10 Things Amanda Marcotte Would Tell Anti-Choicers

This is a genius list. But first, recent abortion wars news:

Every day I read about absurd pieces of legislation that are specifically written to limit access to abortion or reproductive choice. Today’s Bill-O’-Fun-and-Oppression comes out of North Carolina.

Earlier this week the NC House managed to override the state governor’s veto on a bill that would require all women who seek an abortion to undergo a a 24-hour waiting period, an ultrasound, a detailed description of the fetus and state-mandated “counseling”. Today, the NC Senate  passed that bill 29-19.

This intrusive government-mandated health care now requires that every women have her ultrasound 24 hours in advance of the procedure, regardless of whether the woman is a victim of incest or rape or medical necessity, and regardless of whether she wishes to accept the state’s kind offer to waste her time with unsolicited, unnecessary medical procedures and lectures about “other options”. Book your hotel room now if you’ve traveled a distance to one of the eight cities in North Carolina that currently have abortion clinics – you’re going to be there for a few days. And so sorry if you can’t find the money for a hotel, or obtain transportation, or find childcare for several days, or take time off of work. Maybe you’d just better have that kid; in the short term it will be much easier than terminating your pregnancy. The pro-lifers in the North Carolina legislature can assure you of that.

And now on to Amanda Marcotte’s Awesome List of Awesome. Here are 10 very good points which people entrenched in the anti-choice movement ignore completely. But if you’re one of those people who have always identified as pro-life (then you’re probably not reading this blog, but just in case), but you’ve never really given the issue a lot of thought, check out Ms. Marcotte’s full article on AlterNet, in which she goes into detail about why each of the statements below is true. Or if you support reproductive rights, read her piece to brush up your knowledge on why abortion isn’t evil.

10 Things Amanda Marcotte Would Say to the Anti-Choice Fanatics Trying to End Access to Abortion

  1. Most abortions take place early in pregnancy.
  2. If not for anti-choicers, even more women would get abortions much earlier in their pregnancies.
  3. Doctors perform late term abortions because of medical indications, often on women who desperately wanted the baby.
  4. Women who get abortions aren’t afraid of being mothers.
  5. Abortion is physically safe.
  6. Abortion is mentally safe.
  7. Women who get abortions take responsibility for their decision.
  8. Abortion providers are responsible medical professionals who work to make sure their patients are healthy and avoid future unintended pregnancies.
  9. Women get abortions because they’re being responsible.
  10. Conservative policies cause the abortion rate to be higher than it needs to be.

That was a good Monday

Not the work part. At work there were some things, and then there was some stuff, so the work part of Monday was just meh. But after work has been fun!

Last week I was invited to write a blog post about my experience with Virtual Drinking Skeptically, a social videoconferencing group that brings people together to discuss skeptic topics. My piece is just a write-up of a recent VDS event, but I was honored to be asked to write about it, and today it was published on the Virtual Drinking Skeptically website. So that was cool.

After work I went to the doctor for a routine check up and then I had dinner plans with some friends. My appointment was done at 4:15 and dinner wasn’t until 6:30, so I decided to stop in to Half Price Books. I don’t know why I did that; I have an entire five-shelf bookcase filled with books that I haven’t read yet. But (as always), I made a great find:

Background: So, I’m all excited about going to Dragon*Con this year, right? I’m so excited that I forced my Mom to listen while I listed and described all of the different tracks that will be available at the convention. She perked up a bit when I told her that there is an entire track devoted to Anne McCaffrey. I confided that I hadn’t read anything by McCaffery and she ordered me to go read The Ship Who Sang. I’m easy so I put it on my must acquire and read list.

I couldn’t get it at Barnes and Noble without a special order, and there weren’t any copies conveniently located at the local library. I went online to purchase an e-book, but ended up finding a free PDF of the book instead. Unfortunately there were typos in it and I couldn’t download it to my phone without paying for it. But, I started reading it on the computer and was hooked.

It’s a really interesting story: In the future those who are born with physical disabilities but healthy brains are either euthanized or turned into “shell-people”; brains that control machinery. They are individuals with rights, and are self-aware, highly intelligent and possess a wide range of human emotions. They are employed by the Central Worlds to do things like man spaceships. The Ship Who Sang is about a shell-person named Helva and the adventures she has with her various “brawns” – the pilots who accompany her on her missions.

So, to bring a long story to an end, I was very excited to find the first three books in the series at the used bookstore, and as soon as I’m done with this blog I intended to spend the rest of the evening finishing The Ship Who Sang.

This next part is a little gossipy and petty, but I like it.

After Half Price Books I still had a little over an hour until dinner. I stopped in to a Caribou Coffee to sit back in one of their big comfy reading chairs, drink a frosty summer coffee drink, read and check the Twitters. Sadly, the comfy chairs were taken up by a man and his two young daughters. And when I say taken up, I mean I think they had moved in a few days ago. They had two netbooks on the table, the girls were laying on the couch watching a movie on a third computer, magazine were strewn every which way and the dad had his socked feet on the coffee table and was reading a book. Ah well, there were plenty of the hard high-back chairs so I took a table nearby the comfy chairs in case the man and his daughters left.

About 10 minutes after I sat down I heard the Dad say, “Girls, let’s go next door and have some dinner.” So they get up and leave their shit all over the comfy chairs. All over MY comfy chair. That’s not cool! You don’t get to hog all of the good comfy chair seating in the coffee shop while you go to dinner! And they left all of their expensive stuff just sitting there for any yahoo to steal. So…I go up to the barista and say, “I just heard that man tell his daughters that they should go get some dinner, and they left all of their computers and stuff behind.” The barista gave me a look like she understood the situation perfectly, and with a slightly naughty look said, “Really? They left? Hmmm…maybe I should put it behind the counter so nobody steals it.” And she did. She gathered up all of their junk, put it in a box and put the box behind the counter. When dude came back 30 minutes later he saw me reclining on “his” chair and said, “Hey, I had a bunch of stuff over here.” I gave him big doe eyes and said, “Yeah, the barista put it behind the counter so no one would steal it. You had, like, three laptops just sitting out in the open.” He got all sputtery and mad.

And then it was exactly time to go to dinner.

Dinner was…oh, dinner was fabulous. I went for sushi with five lady-friends and we had a ball talking pop culture, books, travel, food and all of those other relaxing dinner topics. We ordered a ton of appetizers, drinks, one of those big sushi boats, and a few desserts at the end of the meal. The food was very good and reasonably priced. If you’re looking for sushi in the Lakes/Uptown area of Minneapolis I highly recommend Wakame.

And now if you’ll excuse me…the shell-people are waiting.

Atheists Don’t Swear Oaths On Darwin.

I’m a fan of Mike Peter’s Mother Goose & Grimm comic strip. I’ve been reading the adventures of Grimmy, Atilla the Cat, Mom, Ralph and the many other side characters featured in Mother Goose & Grimm since I was a little girl too young to understand the jokes. Also, I agree with a lot of Mike Peter’s political cartoons and editorials.

But I was disappointed with yesterday’s MG&G.

The comic presents the idea that atheists worship Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection as Christians worship the bible. The joke isn’t funny because I would bet that a lot of people have this misconception about atheists. If it’s taken as truth, then it’s not really a joke. As one lovely gentleman from the comic’s online comments section wrote in response to a man who said the comic wasn’t funny to him:

As an atheist I am frustrated by the connection of my lack of belief in gods to evolution; while of course related, the two have little to do with each other. I learned about and accepted evolution over a decade before I embraced atheism (for a long time I was a fan of the idea that God created the process of evolution). This comic muddies the water about the relationship between atheism and evolution, and has the potential to negatively influence public understanding of the relationship between the two.

While it’s true that atheists can decline to swear on a bible, so can anyone. Before testifying, a person must assure the court that they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Traditionally people swear to Almighty God because we have a little (teensy tiny) issue with Christian privilege in this country. In that situation one is swearing under pain and penalty of God’s judgement that they will not tell a lie. If you chose to not swear an oath to God, you may solemnly and sincerely affirm, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that you won’t fib to judge and jury.

On a side note, the portrayal of the atheist as a middle-aged white male feeds into the stereotype that all atheists are…middle-aged white men (with lots of crazy facial hair). Not true.

And one more point: “Atheist” can be a scary word, and being known as an atheist is a scary idea for some people. There are notions that atheists are god-denying (we are), creation-denying (that one too) trouble-makers (not all of us) who would refuse to swear an oath on a bible in court (a lot of us in some situations might) just to cause a stir (but not for that reason). But I think that it would take some courage to refuse to “place a hand on the bible” in front of a room full of strangers who are expecting you to do just that. Swearing before god might make you look more trustworthy to a judge or jury, while refusing to swear before god might make you look less so, and could have serious outcomes for your case. The comic isn’t funny because we might be brave enough to ask for a secular affirmation before testifying. Or we might not. It’s a tough position to be in.

Putting out a comic strip that is published in over 800 newspapers which 1)encourages public misunderstanding about the connection between atheism and evolution and 2)makes light of atheists who are in the difficult position of having to either swear an oath they don’t believe in or ask for a secular affirmation which might damage their case - isn’t funny, it’s potentially damaging, thoughtless and cruel.

Heat Wave

Wowza it’s hot!

I love me some warm days. I’m happiest when we have a sunny, low-humidity 85-90F day. But over the past couple of days it’s been more like 90-100F with humidity so thick that I could swim through it. I guess this is the price we pay for having so much lovely water up here.

Speaking of which, I wasn’t able to convince the Hubby to go tubing this weekend. Doesn’t this look like a great way to spend a hot, steamy summer day?

But I understand the Hubby’s hesitation. The place to go tubing around here is the Apple River in Somerset, WI. On weekends it’s usually crowded with drunken 20-somethings (and older people who act like they’re still in their 20-somethings), and subsequently by Sunday afternoon the shallow river probably has an even ratio of river water to urine. The nice, calm photo above is NOT from the Apple River. This is what a weekend jaunt down the Apple often looks like:

As a woman named Sarah describes in her blog (the photo above is from her blog), it’s pretty much Girls Gone Wild Apple River. I don’t mind some alcohol and rauchiness, but this is way over the top. Ah well.

We decided to go for a motorcycle ride instead. I found a couple of routes that wound down from Shakopee to Mankato on motorcycleroads.us. When we were riding through twisty, wooded backroads we experienced dips in temperature as we drove into and out of valleys. The roads were gorgeous, green, uncrowded, relaxing and a great way to explore MN in the summer and stay cool.

A short stop on the Scenic Byway between Henderson and Le Sueur.

Neat bridge structures near Mankato.

Lush, green farmland located five minutes south of Mankato.

Saturday Evening – Tim Minchin

Aaron and I rode our bicycles downtown from South Minneapolis and were dripping in sweat by the time we arrived at the theater (but we didn’t have to pay for parking – cheapskate win!), but the lobby was cool and we were comfortable by the time the show started.

Tim Minchin delivered a uproariously entertaining mix of standup comedy and music. He accompanied himself on piano for most of his songs, and had recorded musical backups for Statistically Accurate Love Song and the live version of his beat poem “Storm”. He did two encores: White Wine in the Sun and a cover of Hallelujah that was absolutely breathtaking. Not only can the man sing something fierce, he managed to get a room which had a high proportion of religious skeptics and atheists to croon the word “Hallelujah” with deep emotion. Nicely done, sir!

Sunday was. too. hot.

On Sunday I decided it would be a good idea for me, the Hubby and the dog to walk 3/4  mile to the grocery store to pick up bread and OJ. At about 1/2 mile in we realized that this may not have been the most brilliant idea I’ve ever had. Luckily we had brought water for the dog, and the Hubby and I took turns going into the grocery store air conditioning before walking back. We both took showers when we arrived home. The dog flopped on the living room floor and didn’t  move much for a good long while.

So we made Sunday a Chores In The Air Conditioning Day. We did laundry, dishes, bills and bit of organizing. And…oh, and these are very exciting:

  • We booked flights to Seattle to visit my sister and brother-in-law at the end of August! We’re going to go hiking and scuba diving and exploring in the upper East (correction: West) corner of Washington state. My sis assures me it’s gorgeous out there.
  • And, and – I’m going to Dragon*Con! I have a hotel room and I booked my flight to Atlanta!

Not only am I going to Dragon*Con, but I’m going to be sharing a hotel room with two good friends from the Twin Cities. This will be my first BIG scifi/fantasy convention and I am pumped. I’m looking at the different tracks (panels, presentations, demos, etc), the featured events, contests and celebrities that will be at Dragon*Con, and my mind is blown. I need to come up with a costume. I’ve got a few ideas, but nothing solid yet.

Oh, and here’s the really awesome part – I leave for Dragon*Con less than eight hours after I get back from Seattle, which means I get to take a LOT of time off from work at once (and I can tell you all of this this because my on-site caretaker is big and mean and doesn’t take kindly to trespassers)!

Yippie! I’m super excited.

Yeah, I said yippie.

She’s been found not guilty, so drop it.

I didn’t follow the Casey Anthony trial.

I read about the case about a month ago and it sounded like a horrible tragedy, similar to a handful of other horrible tragedies in recent news. Last week I happened to be in a place where they were showing a live broadcast of the judge reading the jury’s verdicts. There were seven separate charges, but the gist of it seemed to be not guilty on killing her daughter, guilty on lying to the cops.

The most disturbing thing about the broadcast was watching the “people on the street” interviews that happened immediately after the verdicts were announced. And by interviews I mean, the mob outside of the courthouse frothing at the mouth and screaming into the microphone when it came anywhere near them.  The “interviews” went on for quite a while, and more than a few crazed yahoos had a chance to yell threats about what they’d do to Casey Anthony if they met her in a dark alley, or proclaim that the justice system is broken, or lament the travesty of justice that had occured, or that you bet your ass they would have voted differently.

And this week, this happened. From News9.com

CHOUTEAU, Oklahoma — An apparent case of mistaken identity almost cost one Oklahoma woman her life. The Chouteau woman says someone tried to kill her because she looks like Casey Anthony, who, as of July 14, was still jailed halfway across the country in Florida.

The Casey Anthony trial was not a reality TV show, and the audience does not get to vote in the outcome. We have a set process with lawyers, aids, a judge and in this case, a twelve-person jury. And. We. Were. Not. A. Part. Of. It. We do not get to help decide this one, and we do not get to take justice into our own hands because the jury didn’t give us blood.

The jury members may or may not have thought that Casey Anthony killed her daughter. But whatever they thought of her guilt, the fact of it is we are innocent until proven guilty in this country, and the jury decided that there was not enough evidence to prove that Casey Anthony was guilty. That’s what is so wrong about the words, threats and actions of the crazed yahoos – they decided that what they *thought* was enough to justify a guilty verdict and evidence be damned.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t followed the story, and what I know about trial procedure (and pehaps the entire field of US  law) could fit into the period at the end of this sentence. So I couldn’t tell you if I believe that the jury made a good decision. We have to assume that they followed the regulations of current trial process and gave an honest decision based on the available evidence.

So that’s it. Drop it. Stop with the Dexter jokes, stop with the whispering about conspiracies, stop with the calls for vigilante justice. It’s disgusting, and it reflects poorly on all of us.

Tattoo Thoughts

I received my first tattoo when I turned 18, for typical 18 year-old reasoning: “Ooo naughty!” and “Only $100 you say?” $100 was just enough to make it seem like a meaningful decision – money was sacrificed, therefore the commodity which was purchased was worthwhile.

I’m not proud of my first tattoo, although neither am I embarrassed or ashamed by it. My first tattoo is a piece of flash which was chosen right off of the wall with hardly more consideration than I had probably given that day’s lunch. The placement is horrible and unflattering to the art (such as it is), and was chosen because the artist said it wouldn’t be a very painful location to have tattooed. To be fair, at the time I envisioned my entire torso covered in ink by the time I was in my mid-20s – at the least the area reasonably covered by a work-appropriate skirt hem, a short-sleeve shirt and a modest neckline.  I remember thinking that if the first tattoo wasn’t great, then I could hide it or incorporate it into a more complex piece later down the line.

About a year later I purchased my second tattoo. It has much more personal meaning to me, but it was still flash – this time picked out of a book while a mountainesque woman sighed impatiently over my shoulder and waited for what she probably thought was a spontaneous college girl to decide on a pattern that she had etched onto dozens of other spontaneous college girls. She in fact had me dead to rights; I had driven from Winona where I attended WSU to LaCrosse specifically to get a tattoo from that shop, which means I gave the whole process about two hours of cogitation, and that includes the 30-minute commute. When I walked in and told her that I wanted to get a tattoo, she said “Been drinking?” I said “No ma’am.” An hour-and-a-half and $120 later I had my second tattoo.

I haven’t gotten any more ink since that time. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, it’s just that I want my next tattoo to be original art, and that means finding an artist and commissioning a piece. And that means money. I have ideas for future work, but no real desire to seek out an artist with whose work I connect. I also want a larger piece – no more attempting to capture grand ideas in one-frame comic-sized daubs of ink.

If I had wads of money to blow, I’d probably continue getting new bits of art here and there, fulfilling my younger dreams of covering my body in art. But I don’t want to hire more strangers to put impersonal marks on me. I’d love to have tattoos from powerful events and moments in my life. I’d get tattoos from people who mean a lot to me,  for all of you special people to leave physical signs on my skin to go along with the emotions and memories you leave in my mind and heart. But…ahem…I’ve seen some of y’all draw, and uh…you ain’t coming near me with a sharpie, let along a permanent tattoo gun!

These thoughts of tattoo came about after reading a neat article in Jezebel about Jessie Knight (article by Irin Carmon, tweeted by @ClinicEscort), a British female tattoo artist who practiced in the 1930-60s. There are some great photos in the article, and when I went looking for more information about Ms. Knight, I found this YouTube video – replete with classic 1950′s “little woman” music. The video manages to be charming, patronizing and inspirational all at once.

Metaphysical “Causes” of Illness

I have a new post up over at MN Skeptics! It’s all about one website that wants you to think yourself better:

…this website wants you to understand why YOU are causing yourself to develop such emotion-triggered illnesses such as migraines, nail-biting (Crud – is this an illness? Apparently I have an illness.), anxiety and depression. Oh, and AIDS, mononucleosis, ankle problems, gray hair (again – illness???) and finger problems (hint: you have different emotional problems based on which finger hurts). And did you know that every time you get bit by a mosquito, it’s because you feel guilty about something? I’ll bet you didn’t know you had such command over the animal kingdom!

To read the full article, please go visit me at the Minnesota Skeptics WordPress blog.

Married People Conversations

The Hubby called me at work yesterday. It was a really busy afternoon and I was a bit stressed out.

Me: [briskly] Hey, what’s up?

Hubby:  I wanted to call to say hi, and to hear your voice.

Me:  Awww…are you having a hard day?

Hubby:  No. Actually I felt bad about last night.

Me:  [puzzled]: Why, what happened last night?

Hubby:  Well, I went to bed before you and I just realized today that I forgot to say good-night.

He says this in a completely straight tone and actually sounds apologetic. I’m stunned. I pull the phone away from my ear and look at it incredulously.

Me:  [In a somehow not-mocking tone]: That’s what you feel bad about?

Hubby:  Yeah. I should have given you a good night kiss, too.

Me:  Ahhh…[stupid grin spreading slowly across my face], well…that’s…[stupid schoolgirl giggle].

Hubby:  So, I’ll be home around 5:30 or six. Is it going to be another late night for you?

Me:  [still sporting the stupid grin, making it difficult to speak]: We’ll see how it goes.

Hubby:  Okay, see you sometime tonight then.

Me:  Okay. See you then.

*click*

Drinking Skeptically…For Night People!

I have a new post up over at the Minnesota Skeptics blog! It’s about my experiences at a local Drinking Skeptically…For Night People! event.

Tonight I ended up meeting a lot of new (to me) people. Hello new skeptical friends! I met a nurse, three engineers, a past member of the Secular Student Alliance, some Tim Minchin fans, some people who are pretty excited about going to The Amazing Meeting next week, and a whole mess of atheists (deconverted Catholic over there, former Hindu over there, raised Fundamentalist Christian in that corner, past altar boy in that one – the list went on and on!).

To read the article in it’s entirety, please go here to the Minnesota Skeptics wordpress blog.

Back at it!

Author’s Note: Mom was here for two full weeks, and it was a blast! While she was here we did all sorts of fun things, and I also neglected a few things. Like dishes. And laundry. And my husband. And blogging. Mom left Minneapolis on Tuesday morning and is continuing her journey westward toward my sister’s hometown of Bellingham, WA. Yesterday evening I did dishes, vacuumed, cleaned the cat’s litterbox and took out the garbage. Tonight I get to blog, edit photos and Flickrize.

~~~

Okay, I wrote that last paragraph two hours ago. I’ve started two skepticism-based posts, and I’ve realized way too late in the game that both are going to require a little more research and brain power than I have left in the stores this evening. Rather than put out a shoddy article, I’m going to tip my hat to you fine readers and leave you with a couple of picture from the adventures of the past two weeks. I thought about captioning them, but after flipping through these gems a few times I decided that they were more fun without any context.

And yes, that is a dancing urine cup. Nighty-night!