sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

May 29, 2012

Bay Area Birthday Circuit Report

Filed under: Bay Area politics, parenting, society — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 1:41 pm

Blogging has been sporadic lately, due, in part, to the weekly Birthday festivities my daughter is invited to attend.   I chaperone her and pretend to be bashful beyond belief.

There is always something at those parties — or somebody, like the lesbian part-time Christian minister who, according to her online bio (I looked it up), lives with her “spouse” and two adopted boys.  From what I gather, her main job is teaching sex ed in a public high school where last year several students got pregnant.  Not sure what it is exactly that she believes in; I suspect she just wants to stick it to the church.  As DH said, at least Dan Savage is straight about his goals.

These days the Birthday party circuit buzz is about elementary schools where this coming August our children will be institutionalized for the next seven years.  When asked, I usually say that while I’m not particularly impressed by American schools, I’m not yet worried because I don’t think the quality of scholarship matters that much for a kindergartener.  I leave it at that.  I suspect other mothers think I’m a Russian bitch… and they don’t know the half of it.

Last weekend, one party mother was introduced to a PTA president of her neighborhood elementary school.  The president, a pleasant enough blond with puffy hair, talked up the school and PTA.  The mother, a forty-something lady with bright auburn hair and a flying anatomical heart tattoo spread over her breasts, duly asked: “Are there any crazy people at the PTA?”  I’m not trying to suggest that a middle age woman with a partially abstracted by clothing tattoo is crazy, rather that her body art is crazy derivative.  Even if this lady was the first one to get that type of picture inked a decade or two ago, in 2012 it looks expected.  That’s the problem with tattoos.

Anywho, the blond went on to defend her neighbor in a pleasant enough voice: “Well, no.  The woman who stepped up to be my co-president this year is a bit conservative.  But, as I like to say, she has a big heart.  She is a really nice woman, although from time to time she sends me invitations to prayer groups.  I ignore them.”  Too bad the lesbian minister wasn’t within earshot.

Can you imagine?  What if the puffy-haired blond would say something like: “Yes, she is Jewish, but the good kind, she’s a long time member of Jews for Justice in Palestine and is currently working on Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement.”  Being the wrong kind of Jew (I’m still proud of being reportedly called a Zionist bitch a decade ago), I can imagine people saying things of that nature.  I suspect I can be filed under “heartless capitalist”, too, because, for one, I don’t wear my heart on my chest, but, more importantly, I don’t see myself doing any fundraising for the school my daughter is going to attend given how our school district is third most expensive in the Bay Area, while certainly not the third best, and our town is not the third wealthiest.

When I was leaving, the ladies were chirping away about community being the most important thing about the school.  When I hear them talk about “community” (or, better yet, “diverse student body”) I know the school doesn’t offer much academically.  Oh well.  Aging hipsters get to stick together while pissing away the inheritance.

I first heard about Bay Area PTAs about 10 years ago.  A couple with a school-age daughter said that they were members, and that the PTA is fine, and the school is fine.  They said, smirking approvingly, that they listed their daughter’s religion as pagan, and asked for Halloweens off as a major religious holiday.  The daughter, however, likes going to school on Halloween.

Which reminds me.  We went out for dinner tonight, and got to eavesdrop on the table next to ours.  Four yentas were talking religion.  One of them declared that she’s no longer religious, although her grandmother in China is “hella Catholic”.  A few minutes later she was declaring: “He’s a Taurus like me!”  I suppose that doesn’t make her religious because the zodiac doesn’t rise above crude superstition, but she clearly wants to believe in something.


How Typical Is Warren Beatty’s Daughter?

Filed under: whatever — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:46 am

At 17, she decided to “live as a man”, and two years later went for gender reassignment.  Now she seemed to have changed her mind:

Warren Beatty’s transgender son Stephen Ira, is said to be having ‘second thoughts’ about taking the final step in his sex change.

According to The National Enquirer, the 20-year-old student and activist ‘has put his sex change plans on hold.’

A family insider told the publication: ‘He suddenly misses his feminine side, dressing up and wearing make-up and jewellery.

I wonder how typical are changes of heart like Stephen’s.  We know about her case because she’s a minor celebrity on account of her parents.

I’m going to refer to Stephen as a woman because, while presumably she legally changed her name, she did not (could not) change her sex, only the appearance of it.  That Stephen wanted to be a man doesn’t change the XX chromosome reality of her body, outward appearance of which is, in any event, in limbo.

I can’t help wondering if a teenager has the maturity to make a decision about sex change.  Sure, she has the legal standing to do whatever she wants with her body — as she should — but perhaps not the wisdom.  What Stephen does with her body is, of course, her business.  If her family has an opinion on it, that, too, is understandable.  The main reason I take interest in this kind of procedures is because the health insurance we buy through DH’s employer appears to be required to cover part of the costs.  If I’m obliged to pay up for “transformations” like Stephen’s, I’m curious about the outcomes.

When I say that I fail to understand why people might want to disfigure their bodies, I often hear the retort that it’s because I don’t know what it’s like to be a tranny.  But for their part, many queers seem to believe that “gender identity” is in flux.  If it’s in flux, why is it a good idea to fix it on the sex opposite of the one an individual was born with as opposed to just continuing to dress up?  We learn from Beatty’s example that she doesn’t know that she is a man; and yet a few years ago she seemed to be certain about it:

‘Now, he’s wavering on completing the final step of gender reassignment- the surgical procedure to construct a penis. ‘

Although Stephen’s parents Warren and Annette Benning are said to have ‘finally accepted’ his decision to become male, The Enquirer reports that they are ‘urging him to take his time and rethink the drastic surgery.’

Stephen is reported to have had his breasts removed to appear to look more masculine, and ‘loves his body just the way it is,’ according to a source.

In her case, “the way it is” happens to be mutilated.  I suppose at this point there is nothing much she can do other than to like it, but most women are devastated if their breasts have to be removed for medical reasons.  I suppose she can still pretend she’s a girl with really, really small boobies, something that a man who had come to regret his sex change can’t do about his missing penis.

Currently a student at the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College in New York, Stephen is an outspoken activist for the transgender community.

Back in January, Stephen revealed he had a boyfriend, writing on Twitter: ‘I’m trans and gay. Double the fun.’

So, I guess, what she’s telling us, is that she’s bi, and she sounds awfully defensive about liking men.  I can’t imagine why any man would want to sleep with her, but I guess there is someone for everyone, particularly for children of celebrity parents.

radical chic neckwear

Father Warren Beatty in a manly jacket and mother Annette Benning in radical chic neckgear.  Daughter Stephen is on the left in the background

Warren Beatty should find whoever put the idea of surgically altering her body into the brain of his daughter and go full-on Bugsy on that individual…  Then again, I’m sure growing up a child of two movie stars has its challenges.  I hope the younger Beatty children will turn out healthier.

May 25, 2012

Brett Kimberlin Perverts and Exploits the Legacy of the Velvet Revolution

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:15 am

Now they try to pass for Cherokee, and now they fancy themselves tearing down the Berlin Wall.  Some lefties just can’t be happy being what they are, i.e. white middle and upper class and American.  Convicted domestic terrorist and progressive activist Brett Kimberlin, for instance, named one of his websites Velvet Revolution, saying:

Velvet Revolution is a term coined to describe the peaceful road to change in countries where governments ignored the inalienable rights of the people.  A few inspiring Velvet Revolutions occurred in the former Soviet Union, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, South Africa, Ukraine, Egypt, Tunisia and other countries.The citizens of those countries, tired of corruption and arrogant power, joined together by the millions in a sustained campaign of opposition – they demonstrated, boycotted, petitioned, and engaged in strikes until the pillars of power were replaced by the halls of the people.

For starters, the term applies specifically to the events of November 1989 in Czechoslovakia, and to call other peaceful transformations velvet revolutions is a bit imprecise.  While it might be justifiable to speak of Czechoslovakia, East Germany or Poland in a single breath, lets all agree that Egypt and Tunisia fall under Arab Spring, or, taking into account the sorry outcomes, Arab Springtime.

More importantly, it’s an understatement to say that the Czechs and Slovaks were “tired of corruption and arrogant power” is an understatement.  It’s not just that Eastern Europeans were irate, as Kimberlin’s language implies, they had legitimate and specific reasons to revolt, and they were ready to put their lives on the line.  They yearned for freedom, and they opposed the Communist police state and the empire that a generation ago crushed their young men and women with tanks.

Soviet tanks

Spring 1968: Soviet tanks in Prague.  Something tells me that in the Cold War Kimberlin was on the side of Czechoslovakia’s colonial masters

I have to chuckle, when a convicted bomber like Kimberlin voices approval of peaceful demonstrations.  When did he embrace peaceful tactics, like petitions and demonstrations (and presumably recanted the old ones)?  Granted, not all demonstrations are peaceful, and boycotts, his other preferred method, can be controversial.  One thing is clear, in his fantasy life, Brett Kimberlin is a peaceful revolutionary, and he wants to lead something like Velvet Revolution here:

VR’s [his site] issues are not a matter of Right and Left. They are a matter of Right and Wrong! The tactics and the power of the Democrats and progressives in this country have not been sufficient to check the actions of a corrupt Republican agenda. The left has not been able to develop the necessary tactics to win this battle for the heart of America, despite the fact that there are many fine progressive organizations with many members. The leadership of the Democratic Party has generally engaged in a pattern of appeasement, and few organizations have had the clout or backbone to go toe to toe with the extreme right. In many major battles recently, the Democrats have rolled over, and the result is a frightening world of perpetual war and civil strife, both literally and figuratively, led by politicians who are out of touch with regular Americans.

And blah-blah.  So brave of him.  Any moment now the evil Republicans will roll out their war machines onto the streets of Chicago, to crush those peaceful kinds who rape and shoot each other and were arrested with explosives and all — just like the Prague Spring.

For all I know, Kimberlin might find lots of friends in the Arab Spring countries, but I’m not sure about Eastern Europe.  They might like some of the music he embeds on his sites, after all, Velvet Revolution got its name from the Velvet Underground, but I’m not sure about his politics.  Kimberlin champions anarchists anti-capitalist movements like #Occupy.  A decade or so ago, G8 (or whatever the chronologically appropriate number) held a meeting in Prague because, they rightly judged, anarchists will not cause havoc there.  #Occupy Czech Republic does not seem particularly well attended — then again, none of the Occupies were.  Last year, Lech Walesa refused to lend his support to #Occupy.  The actually named a street after Ronald Reagan in Czech Republic, which is pretty darn cool.

May 2012

Occupiers of the Czech Republic: No replay of 1968, for sure.  Their parents should be ashamed

Brett Kimberlin should rename that little website of his.

May 24, 2012

A Femenlaunch! (PARTIAL NUDITY)

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:11 pm

I’m still trying to figure out what’s in it for me.  My three most hit upon posts are about the Ukrainian topless protest group Femen.  They were fun to write about, and a certain fugitive was kind enough to include me into his rule 5 round ups.  Then people started linking, and, more importantly, search engines found me.  From now on, whenever Femen is up to something, I get a surge of hits.

Femen Chernobyl

Why not? Gratuitous and trendy backlit Femen photo. Backlit is appropriate for the occasion, namely commemoration of the 25th Chernobyl anniversary.

This Monday, Femen made it to the MSN front page with their protests of soccer tournament in Ukraine — they allege it brings in pimps.  (Attention soccer fans: not all Ukrainian women are Femen hot.)  I got nearly 1,000 page views that day.  As much as it was exiting to see all the hits, I kind of doubt too many people looking for pictures of hot semi-nude Eastern European ladies will stick with that blog.  Even if some are interested in what I have to say, I’m pretty sure they will not look around.  If I were making money off this little hobby, it wouldn’t matter of course, but I’m not.

femen soccer tournament

That’s the soccer tournament protest that apparently drew 2 participants and grabbed headlines across the globe. The recent NOW protest against Rush had 5 more chicks but got not nearly as much attention. If only the NOW members were hot and naked!

On one hand, I’m watching it all with amusement, but on the other hand, when I follow a blogger, WordPress sends her a note about my blog with my top 3 posts, and they are all about Femen.  I’m afraid prospective readers are bound to be disappointed.

May 21, 2012

Should Barack Obama Apologize for Romanticizing Drug Use?

Filed under: education, politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:25 pm

Dazed and Confused came out in 1993, the year Calvin Klein unveiled Kate Moss in a heroin chic ad campaign.  Four years down the road President Clinton felt it necessary to weigh in on the trend, calling heroin chic deplorable:

[Y]ou do not need to glamorize addiction to sell clothes[…]

But do you need to romanticize addiction to sell books or become a mayor of Chicago?  In 1995, Barack Obama came out with Dreams from My Father, a book despite the existence of which he was elected President of the United States.  In that book, he claimed that American racism drove the teenage Barry to heavy drug use.  He was confused, angry and tragic, and evidently his drug problem solved itself as soon as he moved to New York City.

The book alleges that Barry “spent the last two years of high school in a daze”, that he “drank heavily” and “tried drugs enthusiastically.” I find his confession hard to believe because, affirmative action or not, people who spend their high school years “in a daze” don’t get admitted into competitive colleges like Occidental where Obama went following his high school graduation.  They might go to city colleges a few years down the road — not that there is anything wrong with the Junior College rout; that’s what I did to get my English up to speed.

Even less believable is Obama’s description his lifestyle at Occidental where, as Obama boasted in Dreams, his partying drove Latino maids to tears.  His buddy alleged that they were up all weekend long, on one occasion they kept going for 40 hours:

When the maids show up Monday morning, we were all still sitting in the hallway, looking like zombies.  Bottles everywhere. Cigarette butts. Newspapers.

Newspapers?  Anyhow, after that monologue the maids wept.  I’m not convinced that a poorly disciplined student described in the above paragraph would manage to transfer to Columbia his Junior year.

In 2007, the media tracked down Keith Kakugawa, a high school drinking buddy of Obama, on whom he based the Ray character.  In Dreams, Ray and Barack are partners in crime, but the real life Kakugawa tells a different story:

“Barry and I drank,” he says. “Well, I drank and forced Barry to drink, let’s get that clear. ‘C’mon Barry you’re drinking, you’re drinking.’ You’d see Barry have one beer after I’d have seven.” Kakugawa speculates that Obama may have tried drugs after he left since he no longer had a close friend with whom he could talk candidly.

Or else it never happened.  I suspect the extent of his partying is greatly exaggerated, and that Obama was always college bound, and his PhD mother had designs for him.  He probably did fairly well in high school, but, affirmative action or not, didn’t get admitted to Ivy League schools.  So it was decided that he should complete his lower division requirements at Occidental, and then try to transfer to the Ivies — not that there is anything wrong with that.

It had been independently verified that Obama was politically active at Occidental, but it appears that as soon as he moved to Columbia, he dropped off the political scene.  I’m tempted to interpret his activism as an effort to prop up his essay, but I’m honestly not sure what it meant in the early 80s.  When I was in junior college in the early 90s, I went to a few International club meetings where I met with some nice Germans who bragged about being able to buy beer in McDonald’s in Europe.  I didn’t feel like I had to do any more then that, though.  Perhaps Obama went into overdrive trying to secure a spot at the Ivy League.  Maybe the key to interpreting Obama’s biography is to stop thinking that in his youth he was unusually ideological motivated; he was just climbing the pole.

As Roger Simon sees it, Obama’s Kenyan birth story is probably something he (and his family) invented to get him a college scholarship for African students.  If the President went through that length to finance his education, he certainly knew all the ins and outs of getting into the top schools, and he was likely to stay sober enough to work towards his admission goals.

I have no problem voting for a candidate who had to overcome an addiction, in fact I voted for W, who did just that.  I do, however, think that romanticizing drugs is evil, particularly if the person doing it never have a drug problem himself.  Making it out to be the fault of his country is an evil too.  Oh, Barack, rebel with a cause, almost driven to destruction by the racist Amerikkka, and then saved, miraculously, somehow, by who knows what — himself?  Whatevah.  The book is a cliche, and a racist one, and, I imagine, President Clinton is not pleased.

UPDATE; Bookworm Room discovered that in 1978, the year Obama was applying for colleges, SCOTUS ruled against the affirmative action, but American colleges were favoring African nationals in their admission process.

May 20, 2012

Jerusalem: The Media Myth of Two Cities

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 2:18 pm

CiF Watch has great post with an Honest Reporting video on East Jerusalem. To call the Eastern part of that great city “Arab East Jerusalem” is to give legitimacy to the Jordanian conquest of the land in Israel’s Independence War.

UK Media Watch

As HonestReporting observed:

“The history of Jerusalem did not start in 1967. Thousands of years of Jewish history took place in what is now called “Arab East Jerusalem.” Only when the Jewish residents were driven from their homes in 1948 [by Jordanian forces] was the city divided between East and West.”

This HR video shows the reality of Jerusalem, which today is celebrating 45 years of reunification.

View original post

May 18, 2012

Local Press Reviews

The latest issue of the Alameda Sun, the one local publication we are still allowed to read, is something to blog about.  First, there is “The Sun Shines Everywhere” section for which the readers send in the pictures of themselves holding up the rag in exotic locations.  The latest installment shows locals partying in Cuba.

Alameda Sun Cuba

I had to do a double take. Is it really Cuba or some place called “Havana Club” in the heart of Miami?

The man and woman on the right are “two of Alameda’s favorite Realtors, Dianne Richmond and Victor Jin”.  Judging by the vibe of the picture, their trip doesn’t look too terribly legal, but it’s possible that they ostensibly went to Cuba on a humanitarian mission.  According to the caption, they went in April this year.  In January, the 31-year-old dissident Wilmar Villar died in Cuban prison on ahunger strike.  Did the foursome visit his family?  Did they try to gain access to Alan Gross, an American citizen held in Cuban prison since 2009?  When one of my extended family members was a refusenik in the Soviet Union, he had a string of Westerners visiting him.  It was very important to all of us in the uncertain times.

Here is an idea:when visiting a totalitarian state, make an acquaintance with freedom-loving dissidents and take their pictures holding up your little paper.  Party pictures from the Prison Island make revelers appear evil.

Me and DH were talking about what goes on in that section.  I thought that perhaps Alameda Sun publishes just about any picture that readers care to send in because they can’t possibly have that many submissions.  DH suggested a way to test out that theory.  Next time we are in Israel, take a picture with IDF soldiers next to the Wailing Wall.  Send it in, see what happens.


The same issue carries a story about the upcoming Harvey Milk Day at a local middle school:

Making schools and communities safer for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer teens is the focus of this year’s celebration of Harvey Milk Day from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 21, at Wood Middle School, 420 Grand St.

The evening will feature a screening of the film Not in Our Town: Staging a Response to Hate about the 2003 death of transgender teen Gwen Araujo in Newark,

Keynote speaker, veteran Palo Alto educator Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas, initiated “Not in Our School: Palo Alto.” Pat Skillen, a founding member of the Newark-Fremont Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) will also speak.

The Oakland Gay Men’s Chorus will perform at the celebration[.]

I admit that the concept of a transgender teen gives me pause.  I’m puzzled by the fact that individuals not old enough to vote or buy a can of beer can get gender reassignment surgery.  I must be a hater.  Especially because I don’t understand why middle school teens are invited to celebrate Harvey Milk.  I suspect Alameda Sun doesn’t know it either.  The sole reference to the historic accomplishments of the slain  SF Supervisor is found in his photo description:

Harvey Milk has milk on his shirt in this 1975 photo that Mark Cohen took in front of Milk’s business, Castro Camera. Milk, an avid amateur photographer, owned the store from 1972 until his death in 1978.

Who doesn’t like an amateur photographer, especially an avid one?  In real life, Harvey Milk, a buddy of Jim Jones, was a politico with no particular achievement record.  He had the misfortune of being killed by a madman, so now we get to canonize him.  Seriously, is there someone else a middle school can celebrate, queer or not?


On the 12th of April, under the title “Shooting for a Safer Community”, the paper published a photo of unbelievable coolness:

Shooting for a safer community

I still can’t believe they published it.

From the description:

Alameda Police Department (APD) Officer Emilia Mark (left) watches as Speisekammer Restaurant owner Cindy Johnson takes aim at the target at APD’s shooting range. Johnson recently graduated from the Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) Academy.

Anyhow, pro-Palestinian activist and an old “friend” Paula Rainey obliged to respond.  Interestingly, she also feels that the paper needs to be pickier about the pictures it prints:

In response to the photo (“Shooting for a Safer Community,” April 12) paper I say not! What were you thinking? Immediately after seeing the offending photo, with the barrel of a gun nearly pointed to me, I called the Alameda Police Department. My question: Is this an accurate reflection of the Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) Academy?

Why was this aspect of the training highlighted? What business does a citizen involved in the training program have with practicing with weapons? To what end?

What happened? Why did the newspaper so thoughtlessly choose a photo and headline that shouts disregard for the violence in our communities, violence that destroys families, hopes, and futures. I don’t know.

The Trayvon Martin case, and the overwhelming injustice in any number of other extrajudicial killings in our communities haunt us.

Of course these tragedies immediately came to mind. What were you thinking? Any citizen collaboration with the Alameda police needs to build relationships, not violence or threat of violence.

I don’t want to see guns normalized. I don’t want to see a repeat of the Trayvon Martin case in this city or anywhere else.

I applaud efforts to promote residents’ efforts to know and support their neighbors, especially in times of need.

I applaud efforts to erase stereotypes, to put an end to bullying and racial profi ling.

It is these efforts that make safer communities, not the use of weapons. I would like to invite the community to communicate directly with the police department about their views on the elements of policing that bring safety.

I request the Alameda Sun apologize to the community for running this most repugnant photo and headline. In addition, I would like the Sun to provide space for the community to have conversations about how to make our community safe for everyone.

We may want to consider meeting together to follow up on these conversations. [Bold is mine, -ed.]

— Paula Rainey

This lady evidently holds enough swing over the local papers to ban delivery to dissenters.

I think she might be under the impression that Palestinians are pacifists.  Maybe all these pizzeria bombings didn’t happen and the rockets don’t rain on South Israel.


In other news, the local government noted that  the sales tax in neighboring towns is higher, and duly wants to raise ours for unspecified projects: “It’s for the kids!”

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: