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December 31, 2004

I Bet Fathers' Rights Advocates Wouldn't Be Happy About This

Like Amanda at Mouse Words, I wonder what the fathers' rights dudes would think of this. They probably won't be happy that mom won the coin flip. They'd demand presumptive 50/50 custody. Then they'd dress as superheroes, scale a building, fall off, and leave a bloody blot on the road.

Posted on December 31, 2004 at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Friday Cat Blogging

I don't think the camera is going to get fixed. That's too bad, because Lucky has been looking absolutely adorable in his pizzelle box. He's ripped it to shreds, but he still plays with it. We bought Christmas presents for the cats. One spidery-looking toy that has all kinds of things dangling from it. They knock it over all the time. I bought a plastic stick with feathers and bells on the end. Lucky and Beowulf love that toy.

Not having photos of Lucky isn't stopping me from my Friday Cat Blogging. My husband and son have stopped playing Dark Age of Camelot (DAOC). Now, they are hooked on World of Warcraft (WOW). The game isn't one that I'd play myself, but I've enjoyed watching my husband play.

Turns out that you can get pets in WOW. My husband has a cute little Bombay kitten that he got from the "crazy cat lady" just east of Stormwind in Elwynn Forest. He's adorable. We named him JiJi after the cat in the Japanese animated film "Kiki's Delivery Service." You take the cat out of his cat carrier and he follows you around everywhere. He stretches and yawns, too.

There's one quest where you can get a Siamese cat. He has white paws, and looks exactly like one of our cats that died three years ago. My husband has tried that quest several times, but the cat hasn't dropped as part of the loot yet. Give it time.

Here's a screenshot of the Bombay from a WOW web site about the pets you can get in the game. He's a little hard to see. He's right in the middle.

Posted on December 31, 2004 at 12:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dead Cow Causes Wreck On Massachusetts Turnpike

I hate driving in Massachusetts. The Mass. Turnpike is a cesspool that gives me panic attacks, not that I ever drive on it because I live too far away from it. Nonetheless, I've been on it, and it was not pleasant experience. I just received word that "A New Jersey truck driver was killed in a head-on crash that began when a tractor-trailer crashed through the center guardrail while trying to avoid a dead cow on the Massachusetts Turnpike."

I have to drive to New Hampshire on Sunday to pick up my son at the airport. I hope I don't run into any cows.

Posted on December 31, 2004 at 12:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Snapple Apologizes For Insulting Staten Island

Snapple is in hot water for taking a dig at Staten Island. According to an AP article, "The tempest in an iced tea bottle was sparked by the Real Facts Game on the company's Web site, snapple.com, which asked: "What is the most recognized smell in the world?"

The answer: "No, it's not Staten Island. It's coffee."

City Councilman James Oddo said Wednesday that people who don't live on Staten Island "continue to define us by the Fresh Kills landfill despite the fact that Rudy Giuliani closed it and we've moved on past that."

Take that, New Jersey.

Posted on December 31, 2004 at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bulwer-Lytton Awards 2004

The Bulwer-Lytton Awards are a contest for the best (or worst, as it may be) skull-numbingly bad fiction in a wide variety of categories. To see all the category winners, go to the Bulwer-Lytton Awards web site.

Here is the grand prize winner. It is a groaner.

"She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight . . . summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail . . . though the term "love affair" now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism . . . not unlike "sand vein," which is after all an intestine, not a vein . . . and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand . . . and that brought her back to Ramon."

Dave Zobel
Manhattan Beach, CA

Posted on December 31, 2004 at 12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beaten While Pregnant

I saw this post on Steve Gilliard's blog, and I knew I needed to say something about it. The post originated at the message boards for The Wedding Channel. The original post from the woman is below:

I never thought I'd be posting under an anonymous name. I never thought a day like yesterday would happen. Not to me. I'm normal.

It was a normal day, and I drove my normal car home from my normal work to my normal house and my normal husband. We had a normal dinner. We watched some normal tv. Then we started talking. Soon it was an argument. That's normal too. For us, anyway, every now and then.

But what happened next wasn't normal at all. My husband exploded. My funny, sweet, kind husband. Angrily shouting. Blue veins popping out on his forehead. He was leaning forward, a few inches from my face. We were sitting side by side on the couch. I put one hand on each of his shoulders, and held him out at arm's length. Maybe I pushed him backward. If so it was wrong. I honestly don't remember.

He is much bigger than me. 80 pounds heavier. And I am pregnant. How it happened, I don't know. But all of a sudden he was beating me. Standing with one foot on the floor and the other knee pinning me down, he beat me. I was punched in the arm, the back, the chest, the top of my head. Before he walked away he punched me in the stomach. My pregnant stomach.

He walked away and I cried on the couch. In pain, in disbelief, in fear for the baby we both had wanted. He came back, told me to stop my crying. I could not. He yelled more. Then he got quiet, put his hand on my leg and told me he was sorry.

If I could afford a hotel, I would have left last night. Instead I locked myself in our bedroom with the phone after tossing his pillow and some blankets out into the hallway. He slept on the couch. The couch he beat me on. I left for work before he was awake. My face is perfect. The rest of me aches. Nothing hurts more than my broken heart. There is one ray of sunshine left, the baby is still kicking today. Heartbeat in the 140's. We were so happy to be pregnant, we bought a home machine to listen.

But today I am lost. Totally and completely. I have known this man 6 years. We lived together nearly two years before we were married. I never thought he would be capable of this. His temper before consisted of yelling things he regretted later. I have done the same. He has never punched walls, hurt the pets, or had problems with work or with family or friends. He has never been jealous or controlling. He does not drink, and does not do drugs.

I wish I had the courage to use my real user name. I do not. I know it sounds stupid to say this and post anonymously. But I am posting this because it declares to the world that I have become something I never thought I'd be: a beaten wife. With an abusive husband. I went to work today, it was only a half day. Those few hours were excruciating. To the rest of the world I am still normal. I chatted at the water cooler. I griped about the shopping left to do, the presents left to wrap, the cookies left to bake, and upcoming visits with the in-laws. Now I am someone totally different than who they knew. At least I feel completely different. The old me died last night.

For some reason I just wanted to say that. Even if I can't say it as myself.

She received a great deal of good advice, mainly people telling her that she needed to get out of that marriage as quickly as possible. She responded to posters in a later post:

Thank you all for your thoughts, kind words, advice and encouragement.

I am at home now, as I was when I wrote the post above. At that time TH ("the husband" since I do not want to use DH) was not home from work but he is now. He is wrapping Christmas presents in the living room. Carols are playing on the stereo. It is very surreal.

I used to think I would never put up with such behavior, one strike and you're out, literally. It was an easy enough thing to think when it was hypothetical. I could not understand how someone could stay with a man who'd hit her. I still can't. In threads past I have replied, or at least thought it, if I didn't write it, that of course the only next step was to leave. Permanently. But here I am. Maybe I'm just not tough enough. But I don't want to leave. I don't want to be beaten either, I just want my life back. Yesterday I was on top of the world, whether I knew it or not. We were happy. We were not perfect, but we were in love. We were decorating our baby's nursery. We were looking forward to Christmas. We each took off next week to spend time together. Now I am in a black hole. We had a life we had built together. I did not plan to be alone. I certainly did not plan to be alone and a mother.

He has apologized. He has cried. He has also tried to downplay what happened. I looked him in the eye and told him he could not make excuses, that he was a wifebeater and would go to his grave a wifebeater. It was only a question of whether he would have made that mistake once, or twice. I would never be nearby enough for there to be a third time. That was when he started crying. Such brave words, words I never thought I'd hear myself say because I thought I would never leave the door open for a second time. But here I sit. I wonder if I'm crazy? I know I didn't deserve this. I know it's his fault. But I had a husband, a family, a home, a life. I don't want to start over. I just want everything to be the way it was.

This came totally from the blue for me. Today I googled "domestic violence warning signs" and nothing rang a bell. Not one damn thing. I mentioned his only expression of anger in the past had been yelling stupid things he regretted later. These seemed so tame at the time. I thought this was normal. I have done it too. Is it really so odd? If we argued (say over visiting family) he might say "I never liked your sister anyway!" and apologize later. I've said stupid things too. I've slammed a few doors in my life. I thought that was normal. Has my judgment been so wrong all along? I know most of his old girlfriends. He has never been a violent person.

I have some questions. I don't know if anyone can answer them. Police reports have been mentioned. If we stay together, will his legal past come up with his credit history? What about a background search if he wants to switch jobs, or loses his job and has to apply elsewhere? It would hurt me and the baby too to endanger his job or credit rating. He makes more than three times what I do. What happens when our baby is born? Will there be a problem with DCFS? Will my baby be taken away if I report him, but stay with him?

I have no idea if this will happen again. That's the plain truth. 24 hours ago I'd have said it would never happen once. TH was my best friend. It is so nauseatingly bizarrely unbelievable that I could be asking questions tonight about the consequences of reporting my husband to the police.

[From Steve Gilliard: After more advice she posted the following:]

I haven't been able to log on the past few days. We visited the in-laws and their computer with internet access is in the living room. I am overwhelmed to return to this outpouring of support. My simple 'thank you' seems so small in comparison. Some of you who have posted are nearby. I am grateful to know I am not as completely alone as I feel.

Physically, I am well. The baby is active with a good heartbeat. Emotionally, I am still a wreck. There are moments now of normalcy when it seems nothing ever happened. And there are moments when it is so real I cry as if it were five minutes ago. Days of smiling fakely for the IL's have left me feeling numb more than anything else. I want to reach back into that "once upon a time" and rescue the family we were supposed to be.

I have a bag packed at the door, I told TH it was a hospital bag in case I go into labor early. I have not opened an individual savings or checking account because I am afraid a statement would be mailed here and TH would find out about it. I have transferred "our" balances to "his" credit cards. We never added each other as a user but kept our own cards separate. Now my credit cards are empty should I ever need them. And I made copies of his car keys and have them in the "hospital" bag.

Whether our marriage will continue I can't say. I could only forgive if he were truly sorry and I don't know if he is. I can't see into his heart anymore. Now and then he still seems like my best friend. Mostly he is a stranger to me. This is not the man I knew, not the man I loved and married, not the man I wanted a baby with. I want to believe that man is not gone forever.

I agree that she needs to get out of that marriage. For some women, the first time they experience physical violence is when they are pregnant, and from there it escalates. She is probably scared, hurting, and confused. It sounds as if she has resources at her disposal such as (I believe) a job, support from the message board, credit, possibly a car (she'll need to be able to get around), and support from her family. She is preparing to leave. She has packed her bags. While there have been mixed reactions in Steve's comments section to her transferring her credit debt to her husband's credit cards, she is at least trying to provide for herself as much freedom as possible to get out of that marriage, and for many women financial freedom (lack of debt and access to money) is a big issue. What I fear is that her abusive husband may use the court system to further abuse her once the baby is born. He may fight for custody and try to avoid paying child support. It is well-documented that abusers use the court system in an effort to further frighten and control their victims. Domestic violence shelters are well aware of that problem and have taken steps to protect victims from further legal abuse from their abusers.

Please see my earlier post about the The Second National Battered Mother's Custody Conference, which will be held in Albany, New York in the second week in January. That conference deals with abused mothers who are further abused by their abusive ex's and the court system.

Another thing that concerned me about Steve Gilliard's post was some of the misogynistic, men's rights type commentary from people in his comments section. This was one of the nastier examples:

Q:You know what it means when a woman has a black eye?
A: It means she doesn't know when to shut up.

Jokes aside, we only have one side of the story. Yes, punching a pregnant woman in the stomach is despicable, even if she is your wife, but once someone crosses the line into twathood they stay there
until they can live alone.

You may say I'm blaming the victim, but we don't know the whole story.
She may have been depressed and subconsciously trying to fulfill a death wish. Or maybe he was jealous of the baby, who knows? I didn't see anything about whether of not it was a planned pregnancy..

Anyway, let's assume she has the kid and stays in the relationship where arguing is normal (?!?!? yeah, men _live_ for that). Who's the victim now and who's to blame for any beatings the kid catches?

Crimes of passion don't happen in a vacuum.

Amanda at Mouse Words gave the same guy a well-deserved fisking on her blog. Go read it. It's worth the time.

What concerns me about this horrid men's rights attitude about battered women (blaming the victim) is that that same attitude is often present at legislative hearings for domestic violence bills. Men's and fathers' rights advocates think that women and their lawyers frequently fabricate abuse allegations to use as leverage in divorce cases.

The truth is that bona-fide false allegations of abuse are rare. That link provides numerous examples of research that has shown that bona-fide false allegations of abuse are no more likely to occur in the context of divorce and custody cases than they are in the population at large. The same research also shows that only 2 - 8% of allegations of abuse are proven to be false. A study from Canada found that fathers much more so than mothers make false allegations of abuse.

Men's and fathers' rights activists tell legislators that women and lawyers use restraining orders to falsely accuse men of abuse in divorce and custody cases. Another lie. Pauline Quirion, Esq., wrote in her article "Why Attorneys Should Routinely Screen Clients For Domestic Violence" that "[t]he high frequency with which RO's [sic] are issued might lead some skeptics to assume that these orders are granted too easily for minor offenses and almost any man is at risk of being a defendant. The data from the new RO database in Massachusetts reflect otherwise. Men against whom RO's have been used are clearly not a random draw from the population. They are likely to have a criminal history, often reflective of violent behavior toward others."

Men's and fathers' rights activists also tell legislators during hearings about domestic violence bills that women are as abusive as men, and that "battered men" is a national problem that is ignored by feminists. More lies. 95% of all victims of domestic violence are women. Men's and father's rights advocates use the discredited Conflict Tactic Scales in a bean-counting way to tally up individual physical "hits" in a situation to supposedly show that women beat up men as much as men beat up women. This misuse of the CTS does not take into account the cycle of abuse, the power and control issues inherent in abuse, the characteristics of the individual situation, and the history of the abusive relationship. They isolate "hits" to come up with a false positive.

The types of misogynistic comments in Steve Gilliard's comments section are much more common than you'd think. Men's and fathers' rights advocates dive-bomb legislative hearings about pending domestic violence bills in order to destroy protections for abused women, and they spread those same misogynistic points of view. Thankfully, no one listens to them, but that doesn't stop them from spreading their propaganda.

Posted on December 31, 2004 at 12:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (111)

December 30, 2004

And They Were Expecting Handel's "Messiah"...

A family in Ohio turned on the tube expecting to see choirs perform holiday music on Christmas morning. Instead, they got hard-core porn. The teenagers weren't in the room. The parents called the cable company to complain. Whoever put the wrong tape in is probably going to get a pink slip as a late Christmas gift.

Posted on December 30, 2004 at 01:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Another Dumbass Christmas Criminal

Must be the time of year. Snow on the brain: "A Christmas morning burglar was caught after he left a trail of footprints through the first snow to hit Brownsville in 109 years." The police followed his trail through the snow.

Posted on December 30, 2004 at 01:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Do Your Kid A Favor And Don't Name Him "Hawkweed"

Here they are: the least popular baby names for 2004.

Least Popular Boy's Names

Beelzebub (Heh heh, Sheelz. At least it's not you.)
Donald Duck
Scrote (you've gotta be fucking kidding me...)
Least Popular Girl's Names

Rack (Oh, for God's sake...)
Parsnip Chops

Here are the top ten baby names for 2004. I think the names in parentheses were the winners last year.

Top Ten Boy's Names

Jacob (Jacob)
Aidan (Aidan)
Ethan (Ethan)
Ryan (Matthew)
Matthew (Nicholas)
Michael (Joshua)
Tyler (Ryan)
Joshua (Michael)
Nicholas (Zachary)
Connor (Tyler)

Top Ten Girl's Names

Emma (Emily)
Madison (Emma)
Emily (Madison)
Kaitlyn (Hannah)
Hailey (Hailey)
Olivia (Sarah)
Isabella (Kaitlyn)
Hannah (Isabella)
Sarah (Olivia)
Abigail (Abigail)

Posted on December 30, 2004 at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Top 10 Paranormal Events of 2004

I love paranormal shit. This is a link to a list of the top 10 paranormal events of 2004. My favorite is below. I called a troll who attacked me in comments a "skunk ape," and now you know what it is. This skunk ape called blogger Upyernoz "upyercunt." He was a real prize.

I'm going to call the next troll who annoys me an "oozebag." My son came up with that one. Heh heh.

"Woman Surprises a Skunk Ape – Large, hairy ape-like creatures have been reported in every state of the U.S. In the Pacific northwest it’s called Sasquatch. In places like Ohio it’s known as Bigfoot. But in Florida and a few other southern states, the tall, upright walking hominid is called the Skunk Ape. A highly credible sighting of the Skunk Ape was reported in August by Jennifer Ward as she was driving home with her children on a dark rural road. It was crouching in a ditch, but as she slowed her car to see it better, the creature stood to its full six- to eight-foot height. “When he saw me, he was as surprised as I was,” Ward told the newspapers. She described it as being covered almost completely with dark hair about two inches long, white areas around the eyes, and full lips that had the color and texture of the pad on a dog’s paw. This kind of detail is most compelling and is good evidence that there really are unknown creatures out there."

This one was especially weird:

"Stones from Her Eyes - If you think stones raining from the sky are unusual, how about when they drop out of a girl’s eyes? In October, a 15-year-old girl from Jharkhand, India was taken to a hospital because tiny stones were emerging from the corners of her eyes. The doctors admitted they had never seen anything like it and were at a loss to explain it. Before the stones dropped out, the girl reported terrible headaches (as you can imagine). Oh yes, the stones also appeared out of her ears and nose as well. “Stones from the eyes is a strange phenomenon as this has not even found mention in medical literature," one of the doctors said."

Posted on December 30, 2004 at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)