Monday, February 26, 2007

It Might Be Time For A Wake Up Call

Here is part of an informative and interesting article concerning men and depression. The effects of depression can be devastating and I often see most people poking fun at commercials dealing with such issues, especially guys. In case you were wondering I am posting this cause I do think some you need to read this. The rest of the article can be found here.

I also think that this article makes it quite apparent how society's socialization of men and women not only limit our opportunities to be well rounded individuals, it also shows that by limiting ourselves with supposed traits of men and women we are in essence killing ourselves. Okay, read the damn thing.

Exercising Your Demons
Some people might call you highly competitive. Some might call you superfit. But a growing number of doctors would label you something else: Depressed
By: Laurence Gonzales

In 1994, at the age of 33, Raymond Britt took up running. It made him feel good. In fact, the more he pushed himself, the better he felt. So each time he went out, he pushed a little harder. It seemed to put him above the turmoil of the world and afford him some relief. Relief from what -- that wasn't so clear. His life was good. He was a successful executive. He'd married his high-school sweetheart. He had beautiful children.

But there was something odd about it all. For one thing, he had no background as a runner. He'd been a powerlifter in his 20s, benching 315. But in the summer of '94, amid a hectic schedule, he happened to see a flier for the Chicago Marathon and was seized by the impulse to run it. Never mind that there were only a few weeks left to train. Never mind that he had never run more than 3 miles at a time. He thought, I can do anything for 5 hours and 30 minutes, which was the qualifying time to receive a finisher's medal.

He became obsessed with his training.

"I was excited, I was nervous, I was alive," he says. "My mother and my wife thought I was crazy." As he reached the 18th mile of the marathon, his hopes for a life-changing experience were shattered. Beating himself up both mentally and physically, he managed to drag his body over the finish line in 4 hours and 41 minutes, as he puts it, "alone, hurt, angry, unhappy."

Rather than recover, he went out the next day to punish himself and prepare for the next marathon.

Sex Differences

The study of how mental illness affects men and women differently is new and fraught with controversy. The first comprehensive survey was conducted between 1990 and 1992. Its aim was to estimate the general prevalence of mental illness.

The research, known as the National Comorbidity Survey, was repeated, in more depth and on a larger scale, between 2001 and 2003, under the auspices of the World Health Organization and with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. The principal investigator is Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D., a jolly-looking, bearded professor in the department of health-care policy at Harvard University.

The numbers seem to show that men and women suffer from various mental illnesses at about the same rate, with some notable variations and exceptions. One of the differences, long accepted as gospel by the psychiatric professions, is that twice as many women as men suffer from depression. Kessler says his numbers show that a woman is twice as likely as a man to have a single episode of major clinical depression in her life. After the first episode, however, men and women don't differ in the number of episodes they'll have during a lifetime, or in whether they'll have another episode. Only the first step differs, he says. Then the statistics flatten out to equal.

But if repeat episodes of depression are equal for men and women, doesn't it stand to reason that they may be having first bouts at the same rate? Maybe the discrepancy lies not in the number of men and women who are depressed, but rather, in how depression is expressed.

According to an increasing number of experts, the diagnostic tallies don't take into account the real experience of a lot of men like Britt. They also ignore the fact that women are much more likely to report depression and seek help. Men are more likely to try to fight through their depression, using strategies ranging from hard work to extreme exercise to drinking to violence. Nearly four times more men than women kill themselves...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's Time For the Pisces To Have Fun

Daily Extended Forecast for February 25, 2007

Romance is supposed to be fun, not a chore -- right? So if you're grimly working on getting closer to someone right now, stop what you're doing. The stress isn't good for you. Arguments, missed dates, conflict -- these aren't merely obstacles to moving your relationship forward. They may be signs that now is not the time for the two of you. Step back from the relationship and give the other person time to realize how much he or she misses you when you're not around.

or this one says..

Dear Pisces,

We know you're sensitive and blessed with mercurial emotions, so forgive us if our birthday greeting offends. We cherish our piscean friends and loved ones, even though you always seem a little depressed, a tiny bit paranoid, and can't make a decision to save your life. Really, we do.

We know you're big dreamers. You boast the likes of Albert Einstein, Dr. Seuss, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning among your brothers and sisters—clearly imagination is your forté. So we hope all your wishes come true this year. Our own humble gift to you is a list of the top 10 "pisces" searches...

and the yearly forecast states...


Pisces is having a once in a lifetime opportunity for great changes this year. You will be having the time of your life, expressing your loving and compassion to the world and fulfilling your boldest dreams. There won't be a dull moment and you will intuitively know exactly what path to follow and what feels right in your heart.

You will feel compelled to grasp new opportunities that manifest self-transformation in your career. You're stepping into your power easily, especially around April when you are urged to express your visionary mentality. You might rediscover your musical abilities and express yourself in creative ways. You have the power and inspiration to bring mystical sensitivity to what's around you. It's time to bring out the dreamy, loving and compassionate side of yourself and let it shine.

You may want to get involved in writing, be it lyrics, poetry or just self reflection. Your idealistic nature is inspired from a strong connection to your surroundings, and you easily express yourself from a place of inner awareness. Your natural ability to communicate ideas to others is keenly perceptive now. Focus on trusting your intuition and you will get through nearly any circumstance. You need to lighten up about difficulties in life. Don't be so critical and overly concerned about details. Because you're so sensitive to others' moods, you may feel like you're not coming across in a very positive way. Take time out and have fun this year. Embrace that intimate love relationship you have!

Let the chaos begin!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Put Down The Tongs!!

Glazing over the Men's Health website I found some handy info when visiting the local salad bar. I choose these places because it if often easier to make healthy choices and I get all my veggie goodness, but alas bad decisions still lurk even with the best intentions. I was surprised by some of the info. Hopefully it helps you out as well.

Avoid the Iceberg
18 salad-bar survival tips
Photographs by: Mark Seelon, By: Jennifer Haigh

Not poisonous, hallucinogenic, or nutritious.

Creamy salads
A.k.a. the white death. If you must have some slaw or, worse, macaroni salad (3/4 cup = 26 grams of fat!), at least place it over raw vegetables. The mayo will double as salad dressing.

No matter how you slice 'em, these are roots. What's worse, they're roots without a nutritional leg to stand on. You'd need to eat half a cup to take in a gram (g) of fiber, which isn't enough to keep even a rabbit regular.

Alfalfa sprouts
Don't bother with these little health-food frauds. Half a cup provides only traces of nutrients. But they are virtually calorie-free, so if you actually like their dank flavor, knock yourself out.

Shredding gives raw carrots a whole new quality: They become edible. Mix, don't top, your salad with a quarter cup of them, and you'll be eating nearly a whole day's worth of beta-carotene.

Broccoli's bleached cousin has only a fraction of the vitamin C and beta-carotene. You're better off doubling up on broccoli and skipping this pale imitator.

Sunflower seeds
A few spoonfuls have potassium and magnesium to lower blood pressure, plus folate to help prevent heart disease.

Black olives
While these little fat bombs won't hurt your heart, they won't help it much either. You'd need to eat 10 to get just 3 g of cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat.

Despite the name, this isn't something you'd find in Penthouse. Half a cup has 6 g of protein, 5 g of fiber, and some B vitamins.

Hard-boiled eggs
One has 6 g of protein and some lutein and zeaxanthin, phytochemicals that may cut your risk of age-related vision loss.

Cherry tomatoes
Ounce for ounce, these little suckers have as much prostate-protecting lycopene as their big brothers.

Low in nutrients, fiber, and taste. Maybe that's why people drown 'em in vinegar and call them pickles.

Iceberg lettuce, mesclun salad greens
Nutrient-wise, iceberg lettuce helps your diet as much as real icebergs helped the Titanic. But mesclun greens contain folate, to fight heart disease, and fiber, to spit shine your colon walls.

Cottage cheese
The best cheese choice on the bar. Half a cup of the full-fat stuff has only 108 calories and 5 g of fat, and gives you 13 g of protein.

Six florets give you a day's worth of vitamin C and 20 percent of your beta-carotene. Bonus: Broccoli is rich in a number of polysyllabic compounds that seem to have anticancer properties. Eat all you can stand.

Shredded Cheddar cheese
One half cup of shredded Cheddar has 19 g of fat--about what you'd get in a fast-food taco. Try to limit yourself to a tablespoon.

Mysterious extras (bacon bits, croutons, Chinese noodles)
They're salty, they're crunchy, they're more like pretzels than vegetables. Of the three, the croutons are best. Ten croutons add up to about 50 calories and 2 g of fat. Chinese noodles tend to be greasier. And bacon bits? Well, they're bacon, and we all know how healthy that is.

Low-fat dressing isn't low-cal, so go easy on it. A better bet? Canola oil and red wine vinegar. The oil contains omega-3 fatty acids to reduce your heart-disease risk. The vinegar adds flavonoids to keep your blood flowing smoothly.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!!

So today (the 18th) is the New Lunar New Year for the Chinese calender. Oh it should be fun. I will celebrate it with my family at the fabulous Grand House restaurant for some dim-sun. I am a monkey according to the Chinese Zodiac. Don't know what you are find out here. Anyway, it is the year of the pig, so if your a pig then good for you. Here is what the Chinese Zodiac says what kind of year it should be according to the website linked above. Oh yeah, by the way, it is also the one year anniversary since I started this blog. So happy birthday baby, and here is to another year.

Year of the Fire Pig

Forget everything you know about the easy going, laid-back, roll-in-the-mud Pig. This is the year of the Fire Pig, and there will be fireworks aplenty. It should be a feel-good year loaded with excitement.

Water is the Pig's fixed element. In Chinese astrology, Water plus Fire equals disaster. Also, the fifth month of the Chinese calendar is the month of the Fire Horse. This will be a time of daring accomplishments and serious calamities.

The Fire Pig is nevertheless a Pig, and we need to remember what that means for us. The Pig is the 12th and last sign of the Chinese zodiac. We have come to the end of the cycle, and it's time to celebrate our accomplishments. Yes, it's party time! Be good to yourself this year; you've earned it. Family reunions, extended vacations and a spa membership are in order.

Like last year's sign, the Dog, the Pig calls us to focus on family. Now we need to concentrate more on relationships. It's a Fire year, a year filled with passion. What a great time to begin a new romance or take an existing one to a new level -- a vacation in Paris or Bali might be just the thing. When is the last time you shared a hot tub with your sweetheart? Make it a priority this year.

The West has their fat cats and the Chinese, their fat pigs. We're talking money! Yes, this is a year to make more than a little, so be alert for opportunities.

It may seem incongruous to link the Pig with scholars, but the association is there; and it's a positive one, due in part to the fact that the Pig's fixed element is Water. This could thus be a very good year for those in academia.

Although Pig is the last year in the 12-year cycle, it is only the 24th in the larger, 60-year cycle. At this point it should be emphasized that 2007 is a Fire year. This is not a year for the faint of heart. On the positive side, Fire provides each of us the energy we need to initiate action, regardless of whether or not immediate attention is required. It is not a time to sit on the sidelines.

Fire and Pig together call us to work on vigorously attacking existing projects and completing them. It is not a particularly favorable time to conceive of and begin new ventures. With the clash of Fire and Water, now is not the time to take a lot of risk. Use the energy of positive Fire to raise your work level to a high intensity, but avoid the foolhardiness associated with negative Fire, and your business interests will prosper.

Since this is a Fire year, those people born in an Earth year will generally fare better than others of their animal sign, while those born in a Metal year are likely to do worse than those born in Wood, Fire, Earth and Water years.

Health issues vary not only by sign but by individual. Your best bet is to visit a Chinese doctor to have your balances checked and get some advice for the coming year. It is a Fire year, so one thing we can say in general is to be on the lookout for signs of stress and a tendency to overextend one's self.

2007 will be an exciting year. We will experience passion and crises on and off throughout the year. The Pig is a go-with-the-flow type. If you follow the Pig's example by enjoying life's pleasures and heating up your relationships, this will be a very memorable year indeed.

To see how your sign fares during the year of the Pig, select your sign below.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Someone Has Some Balls

If anyone has been following the news then they have heard how retired NBA player John Amaechi came out of the closet. The first retired pro-basketball player to do you can expect some flack to come his way, and of course it did, via some homophobic remarks courtesy of NBA player Tim Hardaway. As Amaechi states, and I agree, Hardaway's remarks give body to the underlying sentiment in sports that it is a "man's world." Femininity is not welcome and especially those not deemed manly enough are not either.

Anyone who has studied sexism and homophobia know that the two go hand in hand and often find supportive ideas in each other. The "stereotypical male" (one who is tough, does not show emotion, thinks women are better at things that guys do not do) often views women, gays, and lesbians in the same light. In the stereotypical man's point of view, there are things that men are supposed to do and everything else women can do. When you throw a wrench in this ideology, such as same sex love, these beliefs are challenged. "Who makes the money?" "Who raises the kids?" "Who does the dishes?" and my favorite "Who is the top?" are all notions that stem from a binary view of human sexuality and gender. The narrow view that one sex (different than gender) must do things while the other sex fulfills other tasks is directly challenged when there are not two sexes involved in a relationship. Due to many people's upbringing and/or limited exposure to the world, sexist and/ or homophobic people believe the confines of the sanctioned male/female relationship goes against nature and society. Yet, the biggest source of alternative ways of living often come from straight couples, especially throughout time. The family as we know it today, or ones that conservatives often cry about the good ole days, is a fairly recent creation in human history. In the world of sports, where masculinity dominates, ideas of same sex love certainly stand out and seem counter-productive to masculinity and the world itself. Anyone familiar with sports should know how recently it was that people of color and women have broken into the pro-athletic world. Funny, how the same type of statements where made against both. The sad part is that Hardaway does not realize that it was not too long ago that statements about the locker room "ethos" was made about black men entering professional sports.

I think this story has two silver linings (one is not enough anymore). The first being that Amaechi's coming out did exactly what he wanted. It caused the issue to be raised, thanks in large part to Hardaway for keeping the momentum up and giving credence to Amaechi's and other gay and lesbian activist rights group's concerns. Hardaway, in his phone interview, showed the sports world, and anyone else listening, exactly the bigotry that gays and lesbians face in sports, but especially in professional sports. The need for this issue to be addressed is high, and from my point of view is a excellent platform to discuss the problems of masculinity and binary gender roles.

The second lining comes from the fact that when Hardaway made these comments in his phone interview, he was touring on behalf of the All-Star Weekend in Vegas, and in turn was on their clock. Shortly after the comments reached the news, Hardaway's tour ended. NBA commissioner, David Stern, let Hardaway go from his position saying that "'It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours,' Stern said in a statement Thursday." Well kudos to them, I am glad someone recognizes bigotry when they hear it. Another point was brought up while I was in the locker room at the gym, almost always on a sports channel. I can not give credit to the commentator or the show (ESPN was airing it), but when one host asked his two colleagues what they thought of the situation, one aptly replied that if the statement had been made about a person of color, or a women, no conversation would be happening right now. As in turn saying that because these were homophobic remarks made against a gay man, made it ok to question whether this is something worthy of news time, which was wrong in of itself. The comment surprised me. Either some people in the sports world are ready for change or they are putting on the pretty nice pony show for the public. Whatever the case, a dialogue has been rekindled about the state of gays and lesbians in professional sports and hopefully something gets done.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Keep On Livin'

Those that know me well, are familiar that I love the band Le Tigre and view Kathleen Hanna as a source of inspiration and strength. Kathleen's lyrics, whether she was in Bikini Kill, her solo "Julie Ruin" days, or her more successful Le Tigre outfit, has written songs that I can really identify. As a little fifteen year old, queer, punk rock kid growing up in Oklahoma, she helped me find words for my feelings and politics. Her music and words have definitely shaped who I am today. Till this day she continues to motivate me and keep me sane. While I've had the pleasure of seeing her perform once, I still have not been able to meet her and talk to her (which is on my list to do before one of us bites the dust, New York here I come). This is a link to the video they made for this song with some local queer activist/ production groups in New York. Kathleen believes that knowledge is key and practices that in her everyday
life with her music, her activism and her work. She is my hero. Here is some of what she wrote as an inspiration for this song from the Le Tigre site.

As a 34 year old "survivor" I am constantly freaked out that I can be doing totally great one minute and start feeling totally devasted the next. I just wanna pull out my hair and scream" I thought I already fucking dealt with this shit!!!!" The thing is dealing with rape and sexual abuse is an ongoing process that sadly is never complete (unless you are magic and can turn back the hands of time!!!!) BUT it does get better. It really does. I am actually enjoying life more wholeheartedly than ever before, and I attribute it to facing the scary stuff and the effects it has had on me honestly and not turning away from it.

Sometimes I thought the pain was too great to bear but reminded myself that if I could live through the abuse I had the power to live thru anything. Also denial, pretending and self-destruction takes way more time and energy than going through the pain, the sadness and the mourning process does. Seriously.

In healing from the violence and abuse we have experienced it's good to remember that we are all a part of a larger community of folks who are working to end all violence. We are the links in the chain that will make the world a better place for everyone. It is not trivial or individualist to end the war against all women by starting with ourselves. We need joy and we need to be strong enough so we can change the fucked up path our "leaders" are currently driving us down .

Keep On Livin'

You hide inside, so not okay
(keep on, keep on livin')
What if you remember more today?
(Keep on, keep on livin')
The phone rings but there's too much to say
(keep on, keep on livin')
You tell them to go when you wish they would stay
(keep on, keep on livin')
You gotta keep on (keep on livin')...
Disproportionate reactions just won't fade
(keep on, keep on livin')
Every dude you see puts you in a rage
(keep on, keep on livin')
Or stupid shit keeps making you cry
(keep on, keep on livin')
Your friends are worried you won't tell them why
(keep on, keep on livin')
You gotta keep on (keep on livin!)...
Look up to the sky sky sky.
Take back your own tonight.
You'll find more than you see.
It's time now now get ready.
So you can taste that sweet sweet cake
And feel the warm water in a lake (y'know).
What about that nice cool breeze?
And hear the buzzing of the bumble bees.
Just live beyond those neighborhood lives
And go past the yard outside
And push through your greatest fears
And live past your memories ters
Cuz you don't need to scratch inside.
Just please hold onto your pride and...
So don't let them bring you down
And don't let them fuck you around cuz those are you arms,
That is your heat and no no they can't tear you apart.
They can't take it away, no!
This is your time this is your life and...
(keep on livin!)...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Some People Just Won't Go Away

So this story came over the television at Pearl's when I was working Wed. and it prompted a conversation between two regulars (mildly intoxicated). One, who I will call "Dumbass #1", or D1, saw the headline "KKK On The Rise" and he said good and held up his fist in the white power salute. I am sure I stared wide-eyed with my mouth agape, but I said nothing. Then he and his friend, whom I will call "Less Dumb Dumbass #2", or D2, somehow were talking about the Masons and when the story came up brought up their connection with the KKK. Then the kicker, D1 used the n-word to refer to black people. At this point I was hurriedly cleaning the bar distancing myself from them. My brain was racing. Should I call them out? Should I tell that was inappropriate for a public venue? These two were regulars and spent plenty of money here, and I was not at the Park where I could throw them out (timing is everything). Then I reminded myself of how much I would regret not saying anything. It would have been another should, would, could haves that I am trying to rid my life of right now. Besides, if it escalated and I lost my job at least I stood up for myself.

So, taking a couple deep breaths and calming down I approached them and told them that I did not appreciate their language. D1, who is about in his 50's or 60's was instantly frustrated and said he did not call me a name. Besides it shouldn't matter to me anyway cause black people call each other that word and call him cracker or honky. I told all these words are disrespectful and show that those who use those words have no respect for themselves or others. He argued that him and his black associates say these things to each other all the time and I went further and told him I was not one of his friends and he was in a public venue where others, not his friends, might overhear him and take offense. This went on to include the usage of the n-word and it's history compared to the history of the words cracker and honky. Needless to say, he paid his tab and left. While D2 was present and tried to get a word in, D1 ruled the conversation. When he left, D2 tried to tried to smooth things over by telling me that he was married to a Mexican woman and had had a black man as his best man so there is no way he could be racist, yet he thought it ok use derogatory language. Needless to say the debate died off as I became busy.

I knew I didn't change their minds, but at least I kept my integrity. While this debate was occurring, one patron (another regular), about the same age as the other two gentlemen, who I had tabbed out before I made my statement was finishing his wine. After the conversation started he asked me to rerun his card. I figured he wanted to change his tip to zero as seeing he was friends with these fellows. I was wrong. He scratched out the six dollar tip and rewrote fifty dollars, and told me to "keep my chin up" as he exited. Another semi-regular, a waiter from down the street, came in as D1 was leaving and heard the rest of the debate with D2. She was shocked by D2's statements and even at points told him to shut up. I appreciated their support and didn't feel so alone. That is the problem when you feel like everyone does not or will not share your views. Especially when you think you know someone.
I just remember that I am in Oklahoma and that there are people like me dedicated to ending racism and do believe that racial terms, of any kind, only demean others and the ones who decide to use them.

As the article states, hate groups have a new rallying point and dormant or subtle racism is creeping its way to the surface in many people. People will separate themselves from others in an effort to dehumanize them and making fun of them is one of their tactics. The map I have posted shows that the Southern Poverty Law Center have counted fourteen known active hate-groups in Oklahoma. This does not include teenage gangs and all those who reside and/ or hide in churches and country clubs. I invite anyone who feels like I do on the subject or wants to show their commitment to end racism and ignorance to join me for the the rescheduled Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, which is a silent vigil, on Sat. March 3 at 9am. It steps off from the Ralph Ellison Library and ends at the Capital. I will be marching with the Cimarron Alliance. Contact me if you need a ride or more info.

Klan growing, fed by anti-immigrant feelings, report says

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Ku Klux Klan has rebounded by exploiting current hot-button issues, especially immigration, according to a new report released by the Anti-Defamation League.

The Klan, and other white supremacist groups like skinheads and neo-Nazis, grew significantly more active in the past year, holding more rallies, distributing leaflets and increasing their presence on the Internet -- much of it focused on stirring anti-immigrant sentiment, according to the report.

"Extremist groups are good at seizing on whatever the hot button is of the day and twisting the message to get new members," Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights director, said Monday. "This one seems to be taking hold with more of mainstream America than we'd like to see." (Read the full ADL reportexternal link)

"Klan groups have witnessed a surprising and troubling resurgence by exploiting fears of an immigration explosion, and the debate over immigration has, in turn, helped to fuel an increase in Klan activity, with new groups sprouting in parts of the country that have not seen much activity," Lauter said.

Old Klan chapters have been revived and new ones started throughout the South, historically the heart of the group, and in other places such as Michigan, Iowa and New Jersey, says the report. (Watch how the KKK is seeing a resurgenceVideo)

Last May in Alabama, an anti-immigration rally included slogans such as, "Let's get rid of the Mexicans!" according to the document, titled "Ku Klux Klan Rebounds."

"The Klan is increasingly cooperating with other extremist groups and Neo-Nazi groups," Lauter said. "That's a new phenomenon."

Between 2000 and 2005, hate groups mushroomed 33 percent and Klan chapters by 63 percent, according to Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes.

Precise data are difficult to pin down, but Potok's group counts as many as 150 Klan chapters with up to 8,000 members nationwide. More than 800 hate groups exist around the country, Southern Poverty research shows.
Hate groups were fading in 1990s

In the late 1990s, memberships in such groups was crumbling as they lost leaders and struggled to organize, said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Many hit bottom around 2000.

"Whenever you think the Klan is down and out, they find another way to reinvent themselves," he said of the recent resurgence.

Historically, the Klan's focus had been to terrorize African-Americans -- through race riots, lynchings and other killings -- but it reached peak membership at more than 4 million in the 1920s by focusing on immigration.

Newcomers from Ireland and Germany were portrayed as Catholic usurpers invading the United States, taking jobs from native-born Americans and undermining national fabric, Levin said.

Said Potok: "It's remarkable to look back at the nativist sentiments toward Catholics -- it's very similar to what we're seeing with Mexicans now."

Today, many white supremacists blame immigrants, particularly Hispanics, for crime, struggling schools or unemployment, for instance. With many Americans already divided on how to revamp laws and practices to address the nation's swelling immigrant communities, immigration "is an issue that works for hate groups," Potok said.
A burning cross on the front lawn

Many Latinos are feeling the effects firsthand. Last September, a Kentucky family originally from El Salvador found a wooden cross burning on their front lawn just weeks after they moved in.

Earlier last year, a Latino teenager in Houston was brutally beaten and sodomized while one attacker screamed "White Power!" The victim barely survived, and one attacker was sentenced to life in prison.

"I've been doing [Hispanic advocacy work] for a long, long time and the atmosphere has never been as poisonous as it has been in the last few years," said Lisa Navarrete, a vice president at the National Council of La Raza. "The level of vitriol is new."

Increasingly, fear permeates many Hispanic communities as individuals and businesses are targeted. Last year, La Raza held a workshop at its annual convention titled "Keeping Our Institutions Safe."

"It was very well attended, unfortunately," Navarrete said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

Now We Know Where "I'm Gonna Ram You" Came From

Yep, They're Gay
By John Cloud

Zoologists have known for many years that homosexuality isn't uncommon among animals. (My own cat has raised suspicions ever since he tried to mount a cowering male dachshund.) But I was surprised to learn recently that male sheep exhibit homosexuality at least as often as humans: roughly 8% of rams turn out to have sex exclusively with other rams.

This little piece of faunal ephemera might otherwise have gone unnoticed outside the rarely intersecting subcultures of gays and shepherds. But a few months ago, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched a p.r. campaign on behalf of gay sheep. PETA claims that researchers in Oregon are killing gay sheep and cutting open their brains in order to learn how to turn gay rams straight. A few weeks ago, London's Sunday Times picked up the story in an unnerving article that states the research "raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual." The story has pinged around quite a few blogs since, and Rush Limbaugh and Martina Navratilova have taken their predicted positions. (Limbaugh: gay activists finally have a reason to oppose abortion. Navratilova: homophobes are murdering gay sheep.)

It's a pity that a story with so much potential for moral indignation and bad sheep puns (ewegenics!) turns out to be wrong. To be sure, a group of researchers led by physiologist Charles Roselli of Oregon Health & Science University has killed about 55 sheep, homosexual and heterosexual, in order to study the neurological basis of sexual attraction. They have confirmed that test sheep are gay by allowing them to pick among males and females that have been restrained in stanchions to await sexual intercourse.

But Roselli says he and his colleagues never had any intention of creating a drug that will turn people straight. And while they have examined whether sheep sexuality can be altered with various treatments, that's not the sole point of their work. Instead, like many other scientists over the past two decades, they are conducting basic research into the nature of sexuality by manipulating hormones in animals. (Such experiments were done on zebra finches--to see if females would pair with other females--as long ago as 1988.) A colleague of Roselli's, Fredrick Stormshak of Oregon State, says a means of identifying gay sheep would be useful to breeders who need to ensure that males will reproduce, but the team hasn't had much success. In its most recent experiments, the group used drugs to block the action of a hormone thought to play a role in making most sheep straight (in other words, this test was designed to produce more homosexual sex, not less). But the results were inconclusive.

The Oregon group's work has shown, however, that gay rams have different brain structures from heterosexual ones, news that should cheer those who see homosexuality and heterosexuality as mere biological variations. (Another small but fascinating finding: all gay rams are butch--none present themselves sexually the way ewes do.)

As Roselli acknowledges in his papers, sexuality in humans is far more complex than in sheep. The whole notion that researchers studying farm animals could develop a "cure" for human homosexuality is a fantasy of the far left and the far right, which both value a gay-sheep "scandal" more than the messy reality that is Roselli's work.

But one could have a good argument about whether adorable little sheep should be killed for sex research. As a gay man, I tend to believe the more we know about the complex interplay of biology and environment that shapes sexuality, the less time we will spend nourishing Old Testament anachronisms about sex.

The more pressing question for me is, What would happen if research like Roselli's did lead to, as the Sunday Times imagined, "a 'straightening' procedure [such as] a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn like a nicotine patch"? I hope scientists have better things to do, but would a Hetero Patch be so awful? It would allow bigoted women to get what they want--straight kids--and ensure that gay kids grow up with moms who, at the very least, didn't try to prevent their existence. Gay people seem to fear we would die out if such a device existed. But the elaborate combination of genes, hormones and psychology that produces same-sex attraction has persisted, against all odds, through the millenniums. Gays have survived Darwinian selection, Nazis, the dulling effects of Will & Grace. I don't think a little patch would ever keep some rams from wanting other rams.

GO PETA!! Mr. Cloud has some good points. As humans we try to change everything about ourselves that almost always do not need it. Debilitating diseases, yes; sagging skin, our self created fat bodies, small breasts, and sexuality, no.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'll Pass on the Dog Thank You

It seems like those pesky environmental and animal activists' work has paid off once again. Due to their diligence and hard work we now know what some of us knew all along. Clothing companies really are out for the bottom line. In this case, the use of so called "faux" fur is not what it seems to be. I often hear about how most in mainstream society detest these "crazy" people, but I think it is because they alert and remind us that we may not be as guilt-free as we would like to believe. This happened years ago when these groups, along with human rights groups, blew the lid off the gap and nike for their sweat shop labor shops. Most people enjoy the nice quality and sometimes cheaper prices as long as we are not reminded where or how it was made. Unluckily, every time I purchase something I look at the "made in" label and always imagine some Asian or Indian woman and/or child working in less than favorable conditions so we can look good. I admit I am guilty of purchasing from some questionable outlets, but I still have and will not by fur.

Some people say we should buy American products only so that we may avoid these situations, but that becomes harder as we are integrated into a global economy and more manufacturing jobs are shipped overseas for cheaper labor and wages. Also, not so black and white, is that in many cases, these jobs are highly prized in these foreign countries, and while the work conditions may not meet our expectations of days off, minimum pay wages, smoke breaks and well ventilated rooms these are prized jobs for many of the people that work in these factories. I am not saying the companies do not exploit the fact the country has no labor or wage laws, but many of these women and children welcome these conditions rather than face hunger, life on the streets, and often prostitution. When it comes to world labor, there are many issues that must be considered. The best we can do is make some decisions that cause the least harm for others.

As for me my practice of buying leather or questionable products at sale or clearance prices, and or discount shops, has been my mantra for the last couple of years, but i think it is time I move toward returning toward my previous habits of buying used and non-leather items. No, I am not getting rid of my items I currently have since the damage has been done, but as part of a more holistic life I want to move in this direction. We all are complicit in the abuse of someone or something else when we shop mainstream, that is the way consumerism works. There are things we can do to lessen this impact, such as buy from discount or thrift stores, check out companies for human rights abuses, and exchange clothes for others. Just don't throw away clothes. Instead give them away to a needy family or sell them. In case you didn't notice, leather doesn't really break down in a landfill and there are plenty of people without the means to afford new clothes. I'll think I'll pass on the hypocrisy this article missed in how Americans freak out about dog and cat fur but still think it fashionable to use the fur of other animals. As if these creatures were any less of a living thing. Oh well, here's the article.

Humane Society: 'Faux fur' often dog hair

From Sally Holland
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Many fur or fur-trimmed jackets sold in the United States as having "faux fur" -- or not labeled at all -- are actually made, at least in part, from dog fur, the Humane Society of the United States said at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday.

Out of 25 jackets that it tested, the group said, 24 were incorrectly labeled. In many cases, it said, tests showed the fur came from raccoon dogs, nocturnal residents of Asian and northern European forests that bear a remarkable resemblance to raccoons.

It said it had bought the jackets in the United States from a variety of department stores, including Macy's, Burlington Coat Factory and J.C. Penney. Designers and brands included Sean John, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, it said. Most of the jackets tested were labeled as coming from China. (Watch Humane Society spokesman explain where the fur comes fromVideo)

Law prohibits the import or sale of dog and cat fur products. But if the amount of fur on a product is valued at less than $150, no label is required.
Lawmakers move to ban imports

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, said consumers are being duped into buying garments that are trimmed with fur but are mislabeled as faux fur or not labeled at all.

Moran said he and Rep. Mike Ferguson, R-New Jersey, plan to continue their efforts to plug the loopholes that allow such products, in part by adding the raccoon dog to the list of outlawed furs and requiring all products to be labeled, regardless of value.

The two representatives said they have reintroduced legislation they first put forward during the last session of Congress.

The Humane Society said that it is in discussion with many of the department stores that sold the garments it tested, and several had pulled such products from their stores when shown the group's findings.

In a statement posted on its Web site, the Humane Society said its ongoing investigation into fur products found:

* Dog fur sold online as "faux" by several major retailers.

* Raccoon dog fur on coats sold online as having raccoon or rabbit fur.

* Mislabeled or unidentified raccoon fur on other jackets.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Assemble!!

Oh my! It seems the boys of ATHF and Turner Broadcasting got into some trouble. Fans of the show would expect nothing less. I admit this probably was not funny for those who thought they might get killed, were late to work (or worse like getting to the hospital), or really embarrassed city officials, but the panic was regulated to one city in ten that the campaign was held. Alas, I can't wait for the movie! "I need's my weenie smoothie!"

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Promotion Bombs

by Joal Ryan Wed Jan 31, 2:35 PM ET

Los Angeles (E! Online) - In hindsight, complimentary bags of Frylock fries would have worked better.

But without the benefit of hindsight, if not a clue, the powers-that-be behind Aqua Teen Hunger Force decided to promote the Cartoon Network animated series by deploying little blinking light boards in various outdoor locations across 10 major U.S. cities.

All went well until Wednesday morning in Boston, when, as the Boston Globe reported, a commuter spotted one of the blinking light boards in a bus station. Soon, there were reports of other blinking light boards throughout the city, some near bridges and highways.

All hell promptly broke loose.

Traffic was stalled and nerves frayed as authorities scrambled to determine if the suspicious devices-10 in all-were dangerous, incendiary devices.

It didn't take long to see that the battery-powered boards, some with exposed wires, weren't bombs. And it didn't take long to see that the Aqua Teen Hunger Force promotion was a bomb. A big one.

"We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger," said a statement from Turner Broadcasting, parent of the Cartoon Network.

Turner fessed up to the unorthodox "billboards" Wednesday afternoon. It said the light boxes were part of "an outdoor marketing campaign" that had been undertaken in 10 cities: New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; San Francisco; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas, and, obviously, Boston.

Only the blinking light boards in Boston prompted a scare. But Turner wasn't taking anymore chances. It said it was contacting local and federal law enforcement, and divulging the "exact locations" of all of its Aqua Teen Hunger Force promos, in all of the cities.

Turner's make-good actions weren't cutting it with authorities who'd just lived through a day suited for Jack Bauer.

"It is outrageous, in a post 9/11 world, that a company would use this type of marketing scheme," Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement.

Menino, as well as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, broached the possibility of legal action against Turner, which is a division of Time Warner.

The Associated Press identified the brains behind the promotional misfire as the New York City-based firm, Interference Inc. That company's Website was down Wednesday night; its CEO unavailable for comment, the wire service said.

It was not known if the Aqua Teen Hunger Force "billboards" were supposed to be hyping the Cartoon Network series, which debuted in 2000, or the upcoming feature with the Borat-esque title, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, due out Mar. 23.

As the franchise's Cartoon Network site explains, members of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force are neither teens, nor especially water-worthy. Rather, they are a ragtag band of talking things you might find at a really weird drive-thru: a box of fries known as Frylock; a milkshake cup known as Master Shake; and a "shape-shifting round glob of meat" known as Meatwad.

Then there are the Mooninites.

According to reports, these two creatures-moon creatures that could pass for graphics on an Atari 2600 video-game system-are the ones depicted in the now-infamous blinking light boards.

One of the Mooninites is called Ignignokt. The other is called Err.

An apt name given Wednesday's events.