Monday, June 30, 2008

Nalgene thoughts.

So I don't know how many of you out there have Nalgene waterbottles, or something similar but I know I have a handful. Like many people I bought it as a means of cutting down on how many plastic waterbottles I was adding to landfills...but now I've got all these waterbottles and too much research on how they are harmful.

Are you curious to know what to do with your Nalgene bottle now that you know it contains BPA ? Well, I have been looking around for either places to recycle my Nalgenes or other ideas of what I can do with them...Here are a few ideas I've thought were worthwhile...

SolLight awesome because not only are you keeping the Nalgene out of the landfill but you are keeping a bunch of batteries out by using this solarpowered light to turn your Nalgene into a lantern. Plus the added benefit is you now have a hollow, waterproof container to store maps, fire supplies, first aid materials, granola and other snacks...

depending on what size you have you could use it as a:
-penny jar
-to hold pens, pencils, paintbrushes, markers, etc.
-jar to keep your old batteries in until you can recycle them (NYC drop-offs)
-give it to a child in your life filled with crayons and some pages of a coloringbook, or one side used paper, hell, make your own paper and put it in there...
-make noise makers for rallies, marches, parades, protests, etc.
-fill it up only part way and freeze it and use it to keep your lunch cold

I haven't been able to find a place that recylces Nalgenes and other 7 plastics - so for now the alternate uses will have to do...

In NYC here is what you can recycle .

So if you make the decision not you use your Nalgene as a waterbottle, some other options are KleanKanteen , Sigg , or use an old glass container (yes, its breakable.)


Friday, June 27, 2008

is it just me...

Last night I attended a public forum, Cities Respond to Climate Change: The Challenge of Energy Efficiency at The New School , which happens to be my alma mater. All in all, I thought the event was great and really provided some very relevant and timely information about cities and their responses to climate change currently and overtime (Portland, Oregan has definately taken a historical lead in this sense).

The reason I wanted to write about it was because I was so bothered by one of the panelists and the approaches he was advocating for. Max Schulz is a senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute , Center for Energy Policy and the Environment . According to his bio he served as senior policy advisor and director of speechwriting for United States secretaries of energy Samuel Bodman and Spencer Abraham , both Bush appointees.

Schulz was advocating for an increase in the nuclear share of energy (such a bad road to go down...not to mention scarey) - he also was attempting to advance the idea that energy efficency has only lead to an increase in energy consumption (I'm pretty sure that EnergyStar rated products in homes DOES NOT lead to people using them MORE - think about it, you buy a new fridge, its rated well - do you now use it more? No, it's plugged in the same as the old one - the difference, it is simply consuming less energy...) WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Now the thing that I have always enjoyed about The New School is that they will structure their panels in such a way that there is always someone whose policy agenda is different from the progressive ideals that The New School was founded upon and carries forward today. Last year I attended a forum where Newt Gingrich was the keynote speaker. Many students were angry that he was invited to address the school, as was I, but I wasn't upset that he was invited, I was upset at the way the forum was structured. At this particular forum there was no Q and A period; this is what bother me most. I appreciate hearing from folks who hold different ideas and opinions than me, but give me a chance to question them, give them a change to defend their agendas, give them a chance to skew science and data to support their outlandish proposals, give them a chance to hear the frustrations of the "leaders of tomorrow", give them a chance to hear that people think they are wrong and of course give them the chance to stumble over their words as they try to defend themselves.

On a similar note - I once decided to read Ann Coulter's book How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must) . My mother bought the book for my brother (this is a whole other entry in and of itself)...anyway, he wasn't reading it and I decided that I should read up on what misinformation Ann Coulter is spewing. I got about halfway through the book and I couldn't read anymore - I really am convinced that she is crazy, and for that matter anyone who could believe the ideas she is defending is as well.

It all just makes me wonder, am I living in a different world than these people? Is it just me or are they CRAZY?

Monday, June 23, 2008

All We Need Is Love...

here is the March 26, 2008 Advocate story.

My thoughts = I think this is amazing in the most positive way. Unfortunately, the response to this story has been overwhelmingly negative with people saying that "these people are mentally ill" and replying to online message boards with other words of hate and judgement. To date, Gender Identity Disorder has not been classified as a mental illness within the scientific community.

Instead of reacting with judgement and hate to thing that are unknown to us or different from us I truely wish that people would respond with compassion and an open mind. Here again I lean towards the idealist however, I am so bothered by the growing examples of hatred and hypocrisy. If more people were driven by love and this type of determination I wonder what kind of world we would live in. I applaud the Beaties.

Below is a NYTimes story from yesterday.

June 22, 2008
He’s Pregnant. You’re Speechless.
WHEN Thomas Beatie gives birth in the next few weeks to a baby girl, the blessed event will mark both a personal milestone and a strange and wondrous crossroads in the evolution of American pop culture.

Mr. Beatie — as anyone who has turned on a television, linked to a blog or picked up a tabloid in the last few months is aware — is a married 34-year-old man, born a woman, who managed to impregnate himself last year using frozen sperm and who went public this spring as the nation’s first “pregnant father.”

That this story attracted attention around the world was hardly surprising. Who, after all, could resist the image of a shirtless Madonna, with a ripe belly on a body lacking breasts and with a square jaw unmistakably fringed by a beard? For a time, clips of Mr. Beatie’s appearance on “Oprah,” where he was filmed undergoing ultrasound, as well as shirtless images of him from an autobiographical feature in the Advocate magazine, were everywhere, and they were impossible to look away from.

Partly a carnival sideshow and partly a glimpse at shifting sexual tectonics, his image and story powered past traditional definitions of gender and exposed a realm that seemed more than passing strange to some observers — and altogether natural to those who inhabit it.

“This is just a neat human-interest story about a particular couple using the reproductive capabilities they have,” said Mara Kiesling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington. “There’s really nothing remarkable” about the Beatie pregnancy, she said.

Yet as the first pregnant transman to go public, Mr. Beatie has exposed a mass audience to alterations in the outlines of gender that may be outpacing our comprehension. In the discussions that followed his announcement, what became poignantly clear is that there is no good language yet to discuss his situation, words like an all-purpose pronoun to describe an idea as complex as a pregnant man.

“When there’s a lot of fascination around a figure like Thomas Beatie,” said Judith Halberstam, a professor of English and gender studies at the University of Southern California, “it points to other changes already happening elsewhere in the culture.”

Among the changes Ms. Halberstam noted are medical innovations that have expanded the possibilities for body modification. There are also studies that indicate, as Ms. Halberstam noted, that women respond sexually to the individual, before differentiating by sex. And the broadening legal scope of marriage has also had its effects on people like Mr. Beatie, who says of himself, “I am transgender, legally male, and legally married to Nancy,” but who might have trouble holding on to some of those assertions if he did something as simple as moving from Oregon.

Americans, Ms. Halberstam said, have long been fascinated by narratives of sexual transformation, at least since the era of Christine Jorgensen, an early male-to-female transsexual (born George Jorgensen Jr. in the Bronx) whose sex change, performed by doctors in Sweden, prompted The Daily News to run a front page story under the headline “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty” and made Miss Jorgensen as tabloid-notorious then as Mr. Beatie is, the man who “went abroad and came back a broad.”

The Jorgensen case in 1951 was treated as groundbreaking, just as Mr. Beatie’s was on “Oprah,” despite the well-established fact that physicians at the German Institute of Sexual Science had performed successful sexual reassignment surgeries decades before. If Miss Jorgensen’s story prefigured Mr. Beatie’s, it also pointed toward a future in which gender continues to change in response to changing laws and mores and, as important, new technology.

“The Beatie case seems like a way of having some of the Trans 101 discussions publicly, giving them one kind of a face and doing it in a way that’s not asking anybody for anything,” said Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, a professor at the City University of New York graduate school of English who has written extensively on gender. “He’s pregnant, he seems happy. It’s not in happening in any kind of a judicial, let alone criminal, context so it’s not a matter of claiming a right. It’s a matter of exercising one.”

By bringing his story to the public and disclosing the particulars of his anatomical journey, Ms. Sedgwick added, Mr. Beatie is “making visible the fact that a lot of people’s experience of making these decisions isn’t about getting a penis or losing a penis.” For many transgender people, she said, “genital surgery is not what defines gender, and that will be news for lots and lots of Americans,” who may have trouble comprehending the idea that for some, anatomy does not define woman or man.

Mr. Beatie does not have a penis; his clitoris was surgically reconfigured to mimic a phallus. And the person born in Hawaii in 1974 as Tracy Lagondino also altered his body with chest reconstruction surgery, took bimonthly testosterone injections for years to suppress feminine sex characteristics, grew a beard and saw his hairline change. Like many transmen, he chose not to remove his female reproductive organs. And so, when it was clear that his wife could not have another child (she has two grown daughters from a previous relationship), Mr. Beatie stopped hormone therapy until he could conceive.

“Not a lot of transmen get what’s called ‘bottom’ or ‘lower’ surgery,” Ms. Halberstam explained, referring to procedures like the one Mr. Beatie had, and to yet more radical interventions like hysterectomy. “If they want a penis, they don’t want a micro-penis,” she said. If what they want is to be men, she added, they see no reason why that goal is compromised by keeping their ovaries.

Issues like these have made Mr. Beatie’s story so compelling; the sense that trans identity in the Webster sense of the prefix signifies some threshold state of being — “across” or “beyond” or “through.”

Ms. Sedgwick said that if you look at postings on Web sites like Oprah Winfrey’s and The Huffington Post, “It seems as though there are lots and lots of comments saying: ‘That’s not a man having a baby. That’s a woman having a baby.’ ”

Partly that reaction results from what Ms. Sedgwick calls a phobic response to changes in identities that for most people seem God-given and settled at birth. Partly it is a matter “of people having to go through the stages of figuring things out,” she said.

As Ms. Kiesling, of the National Center for Transgender Equality, noted: “The long-term benefit of this story is not ‘Pregnant Man Trims Hedge,’ ” referring to a widely circulated photo of a bearded and pregnant Mr. Beatie wielding a power tool. “The Beatie story raises questions we’re all looking at now, in a lot of contexts,” about the welter of new possibilities produced by a landscape in which legalized same-sex partnerships reshape traditional ideas about husband and wife and mom and dad.

Contacted at home in Bend, Ore., Mr. Beatie declined to comment for this article. He was resting, he said, and would reserve further comment until after the baby is born. A book that he was contracted to write has been shelved, according to his publishers, St. Martin’s Press. And so once the “pregnant father” delivers, he can return to being the person his neighbors refer to as “a quiet, regular guy.”

By then his story may have served its purpose, Ms. Sedgwick said. It will have showed us that: “People experience gender very differently and some have really individual and imaginative uses to make of it. That’s an important thing for people to wrap their minds around.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

i'm not the only one

Below is an Op-Ed from today's NYTimes. See my last post to get some of my thoughts on this topic...

June 12, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
The Sex Speech
One of the missed opportunities of the primary season was that Hillary Clinton never gave a speech about gender comparable to Barack Obama’s speech about race.

That was understandable: She didn’t want to be reduced to the “woman candidate.” But such a speech might have triggered a useful national conversation about women in leadership, and so, Mr. Obama, now it’s up to you: Why don’t you give that speech? I’m helpfully offering some talking points:

Racism is deeper, but sexism may be wider in America today. In polls, more Americans say they would be willing to vote for a black candidate for president than for a female candidate, and sexist put-downs are heard more publicly than racial ones.

Presumably in part because of sexism (and also because of self-selection), women today are still hugely underrepresented in the political arena. Women constitute about 23 percent of legislators in the 50 states, a proportion that has risen only slightly in the last decade. In addition, the political commentariat is overwhelmingly male, which is one reason that Mrs. Clinton’s supporters felt unfairly battered.

We aren’t always aware of our own biases. Some of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters are sure that she was defeated by misogyny, while those who voted against her invariably are dismissive: The reason I didn’t vote for her isn’t that she’s a woman. It’s that she’s a dynastic opportunist who voted for the Iraq war and ...

The catch is that abundant psychology research shows that we are often shaped by stereotypes that we are unaware of. Many studies have presented research subjects with the exact same C.V., alternately with a male name and a female name. Usually, the male is perceived as a better fit for executive posts — even among well-meaning people who are against gender discrimination, and even among women.

At the end of the day, none of this proves or disproves the thesis that gender bias played a role in the election. But if Mrs. Clinton was hurt by gender, her problem wasn’t misogynists so much as ordinary men and women who believe in equal opportunity — but also are conditioned to think that a president speaks in a gravelly voice.

A conservative may end up the first woman president. The first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, wasn’t “very Catholic.” In the same way, the first black president probably won’t be “very black,” either in complexion or in any personal history with the civil-rights struggle. And the first female president probably won’t be “very female,” in the sense of emerging from the women’s movement.

Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel, both conservatives with no association with the women’s movement, offer hints of the kind of woman who may rise to the White House. Or consider the late Senator Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman nominated for president at a major political party convention. She was a Republican.

Women make a difference in politics, but not a large one. When women first received the right to vote in 1920, the assumption was that they would be a big help to Democrats, who had been more sympathetic to women’s suffrage. Instead, Republicans won the next three presidential elections. Today, the best guide to a senator’s voting behavior is his or her political party and home state, not his or her sex.

Still, it has been disproportionately women in Congress who have championed issues like family planning and abortion rights, and they also seem modestly more attentive to concerns about gender discrimination. Less perspicaciously, women were crucial players in achieving Prohibition.

Politics can make a difference for women. If Mr. Obama wants to show that gender issues are on his radar, he could embrace an issue that no president has ever shown interest in: maternal mortality, the orphan issue of global public health. It’s a disgrace that a woman dies in childbirth once every minute somewhere in the world.

In some African countries, a woman has more than a 1-in-10 lifetime risk of dying in childbirth. If men were dying at such a rate for fathering children, the G-8 would be holding emergency summits.

Yet President Bush has actually proposed an 18 percent cut in 2009 in our aid agency’s negligible spending for maternal and child care abroad. Family planning, which reduces pregnancies and thus also prevents both abortions and maternal deaths, is perennially starved for funds.

What better way to repair America’s standing in the world than a major initiative on behalf of women hemorrhaging to death in remote villages — paid for by, say, two weeks’ spending in Iraq? Working with Britain and Norway, the two global leaders on this issue, we could together save 300,000 women’s lives a year.

That truly would be a noble legacy of this campaign debate about gender and politics.

I invite you to comment on this column on my
blog and join me on Facebook.

Monday, June 9, 2008

my little feminist self

The Women's Media Center recently released this video; watching it reminds me that the struggle for equality continues. I understand that this is an edited assortment of media clips, but the frustrating thing is, is that there shouldn't even be these clips to edit together.

Regardless of your political leanings I think it is fair to say that it has been an interesting couple of months. I know that for me, as a New York state voter, I cast my vote over 4 months ago, which at this point seems like ages ago. It was a struggle deciding who I would vote for - the bottom line is that I thought both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would be an excellent President. However, in the end, I chose Obama - the ultimate deciding factors weren't related solely to policy either. I thought about things as simple as having young children in the White House, a constant reminder of our future. As idealistic as it may sound, it seems to me that having children under the age of 10 around will help to keep our focus on issues that are important, healthcare for all, decreasing our oil dependence in order to preserve our shared planet, and improving our education system, to name a few.  I believe that Obama is the best candidate to bring our country out of the depressed place it has fallen in the last 8 years under the Bush presidency.

But back to the issue at hand, what did Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign achieve for women? In Sunday's NYTimes, Gail Collins wrote an op-ed piece in which she highlighted this very topic. I think it is difficult for many people to engage in this conversation because there is real hatred for the Clinton's, their political machine, their ablity to win at all cost and who can forget, their history. But the reality remains that history was made, no longer will the idea of a women running for President be laughed at. (in 5th grade I told my social studies teacher that I would be the first woman President - - - my campaign will never take off because I was born in England, so I'm disqualified ;))

As a country we have a terribly low representation of women in the US House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House, there are currently 365 men and 70 women. In the Senate, there are 16 women and 84 men. But yet 52% of the voting poulation are women. Where are the women in politics?

There is an excellent organization, Emily's List, that is seeking to address this very question. I encourage you all to check it out. Maybe the more women we have representing us not only in politics but as CEOs, and in the media we as women will not have to be subjected to comments concerning our outfits but rather people will be talking about the ideas we are promoting, the change we are advocating for and the achievements we have accomplished.

I applaud Hillary Clinton for her efforts; I appluad her work as my Senator; I applaud her drive, her passion, her brilliance; I applaud her for every glass ceiling she cracked, broke and shattered. I don't think that her losing was because she was a woman, she lost because Obama ran a better campaign and connected with voters. If you are interested, Hillary Clinton's concession speech from Saturday, June 7, 2008.

The take away, is that sexism is still prelevent, its not why Hillary lost, but the subtle ways that it manifests itself are clearly still alive and kicking. Its something we should start talking about...

"Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
—Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, June 6, 2008

fundamental rights

A recent NYTimes article discusses the complications of illegal abortions (pre-Roe days) with some graphic detail and reminds us that Roe v. Wade was not the begining of abortions, rather it was the begining of a safer medical environment. That is until abortion clinics came under attack by individuals claiming to be protecting the unborn or doing God's work. Today we stand at a precipice, the next President of the United States will likely appoint a number of Supreme Court judges. The presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain has very different views on abortion than that of the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. Our next President will shape American policy long after their term through the function of their Supreme Court appointees. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 the conservative right has tried everything to overturn this decision and force women to return to the days of back room practices, kitchen table procedures and coat hangers as medical tools. Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine discusses the inner workings of the Supreme Court through a series of cases and decisions, it is an excellent read and puts into focus just how important this election is, beyond the next four years.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


if you know me at all, you'd know how i feel about lists - i love them. i make lists of just about anything. to-do lists, books i want to read, books i have read, grocery lists, things to sell list, a research list, holiday lists, birthday get the point. well yesterday, while i was sitting in a forum, i decided that i would make a list of my behaviors as an environmentalist and a list of my behaviors as a consumer. it would be wrong of me not to mention that the idea of this list came from a recent meeting with No Impact Man. i wouldnt say that i am "new" to being an environmentalist (my mom claims she started the whole thing by using cloth diapers when i was wee), but i will admit that since moving to NYC i've had a much more difficult time. i could say it was a function of my busy lifestyle, or various roommate situations, or being surounded by a society that is, generally speaking, consumed (no pun intended) with the ease and convenience of take-out, or the fact that there is always some newer, hipper, sleaker model of everything. but this is just a cop out and the only way that things are going to change is for us each to take some responsibility for our actions as individuals. i continue to fear the collective apathetic.

here are the lists (in no particular order).

keeper --- check this out
i use cloth bags - no plastic bags
use natural cleaning products
short showers
choice flushing (if its yellow let it mellow; if its brown flush it down)
use of public transportation
bike to work
use blackle
asking the janitor at work to only empty my trash when its full
using both sides of paper
limiting printing of reports at work
reuseable waterbottle
reuseable coffee mug
no air conditioner
no paper towels
buy dried goods in bulk
abide by reduce, reuse, recycle
attempt to reduce junk mail
here and here
sign up for paperless billing
internet banking
member of the public library
online magazine subscriptions instead of paper
buy local - farmers market
cold wash clothes
donate old clothes to orgs i dig:
Ali Forney Center, Medical Missionaries, Inc

things i own/do that increase my
carbon footprint
ipod w/ rechargeable battery
laptop and external harddrive
digital camera w/ rechargable battery
blackberry w/ rechargeable battery
alarm clock
limited air travel
i order take out on occassion

here are some steps i plan on making to further my commitment to helping out mother earth

consider every purchase by asking:
1. do i need this;
2. what waste is involved in the purchase;
3. what will happen to the waste upon purchase;
4. is there another item with less waste involved;
5. where did this item come from, can i get it locally;
6. what will happen with item when i am finished with it, can it be recycled,
reused, passed on to someone else who can use it;
7. would the money be better spent by making a donation

urban composting(convince my roommates to join me)
plant my rooftop garden or get a plot in a community garden
reduce the amount of plastic in my life
continue bringing my lunch to work and cooking instead of ordering out
talk to people - not in that preachy annoying sort of way
recommend books to people (here are 3 for today):
Common Wealth
Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed
Making Globalization Work

Monday, June 2, 2008

and so it begins

i can't really say with any certainty why i think that this is a good idea - but i figure that its about time i start building something, not just in my head or the stacks of yellowing pages. i've decided that waiting isn't my style and never has been.