Wednesday, February 28

We hate Iran's gov't, Love 1/2 of Lebanon's gov't, Hate 1/2 of Lebanon's gov't, and Love terroristic U.S. enemies who hate our hated 1/2 of Leb's govt

Get this. I heard it on the radio last night.

  • The majority coalition currently governing Lebanon is pretty much fine with whatever foreign policy the United States decides to pursue.
    They are led by Sunni Muslims.

  • The biggest party in a minority coalition, which wants the majority coalition to share more decision-making power with the minority coalition (for example, the way our congressional committees have to be at least partly filled with members of the minority party/ies).
    This largest party is Hezbollah.
    Yes, it's both a paramilitary organization and a political party at once.
    Anyway, Hezbollah is very much against 85+% of the foreign policy that the United States wants to pursue (or that the United States tells other people in Europe & the Middle East to pursue and impose upon Lebanon). Heck, they take the propaganda so far that some people just say that Hezbollah "hates America." Whether or not that's a fair assessment (do they hate "America" or just our foreign policy ever since the European powers left the region?) I can't say.
    Hezbollah is led by Shiite Muslims.

  • Also existing in Lebanon are militant / paramilitary groups that "hate America" (and they DO seem more likely to be thinking about more than just foreign policy's effects on Lebanon, since they don't think about politics and governance nearly as much as Hezbollah).
    They are made up of Sunnis.
    Even though they're very anti-American and anti-governments-who-support-America's-ideas and even though at least some members from each of these 3 paramilitary Sunni groups has buddies from back in the day in Afghanistan or some other connection to Al-Quaeda, we and the Lebanese governing majority have decided that, hey, they'll fight Shi'ite-led Hezbollah without turning on us or the Lebanese once they're done, right?
    Because they're Sunnis, and so is the Lebanese government's majority coalition leadership!
As my roommate said when I told her about this, "I think we've tried that in other places already. And had it not work."


(By the way, such groups, up to a couple of years ago, used to be given a swift kick in the pants out of Lebanon. Now, at our encouragement, the Lebanese government has been letting them stay & even work on their training. That's right...we're encouraging the Lebanese government to let them stay while we're chastising the Pakistani government for letting practically identical groups stay. But, hey, the Pakistani militants who are Sunni aren't helping the Pakistani Sunni government kill someone else we don't like, so it's okay to stick to the old sensible line about, "Get rid of your terrorists!" when talking to Pakistan.)

Read the rest of this entry

The bigger narrative I heard that story within is the idea that if we get all the Sunni-led countries in the Middle East to do 2 things, Hezbollah and Iran will both lose out.
  • Why do we want Hezbollah to lose out? Because, at the mildest, we think they'll change Lebanese foreign policy if they come to power.
  • Why do we want Iran to lose out? Because Dick Cheney thinks that if Iran develops a bomb (despite the fact that all their mullahs who ACTUALLY control President Ahmadinejad have issued religious edicts that they absolutely oppose letting the government use a nuclear bomb on anyone) it'll give it to a Shi'ite led paramilitary group.
    (And this is the "at the worst" scenario that "we" think Hezbollah could do--Cheney thinks that Hezbollah has enough people within the United States to get an Iranian-donated bomb from Iran to Palo Alto or Washington & set it off.)
So, if Cheney's right about Iran, Hezbollah, & nukes, well, okay, he's saved us all. But if he's wrong about any piece of that puzzle (such as Iran actually wanting to nuke anyone or such as Iran just handing a bomb over to people they're not 100% allies with), we don't actually need to DO anything against Iran OR Hezbollah to make it not come true. It simply won't come true on its own.

Anyway, based on those assumptions about what would--oh no!--happen if Hezbollah and/or Iran weren't completely shut down, our government has decided to talk all the Middle East's Sunni-led countries to do things that keep Iran & Hezbollah from effectively doing ANYTHING (not just military & paramilitary activity--more like keep them from ruling at all, which, of course, would be bad, because it'd also cut off water supplies, police forces, museum staff, etc. just like it did in Iraq).

However, those countries aren't just going to send in their troops the way old-fashioned allies did. They say, "Okay. We'll send money to paramilitary groups who also happen to be Sunni, just like us. They'll try to kill lots of Hezbollah politicians and civil servants in Lebanon. Others will try to kill lots of Iraqi politicians and civil servants who happen to be getting money from the Iranian government in Iraq."


Guess who those groups Egypt, Jordan, & Saudi Arabia are pitching in funds to on our behalf? Groups with ties to a group that attacked us 5 years ago! Again, what are we going to do when these trained (Sunni) people have new weapons, lots of money left over, and are simply done fighting Shi'ite Iraqis in Iraq or Shi'ite Lebanese in Lebanon? What are we going to do when it's more advantageous for them to use their weapons on Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, or the United States?

Are we going to switch teams again and hope we can make it work? (Apparently the whole reason we've been supporting a Shi'ite-led, Iran-friendly government in Iraq for the last few years is that the White House didn't believe our intelligence community when they said, "Ummmm...if you think Iran's on the Axis of Evil, you might not want to kick all the Ba'athists out of the government. You're going to get a pro-Iranian government if you let the Shi'ites take over completely." The White House apparently thought, "Naaaah! Iraqi Shi'ites hate Iranian Shi'ites! They'd never work with them after that big war between their countries!" Can you BELIEVE we threw out a Sunni dictator partly on the premise that he wasn't even representative of his country's populace, only to re-support Sunni paramilitary groups in Iraq? What are we going to let them do? Install a Sunni dictator? D'oh!)

I don't even have any idea what to write to Congresspeople about this one. I don't think debates in Congress get as detailed as this situation is. I guess the best we can do is keep hoping they say, "You're not allowed to bomb Iran!" or something.

I can't imagine a bunch of them saying, all together, "You're not allowed to bomb Iran, you have to stop sending money to Lebanon's Sunni terrorists and telling other governments to send money to Lebanon's Sunni terrorists, and you have to tell Egypt, Jordan, & Saudi Arabia to stop sending money to Iraq's Sunni terrorists. (And, of course, while you're at it, for the love of all that is holy TALK to Iran and tell them to stop sending money to Iraq's Shi'ite terrorists if that's what you want them to do!)" Congress just doesn't get as complex as that. What a shame.

What do you think?

Monday, February 12

Fire glued to body parts

After reading Female Chauvinist Pigs and the Packaging Girlhood blog, I do think that burlesque is overrated on the "empowering" scale. I have this sense of, "Can't people just admire these same talents to the same extent when done by these women with their clothes on? No? Well, that's a damned shame."

And after starting to read blogs, I've been horrified to discover that reasons to be uncomfortable with stripping as a major way women can earn money go far beyond that concern above. (Oh, and in breaking news, there's this terrible story, too!)

But apparently, there're also 62-year-olds who've perfected their art and learned to so finely control the motion of their breasts that they can spin tassels that're on fire.

I almost want to buy a ticket to Las Vegas (nat'l. burlesque competition) just to go see her.

(That and cheer loudly for the women in our local burlesque troop who're competing and who told me the story.)

Wednesday, February 7

Public Housing

David Smith does it again: today he's crowded my browser's Bookmarks list with another "keeper" of a post.

Similar to this post (whose key words are "eyes on the street" and "defensible space"), today's entry uses economics and other disciplines to discuss bad things happening in geographical concentrations of people.


Monday, February 5

"You must make X% of my income to have your dick sucked"

On "Feminist Allies," Jeff cited an article he found cited on "Feminist Critics." In that article, an interviewee complained that she was very unhappy when she had to be in charge of people at work and in the household.

(Interestingly, neither site diverged onto the discussion of whether or not men "could" handle being "in charge" both at work and in the household back when that was entirely expected of them. Do Jeff or HughRistick or the interviewee in that quoted article feel that men are naturally able to juggle this, or do they feel that the years we spent making them do both were as terrible of conditions for men as women like the author of this article now think are so terrible for women?)

She implied that

  1. men who don't have some sort of status outside of the household won't act like they're in charge in the household and that
  2. to keep a heterosexual relationship happy, she and other women need to live out the [at least partly] submissive aspect of a traditional woman's role in the household.
Though she implied she was fine with being in charge at work and making a significant salary, she also seemed to be saying that it's very difficult to maintain happiness with a man who isn't even close to her outside-the-household status, not because of financial stresses, but simply because of the way his outside-the-household status impairs his ability to adopt a role inside the household that would please her.


However, I feel like she generalized her experience too far and incorrectly applied her theory about "what's wrong in my relationship with a man of this sort" to her sex life when she wrote, "I’m not going to pay the bills—I feel like his mother—and then come home and suck his dick."
Click the link to read this post in full

She generalized it too far because switching to crude language implies that you're one of the masses--that surely everyone shares your experience, right?

And why don't I think the masses feel that her theory of outside-and-inside-the-household-roles sums up the problems with their oral sex lives? Because I think that, given how it's assumed most people in 2007 feel about the merits of sex for mutual fun vs. sex for one powerful person's fun, the "normal" status of a member of "the masses" (true or not--maybe I should say the normative status, but that's why I put "normal" in quotes) is someone who has sex "because it feels good" and considers BDSM "kinky" or "weird."

This woman should think about whether she as an individual even wants to have sex orally if the only way it’s appealing to her is to think of it as a favor to a more powerful person.

I’m not saying she shouldn’t do it at all--maybe she’ll come to the conclusion that she as an individual needs a couple of power-and-submission-based sexual activities to keep her happy in a sexual relationship.** But if that’s the case, she should explain that so there’s some context. Otherwise, readers assume that she fits into that "normal" category of people--people who don’t need such things to keep them happy in a sexual relationship, and those readers read her as speaking for such people.

The thing is, if you read it as though she were speaking for such people, she makes them sound pretty fucked up. If she represents them, then even people who don’t get any sexual pleasure out of power-and-submission acts in bed somehow "need" to perform acts of submission in bed to be...happy, I guess.


**(However, if she doesn’t, AND if she also finds no purely sexual appeal in feeling her partner get sexually stimulated on account of what she’s doing with her mouth, THEN I’d recommend that she abstain from sucking dick altogether.)


I'd like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the people, past and present, of North Africa for inventing and preserving couscous.

I just had a bite or two at lunch in the cafeteria today. Marvelous!

I experienced a little bit of heaven.

Friday, February 2

IMPACT Defense Against Multiple Assailants class

     Fighting multiple unarmed assailants bore some similarities to fighting single unarmed assailants. Firstly, the premise of the attack was sexual assault or some other act that implied the assailants wanted you alive and aware of what they were doing until they felt that they had managed to perform this act. Therefore, assailants were more likely to grab and restrain us than to throw a deadly punch.

     As in Single Unarmed Assailants class, the presumption was that they were out to

  1. convince us to stop hitting them but not "fight" the way men fight each other and
  2. do sexual things we didn’t want them to do (or, as I said, something like that).
     This class is not adequate preparation for fighting multiple henchmen in a Jet Li movie whose only goal is to kill you as fast as possible.

     Another similarity to the single assailant class was the idea that men who attack women (or anyone they perceive as belonging to a “weaker” social category, like children or the elderly) are easily frightened by the yells and blows of an opponent who is fighting a "real" fight. The evidence (crime reports, interviews, etc.) shows that this is even truer of assailants who feel the need to have a whole group to be sufficiently intimidating to a woman.

     It is also truer with multiple assailants because the reasons for the attack are often focused on feeling masculine in the eyes of other group members rather than in the eyes of the woman. This can make a lot of members of the group lose commitment and run away or give up as soon as they see their only judges failing the intimidate-and-abuse mission.

     The neatest trick we learned was lining up assailants. Though they roam and threaten like a wolf pack, they don’t move like a wolf pack. Trained combat teams have better things to do: they have Jet Lis and Uma Thurmans to fight. Thirteen-year-olds are not combat teams who know how to move in relation to one another. They probably formed their group 30 minutes ago!

     So if they try to come at you from 2 or 3 different directions, you back up and move left or right until becomes . However, it doesn’t take long for the ones in back to figure out that their path is blocked, so you must hit or kick the front one as soon as you get that line and then keep moving to make a new line out of the assailants (preferably including the one you just mobilized, because he/she might be mobile sooner than you think).

     If one does manage to run around you (instead of you keeping him in front of you by backing up as fast as he’s approaching your flank side), you might indeed get grabbed from behind. We learned several handy techniques for that! We learned:
  • how to clock someone behind us in the head
  • how to hurt him in the groin despite having our backs to him
  • how to take out someone in front of us if that person seems too close to first hurt the rear person and take the time to turn around and strike a better blow, and
  • most importantly, no matter how many or few assailants we’ve struck, to see exit opportunities from the sandwich and take them right away.
How’d we learn? Practice makes better!
(One of our instructors refuses to say, "Practice makes perfect.")

     We also learned how to hurt them and thus escape if they’re pinning our arms and legs to the ground. Again, as with single unarmed assailants, it’s important not to think, "He’s holding me and there’s a hand coming to grope me!" and to think, "He’s at my feet, restraining them from moving in 2 directions, but not a third. I will move them in this third direction and use them to hurt him. If he leans in to try to grope me, all the easier, but I’ll figure it out no matter what he does."
     (Strong abs make this easier, by the way! Balance and gravity make it possible even without them, though.)

     Same goes for people holding your arms. Don’t worry about what they or their buddies are doing to your breasts and crotch. Focus on the ones pinning down your weapons (limbs) and only once they’re too immobilized/stunned to grab back your weapons is it helpful to worry about [using those weapons and] getting rid of or escaping out from under people with their hands on your privates.

     Since an attacked person can keep the fight much more manageable by staying mobile, we learned new kicks and hits that weren’t taught in the Single Unarmed Assailants class. There we almost tried to lie down on the ground as fast as possible. Here we had to learn to stay confident and strong while standing.

     We also learned to "shuffle" because walking, running, or traveling sideways by stepping with criss-crossing feet (I’m so bad about doing that!) is more likely to make us trip. It’s not all-important, but it helps.

     The strike-once-and-only-once-and-move tactic doesn’t last forever. Once every assailant has had a few blows they generally pause longer to recover. If you have put two on the ground ahead of you and a third is staggering away from you on your left from a blow to the head, when you draw the fourth out to your right and hit him/her, when he/she bends over or goes down, you might see that no one else is on his/her feet yet. If you see that, it is safe to throw one, two, or more kicks against the same assailant and knock him/her unconscious (ball-clutching or head-clutching assailants can recover and run quickly enough to catch you half a mile down the road. Unconscious ones give you time to get to a safe place and report the attack to the police).

     Towards the end of the fight, you use both the one-hit-and-move strategy and the hit-until-knockout strategy as appropriate until all assailants have been knocked out ("ASSESS!") or truly run away ("LOOK!").

     Use verbal assertion to dissuade any menacing onlookers from jumping in to start a new fight. Fight if attacked. Look, assess, and repeat if there are more menacing onlookers.

     Leave the scene, watching where you’re going. They’re all unconscious or gone--you checked earlier. Don’t get hit by a bus or trip in a gutter by looking over your shoulder while you walk or jog.

That’s what we learned in class!

Absence over

Long absence. Grandma died; had to leave town. Blogged on paper.
Tough choice--put it on my book blog or here? It's inspired by a book...cross-post because this one has readership and I haven't yet opened the book blog up to the public? :-\

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