Wednesday, May 12, 2010

5-year-old Arielle's revolutionary consciousness

For your pleasure, dear reader, I give you a sampling of some of my early literary production.

I know: this has been a slow month for us all. Righting the wrongs of the world can be an arduous task, as can pulling 9-hour days at a desk job that reminds me that I will never be the "key player" everyone seems to think I can be (hello, Emergency Communities, circa Camp Hope days).

In any event, my mother loves me and has saved the following document for everyone's enjoyment. You can tell by the moral of the story that I, even as a kindergartner, demonstrated a deep love and respect for a common humanity (or at least for chocolate).

Our heroic protagonist, Smiles the Clown, looks out not only for his own material wellbeing, but for that of his comrades as well. Yet he also is cognizant of the fact that strategic friendships have a dual importance - that is, for better or for worse - in enabling change for the individual experience.

UPDATE: I realized that I should have acknowledged the person I assume to have been the recorder of this artful masterpiece, Alissa "Ussa" Schecter Wright, age 10 at the time of transcription. Thanks, big sis!

Read on, gentle warriors, and be enlightened:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Let's apologize for having periods

A husband-and-wife team has invented an iPhone application called "Code Red," which tracks and forecasts a woman's menstrual cycle.

Marketed to a male audience, the app - which of course can be used on the infamously named iPad - allows the user to enter in the dates of a woman's last few periods, and then predicts when the next one will be.

A female face with devil horns appears onscreen during the few days before a period is expected. This image is intended to warn the user of impending "PMS" and the emotional havoc it apparently wreaks on a man.

(The linked article has an accompanying photo of a woman baring her teeth in a shout. I can only assume this is meant to validate the image of a "bitchy," menstruating woman.)

This demonization of menstruation is hurtful to women. We are not lunatics just because our bodies remind us of their fertility. In fact, this "lunatic" moniker derives from the connection - especially evident before the advent and hyper-adoption of artificial light - between menstruation and the lunar cycle.

The existence of "Code Red" implies that periods are a nasty affair, and men would benefit from a system that alerts them when their female partners are about to have them. Perhaps they would become enlightened to the emotional and physical duress of a period. A woman is not crazy just because she might get more angry, sad, or anxious than usual during a certain stage of her menstrual cycle. She is in tune with her body and emotions. It is probably more unnatural not to have emotional swings during this time.

But I'm fairly certain that the intention behind this application has little to do with sensitivity. It is supposed to serve as a warning - "Get away from your girlfriend this week: She's hormonal"; or "Don't have sex with her tomorrow; it will be gross for you."

Through this technology, women are again subjected to the judgment that our bodies are dirty and we should feel ashamed not only of our physical beings, but our emotional selves as well. I can only wonder what the wife of the husband-and-wife team was thinking.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Don't worry, New Orleans - The government's got this one

We here on the Gulf Coast are having Barry over for tea tomorrow, in the hopes that he might do something about the demurely named oil "spill" that has killed 11 men, and is threatening marine wildlife, already endangered marshland, and the southern Louisiana fishing industry.

What currently passes as "cleanup efforts" is essentially a blame-game between BP, which is technically responsible for the management and operations of the now-exploded oil rig, and the US government, which is promising military intervention to quell the gush of oil before it causes more damage.

The global oil industry has been helplessly underregulated since its inception, and it probably will take a disaster like this to even spur debate on safeguard implementation.

BP and the government have demonstrated a truly alarming lack of preparedness for what has turned out to be the worst-case-scenario. A portion of the oil has been lit on fire in an attempt to slow its spread across the Gulf. A Coast Guard officer said of the burn: "It's a test...We’re trying to see how it works."

So we're left with a dirty (and
smelly) situation that nobody but the robots is rushing to remedy.

UPDATE: This is what we've come to as a nation. "The Ritz-Carlton in downtown New Orleans is accepting donations of nylons, hair and fur on behalf of Matter of Trust to create booms to combat [the] oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico."

UPDATE: Again, Jon Stewart explains it best, beginning at 5:37.