L’shana tovah!

30 09 2008

And apparently Eid Mubarak as well, I learned in two classes today.  We talked about Eid in Law in the Muslim World and my Turkish teacher also mentioned Bayram (same thing).  No one knew that it was Rosh Hashannah, though.  Strange.  

I meant to talk a bit about homosexuality in Judaism today, but I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off!  Two ACs this week, several deadlines next week and the week after, and I’m going to be gone Friday through Sunday working to get the word out to voters about the possible abortion ban in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  I’m looking forward to it, but I may crash and burn before I get there.  Ugh.  Last night I couldn’t sleep till one am and apparently slept walked because I woke up shivering and found my blanket, perfectly folded, in a living room chair.  Weird.

C’mon, Obama, just throw a punch!

27 09 2008

If you want to see some of the thoughts I had during the debate you can glance at my twitter (peachy_penumbra), but the big ones are that a) McCain’s paternalism and that damned voice make me want to throw up and b) I’m really bummed that it looks like Cold War Part II is coming and my American passport will keep me from spending any time in Russia, where I’d desperately like to go.

Reason #754 Why I’m in Love with Rachel Maddow

26 09 2008

She has a debate drinking game.

Why is love the defining line?

20 09 2008

Now that I’ve come out of my hermitage once again, I have so many thoughts to share with you!

I was thinking about love in the shower (no, no, not like that) and I came to an interesting conclusion.  I was thinking about what the function of “I love you” is in a relationship, particularly when said for the first time.  When I was dating my college boyfriend, he said those three words after about six months.  We hadn’t been friends first – we met, we started dating, and we’d been cruising along for a while when he dropped the bomb.  I said “I love you, too” instinctively, but later in the comfort of my dorm room I started freaking out with my roommate.  Do I love him?  Do I, do I?  The next morning I decided that I did, but it was something of a foregone conclusion.

So what does love mean in such a context?  A lot of things, but two major ones come to mine.  (1) The people involved have come to a certain level of intimacy and affection.  (2) It’s a signal of commitment, possibly monogamy, that you’re in it for the long haul (or feel that way at the moment).  The reason it has to serve that double function is the assumption that you didn’t start out intimate or affectionate.  Mark and I were not friends in advance, and I never would’ve come to love him on that basis – we just aren’t that compatible.  This is why I really like my current approach, i.e., I don’t have sex with anyone I don’t consider a close friend.  The fact is, I already love my close friends.  We’ve reached that level of intimacy and affection and I already trust them.  I know that I like that individual as a person before we move into relationship (or just sexual friendship) territory.  “I love you” isn’t some huge revelation.  I already did!  We love each other, yes, and I don’t mind communicating it, but it doesn’t have to serve function (2).  It’s not some big bomb-dropping.  I think it’s best not to conflate love and commitment or love and long-term relationships because there are so many forms of love.  I could name about twenty people that I truly love, and none of them am I in a relationship with.  I like being a bit more practical about it.  If I feel that I want to be long-term with someone, then we can talk about it.  It doesn’t have to be code words that confuse everyone and require long conversations with a third party.  Communication, it’s what’s for dinner.

Off to the Iowa City Women’s Music Festival: Like Michigan, but with Shirts!

(shouldn’t that be their motto?  seriously?)

Re-thinking Family

20 09 2008

I just finished Nancy Polikoff’s recent book on her “valuing all families” approach to family law.  It’s an interesting thesis, but rather than talking about the book at the minute I’d like to share an observation.  One of the thing the book does is briefly traced the history of the marriage institution and how family structures have changed in the past thirty or forty years.  I started thinking about the people I know who are in some sort of serious relationship and how a legal system that didn’t make heterosexual marriage so legally significant might benefit many of them.  Here’s a sample of relationships among my friends and family as food for thought.  Try thinking about the people you know, and I bet you’ll come up with similar family diversity: 

  • A heterosexual couple in their late twenties who plan to spend their lives together but don’t want to marry and own a home together
  • A married heterosexual couple in their late fifties who have never wanted to have children
  • A married heterosexual couple in their late forties with two young children 
  • A divorced man and woman who are best friends, have a child together, and list each other as health care proxies and sole inheritors
  • A lesbian couple in their fifties who were recently able to marry in California and have no children
  • A lesbian couple in their thirties/forties who plan to have children, one of whom is here on a student visa and is afraid of deportation after ten or so years with her partner
  • A heterosexual married couple in their their mid-twenties with a two year old child
  • A heterosexual couple in their late fifties who don’t want to marry but may have to for health insurance reasons, in which case one member of the couple would lose subsidized housing despite not living together

When I think of all these people I love, and of my own lack of a desire to marry, it’s easy to understand the “valuing all families” approach.  I think doing away with marriage as a legal entity is unlikely, but she has a point.

Sexism is irrelevant?

13 09 2008

I just watched the Charlie Gibson interview with Sarah Palin on YouTube, and though there were plenty of things I had an opinion about, one that stuck out in my mind is Palin saying that the question of whether criticism of her trying to raise a family and run for VP is sexist is irrelevant.  The way she framed the issue, talking about being part of the Title IX generation, etc. etc., struck me as saying that sexism is irrelevant, or maybe even non-existent, in this day and age.  Sure, maybe people don’t come right and say “you can’t be the Vice President because you are a woman and a woman with children,” but sexism is extremely pervasive, and I can’t imagine that Palin has never in her life faced sexism.  I’m sure it helps to be on the “right side” of things as far as the way the rich, white, conservative straight men who run the country see it, but I find this interesting.  Is this how she feels personally or only politically?  Does she honestly think she’s never been the victim of sexism?

Back from the Dead

12 09 2008

…so to speak.

School is off to a roaring start.  I’ve picked up a second research job that I’m very happy about, doing a combination of research into global administrative law and european legal philosophy and translation work from German to English.  I’m a bit nervous about that piece, as I’ve never had translation training (though I’ve done a bit anyway).  I checked out a book from the library on German-English translation method and am working my way through it.  Classes are fine, and in fact the least of my worries.  The journal is very much in full swing, and probably the hardest part of the semester to which I must adjust.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m also nearly done applying for the Human Rights Watch fellowship.  If you have fingers and toes spare, please cross them for me!  

Today, I don’t have anything particularly intelligent to talk about, but I’d like to tell you about a couple of pieces of software I’m playing with.  I’ve been using Sidenote for a while to keep my to-do list.  Aside from the one devestating crash, which got me backing up much more frequently, I really like it.  It’s a program for Mac OSX Leopard that hides off to the side of the screen and is invisible, but whenever you want it, you just scroll over and it pops up.  It’s a decent little text editor, and you can have multiple files, so I have a general to-do and also a separate file for writing ideas.  I’ve also had a little break from Suite, but those ideas are piling up so I hope to get back to it soon.  

The second to-do type program I’m playing with is something called iProcrastinate, available for both Tiger and Leopard.  It’s similar to Schoolhouse, whose interface I love, but Schoolhouse crashes extremely frequently, and I just can’t have that.  iProcrastinate has fewer features, but it has the basics that I need – you can set up color-coded classes (or other categories; I have some for my jobs and the journal), add assignments for each class with due dates and priority, and create steps within larger tasks.  It doesn’t have smart “playlist” style sorting like Schoolhouse (so you can’t, for example, say “show me everything due next week”) but that feature is useless if the program crashes everytime you enter something new.  I also like that iProcrastinate has manual saving.  Though my to-do list plan works well for me in general, it isn’t much of a big-picture (I tend to look only at today).  With iProcrastinate, I hope to get a better idea of the big picture, and then use that to plan each day’s individual tasks out based on what’s coming up.  I’m waffling about whether to use it on the laptop or the desktop, though.  Since my Bluetooth inexplicably stopped working, I can’t synch the two anymore without a bit of a pain.  Sidenote only works on the desktop, so it would be nice to have something that tells me what’s going on when I’m at school, but I also don’t like having to have two computers on at once.  Meh.

Finally a quick note on iTunes 8.0.  I heard bad things about the Genius feature, but my first attempt with it was pretty awesome.  It took about 15 minutes to find all my music, and then I tried a playlist based on “Sons and Daughters.”  The review I’d read said that you pretty much had to do pop music or it would find weird matches, but my guess is that either so many people turned the feature on in the past few days that the feature has improved immeasurably since the review was written, or that it just happens to respond well because I have so much similar music on my harddrive.  The playlist it gave me includes artists like Andrew Bird, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sufjan Stevens, the New Pornographers, and Belle & Sebastien.  “The Flow,” as my mix CD genius of a friend Emily used to call it, is quite good.

And now I’m slightly frightened

6 09 2008

One thing about being a part of the foodblogging community that I’ve become more and more used to is the diversity of the group.  Most of my interests (LGBT studies, human rights, feminism) more or less tend to fall within a certain political range.  There are variances within the group, but you know what you expect to hear.  Foodies aren’t like that – after all, everyone has to eat.  You get quite a range – a lot of moms and a lot of young or middle-aged professional women, many of whom are married, but also some single girls and occasionally guys.  There are a lot of Christians and “family values” folks, which means there are presumably a lot of Republicans.  I don’t have any problem with that, as I’ve always lived in politically diverse areas and had a politically diverse group of friends and colleagues.  But I have to say a post on one foodblog gave me pause.

The woman who writes this blog said that she had been sure she was going to vote for Obama until she saw Palin’s speech.  Now, as a mom, she’s energized and excited about the ticket and changing her mind.  Really?  I think a lot of us liberals are thinking that bullshit won’t work, but there’s a point there.  She’s a young, vibrant mother and a lot of women probably see her and think yeah, that’s me, that’s a badass career mom, go get ’em girl.  Now I know nothing about this particular blogger’s politics, though I gather she’s not very political and may well be an independent, but I wonder how much the “fellow mom” card plays above, say, Palin’s views on reproductive rights, Creationism, and other areas where she’s a conservative extremist.  I wonder if women who want to vote for McCain because of Palin agree (or just don’t care that much) with her stance on the issues, or if they disagree but are simply willing to overlook.  I also wonder if people realise that when they vote for this ticket they’re voting for McCain for President.  There isn’t a young, vibrant mom running for President.  It’s McCain.  An old, votes-with-Bush white guy.  If that genuinely appeals, then fine, but I can’t help but smell some trickery in the air.

Drive-by political commentary

4 09 2008

If you’ve noticed that things look rather thin around here, it’s because I’ve been putting time into a massive bookmark organization so that I can more easily talk about the past things I keep mentioning that I want to blog about.  I’ll be blogging a little like eating a sandwich from both sides for a while – posts on old topics starting from the oldest and posts on things that just happened as well, working my way to the middle.

So, my brief thoughts on the conventions thus far.  I haven’t been watching them straight through because I don’t have a TV (it’s better that way).  What I do is watch individual speeches on YouTube, and get my commentary from the Rachel Maddow show (hurrah Internet radio) and the Daily Show (hurrah free episodes).  I enjoyed Ted Kennedy’s speech and Hillary’s speech, though neither made me stand up and cheer.  Throughout Obama’s speech I was thinking “well if he can actually achieve all this shit, he really is Superman.”  The thing is, I think he believes that he can do it.  I like the content of the promises.  And so, despite the fact that I don’t believe that he can do ten percent of it, he is the best thing going.  I haven’t seen Palin’s speech yet, but I get the feeling things are going downhill pretty quickly for the Republicans. Surprise, surprise:  I’m all right with that.