March 4, 2005

"It's not like that's the law in our... oh, wait."

This just utterly confuses me:

Under intense global pressure, the United States on Friday dropped its demand to amend a declaration reaffirming the U.N. blueprint to achieve equality for women, saying it was satisfied the document did not guarantee the right to abortion.

U.S. Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey said the United States would join other nations in approving the declaration endorsing the 150-page platform for action adopted at the 1995 U.N. women's conference in Beijing.

The proposed U.S. amendment would have reaffirmed the Beijing platform and a declaration adopted with it � but only "while reaffirming that they do not create any new international human rights, and that they do not include the right to abortion."

But the United States found itself virtually alone, with nations from Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia all opposed.

The attempt to amend the one-page declaration had overshadowed the start of a two-week review of the Beijing platform that began Monday, angering many of the 130 governments and 6,000 representatives of women's and human rights organizations. They had hoped to focus on obstacles to women's equality in the economy, the family, education and political life � not on the abortion issue.

Okay, so let's see if I get this right:

Abortion, regardless of the ruling party's opinions at the time, is, in fact, a legal right in this country. Whether or not you agree is irrelevant- it's legal.

Yet the U.S., in the midst of negotiating a U.N. declaration on the rights of women- complains that the declaration might imply that women have the right to an abortion- something that, in the U.S., women already have.

In other words, the U.S. argued against declaring something that's already been declared legal... legal. So to make some kind of grandstanding, they risked scuttling the entire thing for no reason whatsoever.

Yeesh. That's some commitment to the seriousness of protecting the rights of women, right there.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:24 PM

Panic less

Several readers- who, I might add- I admire for what seemed like genuine concern for my fragile emotions- sent me the link to the newest "internet-only" trailer for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Without a doubt, it's an improvement over the theatrical one. In fact, measuring the improvement can't even be calculated in numbers. Let's just say that this trailer is Greenland times better than the first one.

I have no idea why the producers in their right minds didn't think of making this one the main trailer. But that's Hollywood for you. Anyway, go watch. And yes, that's Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin, which may make the entire movie worthwhile.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:04 AM

March 2, 2005

Oh yeah

Before I forget, thanks to all who offered advice on cell phones over the last week. Since there's no way to get out of the year contract, I basically just have to wait out another two weeks until it expires, at which point I can switch my number over to a new company. Thanks to all for the suggested companies and the general sympathy.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:14 PM

Those darn intolerant liberals, right?

Sorry, I lost count after Tom Coburn- is there an official number anywhere on the number of elected Republicans who openly advocate killing people who disagree with them?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:45 PM

Expect these exciting new features in the next edition of Rainbox Six

Survey: One in four Americans support using nuclear weapons against terrorists:

More than one in four Americans would go so far as to utilize nuclear bombs if need be in the fight against terrorism, according to a national survey reported today by The Gallup Organization.

Gallup asked Americans whether they would be willing or not willing �to have the U.S. government do each of the following� and then listed an array of options.

For example, �assassinate known terrorists� drew the support of 65% of all adults. �Torture known terrorists if they know details about future terrorist attacks in the U.S.� won the backing of 39%.

Finally, the option of using �nuclear weapons to attack terrorist facilities� drew the support of 27% of adults, with 72% opposing, which would shatter the taboo on using these weapons militarily since the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

While it's heartening to know that 72% of the country has enough sense to realize what it would actually mean to detonate a thermonuclear warhead over a populated area, the fact that 27% don't is simply frightening.

Even more disturbing are the previous questions: for 65% of America to support assassinations and another 40% to support torture really gives you pause to the concept that we're over there "defending American values." Apparently, American values include thinking that 24 is a documentary.

As for the cop-out that Americans would only want to assassinate "known" terrorists- since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has convicted exactly zero people of terrorism. Several hundred people sit in dog cages in Cuba because they're "known" to be connected to terrorism- just not enough to actually go to trial for over three years, I guess. The army has no interest in "knowing" a damn thing before sending in a sniper team.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:24 AM

March 1, 2005

I... but... no. Wait! But- just... and, yeah... no.

Okay, well maybe, just...

I don't- possibly... could it be because of the-

...sorry, was that? Not thinking strai... no. Nope.

I'd better go.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:20 PM

February 28, 2005

Flint wheels of progress

Ignoring what I'm sure had to be overwhelming pressure from the tobacco industry, the TSA finally decided to ban lighters on airline flights.

And to think, it only took three years after someone tried to light a bomb on an airplane.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:28 PM

On Rice vs. Hillary

Reader Lori writes in on my previous female ticket post:

I�m not sure I want Ms. Clinton or Dr. Rice to run for president. I don�t think I can handle listening to what people will have to say about a woman in office. It's just depressing. There was a point in time when I was thought the public could accept women in powerful roles. The first presidential election that I remember was in 1984, and there was a woman on a major party ticket. I remember in 1988 being surprised that there wasn�t a woman running. That was normal as far as I knew. I also knew women as political leaders if not elected ones. I was raised in a small town in Arkansas, and Hillary Clinton was a prominent figure in the state for all but a few years of my life. She was no more or less controversial than any other public figure around, and people liked her. My grandfather was a conservative, small town lawyer in Arkansas, and he thought Ms. Clinton was wonderful. Hence, I was completely unprepared for what happened when the Clintons moved into national politics. I didn�t expect everyone to agree with her, but the visceral reaction she elicited shattered any naive ideas I had about powerful women. The nature of the attacks left no question that it was gender-based. I�ve never heard a word that is the male equivalent of bitch.

It doesn�t seem the situation is improving. I am a woman in the sciences, and my innate ability, or lack thereof, to perform my job is being questioned by a university president. It�s ridiculous. There are many reasons women aren�t research faculty, and sexism is certainly a significant one. When interviewing candidate for research positions, they are evaluated on their scientific achievement and on their ability to conform to the atmosphere of a particular department. Candidates can reasonably be rejected for the latter. Unfortunately, that excuse is used many times more for female candidates than for males. Even here, among all of these people that value themselves for thinking rationally, women are still supposed to be girls. I have no illusions that the general public will be any more open to a female leader.

But the again, what would a little ol' girl like me know anyway?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:36 PM

Newest comic - "Maybe we should just come up with a plan that works"

Once again, I did that thing where I was simply too tired to think of anything to write in this space, so now I'm writing it at 4:00 PM the next day or something. There's also a stack of site requests I have to take care of, not to mention a dozen e-mails you sent me about cell phones and other things that I need to go through.

I'm glad to see the hiring of a precocious child as what is, sadly, nowhere near the last-ditch efforts of pro-privitization forces was not an unnoticed event. The story even got picked up in the noble halls of Campus Progress, which for reasons completely unrelated to me working there I feel you should be visiting on a regular basis. I mean, seriously, folks. There's no way none of you are college students. Join the party.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:44 AM

February 27, 2005

Now that, my friends, is class

The 25th Annual Razzies- honoring the worst films of 2004- were held this weekend, and while you'd think I'd talk about the symbolic awards given to George W. Bush for Fahrenheit 9/11, I'm simply amazed at this little tidbit of the event: Halle Berry "won" the award for worst actress for Catwoman. And she showed up to recieve the award, with gusto:

Berry was named worst actress of 2004 by the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation for her performance in "Catwoman" and she showed up to accept her "Razzie" carrying the Oscar she won in 2002 for "Monster's Ball."

"They can't take this away from me, it's got my name on it!" she quipped. A raucous crowd cheered her on as she gave a stirring recreation of her Academy Award acceptance speech, including tears.

She thanked everyone involved in "Catwoman," a film she said took her from the top of her profession to the bottom.

"I want to thank Warner Brothers for casting me in this piece of shit," she said as she dragged her agent on stage and warned him "next time read the script first."

I officially take back anything bad I've ever said about Halle Berry.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:37 PM