MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
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Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Liberation Day" comes for Terri Schiavo, 3/31/2005, 9am EST

No, it's not what you might think. The stormtroopers didn't come busting in to seize her and take her to an "undisclosed location" where the nutrition would be restarted. No, she simply died.

Now, hopefully, we can get some "reality based" information on what really happened and how likely or unlikely it would have been that she could have recovered from the state she was in. The autopsy will be done by the Pinellas County coroner, and it's probably going on as I type this. In a rare show of unanimity between the husband and the parents, both sides requested the autopsy. Certainly the sides have differing reasons why to do the autopsy: the parents want to find evidence of spousal abuse, the husband wants to show the extent of the brain damage and prove that she didn't have enough grey matter to support consciousness as we know it.

Meanwhile, if this had happened in Texas and Ms. Schiavo had been poor and lacking health insurance or on Medicaid, the plug would have been pulled on her a long time ago.

The moral to this story? Write up Advance Medical Directives, and make damn sure people know they exist.

Note at 11:16pm: Tomorrow is April Fool's Day. Expect all kinds of weirdness throughout the blogosphere. I might indulge, I might be totally serious next time I post here. It depends on how I feel.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Wow, Wednesday already. I've been running around all day, including SFVLUG's first meeting at the Van Nuys Constituent Service Center. And yeah, alas, it looks like the last meeting there too. The secretary there said that there were no Community Rooms open for the forseeable future. Great.

Oh yeah, we don't have the Denny's at the Van Nuys Airport to meet at either. The last meeting there was the scene of a big blow-up...the manager there is on a total power trip (rhymes with rich) and she basically kicked us out. Well, I wasn't there because Richie had a gig, and actually I'm glad I wasn't there because the scene would probably have been much uglier with me there to go toe to toe with the harpie.

So yeah, now basically the LUG is back at nearly square one, with a need to find a new place to meet. We aren't 100% down yet, but we're going to need to do some major rebuilding. It's weird to find myself at the nucleus of this group, considering that I used to be kind of on the outside looking in, but yeah, that's where I am. The Valley needs a LUG. Valley people need Linux. They just don't know it yet. ^_^

Oh yeah, another weird thing: AirAmerica Radio is back on the air in Los Angeles. Not just XM and Sirius, a real broadcast station. As I have mentioned in this blog before, I had hoped they'd get an FM affiliate here because AM is dying, and a lot of the little "personal radio" devices and MP3 devices with radio only have FM tuners. But no, we've got KTLK 1150 AM, owned by, of all people, CLEAR CHANNEL. I don't know whether to jump for joy or to groan. I'd rather get my AirAmerica from the WLIB NYC feed online at the website (yay for RealAudio for Linux) but it's good that they're back on the air here.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Why is it that most quizzes only work on Live Journal and not here? I got a really cool one just now and I can't share it with y'all because Blogger code choked on it.

Anyway, my paper, "None Dare Call It Fascism: The George W. Bush Administration, 2001-present" got a 20 out of a possible 20 points. As strong of an "A" as you can get. I'm stoked.

Here's what I'm going to do with it. I am going to redo the formatting and then do a bit more of the fleshing-out I wanted to do had I not been under a page limit. No, I'm not doing this so people can plagiarize my won't be in MLA format by the time I'm done with it anyway. I am doing this because I want to provide people with a point-by-point breakdown of why it is no exaggeration that George W. Bush's regime is true fascism, the "Friendly Fascism" predicted by Dr. Bertram Gross back in 2000. I want to put the Bush regime in context with the proto-Fascist Ronald Reagan administration. I want to take the 14 points of Umberto Eco's essay Ur-Fascism and the 14 points of Lawrence Britt's Fascism Anyone? essay, cataloguing where each point was or is in the process of being fulfilled by the current Bush administration. I want to bring together a lot of the information that's scattered in various cogent articles and online books in one document.

Yeah, I'm sticking my neck out by doing this. I am liable to piss off a lot of Bush supporters. I'm liable to piss off a lot of people who say they are old-school Conservatives who don't support Bush anymore but thought Reagan was the bee's knees. I'm liable to piss even a few liberals off. But this is something I have to do.

Watch this space, and also my DailyKOS diary, for a link to the PDF when I'm done.

Oh Math 114 teacher called in sick again today. Can't say I'm too upset about that...~_^

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I think I want to stay away from the Schiavo case and its ramifications today. It's Easter, not a holiday I celebrate, but there's also a certain Pagan aspect to the day (That's why eggs, calla lillies and bunnies are associated with the feast of the Risen Death God) that is appealing to me. It's all about getting out into nature and enjoying the fact that the Northern Hemisphere is "waking up" after a long winter's nap.

We got tons and tons of rain this year, and the upshot is that we now have tons and tons of wild flowers blooming everywhere, even in vacant lots, waste places, and Death Valley. The desert is now gilded with vast fields of yellow flowers with the occasional hit of purple.

The strawberries seem to be in very good shape this year...there was question about whether they'd be drowned out by too much rain but the drenchings seem to have yielded a good result. I'm hoping that asparagus will come into season too...that's one of my favorite veggies and another part of the Spring Experience for me.

I am hoping to get a little hiking in today if all goes well. No, I didn't accomplish what I was hoping to accomplish this Spring Break, but I think I accomplished what I needed to do which was relax and restore myself. If you have been reading this blog regularly you know that I was suffering a bit of burnout these past few much so that I was questioning whether or not I needed to completely rethink my plans for the future. I needed to simply take a break. I get one more day off on Cesar Chavez Day, which falls on the 31st which is Thursday. It pre-empts something I enjoy, which is lab time for Biology 3. But it means that next weekend is a long one for me, which is appreciated.

Tomorrow I find out if Dr. Roth liked my paper ("None Dare Call It Fascism: The George W. Bush Administration, 2001-present.") or not. I wasn't able to bring out all the points I wanted to in the paper, which could not be more than 7 double-spaced pages long. I want to go back to it and expand it, then offer it for download or online viewing. It seems like OpenOffice.Org-made PDFs are easily viewed under Windows and MacOS X, so I'm going to start using OO.o more to make PDFs. I also want to see what I can do about getting my scanner to work with this Linux system. Supposedly the Epson scanners are very well supported under Linux. I know for a fact that they are very well supported under MacOS X...if my family will buy me that Mac mini as a grad gift (that's assuming I do graduate) the Epson scanner is extremely well supported there, and you get monitor/color space calibration right there in the OS.

I think today I will just concentrate on enjoying Spring today. Tomorrow it's back to the grind. Today is for fun.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The circus continues in Pinellas Park. I would not be surprised if there was some sort of attempt at a last-ditch armed assault by right-wing nut jobs as the sands in Ms. Schiavo's hourglass get scarcer and scarcer.

Right wing extremist radio personality Hal Turner now has a very ominous message replacing the usual screeds and agitprop (Hate site: NSFW):

Web site updates temporarily offline.
I am traveling to do something important.

Will there be an Easter Assault on the hospice? This is the $64,000 question. It has already been established that State Troopers who were asked by Jeb Bush to participate in a seizure operation refused, stating that they would only act if directed by the courts to do so. So it seems like the only possibility for further action would come from the lunatic fringe.

The lunatic fringe has already stomped on another person's right to attend to their dying loved one in the same hospice. According to, of all sources, the Faux News Channel, a woman was prevented from seeing her grandfather before he died because of the gantlet of protestors she had to run to get to him.

Meanwhile the chorus of people who are saying "enough already" about the endless court battles with the aim of keeping Terri Schiavo's body up and running is growing, and now includes conservatives alongside liberals and moderates. Read what Neil Boortz has to say. And also what Libertarian writer Cathy Young has to say. This is turning the stomachs of people who would be inclined normally to give the benefit of the doubt to conservatives.

The science is starting to come out too. Here's something from a Court TV debate. Bioethicist Bill Allen said this about Terri Schiavo's neurological functionality:

[T]he EEG tests on the part of her brain cavity where the cortex should be was flatline....There was EEG for her brain stem; she is not brain-dead by whole brain criteria. But the part of an EEG that reflects higher cortical activity was flatline.

I know I have mentioned my sympathies to those who view this as a disabilities rights issue. However, if it is indeed true that there is no electrical activity in the tattered remnants of Ms. Schiavo's brain's cortical region, she is beyond being merely "disabled." The lights are on, but no-one's home. The arguments for the upkeep of Ms. Schiavo's body begin to resemble the argument between the pet shop keeper and the disgruntled parrot owner in the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch.

I am not saying this to be cold or make light of a tragic situation. I'm just pointing out the absurdity of it all. Let her go. She's earned her rest.

A note at 8pm, 3/27...
I'm so ignorant about Floridian geography that I didn't know that my friend Tom Reed in Orlando doesn't live anywhere near Pinellas Park. Found out the good news this evening when he called. "They're sufficiently far away from us to where the news broadcasts from the hospice come over The Bird" was his response. TV Lingo translation: The Bird = Satellite. As in they're far enough away to where the TV station he works at doesn't bother to send a news truck there. Good. The farther away you are, my bro, the safer you are. I'd rather you be in a Blue State than be stuck in Florida with the Alligators and the reptilian Repugnican politicians. California would be nice for selfish reasons, but we've got problems of our own. I hear Seattle's a geek paradise...maybe there's an opening at some Seattle TV station for a talented engineer. Florida. [shudder]

Friday, March 25, 2005

Two photos, without comment...

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others...

Trailer Park Jesus gets a makeover...

From the "Give 'em enough rope to hang themselves" department:

The Dems have pretty much allowed the GOP members of Congress to joust unchallenged over the Schiavo Affair, and it seems like their "hands off" approach has paid off. Right now, George W. Bush and the Republican-dominated Senate and House are at their lowest approval ratings in a long, long time, with Dubya pulling only a 45% approval rating, (this link is from the Moonie Washington Times, folks!) and 70 to 80% of the public saying they wished that Dubya and Congress would have stayed out of the fray.

That said, is this good for the chances of the Dems in 2006? Well, a lot can happen between now and November 2006. We could be attacked by Al'Qaeda again. Bush could pull a rabbit out of his hat about the Energy Crisis, with a new source of oil to slake our thirst for a few years, staving off the consequences of Peak Oil in the Middle East, North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico temporarily, but only temporarily. The American public are fickle, there is a large "Kool Aid Drinking" base who'd vote in a Yellow Dog if it was running on the GOP ticket. And so far, the Dems haven't come up with a positive message they can run with, but just the same "don't vote Republican, they'll do this, this and this" kind of messages.

It is time to come up with this positive message, to frame a progressive agenda in a way that will be palatable to people not only in the Blue-state base but acceptable to the Red-staters as well. I still believe that Kerry could have won Election 2004 if he had only been stronger on the "a vote for Bush is a vote for the Draft" message and maybe got the message out that The FDA under Bush approved the Mark Of The Beast to the "Rapture Ready" crowd to split the "unholy" alliance between the Pre-Millenialist and Dominionist factions of the theocratic wing of the American right. I think the Dems need to listen to the resurgent Religious Left and get behind this alternative view of the Gospels. It is actually the historical viewpoint of non-Calvinist Protestantism, a viewpoint that kindled the Second Great Awakening, fueled Abolitionist and Universal Suffrage movements, and bore its final fruits in the Civil Rights movement of the '60s and the "Jesus Freaks" of the '70s.

Although I am not a religious person anymore, and certainly no longer Christian, (been there, done that, got the T-Shirt in the early '80s) I still admire religious people who put their religion where their mouth is and help the poor, sick and disenfranchised. Jimmy Carter is perhaps the best ex-President ever because of his consistent commitment to this portion of the Gospel often skipped by the Religious Right.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Schiavo update: the Fat Lady has sung. Aside from a feeble attempt by Jeb Bush to do an extra-Constitutional end run around every single judge who has either looked at or declined to look at the situation, it's all over. It is more than likely that Terri Schiavo's 15 years of imprisonment in a functioning body with what seems very much to be a non-functional brain will finally be over soon.

I think that yes, there should have been more science done in this case. And for crissake, there should have been Advance Medical Directives. If there is any good done by the Schiavo case, it is to bring to the attention of the public just how crucial it is to have that document drawn up, and revisited regularly. I have been remiss: I won't be for long. Anyone 18 years of age or older must sit down and do this. Chances are, the document won't be needed, or at least won't be needed until you are very old.

I would expect the lunatic fringe element to get even wilder before Terri breathes her last. This has gotten so nutty that a little boy has been arrested by the Pinellas County sheriff for trespassing because he tried to break through the police lines with a glass of water. I think the parents who put the kid up to this should be jailed for child abuse, for starters. But what if the kid got into Schiavo's room and tried to give her a drink of water? Guess what: she would drown, kiddo. Ms. Schiavo simply no longer has a swallowing reflex.

Anyway, it looks like the "real conservatives" in the country are starting to wake up and realize that George W. Bush is no conservative, that he doesn't want to "conserve" the Constitution of the United States, and that what he's really all about is fascism. One of the lefty sites I like dropping in on, DailyKOS, has a link to a neat essay about the death of what the essay calls "Goldwater Conservatism." I prefer to call it "true conservatism" or "Constitutionalist conservatism," and it's not our enemy. At this point the only party that remains dedicated to this kind of conservativism is the The Libertarian Party, and hopefully more "true conservatives" will find their way to them as an alternative to the GOP.

It's like what's been going on with the Dems: the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has been held down for a long time by the center-right "New Democrats" whose most resounding success was electing Bill Clinton twice. Will progressive Dems have to start their own party or take over the American Green Party? I have some hope, with the election of Dr. Howard Dean as Dem Chairman, that this will be unnecessary and that the Democratic Party can be "taken back" by progressives.

However, the Christio-fascist wing of the GOP (some are Dominionists, some aren't, so calling them all Dominionists is not quite correct) is so firmly entrenched, it has such a strong death-grip on the GOP, that perhaps there is no hope for people like this thoughtful young man who runs the Balloon Juice blog other than leaving the GOP for the LP. My question is this: why haven't the Libertarians gone looking for these thoughtful, reasonable souls who believe in freedom and believe in limited government? Could it be that Right-wing PAC money holding them back? Could it be timidity? I want to take Badnarik and grab him by the scruff of the neck and yell "WAKE UP!" in his face. I'm sure this guy isn't alone in the US. If my father had lived...he died almost 30 years ago of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease...he probably would be a Libertarian by now.

He didn't live long enough to see the rise of Reagan as the Christio-fascist Golden Boy...he voted for Reagan for Governor, but I'm sure he would be alarmed by the theocratic tone of Reagan's rhetoric. I know that Nixon broke his heart. He was very pro-Nixon for the longest time, but I could tell even as a child that L'Affaire Watergate was weighing heavily on his heart. He was in ICU because of a hospital screwup when Nixon resigned, just ahead of the drawing up of Articles of Impeachment, so he was spared the final spectacle of the end of Nixon's aborted second term.

I know also that my dad wanted me to be Jewish, not assimilationist Christian-lite. When I was 8 years old, my dad said "No more Chanukah bushes, no more stockings next to the Menorah. We are celebrating Chanukah now." I hated him for that for the longest time, and my mom wasn't thrilled either. We both liked the festive aspects of "The Season" and the December after my father died was one where we went and got a fresh tree and rebought ornaments. But from the December dad banned the Chanukah bush to the December dad died, we celebrated Jewish holidays and only Jewish holidays.

The cozy relationship between the GOP and the Religious Right would have frightened him. Even though the "Rapture Index" Religious Rightists just loves them Jews, because The Lawd ain't comin' back without them, the Dominionists/Reconstructionists are pretty much anti-Semitic in their views. Judaism might have birthed Christianity, but Jews rejected Jesus and are accursed, in their viewpoint. The Dominionists/Reconstructionists share with anti-Vatican II Catholics and Identity Christians a deep, abiding anti-Semitism. Considering the inroads Dominionists have made into the George W. Bush Administration, he would be quite concerned about official anti-Semitism entering the picture in the future.

This is not a happy day for me. The Schiavo case is a true tragedy in every sense of the word. Mr. Schiavo is not evil. The Schindler family are not evil. They are good people to whom bad times have come. I hope they will eventually reconcile, something which will be quite difficult considering the heated nature of the rhetoric on both sides of the battle. And as far as Ms. Terri Schiavo is concerned, I weep for her. It was ultimately sexism that killed her: she was a Bulimic and Anorexic who had a heart attack because of her eating disorders and the electrolyte imbalances caused by them. If we weren't so goddamn size-ist and looks-ist and sexist maybe Ms. Schiavo would be a vivacious happy woman with children and a career. Instead, she is in a state of living death that will become true death when her body finally gives out. Think about that as we wait for the inevitable obituary.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Raining on my Open Source Parade...

Yesterday I didn't blog because I had a very full day. I hopped a Red Line train out of North Hollywood to Downtown for the LA City IT Committee meeting about Los Angeles adopting Open Source to save money. There were four Open Source advocates in the audience and two anti-Open Source sock puppets...I don't really know whom they were actually carrying water for but I suspect it's Microsoft. Mad props to Councilpersons Garcetti and Weiss...they seem to be really serious about this, not just trying to get Microsoft to cut LA a break.

Here's some links to the current situation:

Anyway, the weather reports suggested we'd get some "drizzle" yesterday, but it turned out that we were in for a downpour. I got Blade Runner flashbacks as I ran through the pouring rain to Little Tokyo for some shelter and shopping. I finally found out how much an anime-related tchotchke was going to cost was a Samurai Champloo related Keitei (cell phone) strap based on the one dangling from Fuu-chan's tanto knife. Almost $40! Yeek! I'd rather take that money and buy a couple of Samurai Champloo DVDs...the next volume is coming out next Tuesday and I absolutely have to have it.

I felt better when I left Kinokuniya Books and sprinted a few blocks to Marukai's "98 Store" in the Japanese Village Plaza shopping center. While almost nothing costs $0.98 anymore...the unfavorable exchange rate between the Yen and the Dollar took care of can still find all manner of neat J-Stuff for $1.25 to $1.50 per item there. I got some kitchen goodies like a microwave steamer and a ginger grater, and some other miscellaneous stuffs like a little "shock pouch" to protect my Palm, three brush-style ink pens, and a cozy lined with thermal blanketing that keeps water bottles cold. Eight items, less than $11. It's nice to know that when I'm drooling over stuff at J-Box I can turn around and usually find what I'm drooling over for less by taking a little trip to Little Tokyo. There's also good food available at a reasonable, non-tourist trap price...I had some broiled fish (Red Snapper, known as Tai in Japanese) over rice with a salad and a good hot cup of tea for $6.

Going home was horrible...the rain got worse and worse. There was actually some lightning too so I wound up ducking into Fugetsu-do for a post-dinner snack. This place, specializing in traditional Japanese confections, was venerable even before World War II, and somehow it survived the Internment. It's now 102 years old, and has been in the current location since 1945. I had a little sweet mochi wrapped in a pickled cherry leaf...very interesting taste combo...and my favorite traditional Japanese sweet, a sandwich cookie made with two soft little "silver dollar" pancakes with a dollop of An bean paste in the center. Oishi, neh!

A last bit of advice: do not wear fleece if you are going to have to deal with torrential rain. I felt like Spongebob Squarepants when I finally squished my way home. If I had known we were going to get rained on so bad I might not have even made the trip, but oh well...I am at least not sick today like I thought I might be after all the exposure to the elements. We cracked the #2 spot on the all-time rainiest years for LA...3 more inches of rain will make this the rainiest year on record. w00t.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Mod Bush's concern over Terri Schiavo -1 Disingenuous...

When GOP Religious Right thugs start talking about Terri Schiavo and how great it was that the GOP-dominated Congress and the Dear Leader "saved" her, ask them about two people who don't have as good of PR, and health insurance, as Ms. Schiavo.

Ask them about two cases in Texas. Ask them about Spiro Nicolouzos, who is being forced off of life support because his family is poor and doesn't have health insurance. Also ask them about a dead Black baby boy named Sun Hudson. Same situation. Because of a law George W. Bush signed as Governor, the medically indigent can be taken off life support if their care is considered "futile."

I suppose that the worth of human life is, um...conditional. Conditional upon one's ability to pay.

Full text of CA Advance Directive Law is available HERE.

This includes a model form. I suspect it would be best to write it in longhand on paper so that the document could be verified by a handwriting expert, sort of like how you write a Holographic Will. California recognizes wills written in the decedent's own hand, according to Findlaw, so I suspect this would also be the case.

This also means I don't have to pony up money for an "official Advance Directive Kit." Or have a lawyer write it up.

I don't want to end up like Ms. Schiavo. If you don't want to, this is what you do. If you don't live in the State of California, look the info up for your particular state. Or your country. Whatever.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Schiavo Affair: extremely mixed emotions about an extremely polarizing case that has, at the root of it, an extremely difficult moral dilemma...

Firstly, Happy New Year to all Neo-Pagans and other religions (and there are many) who take the Vernal Equinox as the first day of the New Year.

To frame this whole post very carefully, I want to make sure you understand my personal philosophy by which I conduct my life. As far as anything resembling a religious philosophy I follow, the closest thing to illustrate where I am is this: I am a thelemite. I take great pains to use the lower-case "t" here, because unlike the current incarnation of the Ordo Templi Orientis, I do not consider thelema a religion.

Aleister Crowley was not the first person to describe this "current" of philosophical can go back as far as Lao Tzu and find thelemic strains of thought in the Dao Deh Jing. The name was given to this "current" by Francois Rabelais, and used in his epic satiric novel "Gargantua." There is a definite thelemic flavor to the philosophical writings of John Locke, and of the writings of John Stuart Mill and his wife and fellow philosopher Harriet Taylor Mill. The writings of Ayn Rand and her disciples could be somewhat construed as thelemic but some of the weirder quirks of Rand's viewpoints (she did not believe in the equality of men and women, she saw aesthetics as a philosophical branch that could be processed objectively, etc.) and the actual way she ran her "collective" suggests that she really doesn't belong under the category.

The "source document" of thelema as we know it is Liber AL Vel Legis, also known as Liber 220, known informally as The Book of the Law. The "orthodox Thelemic" (and by orthodox I mean current Caliphate OTO, The Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn, etc.) view is that it is received scripture and cannot be changed "even in the style of the letter," nor can it be subjected to "higher criticism." Furthermore, orthodox Thelemism gives as the origin of the book the dictation of a supernatural, non-corporeal being identified as Aiwaz. I think the origin of the book is Aleister Crowley's own subconscious/superconscious, not anything external to him, and that what was best and brightest within him projected itself in the writing of it. As of April 10th, it will be 101 years since Crowley finished the book.

I cannot hold to The Book of the Law with any sort of belief in its inerrancy or supernatural origin. It is the utterance of the subconscious/superconscious of one man, expressing sentiments that the man himself did not entirely hold consciously in his whole lifetime and certainly did not at the time.

The Book of the Law can be summed up very succintly in a series of postulates. However, here is a link to the (short) book on the Web so that you can read it for yourself.

Postulate 1: Every man and every woman is an individual, and their birthright is respect.

Postulate 2: There is no such thing as a "master" or "inferior" being by dint of their birth. All are equal regardless of race, gender and so forth.

Postulate 3: As sovereign, equal individuals, every man and every woman is accorded to live their lives according to their own True Will, a personal "Tao" that each individual must find and flow with for themselves. Nobody can show you that True Will, be it human or some sort of Different Intelligence. It is strictly your own affair. No True Will, if adhered to properly, can harm another sovereign, equal, individual. However, since the task of finding and doing one's True Will is often quite difficult, a correlary must be added: Unless it harm Another, find and do your True Will. Neo-Pagans use the poetic, ancient sounding turn of phrase; "An it harm none, do what ye Will." In the Book of the Law it is phrased: (Condensing from several verses in chapter 1) "Do what thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law....Love is the Law, Love under Will...Thou hast no right but to do thy Will."

Postulate 4: Conditions are changing. For several thousand years, the concept of the Angry Father God, the Suffering Intermediary God, an unbending, detailed moral code, and the subjection of women over men has dominated spirituality. In the past few hundred years, maybe as early as the Renaissance, maybe as late as the Spring Equinox of 1904 of the Common Era, a very strong paradigm shift occured, and this spiritual model is no longer workable under the new paradigm. In its place is a concept of humanity as finally adult for the first time in its evolution, neither subject to a Nurturing Mother Goddess or an Angry Father God. Every aspect of spirituality must be reexamined under these new conditions. No sacred cows should be spared. Everything must be reexamined, applying the method of science to the aims of religion.

Postulate 5: The Angry Father God, Patriarchy, spiritual Aristocracy, and all the other elements of the Old Paradigm will not simply wither away without a fight. Hence the observation of religious fundamentalism in ascendancy and in conflict with competing religious fundamentalisms in modern times. Crowley believed this conflict would be a more-or-less permanent feature of the current paradigm, and only with the advent of the next Aeon in a future time would the Old Paradigm finally fall. He further believed that the primary feature of the current Aeon (current Paradigm, current Zeitgeist) would be this conflict, and the conflict could possibly bring on a new Dark Age of primitivism and superstition. Only those who understood the conditions and could live their lives in terms of the current Paradigm would be able to preserve the knowledge and wisdom of previous Aeons for the future time when the Old Paradigm would finally fall.

Postulate 6: The correct course of action in the midst of this turbulent time period is to live one's life according to one's True Will as best you understand it, staying aloof from the death throes of the Old Paradigm. There is a specific injunction against proselytizing, something understandable when you consider that Crowley's parents were devout Plymouth Brethren Protestant Christians, practicing a severe form of Protestant Christian Fundamentalism dating back to the Puritan Fathers. The religious conflict between Crowley and his parents is the true source of his being convinced he was the Antichrist of the New Testament Book of Revelation...his mother would often refer to him as "The Beast." The facts of Crowley's life and death suggest that neither Crowley nor his mother were correct in identifying him thusly.

Anyway, with all that out of the way, let's look at the intractable dilemma of the Terri Schiavo case.

In February, 1990, Terri Schiavo suffered a horrible, profound heart attack, resulting in the necrosis of huge portions of her brain. Most of her Cerebrum is destroyed, replaced with huge fluid-filled cavities. However, her brainstem and other aspects of her autonomous nervous system are left intact. MRIs of Ms. Schiavo's brain resemble that of late-stage Alzheimer's patients, only without the characteristic "plaques and tangles" that are the hallmarks of that disease. For 15 years, Ms. Schiavo has been in a state of living death: what doctors refer to as a "persistent vegetative state." She has been kept alive with food given through intravenous and intragastric means. She is not on a respirator.

The heart attack apparently was brought on by Ms. Schiavo's chronic eating disorders. She apparently had Bulimia and drank huge quantities of water and Iced Tea in order to keep her stomach full to prevent the consumption of other, more caloric substances. She also would force herself to vomit after eating solid food. This eating disorder caused a precipitous drop in blood potassium, a mineral necessary for the correct functioning of the heart. This is a fact in the case that is often lost in the noise of other arguments. The ultimate cause of Ms. Schiavo's horrible predicament is an undiagnosed case of Bulimia, precipitated probably by pressure from both her family's side and her husband's side for Ms. Sciavo to keep thin and "pretty." Certainly from the family's side, the pressure probably started in early childhood.

Another element of this is the fact that Ms. Schiavo did not have any sort of Advance Directives, more commonly known as a "Living Will," to guide doctors and family members in making health care decisions for her. This is the ultimate source of the current tragedy which has the hapless Schiavo as a living shuttlecock in a game of legal badminton between her parents and her husband. Gentle reader, if you care about your family and care about your desires in a similar situation being carried out, you owe it to yourself to draw up Advance Directives that satisfy the laws of the State you live in if you live in the US, the Province you live in if you live in Canada, or the country you live in if you live elsewhere. A very thorough yet concise fact sheet for California is available here.

Anyway, there is no way of knowing, with any level of certainty, what Ms. Schiavo's wishes are regarding whether it is her Will to remain alive in the state she's in or whether she should be allowed to die. Her parents, and a strange set of bedfellows in the political conservative, religious conservative and disabled rights movement believe she should continue to be fed and cared for. Obviously these people in this weird coalition have their own individual axes to grind regarding the Schiavo case: some are against euthanasia, some are worried that a "slippery slope" is developing which will allow the disabled to be murdered out of considerations of convenience and economics. Her husband asserts that Ms. Schiavo had verbally, on numerous occasions, communicated that she did not want to live under these circumstances. However, without Advance Directives, it is impossible to know whether this is true or whether Mr. Schiavo just wants to have "closure" in the situation with his wife, damn the circumstances.

As a person who is mildly chronically disabled thanks to the remaining effects of Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome I suffered from 1991 to 1995, and who has other mild disabilities from other sources (I'm extremely nearsighted and have Math-related learning disabilities) I am naturally somewhat sympathetic to the arguments of Not Dead Yet and other disability-rights groups who are on the side of Schiavo's parents. However, there is quite a bit of medical information which suggests that Schiavo is not conscious, although reflexively responsive in a superficial way.

Ultimately, however, there is no way to know with any certainty whether or not she thinks, feels, can experience pain, etc.

As a thelemite, I cannot support either side. Both sides of the argument tend to presume to know Ms. Schiavo's True Will better than she does...the reason why I do not believe in the "Golden Rule," by the way. Ms. Schiavo, in her condition, cannot communicate. BUT WHAT TO DO IN THIS SITUATION? WHAT TO DO????

I personally would not want the government stepping in, in such a situation, and mandating that I be maintained indefinitely until my "natural death." However, I personally would not want the government pulling the plug if there was any chance I could recover, or simply for economic expediency's sake. So I cannot support any sort of governmental meddling on either side. However, I cannot support the cause of either Schiavo's parents or of her husband. Both have suspect motives. Both have axes to grind. Neither side has clean hands.

What to do?

I would say the balance is tilted, in my opinion, in favor of keeping her fed and watered until the rest of her brain and the mechanisms of her body give out. Where there is a reasonable doubt, or even an unreasonable doubt, I have to say that rendering care is the correct side of the debate.

However, this does not mean I support the anti-Choice side of the greater debate. Crowley once tried to simplify the message of Liber AL in a document called Liber OZ. This document was written in words of only one syllable, with an eye towards even the least schooled among us understanding it. However, the document only served to muddy the waters even more in practice, because the result is quite harsh-sounding when taken as a whole. However, there is a very unequivocal statement there which sums up my view on the subject as a whole:

Man has the right to live by his own die when and how he will.

Further, I do not believe that an "unborn baby" is a life with a sovereign Will yet. The classical Jewish concept of when life begins has life beginning when the baby draws their first breath. "And G_d breathed into Adam's nostrils, and he became a living soul." Placing life as beginning at conception does violence to the concept of human life being inextricable with human volition. You are in danger of doing the same even if you choose "quickening" or any other point on the gestational scale as the point where life begins, because that "life" is maintained by the body of the mother until and unless the "life" either is born vaginally or by Caesarian section. Any premature baby, no matter how young, has to breathe on their own after leaving the womb, at least until the ventilator can be attached. There is recent medical documentation that suggests that the results of taking heroic measures on behalf of very early preemies has very questionable results from a "quality of life" standpoint.

The moral to this horrible tale of human suffering is this: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE WRITTEN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE DOCUMENTS. Legal authorities suggest storing them in a safe-deposit box. As for myself, I intend to make my Will known in another way: by distributively storing facsimilies of the documents with multiple individuals, and also on the Internet in scanned .PNG format. Remaining members of my family and trusted friends will get copies, and failing all those potential sources of the legal documents to make my wishes known, the documents will be available on the Internet, as close as a Google search for them, in multiple physical locations. Somehow or another, if I should find myself in such a situation, my wishes cannot help but be known this way.

Unfortunately my true wishes on the matter could not be carried out: if in poor Ms. Schiavo's situation, I would hope that someone would take a .357 Magnum, a .45, or any other sufficiently powerful firearm, and BLOW MY HEAD TO KINGDOM COME and release me to whatever happens next after death. Alas, a person carrying out my Will in this situation would be culpable for at least manslaughter if not Murder One. If in the future there is a law allowing the use of a lethal dose of some sort of narcotic or whatever in a situation where advance directives which specifically specify it can be legally followed, then yeah, do that. Death by OD is infinitely preferable to a slow death from starvation and dehydration, particularly if a person in a Persistent Vegetative State can feel physical pain and suffer. If such a law is never enacted, then I suppose death by starvation and dehydration is better than an indefinite "life" in limbo, trapped in a body that physically functions but with a mind that cannot.

Discussion on the Web about the Schiavo case:

Attempting to remain neutral:
Abstract Appeal: Terri Schavo Information Page

Pro-termination of nutrition:
RangelMD.Com: A Long Slow Death In Florida
Majikthise's Blog: Lies Terri Schiavo's Parents Told Me

Anti-termination of nutrition:
Beep's Journal: Unusual These Days For Me To Be On The Republican Side...
Penraker: Medical Experts Talk About Terri Schiavo Case

There are tons of others, but I chose two of the most eloquent and expressive opinions from both sides.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

From the "drafty, ain't it?" department...

"The little man from the draft board, he is coming to see me..."
-- Daffy Duck, 1945

When the notices come in, when every single young man and young woman aged 18-26 gets a lottery number in the mail and it's not a tip for your local state lottery, you can say, "John Kerry said it would be like this."

Thank the Goddess I'm 41. However, I fear for all my friends in whatever vulnerable age brackets there will be.

And geeks, ph34r with 6r34t ph34r, because the first people supposedly on the line in this draft will be those with network administration skills, along with doctors, dentists, nurses and those studying to be doctors, dentists and nurses.

Don't just trust me, mind's some links to chew on:
TheBlatantTruth.Org: Impending Draft
FromTheWilderness.Com:Murder By The Numbers -- The Spectre Of The Draft
Stars And Stripes(!): Army Vice-Chief Worried About Future of All-Volunteer Army
RollingStone.Com: The Return Of The Draft
Via OregonParentsUnited.Org: Family Circle: Could your child be drafted?
DailyKOS: Draft Must Be Ready In 75 Days!

This is fucked. Time to get into fight mode. Now.

Friday, March 18, 2005

An open letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, by me, in response to a letter her "PAC For A Change" sent me backing Phil Angelides for Governor of California in 2006. Yes, I'm really stirring things up with this. It's also on my Daily KOS blog too. Please spread this meme, folks: Draft Senator Boxer to Terminate Schwarzenegger 2006.

Dear Senator Boxer,
I appreciate your support for Phil Angelides. However, Angelides simply does not have what it takes to beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. However, you do.

Senator Boxer, if you challenged Arnold, he would fold like the girly-man he truly is underneath those steroid-enhanced muscles. You have the respect and the admiration of progressives up and down the State of California. You are a hero to us here in California. It takes a hero, not Meathead or Angelides, to go toe to toe with the Governator.

Please, Senator Boxer. I understand you are needed in the Senate. However, there are plenty of strong progressives in California who could continue your fight in the Senate. You are needed here, in the State House, to toss that bastard Schwarzenegger (excuse my language, but he really does make me mad) out and bring a progressive agenda back to the most forward-looking State in the Union.

Need I remind you how hard it is to run for the White House from the Senate, and how easy it is to run from the White House after at least one term as Governor of a state like California? This would be a stepping stone to your ultimate destiny: the first Woman President of the United States.

Please. Help get rid of the cancer on the State House that is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Run. Please.

S. Michelle Klein-Hass

Thursday, March 17, 2005

One last thing for the night: suddenly I'm not so much of an IBM fangirl anymore. I thought that firing a reservist for being called up was illegal. It certainly is immoral, regardless of what you think of the morality of the Iraq War. Thanks to Steve Gilliard for pointing this story out.

The Bio 3 test came back, and I got an 86/100. Not an "A" but a solid "B". The chemistry stuff in the test kicked my butt a little, but apparently everything else was happening. I'm hanging on with an A average.

I hope Dr. Roth likes my paper. I intend to expand the paper somewhat and then post it on the Internet...this is not for the benefit of plagiarists, mind you, but because I think it's got an important message. I put a speech I did for Speech 101 on the Internet because I feel that college students need to know the benefits of Free/Open Source software, and colleges and universities need to know how much money they would save by cutting their dependence on proprietary, high-cost software. (read: Windows) The paper I did for English 103 was about George W. Bush and why it might be that America is slipping into what can only be described as Fascism during his administration. When I get the extended "director's cut" of the paper done, I'll link it here.

Another one of my essays, which appeared here first, is apparently in a bit of demand, so I created a print version. The PDF looks like something curled up and died in it, though, so I'm going to tinker with OpenOffice.Org to get a better looking version of it together. I'll have printed copies available at the LA Needle Exchange meeting at Flor y Canto coffeehouse this Saturday.

All of a sudden I'm feeling a bit more confident. Not screwing up horribly on the test definitely helped. Being creative with words and being acknowledged for that creativity also does wonders for my self-esteem. Kewl.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Quick post...I actually got a passing score on my math test. Dunno about the Bio 3 test yet.

I really hope I can get on the stick and make this next week of non-scheduled time a working holiday. Do some serious woodshedding on the math, do some spring cleaning, get some shit ACCOMPLISHED, dammit...

Oh yeah: Bernie Ebbers convicted = GOOD. Senate vote OKs drilling in ANWR = BAD. Robert Blake gets his celeb "get out of jail free" card = BAD. Scott Peterson gets death penalty = Sorta good, but I would have liked him in solitary forever, with his only companion a picture of Lacy. Either that, or gut him like a fish and throw him in San Francisco Bay while he's still alive. Death's too good for people like him.

That is all. Geek signing out for the night.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Sage advice and a bit of thinking things over has basically helped me get over the funk I was in yesterday. Yeah, I'm going to go to Woodbury. I could conceivably attend three more courses at Valley and get in at Cal State University, Northridge, but Dr. Rosow told me just how bad things are at CSUN. "People can't get the courses they need there. You wouldn't just be setting yourself back another year, you might be setting yourself back two years if you go there. Woodbury is a nice little University and it's just as respected as CSUN."

As far as the debt stuff goes, I suppose that it is a fact of life anywhere I go. And another person I respect greatly pointed out that student loan debt isn't quite the same as, say, credit card debt or car-loan debt. It can be stretched out almost indefinitely and it doesn't impact your FICO unless you default on it.

As far as grades go, I need to remember an old chestnut. Take "The Serenity Prayer," cut all the religious crap out of it, and paraphrase:

Accept what can't be changed serenely. Change what can be changed. And make sure you know the difference between the two.

I can't change whatever differences exist in my brain that make math hard for me, language arts easy for me, and make science either a delight or a challenge depending on what we're working on. However, I can insist on more help, and I can take the time to actually do the fsckn work I need to do. I can either fsck off this coming Spring Break, or I can make it a working holiday and catch up on my math.

One thing that will be available to me at Woodbury that isn't available to me at LAVC is more personalized attention. LAVC has a student body in the tens of thousands. So does CSUN. Woodbury only has 1,400 students.

I'm hoping that I'm making the right decision.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I've tried to write in here for a couple of days, but every time I wrote something it was so personal and so scary that I would just stop and not post the resulting self-pitying screed.

Long story short, here's where I am.

1.) I am getting very burnt out at school. The past three semesters or so I have been a really hard-charger, getting all "A"s except for in math. And when it looked like I wasn't getting an A I would seriously bum out. Right now I have three difficult classes: Math 114, which is the second half of beginning Algebra; Biology 3 which is Bio+Lab for non-Biology majors; and English 103, which is English Composition and Critical Thinking. I am looking quite seriously at the prospect that I will not do as well on these classes as I have in the past, not only because they are difficult classes and in one case a difficult teacher, I know I have said this before but I really mean it this time. I might wind up with two Bs and a C if I'm not careful. Maybe all Cs. I don't know if I have the energy to pull these grades up. I know in the case of the Math my problems with taking Math tests have actually gotten worse instead of better...the anxiety surrounding taking tests really is crippling me.

2.) I am now not so sure that I want to go to Woodbury, because it's going to mean tons and tons of debt. I don't think that I can get into Cal State Northridge, and the UC system (as in UCLA) is inaccessible because of my lack of Foreign Language. So it is quite likely that if the financial aid package from Woodbury sucks as badly as I think it will, and I decide to not go on the hook for all the debt I will likely incur, I will be out of school for a while as I try to figure out what to do next. This is also why I changed the subtitle of my blog, because while I am still intent on reinventing myself, I don't know whether becoming a school counselor is in the cards for me.

3.) If I don't go back to school in Fall I suspect I'm going to have to get a J-O-B. With the gap in employment and the fact that I haven't been employed in my core competencies since 2000 I will probably only be able to get a "Mc Job" somewhere for minimum wage. Although minimum wage in California is not as bad as it is elsewhere in the US, it's still pretty damn sucky. $6.50/hr. Trade in your hours for a handful of dimes indeed.

4.) Life in the US is getting uglier and uglier with each passing day. The "Debt Peonage" Bankruptcy Bill is one of the reasons why I have been thinking twice about getting more indebted. The Senate passed it, it's now coming up in the House, and has a good chance of passing there. And you can bet that George W. Bush is going to sign it faster than a Texas Sidewinder catching a mouse. It's been two years of playing in the sand in Iraq and the boys and girls are still coming home in pine boxes. Nobody is talking anymore about the fishiness of the last Presidential election. Nobody is talking anymore about the fishiness of Election 2000. Nobody is talking about why it seems only Christian denominations get grants now under this "faith based" initiative thingy, and why Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists and Neo-Pagans are not. Nobody is talking about the fact that USA-PATRIOT is catching innocent people in its net while alQaeda still operates openly in many parts of the world. Robert Anton Wilson once said that if you face the world with more optimism every day, it's a sign you are getting more intelligent, while if you face the world with more pessimism every day it's a sign you are getting more stupid. Well then, I suppose I am getting more stupid, because it's looking pretty damn screwed up now. Someone pointed me to this footage through the DailyKOS, and if you have RealPlayer you would do well to check it out. Standard suggestions about alternative players like RealAlternative under Windows. Unfortunately the open-source Helix Player (By Real) won't play it...sigh...

"The biggest threat to America is that we are moving towards a Fascist Theocracy."
-- Frank Zappa, on CNN Crossfire. March 1986

Here we are, a little shy of 20 years since Zappa made that prediction, and he's 100% right on the money. He died before he could see it come to fruition, but I'm sure if he's in some afterlife he's alternately weeping for us US Citizens and enraged that George W. Bush took the direction he could see Ronald Reagan taking the US in and accelerated it over the cliff. If that clip interests you, I suggest you take a look at Zappa's facilitated autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book (an unsponsored Powells.Com link) and read what he has to say about music, politics, censorship and his own legend, the latter of which he enjoyed poking holes in at every opportunity.

Anyway, to bring it back to where my head is at now, things are pretty damn bleak, and getting bleaker. I have to be honest...I have thought of ending it all. However, I can't follow through with it, and here's why:

1.) I am not alone on this planet. There are people who would actually miss me, amazingly enough, and even though I suspect they all would be able to get over it and get on with their lives eventually, I shouldn't inflict cleaning up after the mess I'd no doubt leave as a suicide on them.

2.) There's a person out there in Cyberspace, she knows who she is, for whom I don't want to model suicide as an acceptable solution to one's problems. I care deeply about her, she's a young adult now and is making a life for herself. I don't want to go into anything more but I don't want to give her the message that suicide is acceptable. It isn't. It sucks.

Like Hamlet, I can't do away with myself, but for different reasons. He feared punishment in the Afterlife by an Angry Father God. I fear hurting people by the act. I can't say I believe in an afterlife in any way shape or form, just like I can't say I believe in any sort of higher power above and beyond myself in anything other than a metaphorical sense.

I don't know what direction I'm going to go. I'm stuck. I want to continue my education but I'm not sure how I'm going to do it without owing my soul to for the rest of my life. And the "real world" outside Academia is very, very grim indeed.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Celebs with blogs...interesting development.

It seems like Wil Wheaton reinventing his career through his blogging has influenced other celebs/ex-celebs to get into the blogging habit as well. Enter Rosie O' Donnell, and her blog...she's a neighbor here at Blogger/Blogspot. It's an unusual one, to say the least...she writes everything in free verse. Some might find that annoying but I kind of like's like you are eavesdropping on her mental processes.

I wish her well. I had no idea how close she is to my age, and how she's of my own weird "Am I a boomer or am I Gen-X?" generationlet. I wish her well, and hope she will be able to reinvent herself too.

Once upon a time I was part of the poetry scene here in LA...god that feels like a lifetime ago. I wish the poetry muse would come back to stay but it kind of left me the day that I got the news my Mom was dying of cancer, and the guy who ran the Iguana Cafe blew up at me for delegating running the poetry night to my two most trusted friends. He banished us all that night, me, Emily Papa, Greg Segal, my husband Richie...what a dick. The place closed about a year later...karma has a way of coming back when you burn too many bridges.

It also seems like the FEC is having second thoughts about regulating blogs. A lot of people whom you wouldn't think would stick up for bloggers are doing exactly that. I suppose as long as I don't reprint press releases here I'll be pretty safe. I'm good at paraphrasing. Oh yeah, this blog is not for sale. I won't take any money from anyone, blue or red, left, right, center or otherwise. Any opinions here are strictly my own.

One last thing about the Rosie blog: she has the guts to put comments up. After what I went through with the original incarnation of MsGeek.Org, I decided to keep comments hidden. Once bitten, twice shy, and all that.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Back to the Workhouse with you, say the friends of the Credit Card industry...

Just to clear up something...the names I posted in yesterday's entry were the Dems who voted yes to "invoking cloture" on the filibuster against the Bankruptcy Bill. The "real" vote happened today in the Senate, and it passed...thanks in part to these dumb Dems.

The Roll of Shame:
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Byrd (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)
Conrad (D-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Stabenow (D-MI)

Both Boxer and Feinstein voted nay, and surprisingly so did Lieberman.

I wonder how many people on this list are up for re-election?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Double ack...

Yeah, the math test was pretty damn traumatic. I don't think I did so well, but I was able to do more than I thought I could. Here's what I'm going to do from here on out: I'm going to go back into my math book and do more of the work I should have done out of the gate. I should do at least a few problems in the book daily. No matter what.

I have some other work I need to do this weekend too, like studying up for my Bio 3 exam, going to the "Body Worlds" exhibit to pick up some helpful extra credit points for Bio 3, and putting finishing touches on my paper for English 103. I took a little time out and had the paper checked out by a volunteer at the Writing Center, and he seemed to think it was Kosher.

I really, truly need an A from both English 103 and Bio 3 to keep my GPA up. And it wouldn't hurt if I got a better-than C score on Math 114. It would definitely hurt if I failed, though.

A few further observations before I bail for the night: Dan Rather went out with class. There's a bunch of Dems who should be ashamed of themselves for voting yea on the questionable "bankruptcy reform" bill, here's the list:
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Thankfully none of them are from California.

One last thing...I am having major arthritis pain...I started feeling it last night and tonight I feel ready for Knacker's Yard. I'm just waiting for the Ibuprofen to kick in, then I'm turning in. Burnt the midnight oil two nights in a row...I need sleep. Hopefully my goddamn neck and left shoulder will let me...sigh.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Since I'm still up...happy International Women's Day to all my readers.

Monday, March 07, 2005


I only got a B on that Hamlet exam. I think it wasn't a question of not studying enough, but studying too much. Next time I'd better just devour that study guide because basically the prof is spoonfeeding us the answers on that study guide. Or at least the ones he wants us to regurgitate, anyway. :P

The math test is coming up on Wednesday and I don't really think I'm ready. Oh well, you get one throwaway test, so maybe I will survive a crummy grade this time.

The fscked thing is that it takes me a really, really long time to catch on to a given concept. I have a hard time "getting it" although oddly enough algebra is easier for me to grasp than arithmetic. I have to console myself with the examples of Einstein and Poincare and how they couldn't do an easy thing like balance a checkbook but could do the most abstract, obscure mathematics...stuff that people are still trying to understand.

At least I think I'm doing ok on Bio 3, but that test is Monday...eep...

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Kimono wrapup. (pun intended)

I have the Insta-Obi finished. I wound up putting two strips of velcro on the Obi, at the very edge of each end and at the point where the Obi fits perfectly around my waist. However, I am going to have to make a self-belt out of remaining Kimono fabric, or maybe something else like cotton, because trying to keep the kimono wrapped right, and getting the Insta-Obi fastened is a task for people with more than two arms. Suddenly the complex litany of what you have to wear along with your kimono makes total sense. Try tying a real Obi as part of dressing yourself...whoa.

However, the finished product looks good. I have some pix...just have to yoink them off my camera.

I now have enough fabric to make three more of these...I found some fabric at $1/yard, so I grabbed six yards. Purple 100% cotton fabric. So I can make a Fuu-type kimono plus a white under-kimono for the Fuu kimono, plus another cotton kimono in purple. Actually these are all more accurately called yukata, including the one I just finished. A kimono is lined. All this fabric needs to be laundered for shrinkage purposes.

I have other patterns I want to play with, and I want to get patterns that will work with the lessons in that old Simplicity sewing how-to book. Maybe I should buy more of that $1/yard purple cotton never ends...

Friday, March 04, 2005

Pallas Athene unspooled: a feminist needlecraft manifesto.

Feminists taking up knitting? Sewing? What the hell is going on here, and why am I a part of it? Is this another sign of the moribund state of feminism during the Dubya age? Is the sky falling? What's up with this?

Yes, needlecraft has been, for the past 7,000 years, associated with the domestic captivity of women. Yes, it has been pushed as a socially acceptable hobby by male-dominated churches, states, and corporations. But needlecraft's history didn't start 7,000 years has a longer history than that, which reaches back before the theorized advance of patriarchal nomadic herder cultures on peaceful, egalitarian Neolithic agrarian cultures.

In those cultures, women did seem to do most of the duties surrounding the construction of clothing: weaving, sewing, spinning, knitting, etc. However, they also did seem to do most of the duties surrounding the Goddess-centric religions of the day, and also did seem to have the upper hand surrounding decision making for the village. The menfolk would work in the fields and build houses and temples and so forth, and also they would mine and forge tools from copper and bronze. Perfectly understandable considering how the male and female homo sapiens sapiens evolved. Basically the point I'm making here is that needlecraft was not invented by The Man to keep womyn down. It was a technology created so that people could have clothing that protected them from the elements. Very necessary to survive ice ages and to settle latitudes above and below the tropics.

Just as the second wave of feminism broke during the 1970s, men got their first taste of needlecraft as a hobby. One must credit macho American Rules Football player Rosey Grier for coming out of the closet about the fact that needlepoint, a trendy hobby for soccer moms in those days was his hobby too. Would you believe Grier, now a Christian minister, still does needlepoint? Indeed. With the current popularity of knitting and crocheting, there are some men taking up the hobby too. Russell Crowe, the macho "Gladiator?" Badass actor Larry Fishburne? Yes, they have been sighted in public with knitting needles and yarn.

There are legitimate reasons for progressives to take this up as a hobby. The problem of sweatshops continues to vex those of conscience. That t-shirt or pair of jeans or sweater you buy at Wally*World cheaply was likely made by a pre-teen girl in the third world who should be in school but can't go because 1.) her family can't afford it; 2.) her family needs the pittance she brings in for financial support; and 3.) her family puts little to no importance on its daughters being educated -- her mother is probably illiterate, so was her mother's mother, and so on through time. While finding fair trade fabric and yarn is pretty hard right now, by making your own clothing you are at least cutting out part of the exploitation in the clothing production chain. You didn't get that handmade sweater from a did it yourself. And that feels good.

Another thing that feels good is the fact that knitting, crocheting, embroidering, sewing, etc. seems to have a positive effect on stress levels and overall relaxation. I suppose that wouldn't be the case if one was trying to finish holiday gifts in time to give them, to give an example, or trying to finish a costume for cosplay at an anime convention that will be happening that weekend. But when there is no deadline pressure, and you are kicking back anyway, it's relaxing. I've noticed how my normally jumpy personality smooths out and chills out when I'm sewing. It's almost a zen state of consciousness. The needle and thread are sewing the fabric. I'm a hollow bamboo in the forest. ;-)

So yeah, it's perfectly acceptable to be a feminist and be into needlecraft. You will probably be less stressed and more relaxed than your non-sewing/knitting/crocheting sisters. Also, when you make something for yourself or to give as a gift that's one less garment you are buying that was made in a sweatshop.

Why the reference to Pallas Athene in the title, though? Well, Athena was such a kewl goddess that they ascribed lots and lots of pursuits under her patronage. As well as being the patron goddess of the patriarchal polis of Athens, she was credited as inventing weaving, sewing, mathematics, logic, philosophy and the olive tree. She turned Arachne into a spider when Arachne beat her at weaving. In the patriarchal milieu of ancient Greece, Athena was perhaps the only third-dimensional female character in the Pantheon. Hera was a bitch who got back at her philandering husband by trickery and sabotage. Artemis was an echo of an earlier time, a protectress-of-game-animals sort of goddess who was probably put in the Pantheon because she was revered in prehistoric times. And Aphrodite was...let's be blunt here...a slut. Athena had a heart and a mind and an indomitable spirit, kept indomitable by not having a consort at a time when married women were literally chattel. It is to the archetype of Pallas Athene, brainchild, warrior woman and weaver, I dedicate this piece.

Feminist needlecraft links:
Stitch n' Bitch US
Stitch n' Bitch UK
Stitch n' Bitch Los Angeles, CA, US
Guardian Unlimited: Stitch n' Bitch article
Los Angeles Needle Exchange, another feminist needlecraft group
The Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society Live Journal community

Sweatshop resource links:

Also make sure you follow my affiliate link to No Sweat Apparel if you're in the market for sweatshop-free T-Shirts, active wear and high-top sneakers.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Kimono project comes to successful completion!

Today I finished the kimono I started at Anime LA. I hope to get an insta-Obi made so I can take pix in it soon. I even got out the embroidery floss and embroidered a little cherry blossom at the nape of the's customary if a kimono or haori does not have a back seam (you can get away with that when you use wide Western-style fabrics) that you embroider a little good-luck symbol there. I decided on a cherry blossom because: 1.) we had "Cherry Blossom Time" here in my little corner of the world two weeks or so ago between rainstorms; 2.) a cherry blossom has five petals, reminiscent of the five points of the pentagram, the symbol of humanity as microcosm of the Universe according to Western Magick and Neo-Paganism; and 3.) there were little stylized flowers, some looking like cherry blossoms, in the pattern of the fabric.

I'm very proud...redoing the collar has kind of been a symbol of taking something started by someone else and making it my own. I think this can be easily replicated in the future. Once I figured out the need to angle the front flaps, everything just proceeded from there.

I didn't do this on the sewing machine because I was afraid of screwing the garment up with my spastic sewing. Now that this is out of the way I can concentrate on getting my skills honed with the sewing machine, and then perhaps make a couple more kimonos like this on the machine. I have enough cotton fabric to make one white kimono and one pink/rose kimono ala Fuu from Samurai Champloo... the white one would be worn under the rose/pink one as a "slip". I just have to put it through the wash to pre-shrink it before proceeding. I'm torn about whether I want to take advantage of one of my patterns or just do it the patternless way we did it at Anime LA. If I do it patternless I can keep the patterns for reference material, to see if I can refine the patternless process.

The insta-Obi idea came from not one, not two, but three different commercial patterns. The way I'm going to do it is like this: first, make a long, wide belt that is a little longer than the girth of my waist. Yes, that takes some doing and more fabric than I'd want anyone to know about. I'm thinking a finished width of 6" to 8". It also takes fusible interfacing to give the fabric body. A cord or ribbon that goes four times around the girth of my waist would be attached to the dead center of the belt, and Velcro would be used to fasten the ends of the belt. After attaching the belt and moving it around the waist so that the attached part of the cord would be right in front, I would wind the cord first in back of me, then in front of me, then tie the cord.

The first one I'm going to do is in plain black satin with a gold (not metallic, gold-colored) silky cord. The next one will be the one with the Kitty-chan fabric and some black ribbon to tie it with. I am thinking the Kitty-chan pattern is too busy to wear with the kimono I just finished, but it'll be fine for the future.

Anyway, this gives me a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Yay for me!

They can take my blog when they pry it from my cold, dead hands. Seriously.

According to C|Net news, the Federal Election Commission is looking at regulating blogs. This is 100%, unmitigated, total freakin' bull. WTF is next...regulating bumperstickers? T-Shirts?

BTW, the judge who says we might have to regulate blogs is the same one, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who sent Bill Gates off with a rap on the knuckles and a wink after another judge said that Microsoft deserves to be broken up for its misdeeds.

This is MY SOAPBOX. My own private speaker's corner. Yeah, I write about political's my prerogative to do so, according to the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. I also write about a lot of other school career, my hobbies, geeky stuff. This is not primarily a political blog. Politics is only part of it.

Regardless, I think that the government should keep their grubbies off of political blogs, be they DailyKOS, Little Green Footballs, or Capitol Hill Blue. (To give but three examples from different portions of the political spectrum.) Even in the case of Talon News, which seems to have been a shill for the GOP, one must give the benefit of the doubt. That's one of the things we have to put up with under the First Amendment.

From my cold, dead hands, baby. Bring it on.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

One other thing...Megatokyo's down. Just when it was getting really, really good, too! I was hoping to hear about what favor Ping-chan wants Piro to do today, but no such luck. (No, it's not hentai...Ping's a non-ecchi model, and Megatokyo's a non-ecchi comic! You and your dirty mind!)

Good luck bringing Megatokyo back up, Fred and Sarah!

Well, the English 103 test was certainly anti-climax. After all my musings on Hamlet of yesterday, and the amount of study of the text, all the answers were on a little "study guide" the Prof gave us on Monday. :P It's weird...I feel gypped. I wanted to write something. Something along the lines of what is here in my blog. Oh well, that will have to do.

I am not prepared for this pre-test in Math 114. I'm actually not prepared for the actual test that counts. Richie really doesn't have the time to give me to help...he's too busy with students and bands. I had a fairly productive session with Prof. Carthew on Tuesday during his office hours, but I don't know how much that will help. I have let the Woodbury Connection people know about my predicament and they say they might have help for me next week. Too late for this test, but thankfully Prof. Carthew drops the lowest test grade. The combination of the cold/flu thingy I had earlier this month and increase in math anxiety and avoidant maladaptive coping behavior (yes, that's a mouthful) has really put the hurt on me.

One thing I did accomplish last night: my redo of the kimono collar was 100% successful. Basically the instructions on Dindrane's goth website are fairly accurate save for construction information (which Jess didn't need) and the need for an extra step on the front flaps. The extra step is this: after attaching the front flaps to the back piece and sewing the sides and top (leaving the arm holes) you have to fold the flap fabric in, like dog-earing a corner in a book, until the flap makes a proper right triangle. This assumes you haven't flipped the fabric from "wrong side" to "right side"...if you did that, flip it right back before you do this step, because basically you are creating an angled portion of the flap. The long side (hypotenuse) of this right triangle is the angle you want the collar attached to.

This step, of course, means that the cutting step for Measurement F needs to be reassessed. However, this piece of fabric might be useful as a self-belt for the kimono that can be used in place of or under an obi. The way I did it was to measure the two angled sides of the front flap, plus the part of the back piece not attached to the side flaps, and sum those measurements together. You take that measurement as the length of the fabric you need, then give this strip a width of about 6 inches. That's the collar. Proceed as directed with the collar, but bear in mind it only will extend as long as this angled portion of the front flaps. Make sure you hem the side that has selvage, and sew the selvage edge to the "wrong side" of the front flaps and back. A piece of fusible interfacing roughly 4 1/2" wide by as long as the collar piece length can be ironed into the collar piece before folding it over and attaching it to itself. The seam made by attaching the collar piece should be completely inside the also adds the body needed for the collar to stand up right.

If you do the collar right you have a pretty accurate kimono. I have a couple of hems to do and then I am done. I think I might contact this person Dindrane and tell him/her about my findings. It really is handy to do this by measurement instead of by pattern. Considering how expensive patterns get, and their essentially fungible nature unless you take great pains to preserve the pattern, this would probably be the best way to replicate this project. I really can't see a good way of doing the collar by machine, because the best way of attaching it is an overcast stitch that I'm not sure can be properly done with a machine. But all the other seams are doable by hand or machine...I'm not using the machine I have on this project because I'm still klutzy with machine seams and I don't want to screw the kimono up.

I will have pix here when it's done. I want to also do an insta-Obi based on some of the patterns I have, and I want to do it with a solid color as opposed to the cute, but busy Hello Kitty-chan print fabric I have. The Kitty-chan print would be nice with a solid color kimono or one with print on discrete areas of the kimono...vide Fuu-chan from Samurai Champloo for what I mean.

If this Dindrane person is cool with my revising her instructions I'll write this all up. I think that some instructions for attaching the pieces would be helpful too.

One last thing: Mother Teresa was not a feminist. So this "feminist of the day" entry today is 100% wrong. Oh yeah, I have something to say about feminism and the newly trendy rediscovery of needlecraft. I want to elaborate on this at length, but suffice it to say for now that I don't think this is a reaction against feminism but rather the reclamation of something associated with traditional femininity by feminists. They don't call it Stitch and Bitch for nothing. :-)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

In like a lion...

Tomorrow I have two tests: a practice Math 114 test and a real test on Shakespeare's Hamlet. My continuing struggles with Math is something with which one who was keeping up with this blog would be well acquainted. As far as the Melancholy Dane goes, however, I have run into some unexpected difficulty.

Most important is this: I don't buy into his predicament. The story only "works" if you accept two premises: that the Catholic view of the nature of ultimate reality is a true view, and that furthermore unless Hamlet avenges the death of his father and namesake, the shade of King Hamlet is doomed to an eternity in Purgatory, never emerging into Heaven nor evil enough to be damned. Of course, Mel Gibson buys into both premises with gusto, so his Hamlet is actually quite impressive. (We watched the movie in class.)

However, to my way of looking at things, Hamlet is an absurd man in an absurd predicament.

1.) I don't buy what the Catholic Church sells about Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Christ as propitiatory sacrifice, etc. etc.

2.) The ghost of King Hamlet is not necessarily what he seems to be. If looked at from a materialist point of view, King Hamlet is a hallucination that Prince Hamlet shares with a few members of the Danish Army. As it is, King Hamlet's ghost speaks only to the rest, he is a mute hallucination of a beloved ruler. It is established in the play that King Hamlet was a good ruler, beloved by his people, and it is not only young Prince Hamlet who pines for him and wears the clothes of mourning. His apparition is wish fulfillment for the loyal subjects who guard Castle Elsinore and an extension of the psychological torment of Prince Hamlet.

3.) Prince Hamlet, basically, is a depressed, spoiled teenager who spends too much time reading philosophical and religious texts and not enough time with his peers. If this was modern-day America or Europe, he'd be a Goth for sure. He's got a crush on Ophelia, who seems to be somewhat inclined to be interested but is ambivalent. She's gotten bad advice from her brother Laertes and her father Polonius about Hamlet's intentions, and this only compounds the situation.

4.) Prince Hamlet would rather be an actor than the King of Denmark. That's basically where he's at. Rule means responsibility, and that's something that Hamlet is allergic to. He'd have no trouble portraying a king, but to really be one? Not for this boy.

5.) Prince Hamlet has every reason to not kill King Claudius, but only one reason to kill him, and that is to avenge the shade of his father King Hamlet. If he kills King Claudius, the crown would naturally fall to him. There is no indication he has brothers or sisters, so basically one can assume he's the sole heir. The current situation sickens him. In most cultures, the union of Claudius and Queen Gertrude is not incestuous. For instance, in Jewish households it is not only permissible for a brother to marry the wife of his dead brother, but considered a "mitzvah," a good deed and the fulfillment of divine commandment. However, in Medieval Denmark, it is considered incest. There is also the outside chance that he could himself perish for the deed of Regicide if he kills King Claudius. No matter how enthusiastically Prince Hamlet ponders suicide, he is not ready to die.

6.) There is plenty of other ethical reasons to not resort to vengeance. Vengeance tends to breed vengeance. One need only look at the shambles that are the inner cities of America to see the mischief cycles of revenge have wrought. To quote a Japanese proverb: "He who seeks revenge should first dig two graves." Both Judaism and Biblical Christianity also counsel against vengeance, for it is G_d's place to take revenge.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

-- Romans 12:19
To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

-- Deuteronomy 32:35

So basically even if one saw themselves as a devout Catholic, as Prince Hamlet did, revenge is a bad idea.

What then should Prince Hamlet have done in this case? Perhaps he should have taken the trip to England, after first exchanging the death warrants of his false friends Rosenkranz and Guilderstern. With them out of the way, and him presumed dead, he could take up a new life as an actor. The cycle of revenge is broken. Of course, if one bought into the religious dimensions of the story, he would have buggered out on his filial duty and left King Hamlet to an uncertain fate. But if one did not, no harm, no foul, as the deceased Ethical Philosopher Chick Hearn would say.

For the sake of the test, I suppose I should take the whole thing at face value, including for the sake of the story accepting the ethics and metaphysics of this peculiar brand of Catholicism. But I have to say that, from my own perspective, the predicament is absurd, and Hamlet is an absurd man.