29 April 2009

Cue the angry socialist ravings... NOW

I'm pissed off. This is nothing new. It's hard not to be angry if you're a socialist living in North America. What's got my panties twisted today? Two "bigs" I find to be inextricably mixed: Big Food (i.e. Nestlé) and Big Pharma.

Bastards, all of 'em. Nestlé is on my list of evil bastards primarily because of their infant formula marketing. In the 1970s, they were directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of babies because they marketed their formula to poor mothers who didn't have access to clean water. And what are those bastards doing now? Marketing a prebiotic formula, calling it 'natural', and implicitly equating formula with breastmilk, without actually crossing the legal line, but totally pissing on the spirit of the laws. BASTARDS. Bastard coated bastards with bastard fillings. Here's the email:
April 28, 2009

Nestlé has introduced a new line of formulas which it claims mimics the protective properties of breastmilk. The new prebiotic brand, called Nestlé Good Start Natural Cultures, contains Bifidobacteria, a bacteria species that is also found in breastmilk. Nestlé is making the vague claim that this added ingredient will help protect babies.

The new brand is only the latest attempt by the company to equate its formula with breastmilk. While the ad contains the requisite “breast is best” statement, the advertising tagline strongly suggests that Nestlé’s
formula is roughly equivalent to breastmilk. “There are only two places your baby can get natural cultures,” reads the ad, “The first is you. The other
is from Nestlé Good Start Natural Cultures.” No scientific study is cited as proof that the bacterial cultures in this formula have the same effect on
infants as breastmilk. The repeated use of the word “natural” obscures the fact that there is nothing natural about feeding an infant a manufactured substance from a plastic bottle and artificial nipple. To equate this with the naturally-occurring protective bacterial cultures found in breastmilk is deceptive to say the least.

This new additive to formula is simply a marketing ploy. All formulas are composed of virtually the same ngredients, and as such, formula companies have a difficult time distinguishing their brands from others on the market. In the past, companies have introduced new formulas based on claims about additives DHA and ARA, added iron, and whey protein. Now that all formula companies have brands with these additives, Nestlé has decided to add another substance for marketing purposes. It can be expected that other companies will soon follow suit and release their own so-called prebiotic formulas.

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes specifically prohibits health claims for formula under World Health Assembly resolution 58.32. This has not stopped formula companies from making outrageous claims about the properties of their products, without providing any evidence to back them up. As with those before it, this latest additive will do little for the health of infants, but will certainly help line the pockets of one of the world’s wealthiest corporations.

Nestlé has been planning to release this formula for some time, and as such has been resisting the new international standards for the preparation of powdered infant formula. Powdered infant formula has been found to be intrinsically contaminated with Enterobacter sakazakii, a potentially deadly bacteria that has been linked to infant deaths around the world. Because of this, international food standards authorities recently released new recommendations on the preparation of powdered formula to reduce the risk of infection from E. sakazakii by stating that when preparing powdered formula, parents should boil water, cool it to 70 degrees and then add the powder. However, Nestlé strongly opposed this policy change because it knew that such high temperatures would also destroy the so-called “natural cultures”
as well.

Ads for its new formula contain special instructions that temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius will compromise the Bifidobacteria, advising that mothers should cool water to this lower temperature before adding the powder. So not only does Nestlé’s Natural Culture brand falsely claim to protect infants, it can only be prepared in a way that contravenes international guidelines and exposes babies to the potentially deadly threat of Enterobacter sakazakii.
Fuckers. And it's exactly what capitalism calls for. Unadulterated greed. Taking what you can get from anyone. Making more more more. Never mind that it's BABIES that are most at risk here.

And what of Big Pharma? Well, I'm good and mad at those bastards this week too. When doctors started seeing there was a problem with Vioxx, Merck started targeting those doctors. How fucking evil is that? That's Cheneyesque.

And why do I find them to be linked? Here's the thing. Beyond the obvious evil capitalist angle, there's the fact that both of these push shit that isn't good for us. Breastfeeding is inconvenient? Here, feed your kid this garbage perfectly acceptable alternative. No, that's not quite right. Some drugs are necessary, and sometimes formula is necessary (galactosemia, for example). But both pharmaceuticals and infant formulas should be last resorts, not the norms. And both Big Pharma and the formula companies try to normalize it, for their own gain, at our expense. It's absolutely sickening.

23 April 2009

So many things going on!

There are so many stories to cover, and so many demands from my children!

First, there's The Case Against Breastfeeding and a very nice article addressing it.

My take: Breastfeeding is best. It should be supported with everything we have. If I feed my kids fast food every night instead of food from the organic garden growing in my backyard, that's not cool. But if I don't have the support to grow the garden, that's another story.

Then there's Miss California and her bullshit statements against same-sex marriage, and the shitstorm that created. Okay, here's the thing: marriage is both religious and civil. A civil marriage shouldn't be denied to anyone because of the sex organs of the couple. To do so is discrimination by the state. A religious marriage is up to the church to decide on. If the church believes same-sex marriage isn't kosher (ha!) then that's up to them. If the church is, oh, let's call it righteous, and wants to marry two men or two women, well then they should just go ahead and do that. Why is this so hard to understand for the rightards?

Then, there's Earth Day and the utterly fucking ridiculous claim that fat people are "less green". The fat-bashing and fat-hate that continues to sully our society needs to just fucking stop. Now. There are some really damaging myths out there. Like "overeating causes obesity". Think it's true? Go read this. I'm not going to repeat the whole thing here. Gist is, we are genetically predetermined to be a certain weight. If we starve ourselves, we can lose weight, but it will NOT be healthy for our bodies. So quit with the oppressive "Lose weight or you're a drain on society" bullshit.

There are so many stories to cover, and I'm going to let a number of really good ones go by. There's no helping that.

Quote of the day

I think some people don’t really understand the concept of “intolerance.” Being intolerant of someone’s racist, sexist, heterosexist, etc etc opinions is not the same as being intolerant of someone because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, etc etc. There’s a difference between trying to take away someone’s civil rights (or never offering them at all), and voicing your disapproval of a person who is trying to take away a group’s civil rights.

Jill @ Feministe

Excellent, truly. I intend to use this regularly on those who bitch at me for being intolerant of them because they're bigots about gay rights, or whatever they're being bigots about that day.

20 April 2009

Troll feeding

I know, I really shouldn't feed trolls, but it's like feeding squirrels. You know you shouldn't, they're just pests, but sometimes it's just so entertaining.

So, on that note, Denyse O'Leary, a garden-variety bridge troll (not really a 'net troll, but a vile, odious, little thing that spews idiocy, if only in her own space - I don't know of any active trolling on her part), was going on about the decline of people in the pews of the United Church of Canada, a topic she clearly knows nothing about. Though, to be fair, it's pretty clear that all topics fall into that category.

Her "theory" (i.e. idea she pulled out of her ass) is that "the United Church has ceased to have a worldview that would characterize a church." Right... unlike the Roman Catholic church, which, btw, also espouses Darwinism. How many people in Canada have the worldview that birth control is wrong and condoms make the AIDS crisis worse? Not too damn many, but they keep going to church anyway, despite disagreeing fundamentally with their church's dogma and doctrines. Why, I don't know. Because they're sheep? No clue, honestly. My best guess (and unlike Denyse, I can admit this is merely a guess) is that in the Catholic church, there is a strong sentiment that no other church is in any way valid. In fact, the pope recently said as much, calling Protestant churches "faith communities" but not valid churches. Get that drummed into you long enough, and it feels like there is no other place to go to.

What I do know about the declining numbers in the UCC is that the church isn't giving younger people what they want or need in a church. But the problem isn't the politics of the church. It isn't that the church is welcoming of homosexuals, supports free, legal and accessible abortions, darwin's theories or anything else like that. It's that the UCC doesn't offer enough programs for youths, doesn't respect our time crunches (seriously, 10:30am Sunday isn't the only time for worship services! And UCW meetings on Monday mornings are never going to get young women to them. Most of us work on Monday mornings (not me, but that's another story). That was a clue. Try to get it.) The services are often boring, and are almost always the same. Sure, there are some exceptions to this, but it really is the rule. I'm sorry, but my generation likes some entertainment. Singing and dancing and clapping are good things.

It's interesting. The Pentecostal churches (and similar) are very progressive about their services, changing and adapting them all the time, but are very conservative about their ideologies. The UCC is very conservative about their services, often singing hymns from 300 years ago, but is quite progressive in its doctrines, adapting and changing as the people do, and as we learn more from the scholars. The Catholic Church, otoh, changes nothing except the music, which is quite nice and contemporary.

I was going somewhere else with this post, but my train of thought derailed. Should it come back on track, I'll finish. Otherwise, I'll just leave it here.

18 April 2009

My Heroes

I'm a little late to the party, but I just wanted say that the women who protested the rape law in Afghanistan are heroes. I am forever humbled by their courage. Those women protested an immoral and completely misogynistic law at the expense of their safety. The men who hurled rocks at them are cowards, assholes and truly awful people. I've said it before, I'll say it again:

The most dangerous thing a woman (or anyone) can do, is to try to take power from a man.

Wars are fought over power struggles. Domestic abuse is about power (i.e. "Remember who has the power here, Bitch"). From the smallest violence, to the biggest world war, it's all about power.

Anyway, now that I've gone off on a tangent, I'm going back to what heroes these women are to me. Here's why: I'm a big ol' coward.

Seriously, there's not a hope I'd go out and protest at the risk of being killed. I have kids to raise and protect. I have a home I'm comfortable in. I'm a pretty average Canadian. We don't like to rock the boat. Getting screwed? Oh well. Not much we can do about it.

It's really pathetic when you think about it. What are we doing about the injustices going on in our country? Sweet fuck all. Where was the protesting when the govt took away pay equity protection? Where is the pot and pan banging when rapists go free or get just a few months in the clink? Why do we let this shit go on?

It reminds me of the Easter story in the Bible. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the horse, and the people cheered him on, and hardly a week later, he was crucified, with the same people either cheering for the crucifixion or standing by wringing their hands. Why? Were those people like me, scared of what they could lose? Or were they just caught up in the excitement of it all? First with the parade and then with the crucifixion?

And really, it doesn't matter why they did what they did. But it is something we can learn from. Those people, with their passivity, failed to protect Jesus from an unjust and painful death. We fail to stand up for justice with ours.

Funny how Muslim women from the other side of the world can teach me a lesson about how to be a better Christian.

16 April 2009

So Obama won't be prosecuting the torturers. Big surprise. Not.

Well, pardon the fuck out of me, but since when is "I was only following orders" a valid defense for violating all sorts of laws? I'd say Obama is a coward for doing this, but I'm rather certain it has nothing to do with cowardice and everything to do with political advantage.

My FIL, whom I mentioned in my last post, is a conservative. At least we agree on one thing: politicians suck. Every last one of 'em is not to be be trusted.

Oh, and am I the only one who saw this "Interrogators were told not to allow a prisoner's body temperature or caloric intake to fall below a certain level, because either could cause permanent damage" and thought of abusive assholes who kidney punch so that they don't leave marks everyone can see?

11 April 2009

On Hold

My in-laws should be arriving any second now. The result is that I'll be unable to blog until they leave, unless I can steal some time with the laptop in my bedroom (unlikely).

I should have some good stuff to bitch about on Thursday though. They're Catholic and Conservatives* and they like to pick fights with me (though not as much their perfect son, whom I have completely and utterly ruined for them. My theory is that he just argues better than I do. But don't tell him that!) And my father in law doesn't like the food I cook. I'm not sure which is more annoying. Conservative vs. disses my cooking... Close call. :)

(My Mother in law actually tried to argue for a flat tax rate once. She couldn't grok at all why a 30% tax rate for everyone wasn't fair to people who only make $10,000 per year)

10 April 2009

Good Friday stream of consciousness

Today is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the death of Jesus. Bear with me through this post, even if you aren't Christian. :)

I went to church this morning and it was a very lovely service. Our church and a neighbouring church joined our services together, because for some reason I don't grok at all, Good Friday turnout is low. After the service, they did something really cool. They went on a Cross-Walk. They took a cross from a nearby park, and carried it back to the church, stopping along the way to reflect on social justice issues. I didn't participate because I've not recovered enough from the surgery to manage that. But I think it was a really nifty idea.

One of the morals of the story of Jesus's death and resurrection is that sacrifice leads to salvation. We are so wrapped up in our own wants, that we often forget others needs. Jesus didn't do that. He obviously wanted to live, to be freed from his pain. And he clearly had the wherewithal to do so. But he didn't. That's an amazing thing to me. To give up one's life for the eternal life of someone else? Incredible.

Jesus challenged the establishment at every turn. From saving a woman from a horrible (but legal) death, to kicking the moneylenders out of the temple, right up to announcing that he was the Messiah. He said that no, it wasn't okay to overlook someone's suffering because of social convention. He said that every time we pass by the poor, hungry, lame, imprisoned, we pass him by. But we keep doing it. We seem to have lost the ability to sacrifice our own desires for the needs of others.

I think this is why the "Christian Conservatives" frustrate me so very very much. I cannot figure out their motives, or how they can possibly reconcile the two movements. As far as I can tell, the Conservatives want to ignore any suffering that isn't theirs. Women and children being brutally and systematically raped in Africa? Not our problem. Homelessness and joblessness everywhere, including here in our country? Still, not our problem. We have jobs, so should they! Lazy bums. Huge numbers of people imprisoned for crimes that hurt no one (possession of marijuana comes to mind)? Let 'em rot. They made their beds, let 'em lie in them.

In my community, there are houses worth millions of dollars. Houses that could shelter hundreds of people in relative comfort. In my community, there are homeless people. There are hospitals filled to the brims, with people lined up in hallways waiting to have a room. In my community, the government spends billions of dollars on sporting events. In my community, there are food banks. In my community, people leave food on their plates at restaurants because the portions are so big. In my community, there are mentally handicapped people living on the streets, because no one takes responsibility for them.

The society we live in is responsible for all the members, and each member has a responsibility to act to the best of his or her ability. Certainly all of us fail at some point or other, to a greater or lesser extent. Jesus forgives these transgressions. But somehow, many of his followers do not. Now, I understand that sometimes we cannot forgive, but I cannot understand the belief that we shouldn't at least try. Trying to forgive is another example of sacrifice, after all. It is hard to give up one's hatred and anger.

If Jesus comes back today, what will he look like? A dirty, bearded, jobless guy who regularly begs a meal off of people? Why not? That's who he was the first time. Keep that in mind next time you walk past the guy on the street asking for spare change.

08 April 2009

So Mark Peters says that Lunney is next in the witch hunt (and OMG, but if that isn't the most ironic choice of a phrase EVER). He challenges: Would that a few more Christians, Jews and Muslims from all parties would step forward and confirm their faith publicly.

Okay, well, I'm not exactly a public figure, but if any of the schmucks in office are anything like me, and I happen to know that many of them are (there are a number of UCC clergy in politics), then they believe in God, the Creator, AND evolution. The vast majority of Christians don't believe in the young earth crap. The vast majority of us are smart enough not to take every word of the bible literally when, HELLO, there are two separate creation stories, and they contradict each other. Duh.

Let me make this as clear as I can: I am Christian. I believe in God, the Creator, the Great Spirit, whatever you want to call him/her/it/them. I have no problem whatsoever reconciling that with evolution. For all I know, it's a grand plan. Just as I personally can and do grow and change, so does the species, so does the earth, so does the universe.

Why is this so difficult for them to understand? Oh, right. Because they're idiots.

p.s. Can anyone tell me how the literalists handle the outright contradictory creation stories? I'm honestly curious.

06 April 2009

Why doesn't she just leave?

My prayers and deepest sympathy are with Angela Harrison today. Her asshole husband killed all five of her children, and then himself, because she said she was leaving him.

This, dear reader, should once and for all clear up the question, "Why doesn't she just leave?"

Because this shit can happen, and many many women are in a situation of being threatened with it. He says, "I'll kill the kids" or "I'll kill your dog" or "I'll kill your parents" or "I'll kill all your friends" or "I'll hunt you down and make you pay for the rest of your days and then I'll kill you".

Ask yourself something next time you wonder why some woman doesn't leave an abusive relationship. How easily could you disappear tomorrow? Without credit cards. I mean disappear. No contact with your friends, your family, your job. With no money. And could you do it with your kids and pets? Or would you have to leave them behind? And if you could get out of there, would it haunt you every day of your life, wondering if he was still looking for you? Wondering if he'd made good on his promises to hurt the people you love?

And after all that, remember that this woman has likely been told over and over that she is no good without the man, that she can't survive without him, that she's worthless, and that she needs a man (especially that man) to survive. Lemme tell ya, someone tells you that over and over, you WILL eventually believe him.

So now, you're broke, alone, scared for your safety, the safety of your friends and family, and you believe that you're worthless. Why leave? Why not just stay and suck it up to protect your family, after all, you're the worthless one, right?

Yeah. Right.

My prayers go out to people in abusive situations. May you find the strength, support and resources to get out. And may you have better luck than Angela Harrison.

03 April 2009

A Safe Ride

BC Transit leaves a lot to be desired. There is no bus service to the University of Victoria after 12:30AM. So if one is downtown at the clubs, one either goes home way early, relies on taxis (which lots of people can't afford), or drives - usually after drinking. Not good. So when this story from the Martlet (the UVic newspaper) about a service to shuttle students from downtown to UVic came out (also here at Canada.com), I was more than a little pleased.

However, there's a rather major hole in this plan: Rajit Thind is a sex offender. He was convicted of sexual assault on a woman who flagged down his taxi cab. I cannot find any stories about this online. Here's the local Times Colonist headlines. Nothing. Squat. There's also nothing on CHEK news's website, and CHEK news is where I first heard this story.

So I have a few questions. First, how in hell did this asshole get a license to run a shuttle service? He lost his taxi license, but he can run a shuttle bus? WTF? Second, why in hell isn't this plastered all over the news?! A sex offender is offering a safe ride service to drunk university students, and this isn't front page news? It is clear that the safety of women isn't a big concern. Third, why why why is a sex offender not given restrictions on who he can spend time around? i.e. "Asshole shall not be alone with women ..." etc.


This is what women like? Really?

I've been watching daytime TV. I know, shoot me, right? Here's the thing. With a new baby, I'm doing a lot of sitting in my recliner, crocheting, and watching TV, because it's too hard to surf the web and nurse the baby. And I've come to the conclusion that either the women who watch daytime TV are dreadfully stupid (not to mention white, middle class, drones), or networks think we are, and we're too passive to do anything about it.

Near as I can tell, daytime tv for women boils down to people telling us how we fail at being parents and wives and what we can do to be perfect in every way. And the shows that aren't this are those that are aimed at people who revel in other people's misery (see: Jerry Springer and various episodes of Dr.Phil - though Dr. Phil is also great for telling women how we fail).

Some of the worst offenders, IMO:

The Mom Show: Two upper middle class, stay-at-home, thin, blonde, white women host this monstrosity. They jabber at each other and the camera in front of a kitchen worth more than my house. Then they have some "experts" on to either tell you what you're doing wrong with your kids, that your clothes aren't good enough, that your home isn't good enough, and that you aren't blowing your husband enough.
Worst part: The hostesses are thin blondes, the therapist "expert" is a thin blonde, the nanny is a fat black woman, the doctor is a white man (on the MOM SHOW). The hosts get giggly and giddy with the male guests, especially the handyman types.

Dr. Phil: O.M.G. I can't do this justice, as my brain explodes inside my skull if I hear his voice for more than about 5 minutes. I *hate* Dr. Phil. If he were on fire, I'd put him out. By throwing him into the ocean. His shows are either about miserable, stupid, vapid assholes, or they're not about him and his friends. And then they still suck.
The worst part: People seem to like this dumb fuck. I've actually had friends quote him at me. Seriously, every time I hear "Dr. Phil says..." I die a little inside.

Oprah: Oh Oprah. You do so much good in the world. But could you shut the fuck up about your weight already? Is it too much to ask that you focus on healthy eating and just be happy with whatever your body does with it?
And honestly lady, "vagina". Say it with me now: Va-gi-na. Not vajayjay. If I hear that ridiculous term again I may have Dr. Phil berate, humiliate, analyze you.

Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, etc.: Capitalizing on misery and stupidity. Hmm. Sounds like they're Conservatives. Need I say more? No, I thought not.

Judge _____: Any show that starts with the word "Judge" or ends with "Court" is another one that capitalizes on misery and stupidity. These are the original reality tv shows. The only reason to watch these is for the quality snark from the judges, and watching stupid people show off their massive idiocy (like watching Conservatives talk). Even the snark isn't redeeming enough for me to watch more than a few seconds. p.s. One of the people I do tech support for thinks this is real. It's about as real as pro wrestling. At least, I hope so. If not, I just may go watch Dr. Phil for a while.

Steven and Chris: AKA Gay and Gayer. Yeah yeah, I have no problem with homosexuality, obviously. What I do have a problem with is the media portrayal of the gay man as fun, flaming and boisterous, but most of all asexual. If either of these guys actually said anything about sex, I suspect they'd be gone faster than a decent drama on Fox (Oh Fox, you bastards, I'm still mad at you about Firefly). And the more flamboyant one, Steven I think, needs to STFU and let the guests speak. That is Beyond Annoying.
The Worst: Now, not only is this a show for women about how we can be the perfect women, it's fed to us by a couple of white men.
The VERY Worst: The cooking segments are good enough that I sometimes catch myself watching this inanity.

WARNING: The following review may does contain language that may make your mother weep.
The Doctors: I hate doctors with a fiery burning passion. And The Doctors? They make me livid with a rage bordering on clinical insanity. I condemn these shit-eating dogs to suck devil cock in hell. Why? Why you ask? Because I've counted, and the longest period of time from me turning to that channel and one of those ratfuckers mentioning the "obesity epidemic" is less than 3 minutes. Really? is that enough for such a condemnation, MsFCS? Why no, not really. But add in that they're doctors, and that one of the panel of regulars is a plastic surgeon, and that *I* personally have caught factual errors in what they've said (and I'm no medical professional), AND that they feed us the mainstream medical bullshit, while mocking alternative medicines, well, I think they can go piss into a transformer.
The Worst Part: EVERYTHING. Who pays for this show? Ah yes, drug companies. May their houses be on CNN.

01 April 2009

Legalising rape

So the Afghan government has pushed through some barbaric legislation allowing husbands to rape their wives - or that is, "Article 132 requires women to obey their husband's sexual demands and stipulates that a man can expect to have sex with his wife at least "once every four nights" when travelling, unless they are ill. The law also gives men preferential inheritance rights, easier access to divorce, and priority in court."

When travelling? What about when not travelling? That little piece baffled me. But regardless, women are required to obey their husband's sexual demands? WTF?

There are so many places to go with this story. So many.

First, because it interests me, the religious aspect of it. Apparently, the law was passed to appease the small Shia minority who are a block of swing voters. Now, first of all, that makes me sick - that human rights are traded for votes. I suppose I should be more jaded, but I'm just not. But the other thing about this is the fact that this sort of treatment of women is NOT mandated by the Koran (Qu'ran, if you're a purist). Furthermore, there is nothing in the Hadith that suggests that Mohammed was approving of this behaviour. So, again, wtf? Now, I know what you're going to say (that is, if you think like I do, and a pity for you if you do!), since when do religious people follow the rules of their churches and not co-opt them for the own agendas? Well, they don't, and that's my point. This is only religious in the sense that a bunch of people who follow Islam have added these rules in an attempt to control women. It's very reminiscent of the way that extremist Christians have added a bunch of odd rules that have no, or very little biblical backing, and then calling it a matter of religion. For example, there are a number of sects that don't allow women to cut their hair, but insist on brush cuts for men. Weird. The thing of it is, the extremists with their controlling rules make it part of the religion when there is no basis for it, as a way of making it God's rules. Rules that cannot be broken without divine implications. Also, it makes it so that they, as God's tool (ha!) can punish those who break the rules. It's insidious.

Second, we have the problem of not being part of the culture, and well, is it okay to tell them how to behave? Most of the time I say "No. Their country, their culture, their rules". However, when the women of that country are saying that this isn't okay with them, then no, I say we step up and help. Besides, isn't that the bullshit reason that we were given for our military to be there? Well, now they actually do need the help, so step up and do it, or GTFO.

Canada NEEDS to help put a stop to this shit. And we need to do something about the atrocities in Africa too. It's a cliché, but if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. And I'm not sure how much of the solution we are right now.






(I've seen this posted all over, so I'm not leaving a h/t. Suffice it to say, y'all are quicker than I am about finding these stories!)