Kol Isha - Voice of a Woman

Rantings and ruminations in the mid-58th century. Judaism, feminism, nonprofit capacity, foreign policy, neuroscience, synagogue politics, knitting, poetry, music, mosaics and whatever else is eating at my grey matter.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Violence Against Gender Benders

The Gender Public Advocacy Commission has issued a report on the epidemic of murders committed against young people who defy traditional notions of gender identity. In the past ten years, 50 youth under 30 have died violently.

The report reveals a unique vulnerability at the intersection of age, race, and gender non- conformity that makes a fatal assault exponentially more likely. “While many youth who don’t fit gender stereotypes for masculinity or femininity face harassment or bullying, when it comes to gender-based murder the victims are specific and consistent,” said Riki Wilchins, GenderPAC Executive Director.

“These victims tended to share the same characteristics: they were mostly Black or Latina, were biologically male and presenting with some degree of femininity, and were killed by other young males in attacks of extraordinary and often multiple acts of violence,” added Wilchins.

I haven't yet seen Boys Don't Cry; I know it would just shred me. I had enough trouble with Brokeback Mountain.

(h/t Pam)

I Heart Keith Ellison

The Washington Post's Reliable Source reports today that Rep. Ellison will take his ceremonial oath of office on a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Take that, Virgil Goode!

Money quote:
Goode, who represents Jefferson's birthplace of Albemarle County, had no comment yesterday.

Of course not. What can one say in the face of such perfect political pitch?

Is That A Tiger In Your Tank?

The Union of Concerned Scientists has revealed that Exxon gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups over seven years "in a coordinated effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming".

Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' strategy and policy director, said in a teleconference that ExxonMobil based its tactics on those of tobacco companies, spreading uncertainty by misrepresenting peer-reviewed scientific studies or cherry-picking facts.

Dr. James McCarthy, a professor at Harvard University, said the company has sought to "create the illusion of a vigorous debate" about global warming.

I haven't bought much Exxon gas since the Valdez, and I never will again.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Simple Coaching Model



I can just hear my mentor coach trying to respond to this in a professional way. My current coach, though, is probably howling.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Daily Writing/Art

Over at LiveJournal, Embodiment is creating community around daily paper journal work. Writing's great, but they're also encouraging collage, photography, or sketches -- or any other work your little heart desires.

This past year, I have written a few thoughts every day in a small weekly planner -- just six or seven lines. But I've been really consistent, and it's interesting to flip back and look at first reactions to each day. I am becoming more ambitious for this year, and we'll see how this goes.

At the very least, it's a reason to browse for a new journal! Hmm - time for a new Moleskine?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dark Matter Revealed

Some nifty astronomical knitting may have brought us closer to figuring out what that stuff out there is that we can't see:
The stars and gas which are seen in galaxies account for only a few percent of the gravitating material in the Universe. Most of the rest has remained stubbornly invisible and is now thought to be made of a new form of matter never yet seen on Earth. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics have discovered, however, that a sufficiently big radio telescope could make a picture of everything that gravitates, rivalling the images made by optical telescopes of everything that shines.


Crappy Day at the Beach

Now know why I've put off buying beach-front property.
...rising temperatures could boost sea levels by as much as 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) by 2100, almost twice the rate previously forecast, increasing the flood risk in low-lying areas, and the threat of storm surges to cities such as New York and London.

We have got to do better by Mother Earth, people.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Punishment and Reward

There's a section of the Jewish prayer book that our congregation doesn't read very often. Or at least, not in the original form. It's the v'haya-im shmo-a paragraph. Basically, it says that if the people listen to G-d's commandments and do them, then life will be good. There will be rain, good harvests and abundant food. If the people turn away and live profane lives, then life will be bad -- there won't be enough rain or food. Rather threatening stuff for an agricultural society of three thousand years ago.

But today, it's more complicated. Or, perhaps better, our understanding of G-d has changed. We're less likely to believe in a "gumball machine" G-d, who dispenses good for good and evil for evil. We've seen evil-doers prosper and the righteous suffer. The reward and punishment mechanism isn't that finely tuned, we think.

Our rabbi has written a rendering of the paragraph that talks about doing and being good so that we may have the reward of knowing we are good people. Is that enough?

Do we still want some tangible reward for our good behavior? And if so, what? A lollipop after sitting still for a shot was perfect; what is the parallel reward for consoling the bereaved, visiting the sick, paying fair wages, seeing the image of the Eternal in all people?

And do we still want tangible punishment for those - always someone else -- who do wrong? Is it "closure" that victims' families want, or knowledge that there will be punishment for the perpetrator? And is wanting the criminal to punished an evil thought, a punishable offense in and of itself?

Perhaps another perspective is helpful. Is it enough to know the effect our actions have on those around us, and on the Earth itself? If we persist in abusing the land, the water and the air, then the produce of the earth will truly dry up. Our actions -- individual and collective -- will have brought about ruin.

Punishment and reward, or simply consequences?

Bless the Little Ones

I had just arrived at the office, after 1+ hrs on DC area roads -- where it's always road construction season. I was grumpy and tired, dreading getting back to workland.

Then Olivia and her mom came out for their daily walk. Olivia had Dolly and Paddington in her carriage, cool suede pull-ons with pink pom-poms, and a pink hat with flowers and a lilac string bow on top. She was happy to show off everything to me as we stood at the edge of the street in the relative warmth of the early December morning sunlight.

When her mom and I talked, Olivia examined at the pachysandra beneath the cherry trees, inspected the curbsides for twigs or insects, and generally explored around with toddler intensity.

She would come back occasionally to wrap her arms around her mother's legs, getting grounded before heading out once more.

When I turned to go inside, Olivia waved bye-bye, and, imitating me, blew a little kiss.

The day was transformed.

Back on the Winning Track

G-men over Carolina, 27-13. Eli had no interceptions for the second consecutive game. Next up, the Iggles, at the Meadowlands. Should be a good one.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Road to the Playoffs

The New York Football Giants play Carolina Sunday afternoon. As soon as I can get out of the Annual Meeting, I'm on the couch with a brew. Go G-Men!


The Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has issued opinions on the status of homosexuals in Judaism.

True to their usual Solomonic approach ("let's just split the baby!"), they have endorsed opinions that state both that it is halachically permissible not to discriminate against GLBT Jews, and that it is permissible to discriminate. WTF? Note that they don't positively say the movement should not discriminate -- just that it's okay not to. Gee, thanks, guys -- and here I thought you might end the movement's obsession with Leviticus 18:22.

There is no other single verse in the Torah that gets this kind of treatment. There's two thousand years of bigotry and small-mindedness at work. Never mind that the passage in question comes in the midst of prohibitions of behavior that was common in neighboring cults at the time. Historical context, anyone?

The Committee is taking a "state's rights" stand here -- at the same time that they can't even muster the chutzpa to come to one decision, they've effectively thrown the issue back to individual congregations:
One of the basic tenets of the Conservative movement is that each rabbi who is the spiritual leader of a congregation is the mara d’atra, or final decisor of Jewish law, in that congregation. Therefore, the decisions of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, while important, are advisory. Reached after serious scholarship, thought, and debate, the decisions provide guidance and support to congregational rabbis, who must make their own decisions.

So, congregations that discriminated will continue to do so, and those that have shed bigotry to embrace GLBT members will continue to do so.

The primary change here will be that the Jewish Theological Seminary will likely move to allow openly GLBT people to enroll and obtain ordination. However, the Committee's weaseling means that once ordained, GLBT rabbis may be denied leadership positions.

The more I read, the less clear it gets. Now there's progress.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Oh, To Be Three Sheets to the Wind

Management sucks today. Dealing with egos, agendas, baggage -- losing its appeal. Especially when the lines of authority aren't clear.

Chairing a committee or board is easy. We may try to empower everyone, provide opportunities for discussion, input, etc., but everyone knows who's ultimately in charge.

But working with your boss's friends of decades, and being made the ED (as in, everyone reports to me), means a minefield awaits with every supervisory incident. I don't get told first, as I should be. I don't get asked before someone decides to take on something new that affects workflow, or make an important change. Or there are end runs around me directly to the boss. I walk on eggshells and don't feel centered. So I don't act centered, don't have confidence, don't do a good job managing. To quote my predecessor -- vayismir.