Friday, February 5, 2010

How Many Is Too Many?

An interesting question I found today: Should the Duggars stop having children? (This picture includes all but their newset one.)

First of all, I wonder why anyone thinks this is any of their business. If you don't want people telling you you have to have kids, you shouldn't want anyone telling you how many you can have if you want them. I know most of us think about having that many kids and literally want to gouge our eyeballs out of their sockets, but let's consider this for a moment, shall we?

As a general rule, the average individual can't handle that much, and doesn't want to. But what if you did? What if you could?

Most of the responses I saw were along the lines of  calling them selfish, vainly ambitious, cruel, irresponsible.... you get the idea. Someone who has that many kids is selfish because they're contributing to the problem of overpopulation. They don't really take care of all their kids because they make the kids take care of each other, and that's selfish and irresponsible, too. They're doing it to get into Guiness. It's all about them!! There was also a horrifying sentiment of "serves them right" regarding the premature birth of their youngest daughter. How appalling is that?! Just because they have a lot of kids, they somehow deserve to have a child suffer? Or it's somehow their FAULT that she was born early? What a disgusting attitude!

Are we seeing a pattern here? Are you seeing how all of this hinges around a certain attitude toward procreation and children as people? They are cast as extensions of their parents. I suppose in a very literal sense, that's what they are. But all the people who hurl these accusations can't seem to get past that attitude to realize that that's not where this family is coming from.

When most people think about having that many kids, they think of people like the Octomom. They think of someone who deliberately and selfishly brought children into a home in which she was unable to provide for them financially, in which she has deprived them of a father figure so her sons had someone to pattern after and her daughters could learn how men are supposed to treat them, and who expects other people to pick up the dime for the cost of her choices. They also think of the people who reproduce indisciminately and feel no sense of responsibility for the life they helped create. The woman who has eight children by 5 different fathers by the time she's 25. The man who does a "Hit it and quit it" routine, never bothering to see what consequences he has created, and being uninterested in shouldering the responsibility for the ones he does find out about.

But the Duggars aren't those people. They have been married for several more years than they've had children, and have a stable and loving relationship. He is gainfully employed in a job that makes enough money to support his entire family. They make that money stretch by looking for deals, buying in bulk and expecting their children to contribute where they are able. Putting an older child in charge of a younger one is not cruel, nor does it constitute a theft of childhood. How much does a child learn by being given responsibilities commensurate with their capabilities beginning at a young age? Is it really so awful to teach a child loving service for those around them? Frankly, I wish more kids were being "robbed" like that. All of these kids are expected and taught to work, to be kind and of service, to love others, to develop their talents, the boys are all expected to get their Eagle Scout awards, which is an enormously beneficial skill-building program, and it would seem that they are expected to go to college, be thoughful, educated and civically active citizens. Raise your hand if you think that's bad......

These are people with deeply held convictions who follow them consistently. They have made very clear that they believe each child is a gift from God, and they behave accordingly. They treat each child as a rare, precious and wonderful thing that they feel honored to be blessed with. They love that child, nuture that child, educate it and send it into the world as a productive human being. Have you ever really looked at that family? All the kids are well-groomed, clean, fed, smart, talented, they all play an instrument.....I'm failing to see the downside here. This family lives within their means, they are debt-free, their children are hard-working because they've been taught from their earliest years that life means work, and that that is an honorable thing. Do we seriously want FEWER people like this in the world?! I say God bless them for being willing and able to take on this challenge.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

World, Meet Roxxxy. Roxxxy, World.

According to MSN and Bing, we now live in a world with the first robot girlfriend. Her name is Roxxxy (and yes, that is her real picture). Oh, yeah. Clever and classy. A winning combo in anyone's book. Apparently she is meant to be a "companion", 'cause she has several pre-recorded vocal responses that include actual words and full sentences. According to her creator, "sex only goes so far- then you want to be able to talk to the person". How encouraging. Ever notice how guys and girls are kind of opposite here? Girls do the talking first.

I suppose in fairness I should tell you that this whole thing didn't start off to be a sex product. The inventor lost a friend in one of the 2 towers on 9/11 and he wanted a way to preserve his friend's personality so his children would be able to interact with this friend and know him as they grew up. The things we do in grief. He first looked into home health care aides for the elderly, but the bureaucratic red tape was too prohibitive. What he's really looking to do, he says, is create artificial personalitites, and the sex thing is just a marketing tool. Uh-huh. Well, we'll see.

We've taken our first steps toward the world of I, Robot. Ummmm.... yay?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Thoughts on Celebrity, aka Meandering Through the Wonderwall

Okay, I admit it. I love following the entertainment industry. I don't have any particularly stalkerish tendencies, though. I follow in a general sense, and also generally try to stick to good news types of things. But the Wonderwall is my weakness.

Today, I am looking at several entries and thought I'd just lay my opinions (unasked for though they may be) out there.

Linsay Lohan has pledged to make some changes in this new year. Can I get a group petition going that appeals to her to allow both her natural hair and skin colors emerge for a while? And maybe request that she put in some, I don't know, WORK this year? There have been no movies, no albums. The biggest thing I heard of was her collaboration with a make-up lady (sorry the name of the profession escapes me right now) in the creation of a Tan-in-a-Can. While I'm sure we're all willing to admit that she is an expert on fake tanning...and real tanning, for that matter, it just seems like someone with the talents that she has (and she does have them) ought to be doing something besides being followed around hoping for a glimpse into her totally screwed up personal life. I acknowledge that that is just a part of the celebrity deal. Still, one could hope that she would at least make an attempt to balance it a little with actually producing something besides scandal.

I am officially half way to old. I can still listen to music, I just can't look at the people who produce it anymore. They are....disturbing, to say the least. Maybe I'm just old enough to know that making people talk isn't a good enough reason to do something idiotic.

I like several of Lady Gaga's songs, for example, but looking at her makes me want to drop that last A from her name, if you know what I mean.

I like many of Christina Aguilera's songs as well, and I absolutely adore her powerhouse of a voice, but for some reason, she seems to have taken it into her head that being sexually liberated means dressing like a two dollar hooker. I will admit that since she had her son, her public appearance has improved considerably. God bless that boy!

And will someone please tell Mariah Carey that she is no longer the nineteen year old stunner she used to be, and to get a bra that fits and stop wearing clothes that are three sizes too small?! It's not sexy. You look ridiculous. Redefine sexy for yourself (and all of our sakes), I'm begging you.

Rosie O'Donnell has a new girlfriend. Rosie O'Who? Who is this woman?! I remember there used to be a really funny, reasonably good actress by that name. But this bitter hag cannot be she. I am tired of this person who is impersonating Rosie. Would the real Rosie please stand up? And if it turns out the funny, talented one was the fake, could we please have the fake instead?

Charlie Sheen and current wife might be reconciling. Oh, goody! 'Cause nothing says "You misunderstood the depth of my love for you" like holding your spouse at knifepoint. This is the second time this guy has married after too brief an aquaintance and procreated on an accelrated schedule, only to go stark raving nuts. Seriously, dude. Tie your tubes, please. At least then your divorces will be relatively quick and clean.

It turns out that Nicolas Cage isn't being sued for nearly as much as was previously thought. A mere $3 million as opposed to $36 million. I'm sorry, but why is this news? This is a correction blurb. He's still being sued for taking out a loan he had no intention or ability to repay. He still owes back taxes for several years, and he still continues to live a lifestyle he can't afford. He's still a schmuck who didn't pay his bills or keep his promises. Is this supposed to make me think he ISN'T any of those things? Well, hey. Maybe he can get in good with Obama and become the Hollywood czar. Then he'd fit right in with all the other czars who don't pay their taxes and spend money they don't have.

Tila Tequila, that bastion of sensibility, gentle femininity and decorum, is NOT pregnant. Yet. So, her New Year's resolution is to threaten to continue her genetic line? Lovely. I don't know about any of you, but I might be convinced to donate to a Spay Tila campaign. In fairness she's talking about being a surrogate for her brother and sister-in-law. That's a relief because frankly, this woman (she is a woman, right?) is everything that is wrong with the world today in one crude, vulgar, liposuctioned, silicon-stuffed, lycra-coated, over-mascaraed capsule. As far as I can see, this woman's only talent is to be disgusting. Why are people paying attention to her? She openly admits that she feels free to go absolutely nuts on the Internet only because she knows her family will never see it. How pathetic is it that you deliberately created a life that the people you love will never be a part of?!

Jon Gosselin. Really, is there anything more to add? I mean, this guy is a black hole! I never saw the show with his family. I'm not a fan of reality TV. As far as I'm concerned, the show contributed to the demise of his family, but the choices are always ultimately ours, aren't they?  Rather than acknowledge that living life under constant public scrutiny was too much of a strain for his family to survive and getting back to real life with the prioroty of keeping his family intact, he threw them under the bus and he seems to be driving his entire life into the ground. The woman/child he committed adultery with is no longer with him (don't know who dumped who) and now she can't stand him, either (though she should be utterly ashamed of herself, too). Honestly, he seems to think that he deserves the spotlight, though I'm not sure he'd be able to say what exactly about him is so deserving. Yet another example of what happens when you demand to be treated with a respect you haven't earned. Ka-BLOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!! Be a man, Jon. Put your family first and put it back together.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Sad Day

For those of you who don't know, I have been nursing a massive teensy-weensy crush on Michael Buble. But I have to let him go. *sniff* I found out today that he has a girlfriend. So I bid him adieu, until such time as he becomes available for fantasy again. (I don't poach. Not even for pretend.) And if this (stunningly beautiful) woman turns out to be The One, I'll be happy for them both. And on the hunt for a new celebrity crush. Have fun, Michael!*sigh* Until we meet again....y'know...for the first time.

Here she is. The lucky girl. Her name, I think, is Luzana. She's from somewhere in South America. Argentina, I think. Anyway, she's lovely. I wish them all the best. Someday, I'll find my own.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Collective Sigh of Relief Causes Windstorm in Canada

So, I'm going to make this my fun blog. All political posts have been moved to my new political blog, where they will find a happy, albeit likely unviewed, life. So, I will no longer pester you with these thoughts. I'll pester total strangers and harass my family to read them, even though they're the ones who usually give me the ideas to begin with. I need love, people! Show me some love!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Call Off the Sharks

So I have MSN Messenger, right? And when you sign in it gives you this little window of news, entertainment, e-mail, etc. with all the top stories and searched items of the moment. One of these was an article about Kristen Stewart's Bad Attitude. It's all about how Ms. Stewart is not behaving with due grace and gratitude in her newfound spotlight. One of the people quoted in the article was a young lady who apparently had nothing better to do with her time than start an "I Hate Kristen Stewart" group. She has all this animosity toward a virtual stranger because she doesn't feel that Ms. Stewart is exhibiting the proper amount of reverence for the story. Does anyone else out there find this to be ridiculous?! Yet despite the violence of her dislike for the girl who is going to be in essentially every scene, this young lady is still going to see "New Moon". She even says that she'll just sit there getting angrier and angrier during the film . My question then becomes WHY?! Why go pay good money to become ANGRY for two hours?! In what parallel universe does that make sense?

Now, I am not a fan of Ms. Stewart, by any means. I find her method of delivery to be consistently comparable to uncontrollablly fired verbal bullets. Words burst out her mouth as though they're deperate to escape and feel safer going in groups. But I feel sorry for her! I can hear you out there thinking, "Oh, yeah! I feel sorry for the poor kid. Rich and famous overnight. Oh, the humanity!" I know. But seriously, think about it for a second. People expect her to be as big a fan of the Twilight universe as they are. And she's not. She's never made any secret of it. She hadn't even read any of the books when she read for the role. By all indications, she never intended to be a big star. She was strictly indie. I imagine she thought this was just another indie film. And for someone who didn't know what Twilight was, the film had a lot of those earmarks. A low budget, an relatively unknown director, virtual unknowns for the leads, and a story that was different than the commonly accepted lexicon for the Fantastical. Her mistake was an innocent one.

Frankly, people have an entirely different set of expectations for Indie actors, and they were expectations that suited her and she could and did meet. With Indies, you expect them to read Sartre and quote obscure poets, listen to deep, dark music from bands no one else has ever heard of and wear clothes that are a little...odd. Their social skills are also not of the average variety. You expect them to be somewhat biting, sarcastic and derisive toward the mainstream. You don't think twice about it, 'cause that's just the deal with them. There's a reason the Paps don't follow them. And you gotta admit, Stewart fits in that world. The drawback to this Indie-ness is that in sticking to the shadowy corners of society, they are pretty much unaware of what goes on in the brightly lit center of society. This out of touch-ness led Ms. Stewart to commit the fatal faux pas of accepting a role in a pop culture phenomenon, which, I would imagine, goes against everything she believes in, and everything she had chosen for her life up to that point. But she's stuck now. And she is completely unprepared for the life she now leads. All of the skills, habits, and preferences that worked so smoothly on the Shadowy Edges, are causing her to be crucified in the brightly lit center. She is now in the unenviable position of having to, if not embrace, at least tolerate with good grace, the nightmare of learning an entirely new set of skills while under highly critical attention of a microscopic degree. Not fun. In fact, I'll bet she feels pretty dang betrayed right about now. Not to mention bereft. The life she planned for, worked for, is gone forever now. And in its place is this monstrosity that she never wanted to have anything to do with. That's a lot for an 18 year old to deal with. That's a lot for a 45 year old to deal with! Oh, did you forget that? How well would you have handled having all your comfort zones and all your goals publicly stripped away from you at the age of 18, leaving you all but naked in the spotlight, raw and exposed, while you tried desperately to scramble for some semblance of what you used to call normal?

All in all, I think it's time for the generous spirit of America to kick in and cut this kid a little slack while she's on this rather steep and brutal learning curve.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I am Woman! Hear me...whine?

So I was watching a little GMA clip today, and it was the segment with Kathy Lee Gifford and the lady whose odd name I can never remember, except that it's odd. The question they were asking was "Why don't men listen?" Or, specifically , why don't they listen TO WOMEN? Well, first of all, I don't think that's really what they're asking. I think the more accurate question would be "Why don't men listen WHEN and HOW we women want them to?" And the answer would be "Because they're not women."

But what really piqued my interest was when Kathy Lee cited a study saying that the U.S.A. had ranked 31st in the Global Gender Gap (2007) study. And I thought, "WHAT?! Thirty first?! Well, this needs context." So I went hunting.(Sweden came in first, if you're curious, but not curious enough to follow the link.)Who DOES these studies?! And more importantly, what's their agenda?

Okay, first of all, I'd like to point out that we are 31st out of 128 countries. Shouldn't that be mentioned?! But we came after Moldova, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Seriously?! Did they count the black women in South Africa? I mean, I know they've come a long way since Apartheid ended, but really?!

I didn't think this study had the right kind of criteria for a true gender equality study. They said it was based on four "pillars": economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival. And of course, there are a number of subcategories under each pillar. So the main pillars sound great, but then they had things like birth rates, and contraceptive use. What does that have to do with equality? It's not exactly something that can be compared. What, we're only equal when we give birth as often as men do? I could see contraceptive availablility being relevent, but not use. They counted how many women had trained medical professionals on hand while giving birth, but they didn't define professionals. And frankly, women have been giving birth for a long time now. Doctors aren't the only way to go. In fact, from a historical perspective, they're pretty new. I think it's great if these things are available, but I don't think it should count against anything if you don't use it.

Let me share an exerpt from the study:
Gaps vs. levels
The Index is designed to measure gender-based gaps in access to resources and opportunities in individual countries rather than the actual levels of the available resources and opportunities in those countries. We do this in order to make the Global Gender Gap Index independent of the level of development. In other words, the Index is constructed to rank countries on their gender gaps, not on their development level. Rich countries have more education and health opportunities for all members of society and measures of levels thus mainly reflect this well-known fact, although it is quite independent of the gender-related issues faced by each country at their own level of income. The Gender Gap Index, however rewards countries for smaller gaps in access to these resources, regardless of the overall level of resources. For example, the Index penalizes or rewards countries based on the size of the gap between male and female enrollment rates, but not for the overall levels of education in the country.
(emphasis added)

Okay, as far as I'm concerned, this study just tanked their right to have their results taken seriously with that one paragraph. They divorced the results from the criteria of development in a country. You kind of can't do that and expect to get any really accurate kind of answer, because the gender gap isn't independent of the development of a country! So this all becomes a massive, paper-wasting game of "What If?". "What if everybody had the same amount of stuff. Would the girls get as much as the boys?" Oh, come on! That is not science! This study seems to completely disregard the element of personal choice. Just because people don't avail themselves of opportunities, doesn't mean the opportunities aren't available to them.

I don't think this study creates an accurate picture of accessibility to resources. But people will just hear that the U.S. was 31st in the gender gap ranking, leaving everyone with the highly erroneous impression that America is somehow lacking in equal rights between genders. This happens a lot! Some study that has totally whacked out criteria comes out and says that America sucks in a ranking, and everyone just runs with it without putting it into any context. We gotta stop doin' that!

I, for one, am tired of people trying to make us look like we're some mysogynistic, oppressive, patriarchal regime. Women in western civilization have it better than any other women in the history of the world. In some ways we have it better than the men. Stop whining already.