Friday, September 28, 2007

On the good, the bad, and the Friday Random Ten

Some people leave the world better than they found it.

Okay, so obviously, the biggest news coming into this week was Georgia's victory over Alabama - or so one might think. For me, it was that fact, plus the fact that my aunt and uncle in Northport had no problem with me eating their roast beef and using their washer and dryer while all this was going on. They're good people. I come, obviously, from good stock.

But there was plenty to love this week.

What's good (for the week ending 9/28/07):
- Lessons that only certain people can teach you
- 26-23 by whatever means necessary
- Having the option to go out and do something, and choosing to stay in and not do anything, and not feeling bad about it
- Keebler Fudge Stripes cookies
- fresh bedsheets

What's bad:
- Luring Iraqis into the street with explosive devices and then shooting them
- Quite literally capitalizing on a tragedy (hint to Giuliani and pals: If no one's willing to own up to it, it's probably a bad idea)

The Ten:

1. Sting, "Why Should I Cry for You"
2. W.A. Mozart, "Der Vofelfanger bin ich ja" from Die Zauberflöte
3. Athenaeum, "Plurabelle"
4. Live, "Dance With You"
5. Alicia Bridges, "I Love the Nightlife (Disco 'Round)"
6. The Beatles, "Day Tripper"
7. Marvin Gaye, "Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)"
8. Kent, "Before It All Ends"
9. U2, "Like a Song..."
10. Annie Sellick, "Lullabye of the Leaves"

What about you? What's good for you this week?

On a story that'll break your heart

Okay, so Carnegie Mellon University used to have lecture series, called "Last Lectures," that asked professors what lecture they would give if they knew it would be their last. Just as they renamed it "Journeys," indicating that it characterized the professors' journeys through life, they brought in Randy Pausch - who gave his actual last lecture.

The entire lecture can be found here, and it really is inspiring. It's not even close to short, but it's worth watching the entire thing. It kind of underscores the general unfairness of life that a guy like that won't be around six months from now.

This would be a great lead-in to my own hypothetical "last lecture." I will not be providing such for the following reasons:

1. I couldn't possibly follow that up.
2. I'm barely a quarter of a century old. While I've amassed a good number of life lessons and some valuable experience, I certainly don't have enough of the good stuff to fill up a lecture. I don't have enough to fill up a blog.
3. I can't say I've lived a life of such quality that people should be taking my advice or looking to me for guidance. It's certainly worked for me (so far, anyway), but I've Gumped my way through so many of the tough times that I couldn't even tell you how I've ended up where I am.

So here's what I'll give you instead:
It is better for things to suck differently than for things to suck the same way they were sucking before.

That's it. That's the one thing, in my 26 years, that I've learned for sure that might be applicable to someone else's life. It's not Randy-Pausch-level inspiring, for damn sure, but it works.

What've you got? What one thing do you know for sure that might change someone's life?

On a tempting offer...

Okay, so in the interest of expedience, I'll no longer be responding individually to e-mails regarding the iBook I've listed on Craigslist. It appears that one blanket open letter will suffice. Thus:

Dear interested party,

Thank you for your interest in my iBook. Yes, it's still available, and it's in excellent condition, as listed in the ad.

I'm so sorry to learn of your hearing impairment, which prevents us from communicating over the phone. That's a real shame. I'm also sorry to learn that you're located so very far away from me; I'm not sure how you found my Birmingham ad all the way in Texas/California/Germany, but I guess you must really want a laptop.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to accept a money order for the price of the laptop, plus shipping costs, plus a little something extra. I also won't be able to deal with your escrow agent or your shipping agent. I absolutely will not be able to deposit your money order and then wire you back the extra money you inexplicably added. This is because I'm not an idiot.

I hope your cellmate is a pleasant individual.


Best of luck finding someone to fall for your scam,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On teaching our children well

Okay, so it's so easy to just try to indoctrinate kids while they're still blank and pliable, and some in various levels of government do seem to feel that keeping them ignorant as long as possible is the best way to protect them (and I'll have a few things to say about that tomorrow). That's why it's so comforting to see schools getting it right and presenting information in a way that interests kids but also leaves room for them to draw their own conclusions.

That's what happened recently at a middle school in Homewood. Teachers illustrated the issue of immigration by staging a return, of sorts, to Ellis Island for sixth graders.

They started out packed tightly onto "ships" and "sailed" past the "Statue of Liberty" before being released and lined up, single-file, for registation. They faced more and less sympathetic officials at "Ellis Island," and, in a rather inspired twist, the school emphasized the difficulties immigrants had coming to a foreign country by bringing in parents to speak foreign language at the kids. Frustration was evident as students struggled through the immigration process opposite Spanish-, Greek-, French-, or Russian-speaking "inspectors."

Obviously, illegal immigration today involves its own special set of issues, and it's easy to forget one of the points emphasized in this exercise: That people make great efforts to come to America because they really, really, really want to be Americans, and that the contribution made by immigrants to the foundation of our country has been significant. As teacher Donna Johnson put it, "We try to teach the children that it changed our way of life in a very positive way. If you stop and think about all the contributions that immigrants have made to our country, we wouldn't be the country we are today."

And while we discuss illegal immigration (always, for some reason, associating it with Hispanic immigration and ignoring undocumented immigration from all other directions) and talk about 700-mile walls and how people need to learn G-D English, we could probably all benefit from having someone shout at us in a foreign tongue - even one we think we speak fairly well - and expect us to understand it. 'Cause I know that I'd have about as much trouble with a rapid-fire "Où sont vos papiers? Êtes-vous en bonne santé? Avez-vous la famille en Amérique?" as your average native Spanish-speaker is likely to have with "WHERE IS YOUR EL CARD-O OF IDENTITY? ARE YOU SICK-O? DO YOU HAVE EL FAMILY-O IN AMERICA?" And if you doubt that, just ask any sixth-grader from Homewood Middle School.

On the Department of Why Isn't Everyone More Pissed Off About This?: Friendly Skies edition

Okay, so everyone has heard the "he who would sacrifice liberty for security" quote over and over again, and we've all been grateful for the government taking that out of our hands - if we don't have liberty in the first place, we don't need to sacrifice it for security.

For instance, if you really want to keep terr'ists from flying in on airplanes, it shouldn't bother you that much if the government should choose to track your every movement in a carefully-organized database.
The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as long as 15 years, as part of the Department of Homeland Security's effort to assess the security threat posed by all travelers entering the country. Officials say the records, which are analyzed by the department's Automated Targeting System, help border officials distinguish potential terrorists from innocent people entering the country.

But new details about the information being retained suggest that the government is monitoring the personal habits of travelers more closely than it has previously acknowledged. The details were learned when a group of activists requested copies of official records on their own travel. Those records included a description of a book on marijuana that one of them carried and small flashlights bearing the symbol of a marijuana leaf.

The ATS has actually been in place since the mid-90s, but it was beefed up in 2002 when the Department of Homeland Security determined that nothing threatens the freedom of red-blooded Americans so much as red-blooded Americans exercising their freedom.

DHS spokesman Russ Knocke "flatly reject[s] the premise that the department is interested in what travelers are reading," which goes without saying, since all they're doing is keeping meticulous records of what travelers are reading. They're also not interested in your credit-card information, your rental car, and the kind of bed you request at your hotel. The program isn't to establish, Knocke says, "guilt by association;" it's only meant to establish malfeasance based on what you're reading and whom you're sitting next to on the plane.

Having an encyclopedic record of your favorite vacation destinations, travel buddies, reading materials, vibrator preferences, snack foods, and Sleep Number settings might be considered intrusive if our government did things like, oh, spying on peace groups, environmentalist groups, feminist groups, and religious gatherings as wicked dissenters and potential threats to our government. Good thing our government would never do anything like that.

Which means there's no reason for everyone to be pissed off about this.

Friday, September 21, 2007

On the good, the bad, and the Friday Random Ten

A cuddly friend; a deadly weapon

Okay, so it's been an eventful week. Let's get down to it.

(You may notice a distinct lack of pirate references, despite the recent holiday. We at Practically Harmless are conscious of the ongoing conflicts between pirates and ninjas and, recognizing that our readership encompasses both sides of the struggle, are loathe to endorse one position or the other. Officially, our institutional position is Pirate-Ninja Neutral. Learn more here.)

What's good (for the week ending 9/21/07):

- Trash talk (and an enthusiastic "Greasy banana peels, empty cereal boxes, and those tear-off strips from the sides of dot-matrix printouts" to a certain reader from Northport)
- Fake lilies that look so much like the real things that people try to smell them when they stop by your desk
- Rimmel 60 Seconds Vinyl Shine nail polish in Big Night Out
- Mornings in the 60s, afternoons in the mid-80s, evenings in the upper 70s
- Thai food, Scrabble, and large puppies

What's bad:

- Blatant institutional racism and injustice
- Unapologetic sexism

The Ten:

1. Dave Matthews Band, "Dancing Nancies"
2. Howie Day, "Sweet"
3. KT Tunstall, "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "I'm With Stupid"
5. Jem, "They"
6. Maurice Ravel, "Asie" from Shéhérezade
7. Korn, "Falling Away from Me"
8. Marilyn Horne, "Mignon: Connais tu le pays"
9. Public Enemy, "Night of the Living Baseheads"
10. Michael Bublé, "I've Got You Under My Skin"

What's good for you this week?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On the Jena 6

Okay, so the population of Jena, Louisiana has multiplied by a factor of about six today as marchers descend upon the town in protest of the treatment of the Jena 6. In case your local paper or progressive blog of choice hasn't really covered it (and chances are they haven't), the Jena 6 are six black teenagers who were charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate. The attack took place in the aftermath of an incident in which three white students hung nooses from a tree in retribution for their black classmates' bold and insulting decision to sit under that "white tree."

But it is not and never has been about race.

Which parts of that story weren't race-related? When the black students felt they had to ask permission from the principal to sit under the tree, because no black students had ever done it before, doesn't that indicate that race might be a factor? And when the three white students chose nooses to hang in the tree, is that not a clear sign of race-related intimidation? What, were they just saying the kids were welcome to "hang out"? And when the principal chose to expel those three boys, and the school board dismissed it as a mere prank, did they have no idea that it was a racial threat?

What about the protests that followed? When District Attorney Reed Walters looked out at a crowd of black protesters and declared that he could "make [their] lives disappear with the stroke of [his] pen," was race not involved there?

What about the violence that followed? When a white man broke a beer bottle over a black student's head outside a party and was charged with battery and given probation, was race not involved? When a white student threatened a black student with a gun outside a convenience store, and the black student took it away from him and was later charged with theft of a firearm and second-degree robbery, was race not a factor?

Race was already a factor long before Justin Barker was assaulted.

Initially, the black students were charged with assault. DA Walters, he who could make their lives disappear with the stroke of his pen, upped the charges to attempted second-degree murder. On the first day of the first trial, charges against Mychal Bell were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery - "aggravated" by the use of a "deadly weapon," in this case, Bell's tennis shoes. And although witnesses couldn't even agree on whether or not he was even involved in the attack, he was found guilty and faced up to 22 years in prison.

Twenty-two years in prison for possibly - maybe not - beating a classmate so severely that he was able to attend a school function later that same evening.

But it is not and never has been about race.

I'm not saying - no one is saying, to my knowledge - that these young men should go unpunished for their crimes. Justin Barker was knocked unconscious during the attack and had to be treated at a hospital for his injuries; he easily could have been more seriously injured than he was. Violence such as that can't be excused or ignored. "Free the Jena 6" is a slogan, not a sincere proposal. Don't free them, but give them justice, not reactionism. Charge them only for the crimes they committed, try them only on the evidence available (an on all of it), and sentence them only for those crimes - not out of some sense of indignance, ire, or resentment.

The charges on three of the other young men have been reduced to aggravated second-degree battery - aggravated by their shoes - and conspiracy. Mychal Bell's conviction has been overturned and all charges dropped, but he remains in jail pending the DA's appeal to the state Supreme Court, since he can't afford $90,000 bail. Three white students who hung nooses on the "white tree," a white guy who beat up a black guy outside of a party, and a white student who pulled a gun on that same black student remain free. There's a lot of history behind this trial, and no one is innocent. It's hard to raise the necessary righteous indignation when we don't have a shining hero to support, but we need to, because injustice has been rampant since the first noose went up. And anyone who claims that it is not and has never been about is naive, willfully ignorant, or blatantly dishonest.

On a periodic feminist tirade

Okay, so I've been collecting little things here and there that have kind of been chapping my ass, and I'd love to get some opinions on them.

1. Why is it that Larry Craig nudges another guy with his foot in an airport bathroom and gets arrested for lewd conduct, but guys on the street can yell out, "Hey, baby, shake that thang on over here. Oh, baby, don't be so mean. I'd tap that one from both sides. Mm-mm," and I'm expected to take it as a compliment?

2. Why is it that when a woman is raped near campus at the University of Alabama, and campus police don't have any suspects or even a description of the suspect, they publicly warn women to be on the lookout for a rapist? What, exactly, does "a rapist" look like? Are we meant to beware suspicious, creepy-looking men hiding behind trees, or are we meant to paranoidly avoid all men as potential rapists? The woman was dragged off of her own front porch and raped in her own back yard; does this mean we're being warned not to sit on our front porches? I'm all for publicizing crime news so we know what's going on in our neighborhoods, but warning women to "be on the lookout" sounds an awful lot like making it our responsibility to remain twitchy and paranoid so we never get raped.

3. Why is it that men complain about expensive, complicated weddings? Have they met their brides beforehand? By the time you're getting married, don't you know your beloved well enough to know whether she's going to want a Princess Diana wedding or a Vegas elopement? If you don't want to deal with the hassle of an elaborate wedding, marry a girl who wants to get married on a beach with two witnesses and a rent-a-minister. Chances are, if you're all "Fresh air!" and she's all "Times Square!" you're going to end up with a fairly rocky marriage anyway, sitcom hilarity to the contrary notwithstanding.

4. What is the mental connection between big boobs and sexual promiscuity? Even assuming she did buy them herself, rather than growing them (which isn't something a woman can generally control), why would a guy (or a woman, for that matter) assume that just because a woman has large breasts, she's into indiscriminate sex? So many comments on the Southwest/Kyla Ebbert situation include words like "skank" and "slut," when the commenters had absolutely no way of knowing whether she was, in fact, promiscuous. Especially considering how much men like to look at 'em, why would a man expect a woman to duct tape 'em down to avoid the "slut" label? It seems self-defeating.

Men, thoughts? Women, anything I've left out?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On an international observance

Hey, y'know, like, "Avast," right? Yeah!

Okay, so today is International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day. Adjust your vocabulary accordingly.

Or, in other words, "Today be International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day. Adjust yer vocabilary accordin'ly, ye scurvy swine."


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On a proper apology (We're waiting...)

Flying the friendly thighs.

Okay, so Southwest Airlines has made a couple of majors boners lately. One was a couple of months ago; an SWA flight attendant removed Kyla Ebbert from her flight from San Diego to Tucson, where she had a doctor's appointment, insisting that she go home, change clothes, and take a later flight. Eventually, she convinced him that by tugging her shirt up and her skirt down, she could assuage his injured sense of modesty, and he allowed her back onto the flight. Of course, at that point, she had been publicly shamed and humiliated, so the damage was pretty much done.

Here's the outfit:

Scoop-neck shirt (no cleavage). Cute little shrug. Miniskirt. With a pair of tights and a few more inches on the skirt, you've got an outfit I've worn to work before. Of course, the biggest difference between Kyla Ebbert and me is sitting in the front of her t-shirt. She's got big boobs, and yeah, she probably bought them, and yeah, she works at Hooters. None of that says anything about her character, but it's enough for people to start passing judgment on her, to act like it's perfectly acceptable to objectify her, and to publicly shame her for her dress, when the fact is that a calf-length shift dress and dirndl could look provocative on a woman of her proportions - and certainly would become so under the weight of that flight attendant's judgment.

SWA's other big mistake was their handling of the incident. Here's SWA President Colleen Barrett's letter of "apology" to Kyla:
From a Company who really loves PR, touche to you Kyla! Some have said we've gone from wearing our famous hot pants to having hot flashes at Southwest, but nothing could be further from the truth. As we both know, this story has great legs, but the true issue here is that you are a valued Customer, and you did not get an adequate apology. Kyla, we could have handled this better, and on behalf of Southwest Airlines, I am truly sorry. We hope you continue to fly Southwest Airlines. Our Company is based on freedom even if our actions may have not appeared that way. It was never our intention to treat you unfairly and again, we apologize.

Haha! Oh, what a hoot. D'you remmeber that time we yanked you off a flight in front of the whole plane and told you you looked like a slut? Hee! Wow, what a boneheaded move, right? Heh-heh. Golly, you were just crying all the way to Tucson. What a gas. Did we ever blow that one. Get it? Blow? Because you were dressed like a slut? Oh, I kill me.

Just a note for future reference, SWA: An ATC delay, you can handle with jocularity. A computer scheduling glitch, you can handle with humor. You can probably even laugh off a drunken pilot as long as he doesn't get past the jetway. But when you've slut-shamed a passenger such that she's crying all the way from San Diego to Tucson, your apology had better start and end by validating her feelings, and offer her a diamond-encrusted pony somewhere in the middle.

I'm hoping the offending flight attendant got a talking-to. I'm almost hoping the PR team got fired, because any half-lucid PR professional with a degree from an accredited institution knows better than to send out a media release like that. I've left a message with their head of PR edxpressing pretty much that sentiment, phrased more diplomatically, of course. And should I receive my requested callback, this is the suggestion that I will make:
Dear Southwest customers,

We at SWA consider our customers and our employees to be part of our family. Families are made up of people, and unfortunately, people sometimes make mistakes. We've made several big ones lately in the way we've behaved toward Kyla Ebbert.

Our first mistake was removing her from the Tucson flight in the first place. Absent an actual customer complaint, our flight attendant overstepped his authority in commenting on her attire. Empowering our employees as we have to ensure the comfort of our customers does leave room for human error, and our employees now understand why this particular error was so hurtful to Ms. Ebbert. Judgments on issues of style and modesty are not the role of the SWA employee, and we apologize for this violation of our standards of customer care.

Our second, and possibly worse, mistake was our handling of the incident in its aftermath, particularly in the way we adressed Ms. Ebbert herself. Weather delays and technical glitches can gracefully be handled with lighthearted humor; Ms. Ebbert, however, is a human being who was understandably insulted and whose feelings were understandably hurt by what happened on that flight. In hindsight, my initial apology, which was intended to seem lighthearted, may have come across as glib and dismissive, and for this, too, we are sorry. Ms. Ebbert's feelings are important to us, and we picked a poor way of expressing that.

We would like to make this up to Ms. Ebbert and to anyone else aggriveved by the handling of this incident. To Ms. Ebbert, we offer free airfare, for life, anywhere SWA flies within the United States. To everyone else, we offer a fare of $10 (plus taxes and fees) to anywhere within the continental U.S. now through the end of the year, simply by referencing this e-mail. Please give us the chance to show you how friendly and welcoming SWA's employees really are.

We screwed up, and we're very sorry. We ask you, as members of the SWA family, to accept our apology and to give us another chance to provide the quality service and accommodating atmosphere that have been Southwest's hallmarks for over 35 years.

Colleen Barrett
President, Southwest Airlines

We've been over this before, but for some reason, people continue to have serious trouble with the art of the sincere apology. It's actually quite simple:

Step 1: Admit that you screwed up. "I'm sorry you were offended" doesn't cut it. An apology in the passive coice is an insult and is worse than no apology.

Step 2: Validate the other person's feelings. It doesn't matter if you, personally, wouldn't have been offended by what happened. If the other person wasn't offended, you wouldn't be groveling right now.

Step 3: Actually apologize. There's nothing wrong with saying, "I didn't mean to hurt/offend you" - if, in fact, you really didn't mean to do it, that's a fact you'll definitely want to include - but it's worthless unless it's followed up with, "but I did, and I'm really sorry."

Step 4: Make amends, as best you can, and sincerely try never to make that mistake in the future.

Y'all, I had an eight-week internship in this stuff in college, and I'm still doing better than the professional shills and spinners at SWA. I need to start charging for this stuff. You hear that, America? Today, you're getting this wisdom for free; next time, it's gonna cost twice as much.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

On the good, the bad, and the Friday Random Ten: YouTube Edition

Okay, so it's not even Friday anymore, and still no Random Ten. There was a hot dog lunch sponsored by the Alumni Society (and whoever came up with idea of bringing the marching band into a cavernous, all-concrete room while we all ate lunch? Brilliant. Well done), there was a buttload of rain (and I thanked God for it even as it soaked me right to the knees), there was a really interesting dance performance featuring one of my friends and proving that a guy doesn't have to do that rather disturbing spine-unhingeing-hip-swivelly thing to be a talented Latin dancer, but there wasn't a Random Ten.

I'll rectify that situation now, and I'll do it with motion and sound.

What's good (for the week ending 9/14/07):

- The next James Bond filming, starring... Tom Hanks:

- Hamster. A dentist. The Fishmaster!

- For fans of Prison Break (coming back this Monday, folks!), it's Brokeback Prison:

(And incidentally, anyone freaking out about implications of actual homosexuality on Wentworth Miller's part should know that if I've got a crush on him, chances are, yeah, he's gay. It's my curse. Sorry 'bout that.)

- The newest hot game: Count the innuendo!

(I got up to twenty; feel free to compile a list in comments.)

- And just in case there's a single person in the world with whom I've not yet shared this, it's Drinking Time at Dartmouth College:

What's not good:

- The Petraeus report:

President Bush needs a little more practice. Shari Lewis always managed to keep her lips from moving when Lambchop was talking. Note to General Petraeus: You were doing better when the mic wasn't working; we'll try to work with that in the future.

- Uppity women who don't know their place:

(And while that's bad enough, the response has piled bad on worse.)

Ugh. The Ten:

1. Franz Schubert, "In der Ferne" from Schwanengesang
2. Howie Day, "Madrigals"
3. Carmen Consoli, "Diversi"
4. Barenaked Ladies, "It's All Been Done"
5. Banx De France, "Diner Dans Le Desert"
6. Barenaked Ladies, "One Week"
7. The Surfaris, "Wipe Out"
8. 311, "Homebrew"
9. Texas, "Saint"
10. The Beatles, "I Feel Fine"

What's good for you this week? Your good, your bad, your Ten, and your naughty euphemisms go in comments.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

On why feminism still matters

Okay, so I've had discussions with people, men and women, during which said person expressed a sentiment: "Oh, I'm not a feminist. I'm just in favor of gender equality, equal employment opportunity, equal pay, and reproductive choice."

And when I say, "Um, and that doesn't make you a feminist?" they say, "No! Feminism is over. Gloria Steinem took care of it in the 70s or whatever. Laws have been passed. Women have equailty now. There's nothing left for feminists to fight for."

And that's when I think about stuff like this:
According to an Atlanta police incident report, Bynum said her husband “choked her, pushed her down, kicked and stomped her.”

She told police Weeks “continued stomping” her into the ground until a hotel bell man pulled him away. Police also said Weeks threatened Bynum’s life.

Culpepper said the couple was meeting for dinner at Concorde Grill in the Renaissance Concourse Hotel near Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Tuesday night.

Police said the couple had met to work out their differences. Things soured, and Weeks walked out to the parking lot about 10:30 p.m., police said. He then turned back around and attacked her, said Officer Ron Campbell.

Weeks also threatened Bynum’s life during the attack, police said. “Anytime you tell a person, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ that moves it up to a felony,” Campbell said.

The bruises found on Bynum also were serious enough to bring felony aggravated assault charges against Weeks.

Juanita Bynum, a well-known televangelist who preaches self-sufficience and self-respect to women, was meeting with her estranged husband to discuss a reconciliation when the good reverend her husband, minister Thomas Weeks, began to beat the crap out of her in his Godly mercy.

But she was obviously asking for it.
By Tammy
Sep 13, 2007 11:26 AM
FACTS: 75% Second marriages end in divorce
80% of women in second marriages end up in abusive relationships.
Once divorced chances are that you will keep on divorcing until women learn how to submit themselves and men learn to take there leading roles as head of the family.
God hates divorce.
Bynum's third marriage will also end in divorce!

y Reflection
Sep 13, 2007 9:54 AM
Hey Christians, STOP being naive! It is becoming clear to me that Juanita is not a humble person or let me say, she is a very emotional person who probably refuses counciling because she thinks she is her own best adviser. By calling for divorce, she has chosen the path of inciting the notion of self-sufficiency in women, dragging the vulnerable women, especilly the EMOTIONAL women, into believing that women must fight the spirit of submissiveness required of them by the Word of God. Why on earth should somebody claim that God is in favour of having people divorced for what she calls some "special ministry" in return. It's time, great man of God stop her from tanishing the image of God and the church. I do not mean she should stop preaching. She should rather preach Christ, not preaching the phylosophies she has created out of her failed marriages, which failed most likely due to her lack of the spririt of submissiveness to her husband.

By kim
Sep 12, 2007 7:37 PM


By A Concern Saint
Sep 10, 2007 2:46 AM
I feel for this couple and all couples that has experienced quarreling in their marriage. My prayers are for their souls. This couple was in adultery from the beginning because Juanita was married before and has a living husband. They never had God's blessing for this reason. The best thing have already come out of it, they may have avoided hell's fire for the sin of adultery. I wish all the readers would say amen. The Woman that was caught in adultery in the bible was going to be stoned to death, but alot of the confused TV audience want to stone Mr Weeks for his actions. Remember Ms Bynum preached with alot of authority, did she try and use this authority also over the second husband and maybe even the first husband? The Man rose up in Mr Weeks and he did his thing. He took authority over her in an unpopular way in America. In some other countries with different laws it would had be ignored. And God is over ever country. Let God judge this matter and we be quiet. Ms Byum and Mr weeks if you read this my remember what the word of God says about adultery and who shall not inherit the kingdon of God. You did it before the nation... It might be good for you if you confess it before the nation. Then you will be blessed by God. The popular evangelists will not tell you this, because some of them are in adultery. My prayers are first for myself and then for your souls.

And what's even scarier than scary? This is:
By Hope
Sep 12, 2007 10:57 AM
I have goose bumps all over as i face this reality. Juanita, pls try not to make a decision now. Take out the time to heal and pray first. Every other thing can wait.You are my mentor and i am praying for you. Thomas, to think that you have a rare gem and you treat her like this......its unbelievable. You could have at least controlled yourself. Dont mean to play judge but that was a horrible thing to do.
Lagos Nigeria.

That's right. This really isn't the time to be making decisions. Your thought process probably isn't clear right now, what with the head trauma and the oxygen deprivation from when he was strangling you. Give it time, let the swelling go down, and then start thinking about whether maybe you can't try to be more submissive in the future so that he won't have to hit you like that. And Thomas, you naughty boy, be good! Not to judge, or anything.

By jo
Sep 11, 2007 10:32 AM
I feel Juanita should forgive her husband and live by what the Bible says on forgiveness. It'll be a big shame if Bishop serves a jail sentence. The grace and the anointing God gave to junaita is not just for preaching, it's equally for forgiving the unforgivable. afterall, God forgave her too of her past life.

Bitches are always holding grudges. Jesus says forgive.
By Teresa
Sep 10, 2007 11:48 PM
What he did to her was wrong, wrong, wrong. I have seen, and also know personally about domestic violence so I have an understanding. But I cant help but wonder...what was her part in this? He is only human, and so is she. What did she do and say that pushed someone with no previous record...over the edge???? I dont 'buy' her 'prophetess' claim. There is more to this than meets the eye!

By Simone
Sep 7, 2007 3:30 PM
MEN, there is some WOMEN you want to leave alone and Juanita's is one of them. I am sure all her Husbands could tell you a story or two. Everyone is acting like it is all his fault and it is not. It takes two to tangle.

If this was Gods will then why is she divorcing him?

She had to say someting so horrible to that man that it took him out of his comfort zone and he beat her butt. I do not think it is right what he did but she is to blame too.

Juanita should really take this time to look back and honestly assess what she might have done to make him stomp her head in.

It's obvious that she brought this on herself. First of all, she divorced, which God hates, and she remarried, which makes her an adultress, which God also hates (Weeks, who was also divorced and remarried, apparently escaped similar punishment through the magic of having a penis). Then she had the audacity to be a minister, which the apostle Paul has told is absolutely wrong. She taught women to respect themselves and take control of their own lives and their own bodies; another strike. And worse of all, her ministry was more successful and she was better-known than her husband, when she should have been submissive. It's surprising that he didn't give her the beat-down she so richly deserved a long time ago.

And that's just one more reason that maybe, just maybe, we need to hold off on shelving feminism entirely. And not just because of the continuing growth of the gender wage gap and the government's ongoing assault on women's reproductive rights and the consistent nonpassage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Because people still see uppityness as justification for domestic violence. Because a woman in a position of authority and power is still a target. Because a woman's life and safety still take second place to the institute of marriage. Because Juanita Bynum brought this on herself, because she should try to be humble and reconcile with her husband, because his actions were perfectly excusable and justifiable in the eyes of the Lord, feminism still has a lot of work to do.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On a final observance

Okay, so this is going to be my last post on 9/11. It's sort of become a requirement among even the most vaguely political bloggers to post on September 11 and remember where we were when we heard about the attacks, whether or not we knew or thought we knew someone in the towers or the Pentagon, what happened in the immediate aftermath, what's happened since, what's happened with the families of the victims, why those attacks are such a vital (if you're blogging from the right) or ridiculous (blogging from the left) justification for our current war, and why everyone on the other side of the argument obviously hates America. And then it's pointed out that 9/11 changed everything.

Except the more I thought about it today, the more I realized: 9/11 changed nothing.

Now, don't get me wrong; there are people whose lives are deeply and irreconcilably different since those attacks. The families of these people, for instance. They had to deal with the fear to begin with, and then the pain of losing a loved one, and have since been bombarded with constant images of the attacks and been dragged around and used - by both sides - as political tools and pawns. And the workers who helped to treat survivors and clean up and rebuild, the ones who are now sick after being assured by the government that they were in absolutely no danger, many of whom are being denied affordable treatment for those same illnesses because God forbid we should have anything approaching universal health care. Those people who were directly and immediately touched by the attacks have their own unique experiential set resulting from that day, a set with which I sympathize and which I hope never to be able to fully understand. I begrudge those people no amount of grief or anger, and however they choose to mourn, publicly or privately, I offer no argument.

But for the vast majority of Americans, 9/11 changed nothing. And not just because so many of us were merely riding the grief train in the months following the attacks, manufacturing grief and fear beyond what we sincerely felt so that we could feel like a part of this national outpouring of emotion. And not because nothing changed. Our world right now is, in fact, quite different from the way it was before the attacks.

Since the attacks, Americans have become more jingoistic. We've lashed out at well-meaning allies. We've alienated just about every other country in the entire world with our foreign policy. In the co-opted name of the victims of the attacks, we've sent the men and women who've vowed to keep us safe to invade another, un-9/11-adjacent country without provocation. We're embroiled in a war seemingly without end. We've renamed "French fries" "Freedom fries" and then changed the name back. We've held up the families of 9/11 victims as justification for war, and then we've chastised them when they protested such exploitation or grieved in a government-nonapproved fashion. We've attacked Arabs for possibly being Muslims, and we've attacked Sikhs for looking like Arabs. We've decried the abuses of women in Arab countries, and then we've spat on women on our own city streets for daring to wear the hijab. We've convinced ourselves that the Iraqi people are innocent and worthy of our help and simultaneously ungrateful wretches who deserve anything that comes to them. We've made it okay, even admirable, to be xenophobic and hateful. We've normalized racial profiling. We've criminalized dissent. We've submitted to unconstitutional government invasions of our privacy. We've consented to torture. We've reduced the American flag to an item of apparel and the attacks of September 11 to a smoking-tower logo and "We'll Never Forget" suitable for t-shirt, bumper sticker, snow globe, or Commemorative Coin Forged From Genuine Ground Zero Salvaged Steel. Between American casualties in Iraq and lives lost in the attacks themselves, we're nearly 7,000 fewer than we were six years and a day ago.

But those changes aren't because of 9/11. Correlation vs. causation; those changes happened after the September 11 attacks, but not because of them. Those changes happened because someone - lots of someones - saw an opportunity to turn a tragedy into a campaign.

The 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, but we're not at war with Saudi Arabia. The attacks were coordinated by Osama bin Laden, but we're no closer to capturing him than we've ever been. Our airport security is and has been weak as water, but the best efforts made for our safety involve putting our travel-sized shampoo bottles in Ziploc bags. The terrorist cells that constantly threaten our safety are holed up on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but our troops are too bogged down in Iraq and our global diplomacy cred is so shot that we can't get into other countries to punish those responsible for the attacks. We're told that the terrorists hate us for our freedoms, and all the while the government is systematically stripping those freedoms away unquestioned. We've given complete control of our lives to a man who takes vacations during natural disasters and hasn't mastered the pronunciation of "nuclear" yet and has fed us one untruth after another to justify his war, because he looks convincing in a cowboy hat, and because anyone preaching reason and moderation is far too removed from the "boot in the ass" misguided-revenge-seekers who appeal to the lesser angels of our nature.

But 9/11 didn't do any of that. We did that. We just used 9/11 as an excuse.

You know what would be awesome? If 9/11 really did change everything. If we took that feeling of global unity - "We are all Americans" - that immediately followed the attacks and ran with it. If, instead of alienating our allies and neighbors by lashing our randomly, we worked together to rout out the true causes of global terrorism. If we made it a priority to understand other cultures instead of demonizing them. If we reached out to grieving families instead of using them for our own purposes. If we stepped outside of our own personal bubbles and looked to happiness other than our own. If we reacted with compassion instead of fear. If, instead of playing directly from the terrorists' script and letting our lives turn into a reactionary chaos of fear and mistrust and hatred, we resolved to make our country, and our place in the world, stronger, safer, more welcoming, more understanding, more open. If we realized that life is precious and can be gone in an instant, and that the only way to honor that is to live life, with others, rather than cowering in fear.

We've been there. I've seen it. Right after the attacks, back before those in power set to really cultivating the fear that the attacks seeded, blood banks were overflowing with donors and state troopers were running bucket-brigade relays to get that blood where it needed to go. Anyone grieving or afraid had a set of available arms nearby. Some churches and synagogues and mosques were hosting seminars and gatherings to promote understanding and correct misconceptions between faiths. Firefighters held out boots at traffic lights, and those boots were always full to overflowing with donations. During that first flush, when news coverage showed nothing but disaster footage, for whatever reason we turned to each other in the US and in the rest of the world, and the sheer potential of it all was amazing. Back before it all got really dirty, it was the one shining hope that could arise from the rubble like the clichéd flower poking out of a crack in a sidewalk.

We can be that potential. We can choose, even at this late and seemingly immutable point, to go back and find that place where we could make a good thing out of something that seemed completely devoid of any goodness. And when we do that, you'll get another September post for me saying that I knew all along how 9/11 changed everything.

On a question: How many Capitol police officers does it take to take down a minister?

Okay, so the answer: Six.

Our rights to peacefully assemble and to petition our government for redress now in the crapper, I propose we move on to that whole "quartering soldiers" thing. That'n's been begging to be discarded for a while now.

Friday, September 07, 2007

On the good, the bad, and the Friday Random Ten

One of these things is totally adorable.

Okay, so it's been rather the quiet news week this week. No real surprises. The famed September report? Not gonna happen. Shock! Bush knew Saddam didn't have WMD? Shockier! "Wide Stance" Craig still says he's not gay and might not resign after all? Didn't see that coming! Next thing you know, they're going to be telling us that men like hot women.

And just as reliable as Bush's gin-addled alternate reality is Practically Harmless's good, bad, and Ten.

What's good (for the week ending 9/7/07):

- Pavarotti's signature Nessun Dorma (and may angels sings thee to thy rest)
- Herbal Essences True Intense Color in Deep Red
- Georgia 35, Oklahoma State 14
- Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32
- m&ms

What's not good:
- Not knowing where your nuclear warheads are
- The aforementioned liar, a liar with his pants on fire.

The Ten:

1. Sarah McLachlan, "Last Dance"
2. The Verve, "Bittersweet Symphony"
3. Bobby Darin, "I'm Beginning to See the Light"
4. Jump, Little Children, "Angel Dust"
5. Saliva, "Superstar"
6. The Features, "Blow It Out"
7. N.W.A., "Fuck Tha Police"
8. Cal Tjader, "Soul Sauce (Guachi Guaro)"
9. Evelyn "Champagne" King, "Shame"
10. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, "Danse napolitaine" from Swan Lake

I thought we were about to get an inadvertent tribute to Pavarotti there for a minute... and then came N.W.A., and it all suddenly means something completely different. Anyway, that's my good and bad; what's good for you this week?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

On a shocking study that may change the way we view the opposite sex

Okay, so it's a good thing we can rely on CNN for the kind of earth-shattering news that has real impact on the way we live. Where would we, as a society, be without headlines like this?
Men want hot women, study confirms

Someone rent me a roomy yet affordable storage unit with which to contain my shock.

The study of 46 men and women in Germany found that, in speed-dating situations, men had a marked tendency to compeltely ignore any previously stated preference and go after every reasonably hot chick that wandered into their eyeline, including the occasional waitress, bartender, and Bugs Bunny in a wig and minidress.

Women, unlike the men and their shotgun approach, also jettisoned stated preference in favor of physical appearance but tended to take into consideration their own attractiveness when gunning for a man. A woman who considered herself a 6, for instance, would be more likely to limit herself to men in the 6-8 range, whereas a similar man would go after any woman higher than a 6.

Variables not accounted for in this study: alcohol use on the part of either party, money, mental instability, and/or whatever X-factor Kevin Federline is carrying around that's gotten him four babies and a fat alimony check.