/9]:

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it’s like to be living in shelter.

While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, “Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?”

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.

elijah wood not upset by queer fan photo alterations

hollywood.com 9/12

HOLLYWOOD, September 12, 2005

Wood Stunned by Gay Photo ‘Revelations’
By WENN
……………………………………..
Elijah Wood is continually stunned by clever cyber pranksters who try to prove he is gay.

The Lord of the Rings star is often caught out by Web sites with far from subtle names, like www.veryverygay.com, when he’s surfing the Internet, but he’s rarely offended.

And, unlike many stars, he isn’t planning any legal action to stop the pranksters–he simply marvels at their creativity.

He says, “There’s one that’s called elijahwoodisveryverygay (sic), which is actually a personal favorite of mine, it’s absolutely hilarious.

“It’s this kind of joke Web site that maintains that they have proof that I am very very gay in various photographs–photographic evidence (of me) holding hands with a male.”

Even fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy want the stars of the film to be homosexual. Wood explains, “(They) want to create moments that they didn’t get to see in the film, of these characters in sexual congress.

“I was actually at a film festival once… and this fan came up with a gift… I open the gift in front of all these people that I’m talking to and it happens to be a photo from one of these Web sites of me and Dominic Monaghan making sweet love. If you didn’t know any better, it kinda looks real.

“These people have a lot of time on their hands and my hat’s off (to them) because it’s very good work.”

lemony snicket copyright

The copyright notice in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (2002):

No part of this book may be used, reproduced, destroyed, tampered with, or eaten without written permission except in the case of brief, possibly coded quotations embodied in critical articles, reviews, and subpoenas. Allegedly printed in the United States of America. For information address HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019, although the people at this publishing house have no idea where the documents enclosed in this book came from. If you recognize yourself in any of the photographs or illustrations in this book you may find yourself in Very Frightening Danger and/or slightly embarrassed but there is nothing you can do about it. Please note that the author has been called a fraud, a criminal, a bestseller, a corpse, a fictional character, an unreliable narrator, an objective flaneur, an embattled gentleman, a magnetic field, an arsonist, and late for dinner by an odd number of dubious authorities. Send help at once. All rights reserved. Wouldn’t you rather read about ponies?

jonathan kozol on education & no child left behind

DS: You also suggest that our current system of locally financed schools be abolished, claiming that it perpetuates inequality by allowing suburbs like Scarsdale or Manhasset to spend twice as much on each student as less affluent cities do.

JK: Schooling should not be left to the whim or wealth of village elders. I believe that we should fund all schools in the U.S. with our national resources. All these kids are being educated to be Americans, not citizens of Minneapolis or San Francisco.

DS: Isn’t that why President Bush enacted No Child Left Behind, to narrow the achievement gap between white students and minorities?

JK: I would hesitate to try to navigate the thought processes of that sophisticated, well-educated product of Andover.

DS: Seriously, why would Republicans, who have traditionally opposed big government, encumber schools with the testing requirements attached to No Child Left Behind?

JK: The kind of testing we are doing today is sociopathic in its repetitive and punitive nature. Its driving motive is to highlight failure in inner-city schools as dramatically as possible in order to create a ground swell of support for private vouchers or other privatizing schemes.

“School Monitor: Questions for Jonathan Kozol”. Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON. NYT Magazine, 2005 Sept. 4.

non-katrina

yet more depressing news:

  • iraq: where people keep dying. A friend recently met with her family who lives in Baghdad, who reported a) her elderly aunties regularly have laser sightings trained on them by US soldiers; b) her cousin’s cousin was recently shot & killed by US soldiers; c) they still don’t have power & clean water most of the time. The situation is worse than it was a year ago. They were impressed to hear that an American woman would camp outside Bush’s home, since they thought there was no dissent in the US. …

  • declining science literacy, increasing religious belief, and increasing poverty in the US. See creationism survey (NYT) and the widely reported new poverty statistics from the Census Bureau, available at http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf; press briefing.

  • the FDA decided to hold off approving emergency contraception, AGAIN, despite promises by new commissioner to have decided by today (9/1). The FDA Director of the Office of Women’s Health resigned in response. See feministe; prnewswire.

  • and i just heard that the 8th Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling in Bnetd. [opinion @ 8th Cir] A big loss for consumers and tinkerers.

but still there is light shed:

  • the NYT recently published a supremely arrogant, sexist, and stupid editorial / piece by Keith Ablow. Ablow suggested that women should think twice before letting their husbands watch childbirth, since it might destroy the man’s sexual attraction to his female partner. a number of commentators have given that article the trashing it deserved. see belle waring 8/31, for example; see also belle waring 8/23; pandagon; slate; crooked timber on women’s culture (and by negative implication what men’s culture is failing to do).

    me, i couldn’t help remembering how sensible, non-sexist people handle the issue in a way that recognizes human realities, sexuality, and needs of all parties: In The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth, the authors straightforwardly noted that after pregnancy & birth, some non-birth-parents might have difficulty feeling sexual toward the birth-parent. The authors didn’t try some reductive pop-psych “oh my god I’ve seen her insides” explanation, but pointed out that it could happen for a variety of reasons: birthing-related, parenting-related, the efforts of adjusting to a new lifestyle, new roles, and new family configurations. the answer? give it time, and work on having adult time together.

  • orcinus posted on right-wing bloggers decrying the motes in left-wing eyes (“all our extremists is belong to you”) [link from sideshow]

  • Reading A1 posted on the suggestion from right-wingers (apparently frustrated that their ideas suck) that left-wingers can’t criticize unless they come up with fully-formed strategic responses themselves. i feel like excerpting:

    [W]ho exactly is the audience for this sort of policy wanking supposed to be? Other than a tiny community of Beltway or Beltway-oriented intellectuals, or wannabes. The anti-war left is nowhere near the seat of power. Power is held, in fact, by a gang that regards opposition in general, and opposition to the war in particular, as tantamount to treason. … Even if we had detailed, rational and realistic policy advice to give, they wouldn’t listen to it. … It’s not “unserious” or “immature” or whatever other bullshit terms are favored by the Beltway types to advocate the simple message Out Now. On the contrary—advocating such messages is the only real political space within which we have to operate. Our job is not to pretend we’re living under a different regime than we are, one that takes policy proposals seriously. Our job is to do the only thing we really can do, namely cause as much domestic pain as possible for Bush over the war. … You want to have a real effect on Iraq policy? Drive Bush’s numbers down, drive the GOP’s numbers down, take their Congressional majority away from them, take the White House back. That’s not done with policy prescriptions—which (again, has Cooper been paying attention these last few years?) the vast majority of the American public will never hear, or hear an honest version of, anyway.

    I’ve got a rant, somewhere inside, about labels, actions, and correctly identifying your own politics & where they fit on the historical spectrum. Something in response to the right-wingers who try to claim the higher ground created by the left-wing civil rights movement, the left-wing anti-fascist movements, and so on. But it’ll have to wait.