Friday, May 30, 2008

'Oh, please' department

Ferraro wants study on sexism, racism in campaign

Memo to all Whining Victims who wish to legislate against reality--get a life. If a person cannot manage to attain a stated goal when spotted an immense advantage, perhaps this person is simply incompetent. One must consider all possibilities, when intitiating expensive Studies.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Discussion Interrupted

Pretty Lady must apologize to dear jSin for abruptly dropping their fascinating, if interminable, discussion on the sticky issue of Health Care, insured or otherwise. As she has mentioned, she was drinking a few too many margaritas. But rest assured, she has not forgotten the question:
what causes one to draw the boundaries they do... people should have health insurance... ok... should we give American health care to people in Africa? If not, why? Because it isn't practical? Reason has to enter into the arena somewhere.
So funny that you should mention Reason and Practicality when it comes to taking care of people. Pretty Lady has often noticed that we care for people we value, not so much for those we do not so much value. Which seems a bit of a tautology, but it is nevertheless the basis for her proposed system of healthcare. Her private view is that any true, free society will necessarily value each of its citizens sufficiently to take elemental care of them, these citizens being the selfsame elements which compose the society. A wealthy society which nevertheless refuses to care for its members is a priori subject to some sort of manipulation, corruption and imbalance somewhere.

Coincidentally, she came across this in the Brooklyn Rail this morning:
As it turns out, not only has the administration doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to cronies running corporate military outfits, but it also picks up their insurance premiums for operations in Iraq. According to Stiglitz and Bilmes:

“It is difficult to estimate how much the government spends on insurance premiums, because no agency regulates the premiums, and no one tracks the overall costs. Insurance premiums are estimated to cost between 10-21 percent of salaries. That would mean that the U.S. government would pay $10,000 to $21,000 in insurance for a private security guard earning $100,000 annually…But even assuming we paid only 15 percent of a weekly wage of $1,000 for 100,000 contractors this adds another $780 million to the government’s annual costs.”

And this acutely conservative estimate covers just the premiums. As Stiglitz and Bilmes point out, “if the contractors are killed or injured in an ‘act of war’ (whether or not the injury occurred during work hours), the U.S. taxpayer is also responsible for paying disability, medical and death benefits.” The companies themselves, of course, pay nothing. Compared with the government’s shameful subsidization of prosperous private military groups, the paltry sums set aside to cover health care costs for disabled vets are cast in painfully high relief. These disgraces are further compounded by the fact that a number of contractors currently employed in Iraq earned their chops as Chilean “disappearers” under Pinochet. Apparently, the government deems war criminals more suitable for insurance protections and post-war health care than members of its own armed forces.
Really, it strikes Pretty Lady as eminently practical to insure that heavily armed, experienced and conscienceless individuals in one's employ receive the best possible care money can buy, particularly if the money isn't even yours to begin with. So the question then becomes--where does the use of Pure Reason come in, anyway, when it comes to building a world that any of us want to live in?

Memo to Gentlemen Over 39

Pretty Lady is delighted to confirm that the vast majority of her gentlemen friends appear to hold no quarrel with her definition of feminism, at least in theory. But as she was discussing just this weekend, over a pitcher of pseudo-margaritas with some dear colleagues from Pittsburgh (none of them could figure out what was in those 'margaritas'--half a liter of Triple Sec was anyone's best guess) understanding that Ladies are People, Too is merely the beginning. And that this fact, all unwitting, plays a major role in the Nice Guy Dilemma.

But perhaps she had better clarify.

You see, despite her reputation for dating Losers, Pretty Lady's romantic history is by no means confined to them. She has consorted with a fair number of Nice Guys as well. When she looks back on it, now, from the safe and starry-eyed comfort of present circumstances, a certain clarity emerges; a certain Pattern, if you will. And so she will share with you now, all you Nice Gentlemen, the real reason she rejected all those decent fellows.

Once upon a time, many Nice Guys of Pretty Lady's acquaintance were drawn to her. What drew these fellows (besides the obvious) were her qualities--of expressiveness, intelligence, creativity, and a simultaneously gregarious and introverted amiability. Specifically, they liked her because she was a talented, outspoken artist with a cadre of close and well-chosen friends.

The trouble arose when, after a time, it became apparent that these qualities were not only genuine, they were permanant. After a certain time-frame of halcyon acquaintanceship had passed (perhaps three months, perhaps six), Pretty Lady did not change a whit. She continued working assiduously in her studio, speaking out in public, and socializing with her friends.

It never seemed to Pretty Lady, feminist that she is, that her essential stability of character ought to create a problem, particularly when consorting with gentlemen whose Niceness veritably radiated from their stolid core. She was never deceptive about her goals, habits, or intentions; neither was she selfish or neglectful in her dealings with these splendid friends. She merely continued being exactly the same person she was before she met them.

Gradually, she came to suspect that the gentlemen suspected that her personality was All An Act. Certain comments they let drop, as well as certain assumptions they acted upon, led her to believe that they didn't believe she meant it. For example: While attending art school, at a party in San Francisco, she once met an editor from Berkeley--presentable, humorous, and Catholic. This editor took her number and asked her out. Over drinks, he inquired as to her preferred painting medium. Acrylic?

"Oil," Pretty Lady replied.

"Oh, you're serious," he responded.

Pretty Lady nearly got up and walked out. That any gentleman should assume that she would throw up any semblance of financial stability, move halfway across a continent and take up residence on Haight street, merely to dabble in an amateur endeavor, struck her as clueless in the extreme. If a man is living in California, and he asks a lady out who makes no secret of the fact that she has moved there from Texas to attend art school, he ought reasonably to expect that he is dating an artist. QED.

But it was gradually borne in upon Pretty Lady that, whatever this fine fellow thought of artists, he didn't actually expect her to be one. He assumed, that once relations between the two of them had come to a solid understanding, all her creative attentions would naturally redirect themselves toward his affairs. "I need to go to the studio" was consistently treated as a coy, trivial evasion, when it came down to a choice between this and playing hostess to his cadre of editorial friends; "artist" was all very well when it came to cocktail conversation, but the practical discipline of such struck him as superfluous.

Pretty Lady dumped him immediately after the Christmas party.

This was by no means an isolated circumstance. Verily, it seemed to Pretty Lady that every time she attempted to consort with Nice Guys her own age or older, something similar would happen. Initially attracted to her style, they ended by ferociously attempting to change it, either by main force (breaking in on best friend tete-a-tetes and demanding that she renounce the Ramones, right now) or by blithe dismissal (planning a long-term Future Together that included world travel, darling babies, and glamorous residences devoid of studio space.)

In sum, it was as if these earnest, faithful, committed swains had been taught from the cradle that charming ladies acquire their charm solely for the purposes of attracting a mate, and thence for brightening the path of that mate, forever and ever amen. They believed this so implicitly that they were honestly deaf to other interpretations, such as that lady artists make art. So when Pretty Lady revealed her inner self to be none other than Pretty Lady, as advertised, they were horribly betrayed.

Interestingly, Pretty Lady has never had this problem when consorting with gentlemen born after 1970. These darling boys accept her at face value, and love her for it. She hopes it is not an indiscretion to allow that her current G.F., born in 1971, not only accepts and applauds her for who she is, but would be seriously disconcerted if she suddenly became someone else--i.e. an agreeable Wifey who hung around his theatre, straightening his tie.

So, as advertised: Gentlemen over 39, this is a memo from the Future. The Future would like you to know, chiefly, not to be afraid. Not only is it perfectly possible to have an intimate relationship with a lady who is a fully realized peer, it is actually comfortable and functional to do so. You will find, after you adjust, that your sense of personal worth can withstand close, daily contact with a lady whose sole purpose is not to bolster it. You may find, that without the pressure to Dominate and Steer, an unwonted sense of Freedom may take hold of your soul. You may discover that your intellect becomes keener, your spirit becomes brighter, and your future more adventurous, with a lady by your side who offers you more than the dead weight of a passive Adorer.

Because the opposite of survival is not failure; it is to thrive.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Evidence of Sound Judgment

The Field can now confirm, based on multiple sources, something that both campaigns publicly deny: that Senator Clinton has directly told Senator Obama that she wants to be his vice presidential nominee, and that Senator Obama politely but straightforwardly and irrevocably said “no.” Obama is going to pick his own running mate based on his own criteria and vetting process.


Breaking News: The Epiphylum is Going to Bloom!!!

Indeed. Oh, frabjous day.

As Pretty Lady's intimates are well aware, her epiphylum has long been a source of both joy and consternation in her personal life. At various times it has come to a pitched battle of wills between the two of them. In recent months, Pretty Lady has taken a very hard line with this overweening plant; she has rigorously withheld fertilizer, watered infrequently, and viciously pruned its tentacular invasions, which threatened to penetrate the attic.

One notes that the infelicitous architecture of a Brooklyn kitchen window has produced an asymmetrical slump, despite seasonal rotations; some of the rear leaves have become wizened and despondent.

But all of this abuse has evidently borne fruit, or at least flower buds. Upon examining a leaf this morning, Pretty Lady noticed a tiny but unmistakeable lump, which bears no resemblance at all to just-another-damn-leaf-bud. Further perusal of the situation revealed that practically the whole sunny-side cascade was silly with miniature floral extrusions. They are currently so small as to resist photographic depiction, but Pretty Lady will keep you all posted regarding their progress.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On the Subject of Health Care

It is believed that 2 million women are living with fistula in the world today. Sarah Omega Kidangasi was one of them. She was a 19-year-old Kenyan schoolgirl when she became pregnant as the result of rape. Like many fistula victims, she lived in a small village, far away from a hospital with the equipment and personnel to deal with a complicated pregnancy. "Due to the distance, I was late to reaching the health facility," said Sarah, now 31. "I'd been laboring for 18 hours. It was unfortunate, in that village, they were lacking some of the equipment. I was transferred to another facility, a mission hospital, and I gave birth to a stillborn baby boy who weighed 4.8 kilograms [10.6 pounds]. Three days later, I was leaking urine, and I realized that I had developed fistula. I stayed in the hospital for two months, and I was discharged in the same condition."

Sarah's ordeal began in earnest when she returned to her village, where the leaking made her an outcast. This triple punishment of losing a child, living with a hole between her vagina and bladder and being isolated from her community is common, according to Kate Ramsey, global coordinator of the U.N.'s campaign to end fistula, which is now active in 45 countries. "In some countries, there's a misperception that women did something wrong, that she was adulterous," said Ramsey.

Pretty Lady brings this up, not merely to encourage a bit of consciousness and fund-raising on the part of her friends, but to illustrate a general point, which she has been noticing in recent Healthcare Discussions. To wit: that it is a general human tendency to blame others for their problems--nominally in order to disclaim responsibility for helping them, but subconsciously to avoid facing the fear that one day, It Could Be Them.

Now, when we look at a barbaric society in a far-away place, and note honored traditions such as raping young village girls, butchering them in substandard medical facilities, and ostracizing them for the results, we may clearly and comfortably declare, 'The horror!'

But she is here to tell you that we do this in our OWN society. In our OWN culture, we turn away from the ill, the disabled, the odiferous and the unfortunate, and look for reasons to blame them for their conditions. We cannot look suffering in the face, accept it, and accept the sufferer, even though this acceptance is far less difficult and painful than enduring the suffering itself.

We do this because most of us fail to understand one salient point: We don't have to fix it. Accepting the humanity and essential blamelessness of a suffering person does not entail anything other than that. It does not mean we must swoop in, pay their medical bills, build them a house, and wait on them hand and foot; it does not mean that if they continue to suffer, we have failed.

It may be that if we get into the habit of this acceptance, we may see more clearly how certain pervasive systems contribute to the problem, and how, with diligence, clarity and efficiency, they can be made to serve a better purpose. But this comes after the fact. First, we must bear witness.

Pretty Lady Wants to be a Supreme Court Justice

Hey, she'd be better than Hillary.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why 'Health Insurance' is a Terrible Idea

It's just like a credit card. It Lures You In and Sucks You Down.
With the individual market for health care, the libertarian argument fails on its own terms: Sick people can't get coverage they can afford. It's as though the rafts are reserved for people who already have life preservers. Americans with pre-existing conditions—cancer, asthma, diabetes, and the like—would need to pay even more than they do today. Through no fault of their own, more of them would end up without insurance. Meanwhile, insurers would improve their own profits by offering targeted policies to people with the fewest health expenses. As with the history of credit cards, it's Robin Hood in reverse. Apart from the obvious injustice, this approach could add to spiraling health costs. The sickest 10 percent of Americans are already responsible for 70 percent of the nation's health expenses. When more such Americans go uninsured, skip checkups, and land in the emergency room, they end up costing taxpayers more.

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Here. Here they are. Gasp, choke, sob.

PRINTS. Your choice of paper, mat, frame, all duly overpriced. You COULD have an Original, THE original, yes, but here--HERE--are Prints. For what they are worth.

The horror.

(Greeting cards, too.)

UPDATE: Due to Private Feedback, prices have been adjusted. Desert Cat, you are a very lucky Early Adopter.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pretty Lady's Extremism Poll

Darlings, Pretty Lady has a favor to ask. Would you kindly take her poll? Never fear, you are entirely anonymous; your answers may well assist Pretty Lady with future grant and book proposals, as well as satisfying her curiosity about all those lurkers out there.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Pretty Lady has just made the perplexing discovery that her photo is now worth L75,607 on Facebook. As long as strangers are flinging virtual money around, why not put some of it in her tip jar?

Friday, May 16, 2008

How to Avoid Being Prosecuted

Pretty Lady simply loathes arguments about Legal Precedents, and Infringement of Liberties, and the Coming Totalitarian World. Portentious columns like this one really get her dander up:

Drew's actions have been called "cyberbullying," "cyberbaiting," and other such techno-neologisms, an indication of their awful novelty. Prosecutors in her state have tried and failed to find any laws that she may have violated, another sign that we're wandering, here, into an unchartered social realm.

If Drew really did what officials say she did, it seems obvious she should be punished for it, somehow. (Drew has repeatedly denied that she created the account, but has acknowledged having access to it.)

It's this impulse that federal prosecutors in Southern California were acting upon when they charged Drew this week with various computer security crimes. The prosecutors are on the side of right -- unfortunately, in their zeal to punish Drew, they've stretched the law too far, and in the process, they've endangered us all.

These people all have hold of the wrong end of the stick. This is not about New Crimes, or New Punishments, or Civil Liberties. This is, very simply, about either having the decency to own up to one's actions, or not.

Because Pretty Lady is quite, quite sure that if this alleged cyberbully had gone to the parents of this unfortunate child and apologized, she would not be in court today.

An apology is not tantamount to a confession of murder. It is merely a recognition of common humanity; that we all make mistakes, we all give in to destructive impulses, and we all undergo tragic losses. If this lady's next-door neighbor's daughter had died in an automobile accident, surely she would have offered her condolences; why then did she withhold them in this case?

Statistics more than suggest that medical doctors who are sued for malpractice are not necessarily the incompetent ones; they are the cold, arrogant ones who will never admit to making a mistake. We do not leverage the power of the court system in order to redress honest errors; we do so because we feel that our basic humanity has been mowed down by an indifferent force.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Health Care, Revisited, Ad Infinitum

Pretty Lady cannot allow dear jSin to continue moping, all the way down at the bottom of that last thread, so she will take advantage of his tantrum to stir up the issue once again:
PL here indicates that she has insurance but might drop it because of the amount it costs. While I obviously cannot speak for the entirety of her finances, she seems to speak of a reasonably active social life. If health insurance is such a priority, where is it prioritized in the budget? If it is not more important than eating out and socializing to her, why should her having it be important to me?
Before Pretty Lady takes serious umbrage at the vast set of assumptions contained in this inflammatory passage, she must hasten to reassure herself that this is merely a Rhetorical Device on jSin's, part, not an actual indictment of her habits. Because jSin is pointing out the very real danger that a society which prioritizes taking care of its own, can very easily morph into one which controls its own.

However, the mere juxtaposition of these two notions may serve to indicate, to every reasonably discriminating mind, that they are not synonymous. Not by a long shot. So simmer down.

First, then, Pretty Lady must deal with the rhetorical smears on her character by stating the following:

1) Her health insurance payment is $300 a month, which is higher by a factor of six than her monthly socializing budget. Pretty Lady was not kidding when she said she was thrifty. Health insurance companies as a whole do not run on the same principles of economy with which she runs her own life, and this is one of the reasons she views the industry with grave circumspection.

2) Before she had health insurance, she invested a substantial portion of her income in yoga class cards, bicycles, bicycle helmets, bicycle repairs, excellent footgear for all types of terrain, arch supports, and the very occasional massage. Additionally, she works a monthly shift at the co-operative grocery store, which insures that she can afford to buy and consume organic produce daily, without bankrupting herself. These investments rendered her, usually, healthy as a French draft horse.

3) Socializing, in New York City, is not merely a frivolous endeavor, but is in fact vital to one's economic viability. Thus, Pretty Lady's stingy socializing budget is not necessarily a long-term savings; she would perhaps be served better in the long run if she partied more than she does now. Because people, by and large, prefer to do business with people they know, particularly if that business is of a highly esoteric variety.

4) Furthermore, socializing has been proven to be vital to one's health, as well. So attempting to separate out the two budgets is a nonsensical exercise, right at the start.

(As an aside, it is a tragic commentary on the state of our society when it is assumed that a person who maintains a healthy social life is assumed to be spending a great deal of money. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned conversation, plus a walk in the park? Round it off with a good cup of coffee or a beer at a dive bar, and life holds few greater pleasures.)

So. Since jSin is relatively new to Pretty Lady's circle, he may not be aware that Pretty Lady has already proposed a Universal Healthcare Plan, which addresses both the economic and social concerns he raises in his comments:
Yes, she proposes that the government freely give its low-income citizens money, to spend upon their own health. Rather like EBT vouchers.

This, of course, violates all established precendents of Condescension, Patronization, and Punitive Reinforcement. It presupposes a dangerous Lack of Control, and irresponsibly opens up the system for instances of Flagrant Abuse by the least deserving among us. It amounts to a Robin Hood philosophy of robbing the rich to reward the poor.

Or does it?

The key of Pretty Lady's plan is that this subsidization will not be unlimited. Persons shopping for health care will be presented with the challenge of frugality; they will be forced to make their own decisions. They will try things and see if they work; if they don't work, and are expensive, they will try something else. Meanwhile, healthcare practitioners who charge exorbitant rates for nothing at all will be forced into another line of work.

Note, furthermore, that the government is not running this system. Note that Pretty Lady has said nothing at all about Medicaid, Medicare, or prescription-drug plans. The only 'insurance' plan which makes sense to her, as she has said in the past, is a universal catastrophic-coverage plan, payments to be subsidized below a certain income level.

The universality of this plan, moreover, is key; this obviates any need for layers and layers of bureaucracy, put into place for the sole purpose of denying coverage to people in need. Once denial is no longer an option, the wit and wisdom of plan-managers will have nowhere to go but toward the efficient managing of resources for absolutely everybody.
As a healer herself, Pretty Lady has long noted that healing is best facilitated by the person in need of it. It cannot be imposed, it may only be accepted. Furthermore, people in general are not particularly motivated by fear of gruesome and painful demise; the Denial aspect of the human mentality kicks in, and the more you show them pictures of diseased lungs, the more they reach for a cigarette to calm themselves down.

Thus, attempting to control people's self-destructive habits is a non-starter; encouraging themselves to take good care of themselves by subsidizing massage therapy, yoga, organic produce and regular checkups might be infinitely more effective.

(Don't worry, Pretty Lady is not so delusional as to actually think that centuries of ingrained Puritanism will be overcome in her lifetime. She can only dream.)

In conclusion, let Pretty Lady remind the hard-core Libertarian contingent of her readership that human beings, as a group, are intimately and integrally connected. This is a fundamental and inescapable truth. One cannot propose a template for Human Liberty while simultaneously disclaiming any interest in the health and well-being of others; this is akin to attempting to launch a foot-powered airplane. Freedom for the individual depends upon consideration of the whole. And as Pretty Lady has demonstrated above, it is eminently possible to consider those less fortunate than oneself, without controlling them.

This Just In--Shopping is a DRUG!!!

Darlings, guess what? Pretty Lady has Arrived! A major retail marketing campaign is now bribing her! With a $25 gift card, an hors d'oeuvre reception and a big block of chocolate shaped like a First Aid kit!

Pretty Lady has never made a secret of being cheap.

However, having sold her journalistic integrity for chocolate and a bargain-basement shopping spree, she must deliver the goods. Within the bag containing her bribe, there was also, most unsubtly, a Press Packet, which she will now proceed to quote.

May 15, 2008--A new study reveals that shopping and discovering an unbelievable fashion find produces a euphoric experience greater than sky diving, kissing or eating chocolate--increasing heart rates to 192 beats per minute, more than triple the normal resting heart rate of 60. While it has long been known that many women enjoy shopping--it is something they do willingly and often--now there is evidence that shopping does actually bring physical happiness.
To hammer home the point, a couple of British Scientists at the reception wired up a number of lady volunteers with brain-electrode caps (they looked like flight helmets covered with blue and green Life Savers) and sent them Shopping for Bargains. Pretty Lady, mindful of her dignity, did not volunteer. She does have some limits.

But there you have it; shopping may be added to the list of potentially addictive activities, designed to anaesthetize our brains from addressing the grim reality of Modern Life. Pretty Lady always suspected it was so.

Happily, she may report that the managers at TJ Maxx are on top of the problem, and have counteracted the potentially dangerous effects of too much shopping by providing a distinctly depressive dressing-room experience. Nothing curbs the euphoria of finding a fetching designer dress, marked down 60%, like having to stand in line for 10 minutes at the door to the fitting room, only to discover upon finally being admitted that fully one-third of the miniscule, fluorescent cubicles within are unoccupied.

(This is why Pretty Lady far prefers, when in need of a fix, to shop in high-end stores that have spacious dressing rooms, with armchairs and cozy halogen lighting. She can try on fabulous costumes for hours, and emerge Calm and Refreshed, without spending a penny! Much more economical.)

Pretty Lady later suggested to one of the charming TJ Maxx PR department girls that the dressing room was shamefully understaffed. She remarked, 'Yes, it's our busiest time of day,' and helped herself to another chocolate.

Pretty Lady now sees clearly; her choice of careers was woefully unwise. If she had gone into PR, she, too, could travel coast to coast, dressed to the nines, hosting glamorous parties and reciting inane copy to everyone she meets. And her salary for doing so would be considerably higher than a $25 gift certificate every year or so.

But since she is who she is, she will grudgingly admit that the likes of TJ Maxx is where she does her practical shopping. She armors her hypersensitive psyche with a Teflon force field, seeks out the natural fiber fabrics in a sea of polyester, and practices Zen meditation while standing in line after loud, tedious, proletarian line. And she manages to dress fairly well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pretty Lady's Art: About To Be Really Hot

Really! David says so!

An art writer I know predicted that the art of the future will probably have something to do with abstraction and with the spiritual.
Coincidentally, Pretty Lady has just realized that her abstract, spiritual painting series, 'The Implicate Order' has nearly completed its integral Creative Arc, and is sufficiently voluminous and powerful to fill a decent-sized gallery. Just in time to seize the Crest of the Future!

So, if any of you darlings happen to have Personal Connections with an up-and-coming art dealer that has Taste and Quiet Discrimination, as well as business competence and personal integrity, would you be so kind as to point them in Pretty Lady's direction? Please and thank you. Pretty Lady has been around the Art World long enough to know that unsolicited submissions are gauche in the extreme, and she wouldn't want to move forward without a proper introduction.

And obviously, now would be an excellent time to invest in an original Pretty Lady canvas yourself. Get ahead of the crowd!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Forgiving David Brooks

It isn't easy, but Mr. Brooks has almost redeemed himself in Pretty Lady's eyes, after he championed that ridiculous ABC debate. With one bold move, he has defined the nature of the coming socio-spiritual debate:

First, the self is not a fixed entity but a dynamic process of relationships. Second, underneath the patina of different religions, people around the world have common moral intuitions. Third, people are equipped to experience the sacred, to have moments of elevated experience when they transcend boundaries and overflow with love. Fourth, God can best be conceived as the nature one experiences at those moments, the unknowable total of all there is.

In their arguments with Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, the faithful have been defending the existence of God. That was the easy debate. The real challenge is going to come from people who feel the existence of the sacred, but who think that particular religions are just cultural artifacts built on top of universal human traits. It’s going to come from scientists whose beliefs overlap a bit with Buddhism.

In unexpected ways, science and mysticism are joining hands and reinforcing each other. That’s bound to lead to new movements that emphasize self-transcendence but put little stock in divine law or revelation. Orthodox believers are going to have to defend particular doctrines and particular biblical teachings. They’re going to have to defend the idea of a personal God, and explain why specific theologies are true guides for behavior day to day.
And what, pray tell, is wrong with a 'cultural artifact,' when culture plays an integral part in how we define 'self'? Hmmmm?

Pretty Lady has come to subscribe, herself, to a sort of relative absolutism. She believes that it is essential to the expansion of human consciousness to subscribe, at one time or other, to a doctrine of absolutes; this is essential to the training of the mind to recognize its unity with God. However, in retrospect, these absolutes will be seen to dissolve utterly, as only being the structural supports of one's spiritual childhood.

So Pretty Lady agrees to respect people's cultural artifacts, with deep reverence, as long as they refrain from bashing others over the head with them. Agreed?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Definition of Socialism

1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.
Pretty Lady posts this definition, merely to remind her readers that there are precious few countries on the face of the earth where the government owns the means of production, and the majority of the citizens are still living relatively comfortable lives. The last time she checked, corporations which produce things are still, in fact, corporations, with CEOs and everything. Many of them may be hand-in-glove with certain government officials, but at the very least, a pretence of separation between state and industry is being maintained.

In fact, as her Gentleman Friend pointed out just yesterday evening, the debate between Pure Socialism and Pure Capitalism no longer exists, in a practical sense. He quoted some theorist or other (Pretty Lady is so bad with names) who stated that 'two seemingly opposing ideas will battle it out for awhile, then they will integrate and move on to the next level.'

Indeed, as dear P.J. O'Rourke discusses in his classic 'Eat the Rich,' Pure Capitalist Freedom is doomed to a collapse into unchecked pyramid schemes and chronic civilian gun battles, without the balancing Rule Of Law. Good government, in other words, tempers the natural human instinct to lie to one's neighbors, steal their savings, and shoot them when you're done.

For the way Pretty Lady sees it, the way the Founding Fathers saw it, and the way more and more countries are seeing it, is that any human system which attempts to adhere to rigid dogma is bound to collapse under a Fatal Flaw. It is not within the capacity of the human consciousness to devise a perfect system, whether this be Capitalist, Communist, Socialist, Libertarian, or Anarchic. To maintain balance, systems must be continuously self-adjusting. They may adopt new elements, under exigency of circumstance, and discard those which no longer serve a purpose.

Additionally, the balance of a system is best served when every individual element of this system is able to provide feedback. It is to the system's advantage to have efficient and sensitive feedback-delivery systems, for when feedback from a particular element is ignored, that feedback becomes ever more dire. In extreme situations, this leads to Violent Revolution.

This is why, contrary to the Dire Prognostications of various of her readers, Pretty Lady remains doggedly optimistic about the future, not only of her beloved America, but of the planet in general. For in case you had not noticed, we are communicating upon the most egalitarian and sensitive feedback-delivery system in human history; the Internet.

As recently as five years ago, Pretty Lady had precious little recourse when brutalized by a Big System, such as an exploitive degree program, a job from hell, or a lousy healthcare system. These days, she simply writes up her case, and it is heard by the Entire World, or at least those with the wherewithal to type their concern into Google.

Big Systems, particularly the exploitive ones, are not particularly thrilled by this fact, as is shown by various attempts by government and industry at Internet regulation, control and censorship. Singularly, however, these attempts have met with limited and temporary success. The network of connectivity, and the commitment of its individual elements to maintaining those connections, is now larger and more extensive than any lumbering, monolithic, dogmatic system can control.

Balance, then, is on its way to becoming ever more precise, rapid, and fine-tuned in its adjustments. If transparency is not official, it is achieved on an ad-hoc basis by courageous individuals.

That is why, when she is the recipient of hyperbolic warnings regarding the Evil Dangers of Socialism, her response is along the lines of, 'Oh, phoo.' Pure Socialism is so nineteen-fifty-five.

Impenetrable Logic

Friday, May 09, 2008

Pretty Lady's Feminist Theory

Doom asks the sixty-thousand-dollar question:
is not what the "gentleman" in question suggested exactly what the advance of feminism has evinced? It is certainly how I have come to understand it and it's objectives. Aren't you, in truth, via socialism, a feminist?

'Via socialism'? Pretty Lady isn't sure she understands what you mean by that. However, she will answer the question, "Are you a feminist?"


Pretty Lady's definition of 'feminism': The theory that women are fully people. Each woman counts, in a spiritual, economic, and political context, as one entire person. Not one-half of a person, three-fifths of a person, or an appendage to another person.

Thus, women are equal to men, and to all other women and children, by virtue of the equation 1=1.

You note that Pretty Lady has said nothing at all about any characteristics of people being equal. For it is perfectly obvious that people are different. Any theory which requires that people be the same as one other is obviously not based on empirical reality.

This is why the 'gentleman,' as Doom so egregiously calls him, in the post below is utterly full of shit, from Pretty Lady's feminist perspective. He is conflating existential equality with sameness of biological, emotional and intellectual outlook. His attitude demonstrates the sort of wilful solipsism that feminism, as a social movement, undertook to challenge; the unexamined attitude of 'what is good for me must be good for you.'

Now, this sort of jingoistic asininity may appear risible, juvenile and basically harmless from the perspective of any person who has the ability to direct his own social and economic destiny. But under a socioeconomic system where a female person is, by social consensus, a chattel of such a male, either by biological kinship or marital contract, it ceases to be humorous. Such a woman has no choice but to bear the consequences of whatever asinine, selfish, moronic, destructive action this male chooses to undertake. If he bets the farm on a hand of poker and loses, she is homeless. If he impregnates her by main force, she bears a child. If he drinks to excess and hits her and the children, too bad for that.

Any anti-feminist who points to the legality, or lack thereof, of this hypothetical woman's capacity to abandon an abusive male and take control of her own destiny is missing the entire point of the term social consensus. When the collective attitude of the mileu in which this lady is immersed determines that her existential value is calculated solely upon the basis of her predetermined relationship to a male, and her adherence to a rigid code of conduct established by the whims, desires and ego needs of said male, there need be few other laws to bind her. Individual actions do not occur in a vacuum. They require a minimum amount of buttressing by the surrounding community, or they are practically doomed to failure.

Some of you may object to Pretty Lady's definition of feminism, on the grounds that it bears little resemblance to the draconian theories advanced by various self-styled Public Intellectuals on the subject. To be honest, these Public Feminists rather bore her. They seem to always be upset about something, usually the actions and attitudes of persons over whom they have no control. This strikes Pretty Lady as being an essentially pointless preoccupation, as well as an anti-feminist one; the whole point of her own feminist philosophy is that she is the author of her own destiny, and everyone else is the author of theirs. Preoccupation with controlling others is a dead giveaway that one doubts one's ability to control oneself.

Note, also, that Pretty Lady's feminist theory takes as its basis, a priori, the mere existence of female persons, not anything that they do. One does not need to 'prove' one's equality by performing any amazing feats of strength, intellect, creativity or earning capacity. One's validity as a human being is not revoked by any action taken by self or other. This is crucial; for one of the characteristics of human beings is that we learn by experience. In plain terms, people make mistakes. Reducing a person to the social status of a non-human by virtue of their all-too-human action, then, violates basic logic.

Conversely, a feminist individual need not rely on extortion, manipulation, or coercion to obtain a satisfactory position in society. It should be sufficient to communicate the truth about oneself, directly and honestly, and to expect the same of others.

Thus, Pretty Lady's feminist practice consists of the following:

1) She takes responsibility for determining, understanding, and communicating her own thoughts, emotions, needs, desires, and boundaries, without shame or a sense of personal inferiority.

2) She encourages everyone around her to do the same.

It seems to her that little more can rationally be expected of anyone.