Wednesday, September 28, 2005

You Mean I Can't Buy Condoms with That?

Congratulations to Dr. Dora Mills, Director of Maine's Bureau of Health, and Governor John Baldacci for continuing to refuse federal abstinence-only "sex education" money. Their decision has brought the grand total of states that refuse to take such funds to a whopping three; Pennsylvania and California complete the trio.

Unfortunately, Dr. Mills (and future state funding for the Bureau of Health) are now under attack by conservative members of the state legislature:

"First of all, the bureau's director, Dr. Dora Mills, is not a policymaker or elected, like legislators, so I continue to object to policy being made by bureaucrats," [State Sen. Debra D.] Plowman said. "Second, I hope that she's going to find that $161,000 somewhere in her budget to continue the program she has been involved in, because we're not making it up. So she best not be asking for any increases in her budget next year, or the two years after that for that matter. If she can unilaterally turn away money, then she can't be in too difficult circumstances. She, and the governor, should have run that one by the Legislature."

Aside from the petty linguistic criticism of Plowman's contention that one can make a unilateral bureaucratic decision in conjunction with a state elected official (the Guv at that!), this quote is pure schoolyard battle drivel. "She best not be asking me for an Oreo after thumbing her nose at Mrs. Smith's Soft Batch chocolate chip cookie yesterday." What, is Debra Plowman 9 years old?

Of course, I'm anti-abstinence-only funding, so I'd agree with Mills's and Baldacci's decision regardless of the conservative response. But if I were a Maine resident and read Plowman's asinine threats, I'd be incensed that this woman was ever elected to the legislature. Mills wasn't overstepping her bounds as a bureau director by acting in conjunction with the Administration to refuse that funding. She was being smart and principled and demonstrating that not all state officials are out for more federal money to stuff their own coffers.

Monday, September 26, 2005

La Haîne

Here are some folks who recently have received spit-laced invectives for committing various "crimes," some great, some small, and some imaginary. You decide which is which.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Walk, Don't Run to the Playoffs

For other ailing Red Sox fans out there, I have a temporary cure for your playoff worries: the toe-tap inducing guitar-and-drum goodness of The Challengers. It's hard to find an objective history of the band, but check out bassist Randy Nauert's nifty summary and Challengers Cartoon Book.

Though not the most famous of the surf rock bands of the '60s, these guys knew how to play the genre well and outplayed some of the original bands on the very tunes that made them so famous (The Ventures and The Surfaris, to name just two). Seriously, check out The Challengers' version of "Wipeout." It may stave off fears about the Red Sox, who are in danger of doing just that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

You gotta have balls to call 'em

Do you go to a French restaurant expecting the head chef to have been born and raised in Provence? Or are you more concerned that the chef cooks your “moules avec frites” to perfection? According to “Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime” by Jean Hastings Ardell, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL) demonstrated its allegiance to pure French ethnicity in a 1968 lawsuit concerning the contract of Bernice “Bernie” Gera, one of the few female umpires to break even the single A ranks of professional baseball:

Leisure [the NAPBL Wall Street-trained lawyer] likened the NABL’s need for male umpires to that of a French restaurant’s need for a French chef or a religious organization’s preference for a salesman of its own creed.

Hmm...isn't an employer hiring based on preferences for her/his own group characteristics illegal (in theory, anyway)? The New York State Human Rights Commission agreed that it was, and Gera eventually did win the battle -- after 5 years of stress and attorney fees. So, how come the situation of female umpires in professional baseball has not improved since Gera’s case almost 40 years ago?

For example, Pam Postema – who had accumulated 12 years of professional umpiring experience, including 6 in triple A – was set for a historical promotion to the majors in 1988. However, after a controversial media attack against her led by born-again Christian/ Houston Astros pitcher Bob Knepper, Postema was “released” from her duties for ejecting too many people and a “worsening” attitude. [Insiders knowingly blamed these foibles on a bad case of PMS, I'm sure.] Postema's fate was sealed by a tell-all expose of major league baseball (which I've gotta read) and questions surrounding her sexuality. She would never call a game in the majors -- and neither would any other woman.

It is true that Postema's goal eluded her and that few women followed in her path. Melvin Driskoll, of Jim Evans's Academy of Professional Umpiring, said they have a hard time attracting women. [Do they even try?] Between 1977 and 2002, thirteen women attended Harry Wendelstedt's school, with only Postema and Theresa Cox making it into the minor leagues.

If professional experts are supposed to reflect their charges or clientele, can someone explain why so many women’s basketball/ hockey/ volleyball/ curling coaches are men? Or why so many gynecologists and obstetricians are men? Cause last time I checked, men don’t have vaginas.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

But It's Only 10 Miles from I-80

Since Mark has already brilliantly documented the highlights of our semi-cross country trek, here are the coulda-been highlights -- if we had had two more weeks to make the journey and a shitload of money:

Our first tangential stop was to Wheatland -- "Where Presidential History Comes to Life." Oh boy, and did it ever. I will never forget traipsing through the rooms that once housed James Buchanan.

We then headed west to Altoona, PA to visit the famous horseshoe curve. I had been there before, but wanted to ride that crazy "Funicular" again.

A couple hours into our trip, we stopped at Frank Lloyd Wright's classic woodsy architectural haven, Fallingwater. I bought this T-shirt.

Next, Mark wanted to stop at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. We spent a couple hours gazing at Marilyn and a bunch of soup cans and then combed through the archives.

In our continuing search for presidential paraphernelia, we had barely crossed the border into Ohio before hitting the McKinley Memorial Library and Museum. We even got to sit next to McKinley, who was daintily perched on a red velvet couch.

After leaving McKinley behind, we hightailed it to Cedar Point Park, where two full days were spent riding roller coasters. We probably felt a combined 500 G's pushing and lifting and generally propelling our bodies in all directions. I left a happy woman.

At this point, we decided to make a beeline for Minneapolis, and only allowed ourselves one more (ridiculously expensive) stop -- at Taliesin, the Wright house and compound located in Spring Green, WI. Super pretty and worth the money if you happen to have it bulging out of your wallet.

Aaahhh...then home once again.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tennis Rocket Battles

Dear Lord. And to think Andre Agassi used to be at the top of my "I hate you" list.

Agassi over Blake 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

I sure wish Pete were still playing, so we could compare their mid-30s tennis capabilities. And their adorable schlockiness:

At 1:15 in the morning for 20,000 people to still be here, I wasn't the winner, tennis was.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Stalled at the Start

How is a person supposed to start boxing up books and clothes when the fascinating U.S. Open match between Rafael "I-can't-decide-if-I-prefer-black-or-white-capris" Nadal and James "Thank-God-my-face-is-no-longer-paralyzed" Blake is taking place?

Blake's currently serving at 5-4 for the first set after having just broken Nadal. Oh, what I wouldn't do for Blake's inside-out forehand.

Blake just won the first set. Please let him knock that pretty Spaniard out.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hometown Pride

In honor of the anniversary of the first day of the Great Textile Strike in Woonsocket (Sept. 1, 1934), take a look at this Illustrated Timeline of Woonsocket Labor History. Those fiesty Canucks!

I am also proud to report that the University of Minnesota library has the book published by the Industrial Trades Union of America that is pictured at left.