Cocking A Snook Too!

Independent, Irreverent Unschoolers – or at least one – Take On the Universe

Well, at Least We Don’t Live in Australia: Thoughts on Abortion April 21, 2009


I woke up to the sound of a vibrating cell phone.

Since it only vibrated once, it was almost undoubtedly Calvin texting me. I figured this morning’s text would be something about the day-to-day operation of the Venn diagram that is our lives, pertaining to our plant or trip to the beach, but it was the other kind of Calvin text: the Kind that Keeps Me Angry/Amused About the World Around Me.

He’s a very good news source, and he knows exactly which stories will make me scream/laugh. Today was a screaming day.

A 19 yr old Australian is facing 14 years in prison for “organizing her own miscarriage,the text read. [Abortion is] legal there, just illegal to seek.

That makes no sense, I texted back.

Correct, he agreed.

So if someone jumps out of an alleyway and gives you one against your will, it’s OK, but if you make an appointment, it’s not?

Sort of. The law is 100 years old and doesn’t even make complete sense by today’s legal standards. “Seek your own” is the key phrase, but it isn’t defined.

According to Wikipedia, the law in Australia is pretty similar to the state ours was in pre-Roe – cases turn on a state-by-state basis. Abortion is the law of the land, there, in the sense that an abortion performed based upon the health risks of the mother is always legal, but each state has the right to define what that means.

Therefore, the young woman in question, who facilitated her abortion with the much vilified “abortion pill,” is in violation of the law because she based her decision to abort not on health concerns, but on the fact that she’s nineteen years old, for god’s sake. The pill, misoprostol, is essentially banned in Australia, and was smuggled in from the Ukraine.

Luckily, much of Australia seems to be with her, although most of the news stories I can find make the old mistake of saying “pro-abortion activists” are rallying. This is a label that rubs more and more on me these days, creating an emotional and political blister the size of Kansas. No one is “pro-abortion.” No one likes the idea of it. Nobody has one with relish. What I am – and what most people in the pro-choice movement are – is a person who wants control over my own life.

This story hits home with me for several reasons, not least because this girl is my age. If I were to require an abortion at this point in my life and someone were to get in my way? Oh, there would be carnage, and damn the consequences. Conservatives try to obfuscate the issue by whining about life. What about my life? I am a fully developed person, a citizen of these United States, and I have certain unalienable rights to this vessel which is my own personal body. Sure, a fetus has the potential to become a life. I am a life already.

There were several moments in Barack Obama’s campaign that made me want to vote for him twice. One of those moments was during the Saddleback forum, hosted by the Devil. The Devil asked Obama about abortion (although he did not challenge him to a fiddlin’ contest, which is a shame), and Obama responded thus:

“I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they — they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or their spouses or their doctors or their family members.”

Thank god that we are not in Australia, and that this man is our president. But does anyone remember that, for a while there, we were alarmingly close to this?:

Sarah Palin and her child named after a tree or something

Sarah Palin and her child named after a tree or something

Q: Your stand on abortion?

A: I’m pro-life. I’ll do all I can to see every baby is created with a future and potential. The legislature should do all it can to protect human life.

Source: Q&A with’s Mike Coppock Aug 29, 2008

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a nuance gap between two candidates.

I think it comes down to this: the pro-choice concept is difficult for some people to latch on to because it involves the complex task of making your own decision with no guidance from anyone else.

Think about it. Atheists make religious fundamentalists uncomfortable because we manage to operate by a moral code which we ourselves developed, free of biblical intervention. Religious fundamentalists are people who cling to the chains that bind them, who genuinely don’t know how to operate without a set of rules handed down from on high. Why wouldn’t these people want abortion legislation?

I think women who are anti-choice are that way because they are as horrified by abortion as, well, anyone. And they are even more horrified by this thought:  what kind of monster am I if I decide to have an abortion? If abortion is illegal, well, congrats, you don’t have to struggle with your better angels at all. Decision has been made for you, and you have an excuse not to think about unpleasant things.

I am an inverse fundamentalist christian. I want everyone to step into the light, to see the beautiful future they can have if only they believe in it. But that future is not accessible through hate and fear. It is accessible through freedom, it is visible in the first steps taken away from dogma and puppet-strings, toward the terrifying brilliance of a world you can create yourself.


Teabagging John Adams: Or, a Brief List of Things About Which I Have Recently Become Enraged April 16, 2009

The greatest satirists of our age

The greatest satirists of our age

I haven’t blogged in a long time.

The Rick Steves thing doesn’t count, I phoned that in. But it’s just been that this last semester there hasn’t been that much to write about. Obama won the election; Sarah Palin was returned to the padded cell that is Alaska; John McCain seems to have rid himself of the Venom Symbiote; Scott McClellan revealed once and for all that Fox News was not only a Bush shill but a Bush mouthpiece, and there was Peace and Harmony Throughout the Land. Mostly. Enough.

There wasn’t much to be enraged about, really. The few rabid conservatives still showing their pasty faces were like amusing court jesters, or Vegas contortionists – a little disturbing, a little macabre, but ultimately hilarious. I mean, have you seen those people on Morning Joe? They’re a freaking laugh riot! There’s that blonde one whose father is an economist, but she doesn’t know anything about anything; and Pat Buchanan comes on sometimes to kill hippies live-on-air, and OMG, that stupid jerky one who pretends he used to be a Congressman? Joe? He’s better than Stephen Colbert.

But my ire has slowly but surely begun to rise. It all began with this Rhodes Scholar, right here:

Michelle Bachmann, fucking insane

Michelle Bachmann, fucking insane

Does anyone else remember that episode of How I Met Your Mother where the subplot was all about not dating girls with “crazy eyes?” That’s what Michelle Bachmann makes me think of. Crazy. Eyes. Like she wants to seduce me in an elevator and then kill my rabbit. Just sayin’.

She’s been on my radar since her fittingly disastrous Hardball appearance, when she basically suggested that we reinstate the McCarthy hearings. Every time I hear her name, it’s because she said something yet more awful. In an era of increasing globalization, ennui, and mediocrity, this woman outdoes herself every single time. A week or two ago she suggested that AmeriCore was going to turn into a “mandatory re-education camp.”

Check out this highlights reel. Nuckin’ futs.

Anyway, not too long ago, Bachmann made the following statement, which, as Dave Barry would say, I swear I am not making up:

“The Founding Fathers fought against taxation without representation.

Today we have taxation with representation.

I wonder what they’d think of that!”

(crowd goes wild)

Much as I hate to burst her crazy little bubble, I gotta say: I think the Founding Fathers would be pretty goddamn psyched about taxation with representation, considering that the right to it was what spurred them to revolution.

I dont even know what this means

I don't even know what this means

But the Republican base, as usual, is much more interested in style than substance.

“Tea Parties” have “spontaneously” “sprung up” “all over the country.”

Translation: “Uninformed protests” have been “organized and publicized by Fox News” “in cities in which they could scrape up a couple hundred, or in some cases, a couple dozen, people.” (more…)


Sarah Palin: The Disney Movie October 3, 2008

Filed under: Criticism of the Stupid,Funnies,Politics — Meredith @ 12:33 pm

Too hilarious. Also depressing. But also hilarious. But depressing….ahhh I can’t take it anymore!


Couple Things August 12, 2008

Filed under: Calvin,Criticism of the Stupid,Funnies,Politics — Meredith @ 9:05 pm

In any relationship, it’s important to spend time together doing things you both enjoy – “Couple Things,” if you will.

Calvin and I like to paint Warhammer figurines, watch The West Wing, and yell at people on the internet.

Warhammer, for the uninitiated, is an addictive and expensive hobby which involves the acquisition and painting of small plastic and metal creatures which are totally awesome. These creatures are then assembled into armies of different point values which can square off against each other in accordance with very complicated rules which I do not understand at all (I just like the painting part).

This is the first guy I painted - a Wood Elf riding a War Hawk

This is the first guy I painted - a Wood Elf riding a War Hawk

The story of how I began painting “mens” as Calvin calls them, is a stereotypical one: Boy becomes mildly obsessed with something, girl, noting that boy is increasingly absorbed by said thing, begins to participate, if only to interact with him more. So now at least half of our date nights are spent sitting very happily on the floor, giving color to increasingly detailed models. The whole thing is incredibly geeky.

I will sprinkle pictures of some dudes Calvin and I painted throughout the post. They took lots of manhours, but it’s some fantastic work, well worth it.

While we paint, we like to watch the West Wing, for simple, easy-to-understand reasons:

1) It is the best show ever

2) We really, really wish that President Bartlett were the real president

3) It is the best show ever

The show follows the staff of a fictitious White House during a thoughtful, intelligent, democratic administration which, in a cruel twist of irony, mirrors the chronology of Dubya’s. Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue is without peer, witty and sparkling, and the material dealt with is more intelligent than in any other show, before or since. (more…)


Washington and Jena September 23, 2007

Filed under: Connections,News to Ponder,Politics — Meredith @ 12:04 pm

Here is what I don’t understand: why is Martin Luther King, Jr. heralded as the first leader of the civil rights movement while we, as a society, ignore Booker T. Washington?

Don’t get me wrong, King was a great man, and a huge and important figure in the movement. He just wasn’t the first.

Dr. Washington was born as a slave in 1856 Virginia, to a slave mother and a white father he never really knew. Freed by the emancipation proclamation at the age of nine, he moved with his family to West Virginia, where he began to attend school when he could, and learned to read and write. He pursued education hungrily, became a teacher, and eventually became the head of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institution (still around today as Tuskegee University).

He soon became one of the best known representatives of the black community, traveling the country, speaking for and about his race, and using his extensive and powerful contacts to establish new educational opportunities for blacks. His philosophy was that all black people could achieve equality through education and level-headedness, that America’s black community should conduct itself with responsibility, patience, industry, thrift, and usefulness. He held blacks to a higher standard than whites, urging them to be worthy representatives of their race.

His critics included W.E. Du Bois, the founder of the NAACP. “Mr. Washington represents in Negro thought the old attitude of adjustment and submission. …” He said, “[His] programme practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races.”

While Washington believed that the road to equality was a long, hard one, needing to be planned carefully and executed over time, mostly through good race relations, Du Bois’ school of thought was more aggressive, he wanted to force instant equality through court victories and legislation.

Washington, it seems, held Du Bois’ theory in the same estimation as Du Bois held his:

“There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs….There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.”

It should be noted that while advocating peace and understanding between the races, Washington secretly contributed to the coffers of several notable civil rights cases of the day.

One has to wonder what Dr. Washington would have thought about those six boys in jail in Louisiana.

He wouldn’t have liked that they got themselves kicked out of school, I can tell you that.

My take is that the original mishandling was in not expelling the white boys who hanged those nooses from the tree. That is hate, disgusting, raw hate, and, hey, here’s a thought – aren’t schools supposed to be institutions of learning? If you want to threaten and intimidate your fellow students, then guess what? You don’t get the privilege of an education. Too bad, zero tolerance, no second chances, you should have thought about your future before you decided to display your white-trash-cracker bigotry.

But guess what else? No boys would up swinging from that tree. None of them was hurt. I’ll tell you who was hurt – the white boy they beat the crap out of, six on one, who didn’t even hang the nooses. If they’d seen those nooses swaying in the breeze and immediately thereafter attacked the guys who hung them, they would have had a damn fine legal leg to stand on, and I would have supported them. But people don’t seem to realize that this isn’t the same thing, legally or ethically.

I think both Dr. Washington and Dr. King would have been livid (as lived as they ever got, anyway). This is not how you should represent your race. This is not the peaceful, dignified, non-violent protest that they advocated, this is something low and ugly. Dr. Washington said, “One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him.” Dr. King said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I’m disappointed that this is being built up in the media as the next wave of civil rights when it seems to me a step backwards in the tradition of the movement.

There’s this amazing musical called Ragtime, based on Doctorow’s eponymous novel, and Dr. Washington has a small role to set the historical context. While I know the following is a fictional quote, as far as I know not even based on anything he said, I feel this line the representation of Washington sings in the last half hour of the show sums up what his opinion of the situation in Jena would have been, and what I think of it.

“For the sum of my life I have lived in hope we might all be Christian brothers.I have worked to persuade every white skinned man that he need not fear our race – what has your selfish recklessness cost us? When I’ve worked so hard to steel the white man’s hate. Look what you’ve done……..And you dare to teach your lessons to these wild, unthinking youths, yet your own son you abandoned to be raised on white man’s truths. Look what you’ve done. Think of your son. Is the lesson you would bestow upon him? Are these the shoulders you would have him stand upon? Let him be the son of a man who had the courage to tell the truth in a court of law. Make your case, and if the verdict is death, go to it proudly, knowing that you have been heard. The truth is all. You do this and you will have the thanks and respect of every decent man of color and of all those children of our race whose way is hard and whose journey is long.”


The Principles of Sociology (Part 1) August 29, 2007

As my mom is bursting with pride to tell everyone, I am enrolled in Sociology 101 this fall. It is highly illuminating, and I felt that I should share some of my knowledge with you. I also felt that this knowledge should be in the format of allegorical cartoons of stick figures.

So I proudly present my drawing (the first in a many-part series) illustrating what I gleaned in my first two classes. Please, read with discretion — I would not want you imprisoned by the board of education for gaining complete understanding of the basics of sociology without paying them money. The board of education can be quite brutal, what with their secret roaming police who keep an extensive list about what you read, where, and when, and I would not want your death on my head. (more…)


A Fairy Tale Steeped in Allegory June 15, 2007

Once upon a time there was a high school. It was a beautiful high school, and rich in history, being more than 200 years old, and everybody in town wanted to attend it. With its fine roots in liberal education and the almost unprecedented power over their own destinies that it bestowed upon its students, it was unlike any other high school in the district, or indeed, the state. At the turn of the last century, whole families, many of them Irish and Eastern European, moved across town so that they’d be zoned for it. The high school welcomed them with open arms, but the students weren’t so kind. It is my sad duty to report that many of these new students were beaten up, or had their lockers vandalized. Thankfully, things settled down, and the high school was once again a harmonious whole.

In the 40s, there was a shameless and dangerous power grab by a school superintendent a few districts over. He was intent upon eventually absorbing every school in the state into his district, under his control, and decreeing with a wave of his hand who could stay and who could not. Fortunately, the president of the student body, a well-liked disabled guy named Frank, worked tirelessly with the other schools until the superintendent was voted safely out of office.

But our story begins about fifteen years ago with the election of a Jock to Student Body President. The Jock was a nice guy, everybody liked him, and there was no denying that he had charm. He was a great guy to grab a burger with, and, whoever you were, you felt like the Jock knew where you were coming from. At this time – actually, to this day – the Jock was going steady with someone who defied high school logic.

Instead of dating a cheerleader, as guys of his ilk so often do, the Jock had chosen a militant, angry feminist, who, until she began seeing the Jock, was known to the student body at large only as “That Chick Who Stands In Front Of The Cafeteria Yelling Ayn Rand Quotes At The Top Of Her Lungs”.

Even though many students found her abrasive, they couldn’t deny that the Jock’s Girlfriend knew politics, so they hesitatingly took her along with him. There were rumors that the Jock was seeing other girls on the side, everybody heard the rumors, even the Jock’s Girlfriend, but most chose to ignore them. The whole school exploded, though, when it turned out that the Jock was Friends With Benefits with a freshman girl named Monica. There was some fallout, talk of expulsion, but the Jock and his girlfriend stood their ground. The students were a little confused when the Jock’s Girlfriend, with all her talk of feminism and equality, didn’t leave him for his transgression. Instead, she affected a “stand by your man” attitude about the whole thing, a concept her feminist girlfriends weren’t sure if they should take offense to.

The next Student Body President was from Texas, he, too, was a jock, but with a Cowboy sensibility. The only person to run against him was former Student Body Vice President, a Math Geek. Well, I say the only person, but Ralph ran too. Ralph, an intense loner, ran for Student Body President every election, always garnering no more votes than he had friends. Ralph had Big Ideas about what the high school could be, and had even caused some huge shakeups in the Driver’s Ed program, penalizing students for not wearing seat belts. But Ralph kind of creeped out the other students with his Big Ideas, and, perhaps sadly, was never elected. (more…)