Tuesday, August 28, 2007

BROAD CAST, 28 August 2007

GONZO is gone. Two more threats to democracy to go.

(Image from Zaius Nation, copyright theirs)

Zaius Nation asks the question: How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

The answer is seven:

* One to deny that a light bulb needs to be replaced.
* One to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the light bulb.
* One to blame the previous administration for the need of a new light bulb.
* One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs.
* One to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton one million dollars for each light bulb.
* One to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the light bulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag.
* And finally, one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

Reader Kat Miller from the East Bay turned me on to this article, Gay Unions Sanctioned in Medieval Europe
written by Jeanna Bryner -- It's short, so I'm going to reprint it here.

Civil unions between male couples existed around 600 years ago in medieval Europe, a historian now says.

Historical evidence, including legal documents and gravesites, can be interpreted as supporting the prevalence of homosexual relationships hundreds of years ago, said Allan Tulchin of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

If accurate, the results indicate socially sanctioned same-sex unions are nothing new, nor were they taboo in the past.

“Western family structures have been much more varied than many people today seem to realize," Tulchin writes in the September issue of the Journal of Modern History. "And Western legal systems have in the past made provisions for a variety of household structures.”

For example, he found legal contracts from late medieval France that referred to the term "affrèrement," roughly translated as brotherment. Similar contracts existed elsewhere in Mediterranean Europe, Tulchin said.

In the contract, the "brothers" pledged to live together sharing "un pain, un vin, et une bourse," (that's French for one bread, one wine and one purse). The "one purse" referred to the idea that all of the couple's goods became joint property. Like marriage contracts, the "brotherments" had to be sworn before a notary and witnesses, Tulchin explained.

The same type of legal contract of the time also could provide the foundation for a variety of non-nuclear households, including arrangements in which two or more biological brothers inherited the family home from their parents and would continue to live together, Tulchin said.

But non-relatives also used the contracts. In cases that involved single, unrelated men, Tulchin argues, these contracts provide “considerable evidence that the affrèrés were using affrèrements to formalize same-sex loving relationships."

The ins-and-outs of the medieval relationships are tricky at best to figure out.
"I suspect that some of these relationships were sexual, while others may not have been," Tulchin said. "It is impossible to prove either way and probably also somewhat irrelevant to understanding their way of thinking. They loved each other, and the community accepted that.”

(Quiet Sea by 6 Brago)

LiveScience has a number of interesting Top Ten lists. I'm going to excerpt a few items from one of them, 10 Things You Didn't Know About You

Number 9: Body Position Affects Your Memory
Can't remember your anniversary, hubby? Try getting down on one knee. Memories are highly embodied in our senses. A scent or sound may evoke a distant episode from one's childhood. The connections can be obvious (a bicycle bell makes you remember your old paper route) or inscrutable. A recent study helps decipher some of this embodiment. An article in the January 2007 issue of Cognition reports that episodes from your past are remembered faster and better while in a body position similar to the pose struck during the event.
My Note: The first time I every worked on an incest memory, it was triggered by re-enacting a scene where I was sitting in a bathtub and Shelley played the role of my older brother, putting his arm into my imaginary bathwater. The next thing I remembered, I was trying to choke her and the other women in the group were pulling me off her. One of them -- Angie Romagnoli -- said "You got some fucking issues, woman, you better get clear before you kill somebody." Yeah.

Number 6: Thousands of Eggs Unused by Ovaries
When a woman reaches her late 40s or early 50s, the monthly menstrual cycle that controls her hormone levels and readies ova for insemination ceases. Her ovaries have been producing less and less estrogen, inciting physical and emotional changes across her body. Her underdeveloped egg follicles begin to fail to release ova as regularly as before. The average adolescent girl has 34,000 underdeveloped egg follicles, although only 350 or so mature during her life (at the rate of about one per month). The unused egg follicles then deteriorate. With no potential pregnancy on the horizon, the brain can stop managing the release of ova.
My Note: Another fact I learned from Maria Limon years ago: All of the eggs you have inside you as a woman were formed while you were still in your mother's uterus. Thus, you were once an egg inside your grandmother as well as your mother! No wonder matrilineage is so powerful.

Number 5: Puberty Reshapes Brain Structure, Makes for Missed Curfews
We know that hormone-fueled changes in the body are necessary to encourage growth and ready the body for reproduction. But why is adolescence so emotionally unpleasant? Hormones like testosterone actually influence the development of neurons in the brain, and the changes made to brain structure have many behavioral consequences. Expect emotional awkwardness, apathy and poor decision-making skills as regions in the frontal cortex mature.
My Note: And you want to inject incompletely understood hormones WHY, exactly? Because it makes you "feel" like you can think better? Yeah, I used to hear that from druggies in the 70's, too.

Number 1: Your Skin Has Four Colors
All skin, without coloring, would appear creamy white. Near-surface blood vessels add a blush of red. A yellow pigment also tints the canvas. Lastly, sepia-toned melanin, created in response to ultraviolet rays, appears black in large amounts. These four hues mix in different proportions to create the skin colors of all the peoples of Earth.
My Note: Thus, skin color is simply how our human DNA for all colors is expressed by each individual. The genes are the same, which is why there is no genetic entity known as "race". The epigenetic expression of that gene is what makes you look the way you do. There is only one race, known as human.

I have to share a computer with Dinah and I frequently find the screen left on LOL Cats or I Can Has Cheeseburger. She likes not only the photos but also the fact that cat language (with its own spelling and grammar) is becoming recognized as a respected form of English. Her friend, Little Gator, turned her on to the following sites as well:

The Laugh Out Loud Cats -- LOLcats as early 20th century newspaper cartoons

An original Star Trek episode some with LOL Cats-style captioning

Same thing done with Star Trek: The Next Generation

And -- not cats but still interesting to Dinah because it's gerbils, a.k.a. snacks, with some gay innuendo thrown in at Gebrils (no, that's not a mispelling)


shadocat said...


So many, many thoughts!

Does "Zaius Nation" refer to Dr. Zaius, of "Planet of the Apes" fame? I have to confess, whenever I hear General P's name, I automatically think of the good Doctor.

I read the "medideval civil union article " as well; fascinating stuff. Sometimes I think the people of the past were more tolerant than we give them credit for. I had a great uncle who was a "Norwegian bachelor farmer" who owned a farm with another "bachelor farmer" and two great-aunts who lived together for 50-some years (I always thought they were sisters-I mean in the literal sense-as a child). When I inquired aboout the atatus of these relationships, the phrase "companion" always came up---when I asked about sexual orientation, the reply was "well now, that's none of our business now, is it?"

Maggie Jochild said...

Yep, Shado, Dr. Zaius is the same. I'm always amazed at the alter egos folks claim -- nothing near as deep and meaningful as Ellen Ripley, of course. (Who WILL come for me any day now.)

The past is usually not interpretable using modern values. I watched a great PBS special this week on the story of Islamic Spain -- how the invasion of Islam into the Iberian Peninsula helped bring Europe out of the Dark Ages, creating a genuinely multicultural oasis for a few centuries. Until the Catholic Church launched the Inquisition. I was thinking about how it was the ability to invade the New World and rape it blind that kept Spain and Portugal from collapsing under such folly. What if Columbus's boats had sunk in a storm before reaching the Caribbean? What if Europe had had to deal with its own problems instead of distracting their populations with colonialism? A lesson we are now, in this era, either going to have to learn or disappear ourselves.