Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour And A Little Bit More

So, I've been thinking a lot about the whole Earth Hour thing and about whether it's better to participate or to not participate, and, then, this afternoon, I remembered something that I once heard Christopher Penzack say about Witches who complain about some problem or another. He said that he always wants to respond, "Well, gee. You're a Witch. Why don't you do something about that?"

Which, you know, is a good point.

So I will be participating in Earth Hour. I will turn off all of my lights as well as all unneeded appliances that use electricity. But I will also spend that hour doing magic to help those who are searching for way to save this lovely Planet that is both deity, home, and source of magic to me. I'm a Witch. I can do something about the conflict between a media-driven-feel-good event and the need for real and serious change that actually helps Earth.


As a postscript, I'll add that the whole notion of turning off our lights at night just implicates so many of this society's issues with darkness, night, etc. It's got to be good for us to delve into that, even a little bit.

Picture found here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

See What You Made Me Do To You?

Since it became evident that the Democrats were going to pass health care reform (you know, the bill that included over 200 Republican amendments, but that got zero Republican votes), teabaggers and others have been committing, and threatening, violence against Democrats. Predictably, as Atrios and Digby note, the Republicans are now blaming the Democrats for this violence. My immediate reaction, having lived through an abusive marriage, was that I'd heard this before.

It's the abusive spouse who smacks you around and then says, "See what you made me do to you?" And it's such a mindfuck, this person exercising emotional, verbal, and physical intimidation, pretending to have no ability to even control their own actions. It's your fault for [not hanging up the shirts in the right order, dropping the plate, wearing the wrong dress, being tired, insert any available reason here]. You can choose your behavior, this lie goes, but the abuser can't. Once you [pass health care reform, buy chicken breasts instead of thighs, decide to go back to school, object to the insults, insert any available behavior here], the abuser has no choice. He had to slap you around and, well, Look. Just look what you made him do. If you're not careful, you can begin to believe, as lots of Stockholm Syndrome Dems now do, that it really IS your fault.

This morning, the rhetoric is that it's the fact that the Dems are talking about the threats and abuse that is likely to cause -- big surprise, I know -- more abuse. And, immediately, I remembered Jensen's discussion about why Noah (the patriarchy) had to curse Ham (who saw the patriarchy naked and talked about it) and how that relates to the rules of dysfunctional families.

See what Ham made Noah do? The abusers keep doing this because the rest of us keep letting it work.


Postscript: Of course, and I should have said this: children can't stop the abusers. My comment that abusers keep doing this because the rest of us keep letting it work was directed towards those of us who have grown up, who can make a choice about whether or not we tolerate abuse. Children have no choice, which makes the abuse only that much worse.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Earth Hour

I get, I really do, all of the progressive objections to an event such as this one. I get that it can be viewed as a meaningless gesture, one that took more carbon to organize and publicize than it saves, one that lets people feel as if they've "done something" and then go back to driving Hummers and throwing away plastic bottles, one that cannont, by itself, change what politicians or corporations do. I get it. I get that we can't consume our way out of our global crisis and I get that the American military consumes so much carbon that it can seem pointless to worry about what I do.

And, yet, I will be turning off my lights and other appliances this Saturday. I will be doing it because I can and because this Planet is my deity. I will be doing it because every time that the people of the Earth work together to do anything positive, the noosphere gets stronger and the good goes beyond the immediately measurable. I will be doing it because I have a grandson.

What about you?

My New Name For A Blog

What echidne Said.

Indeed, the majority of church goers in the Catholic church are women, and this is true for other forms of Christianity, too. It may be true for all the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. It may be true for all religions.

Most women on this planet stay faithful to religious organizations which will not want to share power with them, which have holy texts full of misogyny and which in their extreme forms support societal structures completely unfair to women.

Yes, I understand the reasons for women's religious fidelity. Spirituality is channeled into the avenues that exist where you are born. Community is built around religion. Religion succors those who have less power.

I even understand how hard (and even dangerous) it is to tear oneself away from shared community values and approval, even when those values are bad and the approval based on a role which slowly suffocates you, and I certainly understand the fear of infinite hell if one believes in that. But it is still true that misogynistic religions would have less power if fewer women supported them, if more women spoke openly against the misogyny and refused to participate in it.

The consequences of such rebellious acts are not the same for all women, and I'm not advocating suicidal acts here. But most women will not be stoned to death for asking questions about their religion or for demanding more access to its corridors of power.

The point that echidne makes reminds me of one of the big reasons why I am a Witch. A religion that honors the Earth, physicality, and the cycle of life -- specifically the Maiden, Mother, Crone cycle -- is one where it's much easier for women to wield power. And, while definitely not perfect, has done a better job of not victimizing women, particularly in terms of dogma.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I am so there.

[T]he wickedest witch of all is coming back in a big way. And we don't just mean her penchant for supersizing. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Burton is finally giving "Sleeping Beauty" baddie Maleficent the spin-off that's been in the works for a long time.

Oddly it is the success of another Disney enchantress -- The Red Queen -- in Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" that finally got the film some traction. "Alice" screenwriter Linda Woolverton was just hired to pen a script that would take a "Wicked"-like look at what gave Maleficent such a nagging need to always snag an invite to the King's parties. "Carrie"-like prom, perhaps?

Growing up I actually had nightmares about her. In fact, my most enduring memory involves seeing Maleficent's face in a giant mirror as the pool I was swimming in turned red and began to boil. So needless to say, I'm shaking in my jammies about how dark this version will be.

If "Maleficent" is successful (which it will be, let's face it), more bewitching origin tales could start bubbling up. The one I want to see is, "Ursula: How A Poor, Unfortunate Soul Rose To Power!"

Maybe that one can explain why male power (the mermaid's father, quite the unreasonable tyrant) is always legit, while female power is always evil.

Picture found here.

Ada Lovelace Day

I am a complete Luddite, as the folks who work for my borg's IT department will eagerly tell you. (No, really. They'll even pay for the drinks if you'll just listen to them tell you stories about "that woman." The sobriquet: "The One Who Gets Hysterical" is not lightly awarded.) Luckily, it's not genetic; G/Son, at 4, manipulates my iPhone and MacBook at will. And, I have friends who are not Luddites, and they remind me every year that March 24th is Ada Lovelace Day.

Who was Ada Lovelace?

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was born on 10th December 1815, the only child of Lord Byron [the poet who was "mad, bad, and dangerous to know"] and his wife, Annabella. Born Augusta Ada Byron, but now known simply as Ada Lovelace, she wrote the world’s first computer programmes for the Analytical Engine, a general-purpose machine that Charles Babbage had invented.

Ada had been taught mathematics from a very young age by her mother and met Babbage in 1833. Ten years later she translated Luigi Menabrea’s memoir on Babbage’s Analytical Engine, appending notes that included a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers with the machine – the first computer programme. The calculations were never carried out, as the machine was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software.

Understanding that computers could do a lot more than just crunch numbers, Ada suggested that the Analytical Engine “might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.” She never had the chance to fully explore the possibilities of either Babbage’s inventions or her own understanding of computing. She died, aged only 36, on 27th November 1852, of cancer and bloodletting by her physicians.

Thus, March 24th, Ada Lovelace Day[,] is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.

I work in a traditionally "male" field. I can only begin to imagine how difficult it is for women who work in technology. And, yet, they keep making brilliant achievements. Here's a new project ready-made for Max Daschu!

Picture found here.


Don't look now, John, but they could and they did.

What Others Toiled For Night And Day

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Poetry Blogging

In Beauty Bright


In beauty-bright and such it was like Blake’s
and though an angel he looked absurd
dragging a lily out of a beauty-bright store
wrapped in tissue with a petal drooping,
nor was it useless—you who know it know
how useful it is—and how he would be dead
in a minute if he were to lose it though
how do you lose a lily? His lily was white
and he had a foolish smile there holding it up like
a candelabrum in his right hand facing the
mirror in the hall nor had the endless
centuries started yet nor was there one thorn
between his small house and the beauty-bright store.

Poem found here.

Photo by the author. If you copy, please link back.

Just What We Don't Need

Here's a disturbing story.

Albuquerque police say that a the city's latest homicide may have taken place during a Wiccan spring celebration.

Police say that 30-year-old Angela Sanford, who claims to be a practicing witch, stabbed and killed Joel Leyva Monday afternoon in the open space area near the Tramway bike trail at Tramway and Copper.

According to police, Sanford, who had met Leyva a week ago at a local casino, invited him to the foothills for the Wicca celebration of spring, known as Beltane.

The two drank beer and police say Sanford claims she squatted along the trail to urinate.

The woman told police that Leyva then approached her from behind and tied her hands with a rope belt Sanford had been wearing. She said she was able to get the rope belt off and stabbed Leyva with a Wicca dagger.

“At some point, she was able to convince the man to disrobe and, while on top of him, stabbed him multiple times,” said APD Chief Ray Schultz.

Schultz says that Sanford is charged with murder and is being held in lieu of a $500,000 bond.

He says investigators are still investigating Sanford's claims regarding Wicca.

My hope is that this turns out to be the equivalent of the woman who claims she was abducted by a scary black man and then turns out to have been lying all along. Of course, its not till the end of the story that we find out that police are still investigating the claims regarding Wicca.

And, "at some point, she was able to convince the man to disrobe"????????? And then she stabbed him? Not like any Wiccan Ostara celebration I've ever heard of.

More here.

And, as Morgaine points out in comments, there's the odd conflation of Ostara and Beltane -- not a mistake most Wiccans would make.

Now The Xians Are At War With Easter

You can go mad trying to figure out any consistent theory behind a lot of fundie wailing, until you realize that it's all really just about their need to feel persecuted and to impose rules, including rules they want to impose on each other. That's the only explanation for this phenomena.

Hold on to your hats, folks. The Worldnutdaily, which has been a central clearinghouse of "war on Christmas" bullshit, has now declared their own war on Easter. Joe Kovacs, the executive news editor for the Worldnutdaily, has a column declaring that Easter is a pagan holiday that should not be celebrated by Christmas.

"Most Christians, whether knowingly or unknowingly, violate this very first commandment of God each year by placing before God the actual name of a pagan goddess of fertility and the dawn.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, her name is - believe it or not - "Easter."

That's correct, folks. The word Easter is actually the name of an ancient, heathen goddess who represents fertility, springtime and the dawn.

Some of her symbols are flowers, bunnies, eggs, the sun and the moon. Who'da thunk?"

He's right, of course. Easter is a pagan fertility festival that was coopted by Christians centuries ago. But the same thing is true of Christmas (one of the reasons why the Puritans made it a crime to celebrate Christmas in the early days of the American colonies) and the Worldnutdaily is one of the loudest voices denouncing the entirely mythical "war on Christmas" every year.

I can't wait for Matt Staver and the American Family Association to condemn the Worldnutdaily for their vile attack on a venerated Christian holiday. Nah, that's not likely to happen. The real threat, as everyone knows, is a store clerk saying "happy holidays" to someone whose religion they don't know; merely calling a Christian holiday satanic and pagan, that's perfectly fine.

Maybe if they'd appropriated less, they'd have less cause for aggrievement.

PS: Dear Mr. Brayton, love your blog, but if you're going to capitalize "Christians," then you should also capitalize "Pagan." And even Mr. Kovacs didn't, in the section you quote, call Easter "satanic" -- is there a reason you're conflating the two?

Picture found here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My New Name For A Blog

What Athenae Said

I really don't think it can be overstated, how crazy tough Nancy Pelosi had to be to get this bill through the House, with Stupak Stupak-ing all over the place and conseravtive Democrats running scared and even Obama being all, "It's my bill, no it's not, I want this, no I don't, you're on your own, except I KEEL YOU if you fail" all the time.

There's a lot -- A LOT -- about this bill that sucks. But, in the end, it was the women who got it done. I've had my differences w Pelosi as well, but, credit where credit is due. She made Boener cry.

Monday Poetry Blogging

Fairy-tale Logic


Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:
Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,
Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,
Select the prince from a row of identical masks,
Tiptoe up to a dragon where it basks
And snatch its bone; count dust specks, mote by mote,
Or learn the phone directory by rote.
Always it’s impossible what someone asks—

You have to fight magic with magic. You have to believe
That you have something impossible up your sleeve,
The language of snakes, perhaps, an invisible cloak,
An army of ants at your beck, or a lethal joke,
The will to do whatever must be done:
Marry a monster. Hand over your firstborn son.

Poem found here.

Picture found here.

My New Name For A Blog

What echidne Said.

Sunday, March 21, 2010