Sister Novena's PortaPulpit
freedom, liberalism, movies, and truth

Saturday, January 08, 2005
Republic Of Gilead Is For Lovers

So, in Virginia there's a new law coming up for discussion in the state legislature. The law, if passed, would require all women to report fetal death within twelve hours of occurance, and incur a prison sentence of up to a year and/or a fine of $2,500 if they fail to do so. It doesn't matter how far along you are -- or aren't. It could be a third-trimester back-alley abortion or an eighth-week miscarriage; the law remains the same. All "products of conception" must be reported to the police if pregnancy fails to reach completion.

I cannot express my disgust and outrage. This law would treat a woman mourning the loss of her pregnancy at the same punitive level as arson and statutory rape (all "Class 1 misdemeanors"). It demands that women spend their first hours after a miscarriage being questioned by police, offending their own privacy rights, or risk punishment under the law for something they neither wanted nor caused.

My assumption is that this is a bold new gesture in the battle over women's reproductive rights, an attempt to criminalize abortion not only on the part of the doctor but also on the part of the mother, and to recognize fetus, embryo, and zygote alike as human beings before the law. All I can say is, if we allow laws like this to pass -- in Virginia or anywhere else -- all we will get for our trouble is more dead and maimed women and teeming masses of unloved, unwanted children.

I'm sick to fucking death of these "pro-life" (read: pro-forced-birth and fuck the rest) theocrats who decry abortion while absolutely, resolutely refusing to recognize or address their own role in the problem. They fight against effective birth control, they fight against useful sex education, they support legislation that makes life impossible for poor and single mothers while opposing any program that might support them, and then, having forced women into an impossible and deeply unjust situation, they criminalize the last desperate choice open to them.

Backwards, self-righteous, filthy hypocrites, each and every one of them.
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Friday, January 07, 2005
My Imminent Departure




The weirdest part of any trip is the bit just before you leave. In a matter of mere days, I'm leaving Memphis and returning to my old college in Vermont, almost exactly ten years after I first made the trip. My mother and my grandfather drove me and my then-boyfriend up; the region was experiencing its annual indian summer, and the whole southern end of the state was so thickly blanketed with fog that I didn't get my first good look at my new home for two days.

I've been telling myself that this move is "six months away" for so long (seven months at least) that it has somewhat taken me by surprise that this weekend is my last in Memphis. My psyche always presents me with a few days of anxiety and trepidation before these moves -- before Anchorage, before London, before coming back from London, before LA -- and by now I've gotten very good at just taking the necessary plunge. But it's strange that as many time as I've done this, it's always there. You'd think I'd have gotten used to it by now.

I've still got a lot of organizing and cleaning and packing to do; I'm behind where I theoretically should be, but not behind what I know my actual, real-world schedule is. (I won't do my last packing until the morning I set off; I never do.) Then I've got a three-day drive, and then I will attempt to settle in on a campus with many memories, where I don't know anyone, and where everyone is either considerably older or younger than I am.

Once I get there and get my situation in order, this blog will continue as it has -- my eventual posting patterns may change, but the blog won't go anywhere. Unless, of course, Alberto Gonzales comes and tosses me in Gitmo for writing that he sucks monkey cocks. Which he does.
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US Troops John Kerry

Have you ever wondered how American soldiers deployed in a foreign war would respond to someone who "hates" them?

They cheer and ask for autographs.

Kerry, who repeatedly charged during the presidential campaign that President Bush had botched the war effort, was greeted warmly by U.S. soldiers in Baghdad.

(...)

U.S. soldiers approached Kerry inside the restaurant of the Rashid Hotel, asking him to pose for photographs and sign T-shirts. The star-struck restaurant manager insisted on serving Kerry the restaurant's specialty, a plate of grilled chicken and lamb.

Later in the day, Kerry met with about 20 soldiers based in his home state, including reservists from the 356th Engineer Detachment and 126th Aviation Company of the Massachusetts Army National Guard at Camp Victory, where soldiers are bivouacked in luxury villas once inhabited by Saddam Hussein and his loyalists.

"They all joked about how living conditions had changed since Sen. Kerry was in Vietnam," said David Wade, the senator's communications director.

(...)

The senator said he was more interested in asking questions of soldiers, U.S. officials, Iraqis and even the journalists themselves instead of rehashing the political battles of the past campaign season.

But in several instances, Kerry attacked what he called the "horrendous judgments" and "unbelievable blunders" of the Bush administration. The mistakes, he said, included former U.S. occupation leader Paul Bremer's decisions to disband the Iraqi army and purge the government of former members of Hussein's Baath Party. Both moves are widely believed to have fueled the largely Sunni insurgency.

(source)

Kerry is visiting troops in Baghdad, Fallujah and Mosul. Note that I said IN those cities: not near them, not from them, but in them. When's the last time Bush set foot in Iraq again? Surely it couldn't be as long ago as the turkey incident? And rather than condescendingly dismissing their plight, he's asking questions and actually listening to their answers.

The wrong man is in the White House, and the shame of that is on the shoulders of those who voted for him.
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Alberto Gonzales Sucks Monkey Cocks

Some readers are probably not going to like my choice of words; it has been noted before that I sometimes tend to have a salty tongue. But by god, it needs to be said: Gonzales truly does suck big hairy slimy monkey cocks. This, after all, is the architect of Guantanamo Bay and the brains behind Abu Ghraib. And guess what? Bush is currently hoping to make him the next US Attourney General.

In my judgment, this new paradigm [the war on terror] renders obsolete Geneva's [i.e., the Geneva Convention's] strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.

January 25, 2002

Not torturing people = "quaint". Feel good about having him in charge of the US legal system?

Trust Bush to find a nominee that would make freedom-loving people nostalgic for the days of John Ashcroft. At least he contented himself with merely burning books; Gonzales is after our ears and genitals.

Is this the America you want to live in? One where torturers-by-proxy are in charge of the legal system? What kind of administration even makes this a reasonable question to ask?

PS: Also, it must be pointed out that if Gonzales is confirmed, he'll be the A.G. deciding the fate of a number of military torture allegations and investigations. Given that he was one of the primary influences on our current torture policy, wouldn't this constitute, you know, a pretty fucking massive conflict of interest? And as if that's not enough, Gonzales profited handsomely from the Enron scandal; as the new A.G., could we trust him to deal impartially with both Enron and other corporate scandals? I think not.

The Bush administration: waging constant war on truth and justice.
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Thursday, January 06, 2005
I Can't Believe It's Not Vietnam!

Wanna know why this war is going so badly?

An Iraqi civilian has testified that US soldiers forced him and his cousin to jump into the River Tigris and laughed as his relative was swept to his death.

"He was calling my name, said: 'Help me! Help me!'" Marwan Fadel Hassoun told a military trial in Texas.

Army Sgt Tracy Perkins, 33, is on trial for an array of charges including involuntary manslaughter.

Three other soldiers have also been charged over the incident in the city of Samarra on 3 January 2004.

Mr Fadel said he and his cousin were transporting plumbing supplies from Baghdad to the city when they were approached by US troops when their truck broke down a few minutes before a 2300 curfew.

He said they were forced to the river at gunpoint.

"We started to beg them not to throw us in the water," he said through a translator.

"We said in English, 'Please, please', but it was in vain.

"The soldiers had their rifles aimed at us. They were laughing."

(source)

Yeah, mocking civilians as they die is a brillant strategy to win hearts and minds.

FOX News says the insurgents are fighting their "liberators" because they envy our freedom and our way of life. I wonder if they've considered the possibility that they're fighting us because we keep slaughtering people they love?

And then there's this:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 - The Army Reserve is unable to meet its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan because of "dysfunctional" personnel policies that senior Army and Pentagon officials have refused to change, its top general has told senior Army leaders.

(...)

"The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you of the Army Reserve's inability - under current policies, procedures, and practices governing mobilization, training, and reserve component manpower management - to meet mission requirements associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and to reset and regenerate its forces for follow-on and future missions," it said, referring to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While that alone "is of great importance," it added, the Reserves also are "in grave danger of being unable to meet other operational requirements," including those specified in other emergency plans in the United States and abroad.

The Reserves, General Helmly said, are "rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force."

(NYT)
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Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Not Everything The Japanese Do Is Great

I went with a friend to see The Life Aquatic this afternoon; it was pretty good. Maybe not quite The Royal Tenenbaums good -- I saw that one with an ideal audience, one that got all the jokes, which really made it a great cinematic experience -- but pretty damn good. I especially admire the use of a less-than-gorgeous cast... Bill Murray really shouldn't be going shirtless by Hollywood standards, but here he does it anyway, and it's exactly the right thing to do. It's a worthy film, and I highly recommend it.

But I found the trailers particularly interesting this time. I saw a teaser for the upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy re-make (if a feature film version a dodgy BBC series can be considered a "re-make"). It didn't give much away, and contained no actual footage from the film; it was more an exercise in tone. It was very slick, all CGI, and it looks pretty high-budget for what is essentially a British production. It was simultaneously exciting and slightly distressing... it's looking very cool, but there was always a Dr Who-ish B-grade quality built into the book, and will that really mesh with a slick presentation? As Mat would say, please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck...

And then there was a trailer for an upcoming horror/suspense film called Dark Water. This, I know, is another re-make of a Japanese film (apparently directed by the same guy who did Ringu), but it smacked for all the world of an old film-school bar bet fulfilled:

Film student 1: I can make a horror flick out of anything.
Film student 2: Oh yeah?
FS 1: Yeah.
FS 2: Wanna bet?
FS 1: Name it.
FS 2: Okay... I bet you $50 you can't make a horror film out of... a dripping faucet!


FS 1: Shit.

Fifteen years later, Dark Water appears on our screens. You have to admit, my theory makes more sense than the idea that someone spontaneously decided that leaky plumbing could be really scary if, you know, the water was black and everything was dark and there was a cute little girl involved.

Don't get me wrong, it's entirely possible that this film could be really cool; I thought Ringu was a little over-hyped, but not bad considering the premise revolved around a possessed video tape. And I'm sure that in Japanese culture water has some meaning that adds to the gravity of an ominously spreading water stain on the ceiling. I'm just saying, this flick smells like dog from here.
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Monday, January 03, 2005
It's All In The Subtext

So, I was just sitting here minding my own business, when I overheard a piece on FOX "Wholly Without Merit" News about a school that has created a peanut-eating zone in their cafeteria in an effort to protect one child with a lethal peanut allergy. The tone of the piece was dismissive, even derisive -- sort of a "what will these crazy liberals come up with next?" kind of thing, classic FOX News stuff.

And you know what? Yeah, fuck that kid. If he didn't want to risk dying of asphyxiation in the school cafeteria -- writhing on the floor, turning blue, gasping for air and making gurgly choking sounds, gouging desperately at his throat and pleading for help while all his nose-pickin' little Republican peers watch and laugh and stick peanuts up his nose -- he shouldn't have been born with a severe allergy, that motherfucking little pussy. Why should his parents' desire to see him survive elementary school create a minor inconvenience for all these other kids? Why should the potential for his brutal, painful death cause even the slightest, most unnoticeable decrease in everyone else's "joy" (FOX News' word) in eating peanuts and peanut butter at the table of their choice? Why do liberals always want to ruin stuff for everyone else? Huh? Why?

Fuck that kid, if he chooses the peanut-allergic lifestyle, then death is just the risk he takes.

PS: We're "pro-life". (Unless you have a peanut allergy, in which case we don't give a shit.)
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Sunday, January 02, 2005
One Last Thing About 2004

... and then we'll forget it forever. 'Cause nobody can put it any better than Ben Tripp.

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The Power of Positive Posting

A new year calls for at least one hopeful post before I get back to our regularly-scheduled bitchy snark. People have said a few times that my blog is "too negative"... which, I mean, yeah, that's a big part of the point. This blog is a catharsis for me; in my daily life I am (I feel justified in saying) resolutely optimistic and cheerful, easygoing, relaxed, et cetera. But being human, I've got my share of negativity, which comes out in two ways: sick jokes and rants on this blog.

But okay, fair enough... a little positivity isn't an unfair request. And really, I'm feeling pretty hopeful about the coming year. Most of the people I know have had to deal with a lot of heaviness and darkness over the last few years -- lost jobs, lost loves, sickness, death, poverty, and the constant, low-level grind of living in this society at this point in history -- but eventually, this too must pass. I'm not expecting explosive improvements this year; but I am looking forward to some progress, a general lifting of the gloom to make way for dramatic progress later on.

Now... time to share.

My New Year's Eve festivities generally center on reflection rather than drinking; I have my little assortment of things I do to facilitate quiet thought. The idea is to spend the last hour of the year looking back, and the first hour of the new year casting my hopes forward. I find it much more rewarding than getting smashed (although a glass of something that sparkles is always a welcome addition.) I don't exactly make "resolutions." I think the whole idea of resolving to do this or that is self-defeating; change is a process, not an act. I've found over the last few years that if I simply express and record my hopes for the coming year -- by which I mean my intentions regarding those things I actually have power over -- most often I can come back the next year to find that they've mostly taken care of themselves. Case in point, my hopes/intentions for 2004:

1) To recover some of my French (which I managed, clearing a vocabulary of roughly 2500 words, although I've forgotten a lot of them by now.)

2) To improve my diet (which I also managed, although god knows there's always room for more improvement.)

3) To work on moving to Montreal (I'm giving myself credit for this one... I'm not moving to Montreal specifically, but in a couple of weeks I'll be moving within a few hours drive of it; close enough.)

4) To make a film of my own (this is the one I screwed up on.)

Three out of four isn't too bad. I expect it's better than most people manage, and not a bad year's accomplishment, in its simple little way.

Other good things that happened that I didn't ask for:

I made a few new friends, good friends, valuable friends -- Dave, Diana, a bunch of Co-op folks -- and re-discovered some others (hi Shaw).

I found a way out of the sucking vortex of apathy and inertia that is Memphis, Tennessee.

And although I didn't manage to direct my own film yet, I did a bunch of film work this year -- I had major roles in the crews of three features, even if none of 'em are the ones going to Sundance this year.

So what am I hoping for in 2005?

1) To focus on finishing old business, laying a foundation for new possibilities.

2) To continue developing a new way to live my life.

3) To do a phenomenal job on my upcoming academic work.

4) To get to a place where I feel more confident and self-assured.

5) To make a film of my own (hey, the only failure is in giving up.)

So I guess we'll see what happens with all that, eh?

And I'd love to hear everyone else's hopes for the year... I've shown you mine, now you show me yours.
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