new growth

click the tomatoes below to see some photos from around the yard. (i broke down and put them on a flickr account.)



Conseula and I are in Tucson, AZ, this weekend interviewing famous science fiction author Joanna Russ. It turns out that Tucson is a great city--a weird combination of unintentionally kitschy and gorgeous desert.

Here's a little photo essay of what we've done today.

Saw some saguaro cacti at the Saguaro National Park--some little ones, and some big ones.

Check out that enormous cactus!

And then we got to contribute to one of my long-term life goals: to eat fried dough from every culture on earth. I've long known about Native American fry bread, but I'd never had the chance to eat any before. And then there it was this afternoon--I was so excited! Note the woman on the right, actually making our fry bread.

And here we are, enjoying our delicious cheese fry bread. You'll notice that we're sitting in our car. That's because it was 104 degrees outside.


Million dollar birthday fries

In honor of Biffle's birthday, here's a series of random things.

We've been talking about how funny my dad is. Here are two good jokes of his:

  • I'm smoking a turkey. The only problem is, it's hard to keep it lit.

Here's another one. This joke depends on delivery, so we got Dad himself to tell it:

Here was one of our earlier efforts to capture this joke:

Also, here's a picture of last Saturday morning at our house. We had a bunch of our favorite people over for brunch. In fact, it was our one year anniversary of the first time we had this whole group over for brunch.

Happy birthday, Biffle!


Gonzales v. Carhart

...At stake in cases challenging abortion restrictions is a woman’s “control over her [own] destiny.” “There was a time, not so long ago,” when women were “regarded as the center of home and family life, with attendant special responsibilities that precluded full and independent legal status under the Constitution.” Those views, this Court made clear in Casey, “are no longer consistent with our understanding of the family, the individual, or the Constitution.” Women, it is now acknowledged, have the talent, capacity, and right “to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation.” Their ability to realize their full potential, the Court recognized, is intimately connected to “their ability to control their reproductive lives.” Thus, legal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather, they center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.
--Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dissent
The recent Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Carhart marks a major shift in abortion policy. As my former student, Jessica Heaven, writes in a recent op-ed for the Georgetown Law Weekly: "never before has the Court allowed a legislature, state or federal, to place a restriction on abortion without providing an exception for circumstances in which the health of the pregnant woman is in jeopardy. Gonzalez v. Carhart is an extreme shift from previous decisions in that it upholds the federal 'partial-birth abortion' ban without providing that health exception."

Why this matters: the law bans a procedure that is not an actual medical procedure ("partial-birth abortion" is a term made up by anti-choice folks). It's vague enough that it could be interpreted to prohibit abortions as early as 12 weeks. It goes against the medical advice of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. And, as Jessica notes, there's no health exception.

It also matters because the justices brought a new set of categories into their decision that now will form part of our legal precedents in this country. In his opinion, Justice Kennedy wrote, "It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form." This relates directly to what I said a few weeks ago about the problems with relying on common sense. Kennedy is asserting this point as something that doesn't need support because it is so self-evident. Eva Gartner, lead attorney for Planned Parenthood, notes that this was not a point either side even argued in the case--the justices came up with this particular objection all on their own. (It's also worth noting Kennedy's use of the word "mother" here, which perhaps I'll blog about later.)

In contrast to Justice Kennedy, I believe that if you're concerned about women regretting their abortions, then you should be sure that they have solid medical information in hand while they're making the choice. It seems just a bit misogynist to say, "Oh--she might regret this choice, so let's make sure she never has to make it by taking it away from her altogether."

I included the quote from Justice Ginsburg above because I think she articulates what else is at stake--the primary thing that's at stake--in this and other legal decisions about abortion: women's control over their own destiny. I've talked about this quite a bit here this year (in posts like this and this), but I don't hear enough people saying it, so I'll say it again: the ability to control her own reproduction affects every aspect of a woman's life. If women are going to be full citizens, they've got to have control over whether and when they become pregnant, and whether and when they become parents.


While I continue to do things other than write interesting posts for Baxter Sez, I thought I'd offer you another link to another blog. After you've finished watching Gridgey's music video for "Letter O," check out Girl With Pen's review of Pamela Stone's Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home.


Letter O

Check out my insane brother Gridgey's music video that he made for Biffle's song "Letter O." This is classic Gridge in that he fully commits to the comedy and doesn't quit. You get to see quite a bit of his personality emerge here--I love it because watching it is very much like being in the room with the Gridge and watching him amuse himself.


We made Feministing!

Okay, this may not be worth supplanting Biffle's excellent musings on gimlet eyes and Smedley Butler, but I wanted to share my excitement: our Feminists for Colbert blog (the site with which we are trying to seduce Colbert) has made Feministing! I had to explain to Biffle why this is cool: because Feministing is the most famous feminist blog out there, with a very broad readership, which makes us celebrities now.

Or, you know, at least in my mind we're celebrities.

damn war

Yesterday my friend Kenneth Burns used a phrase on his blog that i'd never seen before: "gimlet eye." But even though i'd never heard of it i knew exactly what it meant. I happen to have a beautiful set of gimlets out in my woodworking toolbox and those little suckers are sharp. With very little twisting they will dig their way into the hardest of oaks.

Now, even though i felt confident about what that phase meant i googled it just to be sure. In short order i was directed to Wikipedia and to an entry about a fellow named Smedley Butler, aka Old Gimlet Eye.

I don't know if you've clicked on any of the links i've provided you yet, but do check out that entry on Old Gimlet Eye, and here's why: That former Marine and two-time winner of the Medal of Honor wrote a book called War is a Racket. He also "came forward in 1934 and informed Congress that a group of wealthy industrialists had plotted a military coup to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt." (AND, beyond being called Old Gimlet Eye, he was also nicknamed Old Duckboard and The Fighting Quaker. What must one do in this day and age to get three nicknames? but i digress...)

Anyway. Here's what i wanna say: Over the past 30 or so years--starting at the point when you see Rumsfeld and Cheney showing up in the White House--a group of wealthy industrialists have again been involved in a coup to overthrow our government. And war is still just as much a racket now as it was when Old Gimlet Duckboard pointed it out back in 1935 and again when outgoing President and former General Eisenhower popularized the phrase "military-industrial complex" in his famous 1961 speech.

Anyway, i'm writing all this because i just want to vent a little bit about how careful Nancy Pelosi was yesterday in leveraging the latest poll on how a majority in the U.S. now believes that we should get out of Iraq. The news states this morning that she indeed agrees that we should pull out, but was quick to state that "the war is not lost."

Man, please somebody end this crap. Just stand up and speak truth. If you'll do it...i mean, i'd do it, but nobody'll listen to me...if you'll do it, i swear i'll make it one of my life's goals to get you into Wikipedia with TEN nicknames.


Biffle's dad leaves a message

Biffle had put in a call to his parents to ask their advice about a hymn he might play at an upcoming wedding. Here is Biffle's dad's response.