You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for May, 2001.

Bad Day

May 31st, 2001

Here’s the kind of day I’m having:It began with me dutifly using a green permanent marker to cover over all the words and bar codes on an old shoe box I wanted to use to mail some stamps I am donating to Stamps for the Wounded at the suggestion of Scott (the clerk at the post office yelled at me the last time I reused a box and didn’t cover over all the old words). I carefully scribbled over all the words on one end of the box, turned it around, and scribbled over all the words on the other end. And, of course, the scribbles from the first end left a nice smudge on my left leg. It is about 6 inches long and looks vaguely like a feather. It is a permanent marker — it won’t wash off.

Next, I decided to get some Diet Coke from the fridge. I opened the door, and the 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke came flying out and landed on my right big-toe. That really hurt.

After I stopped screaming, I decided to try and get some work done on my dissertation. So I opened up the file for chapter 5, and found that all my work from yesterday is gone. Gone. Gone. Gone! I don’t have a printer right now, so I have no hard copy, and of course I didn’t make a back-up. It is simply gone.

So then I decided it was time to have a shower. I thought I would shower and do a few personal errands (like going to the post office and dropping off some film). While I was in the shower, both my shower curtain rods fell down. I had shampoo in my hair, and water was everywhere. What a mess. And that’s why there are no links today! Clearly, the universe is trying to tell me something!

A Handmaid’s Trail

May 30th, 2001

Oh. My. God.I simply cannot believe that the Bush White House is giving $43 million to the Taliban. This money makes the U.S. the major international sponsor of the Taliban — American taxpayers are supporting the systematic and brutal oppression of women. This oppression goes beyond simple bias or discrimination. In Afghanistan, women are denied medical care, education, and the freedom to walk outside alone. Yes, the money is given in support of the Taliban’s anti-drug initiatives — but true harm caused by those drugs is so much less than the harm caused by the oppression of women that it really is a bad deal.This answers all my questions about what George W. really thinks about women. This is a shameful, sick, misguided, act. The Handmaid’s Tale sounds less and less like fiction with every passing day.

This AP article (found via Feminist Media Watch), says that the money will be going through the UN and will be distributed directly to the Afghani people as a way to fight famine. Gosh, that’s a noble sentiment.So why don’t we do the same for the Iraqi people? (answer: because the Bush team is incapable of coming up with a rational foreign policy)

Why is there such threat of famine in Afghanistan? The 20-year civil war has devastated the countryside, making farming a dangerous occupation. Durring this war, 1/3 of Afghanistan’s population has died, making it one of the only countries in the world to record a decline in population

Bush isn’t the first U.S. president to support the Taliban. From 1994 through 1996, Clinton supported the Taliban in the civil war, hoping that an end to the war would mean a better life for Afghanis, control of the drug trade, and stability if the region. However, after the Taliban captured Kabul in September 1996 and began implementing its sadistic brand of Islam and taking away the basic human rights of women, the Clinton White House quickly (and honorably) ended its support. In the face of continued oppression of women, Bush has renewed and expanded U.S. support for these theocratic tyrants. No wonder the U.S. was thrown off the U.N. Human Rights commission.

The more I read about this decision, the more sick I become.


May 29th, 2001

Sputter, sputter, sputter. I hate those moments when anger clouds my thoughts and makes coherence impossible. How can I write when the words I want to scream and shout and fling at the world are blocked by the very emotion that spwaned them? I want to offer a late comment about the various stories showning that the Democratic vandalism of the White House never happened. I want to ask about those right-leaning weblog authors who so loudly condemed the vandalism but are now silent. I want to ask about fairness and justice and honesty. I want to make a thoughtful comment about the way our society makes it impossible to admit to a mistake, whether you are the president, a reporter, a submarine captain, a lover, or a weblog author. But I can’t say any of that right now. So instead, I’ll point out that I’ve posted pictures of our cats.

I’m also intensely frustrated with Netscape 6. Some websites I visit will not allow me to view content unless I’m using it. Others will not allow me to view content if I’m using it. It’s enough to make me use Internet Explorer full-time.

The June 2001 issue of National Geographic includes a short story in the “Behind the Scenes” section about Matthew Henson. The National Geographic Society posthumously awarded the Hubbard Medal (the society’s highest award) to Henson, one of the only black polar explorers. This link is to the NGS press release describing Henson’s life and the award. Henson surely deserves the award. He worked side by side with Robert E. Peary, one of America’s greatest Arctic explorers and recipient of the very first Hubbard Medal. Henson was brave, strong and smart, and made several important discoveries independent of Peary. Regardless of the controversy over who discovered the pole, the NGS is right (if somewhat late) to honor Henson.


May 18th, 2001

This really is the cutest kitten ever (thanks Eric).

This article in the San Fransisco Bay Gaurdian asks a very important question about the California power crisis:

Why has Los Angeles been an island of tranquility in the electric power crisis that has rocked California since early January? Communities to the north, south, and east have endured blackouts and soaring electricity rates, which are just a foretaste of what lies ahead this summer…. Yet Los Angeles residents continue to enjoy reliable, cheap electricity. Why?

The answer lays in the fact that LA owns and operates its own generating stations. The municipal system was exempted from the state’s deregulation scheme, and LA continues to generate its own electricity. The city not only electrifies it’s own residents, but it is selling power to the rest of the state’s starved power grid. How did this situation come about? Working class unions in LA supported the municipal power system, and in a complicated political compromise, union support was the key to creating the system. The article is fascinating, and points out how effective unions can be.

The LA Weekly’s cover story is about the war between the city’s homeless and the private security guards hired by local merchants. This is important, because the dispute has ended up in court. The courts are being asked to rule on the legality of this private police force, which routinely conviscates the property of homeless people, rousts them out of their turf, takes their pictures, and searches them for weapons and drugs which they then turn over to the police.

At issue are not only the experiences of the 12 men who signed on to the suit, says Callaghan, but the increasing privatization of public space that the rise of business improvement districts represents: “We’re seeing a privatization of the police force that ought to be troubling to everyone.” Catholic Worker volunteer Jeff Dietrich, who helps run the Hippie Kitchen, is more blunt about the danger posed by BID-employed security: “From our perspective, they’re a private army. They’re no different from a vigilante group formed and paid for by business people and property owners.” Their job is not to prevent crime, Dietrich charges, but to maximize the profitability of the areas they patrol. “They want no experiences that diminish people’s desire to spend money.”

I love this installment of Tom Tomorrow’s cartoon. Very good.

Mother’s Day

May 14th, 2001

Today is Mother’s Day. Since I’m not a mother myself, and since my own mother and Grandmother didn’t want to celebrate today, this was not a significant holiday for me. I put some cards in the mail a few days ago and that was it.However, something strange happened today. It has never happened before, but today it happened twice. Strangers wished me a happy Mother’s Day. This happened to me at the car wash, and then again at a restaurant. I am not a mother, and I did not have children with me. This has never happened to me before, and the fact that it happened today made me wonder — what has changed in my life since last Mother’s Day to cause strangers to wish me well?At first I thought that I might look like I’m of the “mother age.” But I don’t think I look significantly older than I did a year ago, so that can’t explain why I received such wishes this year but not last year. Then just a few minutes ago, I was working on updating some other parts of Papaya Palace, and I happened to glance at my hands on the keyboard. And then I realized — one thing that is different about me from one year ago is that I now wear a wedding ring. I wonder if my ring has anything to do with it? Do people consciously or unconsciously see my ring and assume that since I’m married I must be (or want to be) a mother?Comments?


May 7th, 2001

Today has been an eventful day, and I’m in a good mood.

Kudos to Dallas city council member John Loza, who is fighting for a city ordinance to ban discrimination against gays. After summarizing the various positions for and against such an ordinance, the article quotes Loza’s reason for fighting:

“The right to not be fired from a job is not a special right.”

I think I’ll have to send him a campaign contribution. [source: Dallas Observer]


Readers of the pre-break Breaching the Web may remember that I harbor a serious dislike of Britney Spears. Now I have a new reason. The Pepsi ad that debuted at the Superbowl and that now airs about once every 9.6 minutes on any TV show I might want to watch drives me crazy. I hate the music, I hate the imagery, and most of all I hate her. For me, Britney symbolizes everything that is wrong with our American approach to sexuality. And Lara Riscol, writing for the Northern California Bohemian, agrees with me. Her article, Sex & Spears, covers some good ground. Here’s a taste:

“I have strong morals. I believe in God. I’m saving myself for marriage,” chants the self-proclaimed virgin as she strips, struts, gyrates, and thrusts in a belly- and boob-baring getup, while singing “I’m not so innocent.” The mass marketing of Britney inspires fashion trends for pre-pubescent girls and teen slut websites for, well, everyone, everywhere. Teens are the casualties in a culture war that reduces our basest, most transcendent drive to extremes. Youth are left to flounder under the intensified hypocrisy and mixed messages of a nation that can’t move beyond sexuality’s marital ideal or commodified reality. Amid the sexual gluttony of our media and marketplace, church and government brazenly pull information from youth and push chastity until marriage, calling it balance. I call it paradoxical. Neither excess nor repression develops into sexual intimacy or connection, let alone responsibility.

[source: Northern California Bohemian]