Monthly Archives: November 2011
I watched it through Twitter and Ustream, switching around between five different video streams. Had a slow, sleepy day because of it, but I think it was worth the missed sleep. From what I could see both cops and demonstrators worked to keep it peaceful, but I really couldn’t see much. Read the rest of this entry
An interesting program I’ve been using for the last few weeks (months? When did I install that thing, anyway?) is the Zim Desktop Wiki, which works pretty much like a cross between a notepad program and a, well, wiki. Making new pages is as simple as linking to ones that don’t exist yet. Linking to a page can be as easy as placing your cursor within a word, pressing ctrl-L, and hitting “enter” twice. (Though usually it takes a little more than that.)
I love it. It’s a little awkward at first, but once you learn the keyboard shortcuts it’s fairly smooth sailing. I used it to keep track of my wanderings through the SubNet Exploration Experience and soon had an in-depth, cross-referenced database of everything I’d found in there.
It even supports tags, which I love in ways that are probably illegal in some states.
I found it in the Ubuntu software repositories when I was looking for pretty much exactly that kind of program, but it also has Mac & even Windows versions for people who use, you know, those sorts of operating systems.
As yet, it has not tried to conquer the Earth. That I’ve noticed, at least.
The odds are very good that if you’re reading this, someone you know has or has had some form of cancer, maybe even yourself. About 1,500 people die every day in the United States alone of cancer or cancer-related illness. More than half a million a year. It’s a boundless wellspring of human suffering that scientists have been working to understand better for over a hundred years. So far the best treatments we’ve got are still pretty crude, but all over the world researchers are working tirelessly to find new ways to improve the lives of cancer patients.
So when someone’s charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for a treatment they claim can cure cancer, I tend to think the worst of them. When their response to criticism is angry, weak legal threats that clearly weren’t made by a lawyer, well, that doesn’t really make me think any better of them. Read the rest of this entry
Since I’m unable to sleep again, I may as well cover this. Emma Sullivan has apparently decided not to write the apology letter her disgrace of a principal, Karl R. Krawitz, demanded. Here are some links about that.
“At this time, I do not think an apology would be a sincere thing for me to do.”
Good for her! Free speech is everyone’s right, and that means not only the freedom to speak, but the freedom not to.
Especially the freedom not to write insincere, bullshit apologies demanded by some jackass who thinks he needs “damage control”. How’s that damage control going, Karl?
I don’t have much more to say on this, but something Principal Krawitz said in one of those articles stuck in my mind.
Krawitz, her principal, told The Kansas City Star previously that the situation is a “private issue, not a public matter” but didn’t return a phone message from The Associated Press at his home Sunday.
In what way is this not a public matter? Seriously, it was a publicly visible tweet, Governor Brownback and Principal Krawitz are public servants, and Shawnee Mission East is a public high school. Heck as far as I know the only private party involved is Emma Sullivan herself. (And I guess Twitter, but they’re literally just the messenger here.) If that’s a private issue, what the hell does it take for something to be public?
I’ve seen many people on Twitter calling Brownback a bully (and even reporting him as one, hilariously), but really I think Principal Krawitz is far more guilty of that charge. For all I know Brownback didn’t even know about it til the story broke. His staff clearly have the right bullying attitude, but only passed on a complaint.
It was Krawitz who took it upon himself to tell this young woman what she can and cannot say, It was Krawitz who apparently spent more words scolding her than you can fit in a tweet. And it was Krawitz who should have been defending her rights, who should be defending the rights of every student in his care, and decided shallow appearances, or maybe just his own ego, was more important.
Haven’t been able to sleep at all tonight (last night?) so this might be a little more surreal than usual. But I’m looking forward to shutting off the blog reminder the very first time I see it today.
First, this article by Joshua Holland responding to the Naomi Wolf Guardian piece I linked yesterday. I can’t do this subject justice right now, I don’t know enough off the top off my head and I’m too tired to trust myself researching both articles. I may post more about this later, but for now I wanted to put this opposing viewpoint link there in case I totally forget about this after I see a shiny object or something.
Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback apparently has staff watching Twitter for comments about him. I guess that makes sense, it’s probably a good way to judge public opinion. When they saw that one, they passed it on, and eventually Sullivan wound up in the principles office. Read the rest of this entry
So, Congress wants to know why everyone hates them. Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but the reason I hate you, Congress, is because every time I turn around you assholes are doing something like this. (Incidentally, what’s up with the links on that page?)
Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), have apparently decided that what’s wrong with America is that we’re not enough like a fascist dictatorship. I wasn’t surprised to see McCain’s name on that, he introduced similar legislation in ’09 or ’10 which would give the President power to declare anyone an unperson without trial or charge, and specifically denied the option of judicial review. Seriously, the man introduced a bill to give the President, and any future president, the power to declare anyone (I think the term used was) an “unlawful enemy combatant”, who could then by held indefinitely without being charged with a crime, or given a trial, or even allowed to petition a judge to review the justice or legality of the detention.
In no free country should any one person have that kind of power. Certainly not one that has the Bill of Rights in it’s highest legal document.
Well, now McCain’s teamed up with another enemy of freedom and found a new approach. They should both be ashamed of themselves. Hell, I’m ashamed that they weren’t booed off the floor, this is my country and these are my countrymen, how could they consider that for even a moment?
The “detainees” taken in this alleged war on terror are a real sticking point with me, no matter which way you go they illustrate the criminal truth about the whole awful enterprise. If we’re at war, then those detainees are prisoners of war and subject to the rules and protections of the Geneva Convention. It we’re not at war, then these detainees are criminal suspects and subject to the rules and protections of Due Process. The term “Unlawful Enemy Combatant” suggests both while claiming neither, as if these people are somehow war criminals without ever being either criminals or soldiers.
I understand that this is a sticky situation where it’s often not clear, but changing the law to broadly strip (more) protections away from everywhere is not the answer here. The law isn’t about making the government’s job easier, it’s about protecting people.
So I was already in a cynical and angry state of mind when I saw this Guardian article about the crackdowns on the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Here is what Naomi Wolf of the Guardian learned when she started asking OWS activists what they wanted.
The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
Haven’t heard much about that in the U.S. press. In fact most of the news I get about OWS comes from Europe. Maybe the money in the government is in the media, too.
Maybe that’s why Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are sneaking in this obscene rape of the Constitution, it’s a way to protect the money. Or hell, I don’t know, maybe they’re so frightened of the threat of terrorism that they’re willing to take the chance that some president might declare them enemy combatants and have them detained indefinitely, and possibly tortured.
Were I president, and handed that sort of power, the first thing I would do is send troops to detain Congress. Because while Al Qaida may or may not be the biggest threat to our lives, it’s been made abundantly clear that the biggest threat to our freedoms, Congress, is you.
Congress apparently finally noticed that they’re pissing everyone off.
Sorry, that’s all you get today. If I’m feeling better tomorrow I’ll actually say something for myself.
Not doing well with the writing today. Here’s a link to a transcript of yet another Republican debate. Reading this, I wonder why they bother. It strikes me as nothing but empty pageantry, mere spectacle to get people applauding, not a debate in any sense that I’m familiar with. But there’s some weird stuff going on in there, and one bit of weirdness jumped out at me.
Here’s a quote from Michele Bachmann:
This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He has outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.
When the bomber — or the attempted bomber over Detroit, the underwear bomber was intercepted, he was given Miranda warnings within 45 minutes. He was not an American citizen. We don’t give Miranda warnings to terrorists, and we don’t read them their rights. They don’t have any.
It would be unfair to suggest that this is typical for a Republican candidate, Bachmann is out there by anyone’s standards. The idea that the ACLU controls interrogations… I haven’t the slightest idea what she’s saying there. “They aren’t letting us torture suspects anymore”, perhaps? But there’s some stuff in there that’s pretty common thinking and I want to address it. Read the rest of this entry
Not feeling good tonight. Angry, too, I caught a glimpse of the TV news. Saw a sheriff talking about “Occupy” people, he said, (in that usual thug voice, you know the one) “Stop breaking the law, you’ll stop getting arrested”.
Unless you’re rich enough, of course. Then getting arrested is never on the cards no matter what you do.
Every year people make the same tired jokes about Christmas starting early, myself included. But I’m really starting to wonder about that, I can sort of understand how stores would want to start getting their hooks in early, but surely there must be a point where it’s counterproductive. I mean, eventually they’re not getting anyone else fired up about whatever dumb toy they’re trying to convince everyone they can’t live without and further efforts are just wasting resources and annoying people, right?
The deeper cultural implications of the holiday, including the laughable “War on Xmas” bullshit, I’ll save for another day when I’m up to writing a longer post.
We’re up to slightly more than a sixth of the year for xmas, which is clearly too damn long for me. Like summer, the issue isn’t that I don’t like it, it’s simple fatigue. I get sick of the damn thing dragging on and on and just want it to end already. I remember reading a book when I was a kid, and a character was shocked that his dad was thinking about Christmas so early, when they were still eating Thanksgiving leftovers, and even then that seemed like a joke to me.
It especially seems cruel to small children to stretch Christmas hype out for months. When you’re five, a month is a very, very long time.
This post brought to you by the realization that by the time December starts I’m already tired of Christmas music.
A couple days ago I wrote about Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, a young Egyptian woman who posted naked pictures to her blog to “call attention to a violent society, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy”. I believe I called her one of the bravest people I’ve ever heard about, and I stand by that statement. It probably doesn’t surprise you at this point to learn that some Egyptians want to have her whipped.
Look, if someone says that you are violently oppressive and their stance of defiance against your alleged violent oppression is to publicly post photos of themselves, then calling for them to be brutalized, possibly executed, really just tells the world that they’re right.
I’m far too tired to do this subject justice. So I’ll just ask you a question. What’s more obscene, posting public naked photos, or having some publicly whipped?
Helping friends move this weekend. I thought I’d still find something interesting to say, but after thinking about it for over an hour, I’ve got nothing. Since I’m going back for more work tomorrow, it’s likely there won’t be anything new and interesting til Monday.
For tonight, I’ll just say that I’m surprised by how tired I am. I don’t really feel like I earned that.
Aliaa Magda Elmahdy is an Egyptian student who posted nude pictures of herself on the internet in the name of women’s rights. Here’s an article about it, and here’s Elmahdy’s blog, which now has many pictures of naked people. It’s caused a surprising amount of backlash: surprising to me, at least.
The comments on her blog are in many languages, so I’m stuck with using Google Translate to get the gist of most of the discussion. And most of them are from outside Egypt, outside the Mid-East, even, and are overwhelmingly supportive.
That gives me some hope, maybe the hardline Muslims will look at that and have a moment of introspection. Maybe they’ll think “If the rest of the world sees our policies as oppressive and archaic, relics of a dark age, could we be mistaken?” I know that’s pretty unlikely, not only because religious fundamentalism leaves little room for introspection but because these movements to expand religious power and take rights and freedoms away from people are expanding. Read the rest of this entry
Busy day for Occupy Wall Street, lots going on. Twitter’s #OWS tag was very active, and yet never trended. Meanwhile, “Women Who Don’t Cook” was a trending topic, with predictable depressing shit being said. Well, fuck. Between that and the truly ugly things opponents of Occupy were saying, I’m feeling a little down.
Look, people disagree on things. sometimes passionately, sometimes even violently, and it’s easy to get angry when someone disagrees with you on something that seems so obvious to you. It’s important not to let anger blind you to the fact that your opponents are still people. Maybe they’re misinformed, maybe they’re stupid, maybe they’re selfish or maybe it’s something else entirely, maybe even they’re right and you’re the one who’s wrong, it really doesn’t matter. They’re still people, and if you dehumanize them, you’re becoming a bit of a monster yourself.
Worse, you’re opening yourself up to the worst kinds of manipulation, where someone can convince you to commit real atrocities. Because how bad can it be? It’s not like they’re asking you to do anything to actual people.
People matter. All of them. How rich or poor they are, what religion they claim, the politics they espouse, the color of their skin, the clothes they like to wear and the sex they like to have, all these things are irrelevant. Even the worst of us matter, we’re all in this together. You don’t have to like them, you don’t have to be nice to them, but when you forget that they’re people, when you start to see them as just obstacles, then what are you becoming?
Take care everyone, and take care of each other.
Well, at least I have the excuse that I’m still sick. Getting better, but so very slowly.
What really bugs me though, is that I had something I wanted to write about when I finally got out of bed around noon. Well, maybe tomorrow I’ll have enough sense to do my writing when I can, rather than hoping to do it when it’s convenient.