24 March 2008

i find it fairly irritating...

... that obama's spiritual leader (who i firmly believe spoke Truth: hillary doesn't know what it is like to have dark skin, "our" foreign policy history in regards to south africa, hisoshima, nagasaki and palestine was/ is simply abhorable and does play a role in why america is so hated, and rich white people do run america - don't everyone know this??? ) is STILL being attacked and the media spin that followed may very well have destroyed obama... BUT the words of mccain's spiritual leader isn't even a blip on the radar.

let's look at what mccain's guide in all things spiritual has to say about islam - emphasis mine:

I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

but, wait! there's MORE!

even COLUMBUS was out to rid the world of islam!

and then there's this:

There are some, of course, who will say that the violence I cite is the exception and not the rule. I beg to differ. I will counter, respectfully, that what some call "extremists" are instead mainstream believers who are drawing from the well at the very heart of Islam.

yeah, that's all lovey dovey talk, isn't it? that parsley is a real sweetheart. and that line of thinking surely will do nothing but enrich the bridges we are currently building (i mean, bombing) in nations where islam is the religion. not to mention, there isn't a lick of truth to what he says.

want more

in other news, cynthia mckinney is the green party presidential candidate. guess who i'll be voting for if hillary gets the nomination?

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15 March 2008

me and my boobie

i have a really great scar now, p/s.

i've been meaning to write a little something about this all...

i found a lump in my breast when i was 17. i had a mammogram and it was deemed a fibrosomething or another... something harmless. i was told that after i gave birth, it would go down in size. at the time, it was a size of a dime. on and off over the years, when it kept growing, i would wonder about it and ask at my annual ob gyn visits. every doc i've had over the years would feel it and say not to worry.

after bebe was born, it hadn't gone down. it was still growing. i thought that was odd. my doc said after he was done nursing, we would pull the fluid out of it, so he could "prove to me" that it wasn't anything.

when the time came, he dug around in it with a needle for about 5 minutes. nada. no fluid. i saw the look on his face when he gave up - then he said, "we need to get you scheduled for a mammogram and sonogram asap." he said to get dressed and meet him out a the desk to schedule it.

he left the room. i don't think i've ever had such a visceral reaction to something in my life. i just started crying. really hard. i kept seeing bebe's face in my head, my boo's face- and the thought of leaving them... it was too much. i pulled myself together and got the appointment made.

i received the results back from radiology before my doc called. it scared the crap out of me. it said i needed an immediate biopsy - with some crazily high rank of it being cancer. i spent the next week trying to get my doc on the phone, to tell me what it meant. he finally called back and said not to worry, that we didn't know anything yet. i was scared. i asked around for a surgeon - and found one that was/is AMAZING.

at my first appointment she reviewed everything. she then did the exam. when she felt it, she said, "this is not cancer." i had already decided, that even it was something scary, i was going to kick its' ass. then she asked me what i thought about it and i told her that i've always been worried, that i knew it was something more than what i was being told it was over the years. she asked if i was intuitive. i laughed and told her that i liked to think so.

she decided to take it out, as opposed to a biopsy. good thing she did. she found that it was a rare type of tumor, a phyllodes. it was benign! with these types of tumors, they can't be easily identified by biopsy or needle biopsy. more often than not, the results come back as that fibrosomething.

and apparently, if they turn from benign to malignant, typical breast cancer treatments just don't work.

since one of the margins was close, she went back in to take a little extra tissue out - to try and ensure that there were no little remnants for a new one to grow from. when phyllodes tumors come back - they do so with a vengence - they grow aggressively and fast. mine was the size of a half dollar!

(i can't help but wonder if that "harmless" chemical spill in my hometown that resulted in a bunch of other rare types of cancers and whatnot to pop up in the following years was the cause. my lump appeared the year after. the evacuation area came right up to our house. i'll never know, i guess - but i do wonder. and i digress.)

so the moral of the story is this - ladies, if you feel like something isn't right - it may not be. it's ok to press for answers and ask for more tests. i had no family history, i'm 34, etc. and it still was "something" after all, that could have been scarier. and as much as they say these things are rare - i sure have talked to a bunch of people that have either had one or more - or someone in the family has.

this is a great tool - you can sign up to have an email sent to you each month, to remind you to "check your boobies!" h/t to sicily sue for this!!!!



14 March 2008

see, i was thinking we already knew this...

obama's pastor seems to be taking some heat for this in the media blips i've caught today:

"Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain't never been called a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)."

can anyone seriously argue with this statement?

seriously? i'm just sayin.'

this reeks of a "you-hoo! look over here!" campaign trick initiated by you know who's camp. the timing is just too much. and i can't see how it makes one bit of difference, or how this is being construed as negative.

if the news stations are really that desperate for news items, *clearing throat* politician, prostitute, we can always bring iraq back into focus. seems like most people forgot about that.

feel free to explain what i'm clearly missing, though.

you're on the air.


13 March 2008

uh huh, uh huh.

so my stats teacher proposed some interesting theories regarding climate change the other night. water vapor, statistics of studies.... i have some processing to do, needless to say.

so this will do instead, for now.

as always, thoughts?

The mis-education of the coordinator class March 13, 2008
By Mandisi Majavu

Chomsky (2004) points out that Harvard trains the people that rule the world, while MIT trains those who make it work. I cannot think of a more succinct way of describing the goals of an educational process that creates and maintains the coordinator class.

Chomsky argues that schools are, by and large, designed to support the interests of the dominant segment of society, those people who have wealth and power - in short the capitalists. I interpret this as saying, schools are, by and large, designed to produce a subservient coordinator class that supports and takes care of the interests of the capitalists.

As Albert (2003) argues, it is important to describe the viewpoints and behaviours of the three primary classes; i.e. capitalists, coordinators and workers. In keeping with that spirit, this article aims to analyse the socialisation of the coordinator class.

The Coordinator Class

According to Albert, within capitalism, the coordinator class is between labour and capital, and fundamentally different from both. This class relates to the capitalists as intellectual workers. The notion of a coordinator class is based on the assumption that the kind of work we do can separate us into classes.

What gave rise to this class is the change in the economic conditions required to make profits.

"Historically, reproductions of the conditions for profit-making required the capitalists to often employ the power of the state (police, courts, troops) or private armies of Pinkertons - but as monopoly capitalism has advanced, the contours of control have matured in kind (Albert & Hahnel, 1978, p. 204).

Furthermore, there has been a steady effort to erode the intellectual and coordinative abilities of the workers over their work, and to then vest these skills in an intermediary layer of expert intellectual coordinators, argue Albert and Hahnel. Consequently, this layer of expert intellectual coordinators came to constitute a coordinator class of 'workers above the workers'. "Thus we have a 'middle element' who have certain antagonistic relations with both capitalists and workers and thus certain tendencies toward oppressing, oppressed, and rebellious relations toward each of these classes (ibid)."

Because this sector of economic actors has a relatively large monopoly over empowering work, it has greater bargaining power and status than the workers below (Albert, 2003). Owing to this relative monopoly over empowering work, members of the coordinator class have much higher incomes than working class people, and more status than working class people. Albert explains that the members of the coordinator class gain considerable status, prestige and power from the positions they occupy in their respective industries; attracting and holding for themselves critically important knowledge, skills and levers of daily decision making influence.

For example, as a manager or a director of an NGO, the coordinator class member controls workers below. As an engineer he or she defines workers' working conditions. As a lawyer or doctor he or she adjudicates workers' lives or dramatically oversees the quality of their lives.

A class analysis that takes into consideration the existence of the coordinator class compels us to not only want to get rid of private ownership of the means of production, but also of the division of labor that apportions more empowering and more appealing tasks only to a narrow subset of the population while confining the rest of the population to rote and obedient labors (Albert, 2003).

The Social Construction of the Coordinator Class

A member of the coordinator class usually has educational credentials and daily economic circumstances that continually reinforce his or her status, prestige and power. Put another way, members of the coordinator class tend to be people who we normally refer to as 'professionals'. As a class, the coordinator class has its own lifestyles and behaviour patterns,

"its own places to congregate, its own music and preferences, its own preferred stores to shop at, its own ways of dressing, foods to eat, even linguistic mannerisms, all not homogenous within the class, of course, but still on average separate from capitalists above and workers below (Albert, 2003)."

Universities are, by and large, designed to produce people who subscribe to the values of this class; people, who basically can fit in with this class without problems. Schmidt (2001) points out that seclusion at the university allows time to study the field's technical details, while the social isolation there facilitates indoctrination into the field's culture. The field's culture includes knowing the 'right questions' to ask and the 'appropriate' time to raise those questions, acquiring the 'correct attitude' and obediently working within the assigned ideology. The goal of educational training is not only to teach people skills and facts, but to change people's ideological values in accordance with the system. To paraphrase Schmidt, ideological weeding out and ideological transformation are important mechanisms that the system uses in every step in its production of a coordinator class.

For example, in physics, about half of the students who enter PhD programmes in the U.S. leave without the degree, many due to outright expulsion, argues Schmidt.

"This massive elimination allows the political biases in the weeding out process to have a strong effect on the overall political nature of the graduating class. Adjustment works hand in glove with this elimination in forming the class politically: Many of those who survive the weeding do so by 'shaping up' under the threat of being culled, and in the process undergo attitudinal transformations that make them politically compatible with the others who are not weeded out (Schmidt, 2001, p. 123)."

Consequently, the students who graduate at the end of the day are students who are willing to serve the system without questioning the status quo or the assigned ideology that they must work within. The research I conducted on the University of Cape Town (UCT) psychology students last year (2007) does not contradict this claim.

For example, referring to the UCT graduate programme, one student explained that "...at times it felt like if one chose another theory it was not condoned, it felt like you would be punished if you chose something else. That was a bit disturbing." And another students echoed this sentiment: "the programme tends to be somewhat rigid. While we are told we can have our own psychological theory that we prefer, we are actually chastised when we use it." A student who did not have reservations with this process referred to it as being groomed to become a competent psychologist. And another student explained the entire by process by using an analogy.

" It feels like you are in a fish-bowl the whole time. Like everything you do, everything you say even if it's not in a formal context, everything feels like it's being assessed for your performance as a trainee psychologist. You feel like you are being watched all the time."

One of the black participants said of his experience:

"I felt extremely lost and the material felt alien. I felt that my actions, my deeds and my thoughts were not my own but were those of the course or what I was being fed. I felt I wanted to protest and say give me a chance to think this through, I'm not really sure I agree with this concept or that concept. Despite there being room to do that, we were in an academic setting and had to move along from certain experiences following the calendar year, leaving little time to sufficiently reflect on experiences."

Chomsky (2004) explains that educational institutions require people who are willing to adjust to the institution's power structure and accept the code of their discipline without asking too many questions.

Schmidt argues that it is no surprise that developing a critical view of the field is an extracurricular activity, one that the training institutions discourage not only through the test's exclusive focus on the technical details of specialised applications, but also through their coverage of a large number of such applications. He adds that the graduates who are hired by corporations or the government to do research or development work or by universities to do normal paradigm work do not need such critical ability, "and in fact will work more harmoniously without it."

Chomsky (1997) argues that the ultimate goal of institutions that do not appreciate independent thinking is to reward conformity and obedience; if you do not show these qualities, you either have 'behavioural problems' or a 'troublemaker', and therefore weeded out along the way. The coordinator class is created and maintained through this process.

This is why members of a coordinator class, are tolerant of distant social criticism, but have very little patience for anyone who tries to provoke a debate about the politics that guide their own work (Schmidt, 2003). This also explains why members of the coordinator class may be liberal on this or that question of the day, but tend to be very conservative on a long-standing issue of much greater importance - that is democratic and equal distribution of power in society, to paraphrase Schmidt.

The capitalists have always known this. Hence, employers have always scrutinised the attitudes and values of the people they employ, so as to protect themselves against unionists and other radicals whose 'bad attitude' would undermine workplace discipline (Schmidt, 2003).

And the universities also know that they exist to produce people who will staff and perpetuate the country's social and economic system. Schmidt adds that it is no accident that the same attitude and values that are key to success in universities, are also key to success in jobs that require a university degree. Jobs that the coordinator class tend to occupy.

To be continued...

h/t to melissa.



07 March 2008

georgie, porgie - you're making me cry.

"Losing a job is painful and I know Americans are concerned about our economy. So am I," Bush said at a press conference at the White House.

"It's clear our economy has slowed, but the good news is, we anticipated this and took decisive action to bolster the economy," he noted.

"I know this is a difficult time for our economy," said the U.S. leader. "But we recognized the problem early and we provided the economy with a booster shot."


i've been trying really hard lately, to see your side. to be mindful. to be more understanding. to find our common ground.

right now, i'm failing.

i own that.

i'm human.

dude! you have no idea how painful it is. you have no idea how concerned i'am. slowed? difficult? anticipated? just a few months ago, you said not to worry. and you wonder why americans are experiencing depression in record numbers? the worst part? they are blaming themselves - thinking that something is wrong with them. this couldn't be farther from the Truth.

what is wrong, is this system.

the system where banks are bailed out after creating a mortgage nightmare, and the rest of us be damned - you know good and well that the vast majority of people facing foreclosure will find no help in your grand plan. what is wrong is the incomes that are disappearing in droves - to the tune of the highest rate of job cuts/losses in 5 years. what is wrong is that you are spending 275 MILLION DOLLARS A DAY in iraq. what is wrong it the way you have us all thinking that a terrorist is just up the street, hiding behind a tree, waiting to kill us all. and that terrorist could be our neighbor! our boss! our brother! it could be anyone! what is wrong, is that you live in a different world than i do.

you are going to veto a bill that bans waterboarding and torture - all illegal acts under the geneva convention - tomorrow. you and all of our elected representatives are going to get a paycheck - no matter what. you are going to make sure that your friends are taken care of.

we don't live in the same america. i do like your striped hat, though.

so, please. don't pretend like you know what my life is like, what my worries are - you don't. my mama didn't raise no fool. i know a booster shot when i see one. it hurts. a lot. i won't be able to sit for a week. and it may or may not work.

oh, yeah. thanks for the scraps you're throwing our way. as for me, i may have to save your little "booster shot" i get back when i file taxes to wipe my ass with when i can't afford toilet paper in a few months. or maybe i'll save it to eat, when i can't afford food.


file this under fun that i found

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01 March 2008

warning - stuff that came from my child's mouth today

bebe-isms - today has been FULL of them...

exhibit a:

bebe: i want to color ALL NIGHT LONG!
me: (singing "color all night long" to the tune of lional richie's "all night long.")

exhibit b:
i'm in the kitchen, preparing bebe's lunch...

bebe: my name is RILEY, not penis.
me: what did you say?
bebe: ohhhh, i'm just talking to myself, mommy.
me: ok.
bebe: i can sing the bung hole song!
*hums a few bars*
where is buzz lightyear?

exhibit c:

bebe's interpretation of cold war kids' "hang me out to dry" - that he like to randomly sing throughout the day:

hand me all the dragons - you run them out too too too many times!

exhibit d:

we're waiting for our table at waldo pizza ( I GOT OUT OF THE HOUSE!!! YIPPPEE!!!) and riley spies a man with a shaved head. he points and very excitedly exclaims, "look! it is john! from LOST!"

have i mentioned how much i love this child lately?

HOLLY!!! they have vegan pizza AND ms. pac-man! now all you need is your fluffer! ;)



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