Friday, April 28, 2006

Your Black Bandana Indicates Nothing About You As A Person

Well, mostly excellent.  This guy needs an editor, but his ideas are good.
"While style can be seen as a small tactic of resistance and identity formation, it is also an economy of difference. We learn who we are, in large part, by declaring specifically who we are not ... To what degree does capital rigidify notions of identity for the sake of consumption? ... finding an "outside" community to participate in is a genuine reaction. However, as we get older and the positioning of outside becomes naturalized in the manner in which we navigate the world, a strange confusion takes hold."

"To what degree are our ideological positions style choices? To what degree are identities of vegan, straight-edge, hippie, non-violent, pro-choice, anarchist, leftist, tactical mediatition, lifestyle anarchist, squatter, black bloc, Earth First, just a tad bit removed from skater, punk, raver, gangster? Are these really positions or are they a way for us to carve out a personal niche in the activist "scene"?... Is it really that radical to introduce new forms of "style" to protests?... Finally, to what degree do our "radical" politics replicate the subculture capitalism that we have been brought up on?"


"... pragmatic solutions are not necessarily as chic as we might like them to be. Operating in the radical aesthetic terrain, we must constantly be on the watch for our own predatory capitalist tendencies and the methods by which ideological posturing are only a veneer for new identity culdesacs."

Damn skippy.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I have to admit, I get a little choked up when I see people--especially poor people--standing up for themselves like this.   And when non-poor people get on board... well...
It started as a strike by janitors at the University of Miami to protest unfair wages & insurance coverage, and has grown to expand union-busting activities.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This Is How Oppression Works #1

I took my car into the shop recently, as the inspection sticker had expired sometime around Thanksgiving last year. 
I knew the sticker had expired, but had been ignoring that fact because, (forgive this tangent, but I find it incredibly amusing and wholly indicative of my schizophrenic life: while picking up a Burdock food donation in Brunswick in the middle of a a People's Free Space field trip to Reid State Park last year), I backed into something and broke a taillight.  The light still lit up, but had a neat little hole punched into the plastic.  Which keeps the whole damn car from passing inspection.
I finally got around to calling a repair shop, after researching several on the internet--my main source for this research being the Car Talk website.
I put it off so long because the last two shops I brought my car to ripped me off unashamedly, because, I suspect, I'm female, and I am easily intimidated by guys talking in car language.  I actually know a bit about cars and how they work, but once I get in that office and look at the bill of sale, I cower and write the check.  Lack of confrontation skills, I guess you could call it--which may or may not be related to my gender.
One of the old shops, formerly located on Congress Street on a spot which has recently mushroomed into a huge housing-development-in-progress that blocks all the light on it block, charged me an obscene amount of money to tell me they couldn't fix the problem.
The other, a smallish Maine-based chain, put the most expensive tires in the store on my car even though I asked them to call before they did any work.  I ended up paying for the tires because if I'd demanded that the tires be removed I would have been late picking up my daughter from daycare, which then costs $5 for every minute I'm late.  Also, there's that lack of confrontation skills thing.
OK, so I set up the appointment for the new place, feeling pretty confident that this new place would treat me fairly, based on testimonials from other car-repair-seekers on the website, although a lingering nervousness made me consider asking a male friend to take the car in for me.  I've heard that works for other people.  But then I decided that, as a feminist and car owner, I could handle it.
Then I brought the car in on the wrong day, having written the appointment on Wednesday instead of Tuesday in my planner.  I rescheduled, and berated myself for acting like a ditz (in my mind, a put-down reserved solely for females). 
When I brought my car back, I was nervous.  They did the inspection, replaced the battery (which was the original battery from 1996, amazingly), and then informed me that since I had told them the wrong year for the make of the car, the taillight they had specially ordered would not fit. Feeling even more ditzy, I made another appointment to have the taillight replaced after the correct year's part had come in. Which I then paid $129 for without questioning it because I felt so silly already.
The hard part is that this auto shop didn't have to do anything to make me feel like a dumb girl since I did them the favor all by myself.  (The workers there were, in fact, very nice, and kindly took the blame for my mistakes themselves, offering that they could have written the date/year down wrongly.) 
Mistaking the date of the appointment, misremembering the year of the car--these probably don't have anything to do with the fact that I'm female.  I think they're more related to my overcommitted schedule (and my single-parent status; now that is related to my gender--but that's another essay).  I went into the situation feeling at a disadvantage already, because I have it in my head already that the auto-repair industry can and does take advantage of women, when I made mistakes I ascribed them to my gender. 
I did this, I think, because, whether they're factual or not, the assumptions are out there--that women are ditzy, that they know nothing about car repair, and that auto shops take advantage of that. The awful feeling that I'd done something wrong, and worse, that I'd done it because of something I have no control over, has not really faded--and will probably contribute to my anxiety the next time I have to take my car in.
It would have taken more self-confidence, and maybe fewer internalized messages about women's mechanical competency, to save me a few bucks and a lot of mental agony.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Consumer Activism

Saturday is Earth Day.  Earth Day kind of pisses me off, because it seems like an excuse for everyone to feel good about considering the environment for one day.  Of course, everything kind of pisses me off these days, so it's no surprise. 
Regardless of my recently-ever-present-irritation, a recent email tag from a friend suggested that I buy a TerraPass to offset my car emissions to celebrate Earth Day. 
That website tells me the following about my car, a 1996 Toyota Corolla (which, for the record, has over 270,000 miles on it):

Your car emits 5,595 lbs of CO2 per year.

You should get a Hybrid Terrapass.

A Hybrid TerraPass offsets 6,000 lbs of CO2,
enough to balance one year of your driving.

1996 Toyota Corolla automatic transmission
26 mpg (city), 30 mpg (highway)
8,000 miles per year
Fuel use:
286 gallons per year
5,595 lbs CO2 per year
While I think that the destruction of every car on the planet might be a better activity on Earth Day, if the TerraPass is real, it's not a bad idea.  As long as that's not all you do.
Another thing you can do without doing too much is buy electricity from Maine Renewable Energy, which provides renewable, emission-free electricity generation.
One more thing you can do is destroy all the cars on the planet... but maybe we're not quite ready for The Revolution yet.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Third Wave Daughter

We were listening to an NPR story this morning about the portrait that was used to create the picture of George Washington on the dollar bill.  After hearing that Martha Washington was once on a silver certificate (valued at about $1 in the 1800's, when it was created), my daughter observed that now there are only men on all of the bills, but that she likes to pretend that they are girls dressed up as boys. 

Friday, April 07, 2006

In Print

I've got an article in this month's Portland Banner
Does it count as "in print" if it's only on the internet?
Also, while we're talking about publishing... we're working on a new issue of WT Chronicles... and there's still lotsa room for YOUR poem/rant/story/essay/art that deals with social class in some way (and what doesn't, really?  You think your lunch today isn't about your class?  Or what you're going to do after work?  We're pretty loose on that requirement, fyi.  Although we do really like stories/poems/etc about poor people.)
Does it count as "in print" if it's on the internet and the hard copy was made on the photocopier at your work?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Working at Wal-Mart

A Mainer (Mt. Vernon is just around the corner from my hometown, sort of) wrote this blog about his experiences working at wal-mart... it's pretty much what you'd expect, but interesting to read nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Life... It's Just One Thing After Another

Today is the day when we will be putting my cat Taz to sleep.  He's 11, and he has cancer.  He's lost 9 pounds in the last month and now he looks like a bad drawing of what he used to be, which was badass. 
Of course, this experience is all about S, her grief, her loss, her first real experience with death.  The questions it brings up: should she know?  should she watch?  how much should I tell her?  My tactic so far has been to tell the truth, since in my experience whatever I can imagine is usually worse than the real thing.  And anyway, that's my tactic in general.  (Except for the whole S. Claus and E. Bunny thing, which is all over now anyway since I decided not to celebrate any more christian holidays.)
I also got a phone call at 7 this morning (those early morning phone calls are never good news, are they?).  It was my aunt, telling me that a second cousin died in a car accident last night.  I never was very close to him, buy my other cousin J was, and all of my dad's brothers and sisters, etc.  But there will be services and all later this week... he was just 19.
Good golly... just one thing after another.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Set your clock

On Wednesday of next week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning (or the afternoon, unless you're on military time, which I hope you're not), the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06. 


Blog Archive