Friday, December 25, 2009

Book Club Book Review: What is Marriage For?

Before first delving into my review of this book, I must admit, I am both a liberal academic and a scientist, which may bias my review of this book just a bit. Altogether, I would give this book a positive review. Graff is a lesbian and lays out her reasoning for a allowing gay marriage, arguing that all of the things heterosexual marriage is for (money, sex, children, kin, order, heart - her chapters) are the same things homosexual marriage is for. She also argues that, as society has changed, so has marriage, reflecting our views as society. I found this book to be interesting in it's historical tidbits, but honestly, pretty hard to get through. The author, while understandably passionate about the subject, tends to ramble on about historical situations or studies which hammer home her point, but at a certain cost. The reader must slog through brief explanations of such studies, attempting to pull out the relevant information. For example, while I found it interesting that gender of a parent did not seem to have an effect on children, as long as the parent is loving, the studies she cited were so small as to cause me to wonder why she cited them at all. I am mostly curious how the studies would look today, with ten years time in between.
I found the language to be a bit insulting - using the term "preggers" more than once, or the term "babies" for children (that may be my elitist academic in me) and I'm still not sure to whom the book was written. As the political situation had played out, it seems to be mostly right wing conservative Christians who have the biggest problem with gay marriage. I understand it's hard to address issues of religion with reason, and I assume this book was not written for them. It seems to be written for logical, reasonable individuals who have an interest in human rights and equality, but are on the fence about allowing gay marriage, for whatever reason. At this point in time, I think most of those people have been convinced that legalization of homosexual marriage is the next logical step, perhaps making this book a little dated.
However, I do understand this book set a precedent and has been quoted and used in arguments and discussions of same sex marriage over the last few years. I also understand that this was the first book to look at same sex marriage from the woman's perspective, which is indeed intriguing. I commend the author for her work in this field, and being brave enough to be the first one to logically lay out the reasoning for legalization of gay marriage.
On the personal front, I was appalled and outraged at the blatant discrimination carried out by voters when Prop 8 passed in California last year. I grew up with an unrelated gay uncle whom I will always fiercely defend. I really feel this is a constitutional issue for the Federal Government, one that must be interpreted by both the right for equality (separate is not equal) and the separation of Church & State (in that, the government cannot force a church to marry people it does not want to marry). I am hopeful this political nightmare will play out in a rational and justified way (and am astonished that Iowa is leading the way!). Ultimately, I think Graff's book should be read by anyone interested in marriage itself (whether gay or straight) as well as people interested in the arguments for gay marriage.
If you'd like to join the discussion, head over here.
If you are interested in book club and would like to join, check it out here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And just for fun...

"NORAD intelligence reports indicate that Santa does not experience time the way we do. His Christmas Eve trip seems to take 24 hours to us, but to Santa it might last days, weeks or even months. Santa would not want to rush the important job of delivering presents to children and spreading Christmas to everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa somehow functions within his own time-space continuum."
courtesy of Santa Tracker at NORAD.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snowpocalypse 2009 continues

This storm has really killed this city. It's really amazing what a little bit of snow can do! We got about two feet of snow and the temps have been below freezing for the most part since the storm. Which means that the snow has not melted and gone away. Most people have shoveled their walks, except for those stubborn few who, apparently, like to skate down their front steps and walk. I think there are approximately 6 guys with snowplows and shovels charged with the task of snow removal. They are still working today! I walk to work every day, and once I get to Penn campus, things are great - everything is plowed and salted and it's clear and lovely. However, getting there can be quite a trick. Nobody plows the sidewalks on the bridges, which are a main thoroughfare and so us pedestrians just have to slog though 2 feet of melted and icy snow to get across the bridge to get to work. So, we decided to walk in the street. Along the side of the street, of course, but in the street. It's been plowed and is clear, does not have treacherous ice and snow on it (think about it, if you are walking on a bridge with a guard rail, and there is 2 ft of snow on said bridge - that guard rail doesn't do much for you anymore does it? woosh- right into the Schuylkill! Whoops!). So, the cars get mad, and they come pretty close to us pedestrians and nearly hit us. People on bikes don't have it much better since the snow is piled into the bike lanes! I talked to a guy yesterday who said it took him 4 hours to dig his truck out. Wow! Everything has just slowed down - I think people are still stressed, but it's more of an "Oh well" type of situation - only doing what absolutely HAS to be done and ignoring all the frivolousness. Which is lovely, I must say. Other than twisting my knee on some icy snow, this has been a lovely snowstorm, mostly because I don't have to drive or travel anywhere. To those of you traveling, godspeed and good luck. To those of you here, welcome home. And to everyone else, a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Things I learned this past weekend

we used to have a backyard!

  • Snow is very beautiful and lovely and turns me into a seven year old.
  • There is more than one kind of snow. This particular kind that fell was "light" and "dry", mostly meaning you couldn't make snowballs or snowmen out of it.
  • Snowmen made out of such snow do not look like Frosty the Snowman.
  • The City of Philadelphia and surrounding areas do not know how to deal with the snow in any way shape or form. Case in point, it stopped snowing Sat night, schools are closed today.
  • Snowplows on the freeway travel in armadas, with several plows, dump trucks and more plows. It made me think of Christopher Columbus.
  • They do not plow every street. Especially mine, which is tiny.
  • You have to dig your car out of the snow. Like, literally, with a shovel.
  • Sometimes other people shovel your walk for you.
  • Driving in the snow requires a lot of brake pumping (that's what she said, eh, Randi?)
  • The local news was on all day Sat - covering the snow. At one point, they were literally pulling people off the streets to interview them.
  • Buses, trains and airplanes do not run in the snow.
  • Snow can act as an insulator - our roof covered in snow = warmer 2nd floor of the house! Go figure!
  • Walking in the snow is hard and should only be left to professionals. Or those with Gaiters, Yaktrax and huge puffy coats, like me.
  • People are much friendlier in the snow. Or, only the friendly people come out in the snow. They tell you all about their childhood, their neighborhood, anything. We met our next door neighbor for the first time (lived there for 3 years so far....) I think cabin fever is also involved.
  • Snow falling makes a certain noise that I can't describe. White noise, maybe. And every other sound is muffled. The silence is wonderful!
  • The last time this area had this much snow in December was literally 1909 - it was the storm of the century :)
  • I am very glad I do not drive. I would have killed lots of people.
  • Sometime, when driving on the freeway, cars can randomly spin around for no reason whatsoever. Who knew?
  • Babies and dogs in snow are just about the cutest thing I have ever seen.
  • A shovelful of snow on your head is cold. And wet. And requires hot chocolate STAT.
  • You don't feel so bad drinking the full fat hot chocolate from SBux because you just walked in the snow for miles.
  • Kids really do wear snowsuits. Adults too, Haha!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Because it's that time of year....

This video makes me very happy :)
Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

My brain is mushy Haiku Friday

So many things to
do, so little time. Weekend
visitor tonight.


Tree is done, next are
cards. Mailing gifts. Some time
on the internet.


Writing a paper
Hope it will get published you
Will hear about that!

Monday, December 7, 2009


I broke my coffee pot on Friday night. On Saturdays and Sundays, I usually lounge around and read the paper and enjoy my cup of coffee. You know, because on other days, it's Go!Go!Go! So we tried to make coffee on Saturday morning and it didn't quite work well. Everything we made turned out weak and sad and watered down. Alex realized that he had an old 4-cup coffee maker in the basement from his bachelor years, so we pulled that out. Thankfully, that still worked and we were able to get a couple cups out of it for Sunday morning. I then headed to the dreaded KMart. Why is that the worst place on earth? Seriously? I've hated KMart ever since I was a kid and the one in Ventura had no parking and the worst lot on earth to get out of. Then, in college, the only place near campus was KMart, and it sucked just as bad as the one in Ventura. Now, the only "discount" type store I can get to in the city - KMart! Grrrrr....
Everything is Martha Stewart crap everywhere. Their Christmas decorations are hideous, cheap and nasty. Everything is jumbled about, the lines are a mile long, the service is slow and rude and mumbled, you are accosted as you leave the store for your receipt and all your stuff you bought that you've carefully packed into your backpack (yeah, I literally JUST checked out - could you pay attention, security person? Then maybe you would notice that I just paid!). So, the have a Mr. Coffee replacement carafe and I purchase it. For maybe $12 or so (silly to pay for one of those when a whole new one is $30, I know). And I get it home, and lo and behold, it's, literally, 2cm too wide in diameter. So it won't fit into the burner (or into the machine, for that matter). So, I'm back to my dinky little 4 cup coffee pot. Which is fine, mostly, but we've got people visiting this weekend and then right after Christmas. It's kinda a pain to make, basically 1.5 cups of coffee per run o' the machine.
Mostly, I would kill for a trip to Target right now. I wish they were close by or I wish I had access to a car that I could just pop over there one evening this week. Sometimes, living in the city is great. When it takes a 2hr bus ride or a treacherous bike ride across town to get the things you're looking for, then it kinda sucks!
Considering the pros and cons of purchasing a car......

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dear State of New York,

Could ya get it together? You and CA are supposed to be the trend setters - instead you let places like Iowa take the lead? What the hell is wrong with you? Who are these damn people who oppose gay marriage? Can we just give them one of the shitty states and the rest of us non-discriminators can just have the rest of the country? I'm so sick of this shit - where are these people coming from and where do they get off restricting access to state sanctioned institutions?

Arrrrrrgggghhhhvoldknsrbo;erinbsozeibfhjwiorg pbthhhhhht!

And thus concludes my rant for the day....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Would You do to Graduate?

A recent article in the NY Times highlighted an interesting tactic in college graduation. Lincoln University, a predominantly African-American college a bit outside Philadelphia, has declared that students with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 need to take a gym class to graduate. BMI is a ratio of your weight to your height and is a crude (although somewhat effective) way to determine if people are overweight. Granted, if you are Peyton Manning (quarterback of the still undefeated Indianapolis Colts), your BMI is pretty skewed because he's 6'5" and a ton of muscle. But for the rest of us, it's a pretty good indicator of size. And I realize that obesity is an American epidemic that especially hits lower income families and minorities the most. I applaud Lincoln University for recognizing the epidemic, and for trying to do something about it, but I think the approach is wrong. I think the majority of us could use an extra gym credit, a health class, a cooking or nutrition class. When I was in college (back in my day...), I took some dance classes that I loved. It was a great way to burn off steam, and there was no homework! Just show up. I understand that perhaps these classes are not for everyone. Someone commuting to school, or paying on a per credit basis, would probably not appreciate the little one-unit class that made them drive all the way to campus for no reason. But, for students attending college and living on campus, as the majority of students at Lincoln are doing, an extra class dedicated to nutrition, how to use the gym or a plethora of sports, could be a great addition to the curriculum. For ALL students. Not just those considered technically obese. I think it's pretty prevalent that a lot of us get out of college and don't know how to take care of ourselves. I had late nights filled with pots of coffee, dinner consisted of Spaghetti Os or Ramen noodles, or those Pasta-Roni boxes, and I drank copious amounts of alcohol. It would have been nice to have a nutrition or health class, or, heck, even Home Ec in high school (please, without the sexist agenda!). I guess what I'm saying is that the sentiment is right at Lincoln, the execution is just off. Let's make eating healthy and taking care of yourself part of our education, but let's not single out one group of people to force that education on. I think we'll all be better off if we do.