The Root: Taking us into the deep, dark world of underground hair braiders

Illinois, having solved all of the more pressing issues in their state, is attempting to pass a law that would require that hair braiders be licensed. 

The bill, expected to be signed by the governor in coming weeks, will require existing hair braiders who have shown they have practiced their craft for at least two years to get a license for a fee. Going forward, those who are new to the industry will be able to obtain a license after 300 hours of training in braiding and creating intricate styles, as well as sanitation.Prior to the bill, hair braiders were subject to the more rigorous standards of traditional hair stylists, estheticians and barbers–who only can obtain a license after receiving a degree, taking up to 1,500 hours and costing $15,000. There are more than 60,000 cosmetologists in the state of Illinois.

But, don’t worry, the article gives us a lot of good reasons why it is necessary to hamper the ability of small business owners who are mostly African American women to practice their craft. 

Charemi Jones, an “occasional braid wearer,” has experienced it all when it comes to hair-related drama. The Chicago police officer’s hair has been braided so tight she had to take Ibuprofen to ease headaches. And once she had a braid rip away from her scalp while she was sleeping.

Now, I’m going to go ahead and take the article at its word when it says that this woman has “experienced it all” and interpret that to mean that she has experienced the worst problems that can occur from unlicensed hair braiding.  Headaches that required over the counter medication.  (If you got a headache, couldn’t you just, you know, take the braid out?)  Oh, and one time some of the hair fell out.  Which would be . . . annoying?  There’s more:

But most current and former braid wearers, who’ve faced everything from hair loss to just bad service, agree that something needs to be done to protect consumers.  “I’ve seen brushes full with someone else’s hair when I sat down in the chair for a blow dry; locks and braids falling off because they were twisted too tightly….

Again, with the “everything.”  Now, I’ve never had my hair professionally braided, so maybe it requires you to be, say, chained down in some irreversible way as soon as you walk into the shop, but I would think that if I experienced bad service or saw brushes full with someone else’s hair, I would leave. 

Also, as an aside, my sister is a school teacher, and she has a lot of students with these sorts of braided styles.  She says that, when their heads itch, they can’t scratch around the braids, so you see the girls just smack their heads periodically to stop the itching.  I’m sure they look super-cute doing that.

Breast-possesser Wins Oscar

This article from NewsBlaze is basically a summary of the Oscars, but the headline caught my attention: “Kathryn Bigelow Advances Achievement of Women with Hurt Locker”

Now, to be fair, I’m glad that Hurt Locker got a lot of good attention.  I personally haven’t been to the movies since Sweeney Todd was in theaters (what can I say, I’ve got a thing for offbeat, uber-violent musicals.  And Johnny Depp*.  I’m not asking you to understand.)  But I’ve heard pretty good things about Hurt Locker.  If I wanted to see a movie, maybe I’d consider that one.  (OK, I do really want to see Alice in Wonderland, but we’re getting off track.) 

It’s just that I want the best director to win; not the best woman.  Was the academy swayed by the urge to pick the first woman winner?  I guess we’ll never know whether Ms. Bigelow legitimately earned this award. 

* It’s not that I find him attractive; I don’t. Far too pretty for my tastes.  I just like him.  Again, not asking you to understand.

Is Cracking Eggs Too Hard for You?

Well, have no fear, here comes the E-Z Cracker!  It cracks the eggs for you!  And, by dirtying another weird contraption which is probably a major pain to wash, you won’t risk getting stuff on your counter that might need to be wiped up!  And it had a scoop that catches the yolk to separate the eggs for you! 

And I am not making this up!  Although someone might be just making this up to mess with me!

Joy Behar is kind of an idiot. Even when I agree with her.

When I first heard that Joy Behar was getting her own show on CNN, I did some serious eye rolling.  Now, I try like hell to avoid shows like The Viewas much as possible, but somehow they just manage to seep into the world’s collective unconscious. (Things I seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of, despite all my most rational desires: The View, Oprah, Paris Hilton, John and Kate + 8, The Batchelor, etc.).  Anyway, when I have watched The View (entirely not on purpose!), she sounds useless and shallow.  When I hear quotes from her, she sounds, well, useless and shallow, but usually also mean and nasty.  But, whatever, right.  I mean, who watches CNN anyway

But, I do depend on their website to get regular updates at work (Fox’s site pretty much sucks, and everything about MSNBC pretty much sucks), so I couldn’t miss her (debut?)article in CNN’s commentary section. 

On a recent tour of a Ukrainian orphanage, Elton John and his partner met Lev, a 14-month old HIV-positive boy.

They immediately fell in love with the child, but their possible bid to adopt the adorable tiny dancer was rejected by Yuriy Pavlenko, Ukraine’s Family, Youth and Sports Minister.

Mr. Pavlenko, here are some tips about family, youth and sports. Family doesn’t mean a huddle of orphans sharing a few soiled mattresses, it’s not youth if you die of AIDS before you reach kindergarten, and wrestling over dinner scraps is not a sport.

So, instead of leading with facts or argument, she starts right off with being a smartass.  Charming.

But that could be Lev’s fate now, because the Ukrainian government said Elton and his beau David Furnish are too old to adopt the boy. It sounds like the real reason is they’re too gay.

John and Furnish tied the knot in 2005, becoming one of Britain’s first gay civil unions, but Ukraine doesn’t recognize gay unions.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesman Father Georgy Gulyaev called Elton John a sinner and said, “thank God it’s impossible under Ukrainian law for [him] to adopt a child.” Apparently in the Ukraine, God’s No. 1 priority is preventing gay couples from giving sick kids a better life. God would never want something like that to happen.

More with the sarcasm instead of argument.  I’m willing to bet that this woman thought that “No Bushit” bumper stickers represented the hight of intelligent political discussion.  But what really gets me is the “it sounds like” argument.  Why does it sound that way?  Because somebody in the country (not the person who denied the adoption) said something against homosexuality?  Or because it fits her narrative? 

Notice how off-handedly she buries the reason that the Ukrainians gave for denying the adoption.  And notice that she doesn’t mention how old Mr. John actually is (he’s 62, or about 14 years younger than my grandfather, who will welcome a great-grandchild this year).  It’s not in any way unusual for a 62-year-old to be denied the right to adopt, except for the fact that most of them probably wouldn’t even try, knowing that 40-ish is the cutoff almost everywhere:

The other option [as opposed to trying to get a baby in the U.S.] in pursuing an infant adoption is to consider countries that are more flexible concerning the age of the adopting parents. For some years, couples up to age 43 have been able to adopt from Korea or India . Those over 43 will find some Latin American countries that take applicants. African countries are very flexible on ages of adopters. China wants applicants who must be 30 or older, while Russian and Bulgaria have been open to those in their late 40s, especially for preschool age children.

So, if Mr. John had attempted to adopt in 1989, he would have had a hard time of it, gay or no. 

Now, here’s where I do agree with Ms. Behar.  I do think that, given this extra-ordinary situation, Mr. John and his partner should be able to adopt this child.  First, although I’m aware of the research indicating that gay parents are fine, I’m skeptical.  It’s still too new of a cultural phenomenon to draw thorough results, and you are going to have a hard time convincing me that the majority of the researchers don’t have an agenda on this issue.  That said, I think that it is at least very likely that a child is better off in a stable home with gay parents is better than a lot of alternatives, such as a Ukrainian orphanage.  (I’ll add that I don’t know the conditions of this orphanage, and although Ms. Behar lists some common stereotypical poor country orphanage complaints, she offers no support for the idea that this child’s situation was that bad.)  So, even if I’m skeptical of the idea that gays are always as good as a mother and a father, I’m not holding it against Elton here.  (At the risk of sounding mealy-mouthed, I’m not saying I’m against gay adoption in general, just that I’m on the fence.)

Second, I’m not troubled by the age thing.  Sure, there are a lot of problems with older parents, but, again, these are extra-ordinary circumstances.  While I hate to put consideration for one’s wealth above other concerns, I don’t overlook that Mr. John is a man of very significant means, and he can ensure that a child is well taken care of, even if he and his partner are unable to provide it.  And, once again, we have the alternative is a poor country orphanage argument, and given the fact that the child is HIV positive, he may have a reduced life expectancy besides.  Let a chance at a real family brighten up what life the child does have. 

Third, I’m not even at all bothered by the phenomenon of celebrity child shopping.  When we are talking about children who, in their home countries, would probably lack access to good education, healthcare, social development, etc., I really don’t care that a celebrity might get some self-congratulatory attention out of the deal.  Doesn’t matter a bit to the child that is not dying of malaria, in my opinion. 

Of course, why would we consider all of this, when we can just throw in some good old fashioned ethnic stereotypes, instead?

He’ll likely end up in foster homes and — if he lives long enough — maybe he can turn into a bitter, vodka-swilling drunk. All because the Ukrainian government won’t let him be adopted by two loving gay parents who are fabulously rich and want to give him a home with the best healthcare available, dressed in Versace jammies and cashmere Huggies. Not to mention all the play dates with Brangelina’s kids.

I just learned a stupid new word

In reading the comments to this article (which, by the way, I can’t decide whether was touching or dumb) (HT: Ann Althouse), I came across an entirely incoherent comment by a self-described “ciswoman.” 

I don’t understand how one could want to be in celebration of their femaleness and then abhorr one of the most natural things that could come from that state of being XX chromosomed- motherhood. It isn’t for everybody, just like well being a female simply because you were born with XX chromosome isn’t for everybody but transmen dont go around so how disgusting vaginas are so why should ciswomen go around spouting how disgusting their natural reproduction is?

I’m a ciswoman, heterosexual proud to be female feminist and happy mom, wife and successful professional. THese things are NOT mutally exclusive.

“the hell?” I thought.  So, unable to just assume that the incoherent woman was just being incoherent, I chose to google it.  Per Wikipedia, “cisgender” is:

an adjective used in the context of genderissues and counselling to refer to a class of gender identities formed by a match between an individual’s gender identity and the behavior or role considered appropriate for one’s sex.[1]Cisgender is a “newer term” that means “someone who is comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth.”[2]“Cisgender” is used to contrast “transgender” on the gender spectrum.

So, in other words, cisgender is another way of saying “normal.”

Also, I learned that, unfortunately:

There is no specific term for cisgendered people who feel they would still be equally comfortable if their physical gender was changed.

Folks should really get to work on that.

Nature is so cool

Newly discovered giant carnivorous plant eats rats.

The plant lures in the rats with the promise of sweet nectar. When the rat leans into the plant to drink the saccharine liquid, it slips on the pitcher’s waxy interior, and gets stuck in the gooey sap. Once it is trapped, acid-like digestive enzymes break down the still-living rodent.

Be sure to watch the video at the link- it’s like a horror movie. 

And I do enjoy the picture of the innocent little mousey . . .

 taking one last little peek out. 

Added: So, if a vegetarian ate one of these plants, would that count as a violation of all things vegetarianistic?

From the files of: What the hell are they teaching in college these days?

Yesterday, I was advised by a bright young college lass that  “England just hasn’t contributed that much to the world, culturally speaking.”