Friday, September 12, 2008

#1: East Meets West... License Plates

I've decided I'm going to start writing periodically about my perspective on the West Coast as an East Coaster. It's going to make me millions.

Entry #1: License Plates

This might seem obvious to you Californians reading, or even to you Easterners, but the one weird thing about living in California is the shocking lack of other-state license plates. There's nothing but Californian cars in this state! Now some of you are thinking to yourselves, "Well of course not, Danielle, California is a huge state, so most people visiting from out of town fly." Well aren't you smart! Yes, once in awhile I'll see a Washington or Oregon plate, and today I saw one from Texas, but 99.999% are from this very state. In New Jersey, you are constantly seeing plates from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts... all tiny states that nuzzle New Jersey, in a manner of speaking. You could commute from some of those places in less than an hour, and some people do it daily. But, in California, or at least in Los Angeles, the nearest state is about six hours away.

Ok, so that may not be a startling revelation, but it's definitely noticeable. I'm feeling a little... isolated right now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

500 Miles from Our Shores

There is an unmitigated disaster in Haiti right now, and it's so close to us. It's heartbreaking to see those people, desperate, beating each other up for food and relief water from the UN. It's being struck by yet another hurricane right now, and it's horrible. Why can't we help people that are closer to us than California is to Kansas? I think it's inexcusable, both the poverty before the hurricanes swept away towns and now the devastation after.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Best A (Wo)Man Can Get

I just saw a Gillette shampoo commercial, and I noticed something. They say the same things they say in women's shampoo commercials, but they play rock in the background, use blue and black color schemes, and growl out all of their words. If they put lots of pink, light green, and flowers with a woman narrating, talking about vitamins and soft hair, then BOOM: they have a woman's shampoo commercial.

Very original. I guess a shampoo commercial with Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters, axel grease, and sweat wouldn't really drive the grooming point home.

Quality Reading

A few articles for those of us obsessed about current events. The first one is from an op-ed writer for the Los Angeles Times. He picked up on my blog post about being pro-choice and Sarah Palin's daughter (of course, 8 billion other people are talking about it as well) being able to make her choice while her mom seeks to deny the same one to other women. Good read, though nothing really new. Jon Stewart said it on The Daily Show that its wrong for her make the media "respect [Bristol's] decision" while if she were President, "she would deny that choice to others."

The second article I wanted to mention was a piece from Gloria Steinem (also in the LA Times, but probably in others also) asking how dumb Republicans think women are. Do they really think we're so desperate for a female candidate that we will support a woman who supports no other women? It won't work, she says. I hope she's right.

There's one more that I found at the New York Times. It's by Judith Warner about sexism and Sarah Palin, and though I think some of her points are a little off the mark, most of them are brilliant.

And finally, a column by Thomas Friedman about energy plans and how John McCain isn't even a maverick when it comes to energy. He's in the pocket of big oil just like his running mate, and the only viable green option is Barack Obama.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Politics of Negativity

There are a few things I want to blog about today. First, I'd like to talk about the RNC v. the DNC. Their convention speeches may not sound all that dissimilar, but their websites just about say it all. If you log on to the RNC's national page, the only thing you saw, before Hurricane Gustav and the convention, was negative things about Joe Biden and Barack Obama. They have a "time since Biden's last gaffe" counter up there, and something about Barack Obama that I haven't checked out. I'm pretty sure that it is negative, though. Switching over now to the Democratic National Committee's page, it's almost all positive. The one dark spot is literally a dark spot with John McCain's name on a tiny button. I'm sure it's all negative about him as well. But the difference is clear: the Democrats have a much, much more positive page. If you measure positivity, not negativity, the Democrats have it in the bag, even though it is in the middle of the Republican National Convention. It's supposed to be all positive when it's your time to shine, but apparently, there's not too much to get excited about with John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Speaking of which, she speaks tonight. Can't wait to see what she says. She's like my worst nightmare. A woman so conservative she'd work to ensure other women could never break the glass ceiling she has the possibility of breaking, and so anti-choice she opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or endangering the health of the mother. As far as her speech, I'll probably just read about it in the New York or Los Angeles Times tomorrow. I'm done with conventions, and I never can tolerate listening to Republicans. Hey, I never said I was unbiased.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Family Planning is a Gift from God

I am annoyed. By the way, the picture to the left is from Harvard's website (giving credit where credit is due). But anyway, back to why I am annoyed.

Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant. Jamie Lynn Spears gets pregnant, and the media jumps all over her. Now, this woman, who is anti-contraception, anti-choice, and is touted as having spectacular "family values," has a 17-year-old daughter who is five months pregnant, and all those Christian conservatives are valuing Ms. Palin for her daughter's choice of continuing with the pregnancy, getting married at 17, and praising the mother for having such a loving, supportive family. This is some kind of victory? Unplanned pregnancy, the triumph of ignorance about family planning and responsible sexuality, is a victory for family values?

How about the value of honesty and teaching your children about how to be responsible, giving them all of the options available to women and girls, and facing the reality of teen sex? Hopefully, this girl had the option of making the choice to continue the pregnancy for herself and isn't deciding to marry this guy because her mother is in politics. If she is, how wonderful that she has the option of doing so with the support of her family. How about all those other women out there who make the same choice because otherwise their families would disown them? How about those who then get trapped into a marriage? Or, how about the women who choose not to continue the pregnancy out of necessity also?

Being pro-choice means enabling women to make those choices. The choice of having sex, but being responsible. The choice of not continuing the pregnancy and not marrying the person who got you pregnant. How about that?

And one more thing before I go. Sarah Palin's governor survey by the Eagle Forum shows that she is against comprehensive sex education, in favor of abstinence-only education. My favorite part, though, about this survey, is this quote (from the LA Times)'"The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support," Palin responded [to the survey], according to the [survey] site.' This woman doesn't even know what real sex-education includes.

When I attended public school in New Jersey, we had real sex education, which acknowledged the existence of teen sex drive. They told me time and time again, the only sure way NOT to get pregnant, or get an STD, is to NOT have sex. They also taught us about contraception, condoms, and how to be safe should we choose to have sex. That being said, they taught us that we should wait until we are old enough to handle the consequences of sex. And yes, all this from a COMPREHENSIVE SEX ED CURRICULUM. Abstience-only education is not education; it's fantasy. It doesn't teach teens to be responsible about sex if they do feel ready, and sex is a reality of life. We shouldn't be telling our kids incorrect things about choices they will be facing (like that condoms and contraception never work or any of the other lies they include). Instead, we should be honest. Our children deserve that.