Friday, December 21, 2007


Now we are in winter.

Tomorrow a group of us are gathering for the ritual practiced over millenia by our nature- and freedom-loving ancestors. We'll build a gigantic bonfire to remind ourselves that habeus corpus will return, and to hasten her arrival, we've constructed a giant elephant from faux wicker crap on sale at Garden Ridge which we will stuff with neocons and toss onto the blaze while singing "Hairy-legged lesbians sing / glory to our cunning ling!" You're welcome to join us. Bring your own jello salad.

(Postcard for Pine Street Art Works, copyright 2007 Liza Cowan.)

Speaking of Jell-o: Liza Cowan has at last begun her own blog, See Saw, concerning art and retail (as only Liza the Dyke Mother can do it). An auspicious sign of the year to come.

December 22nd is also Global Orgasm Day. Please contribute as best you are able. If you need help, reach out to live members of your community. Consensually, of course.

And I will award 50 (FIFTY) Sistahood points to anyone who can make the link between the graphic preceding this announcement (the cover of Marilyn Gayle's book) and why it is appropriate to the day in question.

Also, in the Old News For Some Of Us Department:

Jodie Foster acknowledges her female partner. After fifteen years.

Why is this news? I mean, here's a matching headline for you: Eva Longoria, Heterosexual!

Nobody with any depth of experience is buying that you were simply "protecting your privacy" -- not when you have two turkeybaster kids and managed to at least confirm their existence without rupturing your veil of mystery.

Nope, it's obvious that you were scared. And that you still are.

Good luck with that, honey. Next....

Returning to our obsession with all things polar exploration-esque: BBC News announces "Penguin sketches made by Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton have been found in a basement at Cambridge University. The legendary explorers drew the pictures on blackboards, probably for public lectures, in 1904 and 1909." I, of course, immediately discerned character-revealing differences between the two sketches and have been moodily examining them for further illumination. Anyone else similarly afflicted?

(Image from Julie's Magic Light Show.)

In past posts here, I've written about waking up during surgery and other complications of anesthesia. There's a new movie out now, called Awake, which addresses the issue of "anesthesia awareness". The New York Times review states this "occurs when patients wake up during surgery because they are underanesthetized. In real life, these periods are generally brief. But the patient can indeed feel pain, ranging from minor to unendurable."

Ever since the late 1980s, with the advent of PET scans and other forms of advanced imaging studies, our ability to study the human brain has catapulted forward, and if it seems like new insights about consciousness and brain function arrive weekly, that's largely accurate. This week, the PBS series Wired Science aired a segment entitled Mixed Feelings: Helping The Blind See With Their Tongue. To quote from the website (which also has video and other links):

"Most of us see with our eyes, but what if we could see with other parts of our body, too? The idea may seem ridiculous, but it's already been done. Nearly a half-century ago, maverick neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Rita discovered that it was possible to 'rewire' the adult brain, connecting regions in ways no one ever had imagined. Today, his ideas have given a handful of blind people the ability to see for the first time—using their tongues.

"For a long time, scientists believed that after childhood, the brain became 'fixed' in its ways and impossible to change. But Bach-y-Rita reasoned that because the nerves carrying messages from one part of the body to the brain are identical to those carrying messages from other body parts, it might actually be possible, even in adulthood, to substitute one sense for another."

I was especially intrigued by the work done with folks who have severe inner ear damage that renders them unable to tell whether they are prone or upright, leading to profound disability. "Rewiring" the sensory apparatus of the brain, using tactile regions instead of ear regions, has proven in some cases permanent, a complete cure.

The boundaries of human brain plasticity are definitely out of sight at the moment. For those of us who can manage balancing science, art, and faith simultaneously (however you define those) instead of believing them to be in conflict, the sense of hope and excitement is tremendous. It will, of course, mean giving up all the myths that race, class, gender, and sexual orientation are primarily "hard-wired" rather than manifestations of the brain's ability to adapt (even physically alter) to cultural demands placed on newborns. We'll have to accept that difference is mostly a matter of choice, and, as Stuart Smalley would say, "That's...okay."

In related news, this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that human evolution is speeding up: "People are evolving more rapidly than in the distant past, with residents of various continents becoming increasingly different from one another, researchers say.

"'Rapid population growth has been coupled with vast changes in cultures and ecology, creating new opportunities for adaptation,'" the study says. 'The past 10,000 years have seen rapid skeletal and dental evolution in human populations, as well as the appearance of many new genetic responses to diet and disease.' And they found that different changes are occurring in Africans, Asians and Europeans."

Environment over biology. And -- feed your sisters and brothers elsewhere, because our vigor as a species depends on everyone's development.

(This I Can Haz Cheezburgr image created by little gator.)


kat said...

I'm not studiously looking at the sketches, I'm jumping with glee over them!!!! I'm a little obsessed with penguins. Could you tell?

Ok, I'll try to reign in the giddiness to say something more articulate:
Wasn't Jodi Foster seriously stalked for a while? When the whole partner thing came out (hee!) my impression was that the after effects of the stalking could have included an intense fear/secrecy thing.....

Happy Solstice! I hope the bonfire was great. I celebrated solstice by.....uh....sitting bundled up in blankets on the couch, eating soup and coughing up my lungs. WORST COLD EVER(tm).

I'm gonna head over and check out Liza's blog. Then cough. Then do laundry. And Cough. orgasm day and I'm alone all weekend. Just not as much fun to me when I'm alone.....oops, was that an overshare??

Jesse Wendel said...

An Exercise, in Which Jesse Proves Yet Again How STUPID He Is...

This is what I was going to post.

By the end, I was not only not going to post. I am clear, I shall never post again. Anywhere, ever.

Lesson begins...

Oh... I want my 50 sistahood points!

From the words on the illustration:

Les Specialites Maggi Profitent A Tout Menage

Translated literally we get:

The specialisations Maggi Profitent Menage A While

Most people would be silly enough to assume that that Profitent really means Proficient, but not us. *smiles* We know it means benefit, even though Google Translate does not. *silly Google Translate tool*

Thus we now have (correcting spelling):
The specializations Maggi Benefit Menage A While

Let's look up what Menage means ('cause we're sure it doesn't mean what most people think it does -- although it can be very fun, with the right people. *grins*):

mé·nage (m-näzh)
1. People living together as a unit; a household.
2. The management of a household.

Ah... now we're getting somewhere:

The specialisations Maggi People living together as a unit; a household. The management of a household. A While.

Let's rearrange the words a bit...

The specialisations Maggi People living together as a unit; a household. The management of a household. A While.

A ________, while Maggi specializes in people living together as a unit, a household, the management of a household.

What should you give to Maggie on December 22nd to make her feel all tingly, and contribute to her work in keeping body and soul together for her many communities?

Ah shit. I'm an idiot.

And the Special Bonus Award in READING THE DIRECTIONS FIRST goes to me. Arrrrrgh!

After I'd done all of the above and was about to be triumphant, I suddenly realized it was not in fact, the top graphic we were to work from (so I stopped my next bit, which was to start talking about the girl herself and how she and her dress embodied this and that...) but the graphic immediately above the announcement... you know, just like you freaking said.

*hangs head in shame*

I get no sistahood points. I have sistahood points subtracted. I am stupid.

I guess all this is useful for is to prove one can take damn near anything, and make up an interpretation and story to support something or other. Heh.

That's why it is important to you know, follow the freaking directions. Grrr.

Maggie Jochild said...

You get 50 Gryffindor points, Jesse, for clever translation and earnest effort. Following directions is overrated.

And you get an extra 25 for making the link between menage and the meaning of Manage as it is used on Skene.

Plus: An extra five zeroing in on While. Because in at least one past dyke sci-fi classic, their equivalent of lesbian life partners were called Whiloms. Your radar is EXCELLENT, Jesse.

But, you're right, that's not the riddle I was posing. It is, indeed, the cover the Marilyn Gayle book. Still open to anyone who makes the leap.

Kat, honey, so sorry to hear you are blighted by the Worst Cold Ever(tm). Penguins do make that sort of wretchedness better, including the kind you generously mailed me last year (of the UK biscuity nature). Cherry-Gerrard from Scott's expedition wrote a book about his trek to find out about the breeding cycle of Emperor penguins (100 years before March of the Penguins, with no real knowledge about the dire circumstances they were going to encounter and severely deficient British naval kit), along with Birdie and Dr. Wilson, and they all damned near died. He named his book The Worst Journey in the World(tm), so see, great penguinites think alike.

And...not an overshare. Tastefully done, in fact.

kat said...

well, I do have the chocolatey kind of penguins, but they're rather stale. I guess they took their sweet time being imported or something.....
Hm, I'm going to look for the Worst Journey in the sounds interesting. Of course my immediate reaction is: "Stupid British men, they should have known better" but whatever....

Damn, my overuse of the elipsis has happened again. I think I need treatment for this.

"And...not an overshare. Tastefully done, in fact."
-->you should have read the first version....I'm learning to self-edit (a little).

The Worst Cold Ever(tm) was subjected to a rehearsal wasn't pretty. Basically, I sound like a foghorn. This is bad.