This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

If a tree falls in the woods and that sound is so insane it barely qualifies as a crash, does it really make a sound?

I have a confession to make: I wasn't going to post today. I was going to do other things. Then I walk by the TV in the breakroom and find out that a woman is trying her darndest to make stay-at-home moms feel guilty for staying at home. ABC News is calling her comments "controversial," which I suppose they are since I'm posting this right now. Let's just go paragraph-by-paragraph thru the accompanying story, shall we? This needs to be nipped in the bud right now, and I'm just the 30-something childless white guy to do it.

Feb. 22, 2006 — An alarming number of college-educated women are leaving the work force to stay at home and raise their children, a trend that is a tragedy not only for the mothers, but ultimately their children and women as a whole.

So said law professor and working mom Linda Hirshman in a 2005 article for American Prospect magazine that has ignited an intense debate among mothers.

First of all, one side saying all manner of crap and the other side reacting to it isn't really a debate. If I insist to you that up is actually down in order to advance a liberal agenda, you might get a little intense, but it wont be a real argument. I suppose Ms. Hirshman may actually believe what she's saying here, since she's old enough to remember the ultimate goal of (long-dead) pre-Madonna feminism, which is Rule by Women. Is that a worthy thing to shoot for? Only if you think women need to fight against a patriarchal and evil system that keeps them from realizing their potential, and you don't care about anything else but that. Moving on...

Census figures show 54 percent of mothers with a graduate or professional degree no longer work full time. In 2003 and 2004 Hirshman interviewed about 30 women whose wedding announcements had appeared in The New York Times in 1996 and who had had children. Five of the women were working full time, and 10 were working part time. The rest were not working at all.

"We care because what they do is bad for them, is certainly bad for society, and is widely imitated, even by people who never get their weddings in the Times," Hirshman wrote. "This last is called the 'regime effect,' and it means that even if women don't quit their jobs for their families, they think they should and feel guilty about not doing it."

INSANE ASSUMPTION ONE: The only reason a professionally educated mother would choose to stay at home is guilt. The underlying thought behind this, of course, is that women have been convinced they should stay home by patriarchal society and conventional thinking, both of which are The Enemy, so they must be wrong. In her exhaustive survey of 30 mothers, it turns out 15 stopped working entirely, and 10 more only work part-time. This is bad for society? Only if you believe in Feminism Uber Alles, which nobody does. This is bad for the women themselves? Only if you believe that they are staying at home solely out of man-driven guilt, which isn't true.

Hirshman also said educated women choosing to stay home was bad for them as individuals.

"A good life for humans includes the classical standard of using one's capacities for speech and reason in a prudent way, the liberal requirement of having enough autonomy to direct one's own life, and the utilitarian test of doing more good than harm in the world," Hirshman wrote. "Measured against these time-tested standards, the expensively educated, upper-class moms will be leading lesser lives."

Redundancy of thought [sic],
INSANE ASSUMPTION TWO: She thinks she's figured out what constitutes a "good life" for humans. Think about that for a second. Consider the high levels of presumptuousness and arrogance you would need to make that claim. Not only that, but she goes with three standards that at best don't even apply to the situation, and at worst seem to contradict what she's saying. "Using one's capacities for speech and reason in a prudent way" depends on what you think is prudent. Same deal with "doing more good than harm in the world." And "autonomy" might be easier, Ms. Hirshman, if presumptuous and arrogant people would stop telling women that they know what's good for them. Just a thought.

Note also she doesn't seem to care about inexpensively educated or non-upper-class moms. They can never lead a good human life, so why bother? If they don't advance the liberal cause, they might as well not exist, and their opinions are not valid.

Faith Fuhrman has a master's degree in nursing, but chooses to stay home with her children.

"The job I was in when I had, first had my child, I couldn't have done it," Fuhrman said. "I was working 14 hours a day. I was on call."

When Debbie Klett became a mother, she quit her job in ad sales and started a magazine called Total 180 so she could work from home and spend more time with her children.

"For me, I feel it is vital to be there for my children every day, to consistently tend to their needs, to grow their self-esteem, and to praise them when they're right, guide them when they're not, and to be a loving, caring mom every minute of the day," Klett said.

The obligatory "balance section." This is boring. However, I would point out that not only did Ms. Klett quit her job, she started her own magazine from home. She went from saleswoman to entrpeneur, and I'm sure that Ms. Hirshman would probably be on board with that, since she's "doing more good than harm." Do we really need more ad salespeople?

Klett acknowledged there were consequences to her choice to stay at home. To save money, her family has given up cable, does not go out to dinner, and does not go on vacations.

"We made tremendous financial sacrifices for me to be able to stay home with my children, and I wouldn't trade that for the world," Klett said.

Sacrifice? Crazy. What a waste, right? What of those poor children, growing up in a house with no cable? Oh, wait...I grew up in a house with no cable! And this after I complained loudly that Dan across the street had it and it was sooooo cool! Not having cable made me unhappy! My parents must have been monsters!

What About the Children?

Hirshman argues that Klett's children would be fine if she worked outside the home. Statistically there is no difference in the happiness levels of the children whose mothers work and the children whose mothers stay at home, she said.

INSANE ASSUMPTION THREE: Statistics can measure the relative value of a childhood. We all know that "happiness level" is the sole criteria for child rearing, right? You know, if you buy children what they want, they're probably pretty happy, or at least they think they are. This paragraph is actually so infuriatingly inaccurate and deceptive it's hard to know what to say. I guess if you want to believe something, you can find statistics to back it up. You just have to ignore common sense and the mountains of anecdotal and scientific evidence that champion the stay-at-home mom.

Deborah Skolnick agrees. She is a magazine editor who will not give up her job and feels working is a good example for her children, and helps them in other ways.

"I think my kids are as well-behaved and as well-socialized, if not better, than a lot of a fair number of at-home moms," Skolnick said. "I see at-home moms whose children won't separate from them, won't go to school, cry at the door. My children have learned, from an early age, that Mommy will be back. So they kiss me and they say goodbye."

This makes what little hair I have stand completely on end. I don't know Ms. Skolnick, but I'm going to work under the assumption that she honestly loves her kids and wants what's best for them. I also have no idea if she's right in her thinking that her kids are no more or less bratty than the kids who have moms at home. Here's the thing, though:

INSANE ASSUMPTION FOUR (and one that explains a lot, including potentially misleading statistics about the value of staying at home with one's children vs. the value of showing them that women can have careers): All stay-at-home moms are alike. They aren't. There are good stay-at-home moms and bad stay-at home moms. There are moms who read to their children every day and try their best to make sure their kids are getting an education, and there are those who just want to stay at home so they don't have to work anymore, and just view school as a convenient babysitter. There are moms who love their children so much they want to control their every move, and moms who beat their children when they get out of line. There are also good working moms and bad working moms, too. This is all common sense.

So am I saying that it doesn't matter for the child whether or not mom stays at home? No, you fool. The perfect situation is one where mom stays at home and dad works one job and comes home every night, and both of them love the child and put his/her needs before their own. Any deviation from this perfection is bad, no matter how happy the child might seem. This perfection is my assumption (again, as a male with no kids), and I think it's an obvious one. I also have seen this play out in countless households with countless kids. I've seen this play out with me.

The snarky side of me wants to point out the obvious disconnection Ms. Skolnick's kids feel towards her, but I'm just not that presumptuous. Ok, so I am. Check this out:

Fuhrman asked her 13-year-old son what he thought was the benefit of having a stay-at-home mom.

"He said, 'Well, I really like to come home every day and finding you here,'" Fuhrman said.

"But on the other hand, my daughter says to me, 'Mommy, when I grow up, I'm gonna get a job at your magazine, and I'm gonna sit at the same desk as you and we're gonna be on the same magazine together until we die,'" Skolnick said. "And that makes me kind of happy."

Which sentiment would you rather get from your child? Interesting that the two statements really say the same thing, no? Both kids want more mommy in their lives. These two quotes sum up the issue quite nicely, and probably not in the way the article's author intended. I love that.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Arabs Have Captured our Ports!

SUMMARY: The President is being ridiculous, but somehow the Democrats, his sworn enemies, have found a way to be even more ridiculous. This happens every day in the GW Bush presidency.

THE ISSUE: According to this Washingon Post article (and you know how we love the Post), a firm from the overnamed country United Arab Emirates (UAE, not UAB, which stands for U. Are Bad) has purchased the British company that was running the terminals at 6 of our ports. Terminal security is currently being handled by the anachronisticly named Longshoreman's Union, and the UAE firm says that will not change. Regardless, the Bush administration's approval of this deal has caused an uproar among Democrats, the cities involved, and even some of his own Republicans. They want to pass a law that forbids firms owned by foreign governments (note that it doesn't say "all foreign firms") from operating US Ports. Bush has vowed to veto such a bill, and in doing so has taken a stand that will make him extremely unpopular. Must be his second term. Anyway, the fight goes on today. I'm sure CNN and Fox News will be all over this rugby scrum*.

WHAT THE ISSUE IS REALLY ABOUT: Simply put, it looks bad to have our ports managed (and I don't mean the managers who are here running things -- I really just mean "owned") by Arabs. People in Turbans. Muslims with money. The Post article I linked to up there actually does a great job of explaining this. Relevant paragraphs:
Stephen E. Flynn, a specialist in maritime security at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted that although the company is state-owned, several members of its top management are Americans -- including its general counsel, a senior vice president and its outgoing chief operating officer, Edward H. Bilkey, who is a former U.S. Navy officer. And since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States has increasingly depended on such foreign port operators to cooperate in inspecting cargo before it heads for U.S. shores.
Robert C. Bonner, who until November headed U.S. Customs and Border Protection, agreed. Although U.S. dock workers have occasionally been caught colluding with drug traffickers, the possibility that terrorists or their sympathizers would end up working in U.S. ports is remote because of the strong role of unions in hiring, he said.
You see, nothing changes but the letterheads. So what's the problem? Perception. Democrats can hit the President with the issue and appear to be on the right side of the terror issue. Republicans don't want to be seen as being soft on terror, so they're slamming this too.

MY PROBLEM: How did we let it get to this point? Why did we let our Ports sell out to that British company in the first place? Is this saving us that much money? Why didn't we discuss Port Security until people with Turbans got involved? Why can't USA companies run all our Public projects?

MY OTHER PROBLEM: I clearly don't know enough about the issues here, as you can see by my elementary questions. My only source for information is the news -- the news that wants me to think a certain way. It doesn't matter if its network, cable, local, internet, blog-riffic, etc. They're all biased. This is why people turn to absurd ideas like "Nobody can truly know anything" and "Everything's relative" and "All opinions are equally valid." We're either too busy or too lazy to do a proper investigation.

It's not that complicated, after all. The only reason the Dems can attack this company is because its owned by the UAE government. If it were a private firm, they could be charged with being racist against Muslims. This bill does nothing for US Port security, and harms our diplomatic interests around the world. If we pass this law, maybe the UAE people get bitter and let some Dubai dubage through some foreign port aimed at us. Maybe some of you might like that, actually.

More importantly**, Maybe some other company, one that's not our lapdog, will get involved. Then the issue would really get barnacle-encrusted.

*Super-Unrelated side note: Speaking of Fox News, last night I was delivering pizza to a house that had either a CD or DVD of a Don Henley concert blasting so loudly I felt like I was delivering to the concert and not a house. While I was standing there waiting for a roadie or something to answer the door, I heard Don Henley say, "This next song is dedicated to Rupert Murdoch." The band then launched into "Dirty Laundry." As soon as I realized what song it was, I totally L'ed OL. Anyone who thinks Fox News is more biased or dirty or unprofessional or more of a mouthpeice for a big shadowy organization than CNN or CBS News or any other US news outlet in 2006, they need to examine themselves to figure out why they're so ignorant. Wolf Blitzer?

**Oh no I di'int.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I've put myself in the unenviable position of having been sucked in by both Beauty and the Geek and the Flavor Flav VH1 Dating trainwreck Flavor of Love. This means that yes, I probably need to stop watching so much TV in the little free time I have; and yes, I probably am stupid. So score one for my detractors. I end up blogging about TV a lot because it's a subject I can gloss over and summarize instead of having to unpack everything second-by-second, except when someone like Ahh-vah from My Super Sweet Sixteen is involved.

About Flavor of Love -- it's probably the worst show, in terms of having a point, that I've ever seen. Think about it: A dating show where the winner gets to date (?) Flavor Flav. And his omnipresent clock. I repeat, that's what the winner gets. The losers have to go home knowing that a) they probably just dodged a bullet, and b) they were just competing for a tore-up guy who often works a viking helmet into his wardrobe, and lost.

Having said that, Mr. Flav is a sympathetic figure on the show. He's a guy anyone could see hanging out with and having fun with for a while. He's warm, caring, good-natured, kinda funny, totally down-to-earth, often surprisingly lucid, and extremely committed to getting some "love" from these dumb hot-to-semihot girls who want to win his affection. I mean, that's what the show appears to be designed around -- his libido. Last episode there were two dates, two makeout sessions, a mud bath, nude showering, and gosh-knows-what-else between he and Pumkin in that room.

Oh, and this should tell you something about the show's views of the contestants on the show w/r/t their dignity and worth as human beings -- each one uses a Flav-given nickname in lieu of their real name. So it's "Hoops" "Pumkin" "Hottie" "New York" "Goldie" "Oyster" and so on instead of real human girls. I guess it makes the show more honest, since most people on reality shows just play a role anyway. But it seems more like Flav's the Emperor and this is his harem. It doesn't help that all the girls worship him, even when he's wearing the viking horns. They all seem to think that Flav is "meant to be" their "man." It must be a cultural thing, because I don't understand it. Good TV, though, especially when New York and Pumkin get into a fight next week -- Rawr.

I say, don't waste your time, ladies -- Hoops is going to be the winner, and you can take that to the clock-shaped bank. Is this show really that predictable? How about this -- New York gets eliminated next week. She's only been kept this long because she's freaky good TV and a colossial you-know-what to the other girls. That leaves Pumkin and Hoops, and while Flav is not afraid of controversy, picking a girl as brightly white as Pumkin is just not an option. So Hoops, the best-looking girl from the start, will win. This is as easy as Elimidate, people, come on.

Too Much TV.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Reading the Last Post

you might be thinking to yourself that I'm grumpy this morning. I'd agree, but only after dropping the "this morning." Things that make me angry:

1) Bryant Gumbel not realizing he's whiter than me, and saying this:
Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don't like them and won't watch them ... Because they're so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something's not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what's called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won ... So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they're done, when we can move on to March Madness -- for God's sake, let the games begin." (quote from NewsBusters)

So, let me get this straight -- blacks are better athletes than whites? Hey, there's also a "paucity" of Mexicans, Africans, Israelis, Arabs, Tongans, and just about any other warm-weather peoples, but I guess we shouldn't worry about them. They don't play sports. Hey, there are plenty of reasons to not like the Winter Olympics, and he even touches on a huge one (figure skating -- ugh), but a lack of a cerain race of people is not one of them. What does this say about Bryant Gumbel's day-to-day mindset that he can't watch a sporting event if it features only whites and Asians?

I mean, at least some Americans can trace their ancestry to Europe, can't they? That's the real reason we were ever interested in the Winter Olympics. I thought we were all Americans here. I guess some Americans mean more to him than others, based solely on the color of their skin.

I'm also guessing that B. Gumbel hasn't been to a GOP convention in a while, because he apparently thinks it's nothing but cold-looking nordic people on skis and Asians in skin-tight lycra. Plus, the GOP invites every black person they can find so as to not appear racist. Ahh, speaking of that word:

2) Main Entry: rac·ism
Pronunciation: 'rA-"si-z&m also -"shi-
Function: noun
1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination
(cut-and-pasted from Brittannica Online)

With that in mind, get a load of this post, which rightly takes issue with Mr. Gumbel's defeatest attittude towards blacks in the Winter Olympics while also advancing the lie we were all taught in college about how black people can't be racist because they've redefined racism to exclude themselves. Every time I read or hear something like...
Racism is not just using a racial slur. Racism is when a system of people use power and politics to oppress another group of people. When we look at racism we need to see an oppression experienced by black and minority ethnic groups predominantly on the basis of their skin color, and of their culture and identity. Blacks, no matter how hard we try, no matter how many chemical peels or nose jobs, cannot remove the hue from our skin.

...I spit glue. Examples of "loaded" words in the above paragraph, or words that can have a wide (almost infinite, actually) variety of meanings based upon their context and who is using them: system. people. power. politics. opress. group. oppression. experienced. minority. predominantly. culture. identity. We're stuck in postmodern hell here, where nothing means anything unless we can make you feel guilty enough! Whatever happened to being a nation of individuals? Is that something we only believe in when it's convenient?

It is true that blacks in the USA have experienced more racism than whites, a lot more. It's easier to grow up and succeed in this country as a white person than a black one. However, turning racism into a political and institutional term (rather than the universal, commonly accepted, dictionary-supported term we've all come to agree upon) cheapens those facts by falsely claiming that anti-black racism is the only racism that counts. By making it institutional rather than personal, they have completely stripped the term of its meaning (see Brittannica above), and therefore its power.

Opression because of race is not racism -- it is a racist act caused by racism. Racism is an attitude and a belief, not an occurrence. If you stop the oppression, you haven't stopped the racism. Try and think of a sentence that better describes the state of race relations in America in 2006 -- go ahead, I dare you.

What really happened: The civil rights movement got hijacked somewhere along the line by people who wanted to be free to hate white people without being called racist. Therefore racism became an institutional thing to them, and they were free to think, say, and do (riots anyone?) whatever they please. Some have become blacks first, then Americans. Now, what do we call those who are whites first, then Americans? You know, the people who can't root for a black American athlete because of his skin color? That's right -- racist pigs. I hope you now see the problem with this whole thing. A racist pig may be part of an institution, or he may just be some guy in front of his TV set -- either way, his defining characteristic as it relates to this discussion is his attitude. This is what we are fighting: Racist pigs of all colors, even those who host news shows and can't stand to watch people on TV who don't look (sorta) like them. Anyone with me?

First Thing Monday Morning

and already there are problems. Turns out I sent something to the wrong place. Of course, I was only following instructions. But I'm supposed to catch these things. Now I have to get the thing from that place to the other place, but of course the first place wasn't home and hasn't replied to my message. That doesn't make sense. I'm sure this all bodes badly for me.

Last night I had to stay super late at Papa John's because of manager selfishness. There's no other phrase to use. I know he wants to get home early, but that's not my problem. It's like 11:15 and I'm doing dishes -- dishes that weren't touched by anyone from 8:00 (when I stopped doing them earlier) until then. He had let like 5 people go in between those times, and didn't ask them to do dishes. But yet he asks me at 11:15.

I don't even want to talk about getting into work this morning. That was ridiculous, too.

and now i just turned on the accursed "stickykeys" by absent_mindedly pressing the shift key. Ok, there it goes.

I've decided that I'm just called to suffer for you people. Point blank period, as that makeup girl from one of the "Real World"s would say.