Empowering ourselves, one pill at a time

According to the Washington Post, the FDA has postponed ruling on whether to allow access without prescription to the so-called morning after pill, Plan B. In a move that the Post describes as a common practice for the Bush administration, FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford announced the delay late last Friday.


“At 3 p.m., when Congress was out of town and millions of Americans (and more than a few journalists) were headed for the beach or the mountains, the agency sent out an e-mail message that it would be holding a news conference at its Rockville headquarters one hour later.”


With a mere seven journalists present, the agency said it was delaying ruling ” because of unresolved regulatory issues.”


The Post , however, had this to say regarding the administration’s late-hour antics:


“The Bush administration is hardly the first to release potentially bad or controversial news late on Fridays—when news operations, and the public, tend to be least tuned in—but it has emerged as one of the more consistent practitioners.


“On Friday, June 10, for instance, the Agriculture Department announced at 8 p.m. that mad cow disease had possibly been found in a second American animal—news that could upset the beef market. The timing was unusual because the animal had first been tested more than six months before.


“When USDA released the news two weeks ago that the animal did indeed have mad cow disease, it was again on a Friday afternoon when many reporters couldn’t make it to the department headquarters, and a teleconference was set up. After a statement from Secretary Mike Johanns, reporters began asking questions. Soon after, the telephone hookup failed and was never restored.”


It remains to be seen what the outcome will be regarding Plan B, but, like so many other laws and regulations made throughout history in regard to women’s health, it’s time for women to take matters into their own hands no matter what the final decision, as they have done for centuries.


In the early 1900s Margaret Sanger pioneered birth control access and information in an age when women routinely gave birth to a child a year, even though she was jailed on many occasions and was forced to flee to Europe.


In 1969 in Chicago women created a system where women could call ” Jane,” and get information and referral to a safe, albeit illegal, abortion.


This year it’s Plan B, which prevents implantation of a fertilized egg, and therefore pregnancy, if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. While many believe it’s another form of abortion—considering a fertilized egg a child—the fact is that many women, when faced with a potential unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, will decide to terminate. Plan B alleviates the need for an actual, surgical abortion, in addition to the cost and emotional distress the procedure inevitably brings.

Every woman should keep Plan B in their medicine cabinet, if not for themselves (c’mon, we’ve all had a condom break, or realized we’ve forgotten to take the pill one day), but for their fellow women. Many pharmacies, and even states, do not carry Plan B, and outright refuse to provide it. Others go so far as to deny women access to birth control. How far back have we slid?


It’s up to women to take care of other women, and ensure that if the panicked phone call comes at 7 a.m. from one of your girlfriends, freaking out over the night before, you’ve got her covered. It’s illegal, yes, but it’s also immoral for a bunch of rich white men to dictate women’s lives. Or, in lieu of that, direct her to this Website.

Congratulations Chris & Becky!

Ah, weddings…

I hate them.

Don’t ask me why, I find them tedious and hard to stomach, and I generally go out of my way to avoid them.

(A feat I’ve managed to do personally for 34 years as well! muwahaah! Ahem…. )

However, I’ve been exceptionally lucky to have been to two this year—one for what was technically Jon and Darrell’s one year wedding anniversary (since they’d gotten hitched in SF the year before), and Chris & Becky’s shindig this weekend—which have not only been tolerable, but a lot of fun.

Too much fun, some might say!

Of course, it doesn’t take two folks pledging to sit across from the breakfast table every day for the rest of their lives to get me all excited. In fact, all it really takes is some cheesy ’80s music, some merlot, and a few of my friends.

And Saturday provided the perfect combination, and as I acted out the part of Jennifer Beals in Flashdance as the deejay played “Maniac,” and Darrell and I sang A-ha’s “Take on Me” a wee bit too dramatically (I think we missed our Broadway calling!), I found myself glad they’d decided to not so much take the plunge—they’re perfect for each other, I can’t imagine it any other way—but to invite me.

Because, I’ll be honest, I was feeling pretty low when we arrived at the Powel House for the ceremony, and nearly lost it when the part of the vows mentioned, “These are the hands of your best friend.”

But the ceremony was simple and very unique and very cool. (The only other time I’ve had to stand shoulder to shoulder with a stranger and turn and get all peace/love/happiness was in church, but this was way better minus the fire and brimstone!)

And, unlike the familial nuptial freakshow nightmare I’d dodged the weekend before, I felt really good to see these two say, “I do.”

Because after all, if you can’t gather your friends and family around you in joy as you pledge to stick together come hell or high water ’til death do you part, don’t you think your life raft may already be starting to sink?

The Germans slay me!

I think the Germans are brilliant, especially following a piece in Der Spiegel that I highly recommend:
"It’s all because of Cindy Sheehan — a mother whose son Casey died in the war in Iraq — and her disgruntlement with the ongoing violence there. For weeks, she has been besieging the ranch near Crawford where US President George W. Bush has been spending his astonishingly lengthy vacation. With the unassailable authority of a grieving mother, Sheehan asks the question that the rest of America is also beginning to ask: For what, exactly, are our children dying?"

New Orleans’ skeletons to roam free

So, Katrina’s kicking the south’s ass: water pumps have quit in New Orleans, Mississippi ‘s getting drowned, and soon, according to the Associated Press via the Freep, corpses, chemicals and raw crap should be floating around the French Quarter and beyond.


“When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans today, it could turn one of America’s most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city’s legendary cemeteries.”


Referring to the levees that hold the water out of the city as turning the city into a giant bowl of toxic goo, the piece gives the comforting news that, “The nightmare scenario gets worse: sewers could back up, spreading disease like malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, West Nile Virus and dengue fever, all of which pay calls at one of the nation’s biggest and oldest ports. Coffins could pop out of the shallow ground. And toxic chemicals could join the mix if petrochemical plants to the west break up.”




My favorite quote, however, is from One News in New Zealand:


“Artist Matt Rinard, who owns a business in the French Quarter, holed up on the fifth floor of a Canal Street hotel and watched the storm roll in.


He said pieces of sheet metal and plywood, billboards and pieces of palm trees flew down Canal, which borders the Quarter, as huge gusts of wind blew through the city.


‘It’s blustery. You can see the speed of it now, it’s unbelievable," he said. "The power went out about an hour and a half ago and so now I’m just watching the occasional dumbass walking down Canal Street.'”

U.S. planted evidence in Lockerbie

Mags forwarded me an article tonight on a story that is very close to my heart: the Dec. 21, 1988 Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people—259 in the air and 11 on the ground.

Following a lengthy trial, on Jan. 31, 2001, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan, was convicted of murder. He has always maintained his innocence.

A piece in the U.K. Scotsman may back that assertion up:

“A former Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.

“The retired officer—of assistant chief constable rank or higher—has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people.”

Having spent time in Lockerbie, staying with and interviewing countless residents, the overwhelming feeling regarding the bombing, 17 years on, is that it is a neverending saga, a story that sees news crews descend upon the town whenever any bit of information is learned regarding the bombing.

They have never been allowed to move on.

“An insider told Scotland on Sunday that the retired officer approached them after Megrahi’s appeal—before a bench of five Scottish judges—was dismissed in 2002.

The insider said: ‘He said he believed he had crucial information. A meeting was set up and he gave a statement that supported the long-standing rumours that the key piece of evidence, a fragment of circuit board from a timing device that implicated Libya, had been planted by US agents.’”

“The case is starting to unravel largely because when they wrote the script, they never expected to have to act it out. Nobody expected agreement for a trial to be reached, but it was, and in preparing a manufactured case, mistakes were made.”

And this, I fear, will only make things worse. Not only is our government—surprise, surprise—guilty of fabricating (or, in this case, planting) evidence to serve a political agenda, the truth of what happened, and who’s at fault, is still unknown, tearing open fresh wounds and keeping everyone involved in the tragedy, both in Scotland and the U.S., from moving on and healing.

Hate: It’s the New Black

I have a hard time with extreme emotions. Good or bad, when something sends your psyche in one direction or the other with such force it causes almost physical pain, it just seems like not such a good thing to me. Kind of like a large sundae – a regular sized one is awesome, but too much of something and you’re yakking hot fudge through your nostrils.

Unfortunately, right now I am filled with one such extreme emotion: hate.

A mixture of anger, rage, sadness and total disappointment have culminated in the desire to express myself via a lead pipe. Fortunately, for myself and my criminal record, and the object of my hatred, I’m probably not going to follow through. But, we all need our fantasies, don’t we?

Of course, blood and gore fantasies aside, the fact remains that when someone in your life you love and trust turns out to be the polar opposite of what you’d thought they were, and they’d represented themselves to be, it’s devastating, and makes you question everything from who they actually are, to who you are and what’s wrong with you to allow yourself to be put in this situation.

That’s where I’m at right now, and I cannot even begin to fathom how long it’s going to take me to get back to center and who I remember I am.

But, at least I know who and what I’m not, and take comfort in the fact that I’m not a self-centered manipulative alcoholic who either cannot remember what I have or have not done or said, or choose to change history to better mesh with the version I’d rather have (tell me, which is more embarrassing? or less?).

Someone who cannot hold a job, friends or lovers save for the one person who is just as much a manipulative loser as myself, who all my friends and family dislike so much we had to get married in secret (Although we did tell our friends, just not our family members, what we were going to do) and, when we became pregnant, the universal response was, “God that sucks.”

And I’ve never consciously dragged anyone down with me in a feeble attempt to run from the pain-ridden, disastrous past I’ve created, only to turn around and fuck it up yet again, only this time for good.

Because, I take small comfort in the fact that I have learned, over the years, that the mantra, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” is not the rule to live by, and the demons will always follow, sitting at the foot of the bed, waiting to nudge you awake at 3 a.m., not matter what continent you’re on.

And not matter how lame it is, I always have a job, and my family and my friends who will gather around me to comfort me and cheer me up because, as neurotic as I can be, I have always been, and will hopefully always be, myself: drunk, sober, happy, sad, funny, annoying, making a fool of myself out on the dance floor. (see: Congrats Chris & Becky)

I just wish I didn’t have to feel such anger, hurt and resentment. But soon my city will be free of the west coast bullshit mindfuck, and the only other thing I want to know about the object of my hate is that he’s dead, however many years from now that may be. Although he’s certainly halfway there on his own….

I’m Matt Taibbi’s biggest fan!

Okay, so, one of my favorite journos — Matt Taibbi — has a piece in Rolling Stone about Cindy Sheehan.

I can’t decide if I aspire to be him, or to kidnap him a la Misery and force him to write funny shit for me all day long….

His writing makes Mark Morford look like he’s trying too hard…

Maybe I need to kidnap them both (Mags, you got the rope ready?!) and make them out-write each other all day long! Yeah!!!

Crawford, the home of President George W. Bush, is a sun-scorched hole of a backwater Texas town — a single dreary railroad crossing surrounded on all sides by roasted earth the color of dried dog shit. There are scattered clumps of trees and brush, but all the foliage seems bent from the sun’s rays and ready at any moment to burst into flames.

The moaning cattle along the lonely roads sound like they’re begging for their lives. The downtown streets are empty. Just as the earth is home to natural bridges, this place is a natural dead end — the perfect place to drink a bottle of Lysol, wind up in a bad marriage, have your neck ripped out by a vulture.

Death by derailleur

Okay, so, being the karmic disaster courting sourpuss I am, I’ve thought for a long time that drivers’ license tests should include an IQ portion, along with a gauge of just how much common sense each potential driver possesses.


Granted, not that I haven’t done stupid shit while behind the wheel, not even including the uber-stupid coffee/radio/cell phone trinity I employ on an embarrassingly regular basis.


I’m talking about not actually paying attention to what’s going on outside the thousand-plus pound hunk of metal that is totally, and utterly, under your control.


Like looking out for cyclists.


Now, my bike ain’t all that, but no matter how heavy it might be, it does not even begin to come close to the potential for death and dismemberment every dumbass behind the wheel possesses each time they put their foot on the accelerator.


Yesterday’s ride reminded me of that, and after berating dumbass driver No. 999 I realized it’s hopeless, and before long I’m simply going to replace the frame pump with a shotgun.


Unfortunately, and it’s not even a full moon, it was pedestrians and other cyclists who were the recipients of most of my ire. Having tweaked a handful of old back injuries earlier in the week pretending I was Lance Armstrong in the Pyrenees, I was relegated to the relatively flat, geezer lands of the Schuykill trail, which is approximately 8 miles around and paved …


… thus making it fertile breeding ground for all manner of potential Darwin award winners employing various modes of transport – bikes, roller blades and, of course, feet.


Unfortunately, unlike the metal beasts I’ve grown accustomed to weaving around and (usually) avoiding, the human obstacle is not only far less predictable than the industrial behemoth, it feels pain.


And is breakable.


When some idiot steps in front of me I always think of the time when a fellow messenger (back in the day, y’all – I’m still a deskmonkey) hit a woman who stepped off the Market Street curb without looking … and ruptured her spleen. (In a rare show of SF cop coolness, the officer at the scene slipped a ticket into her handbag as they carted her away…)


Either way, there seemed to be an inordinate number of Sunday riders/skaters/walkers for a Thursday evening, and by the time I screamed at the trio of cyclists on Huffys riding three across to ” MOVE OVER” as I barreled toward them, my calm, soothing ride was just a figment.


Especially, after yelling at them to get out of the goddamned way, I heard them scream as they crashed into one another, novices unable to control their two-wheeled metal any better than idiots in cars …


… and I laughed.

Current TV still sucks

I still hate Current TV. In fact, I hate it more and more every day, as I’m clicking through hundreds of channels with nothing on, looking for just a wee oasis of calm, cool, collected assurance that it sucks, yeah, but only in the U.S.


Unfortunately, bastards at Current TV responded to my hatred for their piece of shit “product” with the following:




I wanted to let you know that I received your email. We appreciate all feedback. NWI had ardent fans, but ultimately not enough of them. Please know that I definitely understand why you’re disappointed. For CBC programming, check out their site at www.cbc.ca.  


I know that they plan on streaming videos on their website. If they are not offering a particular program that you would like, it might be worth a shot to contact the folks at their site to petition them to offer more. You can reach them at input@cbc.ca.



“Current TV Drone”


Blargh. I will not contact NWI, I shouldn’t have to. Everything was fine until Al Gore decided to, again, fuck shit up for the rest of us.


Instead, I would like anyone and everyone to contact Current TV (lower right hand corner. Fuckwits appear to be hiding behind small e-mail font size…) and tell them how bad they suck. And, maybe, pass this along to them.

It’s only a felony if it’s not adding to productivity

Ooookay, it’s getting really weird now in a sci-fi, growing ever more disturbing twinge of pain in belly warning of catastrophic Ridley Scott-esque future where cars fly and people are just milling about like droids in order to perpetuate the myth that we are still human beings.

I’m talking about the latest potential, legal, pill the men (and, of course, women) in the white lab coats are developing to help up live fuller, more productive lives …

… as we wander, zombie-like, from shit job to shit job.

As reported in Forbes, “Researchers at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., say an experimental drug called CX717 temporarily improved performance and reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in the brains of monkeys.”

It seems good ol’ CX717 boosts the neurotransmitter glutamate, essentially causing our gray matter to jump-start itself, bringing work performance following the human equivalent of three days of sleep deprivation “back to normal levels.’”

This frightens me. Quite frankly, I’m all for sleep. I love sleep. I think sleep is the best thing in the world; I’d do more of it if I could. In fact, my absolute fantasy is waking up well-rested with no alarm clock, nothing to force me to get out from under my Ikea dead-duck fluff blankie into the cold, harsh reality of life, with, ideally, someone else under the duvet with me to keep me there for as many hours as I’d like.

Yet somehow I don’t think this is what the researchers had in mind. In fact, call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’m thinking something far more sinister. If costs a lot of money to develop new drugs and therapies — this has got to have a bottom-line friendly side-effect.

Forbes, and the researchers themselves, back me up on this theory: “A drug that could reverse the effects of sleep deprivation would be regarded by some as a breakthrough in helping health professionals, shift workers, military personnel and others required to function at top level while coping with sleep deficits, the researchers said.”

And that, my friends, is the scariest part of all. If I were a scumbag CEO head honcho looking to increase profits and productivity without actually having to hire more bodies (and thus, pay out for more of everything — from benefits to toilet paper in bathrooms, while still insuring my multi-billion dollar paycheck and golden parachute if it all, ultimately, goes to hell) I’d find a way to make more stuff with less workers.

And, until robots can effectively take our places, let’s create a nice little pill, give it a catchy name — CX717, practically sings R2D2 — and watch all the workers bees scramble to get things done!

I wonder, though, if the long term side effects, such as hallucinations, rotten teeth and homicidal rage, are the same as with this little miracle’s street version … a.k.a. speed.