Love in the Time of CAFTA

Free trade agreements are great for companies large enough to take advantage of them, which is why the Bush administration is so happy with the passage of CAFTA by the Congress. Now, Bush&Co can really say that they are the CEO administration. This is just one more example of how this group represents the interests of Fortune 500’s Mahogany Row over those of the worker and small business.

From The Nation:
“The removal of investment barriers will further open public enterprises in Central American countries to privatization. Moreover, the deal contains dispute-resolution mechanisms similar to NAFTA’s Chapter 11, which allows corporations to sue governments for regulations (including the enforcement of local environmental laws), that they believe infringe on their rights. (Emphasis mine)

Why should foreign corporations have rights that supersede those of a nation’s citizenry? On behalf of their corporate sugar-daddies our government is willing to undermine the legal and political framework of any country in order to provide cheap labor and freedom from environmental regulation. We as Americans allow it for a couple of reasons 1) the majority of this country is just plain ignorant and 2) there is a false sense of superiority that being a worker in the US engenders in our population. For the longest time this was especially true in technology but I have a feeling that the H1 visa has disabused many programmers of this myth. Right now the financial workers are the only ones left that believe their place in the labor force food chain to be unassailable. They should wise up and learn something from their techno brethren – no one is safe from outsourcing and when a program subroutine and some part-time tele-jockey can be scripted tight enough, you are history.
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The Smarter They Get, The Dumber They Are

I have a message to “online marketing specialists,” just because the media that you are dealing with is different from traditional outlets doesn’t mean that human beings aren’t still human beings. This MediaPost editorial (free registration required) expressing surprise at the results of out-of-context placements is simply ridiculous.

Serving an ad in an editorial environment with NO relationship to the product may seem counterintuitive, but it is becoming hard to ignore. Case studies too numerous to count are showing surprising results from the targeted delivery of “out-of-context”online ads – delivering ads to qualified consumers within content areas that are “out-of-context” for the offer. For example, serving automobile ads to “auto buyers” in a site’s sports section, rather than in auto content. Quite frequently, the out-of-context ads will outperform those that are delivered in-context, sometimes dramatically so.

Imagine selling people cars within sports content – newspapers and TV have been doing it for years so why is this somehow amazing and unexpected? It’s called mass marketing and assumes that people with an interest in one thing are likely to have an interest in others – straight-forward demographics, people!

Whatever the reason, as more research and more case studies are developed in this area, this phenomenon could have a very significant impact on the online ad industry.

Marketing is a statistician’s wet dream and the levels of minutiae available for measurement and study online are close to infinite (depending on how much programming you want to do). But in marketing it always comes down to two things: the creative and the offer. Placement is really secondary because as we have seen if the creative and offer are strong enough your market will go viral in an Internet heartbeat. So measure that, stick it in your pipe and smoke it!

Put this man out of my misery

For every man (or every woman) that thinks they have the one, true answer to the abortion issue I say back the f*ck off. Choice and privacy are a lot more complicated than you would like to think. If I have to listen to one more white man tell me that they know best for my body and my life, I am really going to have to start hurting people. Unfortunately for me, the idiots won’t shut up:

In the book, Santorum makes the case that abortion puts the liberty rights of the mother before those of her child, just as the rights of slave owners were put before those of slaves.

“This was tried once before in America,” Santorum writes. “But unlike abortion today, in most states even the slaveholder did not have the unlimited right to kill his slave.”(after all wanton destruction of valuable property was/is considered a crime )

So now, being pro-choice means I am pro slavery? Children are equivalent to antebellum slaves? Actually, this Pennsylvania Senator of dubious mental health has it all wrong. Taking my reproductive choice away makes me and all women the slaves in a conservative Christian America. But, of course, this is a convenient reference to Dred Scott v. Sandford that made people in the north and in the territories fear that the courts and the Constitution would be used to force a state to accept slavery within its borders. The Right uses this decision to fan the flames of hatred for the courts and the supremacy of Roe over state level legislation.

Choice does not mean that every woman has to have an abortion. Lots of women choose to bring their pregnancy to term. Some of those women risk their lives doing it. But they choose to do it. Have a child, don’t have a child – I don’t care. All I care is whether you have the choice.

Leaving well enough alone…

It isn’t enough that the Supreme Court was “willing” (thanks to Sandra’s parting shots) to differentiate between religious and historical intent for displays of religious icons. Apparently, any adverse ruling will be answered by the Right with threats and useless posturing to further undermine the separation of church and state.

“Members of Congress have introduced bills addressing the issue as well. On Thursday, Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., announced at a press conference in front of the Supreme Court that he was introducing a constitutional amendment backed by 109 House members to protect references to God on public property.

“This amendment will protect displays of the Ten Commandments, in Kentucky as well as in Texas,” Istook said in a prepared statement. “When judges overstep their boundaries, as they have here, we have only two lawful options: Either impeach the judges or amend the Constitution to reverse their rulings.”

Jay, I know that you know how crazy some of the people in your birth state are, but damn, don’t these wingnuts have anything better to do? Thanks to Jesse at Pandagon.

Violence, Wingnuts and the Multinational Corporation

In the United States , according to The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, one in four women is directly affected by domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and/or stalking. In September of this year the Violence Against Women Act will expire. It has been introduced for renewal and one would hope that Congress manages to get to it before their summer break. Although the bill does have its detractors:

Congress knows that the 25 million American men of marriageable age refuse to marry and take on the risk and responsibility of raising children precisely because of the draconian provisions in legislation like VAWA. They understand precisely how such legislation makes marriage a hostile environment for any man, and they know that this left 21 million potential wives and single mothers alone at the altar, quintupling our illegitimacy rate to two-out-of-every-five childbirths. They know that a father whose family is destroyed by a divorce which was encouraged and is supported by such programs is twice as likely to die of heart disease and cancer, three times as likely to die of diabetes or an accident, four times as likely to die of respiratory disease or to commit suicide or to be murdered, and five times as likely to die of cirrhosis, than he was before his children were taken from him in the name of a cause whose terms have yet to be defined.
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To Draft or not to Draft

After reading about the upcoming Veteran’s March in DC on Daily Kos, I have some questions for the nonfamosi. Do you think a draft would bring about stronger anti-war protest and thus help to end the war sooner? OR Do you think that a draft would go without protest while “patriotic” Americans everywhere joined the ranks of our military and military families?

One of the comments on the thread brought up the lottery system asserting that it helped to reduce protests among citizens. It seems that people who were high enough in the lottery felt no need to protest because the chances of going to Vietnam were low (I was a child at the time and am not enough of a historic scholar to know if this was true). Is any number high enough with our forces spread so thin and the neo-con agenda so aggressive?

With the reserves no longer a viable option for avoiding active service are Canada, religious and medical exemptions the only alternatives? It seems that the armed forces have non-combat roles for conscientious objectors. So what is an able-bodied 18-38 year old to do? Of course, if a draftee makes it clear that s/he is gay or bisexual at an induction physical then they will be considered unfit for service.

Will they open the draft to women? It seems that they should since there are many women who have volunteered for service and are actively recruited here at home. Could the government bring themselves to do it?

Obviously, I don’t see a draft happening until after the 2006 congressional elections but once those are over, if a Republican majority is returned, what is to stop a lame duck President and a VP with no aspirations to the office from pushing to make up a critical shortfall in military manpower? Rummy likes to think that technology will eventually allow the US to be able to operate with a much smaller standing force than is required today. That may be, someday, but right now they need bodies.

It’s called the First Amendment

Congressman Bachus (R-Ala) needs to throttle back on the jingo and rent a sense of humor. Too much Bible-thumping and flag-waving can be detrimental to your common sense. To take Bill Maher to task over a single sentence in what essentially was a recruitment speech (if you support the war you should join the armed forces, they need you) is not only silly – as a congressman, it is stupid. Pull your head out of your ass, Spencer, and celebrate our few remaining political freedoms. Oh, I forgot, that will probably get you thrown out of office in Alabama.

Protection or Oppression

High school students in Bakersfield, California, have gone to the ACLU to file a lawsuit against their school principal for censoring their story about openly gay students and their lives. The students were “out” prior to the article being written and if minors, written parental permission to be included in the story was obtained.

School officials are claiming that the story may incite violence among the student body. They are only interested in protecting the students.

Hmmm… I wonder. Are they protecting the students or themselves? If a high school must acknowledge their openly gay students and provide them a platform to express themselves, how does this endanger the students? Wouldn’t exposing the discrimination and persecution that these students almost certainly face help protect all of their kids? Shouldn’t an institute of learning shine a light on the ugliness and reinforce the idea that all students are equal regardless of sexual orientation?

Bullying has been shown to be a major contributor to the motives students cite for violently attacking their fellow students and teachers. Why would you turn your back on an opportunity for students, likely to be bullied, to share their experience and gain some support from their classmates?

Thanks to Amanda at Pandagon.

The Fleeting Fun of the Female Orgasm

Does the female orgasm have a purpose other than pleasure? Does it serve some sort of evolutionary imperative? Or perhaps it is an adaptation made for the survival of our species? Do people really care? Well, apparently a lot of researchers do and they have come up with all kinds of ideas.

For the most part, I find all of this conjecture pretty amusing but then I read this:

“Perhaps the reason orgasm is so erratic is that it’s phasing out,” Dr. Hrdy said. “Our descendants on the starships may well wonder what all the fuss was about.” (emphasis mine)

I can tell you this, if it is phasing out there will be a lot fewer descendants wondering about it. Hetero men and lesbians had better hope that the female orgasm is here to stay and that they become more regular and powerful. In fact, I think that hetero men and lesbians should continue to search for and experiment many different ways to increase the frequency of female orgasms during sex. Otherwise a lot of people are going to be very frustrated.