Aug 28th, 2008 by ravi
14 non-human Holocausts a year

CollageFrom The Guardian:

Vivisection: Study finds 115 million animals used in tests worldwide

About 115 million animals were used in scientific research globally in 2005, according to an estimate based on official national figures and extrapolations from the number of scientific papers that were published involving animals.

The vast majority of the animals used were rodents (83.5%) with primates, cats and dogs making up 0.15%, 0.06% and 0.24% of the total respectively.

In case primates are the only thing that give you the warm fuzzies of empathy, that’s 172,500 chimps and friends a year. Or you like dogs? Well that’s about 276,000 dogs. But that’s not too much for a bottle of Chanel, is it (however the % of testing is for cosmetics)?

[ Link ]

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Aug 28th, 2008 by ravi
The NYT ponders girls’ bodies in the service of nationalism

Shawn JohnsonDoing their best to propagate the loutish Bela Karolyi’s rants about the age of female Chinese gymnasts, the NYT throws out this excellent bit of analysis:

Chinese Grab Gold in Gymnastics; U.S. Is Second – NYT

The Chinese gymnasts lack curves, have an average height of 4 feet 9 inches and weigh an average of 77 pounds. […] The women on the United States team, generally more muscular and shapely than the Chinese, are an average of 3 ½ inches taller and 30 pounds heavier.

I am guessing it is something as benign as misplaced nationalism that prompts the perverts at the NYT to wonder about the curves and shapeliness of young teenage girls. Fortunately, the lack of curves or shapeliness on the part of US, Chinese or other young female athletes will fail to make an impact on other sports fans … I hope!

Fortunately, the NYT redeems itself with this Op-Ed:

The Throwback – Creep Show – NYT

But most of all I will watch the enormously popular women’s gymnastics competition. The performances are incredible and fearless, but it isn’t the athleticism that draws me in. In fact I can’t think of any competition in the Olympics, or all of SportsWorld, more creepy and disturbing: these largely shapeless girls in their leotards and flaxen-waxen hair and bouncy-wouncy ponytails. “They look like girls from the neck up,” I was told by Joan Ryan, whose 1995 book, “Little Girls in Pretty Boxes,” blew a sky-high lid off the sadomasochistic training regimens that young female gymnasts were being subjected to. She continued: “From the neck down they look like prepubescent boys.”

During the Olympics, when a female gymnast finishes an event and hugs her coach, often a man three times her age, I cringe at what I believe is the unsavory stench of the sport in general — children under the wing of men who based on lengthy documentation have proven to be abusive, relentless, intolerant, humiliating and, in some instances, accused of sexual misconduct. “These girls will do anything for these guys,” Ms. Ryan told me. “They have such control over them.”

Which also reminds us that if indeed we are looking for soft-porn masquerading as a sport, there is the ever popular beach volleyball (what next, strip volleyball?):

I will watch women’s beach volleyball, not because it’s a sport, but because skimpily-clad leggy women rolling in sand does put me in a state of excitement right up there with mud wrestling (no doubt the next sanctioned Olympic sport given NBC’s need for strong television ratings and the correct calculus that soft-core porn under the guise of sport does have its benefits).

And goes on to document what this race to the extreme entails:

Former United States Olympian Dominique Moceanu, who at the age of 14 was part of the 1996 team that won the overall Olympic gold, called for the ouster of Marta Karolyi, the coordinator of the women’s Olympic team, in a recent appearance on the HBO show “Real Sports.”

Moceanu told me she feels the training methods of Marta Karyoli and her legendary husband, Bela, are obsolete, outdated and center on intimidation. As a result, injuries are often ignored; Moceanu suffered a lower-leg stress fracture right before the Olympics in 1996 and says Marta Karolyi initially scoffed even though she collapsed twice one day while trying to train. But seeing as Marta Karolyi has helped produce 13 gold medals for the United States at world championships since 2001, don’t count on any changes, in particular if the women’s team finds itself drenched in gold in Beijing.

“Why is winning the only thing that matters?” asks Sey. “There must be some national crisis of self-esteem for us to push so hard for these medals. Otherwise why would you need it?”

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Aug 28th, 2008 by ravi
Rage is all the rage

From the ATP web site, a couple of images.

Atppromo-1

I guess the hope is to turn the above, into the below:

Atpbanner

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Aug 26th, 2008 by ravi
Second-Place Citizens

Susan Faludi offers a litany of pending women’s issues (not in the quoted section below), in describing the anger among feminists regarding the treatment of the Hillary Clinton candidacy, and offers a timely and appropriate caution against post-feminism or new wave feminism attitudes:

Second-Place Citizens – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com

Again, male politicians and pundits indulge in outbursts of “new masculinist” misogyny (witness Mrs. Clinton’s campaign coverage). Again, the news media showcase young women’s “feminist — new style” pseudo-liberation — the flapper is now a girl-gone-wild. Again, many daughters of a feminist generation seem pleased to proclaim themselves so “beyond gender” that they don’t need a female president.

As it turns out, they won’t have one. But they will still have all the abiding inequalities that Hillary Clinton, especially in defeat, symbolized. Without a coalescing cause to focus their forces, how will women fight a foe that remains insidious, amorphous, relentless and pervasive?

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Aug 18th, 2008 by ravi
Roseanne World

Thanks to her bad-mouthing incisive commentary on Brangelina, Roseanne’s blog is gaining (as she notes) a lot of new audience. I am one of them. And I plan to stay!

As the five of you who read this blog know, the Hillary Clinton primary experience pissed the hell off of an old-fashioned feminist like me and my spouse. And neither of us can stand Hillary, but that is exactly not the issue, as Maureen Dowd and every other “post-feminist” or n-th wave feminist who ♥s Obama but has to find some high-minded justification for the infatuation, don’t get. Roseanne on the other hand, gets it, and that’s why I am staying. Below are two bits from her blog:

Women’s struggle for equity and dignity will not be silenced, cowed, or stopped by any man, or any woman hating females like Peggy Noonan, Maureen Dowd, Arianna Huffington, Oprah Winfrey, Randhi Rhoades, Nancy Pelosi, or a host of other running dog lackeys of corporate whoredom. Have a nice day!

And:

It’s all a set up to get the females to think that they are being listened to, but it’s all planned canned and fixed. Obama is the nom, and there is no getting rid of him for the dems. If he had any brains he would announce right now that a vote for him is a vote for hillary, because she is his choice for vice, or his nominee for the supreme court…some triangulation would work for him. He has a blindspot where feminism and females are concerned, and he figures that claire mccaskill (sp) is all he needs. (kind of like when people say…”i asked my maid what she thinks of immigration, and she said”…..). He just doesn’t get it that it is female boomers that have kept the dem party alive since the sixties, and that he has insulted their intelligence. He just doesn’t get it, and neither does david axelrod. I do not think any men get it at all. As it was for me in Hollywoodland, men in power are not comfortable with any woman that is not serving them coffee. They tried to fire me off of my own show, like they have done to hillary clinton. It was her show and they fired her. they got all heady over winning against her, but that was all the winning they could do. now they have to crawl back to her and ask her to win it for them. they look like weak mama’s boys, which they are…however, america loves weak mama’s boys though…john mccain is the embodiment of that…

[ Link ]

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Aug 17th, 2008 by ravi
Bayh humbug

Dennis Perrin is unhappy with “libloggers” (liberal bloggers) whose campaign against Bayh for Obama VP he finds hypocritical:

Dennis Perrin: Opposed Until They’re Not

Gee, I don’t recall this kind of liberal concern about John Kerry in ’04, who voted the same as Bayh, and made the same insipid excuse that he was “duped” into backing the US invasion. No matter. That was then, and today is now, and five can get you fifty if you mark the cards right. This is why I support an Obama/Bayh ticket. Not only would it help erase the liberal fiction about Obama’s “break from Old Washington,” it would force these concerned Dems to back the ticket without dissent, which they will in a heartbeat. Indeed, no matter who Obama picks, libs will proudly slap that bumpersticker on every available surface, suddenly finding the Dem ticket to be the best ever — until the next best ticket ever, and so on.

What’s also funny about all this is how liberals overlook Wesley Clark’s early support for the Iraq war, whatever his tactical differences were before the invasion, and his open belief that Saddam sat upon stockpiles of WMD. (I won’t linger on Clark’s killing of a couple thousand Serbians, as many libs support that type of bloodshed.) Then there’s the Clinton/Gore support for the Iraq Liberation Act, which Clinton signed in 1998. Somehow, that doesn’t tarnish their reputations as it has Bayh’s. Oh, and did you know that Bayh worked closely with Joe Lieberman? Yes, the very Lieberman who liberals overwhelmingly desired as their Vice President in 2000, and who, if libs had their way, would be second-in-command this very moment.

Though he raises valid points (especially the unanimous approval of the attack on Yugoslavia by the Clinton administation), I think Dennis is making a caricature of the position and reasoning of liberals. I am not in agreement with the reasoning and tactics of the liberal/progressive spectrum, ranging from the centrist variety to those leaning a tad bit to the left (this latter group are the targets of Dennis’ post). My disagreement however stems from my belief that a just society can only be achieved from and via first principles, solidarity and social action. On these counts, I find liberals and the “netroots” wanting, but not so on the grounds of consistency that Dennis finds fault with.

Dennis is angered by the opposition to Bayh on grounds that should, when applied fairly, also disqualify Wesley Clark, John Kerry or Joe Lieberman. Dennis suggests that all three of these men find great and unquestioning support among liberals and “libloggers”. However, this does not seem to be the case at all. For instance, in a race where all three of these men were candidates for the Demoratic nomination, the emerging Internet based liberal sites favoured Howard Dean. Similarly, in the 2008 primaries, a significant bit of liberal opinion tilted towards John Edwards, redeemingly enough, for his emphasis on class issues.

Here for example, is Matt Stoller of OpenLeft on Wesley Clark for VP:

Clark also emphasizes Obama’s strengths. He is popular among grassroots progressives, he was against the war in Iraq from the get-go, and he is an outsider to politics. He also demonstrated terrific political judgment in being willing to work against Lieberman in 2006, unlike, say, Tim Kaine, who endorsed Lieberman for President in 2004.

The point of difference here seems to be a factual one (Dennis believes in “Clark’s early support for the Iraq war” while Stoller thinks Clark “was against the war in Iraq from the get-go”). It is also doubtful that there was an overwhelming desire among libreals for Lieberman as VP in 2000, as Dennis suggests. Rather, given the acceptance among liberals of the Democratic party as the only way to achieve any goals, support for the parties candidates is an act of wilful optimism among them.

And that is the crux of the issue. Despite their occasional incoherent mumblings about Noam Chomsky (Stoller calls him the “intellectual elite” who has “brilliantly marginalized” himself — this about the only man who has in the past 30+ years been publishing accessible and often best-selling political analyses without which any shred of political consciousness among the non-right-wing public would arguably be non-existant), the coherent position of liberals and progressives is a gradualist one that attempts to balance long-term goals against potential short-term significant losses. This issue is often posed in the form of questions regarding immediate and critical junctures, such as the appointment of justices to the Supreme Court.

I have intentionally ignored, thus far, the much larger issue of ideological and foundational differences between liberals/progressives and the left. These are significant and contribute to the different choices, tactics and claims employed by each group (insofar as we can even suggest that a “left” exists). Nonetheless, such differences, even if they turn out to be resolved in favour of the “left” and against the “liberals”, do not support the contention that the liberals are acting hypocritically. Similar to the factual difference regarding Clark’s position on Iraq, these would constitute theoretical differences that would validate one or the other position — in which case the invalidated one would merely be wrong, not hypocritical.

IMHO, Dennis is right to take to task the liberal blogistan for its lack of serious thought to such events as the attacks on Yugoslavia (or Afghanistan, for that matter) — but not so because it exposes them as inconsistent — but because it demonstrates the self-imposed limits of their critical analysis. It would also help if Dennis were to differentiate between liberals of different stripes, from the Madeleine Albrights, and the Berubes and Siva Vaidyanathans (the academic elite, as Stoller might say), to the many flavours of liberal bloggers, commentators and readers. They are not all the same, even if they find some common ground on a Facebook group.

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Aug 15th, 2008 by ravi
From freedom fighter to militant

When Ronald Reagan spoke of the Mujahideen (the precursors to the warlords of contemporary Afghanistan) and the Contras in Nicargua, he saw “freedom fighters” equal to the founding fathers of the USA. The New York Times, however, is unable to match Reagan in such wordplay. The best they can do, to whitewash terrorists such as Luis Posada Carriles, is to label him a “militant”:

Militant Ordered to Stand Trial – Brief – NYTimes.com

A federal appeals court ordered a Cuban militant, Luis Posada Carriles, to stand trial in El Paso on immigration fraud charges.

Immigration fraud — that sounds a lot more serious than killing 73 people by bombing their plane.

[ Link ]

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Aug 10th, 2008 by ravi
When others do it….

… “shock and awe” is called “disproportionate and dangerous”:

AFP: Georgia offers ceasefire as Russian blitz intensifies

Russia faced fresh criticism from the West, with the United States warning that the “disproportionate and dangerous escalation” of the conflict could damage relations between the two countries.

[ Link ]

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Aug 1st, 2008 by ravi
China: not bad enough

Reviewing a collection of China themed books in the NYRofB, Orville Schell unintentionally offers an insight:

China: Humiliation & the Olympics – The New York Review of Books

So, partly in shock, and partly in disappointment, China responded to the demonstrations against its Olympic torch with incensed outrage, rejecting any suggestion that its own actions could have contributed to, much less have ameliorated, Tibetan demands.

[…]

Instead, at this penultimate moment, as Xu Guoqi, author of the timely new book Olympic Dreams: China And Sports, 1895–2008, has noted, “Through their coverage and handling of the Beijing torch relay, the West seemed to remind the Chinese they were still not equal and they were still not good enough.”

The real problem China faces in its exclusion from the club is that they are not bad enough — they are vulgar and amateur oppressors! So it is the lack of sophistication, rhetorical and philosophical preparation, that permits and compels European nations, with the blood of Africa and Asia on their hands, our own USA, with an ongoing illegal action in Iraq that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, to lecture China on its deplorable human rights.

[ Link ]

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