Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Are They Cops or Military?

This was a timely article to me: Open thread for night owls: America's police are looking more and more like the military

I'm reading Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces by Radley Balko and this is definitely something that worries me. Even as a UMC White woman, I'm aware of just how wrong a police encounter can go and it's worse for minorities, especially African-American men and boys. So why are we OK with giving police even more power and arming them like soldiers? Are we really so afraid of terrorists and other boogeymen that we'll allow the police to arm themselves to the teeth? Balko makes a good point when he says allowing the police to arm themselves like soldiers just increased their "us versus them" mentality. As the saying goes, if all you have is a hammer then everything starts to look like a nail. I think there are good cops out there but they're immersed in a culture that expects, and finds, violence.

Anyone who's watched prime time  TV has seen countless arrests. Complete fiction! If arrested or even questioned, get a lawyer and don't say a thing until you have counsel.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

More Non-Essential Government.

No NTSB investigators for deadly bus crash because of government shutdown
So investigators for the NTSB are considered non-essential. Words just fail me. I really hope I don't start writing about kids dying of cancer or people sickened by food-born illness next.

Daily Reads October 3, 2013- Insanity Edition Day 3

Even Hastert Doesn’t Think Boehner Needs To Follow Arbitrary ‘Hastert Rule’
So we're holding the government and the people of this country hostage because a few uber-right Republicans don't like Obamacare? Makes perfect sense to me.

Poll: Tea party approves Republican shutdown, everyone else disapproves
Fully 72 percent of Americans disapprove of shutting down the federal government over differences on the Affordable Care Act; just 25 percent approve of this action. Republicans are divided: 48 percent approve, while 49 percent disapprove. Most tea party supporters approve of the government shutdown - 57 percent of them do.
I'm so glad the Tea Party is getting their jollies. Now can they please go sit back down at the children's table and let the grown-ups run the country now?

Troops could still lose special pay during shutdown
Plus with the civilians who support the military on furlough, even the benefits they do get may be on hold depending on who's in charge of authorizing them.

This does NOT address the issue of medical or disability benefits being cut or death benefits being denied to surviving spouses. Good thing we support our Troops!

Everything the Republicans Need To Know My Dog Learned in Obedience School
I love Margaret and Helen:
Michele Bachmann and friends can pose in front of a war memorial all they want pretending their not the ones who closed it. Clearly, they take us for fools. Well as the wife of a WWII veteran, I’d like to introduce my rather large foot to their sorry asses. I can promise you my late husband is rolling over in his grave knowing that affordable healthcare for 40 million people has shut down the very government he fought to defend.
 Yes, by all means. Let's shutdown the country we supposedly love in order to make a political point on a subject that the majority of Americans agree with. And we call these the patriotic people? Patriotism isn't slapping a Made in China "Support our Troops" bumper sticker on your car and call it done. It's making sure that our Government represents ALL the people and that the business of governing gets done.

Government shutdown: VA backlog at risk
For those who've given enough, please give a little more.

Non-essential Government

Yes, it's been a while. You can blame a lot of factors, work, grad school, life in general. But in the interest of household tranquility (in other words, so I stop yelling at the TV), I'm back to blogging.

There's a lot already said about the government shutdown, which is a blazing display of congressional stupidity, but the two things that jump out at me are non-essential workers and use of the word partial.

Here are a few jobs that are considered non-essential:
The National Guard
contractors supporting the military
Researchers at the CDC and NIH
technical staff who run the various governmental databases like e-verify (used to verifiy people for employment), PubMed (medical publication database that relies on government imput), FBI background checks (hope you didn't want that conceled cary license).
Pretty much any agency that uses government funds or people for scientific research like NOAA.
Food safety inspectors at the FDA
OSHA inspectors

and the list goes on. Each one of those people have families that rely on them, they rely on those jobs to pay bills, save for college or retirement, buy groceries, everything that people do in order to live. Not only are those people out of luck, the people who support them are also in jepardy. Food service workers who don't have a cafeteria to work in. The hot dog cart vendor on the street who doesn't have tourists or workers to buy his food. Cleaning crews who aren't needed to clean office buildings. 

Non-essential means the job can be put on hold for the short term but that will have repercussions which will only get worse the longer this shutdown goes on.

Which brings me to the word 'partial' to describe the shutdown. This isn't 'partial'. There is nothing about this that's 'partial'. Just because some aspects of the government are stil functioning (with the exception of Congress), that doesn't mean everything is hunky-dory, nothing to see here, lalalala, let's get on with life.  Partial makes it seem like this isn't really a big deal, like we're all over-reacting, which couldn't be further from the truth. This has a major impact on everyone, whether they realize it or not. 

The CDC will not be monitoring flu season, which means the flu vaccine may or may not be effective. The NTSB will not be monitoring safety standards for cars and trucks, which could halt production. The NIH isn't doing research or accepting new pations, which means people will die. The Head Start progams nationwise will start to close, which means children will lose access to early education and parents will have to scramble for childcare. The WIC and SNAP programs will lose funds which means low income women and children won't be able to eat. 

National parks and monuments and muesums are closed and that's lost income for the people who work there and maintain them (and for the people who enjoy them) but the impact is far, far greater than the little inconvienece the word 'partial' implies. These are people's lives that are being destoyed in the name of political ideology and that is just disgusting. Our congressional leaders have the lives of the American people in their hands and they're treating us with such breathtaking disrespect, it's beyond shameful.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Reading List July 15, 2013

The "Hell Yes I'm Furious about the Acquittal and I Intend to Remain So" Edition

I'm glad Rick Perry thinks our justice system is color-blind but but that man wouldn't know justice if it bit him in the ass. That would give us a better understanding of karma, however.

Our real problem is white rage:
The day before a jury delivered an acquittal in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger and Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith gave a national press conference to appeal for a peaceful reaction to the verdict — regardless of its outcome. 
Eslinger, who is white, said “We will not tolerate anyone who uses this verdict as an excuse to violate the law.” 
The veiled threat of an aggressive police response to imaginary civil unrest belies the very logic that led to Trayvon Martin’s death to begin with. For, you see, African-Americans are never protected or served by the law enforcement apparatus — yet they are always subject to its military might. 
Sanford police coyly “tolerated” the actual killing of an unarmed black child, but yet refuse to “tolerate” any anger expressed for the acquittal of his murderer. 
This is the new Jim Crow realized.
Right because you can be angry enough to shoot a child but you're not allowed to be angry over a child being shot.

We Are Not Trayvon Martin but we sure as hell stand by his side.


No, not the snack food, of which I'm a little too fond. The word "cracker" and the attempt to make it equivalent to the n-word (hell no, I'm not going to use that word).

Give. It. Up.

There is simply no way to make it equivalent. Cracker may be a pejorative in some cases but it doesn't have the history or weight of injustice that the n-word has and still has to this day. I can't even think of any time I've ever heard Cracker used outside of my grandparents' house and that was my Grandpa prompting me to call myself a Georgia Cracker.

This scene repeated countless times:
I'm sitting on Grandpa's lap, with strawberry blond hair in curls and big blue eyes wearing a t-shirt that says "My Granddaddy is a Shriner" and he asks me "Are you my Georgia Peach?" he'd ask me and I'd giggle and say "No! I'm a Georgia Cracker!"

If someone said it to me now, I'd probably just laugh. Somehow I fail to see the equivalency there.

Acquittals and Privilege and Race and The Damned Unfairness Of It All

I sound like a whiny child on the playground, the World is Unfair! Yes, it is but in this case it isn't the other kid who gets the lollipop that I want, it's a mater of life and death and treatment by the law.

One of the reports on NPR this morning was how the outcome of the Zimmerman trial would effect The Talk:  The Talk: What Did You Tell Your Kids After The Zimmerman Verdict? The talk wasn't a part of my life, being an UMC White girl. The closest thing I came to The Talk was "be respectful and if you get a ticket for speeding, we're taking your car." One of my coworkers told me years ago how closely he policed his son's closet and behavior and it never dawned on me that it was a matter of self-defense. I feel like an idiot that I never thought of that and I'm sure my co-worker was just shaking his head and sighing.

I was driving this weekend with my boyfriend to visit his parents when I cop pulled in behind me. Now I will confess, I'm the reason super-speeder laws were invented. The aforementioned coworker actually got out of my car once and threatened to kiss the ground after a short trip to dinner. So when Mr. Officer pulled in behind me, I checked my speed and I mentally verified my license and insurance were on me. Just in case. I've been pulled over before, usually for lights out or (thank god rarely) for speeding. Privilege comes in to play because I didn't once think about driving a good car in rural Georgia and whether or not I'd be pulled over because of the color of my skin. I didn't have to think about what to do to be less threatening, I didn't have to worry about being arrested because I was "mouthy". I can be assured if I'm pulled over, I probably deserve it. So today I think about my friends and co-workers who are rightfully afraid for their children and I wish desperately this world were different and that I could do more to change it. Because it's just not fair.

I Was George Zimmerman

Let me go through the similarities:
  • White or passing as White: Check
  • In my 30's: Check
  • Lived in a gated community: Check
  • Condo complex effected by economic downturn: Check
  • Uptick in crime with little resolution: Check
Lot's of similarities, the difference is I never shot and killed anyone.

I lived in a condo complex for 13 years, the housing crash put the nail in the coffin of a condo complex that was slowing deteriorating. My building of 10 units emptied out until there were 5 occupied units, none of which were on my floor. My storage bins on the property were broken into. We had assaults in the laundry room and vagrants caught sleeping in the basement. My car was broken into.

As a single woman, I was concerned for my safety so I took what I thought were reasonable measures. I had the door jambs in my front and side doors reinforced. I had a monitored security system installed. I bought a safe to keep my valuables in. I did not buy a gun.

On a rainy night in November 2011, I left my home to go to the grocery store. I pulled up to the light a quarter mile from my house when a car pulled up behind me, it's lights shining in my eyes. I saw movement and looked around to see a man approaching my driver's side window. It was pure instinct, my foot was on the gas and I was already rolling towards the intersection when I saw him. He ran back to his car and took off around me as soon as the light changed. By the time I got to the store, my adrenaline wore off and I was scared and shaky so I called a friend of mine to confirm yes, that really was an attempted car-jacking. Taking my friend's advice, I removed the bumpers tickers from my car, made sure my personal items were locked up and out of view and I changed how I carried my purse and my actions at intersections. No more playing with my cell phone at red lights! I did not buy a gun.

Last summer, I finally decided it was time to leave my home. There were too many issues to deal with living there, safety being one of them. I borrowed my boyfriend's truck one afternoon to drop off boxes and I pulled into a parking space in front of my building. I was just debating on whether or not to lug my backpack up the stairs when I saw a man weaving his way around the corner of my building. My first thought was he looked like some of the old beach bums I see in the Florida Keys, probably pickled from drinking. My second thought was what was he doing here? The man made a beeline for the truck and next thing I knew, he was asking for money and he opened the driver's side door of the truck. Luckily I still had my hand on the door so I pulled it shut and yelled at him to leave me alone. He turned around and left, wandering up the hill. I wasn't going to call the police, I figured there was nothing to be done about him, but when I saw him trying to get through the gate to the pool to harass some teenage girls, I decided to make a call. The police came and took a statement, apparently he was well known to them and he lived in the building next to mine. He was taken to jail on assault charges, I dropped off my boxes and I made sure I was never alone in that condo again. I did not buy a gun.

So what was the difference between George Zimmerman and me? For one thing, I didn't racially profile anyone. I never looked at people in my neighborhood and decided they didn't belong based on the color of their skin. Did I decide a man was a threat? In both cases, looking at their behavior, yes I did and I took appropriate action. When my neighbor speculated on who was breaking into cars and that speculation centered around two black boys in our complex, I asked if his suspicion was based on any sort of facts or just because they were black teens. As far as I know the culprits were never caught and the family of those kids left our complex and rented elsewhere. I also never got a good answer to my question. Sure, the demographics of my neighborhood changed so I got used to looking at different faces. Life goes on. That's the difference between George Zimmerman and me, the ability to adapt to a changing world.

For another thing, I wasn't able to shoot anyone because I made the decision not to buy and carry a gun. Georgia is a Stand Your Ground state and I have the right to shoot if I feel threatened but that's not a responsibility I wanted. I don't want to take someone else's life, it's not "him or me", this is not the Wild West. Nor would carrying a gun give me some awesome ability to judge at a split second whether someone deserves to live or die. The only thing a gun does is escalate the situation until someone is dead on the ground in the pouring rain. I have since inherited a gun that belonged to a family member and I still have no plans to carry. I don't live in Baghdad or Belfast, I have no compelling reason to walk around armed. That's the difference between George Zimmerman and me, the ability to see that a gun only adds to the problem, it doesn't resolve it.

I wish to god Zimmerman wasn't found not guilty because he is guilty, he has blood on his hands. He set himself as a cowboy looking to save a world that didn't need to be saved and a poor teenage boy is dead. He may have gone out to Target to shop like any other person on other night but when he came back, he found a Scary Black Man, one of those who "always got away", and not a kid walking back home from a trip to the store chatting on the phone with a friend. Unfortunately the child died but the "Scary Black Man" lives on.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

My very best wishes to the happy couple

Reading List June 28, 2013

Wow, way to put yourself out on the line, Wal-Mart!

NC jobless losing federal compensation Sunday: 'They are really putting the gun to your head now.'
So what are the long-term unemployed supposed to do? If you don't have money, you can't go to school to learn new ones. You can't eat or have a place to live. What kind of future are you supposed to have?

This is wonderful and may it be be only the first in a never-ending series of celebrations.

Who's On Trial Again?

The trial of Trayvon Martin is just sick and disgusting. At what point will we stop putting Martin and his girlfriend Rachel Jeantel on trial and start prosecuting the man who actually shot him?

Ms. Jeantel is not a pretty, blond white girl. She's not UMC, educated and eloquent. And you know what? That doesn't mean a damned thing. She's a witness, the very last person who spoke to Trayvon Martin except for the man who killed him. Think about that. A 19 year old girl talking to her friend/boyfriend on the phone as he was chased down through his neighborhood and killed. The fact that she's even able to testify shows her strength of character. And who defines what a "perfect" witness is, anyway? This is not an episode of Law and Order. This is a real, human trial involving real people. People who aren't polished, who haven't been groomed for the media.

Personally, I've very impressed with how well Jeantel has done. She's obviously a strong character who is trying to do the best she can for her friend in an extremely hostile environment. Why don't we stop putting her on trial and instead start the trial of George Zimmerman. He's the one who needs to defend his actions.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Glad That Whole Racism Thing Is Over

That is, according to Justice Roberts

Here's a visual of the impact of the VRA:
Buried deep in Roberts' opinion, on page 15, is this remarkable chart comparing voter registration numbers from 1965 to 2004. The influence of the VRA in increasing black registration percentages appears extraordinary and undeniable.

But that's all history, racism is dead and over with. And Paula Deen is allowed to use the N-word with no repercussions. It's not like she's a racist or anything.


Gay marriage ruling: Supreme Court finds DOMA unconstitutional

I know we have a ways to go for the full equality for our LGBT citizens but I am celebrating this victory.

Reading List June 26, 2013

Who needs those pesky worker protections anyway? There's little focus on this but it certainly makes work life that much harder now, especially in Right To Work states (HA!).

From the Better Late Than Never Department:
This is a huge load off of my mind. I was so worried about the sexual assault epidemic in the military but apparently, it's not so bad and it's easily explained.

This is the reality of the SCOTUS decision on voter registration. I first voted in 1992 in my college town of Rome, GA. Fast forward a decade (plus)  and this certainly would have been my story.

#IStandWithWendy What an amazing act of courage! And what an amazing display of asshattery for the Texas Legislature to try to sneak #SB5 through after midnight. Of course Texas has been trying to turn back the clock for years... to 1850.

And speaking of screwing American workers, let's look at Hostess to see how it's done.
  • Unionized Hostess workers made major concessions, taking pay and benefits cuts. That money was supposed to be reinvested into the company. It wasn't.
  • As the company was struggling, its CEO pay skyrocketed, and as it was going into bankruptcy, Hostess pushed to give $1.75 million in bonuses to top executives.
  • Hostess claimed it had to close plants because workers went on strike, but in fact, the company was already planning to close nine bakeries and wasn't telling which ones.
  • Hostess stole its workers' pension money to fund itself and still went bankrupt.
  • And, as Media Matters points out, "while the AP story claims that "workers" are blaming the company's woes on mismanagement and a failure to adapt to evolving consumer tastes, this has actually been the opinion of informed and objective third parties."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

People Explain Things To Me

This is a good piece on the issue of Mansplaining, the history behind it,  how universal it is and hopefully a solution.
Last summer, bits of the internet found a new word: Mansplained. You know when someone explains something to you, but you already know about it, and you feel a bit patronised? Maybe because you are even wearing a giant flashing badge with “I KNOW LOADS ABOUT THIS I HAVE SIX ZILLION NOBEL PRIZES IN IT” which they somehow manage not to see, too caught up in their own knowledge. That’s mansplaining. The word is a mix of the words explaining and man because it’s seen as something men are especially guilty of when it comes to their interactions with women’s expertise.
It's annoying, it's frustrating and it happens all the time. I wish I could count the number of times I've had it done to me. My latest "favorite" was a friend of a friend explaining to me what a computer virus is. After 15 years of IT experience, an almost completed Master's degree and a job at one of the top InfoSec companies in the US, I'm pretty sure I have a handle on it. However if one of our investigators at work tells me about a new virus seen in the "wild" you can be damned sure I'll listen to him. So what's the difference between the two conversations? The level of expertise involved.

And that's where it gets interesting. It's impossible to know everything, there will always be someone who knows more about a subject than you do, just as you know more about a subject than someone else. As she puts it:
The tensions around mansplaining also reflect hang-ups we have dealing with expertise in this world of specialisms we’ve made for ourselves. I think one of the reasons it’s sparked recently, especially around social media, is because we increasingly bump into expertise without much context, and as a result see our prejudices laid out quite clearly. We can be shocked to see someone we didn’t know holding a confident opinion in 140 characters or a simple independent blog. WHAT DO THEY KNOW ANYWAY? Oh, quite a lot actually. I didn’t realise that. Whoops. Or, more often maybe, we discover that this new person knows about the world in a slightly different way from us, one we might disagree with but can still learn from.
I'm guilty of "mansplaining" even though I'm by no means male but hopefully I'm aware enough of it to ensure I'm not talking down to people who know less about a subject than I do. I hope I can answer questions in a way that encourages learning and discourse rather than shutting it down. It's certainly something I try to be aware of just as I'm aware of my tendency to talk fast and to rapid fire information at people. And that right there is the solution, be aware of how you're communicating and try not to erect more barriers to communication. Benefit of the doubt, trust and a lack of contempt (conscious or unconscious) for the people around you.

We Should Never Forget

I'm sad to say I didn't know about this but yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the arson attack at the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans. This was the worst attack on LGBT people in the United States but has been largely forgotten by the public.

While we're waiting for a SCOTUS decision on DOMA, let's remember the sacrifices of the people who came before us and what they went through. The Stonewall Riots, the UpStairs Lounge, the ignorance about AIDS in the early '80s. I wish I could say the world has changed, that these are no longer concerns but I'd be lying. As long as suicide is the number one killer of LGBT youth, as long as protesters still carry signs saying AIDS Cures Fags and as long as LGBT are denied the respect they deserve as citizens of this country, the world has not changed. It may have improved in some ways but there is still a long ways to go.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Men, Women and Higher Education

Growing up, going to college was a given. There would be no such thing as a choice about whether or not to go (although there were a few battles over where to go). Both my parents have Bachelor's degrees and both went on to get Master's degrees, as have I. I had a liberal arts degree but I went on to work in IT.

I think everyone can agree IT is a male dominated industry,  I've been listening with interest to our interns and new hires talk about how a degree is unnecessary and then I read this: As court prepares affirmative-action decision, softer standards for men go unnoticed. It's interesting to me how the rate of women in higher education has increased while the rate of men has decreased but rather than hearing how the men need to step it up, higher education is being devalued instead. So what happens when women with higher education outnumber men? Will we get equal pay or will formal higher education become devalued entirely?

Reading List June 24, 2013

An honest look at the history of eugenics in the United States and the rise of the concept of White Trash.

Texas Republican finds cure for rape! So have I, it's called teaching men not to rape women in the first place and ensuring women are able to get justice and treatment afterwards. Wait, I was wrong. It's not a cure. Maybe it was an abortion instead?

12-Year-Old Girl Kicked Off Football Team Because Boys Had ‘Impure Thoughts’ About Her
And this is her problem how? Let her play!

Reading List June 20, 2013

A good look at how racism looks today versus what it looked like in 1865. It may look different but I'd have to wonder if it would feel any different?

I can't imagine drinking meals on a regular basis but Rob Rhinehart did and started a Kickstarter program to fund and develop it. It's definitely an engineer's solution to meals:
Rhinehart envisions Soylent as part of a future utopia in which no one has to grocery shop or scrub dishes, people spend less money and time on food, and everyone is healthy, having slurped down exactly the nutrients they need.
but I can't really say I'm up for it. To me, food is a communal thing and I enjoy the time I spend with my friends and family cooking and enjoying meals. 

No Posts Over The Weekend

Taking the weekend off has become a trend. Between some medical stuff on Friday and adopting a new puppy Saturday, I was in a complete news outage. Which, to be honest, is pretty nice. It's so easy to get caught up in everything going on in the world and forget to spend time on the important stuff like family and friends.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's All The Same In The End

Once again I apologize on behalf of my state: Congressman Wants Public Schools To Teach Gender Stereotypes ‘At A Very Early Age’

In a speech defending his support of the Defense of Marriage Act, Gingrey has this to say about parenting and gender roles:
GINGREY: You know, maybe part of the problem is we need to go back into the schools at a very early age, maybe at the grade school level, and have a class for the young girls and have a class for the young boys and say, you know, this is what’s important. This is what a father does that is maybe a little different, maybe a little bit better than the talents that a mom has in a certain area. And the same thing for the young girls, that, you know,this is what a mom does, and this is what is important from the standpoint of that union which we call marriage.”
 Right. Yes, we must lock in those rigid gender roles at an early age or who knows what will happen.

I grew up in a fairly traditional family. I was an only child, I had a mother and a father, went to church every Sunday, the whole nine yards. Am I thankful I had two parents? Yes, absolutely. I wasn't privy to the behind-the-scenes conversations but I know there where times when one of my parents probably stopped the other from strangling me over some stupid stuff I had done. That's what parents do, they bring different views, different expectations, different ways of doing things to the parenting table and when it's all said and done, hopefully they have raised a child to successful adulthood, however that's defined. It has nothing to do with gender roles and everything to do with what sort of people those parents are.

But let's widen the discussion. Yes, the ideal is two people raising a child, if only for logistical and financial reasons but that's not the only type of family out there. Single parents of either sex can raise a child. So can grandparents or other members of the extended family. If we really want to support families, stop spending time beating the dead horse of a 1950's ideal that never really existed. Support healthcare, support education, support women getting equal pay. Support quality daycare. Those are actions that will help families.

It's time we get past our narrow definition of what families look like. Whether there's one parent or two, whether opposite sex couple or same sex, extended family or nuclear, the end goal is the same and that is to raise a child with love and care. The end.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Modern Life

Today's XKCD puts things in perspective.

Fashion, Suicide and Women

Using a sensitive and painful topic to sell clothing is a new low: Vice re-creates female authors’ suicides for maximum trolling. And thankfully, Vice listened to criticism, apologized and pulled the online piece.
“Last Words” is a fashion spread featuring models reenacting the suicides of female authors who tragically ended their own lives. It is part of our 2013 Fiction Issue, one that is entirely dedicated to female writers, photographers, illustrators, painters, and other contributors.

The fashion spreads in VICE magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art-editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading. 

“Last Words” was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren’t cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display “Last Words” on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended.
I appreciate that it was a real apology and not a fake we're-sorry-if-we-offended-anyone non-apology. I didn't see the images before the spread was pulled but I'm also not sure I'd want to:
In seven “artistic” photos, the models flaunt their clothes as they pose in the very act that claimed the writer in question — except in the case of Dorothy Parker, who died of natural causes, even though she had made suicide attempts several times. In addition to Parker, we see models dressed as Virginia Woolf, Iris Chang, Charlotte Perkins, Sylvia Plath, Sanmao and Elise Cowen. Their age at death, date of birth, city of birth, date of death, city they died in, and causes of death are listed under the photos.
All these women were great writers who suffered from crippling depression before taking their lives. I could see using them as a PSA to women to get help but to sell clothing? Not so much.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Reading List June 18, 2013

Connecting Things to the Internet Does Not an Internet of Things Make
We've come to a point where we have to re-define what the Internet actually means. He makes a good point about closed systems, Apple, Google and Microsoft all have similar mail, calendar and storage tools but none of them play well with each other, which means you're still limited in your ability to cross platforms.

Private Networks For Public Safety
I've been thinking of the same thing since I heard a story on NPR about DARPA's research into new ways of networking. A stable network that can be made mobile and executed in a location without existing capabilities has use for more than just the military.

LAX TSA officer shames my 15-year-old daughter for her outfit
I already loath the TSA for a useless operation, good for nothing more than security theatre. So now they're the morality police? And I'm sure the TSA agent has spent an equal amount of time telling young men to pull up their pants and to stop wearing those skinny jeans.

The Unspoken Stigma of Workplace Flexibility
Workplace flexibility will retain the stigma as "women only" until more men feel comfortable using it.:
For some women, it gives employers a reason to view them through the lens of motherhood, prompting the strongest form of gender discrimination. Mothers are seen as less competent and less committed to their work, she said,citing other studies. But more surprising is that men who seek work flexibility may be penalized more severely than women, because they’re viewed as more feminine, deviating from their traditional role of fully committed breadwinners.
Two things need to happen, more men need to willing to risk using something that has been traditionally defined as more feminine and positive value needs to be assigned to the roles women play.

Palin writing ‘legalese’ book to fight the ‘War on Christmas’
A legalese book with recipes. Can't wait. And tradition!

Who Needs Fruit, Anyway?

I've been following the news on the collapse of bee colonies for the last few years, an issue that's been widely under-reported.

Here's the latest buzz:

If bees go extinct, this is what your supermarket will look like

I can never resist the opportunity for a bad pun but the collapse of honey bee colonies are a serious issue. Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem, without them we wouldn't have the abundance of fruits and flowers available to us now:
There are a lot of theories about how to bring bees back from their population collapse. One is to reform bee care practices, allowing queens to have multiple mates, creating hives with more robust genetic diversity. Another is to study whether there are microbial changes causing colony collapse — perhaps from viruses or gut bacteria associated with toxins in the environment.
 As a whole, we need to have a better idea of what's going on with our agriculture. Food doesn't originate at Publix, how it's grown, produced and sold has a major impact on our standard of living.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reading List June 16, 2013

Edward Snowden Had a Breaking Point, Where He Decided to Risk It All to Fix This Country -- What's Yours?
Sometimes the smallest action can have the greatest impact. All it takes for change to occur is for one person to speak up and then another to join with their voice. What Snowden did was controversal but he had courage to act on his beliefs.

And speaking of the need to speak...

Courtesy of and

The Dangers of Corporations Controlling National Secrets
A topic worth looking at, why do we have private corporations who are not answerable to the people of the United States doing so security work on our behalf?

Reading List June 14, 2013*

*The Better Late than Never Edition

Obama’s Pen May Shape Scope of Marriage Ruling
Keeping my fingers crossed that SCOTUS overturns the misnamed Defence of Marriage Act.
If the jus­tices do strike it down, they will sweep aside a law that has for years pro­hib­it­ed gay cou­ples from re­ceiv­ing a vast ar­ray of fed­eral bene­fits that mar­ried cou­ples take for grant­ed. But whether gay cou­ples ac­tu­al­ly get those bene­fits would de­pend on where they live — and how vig­or­ous­ly Pres­i­dent Oba­ma seeks to change the le­gal lan­guage that de­ter­mines whether a cou­ple is mar­ried in the eyes of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.
Is Interracial Marriage Still Scandalous?
I still have hope interracial marriage will be entirely unremarkable some day.

Saturday Was Lazy Day

I had all the motivation of a cat in a sunbeam yesterday so I did absolutely nothing. Didn't even peek at the news (someone needs to check my pulse!). I'll try not to let it happen again, at least for a week or so.

Friday, June 14, 2013

From the Department of Get the F**K Over It

OMG It's the END OF THE WORLD! There's yet another stupid chick in a Sci-Fi movie!

Evangeline Lily (Lost) is playing a new character, Tauriel, in the upcoming Hobbit movie and it's causing quite a stir on-line, cause she's  <gasp> A GIRL.
The Hobbit
Evangeline Lilly as the elf warrior Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug – a new character created by filmmakers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh.
Yes, we all know girls don't like Sci-Fi and have no place in something as important as Tolkien. I'm sure she'll completely ruin the movie.*

The mix of  fandom and the fake geek girl bullshit absolutely drives me insane. There is obviously no way to prove to the small but vocal group of men in fandom that the presence of women won't ruin their tiny, precious little world. I have a two part solution to the problem.

First, piss off you stupid wanker! Get the hell out of my face and out of my life so I can enjoy my fandom in peace and quite. I give precisely zero craps about why you think women are ruining your life and I suggest you get into your own kitchen and make your own damn sandwich.

Second, I know there are other men out there who don't think women are the ruin of fandom so I ask you guys to please speak up! Ignoring the trolls isn't working, it's time to shut them up and shut them down. Give them the message that they're the unwanted ones.

*Warning: extreme sarcasm in use. Either don protective gear or leave the room for your safey.

Tha Australians Are Doing It Right!

So when the hell will the United States get it in gear and actually do something meaningful to address the issue of sexual assault in the military?

How Can We Call Ourselves Civilized...

... when this is what we allow?*

Society is judged not by how the fortunate is treated but by our actions towards the less fortunate. The number of people we incarcerate every year is appalling by itself but how they're treated is a disgrace to this country. But they're criminals, you say, they committed crimes, they deserve to be treated this way. If they wanted to be a part of society, they shouldn't have broken the law.

If you have broken a law in this county, in many prisons, you can expect to be raped or sexually assaulted by inmates or guards. You may be put in solitary confinement for weeks, months or even years. If you have health issues, they could be ignored until it's too late for effective treatment and mental health issues will be almost certainly ignored.

The point of incarceration, whether punishment or rehabilitation, is a good question but regardless of the answer, under no circumstances should a country treat any of it's citizens (or visitors to this country) this way. It goes against everything a moral, civilized country should stand for.

*America's private prison system is a national disgrace

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Reading List June 13, 2014

Insurance Tyranny
Just a bit of Paul Krugman sarcasm today about those poor health insurance companies forced by Obamacare to make money. I feel for them, I really do.

Maine GOP Leader Boasts That His ‘Man’s Brain’ Makes Him Think More Rationally About Costs
And this just makes my lady-brain ache.

Before Prosecuting, Investigate the Government
As always, Bruce Schneier makes a good point about the use of security. Asking 'why' is a fundamental part of a democracy.

Xbox One, discs, and downloads: Better than feared, worse than hoped
Nerd Nuz: we'll see how it goes, I still have reservations about this.

From the Department of For Pete's Sake, Really?

Uh huh. Too bad there wasn't anything else available to warn the U.S. against the terrorist attack on 9/11. Something like a security briefing entitled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US.

Sunday Bloody Sunday, Still Relevant Today

Listen closely, there's a new line added to this classic song. It doesn't matter if you're asking about the Troubles in Northern Ireland or violence in the Middle East, hunger and poverty in Africa or in the United States, hatred and injustice world-wide how long must this go on is a universal question.

David Brooks and the Destruction of Society, One Individual At A Time

While reading David Brook's column The Solitary Leaker, I had a terrifying experience. All of a sudden the room went dark, I was struck with sudden blindness! I was terrified and then I realized I hadn't been struck blind, I had merely rolled my eyes so hard, they got stuck in the back of my head.

I'm still following the NSA leaks issue and I haven't made up my mind yet what I think about Edward Snowden but I think Brooks is trying too hard to make him the cause of the downfall of society.
If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.
Ummm... no. Snowden was acting because of his belief in society and the need for the American people to be aware of what the government is doing. I'm sure the British could have used that argument against the Founding Fathers, as well.
This lens makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age: the deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme. You’re more likely to donate to the Ron Paul for president campaign, as Snowden did.
Again, no. I wouldn't say any of that is distinct only to modern day libertarians. I'd say our founding fathers had a pretty deep suspicion of authority, deep enough to defy the rather large British Empire.

I'm not saying that Snowden's bust should be on display at the capitol next to Washington, Adams or Lincoln but his belief that a free society needs information, needs limits on power is built into the history of our country.

Keep Families Together

I've often said behind every politicized issue, there are human lives at stake. Gay marriage isn't about property rights or religion, it's about people wanting to make a commitment to each other. The same can be said of immigration reform. In many cases, it's about keeping families together. Children who have only known life in the United States needing a parent who has been deported.

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The video of a mother talking to her children through a border fence just breaks my heart. Immigration reform isn't some political football that gets kicked around, these are peoples' lives. People who's lives deserve the same respect as any other. We're too willing to break up families of the marginalized in this country, either through deportation or criminalization, and it has to stop.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Little Whovian Fun

Join Me For Today's Episode of "No Shit, Ya Think?"

Excuse me while I go bang my head on my desk.
Army chief of staff on sexual assault: 'Maybe we have a bigger problem than I imagined.' You think?
The light bulb dawns and a clue descends on the head of General Ray Odierno;
“The amount of reports that are now coming out—people willing to go public, which I think is a good thing—has brought this to a head for me,” he told reporters at Army’s sixth annual Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention summit at Joint Base Andrews, Md. “Maybe we have a bigger problem than I imagined.*”
That only took 26,000 anonymous reports of sexual assaults to the U.S. Military in the last year. 

* Emphasis mine.

Just Breaks My Heart

There is no way you can read this and not want to weep for the parents.
After Newtown shooting, mourning parents enter into the lonely quiet.
How do you explain to parents and siblings and friends and teachers and neighbors what happened to these children? How can you read this and then turn around and talk about the "slippery slope" of gun control? I just don't understand. 

And Newtown isn't the worst, it's only the latest. As of today, there are 4,857* deaths by firearms in this country since Newtown. 96 children, including the 26 killed in Newtown. 256 teens killed since Newtown. 4,439 adults killed. This is stupid. This is immoral. And this is wrong. There is something wrong with a this country that we can stand by and look at the number of people dead from firearms and then say there's nothing that can be done.

* Numbers taken from Slate's Gun Death Tally

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Reading List June 6, 2013

Don’t Treat Consumers Like Criminals

Saxby Chambliss Did Not Blame Sexual Assault on Hormones
OK, now that Erick Erickson explains how it's all a horrible misunderstanding, that Senator Saxby Chambliss didn't imply hormones cause sexual assault, I feel a lot better. Erickson is obviously an expert on women stuff as shown by his nuanced response to women as head of household. I feel much better now.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, A film by Joss Whedon- Official Theatrical Trailer

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement: I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THIS!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

MSNBC Video: Janson & Co Sexual Assault in the Military

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NSA, Line 1

U.S. Is Secretly Collecting Records of Verizon Calls
One Nation, Under Surveillance
For sev­eral years, two De­moc­rats on the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, Sen­a­tor Ron Wyden of Or­e­gon and Sen­a­tor Mark Udall of Col­o­rado, have been cryp­ti­cal­ly warn­ing that the gov­ern­ment was in­ter­pret­ing its sur­veil­lance pow­ers un­der that sec­tion of the Pa­tri­ot Act in a way that would be alarm­ing to the pub­lic if it knew about it.
“We be­lieve most Amer­i­cans would be stunned to learn the de­tails of how these se­cret court opin­ions have in­ter­pret­ed Sec­tion 215 of the Pa­tri­ot Act,” they wrote last year in a let­ter to At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Er­ic H. Holder Jr.
I hate to say it but this doesn't surprise me at all. The Patriot Act was nothing more than a power grab and ripe for abuse of the American people. Alarmed? Yes. Surprised? Not in the least bit.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Reading List June 5, 2013

As Vandals Deface U.S. Parks, Some Point to Online Show-Offs
Yes, because I want to go view the majesty of nature and see a bunch of damned tagging.

Support Grows to Let Cybertheft Victims 'Hack Back'
Sounds great on Twitter, not so great in reality. Until we are able to track down specifically who is doing the hacking, the chances of hitting someone who wasn't involved are too high. There's also a one-sided business angle here, what's to stop something like the MPAA etc from going after individuals suspected of illegal downloads? Where are the protections against mis-use?

Saxby Chambliss (R-GA):
The young folks coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So we’ve got to be very careful how we address it on our side.
Yes, I'm probably just as thrilled about his retirement as he is, just for completely different reasons.

Our Driven Elite (Trivial and Time-Wasting)
Substitute anything in the rural/urban, rich/poor/middle class divide. In other words, different people have different wants and needs! <sarcasm> OMG! Call the Media! Film at 11:00! </sarcasm>

Pressure Grows to Create Drugs for ‘Superbugs’
This is scary stuff!

Is Barefoot-Style Running Best? New Studies Cast Doubt
I'm not a runner by any means. In fact, the only way to get would to run would involve zombies chasing me; but I love those bare-foot shoes. For someone who hates wearing shoes as much as I do, they are almost as comfortable as going shoe-less. Even if they are ugly as homemade sin.

Game of Thrones aka WTH? Just Happened?!

Turkey: How #occupygezi built a hashtag army

Turkey: How #occupygezi built a hashtag army | MSNBCMSNBC

This is why I'm in favor of social media. I've posted my fair share of silly cat pictures to the internet using Twitter and Facebook. There have been some horrific cases of photos and videos passed around of assaults. But used as a tool to raise awareness, to shine a spotlight on injustice, that far outweighs the drawbacks of social media.

Beatriz Has The Right To Live- Updated

The facts of the case are simple. Beatriz is a 22 year old woman with lupus. She already has one child and was expecting her second when she found out the fetus was non-viable and would not live long past birth (even if it made it that far). Because of her lupus, carrying to term would put her at a high risk of death.

So we have:
  1. a woman with a critical disease 
  2. and who is a mother to a living child
  3. a fetus with no hope of survival
  4. and the high risk of death as her pregnancy continues
If she were an American (and lived in a state which allowed abortion or could afford to travel to said state), she would have the option of terminating her pregnancy. She would be allowed to go on with her life, to continue being a mother to her son. But she's not. She lives in El Salvador, a country that doesn't allow abortion for any reason. Not for the life of the mother, not due to rape or incest, none allowed at all. Because of Catholic doctrine.

Dying Salvadoran Woman Finally Ends Her Doomed Pregnancy With A C-Section Instead Of An ‘Abortion’

Granting a C-section rather than an abortion is nothing more then legal and religious word play. It was a gamble with a woman's life the government of El Salvador and the Catholic Church were willing to take. Waiting until the fetus was viable* put Beatriz's life at risk. It put the relationship between a woman and her husband at risk. It put the life between a mother and her son at risk. And this is what it means to be pro-life?

* I use viable only in the medical sense as it was made plain the fetus was deformed and would not survive long, if at all.

El Salvador abortion woman has C-section
5 hours.

That's how long the baby lived after being born via C-section. FIVE hours versus the weeks of suffering faced by the mother and her family. The life of a baby who was born without a brain, who would die shortly after birth is worth more than the life of the woman carrying that child. The life of a woman with a family. The life of a woman who has a son and a husband who desperately want her to live.

5 hours.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Reading List June 3, 2013

As two prominent GOP women fade, a question of how to woo female voters
I get a little sarcastic reading articles like this (nooo, really?!). I can't help but think this is another form of pink-washing (ie slap some pink paint on it can call it Made for Women). If they wanted to really woo female voters, how about addressing issues that women think are important? And while we're on that subject, women make up 50.8% of the United States population, at what point do things like healthcare and reproductive rights stop being Women's Issues and become Human Issues?

Where right meets left on freedom of the press.
YES! It is possible for the political left and right to agree.

House of Death
I lost my Aunt to cancer 14 years ago and I still remember the wonderful hospice nurses who took care of her - and us - at the end of her life. I would like to see hospice made available for more people and their families to use.

'Stand Your Ground' Laws To Be Scrutinized For Racial Bias By Civil Rights Commission
Good. Now can we do something about George Zimmerman's lawyers pissing in the jury pool?

Supreme Court Upholds DNA Swabbing of People Under Arrest

Supreme Court upholds DNA swabbing of people under arrest

And here I thought my WTH? moment happened earlier in the day! 

The ruling was 5-4 with conservative Justice Antoin Scalia joining liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The five justices in the majority ruled that DNA sampling, after an arrest “for a serious offense” and when officers “bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody,” does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches. 
Under those specifications, the court said, “taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
While DNA testing may not be deemed an unreasonable search, there is no definition of a "serious offense". What exactly is a "serious offense"? Speeding? Jaywalking? Kicking puppies? Driving while Black? Occupy Wall Street? Protesting?

UN Weapons Treaty and Political Astrology

U.S. Fails to Join Allies in Signing UN Weapons Treaty

Here's my WTH? for the morning:

Even if the treaty wouldn’t affect U.S. domestic sales or impinge on the constitutional right to bear arms, it would be a political minefield at home. The accord wouldn’t muster enough votes for approval by the U.S. Senate, and the influential National Rifle Association, which says it has more than 4.5 million members, has lobbied against it.

At what point would the NRA having anything to say about the illegal weapons trade? We're not talking handguns or riffles, we're talking about missiles and tanks and bombs. What on earth could the NRA possibly have to say about it? Keeping long-range missiles out of the hands of dictators is one step on the slippery slope of a gun ban in the United States? Someone please explain this one to me, I apparently haven't had enough coffee yet this morning. 

At least there's one bright spot:
For now, the U.S. is happy to lend its symbolic seal of approval while reiterating that in practice much of the regulation outlined in the treaty has already been put in practice by the U.S. in its overseas sales of small arms, missile launchers, tanks, warships and attack helicopters.
We're already practicing what we're afraid to preach and we plan on signing in the future, just not right now. Apparently the political stars aren't aligned closely enough and critical thinking is in retrograde. Or something like that.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reading List June 2, 2013

We Are Not Having A Serious Discussion, Obamacare Edition
No, we are not. We are running ourselves ragged talking about (and defending against) inane things like death panels and the evils of socialized medicine. Where is the discussion about how our healthcare system broke in the first place?

Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Entire Photo Staff, Will Give Reporters iPhoneography Training
I'm not sure what to think of this. On the one hand, hopefully that'll make it easier to report events as they're happening but it doesn't say a whole lot about our ability to analyze those events.

Reading the News Is Fun and Patriotic, But It Sure Can Make You Anxious
I thought this was funny considering the amount of news I watch or listen to in a day.

Facebook Sexism, YouTube Attacks On Feminist Frequency, And How Hate Speech Make Tech Take Sides
Part of a larger debate on freedom of speech, at what point do we define hate speech and regulate against it. And in the context of community self-policing, is it even possible to have people agree what speech is considered harmful?

Patrick Stewart Is My Hero

Violence against women is still a global crisis that effects us all (and for the record, I include transgender women) and there are days it doesn't seem like it will ever end. So when I saw the clip of Patrick Stewart's responding to a fan about domestic violence, it brought tears to my eyes. I was so incredibly moved.

Watch Patrick Stewart's Moving Response to a Fan About the Domestic Violence His Mother Endured, and Why He Works to Prevent It

There are several things I appreciate from Patrick Stewart's speech. I'm glad he acknowledges his father's PTSD resulting from his military service. PTSD is a very real thing and with modern warfare, something we will continue to see more and more. Closed head injuries are on the rise, which often result in emotional and behavioral changes. We need better methods of treatment in place to take care of our service-men and -women. That being the case, Stewart makes it extremely clear that violence is still never, ever the answer. It's just not. He said what cannot be said enough, there is nothing his mother did that made the abuse acceptable. The last thing, and something I'm only now starting to hear and I'm grateful for it, is the power to stop violence against women is not only in the hands of women. It's in the hands of the men who commit that act of violence and in the hands of men who can speak up, disavow acts of violence and change the culture. Women do not deserve violence at the hands of a partner or loved one. Men have the power to step up, come together and stop the cycle of violence. It's time to stop making violence against issue a Woman's Issue and make it a Human Issue.

Sir Patrick Stewart Calls On ‘One Million Men’ To End Violence Against Women