Tuesday, March 30, 2004

When Will Lady Liberty Reopen?

September 11 was over two and a half years ago. The main architectural symbol of our country's liberty, the Statue of Liberty, remains closed. It is going to be at least another four months before the country determines that enough changes have been made to it to be "safe" enough to enter.

I can certainly understand why the statue was closed in September of 2001, but it's not clear why the statue has stayed closed for so long.

September 11 was over two and a half years ago. The main legal symbol of our country's liberty, the Constitution, remains under attack by the current administration. It's going to be at least another year before a more rational Federal government can throw out the "Patriot" Act. It's going to be at least another year before a lot of people, a number of whom did nothing more than be in the wrong place at the wrong time, can fight for their freedom to return home.

I could understand why it was important to pick up any would-be terrorists. But, as an American, the "Patriot" Act is contrary to our Constitution. The single biggest attack to America since 9/11 has been from our own government. Pity that.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Reclaiming Another "F" Word...

During the '80s, a word many of us used proudly in the '70s practically became practically a swear in the mouths of right-wing extremists. So non-right wing extremists often stopped using the word. Or some people apologized for using it.

No, Peter Jackson, that "f" word isn't "fantasy" -- it's the word "feminist."

I've been an ardent feminist since before I even knew there was such a word. In the early '60s, when I was just in kindergarten, I just felt that girls and boys were treated differently. It probably didn't help that I was hardly a typical '60s little girl - I was pretty argumentative, got low marks on "following directions," had dreadful printing and liked to read. Despite these "impediments," I generally got along pretty well with my teachers because they saw I was bright and liked to learn.

Feminists, to a point, have been pushed back into various closets over the last 15 years or so. The first closet was to stop using the word as a positive self-identifier. The second closet was to pretend that feminism isn't important. The 2000 election and its aftermath should demonstrate that feminism is very important.

Under "pro-life" people like George Bush, tens of thousands of poor women around the world have died or been maimed by back alley abortions or bad birth control since family "planning" agencies are restricted about talking about these issues if they received money from the US government. Hundreds of thousands of poor women have died from childbirth (more than did previously) because our government thinks appeasing the "religious right" is more important than passing out condoms.

I'm a feminist, and I'm going to be one of several hundred thousand feminists to rally in favor of family planning, both in the US and around the world in Washington on April 25. The global gag order has got to stop. The only way it's going to stop is to elect John Kerry.

Friday, March 26, 2004


The point of my countdown this week has been to announce that today is my last day at Pitt. I'm starting a new job on Monday with PennFuture!

Thursday, March 25, 2004


I heard Richard Clarke say something yesterday that people from our government never say:

     We failed you...I failed you...

Politicians and government officials, particularly in this administration, are notorious about saying

     Mistakes were made...the government isn't working

But it's very rare to hear people admit their mistakes. I don't blame 9/11 on Richard Clarke (there's plenty of blame to go around); I'm not convinced that terrorists can always be stopped. However, in order to have any hope of stopping terrorists, everyone needs to be more careful.

Most importantly, the branches of the government need to cooperate. When government agencies were cooperating during the run-up to the Millennium, the government foiled at least two different foreign terrorist attacks. People were being careful; they took the possibility of attack seriously. We didn't need a civil-liberties-inhibiting Patriot Act to track down real terrorists. But once the year 2000 was ushered in safely, people went back to being on auto-pilot.

I normally don't run out and buy the latest "government scandal" book, but I probably will go out and buy Richard Clarke's book, Against All Enemies, on his time in the Bush administration.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


And, as of today, Dead People Server has had its 3,000,000th visitor in just over five years. Not bad for a site without any advertising and that doesn't play any stupid browser tricks...

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

An Unexpected Response to The Passion of the Christ

I've read many reviews of The Passion of the Christ. I decided I just couldn't see it due to its violence and historical revisionism. Many reviewers have been apologetic about the violence and completely ignored its intellectual dishonesty. The movie threw out both history and the Bible, and used the writings of a 19th century German mystic as its screenplay, presenting this one view as "fact." As a result, the fact that hundreds of thousands of Jews, slaves and political prisoners were crucified by the Romans was completely ignored. Jesus was one man in a large and non-exclusive club.

I was stunned to find a fairly negative commentary on the movie in, of all places, the National Catholic Reporter. Tom Beaudoin's "The anti-Christian Passion of the Christ" is a very eloquent look the anti-Semitism of this movie. I highly recommend it. Beaudoin is a writer and lecturer at Boston College.

Thursday, March 04, 2004


Oh well...

The Lord of the Rings movies made me a huge fan of Viggo Mortensen. I was never much of a fan of his until late in the movie Fellowship of the Ring (when he tells Frodo he would have followed him to the depths of Mordor), when I realized that, with the right director and right material, the man is a magnificent actor. I even enjoyed him throughout The Two Towers, despite the focus on the battle of Helm's Deep (in the book The Two Towers, the battle of Helm's Deep lasts about 12 pages). And he's just great in Return of the King - it is his movie, after all.

So I've been debating for months - will I bother to go to Hidalgo (which is about horses, something I really don't care about) or will I not bother (though I'm now a Viggo fan)?

Ultimately, I love history. I was pissed off by the movie Elizabeth, despite the great performance by Cate Blanchett, because the history was just so wrong. At an amazing number of points in the movie, the historical facts do not correspond to the movie. So Elizabeth should never have been marketed as "a true story."

So I've decided to bypass Hidalgo. Movie studios should never promote a movie as "based on a true story" when it simply is fiction. I'd probably have gone to see the movie Hidalgo if it wasn't being promoted as "based on a true story." Oh, and the sand storm special effect looks so damned lame. Maybe I'll catch it on cable.

As a coda to this - my friend Laura may have seen the actors/production crew at the Hidalgo premiere: