Sunday, October 30, 2005
Just thought I'd set the mood for this Halloween weekend by sharing some ancient Lenka history with you. Let's see...I've got Love and Rockets' first album on, a stick of Nag Champa burning in the incense bowl, and steel-cut oatmeal cooking on the stove while I sip my Sunday morning coffee. There's a pot of gunpowder green tea steeping, too, for later - after the caffeine kicks in. I take my blogging atmospherics seriously.
Above is an old photo from my archives (full-size 90kb version here), taken in 1980 when I was but a wee slip of a protoblogger, hot and heavy into my first forays* into photography. I was so proud of the second-hand Hanimex SLR camera and accessories my parents had bought me earlier in the year (for my 12th birthday, likely. My memory's not clear on that point.) and lugged it with me almost everywhere we went. This shot was taken from the back seat of our old 1966 Chevy Nova II Super Sport** on one of my family's traditional weekend flea market trips to Bucks County, Pennsylvania near New Hope and Yardley. You understand, I do come by my love of
I'm not certain where this old church and graveyard were any more, but I recall being struck by the eerie scene complete with toppled 18th-century headstones. Even back then, I loved a nice, creepy, moody image. I had walked around the graveyard a few minutes before, noted the ages and names of those early Pennsylvania settlers buried on a quiet rural hillside, and thought how strange it would be to have your body ensconced for all eternity next to an obscure Colonial church - having with some kid with a camera stomping all over your final resting place.
No, I probably didn't think all that back then. I probably just thought the whole scene was really neat, just peachy keen.
Notice the interesting accidental effect created by the windscreen tinting that looks sort of like a sky shading filter on this black and white stock. Back then I didn't use any of that coarse grained "fast" film, no sirree...only the fine-grained 32 or 64 ASA-speed stuff like my dad used, the kind you had to stand perfectly still and hold your breath for with that heavy handheld SLR that felt like a brick to my young hands. I finally had these old black and white film strips digitized last year, so periodically I'll be trotting out some dusty recollection for you, embellished by the intervening quarter century's worth of nostalgia. Oh, and the title of this post? It's the song that's playing right now:
The word that would best describe this feelingHappy Halloween.
Would be haunted
I touch the clothes you left behind
That still retain your shape
And I'm still haunted
I trace the outline of your eyes
Blue in the mirror
Hypnotized and haunted
I find a solitary hair
Golden still I reminisce
---"Haunted When the Minutes Drag," © Daniel Ash & Love and Rockets
* Not quite true. I had a couple of small 110/126-Instamatic™ film snapshot cameras before that, when I was about 7 or 8, and took pictures of everything. Those color slides are still in my father's collection somewhere.
** Speaking of 1980 and Chevy, anyone else out there remember the TV jungle for the Citation, "the first...Chevy of the Eighties!" Seriously, Citation? Would someone today actually name a car after a word that means "moving violation ticket"?
Jason Vines, the automaker's vice president of communications, says on his corporate Weblog that the North American division of DaimlerChrysler (Research) doesn't plan to monitor workers' bathroom breaks. The statement is an apparent response to the Detroit News disclosure last week that trips to the lavatory are being monitored at a Ford Motor (Research) plant in Wayne, Mich., in an effort to cut costs at the beleaguered automaker.
"We're not gonna use a stopwatch, turning a natural function into an Olympic sport," said Vines on his blog. "That...would just be...well...too anal."
Friday, October 28, 2005This passage from the New York Times [reg. req.] reads like the deceptively inocuous opening to a Ray Bradbury short story that's soon about to go horribly wrong:
An unseen, sweet-smelling cloud drifted through parts of Manhattan last night. Arturo Padilla walked through it and declared that it was awesome. "It's like maple syrup. With Eggos. Or pancakes," he said. "It's pleasant."... Mr. Padilla was not alone. Reports of the syrupy cloud poured in from across Manhattan after 9 p.m. Some feared that it was something sinister.Authorities still have not determined the source of the pervasive sweet smell. According to NY1, officials from the Office of Emergency Management have been taking air samples, but aroma's origin is still unknown. Predictably, reports of a good smell in New York are news indeed. GothamIST readers quipped, "A Canadian terrorist attack?" and "Just in time for Halloween - the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man has farted!"
...There were conflicting accounts as to its nature. A police officer who had thrown out her French vanilla coffee earlier compared it to that. Two diplomats from the Netherlands disagreed, politely. [One] said it smelled like roasted peanuts. Her friend...said it reminded him of a Dutch cake called peperkoek, though he could not describe that smell.
Update on GothamIST: was it just a temperature inversion? If so, does that mean there is a permanent layer of maple scented air above the urban funk-o-sphere?
If you're saying, "Ultra-who?" or "You mean, the English dudes with that moody 'Vienna' song?" you're only part right. While the band (who broke up around 1986) is only a minor cult fave stateside, they retain a passionate following in the European Union. Tribute bands like Monument still perform regularly to hordes of UK fans, but more interestingly, Ultravox's distinctive sonics continue to inspire entirely new compositions.
This weekend, I'll be giving the entries a good listen, but I can tell you about one song that's caught my attention right off the bat. Last year I whined about the fact no one submitted a cover version of one of my all-time UV favorites, the soaring, martial "Hymn." If you listen closely you can hear more than a smidgen of the former Soviet Union anthem, the Internationale, in its arching melody. It was one of the few Ultravox tracks that cracked MTV's U.S. video rotation circa 1982, but I always found its "deal with the Devil and there'll be Hell to pay" leitmotif perplexing...and, well, not quite majestic enough for how I pictured the song.
Well, it never rains, but it pours: this year we have not one, but three covers of the song in the contest, including two instrumentals and a surprising 10,000 Maniacs-meets-Krautrock rendition by German outfit Not About Us. Personally, I always thought it would be interesting for a woman vocalist to take the stately song on for size, and purists-be-damned, Not About Us does well using singer Nicole's earnest but earthly vocals. Another intriguing female-sung revision is Tony Siquiedo's "Vienna," given a smoldering twist with droning buzzsaw guitar that recalls Heroes-era Robert Fripp.
There is a decided leaning towards the seminal 1981 release Rage In Eden in this year's crop, including several obscure B-sides and MIDIfied reworkings by Maurizio Daniele (known for his expert MIDI UV renditions on the web). Last year's Best Cover winner Mehdi Touzani this time around offers up an brief, oddly synthless (but politically timely) take on 1984's "White China," and new contender T-Bass solidly captures Ultravox's inspiring midperiod groove with an uptempo original, "A Question of Time." Also well worth a listen are "Thin Wall (Modification)" by Casm, which brings the robotic original into modern trance territory, Beyond Extreme's Gothified "We Stand Alone," and Doug Wright's angular remixes of "Fade to Grey" and "Mr. X."
Thursday, October 27, 2005Apparently, there's a good reason Ford is the nation's "No. 2" automaker:
The Detroit News reported Thursday that management at the company's Michigan Truck plant in Wayne, Mich., issued a memo in which it said too many of the factory's 3,500 hourly workers are spending more than the 48 minutes allotted per shift to use the bathroom. The extra-long breaks are slowing production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles that are built there, the company said.Yes, by all means, get workers off their asses - literally - so we can make even more Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions. But seriously, 48 minutes? Hell, I could watch an entire hour-long TV show on DVD (minus commercial breaks) or read the Trib from cover to cover if I sat on the throne that long. One possible solution: install Asian-style squat toilets at Ford. Nobody could linger for 48 minutes over one of those unless they had glutes of steel.
"In today's competitive environment, it is important that Michigan Truck plant immediately address this concern to avoid the risks associated with safety, quality, delivery, cost and morale," the memo said, according to the paper's report. The paper reported that the memo also warns that Ford supervisors will begin collecting weekly data on the amount of time workers spend on bathroom breaks and "respond appropriately."
Workers interviewed by the paper said that management is trying to divert attention from broader problems at the nation's No. 2 automaker, including soft sales of the large SUV's made at the plant following this year's run-up on gasoline prices.
APROPOS: A humorous (and educational for the uninitiated) slideshow that demonstrates "How To Use Japanese Style Toilet Bowel." [sic] After I clicked to the last slide, I couldn't help but think, "Oh, No! MR. BILL!"
Tuesday, October 25, 2005(Cross-posted at My God, It's Full Of Squirrels!) This soup is rich and flavorful, carrying all the goodness that arrives with one-and-a-half heads of garlic. It's not as pungent as you might think, as the cooking process mellows the garlic's bite; but it still packs one hell of a bark that will frighten away evil spirits (and some germs and parasites*), nosy neighbors with delicate sensibilities, and vampires.
In fact, coincidentally, we watched an old Kolchak, The Night Stalker episode that night called "The Vampire"; the soup was much more entrancing than the show, if I do say so myself.
*If chicken soup is "Jewish penicillin," then this soup should be called "Jewish Cipro™." The only special tool you need is a handblender or countertop blender, to puree the cooked cloves into the soup.
- One and one-half heads (yes, heads) of garlic, separated into cloves, peeled, with hard bottoms removed
- 8 cups cold water
- 3 T. butter (or oil)
- 2 jumbo cubes chicken or vegetable bouillon (or 6 small ones)
- 1 cup frozen chopped spinach
- dash blackpepper
- 3 T. flour (or chick pea flour if available)
- 3 matzos, crushed finely
- 2 eggs, beaten
Meanwhile, prepare a golden-brown roux in a separate nonstick pan, using the flour and remaining butter. Cook over medium heat until bubbly and slightly brown, stirring frequently. Remove roux from heat and allow to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine matzo crumbs with a few teaspoons of the boiling garlic stock. Stir until evenly moistened and crumbly. Mix in the two eggs, and stir until you have a firm but malleable mixture. If it is too stiff to mold into one-inch "balls" with hands (dip your hands first in water, but it will still be messy and sticky. That's part of the fun.) add a teaspoon of cold water at a time until you have the desired consistency. Set aside.
When your garlic stock is done simmering, whisk the cloves into a puree using the handblender (or carefully transferring soup into a standard blender). They should disintegrate easily at this point. Then, while soup simmers in the pot, stir in briskly the cooled roux. The soup should thicken up a bit in minutes, and keep stirring to prevent lumps. Toss in the frizen spinach, and bring to a boil once again.
Then, the matzo balls: using dampened hands and spoon, shape the matzo ball mixture into one-inch balls, dropping one at a time in the soup, working quickly. Gently stir with a wooden spoon after all are in the pot, to prevent sticking, taking care not to break the balls (the above recipe should yield abou 10-12 matzo balls). Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Serve, and enjoy the pleasures of having your very own seat on the "L" - for the entire trip!
Monday, October 24, 2005Even by Chicago standards, today's weather was startlingly strange - perhaps an extension of the brief hailstorm that pelted our region.
Last night a strange sound drew me to the dining room at about 7 o'clock, as a series of erratic, tinny ching!-s emanated from outside the sleeping air conditioner. As I pulled open the blinds, I saw a fusillage of icy pea-sized pellets bouncing off the unit's metal exterior, glinting orange-green under the streetlamps.
This morning the hail was replaced by a series of chilly belligerent rain showers, alternating with errant gouts of sun tearing through the clouds. Stopping to observe the effect was like watching a time-lapse documentary, only much colder and wetter. It was a day of upturned jacket collars, newly uncloseted sweaters, and hopes for evening soup.
Can't cook up better weather, but let's see what I can do about the soup.
MIAMI, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Tropical depression Alpha weakened over the Atlantic Ocean Monday as it moved north to eventually meet, and fold into Hurricane Wilma. At 11 a.m. EDT, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the system was 630 miles southwest of Bermuda, moving north at 20 mph, with maximum winds of 35 mph. It was expected the system would disappear completely within 24 hours as the Category 2 Hurricane Wilma moved north and east away from Florida off the U.S. East Coast.
Alpha made landfall on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic Sunday. Alpha was the record-breaking 22nd storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, and was named for the first letter in the Greek alphabet when forecasters ran out of designated human names. [via Science Daily]
Friday, October 21, 2005
- Ladytron - "Destroy Everything You Touch": as heard on 3hive, a splendid single to warm (or chill?) the cockles of any jaded Capricorn's icy heart. The sound? Somewhere between Pet Shop Boys and Le Tigre, with a wild concept video to boot.
- Lou Reed - "There Is No Time"
- The Cure - "A Forest"
- Loretta Lynn with Jack White - "Portland, Oregon"
- Klaus Nomi - "Ding Dong"
- Tears for Fears - "Pale Shelter"
- Foreigner - "Woman in Black"
- Depeche Mode - "Intospectre"
- Dire Straits - "Communique"
- Electrolux - "Abendlied"
Thursday, October 20, 2005
- The fractalicious Romanesco Cabbage: this beautiful (and mathematically fascinating) brassica is my current desktop background. The author describes its taste as "slightly nutty," "crunchier than [and] less bland than cauliflower," and an especially good addition to an assiette de crudites. It's a Swiss-European variant, so I haven't had a chance to see or taste one myself - yet. It's also my favorite shade of green, #CCFF00. [via BoingBoing]
- Wikipedia has an extensive glossary of made-up words featured on The Simpsons
- Real, or Hoax? "Biopresence creates Human DNA trees by transcoding the essence of a human being within the DNA of a tree in order to create 'Living Memorials' or 'Transgenic Tombstones'." UPDATE: If it is real, then how would the survivor(s) feel if the tree dies? Or if someone defaces it, or cuts off a branch because it's hanging over their property line? If you create a transgenic fruit tree, would you commit cannibalism by eating the fruit?
- "Monkmobiles and Bulletproof Robes": Eyeteeth covers the invention of devices to protect traveling Buddhist monks in Thailand, who have become frequent targets of terrorist attacks
- Search Engine Watch covers the recent 'splog' (automated SPam blOG) attack on Blogger
- The US Air Force is testing a new type of transparent armor called ALON™; the glassy aluminum ceramic shielding
"...is virtually scratch resistant, offers substantial impact resistance, and provides better durability and protection against armor piercing threats, at roughly half the weight and half the thickness of traditional glass transparent armor, said the lieutenant.
In a June 2004 demonstration, an ALON™ test piece held up to both a .30 caliber Russian M-44 sniper rifle and a .50 caliber Browning Sniper Rifle with armor piercing bullets. While the bullets pierced the glass samples, the armor withstood the impact with no penetration.
In extensive testing, ALON™ has performed well against multiple hits of .30 caliber armor piercing rounds, typical of anti-aircraft fire..."
Wednesday, October 19, 2005Great post on feministe today on the "jolie laide" and sociopolitical differences between American and worldwide standards of feminine beauty:
American beauty is notable in its sense of achievement — beauty can be made through symmetry, through use of particular products, through highly feminine performance, through fitting onself into what the author calls a "pretty-pretty" mold ("think Texas, symmetrical features, blue eyes, small noses, pretty-pretty"). Think Kate Bosworth, Kirsten Dunst, Jessica Simpson — pretty-pretty.More: "The Unfairest of Them All," by Daphne Merkin in the New York Times. By the by, I think it's wonderful that we have over-60 female sex symbols - like Catherine Deneuve, who according to her IMDb bio, turns 62 this Saturday - and let's not forget Sophia Loren, who is still going strong at over 70. [Okay, Lady Lena Horne's been around even longer than that, but I won't resort to the obligatory 'black don't crack' crack ;) ]
Europeans, [author Daphne Merkin] argues, embrace the beauty difference more openly than we do — they are better able to see the beauty in women like Sofia Coppola, Alex Wek, Juliette Lewis. Androgynous beauty is less threatening; perfection, symmetry and achievement are less of a focal point.
Middle class respectability in America is an achievment presented as a universal goal which can be purchased and performed — the American dream. Why should beauty be any different? A simple, narrow ideal presents an endpoint to strive for in a way that diverse beauty standards don’t. When crooked noses and crow’s feet and thick thighs fit into a conception of beauty, what is there left to work for? What is there to buy?
Obviously it’s more complicated than that, and this isn't meant as an America-is-totally-inferior argument. We may even be catching on — the fabulous (and no longer 20) Catherine Denueve is the new face of MAC cosmetics, and she tells the Times, "A mature woman in Europe is considered sexually powerful."
Perhaps there’s hope for us yet.
It's not just a 'guy thing' (like Robert Redford and Sean Connery) any more. While they're not exactly good examples of the masculine version of jolie laide, other mature stalwarts like Sir Ian McKellen or Harvey Keitel would fit the bill. Tharts?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005...for crooks like this.
Woman Arrested At Pizza Delivery Man's Funeral, Posed As A Mourner
(CBS) OAK LAWN Grief and greed collided at the funeral of an Oak Lawn pizza delivery man. Police say a woman posing as a mourner tried to steal at least $200 in cash from condolence envelopes at Frank Sedevic’s funeral. Sedevic was robbed and beaten to death last Monday while delivering pizza to an abandoned home in Markham. Sedevic's nephew, a police officer, detained the woman until Oak Lawn police arrived. Forty-three-year-old Suzanne Brackins of Bridgeview has been charged with theft.
Monday, October 17, 2005
More news: Stallone says he'll return for another 'Rocky.'
Friday, October 14, 2005
(AP) CHICAGO A McDonald's in Chicago's downtown Loop is offering a side of history with its burgers. Entrepreneur and activist Cirilo McSween has redecorated the second floor of his restaurant in a civil rights theme, featuring memorabilia from his personal collection. A mural interspersed with framed photographs runs along the perimeter of the room, highlighting key events and dates in the life of The Reverend Martin Luther King Junior. One of the cases along the wall holds a copy of the Life Magazine that came out eight days after King's assassination in 1968. McSween says he wanted the room to show things that affect the real lives of people.Dear McDonalds:
I understand that Mr. McSween is a noted civil rights advocate, and it's all fine and dandy that you'll be covering the walls of a Loop McD's with images of civil rights heroes. But we'd love to see your corporation put those sentiments into action by changing your in-house policies so incidents like this - where a teenaged African-American girl was arrested, handcuffed and removed from one of your Hyde Park restaurants this spring, just for sitting in the "wrong section" - don't happen again. Until then, can it with the Kum-ba-yah.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
- Dear readers: if you have a website whose link has mysteriously disappeared from my sidebar since Monday, the reason is that Blogger seems to have eaten half of my blog template. I had to back up from an older saved copy dated June which is missing some recent additions. So, my apologies - if you would like your site linked again please contact me (see sidebar → or click here ).
- "The Uncanny Valley - Why are monster-movie zombies so horrifying
and talking animals so fascinating?" by Dave Bryant:
Though originally intended to provide an insight into human psychological reaction to robotic design, the concept expressed by this phrase is equally applicable to interactions with nearly any nonhuman entity. Stated simply, the idea is that if one were to plot emotional response against similarity to human appearance and movement, the curve is not a sure, steady upward trend. Instead, there is a peak shortly before one reaches a completely human "look" ... but then a deep chasm plunges below into a strongly negative response before rebounding to a second peak where resemblance to humanity is complete.[as linked on The Countess, in a fascinating but disturbing post on the Real Doll phenomenon (note: mature readers topic); also see a farkleberries reader fave, the Russian Bubble Baba Challenge]
This chasm — the uncanny valley of Doctor Masahiro Mori’s thesis — represents the point at which a person observing the creature or object in question sees something that is nearly human, but just enough off-kilter to seem eerie or disquieting. [read full article]
- Ed at Dispatches from the Culture Wars takes a considered look at the USAF's policy on proselytizing servicemembers - there seems to be a tacit "rule" that states chaplains may not evangelize those who currently have a religious affiliation (even if non-Christian), but this limitation does not apply to those who have not declared a specific faith:
...it seems to me that if a chaplain is taking the inititative in trying to convert people, he is acting in a manner that contradicts the purpose for which he is there. His job is to minister to the needs of the recruits, not to decide for himself that a recruit needs to be converted to his faith. If a non-Christian recruit is happy with his beliefs and is not seeking out another belief, a chaplain who seeks him out to evangelize him is no longer acting as a chaplain, he is acting as a missionary. [read full post]
- "It's incredible that you can put this piece of leathery meat in a smoker for 12-18 hours, pack it on ice and send it 1500 miles away and it's still so delicious that you can hardly stand it."
- "They're not sneering libertines lobbing condoms over the walls of your daughter's virtue; they're scientists, doing their jobs."
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005Tomorrow, a couple dozen Edgewaterites (including myself) will be heading to the Thorndale "L" station for a rousing morning of scraping, cleaning, scrubbing, deodorizing and painting as part of Chicago's grassroots Better Transit project:
Neighbors Unite to Improve Red Line StationsScrubba-dubba-doo, and grilled brats too! [as seen on Gapers Block]
Tired of waiting for the CTA to make the Thorndale Station better, the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, Edgewater Community Council and the Edgewater Development Corporation have united to take matters in their own hands. Together with paint brushes, brooms and other materials they will meet at the Thorndale Station on Saturday, October 8th from 9 till noon. Work will be followed by grilled hotdogs and brats.
Edgewater Community Council president Rae Ann Cecrle is facilitating the group with different plans for different stations. With the help of Loyola University Chicago the Granville station got a face-lift last summer including additional lights. The Thorndale station actually has the same number of fixtures but they need to be turned on more often and have brighter bulbs. The Chamber has tried several routes to get the lighting improved, including going through CAPS and the City Budget process without success.
Thursday, October 06, 2005It looks as though for now, Hoosiers may retain the choice to use medically-assisted reproduction. From the Indy Star:
A controversial proposed bill to prohibit gays, lesbians and single people from using medical procedures to become pregnant has been dropped by its legislative sponsor.
State Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, issued a one-sentence statement this afternoon saying: “The issue has become more complex than anticipated and will be withdrawn from consideration by the Health Finance Commission.”
Miller had asked that committee -- a panel of lawmakers who meet when the Indiana General Assembly is not in session to discuss possible legislation- to recommend the bill to the full legislature when it meets in January.
Under her proposal, couples who need assistance to become pregnant - such as through intrauterine insemination; the use of donor eggs, embryos and sperm; in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer or other medical means - would have to be married to each other. In addition, married couples who needed donor sperm and eggs to become pregnant would be required to go through the same rigorous assessment process of their fitness to be parents as do people who adopt a child.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
- Using DNA from medical specimens and a corpse buried in the Alaskan permafrost, researchers have recreated a living, infectious incarnation of the virus that caused the deadly 1918 flu pandemic. [New Scientist]
- A quote from Neil Gaiman I can heartily relate to:
"The biggest trouble with black clothes...is trying to work out which bit of the general blackness in the suitcase in a dimly lit hotel room when you aren't really awake yet is going to turn out to be socks."
- Rocker Pete Townshend now has a blog, "The Boy Who Heard Music." [via Rebecca's Pocket]
- Spell out words ransom-note style using Flickr images [via Tsuredzuregusa]
- The Countess recounts the recent history of bird flu, and evidence it may mutate to a human-to-human transmissible form
- Some lovely tourist images from a Tokyo shopping trip [Replete with high-tech gewgaws that put most stores here to shame - note the RZ3 Shower Toilet™, which is indeed both a shower and a toilet.]
- Honda's new WOW car features a built-in dog compartment [via Gizmodo]
Tuesday, October 04, 2005UPDATE: Sen. Pat Miller dropped the proposed Indiana bill Wednesday afternoon.
There's ridiculously intrusive legislation, and then there's this: a proposed Indiana law that would make marriage (and a legal "gestational agreement") a requirement for the use of assisted reproductive technologies (defined as "§ 9.5. "Assisted reproduction", for purposes of [the bill], means a method of causing pregnancy other than sexual intercourse."), and would include criminal penalties for unmarried women who become pregnant using these methods. This means now-commonplace medical procedures like IVF and donor insemination will be off-limits to everyone except government-approved families.
Sec. 20. (a) An intended parent who knowingly or intentionally participates in an artificial reproduction procedure without establishing parentage under section 15 of this chapter commits unauthorized artificial reproduction, a Class B misdemeanor.The wording of this legislation sounds clearly unconstitutional. In short, you have to apply to "adopt" your future child
(b) A physician who knowingly or intentionally fails to obtain the consent required under section 13 of this chapter commits unauthorized practice of artificial reproduction, a Class B misdemeanor.
(c) A person who knowingly or intentionally makes a materially false or misleading sta
tement under this chapter commits deception in establishing parentage, a Class A misdemeanor.
If the Supreme Court has upheld privacy for married (Griswold v. Connecticut) and unmarried persons (Eisenstadt v. Baird) to use methods of contraception - maybe I'm wrong - I think it would be a stretch for the courts to argue these decisions are not similarly applicable to methods of conception. Broadly, the above case decisions provided for privacy in choosing whether to have children or not. Also, I would think most legal sentiment leans toward seeing childbearing as a basic human right, with the law stepping in to prevent births only in unusual circumstances.
The bill is doubtless intended to dissuade 'nontraditional' families from having children by means other than good old-fashioned slap-and-tickle - at least in Indiana. Still, it's hard to ignore the hypocrisy and twisted logic of those who would do anything in their power to prevent women - heaven forbid, unwed women - from aborting unwanted pregnancies, who then turn around and place ridiculous obstacles in front of people who desperately want to have their own children.
Could you imagine someone proposing a bill that required a woman to terminate her pregnancy (or give up her child for adoption) unless she could prove she was in a happy, financially and emotionally stable marriage and home situation with the biological father? Since these folks are so concerned about children being raised by "ideal families"? No, I didn't think so.
Reading into the hidden agenda, one could suspect that Indiana legislators were trying to convince single women, gays, and lesbians to straighten up and enter into traditional heterosexual "marriages" if they want children badly enough. Not so fast: once these "couples"' personal histories and background interviews were completed by government agencies, their shortcomings would be exposed - and no "gestational certificate" would be issued. Sorry, no children for you...and you...and you. In its practical application, this law would discriminate against specific classes of people or 'status'- not just specific behaviors.
So much for less government interference in people's everyday lives.
In short, it's not "all about the children." It's all about the control.
Sec. 12. (a) Before intended parents may commence assisted reproduction, the intended parents shall obtain an assessment from a licensed child placing agency in the intended parents' state of residence.[via feministing] More good discussion on the topic at Tzuredzuregusa, Southern Voice, and feministe (several contributors there have posted on this bill, scroll down the main page to read).
(b) The assessment must follow the normal practice for assessments in a domestic infant adoption procedure and must include the following information:
(1) The intended parents' purpose for the assisted reproduction.
(2) The fertility history of the intended parents, including the pregnancy history and response to pregnancy losses of the woman.
(3) An acknowledgment by the intended parents that the child may not be the biological child of at least one (1) of the intended parents depending on the type of artificial reproduction procedure used.
(4) A list of the intended parents' family and friend support system.
(5) A plan for sharing any known genetic information with the child.
(6) Personal information about each intended parent, including the following:(A) Family of origin.(7) Description of any children residing in the intended parents' home.
(E) Employment and income.
(F) Hobbies and talents.
(G) Physical description, including the general health of the individual.
(H) Birth verification.
(I) Personality description, including the strengths and weaknesses of each intended parent.
(8) A verification and evaluation of the intended parents' marital relationship, including:(A) the shared values and interests between the individuals;(9) Documentation of the dissolution of any prior marriage and an assessment of the impact of the prior marriage on the intended parents' relationship.
(B) the manner in which conflict between the individuals is resolved; and
(C) a history of the intended parents' relationship.
(10) A description of the family lifestyle of the intended parents, include a description of individual participation in faith-based or church activities, hobbies, and other interests.
(11) The intended parents' child rearing expectations and values.
(12) A description of the home and community, including verification of the safety and security of the home.
(13) Child care plans.
(14) Statement of the assets, liabilities, investments, and ability of the intended parents to manage finances, including the most recently filed tax forms.
(15) A review of the local police records, the state and violent offender directory, and a criminal history check as set forth in subsection (c).
(16) A letter of reference by a friend or family member.
(17) A written consent from each donor, if known, to use of the donation in the assisted reproduction medical procedure.
(18) The recommendation for participation in assisted reproduction.
Monday, October 03, 2005NOTE: this post contains discussion of some sensitive subject matter; if you're offended by discussion of child sexual abuse's legal and societal aspects, please click a sidebar link or "Next Blog." Bon voyage.
Last week, 30-year old Tammy Imre plead guilty to charges of "risk of injury to a minor" in connection with her months-long history of sexual contact with an 8-year old boy, reported to be a playmate of her young daughter. This news story from Connecticut raises a number of uncomfortable questions about gender disparity in prosecuting those who sexually abuse children. If convicted she stands to serve considerably less than 10 years, the mandatory minimum for first-degree sex charges. Imre's attorney, Donald Papczy, allegedly told reporters outside the Fairfield (CT) Superior Court "[s]he should be out of jail in a relatively short period of time...[s]he'll be a young woman still and hopefully will be able to assimilate back into society."
From the Connecticut Post:
BRIDGEPORT — Tammy Imre had made a lot of excuses about why she had sex with an 8-year-old boy, including that she thought of him as "a 30-year-old midget." But the excuses were gone Monday, along with most of the blond dye in her hair, as she pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of risk of injury to a minor.I can't help thinking that if the genders of the defendant and victim were reversed, the public would be outraged at the mild penalty to be meted out. What is the court's justification for this? Is the sexual abuse of a prepubescent male child by an adult woman less damaging than if the perpetrator were a male - if "yes," why do we think so? What if the perpetrator were a man and the child was female?
Reporters and spectators craned their heads as the Stratford woman, her hands clasped behind her back, whispered "guilty" to the first count. Urged to speak up by Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano, the 30-year-old Imre repeated "guilty" and then "guilty" to the second charge in a steady voice.
She faces six years in prison when she is sentenced Nov. 4. She will serve the term at the York Correctional Center in Niantic. Asked by the judge if the accusations against her were accurate, Imre nodded her head and said, "Yes, accurate."
The disturbing problem here is the subtext, which appears to state that as long as the sexual abuse is "heterosexual" (that is, the perpetrator and victim are of opposite genders) the courts feel less harm is done. In addition, if the offender is a woman, the crime is less severe still - echoing the popular myth about the "do-er" versus "do-ee" that holds "males can't be raped" - especially by a woman.
While individual opinions vary, the hierarchy of moral outrage against child sexual abuse seems to fall in this order: adult males abusing boys > adult males abusing girls > adult women abusing children of either gender, but the adult-woman-with-an-underage-boy scenario sometimes receives a tacit "you go, kiddo" wink, especially if the boy is anywhere near puberty.
Attorney Donald Papczy explained the defense's reasoning further, stating "[o]ur position was always that it wasn't a sex case...we proved that to the state with psychiatric reports that backed our defense of mental deficiency." "Wasn't a sex case"? Nonsense. The silent meaning here suggests that what women do to others sexually doesn't really count as "sex."
While it's true that women are statistically far less likely to be pedophile sexual offenders, the harm done by a woman pedophile is just as long-lasting to the child regardless of gender. The issue here isn't 'who's penetrating who,' it's the profound breach of adult responsibility, and the violation of a child's physical and psychological well-being the pedophile offender creates.
Imre may indeed be guilty of having some form of "psychological or mental defect," as the court contends, but we could argue this is true of anyone who sexually abuses children. The gender of the defendant or the victim shouldn't be a factor in deciding the severity of punishment given to sex abusers. If it is, our Constitutional promise of "equal justice under law" fails to be served.