sarahmichigan: (Default)
1. I'm going to go visit my mother for a few days around her birthday next week. Ever since I told her I was planning to drive up, she has been very excited and is planning all sorts of things to do. More than 2 weeks out, she already knew she wanted to make me banana-oatmeal pancakes and a curried squash soup (presumably not at the same meal) and watch "The Secret Life of Bees" with me. And possibly go out to see a live play.

2. As I've said in the past, I was happy to vote for Obama and don't quite get why some of my more progressive friends were so disgruntled with him. However, lately, there have been several moves in his administration that I really don't like. HOWEVER, one man can't do it on his own- this is, theoretically anyway, a government of the people. If we don't like what he's doing, we have to make our voices heard. I'm thinking of writing some letters on the following topics:
a) His back-pedaling on fixing the Faith-Based Initiative crap. Supposedly, he was not going to dismantle the faith-based initiative altogether but was going to support measures that would tell faith-based groups that they couldn't discriminate in hiring (i.e. firing gays and lesbians). He appears to have backed off on that point, to my disappointment. You can send a message from this page.
*b) The Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and -- even if what they're doing is blatantly illegal and they know it's illegal. Also, the administration is fighting efforts to undo telecom immunity and hold the government accountable for past and present spying on private citizens.
*c) The Obama administration said Friday that it would appeal a district court ruling that granted some military prisoners in Afghanistan the right to file lawsuits seeking their release.

*Heads up on several items provided by [ profile] sophiaserpentia .


OK, now I really need to stop f*cking around on LJ and get some editing and writing done- I have a couple small projects due today and one big one due Monday that I'd just as soon get done today and tomorrow if possible.

sarahmichigan: (Default)
I received an alert from the Arts Alliance of Washtenaw County about cuts to the state's funding for the arts. The main text is behind the cut.

I have mixed feelings - I know tough times call for tough budget cuts, but I do agree with the Alliance that arts are not just some frivolous "frill" but actually create jobs, and Michigan needs jobs. The arts budget is also so incredibly tiny that it's almost merely symbolic to cut it and say it's part of a cost-savings measure.

If you're interested in sending a message to Governor Granholm about the issue, as I did, there's a comment page on the governor's website, here:,1607,7-168-21995-65331--,00.html

Read more... )
sarahmichigan: (Default)
There's been a fair amount of press coverage and LJ entries by friends about some of President Obama's early actions, such as his executive order about shutting down Guantanamo Bay and the memorandum about increased fuel efficiency.

Less-noted but incredibly important: Obama has declared that openness in government should be the default. This is beyond "Freedom of Information Act". It doesn't just say you can fight the government to have closed documents opened, but that most documents should be open to public scrutiny in the first place. This is huge for journalists but also for the general public.

There's some good discussion of the issue in general here, and a call to ask state government to be equally open here. On a related note, I recommend Free the News for any bloggers who do on-line journalism or are interested in the topic (and not just because I'm an occasional guest writer for the site).

sarahmichigan: (fitness)
1. I've mentioned we did some house renovations/fix-ups in previous posts. J. did a nice post in words and photos, with bonus pictures of the Cutest Cat in Our House here.

2. I enjoyed the inauguration party some friends hosted last night. They had hamburgers, hotdogs and apple pie for an all-American meal. We brought veggie burgers and potato salad and many other yummy side dishes were contributed by others. And champagne while we watched the re-play of the ceremony.

I can understand why my conservative or libertarian friends and acquaintances might not be thrilled with Obama, but I have a harder time understanding the bitter criticisms from some of my progressive friends. I don't think Obama shoots rainbows out of his butt or anything, but he's a big improvement. I'm not crazy about some of his picks for cabinet, not crazy about Rick Warren to lead a prayer at the inauguration and I have other nitpicks. But I don't want to hear any bullshit about the political parties all being the same, because they aren't. "Not different enough as I'd hope for" is not the same as "No difference." I listened to a bit of Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" as a book on CD, and it made me optimistic about having a Constitutional scholar in the White House. I imagine I'll disagree with him from time to time in the next 4 years, but overall, I'm pretty freaking thrilled.

3. Freelancing just picked up in a big way this month, and now, my office job may want to offer me some additional hours. Someone who had been working the web content part-time quit for a full-time job, and I may be able to pick up additional hours and additional pay while being able to do it from home. That'd be sweet. I'll take what I can get while things are flush, because you never know when those kind of opportunities will dry up...

4. A friend asked on her journal, "What does your weight mean to you?' It's something I've been thinking about a fair amount, largely because it's New Year's Resolution time, and there's stuff about getting rid of your belly and finally finding that right diet for you in the media, plus some friends and acquaintances (real life and LJ) are starting new diets of various kinds. This is what I said in response to her question:

"Rationally, my weight is neutral info. It indicates if I'm stressy or if I'm working out a lot. Unexplained weight loss/weight gain *may* indicate an underlying medical condition.

Non-rationally, my weight is an indication of whether I'm doing it "right." If I'm on the low end of my usual weight range, I'm being righteous. If I'm at the top or go over the top of the usual range, I must be doing something "wrong." Years of conditioning are hard to overcome, even when you're a dedicated fat-pozzer."

I've been about in the same weight range since I stopped dieting about 7 years ago. Since leveling off, I would swing up about 3 pounds, then down 5, but I was always somewhere between 201 and 208. Occasionally, like when I was having a rough time with hypo, I'd go above the range, and other times when I was super active, I dropped down to 199 or 200. But I was fairly rock steady 99 percent of the time in that range. Then, last year, I had 7 or 8 pounds creep up on me, above the top of the range. My weight started fluctuating in a higher range, between 212 and 217.

It's been hard to not see that as a "failure" on my part. I wanted to blame it on some underlying health condition, but all my labs are fine and I'm actually feeling pretty good in general. Then, I blamed it on being less active after the cold weather set in, but the initial gain happened in mid 2008 when I was the most active I've ever been in my life.

Instead of deciding I need another weight-loss diet to "fix" the problem, I've finally decided to get back to fat-acceptance/body-positive basics though. No scales for the last 2 months or so. I even turned backward on the scale at the doctor's office and asked not to be told what I weighed. A few of my pants are a little tight, and I plan to pick up one or two new pair on clearance or from a second-hand store. I want to get back into a regular exercise routine, not in hopes of losing weight, but in hopes of managing stress and anxiety and improving my health overall.

I'm pretty clear that losing weight and keeping it off long-term is not the right focus for me (or 98 percent of other humans). So, it's back to the basics of HAES. I want to focus on eating in ways that makes me feel good (from scratch, lots of fruits and veggies) and putting some fun back in my workouts. Not really a resolution, here, just a re-focusing.

sarahmichigan: (Default)
1. I would have voted for the Democratic candidate even if it had been Satan Himself, but I was actually happy to be able to vote for Barack Obama. I don't agree with him on all points, but I love the message of "hope". In this troubled time, I truly think that the big thing we have to fear is fear itself, from terrorism to the economy, and we could use a bit of hope. I'm also thrilled to live in a time where women and people of color are considered serious candidates for the presidency/vice presidency. It's one thing to say that anything can happen in America, but when the president is an old white dude decade after decade, it sounds like a lot of talk and not a lot of action. I'm hoping we'll see a woman as president or vice president in my lifetime, too, but I was never convinced that H. Clinton was the woman for the job.

2. The turn-out at my polling place was HUGE. We have a fairly involved voting public in general, and there have been lines before, but not to the same extent as this year. I'm proud of my neighborhood for the turnout and for the civility with which they waited to vote.

3. My cat was happy to hear Obama won. She identifies with him, because she is black and white, too.

4. Surprised as hell that Prop 1 (medical marijuana) passed and with such a huge margin. Also surprised that Prop 2 (stem cell research) passed as well, especially considering the number of "No on 2" signs I saw around my area.

5. Sad that local schools won't be getting millage money to upgrade extremely outdated building. Not surprised in this economy, but still sad.

6. Fucking sad and angry as hell about all the anti-gay Props that passed around the country. We've made progress on racism and sexism, but I just don't know what can be done to make the majority realize that The Gays are people too, and civilization as we know it won't collapse if they get married or adopt kids.
sarahmichigan: (silly)
I'm on the mailing list, and they recently sent me 10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't).

It was rather shocking:
10. He frequently wears plaid with polka dots.
9. He was recently spotted snorting coke off a stripper's stomach.
8. His favorite delicacy is baby dolphin.
7. In 1998, he bought 5,000 acres of old growth forest so he could throw bonfires for his supporters.
6. In 2004, he opposed a bill to stiffen penalties for hot man-on-boy action.
5. That same year, under a pseudonym, he penned a steamy book about hot man-on-boy action.
4. A close personal aide resigned after allegedly witnessing McCain illegally obtaining a list of Planned Parenthood clients and telephone pranking women who had recently had abortions.
3. Photographic evidence proves that he picks his boogers and eats them.
2. He's a meanie.
1. He eats babies.

OK, not really.

You know, I'm fine with charts that compare my beliefs with the candidates' views or telling me about their voting records, but this kind of sensationalism (like item #7) doesn't really make me want to support, even though I agree with their general focus.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Sometimes, I find conservative or libertarian arguments and positions to be terribly naive.

This is not to say that there aren't liberals or liberal positions that are terribly naive- there are plenty. Also not saying there aren't thoughtful conservatives and liberatarians- there are.

I'm thinking more about motivation, here, though. Sometimes, a particular conservative or liberatarian position seems positively malicious to me, but then I see a particular person's reasoning, and it strikes me more as terribly un-informed or naive instead. I start to wonder if that person has ever experienced discrimination or poverty, or if that person *really* understands how the world works or anything about psychology or human motivation.

Surely, there are some mean-spirited libertarians and conservatives out there, but in most cases, I'd rather give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I'm copying the following over from comments in a friend's LJ because a comment replying to my comment was deleted, and I couldn't reply to it there. What started the exchange was that my friend wrote on her LJ that she'd been made uncomfortable about her own views and liberalism after talking to a conservative, pro-military friend who is stationed overseas.

I said:

I'm pro the troops, and liberal, and anti-war.

One of my brothers saw combat, 1st Division Marines, in the first Persian Gulf War. A war I demonstrated against.

My other brother is career military and spent some time as a peace-keeper in Kosovo.

Nobody better EVER accuse me of being against the military or against the troops. I'm pro-troops, just anti- the way the gov't uses them. I want them all to come home safely.

He said:

Subject: Pro-troops but anti use
That's like saying your pro-paint but anti-paintbrush. Except by sending them to war, how else can the government use troops?

If he hadn't deleted his comment, I would have replied:

How about for defense only?

Actually, my anti-war, non-interventionist sentiments aren't quite that black and white. I'm pretty glad the US got involved in World War II because, despite dropping the bomb on Japan, I think that on balance, we did the right thing to intervene in that conflict. But I almost never approve of the way our government uses the troops in modern times, sticking our noses in where it's not wanted or needed, being the World Police. I think there's a difference between starting a war of aggression and joining an ally in a war of defense, and lots of shades of gray in between.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Apparently, the FBI isn't a big fan of some of my favorite people.

From an FBI email obtained through the Freedom of Information Act: "The inability of FBI investigators to use this seemingly effective tool has had a direct and clearly adverse impact on our terrorism cases. While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us."
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I got pointed at this blog entry from my body_impolitic feed:

Short version: Don't make it a whacking huge deal if you say something racist, or something others perceive as racist. Apologize, move on, and consider the criticism seriously so that you can improve your thinking, if need be.


Oct. 9th, 2005 04:25 pm
sarahmichigan: (Default)
1. When and how did the emphasis in this country shift from valuing Freedom to valuing blind patriotism and a clinging to an illusion of security?

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." -Ben Franklin

2. I recently read a quote in an essay talking about how you don't have to be religious or attend church to be a good person. "It's our actions that show exactly how moral and responsible we are." I wonder how many people believe that? I'm a firm believer in the idea that "actions speak louder than words." I don't care what you profess to believe or hold as an ideal; I care about the message your behavior sends. But not everyone thinks that way.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
why I should watch TV news?

I won't get into an argument about people who are so elitist that they're "too good" for TV in general. I like TV shows once they're out on DVD and don't have commercials anymore. It's really the commercials that I object to more than the lack of good programming (though I only think about 5 percent of commercial television is actually watchable).

What I really want to know is why people bother with TV news. I get all my news from the internet, NPR, and newspapers/magazines. I think TV news is almost completely worthless. They deal in sound-bites and "news you can use" instead of in-depth analysis. I don't need to see grisly footage of the destruction in the south to know that the hurricane was bad, people are hurting, and our president fucked up royally.

I'm pretty well entrenched in my position that just about any other medium can do news better than the teevee, but I'm willing to hear any arguments to the contrary.

Ed. to add: I don't know if this is pertinent, but I was a reporter at a weekly for 3.5 years and the editor of that weekly for 2 years, and I freelanced before that. I generally consider myself "up" on news and current events.
sarahmichigan: (Default)

An excerpt:

Monday, August 29

8AM CDT – MAYOR NAGIN REPORTS THAT WATER IS FLOWING OVER LEVEE: “I’ve gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we’ve had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much.” [NBC’s “Today Show”]

MORNING — BUSH CALLS SECRETARY CHERTOFF TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION: “I spoke to Mike Chertoff today — he’s the head of the Department of Homeland Security. I knew people would want me to discuss this issue [immigration], so we got us an airplane on — a telephone on Air Force One, so I called him. I said, are you working with the governor? He said, you bet we are.” [White House]

sarahmichigan: (Default)
Since Sarah Michigan: My Life As An Amateur Porn Star is the place you come for a little something guaranteed to offend at least one person on my friend's list, here's a fab link I picked up from someone on the LJ birthcontrol community. It talks about how many Pro-Lifers end up having abortions, thinking that they are "special cases," all the while still believing that every abortion provider and every other abortion patient is still a murder.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
There was recently a very interesting debate on [ profile] jenx's journal about pharmacies or pharmacists that won't fill certain prescriptions, typically the 'morning after' pill, but also some other kinds of prescriptions. There's some conflicting information about CVS pharmacies. One pharmacy was in the news when a pharmacy tech refused to fill a birth control prescription because of a moral objection. However, their corporate policy seems pretty reasonable, and Planned Parenthood gives them the thumbs up. Rite Aid and some other pharmacies have less accommodating policies. K-mart, I am happy to report, has a policy that says they don't think it's right for a customer to have to leave the store with an unfilled prescription due to a worker's moral objections.

Here's Planned Parenthood's entire score card:
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I know legislators are going to try to stop and nullify the gay marriages going on right now, but I'm hoping that it's a case of the "cat is out of the bag" and the momentum will just be too strong.

I was reading [ profile] brighn's journal, and from the link about flowers for the couples standing in line for marriage licenses, I found a link to a photo album of the last week's worth of same-sex marriages. I found it to be a stunning piece of photojournalism-- I had tears dripping down my face after only getting half-way through the photos. The joy on these people's faces looks just like the joy on my face and that of [ profile] dionysus1999 in our wedding photos.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
As part of an effort to keep up with the latest issues associated with journalism, I read several trade publications and network with other journalists. Discussions about “media bias” amuse me a great deal.

“The media” is seen by much of the general public as being “liberal” while many of the companies that own media corporations are seen as extremely “conservative.”
However, the question “Is the media biased toward the liberal or conservative side?” isn’t easily answered in one sentence.

For example, many of the journalists I’ve talked to can tell stories about letters to the editor and phone calls they receive about a perceived bias in their publications. One reporter said that her paper, which has been reporting heavily on the Democratic Presidential nominee race, has been accused of being both “pro-Howard Dean” and “virulently anti-Dean” and the staff has received reader comments that the paper focused “too much” on candidate John Kerry and also that the paper “was too critical” of Kerry’s candidacy.

That’s just one case study, but scientific studies bear out the main message: that people will see media bias even when there isn’t any. In one study, political stories intentionally written to be as balanced as possible were shown to both staunch conservatives and life-long liberals. Conservatives inevitably complained that there was an obvious “liberal bias” while liberals complained of an obvious “conservative bias”— after reading the same story!

Some stories have run in national news outlets recently about what an ethical breach it is for a reporter to give money to a campaign he or she is writing about. I think it’s a pretty sticky subject, and not at all black and white.

Just because we’re journalists doesn’t mean we automatically give up our right to participate in the political process. Instead of telling journalists not to vote or campaign for their preferred candidate, my ideal is “full disclosure.”

If you’re contributing volunteer hours or money to a candidate you’re covering, you should report that possible conflict of interest to your supervisor, and let him or her decide about possibly reassigning you for a while.

Another solution would be for writers to be completely honest with their reading public about any conflict of interest, real or perceived. I see this fairly often in on-line news sites: a writer will include a short disclaimer explaining any connection the author might have to the corporation or organization he or she is writing about.

The best we, as journalists, can do is attempt to present all sides of a debate, and to try to be honest with our readers about any perceived conflicts of interest. The reality is that no one is completely free of bias, but we can— and should— strive to present a balanced view of events and personalities.

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