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Postings are in chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.

Feb. 2004

“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

Willa Cather

A-yup. Just watch a playground sometime...

I'm getting a new gynecologist. I'm getting a new gynecologist on principle.

I know this isn't considered a proper subject of conversation, so the delicates among you ought to scroll down, or surf on - this is about to get ugly.

Okay. You walk into your gynecologist's exam room (no, this is not the start of a bad joke... or maybe it is...) - you've already braved the waiting room with its tumble of child toys, baby paraphernalia and mommy magazines - you've had your pulse taken - and having survived all of that you've been directed into the exam room and you're faced with the exam table - with it's notorious stirrups. You're used to this routine (more or less), but are unprepared for the spectacle that confronts you. There, covering the stirrups, are a couple of cloth booties, with a floral print - trimmed, I kid you not, in lace. Lace!

"What kind of sick joke is this?" I asked myself. "Should I leave now? Before this quack gets her speculum warmed up?"

I've had a rather difficult time locating a gynecologist who doesn't set my teeth on edge (literally and figuratively). I thought this was the one, the one I'd been looking for ever since that absolutely killer nurse practitioner I'd seen for years at my old HMO. She moved away (oh sorrowful day!) and left the women of my fair city to hacks and incompetents. Lace floral print booties? I think not.

"If she's wearing a Laura Ashley print doctor's get up when she walks through that door, I'm outta here." I huffed, sitting on the exam table.

It's a tricky business finding a competent gynecologist who isn't also homophobic. I've gotten appointments with a few popular practitioners, only to find them a bit - oh, timid during my exam... I had one woman doctor almost flinch during a breast exam. It became a way uncomfortable moment and I found myself thinking - the male doctors I've seen have never been quite so conflicted...

People wonder why it is that lesbians seem to have less than adequate health care - I don't. Being sensible creatures, we simply tire of the bullshit we're subjected to when standing in an office in nothing but a paper robe. And go out and buy books that aren't nearly as good as actual educated doctors, but are infinitely more palatable to deal with.

"Says here in this book I've probably got gangrene and might could use a rusty saw to remove the limb..."

Anyway... I once had a doctor (over ten years ago) ask me, after I'd answered one of her questions about birth control, if I had female sex partners.

"... Um, since when is that a question in a physical exam?" I asked her.

She looked at me and said (defensively), "For years, we always ask it."

This was odd, because as long as I could recall, for years, I'd never been asked it. And I told her so.

"Things have changed a lot within the profession. Would you like me to put this information in your file?" She asked.

"No." I answered, thinking of the stories I'd heard about the medical profession and their long-standing, though changing, views of homosexuality as a mental illness.

Years later, I needed to look my file over and wouldn't you know? She'd entered the info - it was about the only accurate info she had entered on me. Total jerk.

And things have changed considerably here abouts on that score - they even ask on the forms sometimes now. And if they don't, I write it in.

Before an exam a while back the gynecologist asked me if there was anything else she needed to know about me before we got started.

"Not really," I shrugged, then said, "Oh, I'm a lesbian." (One tells one's doctors this, because, as lesbians, we've got our own designer set of health issues to keep an eye out on.)

"I know." She answered.

"You do?" I asked, wondering if she had advanced gaydar or some such.

"Yeah, where you filled in 'female sex-partner' on your form - that was kind of a big clue."

Anyway, I long for the days when I would go see the superbly confident nurse practitioner - she'd take excellent care, be thorough and efficient and I'd be off on my merry way - like it was nothing. Which is exactly as it should be - no big deal.

And no lace booties. <shudder>

Everybody's doin' it...
Getting Naked in Print by Elizabeth Benedict
(American Prospect, 3.1.04): click here

I know these things change on a dime... but the following exchange of punditry is just one example of the kind of thing that's been cheering me up these days. Even if it's fleeting, this new vulnerability in Bush's supposed invulnerability - is fabulously refreshing!

MARK SHIELDS: ...I mean, perceptions frequently pass for reality in politics, and there's a perception now among both Democrats and Republicans that George W. Bush is in trouble.

JIM LEHRER: Where do you think that comes from?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, it comes from him having a bad week and dropping 11 points in his approval rating. He had one of the worst State of the Union's in recent memory. The trip to Mars didn't really seem to go anywhere. We didn't find weapons of mass destruction. (click here for full transcript)

When thinking about the Democratic Presidential candidates, do you find yourself wondering, "Who are these guys and what do they stand for?" You too can find concise explications by clicking here.

Because I'm from MA, I started on Kerry's page (he's a Senator from here 'bouts), but the others can be reached by clicking their names on the left.

Kerry's the front runner in the race now, but I'm highly skeptical that a guy from the northeast (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Abraham Lincoln) is going to be able to win over voters in the south... But hey, this last few weeks has been with record turnouts in the Democratic primaries and Bush's popularity ratings going below 50% - it's, like I said, refreshing. Now, the Republican mud machine will swing into action and we'll see where it goes from there - what a long, long year it's gonna be.

More Bush Vulnerabilities Emerge by James O. Goldsborough (San Diego Union-Tribune, 02.09.04): click here

And you know Bush is in trouble, because he's trying to make himself popular again by gay bashing - nothing enthuses his party faithful quite like hate politics:
Report: Bush Plans to Endorse Marriage Amendment (Reuters, 02.11.04): click here

Liked it.
Published on Thursday, February 19, 2004 by Arianna Online
Bush Rouses The Sleeping Dogs Of The Culture War by Arianna Huffington (02.19.04): click here

Republicans waiting for Bush to sharpen his focus by Wayne Washington (Globe Staff, 2.20.04): click here

It was just a matter of time for the party of make believe to strike on this brilliant idea...
Schwarzenegger Backs Amending U.S. Presidential Rule by Peter Kaplan (Reuters, 02.22.04): click here

Keepin' an eye on the story...
Use WTO to Bolster Outsourcing--Pro-Bush Tech Guru by Narayanan Madhavan and Anshuman Daga (Reuters, 02.23.04): click here

Once again, the soldiers of commerce force us to examine the concept of romantic love. I defer on this subject to just about anybody (except my nephew who has forsworn the whole idea and prefers to discourse on such rousing topics as crocodile attacks and poisonous snakes). I defer, not because I am unacquainted with it, but because it seems rather a self-indulgent topic. And besides, the whole thing's a conspiracy.

Here's how I see it: DNA runs everything. It's the proverbial "man behind the curtain". It's pulling the strings. And it has one objective - to make more of itself. And what better way to make more of yourself than to convince your host body to go out and purchase a sappy greeting card that will be the inevitable cause of said host's body getting laid (these hosts aren't especially bright) and creating offspring? It's insidious clever when you think on it...

Ume once accused me of not being romantic. Can you imagine?

Of course, homosexuality throws a wrench into this devilish scheme - no matter how many cards Ume and I give one another, our DNA's in a bind. And this is the real reason for homophobia. You see, DNA can't stand the idea of something undermining it's scheme for replication and so it's convinced the majority of host bodies that there's this God character who inspired the writing of this book where it says that homosexuality is a bad idea (cutting into the profits of the enterprise as it does). And so the majority of hosts, when looking for justification for marginalizing and oppressing that "peculiar" minority, just look to a book that they themselves wrote (or think they wrote, inspired by God) and say, "See! We told you! It's nasty!"

Someone once actually told me that they thought homosexuality was "wrong", because a human being's primary purpose was to reproduce. (That explains why we basically throw elderly people away in this culture, doesn't it? What the hell are they good for? Just taking up space and resources by that reckoning...) I argued that our primary urge was to survive (being deceased does a number on replication, I mean, reroduction...) and if a small percentage of the population isn't dragged down by the weight of insistent children, they're probably doing something else - like directing more energy toward survival (inventing sharper spears, more durable ceramics, etc.) which is good for the tribe as a whole. Not that homosexuals have been able to go about childless through much of history - only the richer ones got away with that kind of non-conformist behavior (and maybe the ones in armies, cloisters and such) - so why I bother to bring it up is, well, a mystery, really. And now homosexuals are having children all over the place openly, while not partnered to the opposite sex, so maybe the DNA conspiracy will be undermined altogether, in any case.

Until it has been, I've got to keep getting Ume these cards. Nobody, I don't care how practical minded they may be, likes to be told they're not romantic (freakin' DNA).

Not to be outdone by the stodgy and rules minded folk in Massachusetts, the mayor of San Francisco has decided to dispense with certain legal formalities and start handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 700 have been distributed so far.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Meanwhile, here at the epicenter of the gay marriage fight (a.k.a. the fight to get equal treatment, if not under god, than under the law):

The proposed constitutional amendment states that "It being the public policy of this Commonwealth to protect the unique relationship of marriage in order to promote, among other goals, the stability and welfare of society and the best interest of children, only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Massachusetts. Any other relationship shall not be recognized as a marriage or its legal equivalent."

Several lawmakers, fearful that the last four words could block later efforts to create Vermont-style civil unions, have told the amendment's prime sponsor, Representative Philip Travis of Rehoboth, to drop the phrase. He agreed last week to drop it.

But proponents of gay marriage and civil unions yesterday said the language at the beginning of the amendment -- to "protect the unique relationship of marriage in order to promote . . . the stability and welfare of society and the best interest of children" -- could eventually be used to mount a legal challenge to civil unions or domestic partner benefits. They say anti-gay-marriage laws in California and Maine have been used to mount similar challenges to other gay rights.

As a result, lawmakers and lobbyists favoring gay rights said they will spend the rest of the week cautioning lawmakers that a vote for the Travis amendment would ban not only gay marriage, but also civil unions or even domestic partner benefits, which several communities are seeking for municipal employees. The strategy is meant to appeal to lawmakers who are saying they will back the proposed amendment banning marriage but would support subsequent legislation creating civil unions.


A strategist working with the leadership in the House of Representatives said yesterday that House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran <hisss> is busy attempting to craft a compromise amendment that would directly allay legislators' fear that they are somehow foreclosing the possibility of creating civil unions. The official added that Finneran is also worried that the issue could harm Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kerry has said he favors civil unions, and has said he would not yet endorse the proposed amendment because he's not certain it protects lawmakers' rights to build such a system.

For the full article: click here

The constitution of the state of Massachusetts is the oldest functioning written constitution in the world. It was penned (principally) by John Adams around and about 1780. Adams believed that "all men were born equally free and independent" - that after we've been squeezed into this world, we're entitled to equal rights under the law. Interestingly, he did not believe that we were born equal in gifts and talents, which was why he objected to the wording of the state constitution being altered to "all men are born free and equal" (which was more like what Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence).

Which isn't to say that it is or has always been a perfect document and that it oughtn't change over time. I'm just saying that the proposed ammendment is sad and shows how very deeply threatened people are by this issue. (I mean, many of them are still getting over the shock that it's legal for us to even have sex.)

In the end, if it comes to a public referendum - a vote by the people of Massachusetts to alter the constitution, institutionalize discrimination (wouldn't be the first time...), and ban gay marriage - so be it. We do, after all, live in a democracy. And time brings change, and constitutions are changeable things.

If you're interested in info on John Adams, the David McCullough bio is quite good (I'm in the middle of it).

For the latest developments on the amendment, there's this article: Amendment would turn gay marriages into unions: Lawmakers get proposal today by Frank Phillips and Raphael Lewis (Boston Globe, 02.11.04): click here

Today is a big day for Massachusetts. I hope that our representatives can see that it would be fair and just for folks like Ume and me to be treated, not differently or specially, but equally under the law.

So there I was, standing in the produce aisle, facing a bin of potatoes. "Which one of you am I gonna eat for lunch tomorrow?" I asked.

Luckily, none of them answered.

I considered a few of them at a remove (I don't like to get too personal all of a sudden), but none of them were really striking my fancy, ya know? Then I looked up and realized that maybe I was taking it all a little too seriously. I mean, no one else seemed to be staring at the produce quite as intently as I was... "Look normal Brulee, just pick one and move on to the next thing on your list." I have a conformity coach voice that perks up from the sidelines every now and again. But I don't always listen. "Leave me alone. You want to be eating crooked potatoes tomorrow? Look at that one, it'd cook all uneven and be a pain to clean besides. No, I want the shape I had last weekend, now that was a good looking potato!... Did I say that out loud?"

"What?" Ume asked, walking over and dropping some veggies into the basket I was carrying.

"Oh nothing, which potato do you want?"

"I don't care, just grab a couple."

"Okay," I reach into the bin like it's no big deal and select them.

I'm feelin' persnickety.

Maybe it's because the president has started appointing people to his independent commission on intelligence failures. (Now there's an open invitation to criticism if I've ever seen one...) Kudos to the architect of the latest smoke screen, the whole "intelligence failure" concept - Dr. David Kay. In gratitude for handing them an out, the administration has appointed him to this failed intelligence commission. The true believer in WMD turned confused and concerned commission member. "Gee, how could this have happened? How could WE ALL have been so wrong?" Easy! We weren't wrong. You were. And what y'all should be investigating (if you really, truly, believe the line you've been fed by the ideologues) is your own intelligence failure (i.e. how it is that YOU were misled).There's deprogrammers who work with ex-cult members who can probably be helpful to you. But no, that might raise some pesky “reality as it is, not how I want it to be” type issues - so instead, the president has charged you to look into intelligence failures to do with Libya's, Iran's and North Korea's - and lastly, but I’m sure not leastly - Iraq’s WMD. And report back to him in a timely fashion - after the November election.

And he means it! Is really concerned about it! Which is why he’s got a bruise on his arm from where they were twisting it to get him to do something, anything, about the damage David Kay’s revelations were causing. So, he did the very least he thought he could get away with. Ain't politics grand?

Not trying especially hard for subtlety here, are they? Pfft! What's it take to get people to smell a rat? Call me when it's over. More info: click here

Maybe it's not the intelligence failure that's got me feelin' persnickety. Maybe it's the furor over gay marriage. More info: click here

Or maybe it's because I came across (totally by accident) an obnoxious web page. I thought I was surfing into friendly territory, but found it hostile upon landing. Such pompous and sophomoric idiocy did I encounter there... yeah, yeah, pot an' kettle and all that... But still, all I could think was, "What an obnoxious little twerp!" And then it hit me - she must be a kid. And it turned out she is, more or less. Maybe when she figures out how absolutely off-putting her righteous behavior is, she'll learn to temper her words with actual feelings. Or maybe she won't and then she'll feel superior in her solitude - and thankful to the small people who made her the solitary paragon of truth that she is...

When confronted by such annoying people it's sometimes helpful to consider that being them must be infinitely more excruciating than being exposed to them.

Or maybe I'm feelin' persnickety because Ume's told me she's going to a conference for a week in the spring. "Fine," I shrugged indifferently. "I'm going somewhere exotic where people don't wear much of anything."

"The Super Bowl?" she asked.

"I know what goes on at those conferences!" I snapped - my calm charade giving way like a dam with a nasty crack. "I wasn't born yesterday! It's all debauchery and every sort of rank behavior at those things." (Ume and I have heard stories. We know people who've been hit on every which way at conferences - usually by people who are married and feelin' frisky. Frightening.)

"You know the rules," I said. "1 - She's got to be better looking than me. (This is a pride consideration.) 2 - If it's a guy, he'd better be better lookin' than me too, but don't bother coming home. (This is simply me knowing my limits.) 3 - She's got to have a terminal disease and you're just doing it out of compassion. (This is simply knowing Ume as well as I do.) 4 - It will further your career considerably (in which case I don't care what she looks like). (Me, practical as always.)"

"Why don't you just put me up for auction on e-bay?" she wanted to know.

"Don't be silly. A one-time deal isn't a good investment."

"And you know all about investing," she rolls her eyes.

"Hey! It's never too late to learn."

Or maybe I'm persnickety because approximately 1,500,000 people gathered in downtown Boston to cheer the Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots, this week. This was spiffy, sure (New England sports teams could use a boost). But I can't help comparing this crowd of 1,500,000 people to the one that gathered to protest the war in Iraq; it was the largest protest in Boston since the Vietnam War and it was in the ballpark of 30,000 people... Sigh.

Or maybe it's something else what's got me all persnicketied up. Like, for instance, I wrote another letter in the "Letter Home" correspondence...

Could be one of several, or none of, many things that's the cause. It's another mystery for the ages.

Click here for what may, or may not, be the cause of my persnicketiness. Grace's latest reply to Florence.

Stephen Jay Gould is turning over in his grave:
In a State That will Live in Infamy by Jay Bookman (02.02.04, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution): click here

Callin' it like she sees it:
Will Cheney Provide the Margin of Victory? For Democrats? by Arianna Huffington (02.05.04): click here

There Was No Failure of Intelligence by Sidney Blumenthal (02.05.04, Guardian/UK):click here

Where, indeed...
Where's the Apology? by Paul Krugman (01.30.04, the New York Times): click here

And so it goes...
Red Ink Realities by Paul Krugman (01.27.04, by the New York Times): click here

How Industry Hijacked 'Sound Science' by Oliver Houck (01.30.04, New Orleans Times-Picayune): click here

Study: Investing in Sexual Health Pays Benefits by Patricia Reaney (02.03.04, Reuters): click here

Ooh. Ooh!
Philips Creates Foldable Screens for E-Newspapers (Reuters, 01.26.04):click here

A pleasant thought:

Remember Ashcroft's song and dance tour across America to promote Patriot Act II? Wonder what happened to that? I guess without another huge attack, they can't bulldoze it through on the back of a fear truck... I mean, muster support for it. Besides, I guess he's too busy recusing himself from the whole Valerie Plame leak thing an' all - that's gotta tucker ya out and stuff. I'm just pleased not to have to hear about Patriot II every five minutes. Let's hope it stays that way - 'cuz you know that thing's just sitting in a drawer waiting for an opportune moment.

2004 Déjà vu - Jan.

2003 Déjà vu - Dec. - Nov.- Oct. - Sept. - August - July - June - May- April - March - Feb. - Jan.

2002 Déjà vu - Dec. - Nov.- Oct. - Sept. - August - July - June - May - April - March - Feb. - Jan.

2001 Déjà vu - Dec. - Nov. - Oct. - Sept. - August - July - June - Misadventures- April

Compassion Fatigue Entries - 2001

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