Friday, August 31, 2007

Introducing "The Padded Womb"

Greetings, Ladies/Women/Womyn/Girls/Dykes/Femmes/Mujeres/Sistas/Drag Queens/Artistes/Transwomen/Superwomen and every other glorious incarnation of this esteemed Society -- I'm an old family friend of Agent Ska (I've known her brother almost since birth), and I'm about to be back in Pittsburgh for the long haul. This beautiful city will have to endure one more ridiculous blog -- mine.
I'm going by the name of Sic Transit Gloria, and my blog is called The Padded Womb -- it's part militant, Marxist feminism; part exhibitionism; part lonely whining; part old-school environmentalism; part peak oil paranoia; part giddy critique of the ridiculous world around us; part cooking; part gossip; part baby lust and ALL truth, as best as I can conceive it.
I just got started blogging, and so I'd like to keep this pseudo-anonymous, at least until I find a job. If you really want to find out who I am, comment with an email address and I'll tell you. You'll probably meet me at Society meetings anyway, if those exist -- but I write for a living, and I'm going to blog about some things that might make prospective employers blanch (not to mention prospective dates). Therefore, I'd love it if nobody told anybody. (You gals, on the other hand, can be trusted.)
I'm a journalist, I just turned 25, and I like some of those stereotypical things that give us a bad name: long walks on the beach, good wine, theater and feminist theory.
For the record, I wax my legs. Myself. With biodegradable, nontoxic blue goo.
I just posted a recap of this summer's wedding season:


1.) Late March, Florida: Ted and Jennifer
These two met through a college fraternity, and their surfside wedding was a veritable who's who of said beer-soaked institution. I was among the bridesmaids. My ex-fiance was the best man. We got drunk and had a fight. Then, we went back to our regular lives...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

a running introduction

Hello! My name is Andrea and I'm new to the Society. I'm not quite sure what to say, but everyone seems great, and this looks like a pretty interesting place.

There was an article in today's New York Times that I caught my eye and I wanted to share. The writer is a runner, and noticed that in races, the winners in the men's divisions were younger, in their 20s, but the fastest women runners were older, 30 and above. She found similarities like this in other races across the country, women had faster times the older they were.

Ralph Vernacchia, who directs the Center for Performance Excellence at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., has worked with elite runners including Olympians. And with elite runners, there is no question about competitive drive.
But with average runners, he said, older women may be faster because, oddly enough, they are trying harder than younger women and discovering for the first time what they are capable of.
Most middle-aged women grew up when track and cross-country teams were for men only. Some of those women, who had no opportunity to race when they were young, are just learning to be athletes and are running faster than younger women who may not care as much.
He described the experience for women as “a kind of wakening, an epiphany.” .

I'm not a runner, or any sort of athelete, but it made me wonder about the areas of my life that I'm not trying my hardest. Will I look back and be disappointed in my current self? I hope not.

Great news!

This is my beautiful sister, Brenda, who just won first chair in the Austin Symphony Orchestra. She is now principal in three different orchestras. My crazy, chain-smoking "vegetarian" (she uses the term loosely) nurse mom just e-mailed me with the news.

And get this -- she plays trombone. How cool is that?

Assessing the (Global) Situation

There's been some mass-media stirring regarding an issue that's had my attention for some time, so I thought I'd make mention for anyone who hasn't encountered the independent media that actually exposes this situation.

For a great two-hour primer, I recommend the film "Beyond Rangoon."

The current event that occurred is that Jim Carrey made a video appealing to Americans to come to the aid of Aung San Suu Kyi. So there's been a tiny bit of sure-to-be-fleeting coverage in mainstream American media.

The basics are that Myanmar has been ruled by a junta (which is never good) for far too long. Human rights violations abound. Myanmar is terrifying.

Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts toward freedom in Burma/Myanmar and has been held under house arrest on and off for 18 years. She needs to be freed.

The international response has failed to make a real impact. This is simply an insufferable injustice.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Women & Mentoring Survey

Hello, Ladies,
This isn't quite in the realm of the issues we discussed, but this survey pertains specifically to women's use of the internet, so I thought it relevant. If you'd be willing to give a minute, you can complete the "Factors Which Affect Women's Acceptance of Online Mentoring" survey here.

It takes about two minutes if you're accustomed to completing such things.

Also, I encourage you to check out the resource that led me to this survey, which was the newsletter of E-magnify, Seton Hill University's center for women entrepreneurs. Granted, it's sort of a shameless plug for my alma mater. But E-magnify is a great resource, and it's free to join.

credit where it's due

got the flag at bluegal's:

she's an everyday read.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Time Change for Post Agenda mtg. re Police/Dom. Violence

The Sept. 10th Post-Agenda Hearing, concerning the Pittsburgh Police
Department's policy re officers with histories of domestic violence,
will begin at 1:30 p.m. rather than at 1:00 p.m.

It will be held in Pgh. City Council Chambers in the City/County Building.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Great Site for Booklovers

I have always loved books. Always. I just cannot remember not reading. In 3rd grade, I found a tattered copy of Gone With the Wind in the neighbor's trash and read it with fascination. My grandparents presented me with my own hardback edition the next year. Nancy Drew, Ramona, Black Beauty, dog stories ... I devoured them.

Like many kids, I used books to escape the cruddy stuff in life (growing up in a steelworking family in the 1980s generated lots of cruddy stuff). The downside to this was my concept of womanhood was shaped by a lot of throwback references. I wasn't smart like Nancy or keen like George or pretty like Bess. No one invaded West Mifflin in my lifetime, forcing me to survive on my wits and dig for root vegetables. The girls in the juvenile fiction books wore cashmere sweaters and pearl necklaces on their dates. I didn't even know what cashmere was. And none of the boys ever picked me to dance. (Don't feel bad - Ledcat always picks me to dance now.)

But, there were always books to be read. And, eventually, I met real live feminists in grad school and learned a whole new concept of being female. And read more books, minus the cashmere and quarterbacks.

I'm a big fan of the library and usually check out far more than I can read in the allotted time. I always wished for a "queue" like Netflix offers for videos. Ta da! My friend and fellow Society member, Ehrrin, turned me onto this site

What books shaped your girlhood? Actually, recognizing that not everyone in this group had a girlhood, what books first shaped your idea of being female?

On commenting and civility

Nicole Simon has posted her thoughts on the video which has been making the rounds - you know the one, which imagines what business meetings would be like if they were conducted like the comment threads on some tech blogs. I liked her response to it, and then the further responses to her entry in the comment thread.

What do Pittsburgh bloggers think about this? Are there moments when you have spread an "umbrella of protection" for someone else? Has someone done that for you?

An Introduction

I'm an academic, scientist, and a geek. This pretty much summarizes who I am and what I tend to write (blog, podcast, etc.) about. I'm also a queer transsexual woman in a significant relationship with another transsexual women. While this may not directly shape what I produce, it will influence my outlook on things. So far, my primary activity is producing a podcast called RadioFree Transburgh. My purpose in doing the podcast is to give voice to cultural issues as they relate to transsexual women and to discuss queer issues in a more detailed manner. My most recent podcast is with Julia Serano (author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity), and I enjoyed speaking to her about transfeminist issues. This was a good followup to an earlier podcast I did with the contributers to Trans/forming Feminisms: Transfeminist Voices Speak Out. For those unaware, transfeminism incorporates transgender/transsexual issues within feminist theories. A good source can be found at I hope to create opportunities for greater discussion on these issues.

Something that I would like to mention. This fall semester will be the debut at the University of Pittsburgh of our LGBT Health Research Certificate Program within the Graduate School of Public Health. I will be helping with this program along with other professors and community people in Pittsburgh. What is not know by many people in Pittsburgh is that the University of Pittsburgh is a significant site of LGBT health research (ESTHER project and Pitt Men's Study), and has many people who are leaders in LGBT health research. The Center will add to this by bringing and nurturing people who wish to be involved in LGBT health research.

She Votes

Just rec'd from my friend Gina N., a reason to celebrate August 26th:

It was on this day in 1920 that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, was declared in effect. After the Congress passed the amendment, it had to be ratified by a majority of state legislatures. The state that tipped the balance was Tennessee, and the man who cast the deciding vote was the 24-year-old representative Harry Burn, the youngest man in the state legislature that year. Before the vote, he happened to read his mail, and one of the letters he received was from his mother. It said, "I have been watching to see how you stood but have noticed nothing yet. ... Don't forget to be a good boy and ... vote for suffrage."

At the house, supporters of suffrage sat in the balcony, wearing yellow roses. On the house floor, those who opposed suffrage wore red roses. When Burn entered the room, he wore a red rose and the anti-suffrage camp thought they had his vote. But when he was called on to say aye or nay for the ratification of the 19th Amendment, he said, "Aye," and the amendment was ratified by a vote of 49 to 47. A witness there that day said, "The women took off their yellow roses and flung them over the balcony, and yellow roses just rained down."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Oh Ang Lee, You Sexy Beast!

Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution” has received a NC-17 rating. In October, it will open in select cities in America. Will Pittsburgh be one of them? Something tells me probably not. If it does, it will be at The Regent Square Theater for one night only. I’m sure that I will plan for weeks to go and then at the last minute, after probably being severely manic all day, I will become too depressed and won’t go and see it. I will stay home and watch The Ice Storm or Brokeback Mountain or some other Ang Lee film and cry. Something tells me that will probably happen...If it plays in Pittsburgh at all, but I don’t think it will because this city is way too uptight. Whatevs...We’ll see what happens. Well, I won’t because like I mentioned I’ll be too depressed but you’ll see what happens. So that’s cool.

Here is a link to the article about the NC-17 rating:

Click Here.

Here is a link to the movie trailer:

Thank you for your time.

Oh, by the way, this was the “popping of my cherry” for contributing to this particular blog (finally). There was a time on my personal blog that I would begin each blog with “Hello My Bitches” which I contemplated doing on this blog because it seemed appropriate, but then I remembered that a lot of ladies hate the word “bitch” and find it extremely offensive (which I totally respect and understand why they think that) so I decided against using it in hopes not to offend any of the members of the group. However I don’t find the word offensive, and had I referred to you as “My Bitches”, I only would have meant it as a term of endearment. For real. For real. I am really glad that we talked this out and we all understand God. One.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Media's Impact on Women and Girls: Documentary Next Week

This looks like an awesome event. I think Ledcat and I might attend. Any thoughts on the topic?

The Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania will screen a 33-minute documentary, "The Strength to Resist: The Media's Impact on Women & Girls," at the Carnegie Science Center on Aug. 29. Registration begins at 5 p.m., followed by the program, reception and discussion.
The film examines the degrading messages about females that dominate the media, shaping girls' self-perception and their interactions with society. Interviews with experts focus on how girls can become inoculated against the damaging effects.

Join us for this lively networking event. There will be a reception and discussion after the showing. Admission is $10 and parking is $3. Please RSVP by August 22, 2007. Register via phone by calling 412-253-8168 or to register online click

This event is sponsored by Adagio Health, Eden Hall Foundation, Girls Math and Science and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh.

h/t Post-Gazette

Monday, August 20, 2007


I attended a PodCamp session this past weekend called “Change the World, Change Web Video” hosted by Brian Conley and Steve Wyshywaniuk who are most noted for their web production of Alive in Baghdad. These two guys are barely making ends meet out in Philadelphia but they survive on their unending passion to get the word out.

We all know that the news media edits, manipulates, and biases pretty much everything we read, see, or hear. These two men have taken the power of the blogger to new levels. Traveling to areas off the beaten path, they report truth in its very raw form. They have also taken the time to teach others how to produce internet video and transmit it so that when they can’t be there in person, someone else is creating valuable content.

The world of social media connects us in ways that are almost incomprehensible.

A dear friend of mine, DJ Trischler, also took on this adventure in sovereignty to report on the lives of the Tuareg people of Niger, an eastern country in Africa, this past January. DJ’s fundamental idea is that we are all brothers and sisters in the human race and that we should embrace an idea of solidarity. I invite you to view some of his content and take a minute to think about how amazing social media really is.

The Society welcomes our 15th blogger

Welcome to Jennie of thirty seven roses. She's already jumped into the comments ...

And a big shout out to Agent Ska for recruiting Jennie and another potential new blogger at Podcamp.

Celebrate Women's Equality Day with the Women's Law Project

Please join us in celebrating Women's Equality Day and supporting the Pittsburgh office of the Women's Law Project!

There will be snacks, drinks, mingling, a brief presentation about the work of the Women's Law Project (WLP), and an opportunity for you to contribute to this wonderful organization.

WLP is a nonprofit public interest legal advocacy organization that seeks to advance the legal, social, and economic status of women through litigation, public policy advocacy, public education, and individual counseling. The WLP has challenged sex discrimination in employment, education, athletics, and insurance; advanced the rights of lesbian and gay parents; advocated on behalf of impoverished women; worked for fair and accessible procedures in child custody, child support, and protection from abuse actions; and championed the rights of sexual assault survivors. WLP takes pride in being both a unique resource for Pennsylvania, and specifically Pittsburgh, and a national leader in the field of women's rights.

August 26 of each year is designated in the United States as Women's Equality Day. Instituted by Rep. Bella Abzug and first established in 1971, the date commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, the Woman Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave U.S. women full voting rights in 1920.

Date: August 26, 2007
Time: 3-5pm
Location: 5814 Howe Street, Pittsburgh PA 15232 (Jessie and Brent's home)
Phone number: 412/441-1751
Suggested Door Donation: $20 (sliding scale)
Suggested Attire: wear white in honor of Women's Equality Day!
If you are unable to attend but would like to support WLP, please make a contribution at: learn more about the organization, please visit the WLP web site at www.

We look forward to seeing you on August 26th!
Sue, Kathie and Jessie

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bill Peduto's Online PAC

Today I attended the launch of Bill Peduto's online Political Action Committee at Podcamp. I think there were some mixed signals coming from the audience and the speakers (i.e. Bill & iJustine). I know that I had mixed feelings about this idea. Then, I logged into my e-mail and saw that there was an active discussion going on in the PghWomenBloggers e-mail list. There is an agreement that those e-mails are not public, so I will not re-post them. However, it's clear that a public discussion of this topic is overdue.

It was clear that iJustine has no prior experience in politics. I think the point that the PAC was attempting to make was that they wanted to attract new people to politics. However, they are also bringing in a young woman who is not knowledgeable about politics- a stereotype that many women in politics have been battling for years.

I think many people are wondering why Bill is involving iJustine.

Obviously, iJustine has been successful in terms of gaining attention from the online and traditional media outlets. If we are going to make the case that we are supporting a woman in her work for social media networking, why don't we also ask her to run for office?


I ask that everyone be respectful of both Justine and Bill Peduto in their commentary.

Agent Ska's Comment: I felt the sting of a stereotype that made me disappointed and upset.

**For those of you who missed this event, it may have been televised by iJustine. I camcorded it, as well.


-Agent Ska-

At times they even talk alike

Sue loved the Patty Duke show. So did I. Obsessively. I was 9 when it first aired & wanted complete & total silence while the show was on. God help my little sister if she fidgeted or sneezed or crinkled the wrapper on her Hostess Snoball.

"Meet Cathy, who's lived most everywhere,
From Zanzibar to Barclay Square.
But Patty's only seen the sights
A girl can see from Brooklyn Heights --
What a crazy pair!

But they're cousins,
Identical cousins all the way.
One pair of matching bookends,
Different as night and day.

Where Cathy adores a minuet,
The Ballet Russes, and crepe suzette,
Our Patty loves to rock and roll,
A hot dog makes her lose control --
What a wild duet!

Still, they're cousins,
Identical cousins and you'll find,
They laugh alike, they walk alike,
At times they even talk alike --

You can lose your mind,
When cousins are two of a kind."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Female Police Officers and Special Details. Unfair?

This morning's PG included a story about a female police officer who has filed an internal complaint after she was denied a detail guarding the Steelers because she's a woman.

Apparently, Officer Kevin Head was privately organizing the detail for the Steelers' hotel floor and opted not to include women b/c they might catch a glimpse of Black 'n Gold unmentionables.

"They just couldn't work the floors where the guys were with no clothes on. I
don't know why everybody's blowing this out of proportion. Really, I didn't even
think they took it like they took it. I had two posts that required the men to
be on the floor," said Officer Head, a 16-year veteran.
"This is where
they're sleeping. They walk down the hallway with no clothes on," he continued.
"I didn't put women up there. That was my choice. The Steelers didn't have
anything to do with it. The Hilton didn't have anything to do with it."

So Officer Head assumes that his female colleagues lack the professional skills or, perhaps, the tact to guard men who may not be fully dressed? Isn't that the same mentality that kept women sportscasters out of locker rooms?

My understanding is that details are arranged by individual police officers and not coordinated through the City, thus Officer Ferreti's internal complaint may not move anywhere. It does, however, indicate that off-duty details/secondary employment involving police officers SHOULD be handled by the City, not some lunkhead who thinks Steelers in their skivvies might be intimidated by women on the floor. Thanks, Luke, for screwing women once again.

It also makes me wonder about the other detail assignments? It might be interesting for someone to gather the data on the male/female assignments on detail assignments overall. Do women get to work as bouncers at the bars? I'd assume a woman who completed the Academy and works a patrol can handle a drunken lout as well as a man. Otherwise, she shouldn't be a cop. If you break the detail assignments down by gender, does the ratio match the ratio within the department? Do the racial ratios match for that matter? Maybe the Women & Girls Foundation should do a study?

What is not clear is whose sensibilities might be offended by this female cop/naked football player interaction. I suspect this is yet another example of the misogynistic thinking that pervades the local police culture - obviously, Officer Head believes that men and woman are unable to interact in a professional capacity without sex somehow being figured into the equation. So who gets factored out of that equation? Why the women, of course. I mean the women who are easily expendable. As our friend Maria points out over at PittGirl's place, the hotel probably doesn't pull the female housekeepers for the "special team" of male housekeepers kept on ice for Steeler Sundays. Female housekeepers are invisible anyway, but a female cop has p*o*w*e*r and must be kept on a tight leash, right?

It is just too easy to point the finger at Officer Head and tsk tsk him. He just got caught and is really just representative of a larger issue. Is it a leap to say that police officers who perceive their fellow officers as women first and police officers second may be less than sensitive to female victims of domestic violence?

So, to sum up .... the detail/off-duty assignment should be brought in house to avoid stupid situations like this and ensure a fair system that does not hurt the taxpayers. The Steelers should invest in black and gold bathrobes. Someone should investigate the detail/off-duty assignments by gender. Everyone should remember to tip the housekeeper really well when you stay in a hotel.

And we need to keep our eyes on the post-agenda coming up on September 10 because gender dynamics in our police force are not strong.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"I sure could use a wife/significant other"

No, this is not about the ups-and-downs of dating. This is about the need of working women to have someone helping them at home.

The New York Times hits it on the head here.

“The thing I most want in life is a wife. I’m not kidding,” said Joyce Lustbader, a research scientist at Columbia University, who has been married for 29 years. “I work all day, sometimes seven days a week, and still have to go home and make dinner and have all those things to do around the house.”

It is not just the extra shift at home that is a common complaint. Working women, whether married or single, also see their lack of devoted spousal support as an impediment to getting ahead in their careers, especially when they are competing against men who have wives behind them, whether those wives are working or staying at home. And research supports their argument: it appears that marriage, at least marriage with children, bolsters a man’s career but hinders a woman’s."

The article goes on to say...

"Working women have noticed, correctly, that their male colleagues with wife support — whether or not those wives are themselves working outside the home — get further at work than the women who are fettered by marriage and children. Women occupy 50.6 percent of managerial and professional positions, according to the research organization Catalyst, but make up only 15.6 percent of Fortune 500 corporate officers.

Married men and women, on average, earn more than those who are unmarried, with part of that possibly attributed to career and wage advancement as workers mature (and are more likely to be married). But the gap is significantly larger for men than for women. Married women make an average 17 percent more than unmarried women, according to 2005 B.L.S. data on the median earnings of full-time workers, while married men make 42 percent more than unmarried men."

You can read the rest here.

-Agent Ska-

here they go again

got this over at:
melissa and her able crew. spork has it and others.
this should be shouted from the rooftops.
how many people have been maimed or died while we have been force fed the "wait til the report" bull? "i listen to the generals in the field." crap?

WTP: Petraeus Report Edition

| posted by MelissaMcEwan | Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Atrios: "The Wise Old Men Eagerly Await the Petraeus Report. And they'll pretend to not notice that it's going to be written by the White House."

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.
Let me repeat that again, lest anyone miss it: The Petraeus Report is going to be written by the White House.

The LA Times graciously and responsibly puts that little tidbit seven paragraphs from the bottom of a two-page story, btw.

I imagine this news will deeply aggravate the war supporters who keep arguing the biggest problem is that the Bush administration mishandled the war, and it will naturally piss off the antiwar contingent. All that then remain are the Bush-basers, who support the war because their cowboy hero tells them to support the war—the ones who will cheer wildly at the thought of Bush cleverly hoodwinking America yet again—and the media who will dutifully ignore the real author of the report. Sigh.

Monday, August 13, 2007



Half boys, half girls.

Isn't that a helluva thing?

Thank you National Weather Service.

(My name and nickname have both been retired, thankfully.)

Look out Hawaii -- here comes Flossie!

Friday, August 10, 2007

More Ladies Online, Please

In follow up to the previous post, let me remind all of our fair readers that we are always seeking new contributors to this little corner of the Burghosphere. The only requirement is that you identify as a woman and not necessarily a lady at that.

Don't be bashful. Just send an email to


This column that appears in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is a must-read for all female bloggers, particularly those of us who strive to have a political voice.

Goodman confirms some things I've been stewing about for quite some time now. (I know -- stewing gives you wrinkles. At least when I die my loved ones will say, "That woman earned every damn wrinkle she had! And she gave me the ones I have, too!")

Is it any wonder some women choose to write under a man's name?

Here's an excerpt -- and be sure to follow the link to read the essay in toto.

The blogosphere's new boy network

I began tracking the maleness of this media last spring while I was a visiting fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. An intrepid graduate student created a spreadsheet of the top 90 political blogs. A full 42 percent were edited and written by men-only, while seven percent were by women-only. Another 45 percent were edited or authored by both men and women, though the "coed" mix was overwhelmingly male. And, not surprisingly, most male bloggers linked to male bloggers.

Personally, I think we have an excellent atmosphere (or should I say "Burghosphere?") in Pittsburgh for female political bloggers.


Also, from yesterday's P-G business briefs, this:

Blogging Around Town

Pittsburgh is the nation's third "Bloggiest City," according to, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Web service for sharing and exploring information about neighborhoods. The company, which tracks blogs about 60 cities, calculated how many posts were being published over a two month period (March and April) and divided that number by the population of each greater metro area to calculate the "blogginess quotient." Pittsburgh had 53 blog posts per 100,000 residents, putting it behind only Boston (89 per 100,000) and Philadelphia (88 per 100,000).

Now they can add one more.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Post Agenda date set

Finally! The City Council Post Agenda mtg. on Police officers/domestic violence will be on:

Monday, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m.

It will be televised.

In 2003 a Police Chief in Tacoma, WA, who'd been abusing his wife for years, murdered her & killed himself. This caused the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to run an excellent series of articles on the topic of law enforcement officers who are domestic abusers. The information & insight are amazing, heart breaking, but necessary reading in my opinion.

The series is titled "Badge of Dishonor", primary reporter was Ruth Teichroeb.
You'll find it here:

girty's run rant

yes, once again my kid's house has water in the basement and their new fence was taken out by a big damn piece of wood that came barreling down the rising creek.

you know, the various government agencies, from the townships up to the federal government have had MORE than enough time to STOP THE FINGER POINTING, sort out who is responsible for what, and clean up and dredge the creek!

it's scary and it's frustrating. my daughter and her husband have remodeled that house inside and out, landscaped their yard and this is just too much.
it was so sad today to listen to my little granddaughter who just turned 3 as she asked sorrowfully why the water broke her sandbox and her little playhouse.
yes, they are small items compared to the mud in their basement and the smell and the fence etc. but that hurt me i think the most.

and government wonders why no one believes them anymore. they can't even work together to clean out a creek let alone really help new orleans etc.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"Chicks Directing Flicks" has an interesting article today about the struggle of women directors in Hollywood.

This part of the article really stood out to me:

"Of the roughly 13,400 members of Directors Guild of America, only about 1,000, or 7 percent, are listed as female directors. (Total female membership, which includes people on the directing team like assistant directors and unit production managers, is about 3,000 or 22 percent.)

No woman has ever won an Academy Award for best director, and only three have ever been nominated: Lena Wertmuller for 1975's "Seven Beauties," Jane Campion for 1993's "The Piano" and Sofia Coppola for 2003's "Lost in Translation." A woman has never won the Directors Guild's top honor, either, though six have been nominated."

This made me ask myself, "How can people support women directors?" Obviously, showing up to watch the movies at theaters is often the best way of creating a buzz for movies. My next question was, "Which movies have been made by female directors?" I couldn't answer this question. The article went on to answer this question:

"This year has seen tremendous work from actress Sarah Polley, making her writing and directing debut at just 28 with the stirring Alzheimer's drama "Away From Her." Australian Cherie Nowlan gave us the family comedy "Introducing the Dwights," and Zoe Cassavetes followed in the footsteps of father John Cassavetes with her first feature, the indie "Broken English."

Shari Springer Berman co-directed the big-screen adaptation of "The Nanny Diaries" (out August 24) with her husband, Robert Pulcini. Helen Hunt's directorial debut, the romantic comedy "Then She Found Me," premieres at September's Toronto International Film Festival. Kirsten Sheridan's musical, "August Rush," is due October 19.

Next March marks the return of Kimberly Peirce with her first film since 1999's "Boys Don't Cry": "Stop Loss," about a soldier returning from the Iraq war, which was inspired by her brother. And, of course, Valerie Faris co-directed the small gem "Little Miss Sunshine," which was nominated for four Oscars and won two."

I guess I will finally return my movies back to the Dreaming Ant so I can rent some of the aforementioned movies.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Putting one foot infront of the other

Yesterday afternoon took the next steps towards organizing a Post Agenda for City Council re the promotions of 3 officers with histories of domestic violence.

A small group gathered to start hammering out what is essential information & who should deliver it at the Post Agenda. We'll meet again in a week. A big part of this is that we intend to offer concrete steps that need to be taken. Council, I hope, will be unanimous in agreeing to implement policy that'll affect the necessary changes.

Oh boy are there necessary changes - I found out that incidents of domestic violence committed by officers are not recorded, so it naturally follows that they aren't able to report on them either. We don't know if these incidents are on the increase, decrease, spiked for some reason, etc. I also didn't know that officers aren't regularly re-evaluated with psych/other tests. Think about it, they get a psych test when they apply/enter (still not sure which), but what changes occur within an individual after a year, two years, three years of policing? I'll go out on a limb here & guess ALOT of changes. There's also no regular monitoring or use of lie detector tests. Currently, as I understand it, officers "self report". I doubt that very many "self report" when they are served with a protection from abuse order.

I'm trying to learn as much as I can about the challenges faced by victims of domestic violence perpetrated by police officers. It is all the horror faced by members of the general population & then some. Think about it - officers know various ways to interrogate & intimidate. They know how to hurt without leaving marks. They have access to databases & other sources of information. They can spy on the victim's computer use. They, too often, have the complicity of their fellow officers.

The good news is that the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police already has painstakingly drafted policy (over the course of 4 - 5 yrs. with experts) that police depts. can adapt & adopt. The wheel doesn't need to be re-invented. The policy was created in the late '90's, time enough has passed to review its effect on police depts. that've implemented it, allowing us to use the best of the models.

To date, there is no date for the Post Agenda, all we know is that it'll be after Labor Day.

Sorry this is so hurried & for any inaccuracies, just wanted to send out an update.

To read a heart rending, excellent series of articles on this topic, see the Seattle Intelligencer's "Badge of Dishonor", think this link will get you there:

"never trust anyone over 30!"

ah, now there's an old saying.
and now that i am over 30, 55 to be truthful,i know why.

it's because a lot of us are still fairly clueless when it comes to the
computer age and things that 8 year olds take in stride.

i just signed up for something called "facebook" because the pgh webbloggers have one. i followed the directions in the e-mail. i think i'm signed up but ...

i admit it. i'm lost now. don't have the foggiest idea of how to get into their facebook thingy.

never trust anyone over 30, nah, 55 with a computer! : (

Monday, August 6, 2007

credit when it's due

got this in my e-mail just now:

dear sherry

Can one vote make the difference between a pro-choice victory and an anti-choice success? You bet it can—and that's what happened late Thursday night on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Pro-choice senators led the fight to defeat an anti-choice amendment to the children's health bill by a vote of 50 – 49. That's one single vote.

Your senator, Arlen Specter, voted pro-choice. Send him/her a message now.

The failed amendment, offered by anti-choice Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), would have enshrined a controversial Bush administration regulation into law - forever. This Bush regulation allows states to make an embryo or a fetus—but not a pregnant woman—eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

That's right—anti-choice senators completely ignored pregnant women.

This amendment showed just what anti-choice politicians will do to undermine a woman's right to choose, even if it means derailing a bill that would provide health care for children and working families.

When anti-choice senators tried this "sneak attack," NARAL Pro-Choice America went to work, contacting Senate offices and making sure the facts got out to the right people. Moments after Sen. Allard introduced his amendment with loads of misleading anti-choice rhetoric, we sent a rebuttal to Senate offices refuting his statement point by point. This rebuttal helped pro-choice senators prevail.

This close vote is a reminder for us. We made big gains in last year's elections and restored pro-choice leadership to the Senate. But legislative attacks like the Allard amendment underscore our need to continue to elect more pro-choice senators.

Until we have the numbers, we will continue to see dangerous and divisive assaults on our right to choose.

Thank you so much for all you to do protect choice—and please take action one more time by contacting your senators.


Nancy Keenan
NARAL Pro-Choice America

Semantics, Anyone?

I wasn’t surprised when I saw that the reporter who said Michael Vick “would have been better off raping a woman” was from Pittsburgh, but I was disappointed. The Post-Gazette’s Paul Zeise, who did express regret for “the poor choice of analogies (he) used to characterize a professional athlete's legal situation," does appear to have slipped up.

Granted, his choice of the words “better off” was dreadful. But of all the crimes Zeise could have used in constructing his metaphor -- stealing cars, selling drugs, aiding and abetting – he chose sexual assault. Now, had his point been to lament the prevalence of rape or the degree to which offenders fail to be prosecuted, his comments may have been defensible. The sad day to which he refers, however, appears to have nothing to do with the safety of women. It is a day in which the career of a spectacular athlete can be interrupted by the investigation of crimes that may be arguably less disgusting than other heinous crimes.

My opinion is that, as a media professional, Zeise accepts responsibility for his words. His expertise is expression. And his expression this time was utterly wrong. I’m not saying the guy can’t make mistakes. But whatever was behind Zeise’s choice of words, the statement that hit the airwaves was offensive and did communicate a negative message. So I think the situation, with its retraction, apology, and minor punishment, went pretty much as was appropriate.

Deadspin pretty much agrees.

Mike Gallagher of, however, calls the Post-Gazette “spineless” for issuing a retraction.

And Antirust at doesn’t understand what was so offensive about Zeise’s remarks.

What do you ladies think?

More about "17 Children?"

I find the Duggar family, and spectacles like them, disturbing on multiple levels.

On one hand, you have the racial and socioeconomic considerations mentioned by Sue. Already fired up after having read the story of Sametta Heyward, another recent news story involving elements of motherhood and resources, the Duggar story made me particularly ill.

On the other hand, you have the creepiness factor.

Every time I encounter a story about a family whose inordinate number of children catapults their existence to “Discovery Health” fodder, I go through a response resembling the stages of grief.

Denial – “There must be a healthy, wholesome, acceptable explanation for this. I’m going to read this article and have an appreciation and respect for these people when I finish. I’m going to like them this time.” It never works. Because next comes…

Anger – “These kids are going to be completely maladjusted, socially inept, and either depressed or crazy. And this family is sucking up unbelievable amounts of resources, the consumption of which they invariably validate with whichever holier-than-thou mentality they’re parading on national television.”

Depression – The response to these stories seems by-and-large to be positive. They’re viewed with awe and seen as an inspiration to barely-holding-it-together moms everywhere. Their ridiculous circumstances lend credibility to their on-the-fringe beliefs. We ignore, though, the fact that the challenges they’re overcoming are self-inflicted.

I usually get stuck somewhere between anger and depression, with a yicky taste in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong. I think people should take control of their reproductive lives. I support the freedoms that allow for people to choose the lifestyle that is right for them. I also ascribe to Christian beliefs and have a thorough understanding of them. These factors contribute to the disappointment I feel when the creepiness factor bobs to the surface.

In the case of the Duggars, this doesn’t take long. Seeing as how their website begins with a Psalm, the flags start popping up immediately. In my pursuit of reasons to like the Duggar family, I came upon Michelle’s reference to the ATIA curriculum used in their home-schooling.
Wikipedia describes this as a ministry of The Institute in Basic Life Principles. And, not very surprisingly, Wikipedia goes on to describe the criticism and cult-like characteristics of IBLP.

There are also links to fire-and-brimstone sites like Focus on the Family and the fascinating Creation Science Evangelism, which is worth a visit for creative enlightenment on such topics as how the marsupials got to Australia. When you take into account the home-schooling, the removal of “worldly” materials from the home, the schedule that clearly rules out the possibility of interaction with the outside world, all the Biblical literalism, and the evangelism, the information available about the Duggars plays out like a cult-criteria checklist.

And then, like the toy surprise at the bottom of your box of Creepy Jacks, you have the Duggars’ membership in the Quiverfull movement. Evidently this approach to family life has gone more smoothly for the Duggars than it did for fellow QF Christians Andrea and Rusty Yates.

The one question I keep encountering regarding the Duggars is how they support a family of 19 on the income of a real-estate agent. A click through their site, though, reveals this family to be a marketing machine. Visit the Duggars’ site, and you will inevitably arrive at a site selling some product marketed by IBLP. As a matter of fact, all of the resources links lead you to this organization, which is said to rake in $63 million a year.

The Duggars’ role as poster family, and their in-home hosting of the IBLP-associated Financial Freedom Seminar, and their TV appearances, et cetera, most certainly contribute a great deal to the debt-free lifestyle they’re touting. Ironic, then, that the Duggars advocate “protecting your family by removing books, magazines, television, or Internet that have worldly or sensual content,” when these are the very vehicles by way of which they fund their army of God. It is the very media-darling status of their children that drives traffic to their site and viewers to their television shows.

A good deal of the commentary regarding this family speaks of respecting their choices and dedication to ideals. Though not all. There are those who admire their purportedly Christian values. Judging by their links and isolation of their children from the world at large, though, these people appear to be less than accepting of the lifestyles of others. Others have mentioned the carbon footprint of a family of 19. What gets me is the self-righteous attitude and rejection of others. And there’s the soaking up of resources that could be devoted elsewhere. Imagine the impact a privately owned school bus and the roughly 104 days a year contributed by just one “angel” could make if dedicated elsewhere. While I try to maintain respect for these people, their every mention of sin leaves me pondering the hypocrisy inherent to their lifestyle of gluttony.


A round of applause to our CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL TEAM!

Jody DiPierna of Pittsburgh City Paper did such a fine job writing about the woman's football team, that I'm going to link to her article:

Only one thing came close to dimming the shining, perfect 2007 championship season for the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team: a power outage just as the second half of the championship game was about to start ...



August 6, 2001: Bush Administration Warned 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States'

April 8, 2004

Two and a half years after 9/11, the American public learned today that President Bush received explicit warnings that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack the United States – including activities "consistent with preparations for hijacking." Yet, there was no domestic follow-up by the Bush administration. No high level meetings. No sense of urgency. No warnings to FBI agents across the country.

We now know why the Bush administration has been hiding the Aug. 6, 2001, intelligence briefing for the president, called "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." All of the 9/11 Commission members – Republicans and Democrats – have asked the Bush administration to declassify this document. There are precedents for releasing presidential daily briefings and the American public deserves to know what President Bush knew and when.
We also learned that there appears to have been no response to explicit and repeated warnings about al Qaeda attacks. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's claim that the FBI sent warnings to field offices was directly disputed by commissioners who said they had conducted thousands of interviews and reviewed thousands of documents. Their conclusion: no one at the FBI can recall such orders.
Today's hearing also confirmed evidence that the administration had done little or nothing to combat the terrorist threat between Jan. 20, 2001, and Sept. 10, 2001. Rice repeatedly used the claim that the administration was developing a "strategic approach" as an excuse for not acting. There was no response to the bombing of the USS Cole that claimed 17 American lives and the administration tried to cut counterterrorism funding.

Daily Talking Points is a product of the Center for American Progress, a non-partisan research and educational institute committed to progressive principles for a strong, just and free America.


they can blame anyone they choose, but they were warned.
they chose not to listen. maybe because it was the previous "democratic" administration, maybe not, but they WERE warned. sherry


Friday, August 3, 2007

17 children?

I caught a headline on the PG about the birth of an Arkansas child, the 17th in the family. Yes, 17 children from infant to 19. Wow. Here's a quick link.

Dad is an insurance salesman, Mom homeschools the kids.

How does an insurance salesman support 17 children?

So imagine this as an African-American family living in Detroit or Pittsburgh. Would people be impressed by their family values or aghast at their imposition on public resouces? Would anyone line up to donate diapers or a free minivan?

I suppose it is their right to determine how many kids they can support. But I'm a foster care worker and well aware of how many thousands of children need homes. And support. So it just bugs me.

It also bugs me that the article mentions the "fun fact" that Michelle Duggar has spent over 10 years of her life pregnant. Ick.


an oldie but goodie for a friday night:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

a question

i am wondering. is it me, my odd take on the reality of things or maybe my 60's mindset
coming back to me now that i am getting older, perhaps gasp,only menopausal musings?
i'm serious here.
i can remember the grocery store downtown. people shopping before catching a bus back home after a day of work or school. older folks with a handled bag or two to take home for the week. i had a friend that would buy a small octopus on ice to take home each friday for her gram to cook up. so i was excited to hear of a grocery finally, finally coming to downtown.
then i saw the planned store, the grand unveiling.
is it me, or is this a place only for the well heeled, upper crust. you know, the ones that can afford to live in the condos and lofts planned or there already.
speaking of condos and lofts, hummm, no middle or lower middle digs planned as i see it.
so, i'm wondering, how can you have a vibrant, living breathing, INTERESTING city without including everyone. the way it used to me only better.if not
might as well just roll up those sidewalks at 11:30 p.m. those condo and loft dwellers should be safely locked inside. they'll never know if they live in the city or fox chapel unless they open the drapes.

is it me. is this deliberate? am i paranoid or what?