Thursday, October 11, 2007

On the age front...

Aging and Gay, and Facing Prejudice in Twilight
James Estrin/The New York Times

Jalna Perry of Boston said her guard was always up in nursing homes.

The result of her outspokenness, Ms. Donadello said, was swift and merciless. “Everyone looked horrified,” she said. No longer included in conversation or welcome at meals, she plunged into depression. Medication did not help. With her emotional health deteriorating, Ms. Donadello moved into an adult community nearby that caters to gay men and lesbians.

“I felt like I was a pariah,” she said, settled in her new home. “For me, it was a choice between life and death.”

Elderly gay people like Ms. Donadello, living in nursing homes or assisted-living centers or receiving home care, increasingly report that they have been disrespected, shunned or mistreated in ways that range from hurtful to deadly, even leading some to commit suicide.

Some have seen their partners and friends insulted or isolated. Others live in fear of the day when they are dependent on strangers for the most personal care. That dread alone can be damaging, physically and emotionally, say geriatric doctors, psychiatrists and social workers.

More at:

Saturday, September 08, 2007

'Wrinkle in Time' author dies at 88

'Wrinkle in Time' author dies at 88

HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) -- Author Madeleine L'Engle, whose novel "A Wrinkle in Time" has been enjoyed by generations of schoolchildren and adults since the 1960s, has died, her publicist said Friday. She was 88.

L'Engle died Thursday at a nursing home in Litchfield of natural causes, according to Jennifer Doerr, publicity manager for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The Newbery Medal winner wrote more than 60 books, including fantasies, poetry and memoirs, often highlighting spiritual themes and her Christian faith.

Although L'Engle was often labeled a children's author, she disliked that classification. In a 1993 Associated Press interview, she said she did not write down to children.

"In my dreams, I never have an age," she said. "I never write for any age group in mind. When people do, they tend to be tolerant and condescending and they don't write as well as they can write.

"When you underestimate your audience, you're cutting yourself off from your best work."

"A Wrinkle in Time" -- which L'Engle said was rejected repeatedly before it found a publisher in 1962 -- won the American Library Association's 1963 Newbery Medal for best American children's book. Her "A Ring of Endless Light" was a Newbery Honor Book, or medal runner-up, in 1981.

In 2004, President Bush awarded her a National Humanities Medal.

"Wrinkle" tells the story of adolescent Meg Murry, her genius little brother Charles Wallace, and their battle against evil as they search across the universe for their missing father, a scientist.

L'Engle followed it up with further adventures of the Murry children, including "A Wind in the Door," 1973; "A Swiftly Tilting Planet," 1978, which won an American Book Award; and "Many Waters," 1986.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I'm really fascinated by representations of cyberspace, of the Internet. I think one of the central ways to talk about our understanding of cyberspace and digital technology is through the cultural productions produced about them, for them, by them, around them. I taught a class last year called Imagining Cyberspace, which looked at literary and visual representations of cyberspace. It was interesting and even though students are often praised for being so technologically 'savvy', they still found new eyes and resistances to the very naturalised understanding of the Net and its concomitant technology. This is a long winded introduction to one of the scariest (and cheesiest) images I've found in a long, long, long time:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Samuel R. Delany Presented by the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop and EMP|SFM

Six Summer Evenings of Science Fiction 2007 Reading Series - Samuel R. Delany Presented by the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop and EMPSFM

Tuesday, July 24

Samuel R. Delany is arguably the most daring, wide-ranging, word-drunk, idea-besotted writer of science fiction and fantasy that the United States has ever produced. In his 45-year professional career, he has extensively explored issues of language, gender, race, sexuality, power and otherness. Author of Dhalgren, Babel-17, and numerous novels, stories, and critical and philosophical works including his new novel Dark Reflections, he never fails to deliver a dynamic evening. Delany has won numerous national and international awards including the Hugo and Nebula, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2002. Delany is Clarion West's 2007 Susan C. Petrey Fellow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

7:30 PM

Free admission.

Seating is general admission and is limited.

JBL Theater

325 5th Ave N

Friday, July 20, 2007

Nooses and a legal lynching in Jena, Louisiana

I cannot believe (and can believe) this is (still) going on in the world:

"Injustice in Jena as Nooses Hang From the �White Tree,'"
truthout, July 3, 2007
"Racial demons rear heads," Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2007
"'Jena Six' defendant convicted," Town Talk, June 29, 2007
NPR: Searching for Justice in Jena 6 Case (streaming audio)
Democracy Now! - The case of the Jena Six ...
Too Sense: Free The Jena Six Now
While Seated: Jena Six
Nooses, attacks and jail for black students in Jena Louisiana
Justice In Jena, by Jordan Flaherty§ionID=30
The Perpetrator becomes the Prosecutor (and other related entries)
'Stealth racism' stalks deep South

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cat Cam

Cat with camera... embedded reporting? first-person pouncing? kitty reality tv?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Honey, You're the Bomb!

This just is too hilarious:

Jun 8, 2007 9:03 pm US/Pacific

Pentagon Confirms It Sought To Build A 'Gay Bomb'

Hank Plante

(CBS 5) BERKELEY A Berkeley watchdog organization that tracks military spending said it uncovered a strange U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting.

Pentagon officials on Friday confirmed to CBS 5 that military leaders had considered, and then subsquently rejected, building the so-called "Gay Bomb."

Related Content:
Gen. Pace Regrets Gay Remark; Doesn't Apologize
Slideshow: Gay Celebrities
Visit The CBS 5 Water Cooler: More Talker Stories

Edward Hammond, of Berkeley's Sunshine Project, had used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the proposal from the Air Force's Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.

As part of a military effort to develop non-lethal weapons, the proposal suggested, "One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior."

The documents show the Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million to develop such a chemical weapon.

"The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another," Hammond said after reviewing the documents.

"The notion was that a chemical that would probably be pleasant in the human body in low quantities could be identified, and by virtue of either breathing or having their skin exposed to this chemical, the notion was that soliders would become gay," explained Hammond.

The Pentagon told CBS 5 that the proposal was made by the Air Force in 1994.

"The Department of Defense is committed to identifying, researching and developing non-lethal weapons that will support our men and women in uniform," said a DOD spokesperson, who indicated that the "gay bomb" idea was quickly dismissed.

However, Hammond said the government records he obtained suggest the military gave the plan much stronger consideration than it has acknowledged.

"The truth of the matter is it would have never come to my attention if it was dismissed at the time it was proposed," he said. "In fact, the Pentagon has used it repeatedly and subsequently in an effort to promote non-lethal weapons, and in fact they submitted it to the highest scientific review body in the country for them to consider."

Military officials insisted Friday to CBS 5 that they are not currently working on any such idea and that the past plan was abandoned.

Gay community leaders in California said Friday that they found the notion of a "gay bomb" both offensive and almost laughable at the same time.

"Throughout history we have had so many brave men and women who are gay and lesbian serving the military with distinction," said Geoff Kors of Equality California. "So, it's just offensive that they think by turning people gay that the other military would be incapable of doing their job. And its absurd because there's so much medical data that shows that sexual orientation is immutable and cannot be changed."


From the NYT:

June 12, 2007
The DNA Age
As Breeders Test DNA, Dogs Become Guinea Pigs

FORT MOTT STATE PARK, N.J. — When mutant, muscle-bound puppies started showing up in litters of champion racing whippets, the breeders of the normally sleek dogs invited scientists to take DNA samples at race meets here and across the country. They hoped to find a genetic cause for the condition and a way to purge it from the breed.

It worked. “Bully whippets,” as the heavyset dogs are known, turn out to have a genetic mutation that enhances muscle development. And breeders may not want to eliminate the “bully” gene after all. The scientists found that the same mutation that pumps up some whippets makes others among the fastest dogs on the track.

With a DNA screening test on the way, “We’re going to keep the speed and lose the bullies,” Helena James, a whippet breeder in Vancouver, British Columbia, said.

Free of most of the ethical concerns — and practical difficulties — associated with the practice of eugenics in humans, dog breeders are seizing on new genetic research to exert dominion over the canine gene pool. Companies with names like Vetgen and Healthgene have begun offering dozens of DNA tests to tailor the way dogs look, improve their health and, perhaps soon, enhance their athletic performance.

But as dog breeders apply scientific precision to their age-old art, they find that the quest for genetic perfection comes with unforeseen consequences. And with DNA tests on their way for humans, the lessons of intervening in the nature of dogs may ultimately bear as much on us as on our best friends.

“We’re on the verge of a real radical shift in the way we apply genetics in our society,” said Mark Neff, associate director of the veterinary genetics laboratory at the University of California, Davis. “It’s better to be first confronted with some of these issues when they concern our pets than when they concern us.”

Some Labrador breeders are using DNA tests for coat color to guarantee exotic silver-coated retrievers. Mastiff breeders test for shaggy fur to avoid “fluffies,” the long-haired whelps occasionally born to short-haired parents.

Next up, geneticists say, could be tests for big dogs, small dogs, curly-tailed dogs, dogs with the keenest senses of smell and dogs that cock their heads endearingly when they look at you.

Scientists who recently completed the first map of a dog genome (of a boxer named Tasha) are now soliciting samples from dog owners across the world to uncover the genetic basis for a slew of other traits.

Some discoveries grow out of government-financed research aimed at improving human health. Others are paid for by breed clubs carrying out their mission to better their breeds. By screening their dogs’ DNA for desirable and undesirable traits that might appear in their offspring, breeders can make more informed decisions about which dogs to — or not to — mate.

But because genes are often tied to multiple traits, scientists warn, deliberate selection of certain ones can backfire. The gene responsible for those silver-coated Labradors, for example, is tied to skin problems.

With the genetic curtain lifted, breeders also take on a heavier burden for the consequences of their choices. Whippet breeders who continue to mate fast dogs with one another, for instance, now do so knowing they may have to destroy the unwelcome bullies such pairings often produce.

Moreover, the prospect of races being won by dogs intentionally bred to have a genetic advantage may bring new attention to the way that genes contribute to canine — and human — achievement, even when the genetic deck is not stacked. Inborn abilities once attributed to something rather mystical seem to lose a certain standing when connected to specific genes.

A mutation similar to the one that makes some whippets faster also exists in humans: a sliver of genetic code that regulates muscle development, is missing.

“It would be extremely interesting to do tests on the track finalists at the Olympics,” said Elaine Ostrander, the scientist at the National Institutes of Health who discovered that the fastest whippets had a single defective copy of the myostatin gene, while “bullies” had two.

“But we wouldn’t know what to do with the information,” Ms. Ostrander said. “Are we going to segregate the athletes who have the mutation to run separately?” For the moment, it is whippet owners who find themselves on the edge of that particular bioethical frontier.

It was not exactly news to breeders that speed is an inherited trait: whippets were developed in the late 1800s specifically for racing. But knowing that one of her dogs was sired by a carrier of the gene, said Jen Jensen, a whippet owner in Fair Oaks, Calif., makes its championships seem “less earned.” Ms. Jensen’s suggestion that a DNA test be required for all dogs and that the fastest ones without the mutation be judged and raced separately, however, has not gone over well.

At a recent race here in southern New Jersey, some whippet owners wanted the mutation eliminated altogether, even if that meant fewer fast dogs. But as the dogs pounded after a lure at 35 miles per hour, several owners allowed that they would prefer a whippet with the gene for speed.

“It’s more fun having fast dogs than slow dogs,” said Libby Kirchner, of Glassboro, N.J.

The headaches are enough to make some breeders long for the time when decisions about breeding were dominated by intuition and pedigree charts. Selecting a mate, they say, was meant to involve mystery — in any species.

“It makes it so there’s no creative expression,” said Cheryl Shomo, of Chesapeake, Va. “Now everyone’s just going to do the obvious thing.”

Even so, many veteran breeders welcome the transparency the tests confer. Because while like tends to beget like, it doesn’t always work that way.

Mary-Jo Winters, a poodle breeder, uses a DNA coat-color test to ensure there are no genes for brown fur lurking beneath her black-and-cream-colored dogs.

“I don’t want brown,” said Ms. Winters. “It’s not my thing.”

Judy Pritchard, a Doberman breeder in Toledo, Wash., screens dogs she is considering breeding for a gene responsible for von Willibrand disease, a bleeding disease like hemophilia that also affects humans.

DNA tests, Ms. Pritchard said, “are the greatest tools that have been offered to dog breeders since the beginning of dogs. You need to use them to improve the breed.”

Many breeders hope this new effort to corral nature will weed out the numerous recessive diseases that plague purebred dogs after generations of human-imposed inbreeding. But some question the wisdom of escalating intervention. Mark Derr, an author who has written about the history of dog breeding, urges everyone to reconsider the goal of genetic purity.

“I always use dogs as the example of why we don’t want to be mucking around with our own genome,” Mr. Derr said. “These people are trying to use DNA tests to solve problems of their own making.”

Still, some proponents of using the DNA palette are proposing to go even further. Dr. Neff, the University of California researcher, has proposed screening successive generations of dogs with DNA tests and breeding only those with genes for traits like stamina and scent detection to create a new breed of dogs to patrol subways and airports. , It could be done within a few years, he said, instead of the centuries it took shepherds to breed the sheepdogs that patrol their flocks.

Even those who want to exert more direct control over dog DNA, however, agree that no genetic test can predict the intangible qualities that make a dog great.

If a dog does not have the spirit to run a race, it is not going to win, said Betsy Browder, a whippet owner in College Station, Tex.

“ ‘Keenness’ is what we call it,” she said. “Just like you can have a human athlete who’s really lazy, and all the genes in the world aren’t going to help.”

Thursday, June 07, 2007

FDA says gay men still can’t donate blood

FDA wants to prevent HIV spread; Red Cross, others say it’s ‘unwarranted’

The Associated Press

Updated: 4:38 p.m. ET May 23, 2007

WASHINGTON - Gay men remain banned for life from donating blood, the
government said Wednesday, leaving in place — for now — a 1983
prohibition meant to prevent the spread of HIV through transfusions.

The Food and Drug Administration reiterated its long-standing policy on
its Web site Wednesday, more than a year after the Red Cross and two
other blood groups criticized the policy as “medically and scientifically

“I am disappointed, I must confess,” said Dr. Celso Bianco, executive
vice president of America’s Blood Centers, whose members provide nearly
half the nation’s blood supply.

Before giving blood, all men are asked if they have had sex, even once,
with another man since 1977. Those who say they have are permanently
banned from donating. The FDA said those men are at increased risk of
infection by HIV that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion.

New, improved HIV tests
In March 2006, the Red Cross, the international blood association AABB
and America’s Blood Centers proposed replacing the lifetime ban with a
one-year deferral following male-to-male sexual contact. New and improved
tests, which can detect HIV-positive donors within just 10 to 21 days of
infection, make the lifetime ban unnecessary, the blood groups told the

In a document posted Wednesday, the FDA said it would change its policy
if given data that show doing so wouldn’t pose a “significant and
preventable” risk to blood recipients.

“It is a way of saying, ‘Whatever was presented to us was not sufficient
to make us change our minds,”’ Bianco said.

The FDA said HIV tests currently in use are highly accurate, but still
cannot detect the virus 100 percent of the time. The estimated HIV risk
from a unit of blood is currently about one per 2 million in the United
States, according to the agency.

Critics of the exclusionary policy said it bars potential healthy donors,
despite the increasing need for donated blood, and discriminates against
gays. The FDA recognized the policy defers many healthy donors but
rejected the suggestion it’s discriminatory.

Anyone who’s used intravenous drugs or been paid for sex also is
permanently barred from donating blood.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

UCSD controversy/TA dismissal

Dear Friends,

Last Wednesday 300+ students in the Dimensions of Culture Program (DOC) at UCSD's Thurgood Marshall College walked out in protest of the wrongful dismissal of two long-time DOC teaching assistants, Benjamin Balthaser and Scott Boehm. Students associated with the Lumumba-Zapata Coalition organized a march and a demonstration outside the Chancellor's Office, which was successful in drawing the Chancellor and other administrators outside to discuss the on-going controversy, including the university's unwillingness to grant student representation on the committee recently established to review academic programs at TMC, including DOC.

(FYI: DOC is an undergraduate writing program that has traditionally provided a systematic critique of structural inequality in U.S. society, paying particular attention to the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality, while emphasizing social justice. In recent years, the program has drifted away from its original mission, and professors, lecturers and teaching assistants who have protested have been pushed out of the program.)

Here is a link to the video footage of the march and demonstration:

On the video you will notice that the Vice-Chancellor of Undergraduate Education Mark Appelbaum clearly states that Balthaser and Boehm were not rehired for next year not because of their political activities, implying that this decision was based upon their teaching performance. This is in sharp contradiction to what Balthaser and Boehm were told during their "interviews" with DOC Director Abe Shragge, who made it absolutely clear that his decision had nothing to do with their teaching performance—which was exemplary, and included teaching awards. This also contradicts what UCSD Human Resources stated during the first meeting between UCSD and the United Auto Workers, who filed a grievance with the university over the ousting of the two TAs. In that meeting, which took place two days after the student walkout, UCSD Human Resources stated that the teaching practices of Balthaser and Boehm were not the reason for their dismissal, but that it was their public critique of the DOC program that resulted in their ousting.

Also on the video you will see Chancellor Marye Anne Fox pledge to look into the matter and to make sure a just outcome in the case is reached. Yet, as of today—two months since the news first broke—the university has failed to right the wrong done to these two TAs. If free speech and academic freedom mean anything at UCSD this decision must be reversed. If the Chancellor really cares about justice, if she really cares about the concerns of students, if she really cares about campus equity and critical multicultural education, if she really cares about the quality of undergraduate education she should intervene to stop this on-going injustice and show that she means what she says.

We are running out of time, the academic year is almost over. PLEASE DO ONE LAST THING to help the Lumumba-Zapata Coalition's campaign before the quarter is over. After you watch the video footage, cut and paste the following message and send it to the Chancellor ASAP (please cc the LZC at

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox
(858) 534-3135

Dear Chancellor Fox,

I have witnessed your pledge to look into the non-re-hiring of Benjamin Balthaser and Scott Boehm as teaching assistants in the Dimensions of Culture Program for the upcoming academic year. I have heard you vow to ensure a just outcome is reached in their case. Because UCSD Human Resources stated during their first grievance hearing that their dismissal from DOC has nothing to do with their job performance, but for their public critique of changes to the DOC program—which is exactly what DOC Director Abraham Shragge told Balthaser and Boehm during their "interviews" for re-hire—I call on you to reverse the decision to dismiss them from DOC on the basis of 1st amendment free speech rights, the AAUP-recognized academic freedom of graduate student teachers, and most of all, because UCSD should be a educational site
of critical inquiry and debate, not a place where drawing attention to a problem—which TMC Provost Havis himself has recognized by establishing a committee to review DOC—results in disciplinary actions. I believe UCSD should be a university that values critical thinking, principled dissent, and passion for providing the best education possible to students. Most of all, I believe UCSD should be a university that respects all of its workers, and I ask you to intervene on the behalf of Balthaser and Boehm immediately to prove that UCSD is such an institution, and that UCSD's "Principles of Community" are upheld, rather than exposed as empty rhetoric. You have the power to rescue UCSD's reputation, which has been degraded because of this situation. I strongly urge you to do so immediately.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Working description for ENGL 200

I'm slated to teach English 200: Reading Literature next year, in the fall. The course is a kind of overgrown "literature appreciation" class -- not even a survey course, per se. So, I have to figure out something fun to do, that hits a bunch of different things, and that focuses on reading for pleasure and for knowledge about the world. Or some such.

Here's my working course:

English 200: Literatures of the Fantastic

Ursula K. Leguin asks in a now famous speech and essay, “Why are Americans afraid of dragons?” Central to her question and her argument about the reading, enjoyment, understanding, and analysis of literature, particularly fantasy and science fiction, is an engagement with the imagination, with other worlds, with our own world, with recovering the value of these things, and with growing up but not outgrowing our desire for the fantastic. She says, “For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it is true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons, because they are afraid of freedom.” This class will take up Leguin’s fascinating and provocative question and explore a long yet often dismissed or narrowly defined tradition of “fantastic” literature (and other media) including in whole or in excerpt Homer, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, Allen Ginsberg, Octavia Butler, William Gibson, Nisi Shawl, and J.K. Rowling.

Required Texts:
Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
English 200 Course Packet.

Saturday, April 21, 2007



US military unveils heat-ray gun

The gun uses a large dish mounted on a Humvee vehicle The US military has given the first public display of what it says is a revolutionary heat-ray weapon to repel enemies or disperse hostile crowds.
Called the Active Denial System, it projects an invisible high energy beam that produces a sudden burning feeling.
Military officials, who say the gun is harmless, believe it could be used as a non-lethal way of making enemies surrender their weapons.
Officials said there was wide-ranging military interest in the technology.

How the heat-ray gun works
"This is a breakthrough technology that's going to give our forces a capability they don't now have," defence official Theodore Barna told Reuters news agency.
"We expect the services to add it to their tool kit. And that could happen as early as 2010."
'Blast from an oven'
The prototype weapon was demonstrated at the Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.
A beam was fired from a large rectangular dish mounted on a Humvee vehicle.
The beam has a reach of up to 500m (550 yds), much further than existing non-lethal weapons like rubber bullets.
It can penetrate clothes, suddenly heating up the skin of anyone in its path to 50C.
But it penetrates the skin only to a tiny depth - enough to cause discomfort but no lasting harm, according to the military.
A Reuters journalist who volunteered to be shot with the beam described the sensation as similar to a blast from a very hot oven - too painful to bear without diving for cover.
Crowd control
Military officials said the weapon was one of the key technologies of the future.
"Non-lethal weapons are important for the escalation of force, especially in the environments our forces are operating in," said Marine Col Kirk Hymes, director of the development programme.
The weapon could potentially be used for dispersing hostile crowds in conflict zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan.
It would mean that troops could take effective steps to move people along without resorting to measures such as rubber bullets - bridging the gap between "shouting and shooting", Col Hymes said.
A similar "non-lethal" weapon, Silent Guardian, is being developed by US company Raytheon.


1 360-degree operation for maximum effect
Antenna, linked to transmitter unit, can be mounted on vehicle
Automatic target tracking
2 Antenna sealed against dust and can withstand bullet fire3 Invisible beam of millimetre-wave energy can travel over 500m4 Heat energy up to 54C (130F) penetrates less than 0.5mm of skin
Manufacturers say this avoids injury, although long-term effects are not known

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sharks with Lasers?


Navy shows off anti-terror dolphins

SAN DIEGO -- In a world of high-tech sensors and underwater robotics, Koa the bottlenose dolphin and others like her may still be the Navy's best line of defense against terrorists in scuba gear.
"They are better than anything we have ever made," said Mike Rothe, head of science for the Navy's marine mammal program, which trains dolphins and sea lions to guard military installations.
About 75 dolphins and 25 sea lions are housed at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego Harbor as part of a Navy program to teach them to detect terrorists and mines underwater.
The base briefly opened its doors to the media Thursday for the first time since the start of the war in Iraq. The display came a few weeks after the Navy announced plans to send up to 30 dolphins and sea lions to patrol the waters of Washington state's Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, which is home to nuclear submarines, ships and laboratories.
Both species can find mines and spot swimmers in murky waters. Working in unison, the dolphins can drop a flashing light near a mine or a swimmer. The sea lions carry in their mouths a cable and a handcuff-like device that clamps onto a terrorist's leg. Sailors can then use the cable to reel in the terrorist.
The Navy's sea mammal program started in the late 1950s and grew to comprise 140 animals during the Cold War.
Dolphins helped protect a pier in the Vietnam War. The last time the marine mammals were deployed overseas was in 2003 in the Iraqi harbor of Umm Qasr, where they located underwater mines and cleared a path for Marines to land, officials say.
They also were used in San Diego in 1996, when they patrolled the bay during the Republican National Convention.
Swimmers planting bombs pose a real threat, said Cmdr. Jon Wood, who went to Iraq with the mammals. He said there were several cases of guerrillas laying charges on floating objects in Vietnam.
By the late 1990s, Navy officials began phasing out the program, expecting technology to take over. But that still has not happened, and dolphins and sea lions will be used until at least 2012.
Animal rights activists worry that the dolphins and sea lions sent to Washington state could be harmed by the cold water, and worry that the animals might transmit diseases to the area's killer whales.
Dr. Stephanie Wong, a military veterinarian, said the dolphins are closely monitored for any signs of disease.
On the Net:
Navy Marine Mammal Program:

Monday, February 19, 2007

Race and World of Warcraft

Here's my abstract for submission for the "Race and Video Games" conference at University of California, Riverside:

"Looking for Ophera Windfury: Imagining Race (and Sexuality) in World of Warcraft"

Given the incredible global popularity of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, with a playership now exceeding six million worldwide, there is still a dearth of scholarship on and cultural critique of the game, particularly looking at race and sexuality. This paper attempts to identify and interrogate the "racial logics" of WoW, beyond a close-reading of fantasy race as allusion or allegory for real world race, to begin to theorize how race is visualized, articulated, and cued. In other words, in a game of fantasy race, how and where and why might actual race and racism be deployed, negotiated, disguised, and taken for granted. Lisa Nakamura, author of Cybertypes, argues, "When users go online, race dwells in the mediating spaces between the virtual and the real, the visible and the invisible" (144). How then can we challenge and explore this mediating space? Furthermore, in the imagining (perhaps intrusion) of real world race into the game in ways that fix them or to borrow Nakamura's construction cybertype them, how might other categories, such as sexuality, be left unsettled or open? Looking at character creation, game play, and game narratives, this paper argues for a productive opportunity in the play of, with, and play in race and sexuality to discover "disruptive moments of recognization and misrecognition" (Nakamura 144) that can offer "subversive potential in regard to oppressive notions of racial [and sexual] identity" (146).

Saturday, February 03, 2007

GLMA Urges FDA to Revise Blood Donation Policy

Current FDA Guidelines Banning Donation by Gay Men Called “Dangerous, Outdated,

SAN FRANCISCO – The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association today called for the
Food and Drug Administration to revise its blood donation policy regarding men
who have sex with men. Within the past year the American Red Cross and other
organizations that collect donated blood, including the American Association of
Blood Banks and America's Blood Centers, have encouraged the FDA to review a
policy in effect since the early 1980s that prohibits men who have sex with men
– regardless of sexual activity, safer-sex practices or HIV status – from
donating blood. The groups say that the likelihood of receiving a unit of
HIV-infected blood is one in two million and that blood banks use nucleic acid
testing, which detects HIV and hepatitis earlier and much more accurately than
older testing methods.

GLMA Executive Director Joel Ginsberg stated, “Two decades ago, when the agent
that causes AIDS was unknown, these guidelines might have made sense based on
the very limited data available at that time. Today, however, all donated units
of blood are tested, not just for antibodies to HIV, but for the presence of the
virus itself. These guidelines, which prohibit any man who has had sex with
another man since 1977, have the effect of excluding all gay men from donating
blood.” Ginsberg continued that the epidemiology of the HIV epidemic has changed
and that heterosexual women are now the fastest-growing demographic group to be
diagnosed with HIV infection.

“Rational blood donation guidelines need to be founded upon the best
evidence-based science and the behavior of individuals, not upon archaic data
and preconceptions about groups of people. The FDA’s current guidelines imply
that gay men are the primary agents for the spread of HIV, while giving
heterosexuals a false sense of security about their sexual behavior and
responsibility. These are two very dangerous messages for the FDA to be
reinforcing,” Ginsberg concluded. “We urge the FDA to revise these outdated
and unscientific blood donation guidelines immediately.”

– 30 –

The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) is the world's largest
association of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) healthcare
professionals. For 25 years, GLMA has been working to ensure equality in health
care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and healthcare
professionals through advocacy, education, research and referrals.



Edited by Giovanni Porfido (Durham) and Róisín Ryan-Flood (Uni of Essex)Special issue call for papersPapers are invited for a special issue of the journal Sexualities on thetopic 'Intimate Visions: Sexuality, Representation and Visual Culture'.Recent decades have witnessed an increase in images of lesbian, gay,bisexual and transgendered people in popular culture. Groundbreakingshows such as Ellen and Queer as Folk led the way for the mainstreamingof hitherto excluded identities and intimacies. This special issue seeksto explore the implications of this expansion of visual regimes.Questions are raised regarding the politics of this cultural visibility.For example, what kinds of intimacies are created, assumed and curtailed?How do these images influence the formation of subjectivities? Do theyaffect heteronormative notions of the public and the private? Whatspatial dynamics do they suggest? Do such images reconfigure prevailingunderstandings of intimacy? What erasures do they signify? Finally, whatchallenges, achievements and dilemmas do they represent? Contributionsthat address the following topics are particularly welcome:'race'/ethnicity, butch lesbians, commodification, parenting, queerteens.

Papers should be submitted in the standard Sexualities format[] by March 31st 2007 to:
Dr. Róisín Ryan-Flood
Department of Sociology
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park
Colchester C04 3SQ
Tel.: +44-(0)1206 873551
Email: rflood @

Thursday, February 01, 2007

CFP: Race and Video Games (2/16/07; (dis)junctions, 4/6/07-4/7/07)

Race and Video Games

This call for papers is for a proposed panel to be held at =
(dis)junctions 2007: Malappropriation Nation, the University of =
California Riverside's 14th Annual Humanities Graduate Conference on =
April 6-7, 2007.=20

This panel will explore race and video games with the intention of =
mapping out some of the more pressing critical issues surrounding the =
inclusion or exclusion of race in games. The game industry and game =
studies are both interesting and exciting, but the discourse on race has =
been sparse and focused primarily on forms of reductive representation. =
Therefore, this panel is dedicated to critical works that push beyond a =
focus on representation. Panelists are sought that attempt to describe =
and analyze the visualization and political implications of race in =
games and game cultures.

Potential contributions may involve, but are not limited to, some of the =
following concepts:

1. Excessiveness
2. Invisibility/Visibility=20
3. Minstrelsy
4. Political economy of games
5. Racial performance/passing
6. Logics of race at the interface and beyond
7. Default whiteness
8. Token representation
9. Blackness, Asianness, etc.
10. Masculinity and race
11. Race and gender
12. Orientalism
13. Character creation
14. Race in game design
15. Language issues
16. Cultural borrowing
17. Commodification

Submissions are encouraged that deal with any game, platform, genre, =
theme, or era, as well as any aspect of game culture itself (fan =
networks, review sites, manuals, peripherals, and so on).

Additionally, submissions that deal with race from different global =
perspectives are of great interest.

Abstracts of 250-300 words should be e-mailed to Tanner Higgin at = by February 16, 2007 (text in the body of the message; =
please no attachments).=20