athelind: (Default)
Today, I filled out my census data as the second person living at [ profile] thoughtsdriftby's residence, and something occurred to me.

Neither [ profile] quelonzia nor I remember filling out a census form in 2000 -- and in 2000, we were living in CSUMB's student housing. Despite the fact that we lived there for five full years (and the longest I've ever lived in any single place is six years), we were considered transient. In many places, students living on campus aren't considered "local residents", and thus aren't permitted to vote in local elections (though they can vote in national elections); since districting is based on census data, it makes sense that they might leave students out of that, as well.

In 1990, I was in the Coast Guard, and lived on a military base.

In 1980, my family lived in an RV park in a largely-agricultural part of Southern California; the immigration status of most of the other long-term park residents was, shall we say, dubious. My mother can't remember if we filled out a census form that year.

This may be the first census that's actually counted me since I was six years old.

The next time someone bitches about the effort the government has been going through to try and get the homeless and other "traditionally under-represented" segments of the population tallied accurately, I'll have to point out how easily a middle class white kid slipped through the cracks for forty years.

(This may be the most appropriate use of my barcode icon ever.)

athelind: (Default)
AMC has made all 17 episodes of Patrick McGoohan's classic series, The Prisoner, available online.

This series is required viewing for anyone who's ever ...

Well, for anyone.


Especially in this day and age.

I am not a number!
I am a free man!

athelind: (Default)
A lot of people keep defending President Obama's mediocre track record on progressive causes,* citing the close margin he has, and occasionally even acknowledging that he can't even rely on his own party members in Congress.

[ profile] bradhicks points out that Roosevelt, Johnson, and every other President who managed to accomplish anything of lasting significance faced the same kind of opposition, but knew how to use the power, prestige, and clout of the Chief Executive of the United States to get shit done.

The ones who didn't?

They didn't accomplish jack shit, for any cause, progressive or otherwise.

This is not the change I voted for.

*Most of his defenders also ignore his reprehensible track record in sustaining and expanding frankly regressive causes, including some of the worst stances of the Bush Junta on privacy, security, and copyright law, just to name a few.
athelind: (Default)
Okay, kids. Politics time.

First: On Elections.

[ profile] rodant_kapoor just said everything that needs to be said about yesterday's special election in Massachusetts.

Second:On Activism.

I've heard some comments that there's more to participating in democracy than just saying, "I voted; now it's their turn to sort things out."

I really want to do things. I really want to make my voice heard. I really want to do that activism thing.

Unlike Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man", I haven't "passed the age / of consciousness and rightous rage". I just don't know what to do with it.

The only leads I've found in that direction have been canvassing, either door-to-door, on the phone, or stuffing envelopes.

You cannot convince me that this is significant or effective.

I don't treat political solicitors any differently than I do commercial or religious ones. At the door, on my phone or in my mailbox, they are an uninvited intrusion on the sanctity and privacy of my home.

I will politely turn away a political canvasser on my doorstep. I will rather less politely inform an unsolicited caller that I am "not interested". I will briefly glance at political mail to see if the candidate in question expresses views that coincide with my own, and if so, I'll put their name on my list of candidates to consider.

I almost always assume that the claims being made for or against Proposition X or Candidate Y are unreliable, at best, and flat-out lies, at worst. When election time rolls around, I troll the web looking for independent analyses and recommendations, but I don't trust unsolicited opinions.

And this is my reaction for the canvassers that I agree with. I have a hard time believing that this kind of activity is actually going to change anybody's mind.

Am I just stubborn? Am I too cynical to believe that J. Random Doorbell might be swayed by the presentation of reasonable arguments and evidence-based debunkings of misinformation? Or, despite my adherence to Colbert's memorable statement that "Reality has a well-known liberal bias", am I too cynical to believe that "my side" will provide me that kind of good, solid data to present?

Am I just an antisocial jerk who likes to hang up on people and slam doors in their face?

Really, are independent voters any more eager to have zealots idealists concerned citizens pounding on their door or ringing them up in the middle of dinner or the latest episode of Supernatural than Your Obedient Serpent is?

Heck, if I were an "independent" rather than a liberal technocrat, I'd probably wind up voting for the party that bothered me the least.

I suppose this boils down to two questions:

One, are my door-slamming habits atypical?

Two, what kinds of "grass-roots activity" are out there that don't include pestering the neighbors?


Nov. 18th, 2009 09:57 am
athelind: (Default)

-- Somewhere in heaven, PT Barnum looks down on Sarah Palin and sheds a single proud tear.

-- John Rogers, co-creator of Leverage


Nov. 12th, 2009 01:18 pm
athelind: (Default)

I also think that a lot of folks who profess to love America love it the way Ike Turner loved Tina.

-- Mark Evanier

athelind: (Default)
I have to say, I'm pleased by this speech, and this slogan.

Goodness knows, I'm trying to find myself a mop. Where do they hide the damned things?

athelind: (Default)
Am I missing something?

Apparently, "striving for nuclear disarmament" by rattling sabres at Iran and North Korea, "supporting international bodies" like the WTO, the World Bank, and other corporate bulwarks, and "rekindling hope" by Not Being George Dubya Bush qualifies a man for the Nobel Prize, despite what Your Obedient Serpent perceives as a continuation of all of Bush's most rephrehensible policies, at home and abroad.

Okay, not all of Bush's policies. President Obama isn't actively rude to other countries.

But, ten thousand thunders! how is it that I find myself inclined to agree with Neocon Republicans and Taliban members about this?

If Reagan was Teflon, Obama is Kevlar. His opponents are so reprehensible that I wind up aligning myself with him simply to distance myself from them. It's like he generates a Godwin Deflector Field: I'm gonna stand over here, with Barry, so none of The Stupid gets on me.

Seriously, I know there are non-North Americans reading this. What's your perspective on the President and the Peace Prize?

Update: [ profile] rodant_kapoor has his own take on what this represents, and it does make sense, from a certain point of view.

Update: [ profile] circuit_four has another good take.

Good stuff is popping up in the comments here, as well; thanks, gang!

Update: [ profile] rikoshi makes some good points On Obama.

And that guy in the Oval Office had was as astonished as anyone else, it seems.

Update: Meanwhile, The Washington Post puts it all in perspective by pointing out that the Peace Prize has also, historically, been awarded for "aspirations". (Of course, those who have a medical background know that if you aspirate something, you may choke on it.)

Most of these updates are for my own future reference, but also for interested readers.
athelind: (Default)
I'm posting this link in part for my own benefit, for easy reference in the future:

“Mister Taxy” Is A Friend Of The Rich.

In which MGK makes it clear that the biggest beneficiaries of tax dollars devoted to social infrastructure are, in fact, the wealthy.

The level of income inequality between the poorest and richest is the greatest it ever has been in human history. On the one hand, that kind of sucks; on the other hand, it’s amazing. There’s a reason that feudal lords in the Middle Ages weren’t as comparatively rich as modern tycoons, and it’s not because of technology: it’s because they don’t have to spend money on keeping people alive and healthy and generating value and furthermore able to generate the best possible value, because the government does that for them, and frankly does it better than individuals could anyway.

athelind: (Default)



Thank you, Congressman Frank! This is your Crowning Moment of Awesome.

This is exactly how these crazy bullshit lies should be met -- must be met. It's "vile, contemptible nonsense", all right, and we need more people to come right out and say it.

Thanx to [ profile] cargoweasel and [ profile] circuit_four
athelind: (Default)
The only place I've seen this is in a locked post, so I'm gonna put it right out here in the open:

If you're on Twitter, set your location to Tehran & your time zone to GMT +3.30. Iranian security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut down Iranians' access to the internet. Cut & paste & pass it on.

I'm not on Twitter, but I know a bunch of you out there who read this are -- so help throw a wrench in the Fundamentalist machine. There's not a lot we can do from here, but this one little thing could have a disproportional impact.

athelind: (Default)
Via boingboing:

Bacon may not make everything better, but cookies do:

FBI Interrogator Reports That Cookies Work Better Than Torture.

This is Pure Undiluted Coyote In Action: the reprehensible deeds of the arrogant and powerful are countered by something that is, at first glance, absurd.

Part of me wants to make a funny, light-hearted post about the wonders of baked goods, full of references to Eddie Izzard and '80s cartoons about Being Nice and '70s superheroes defeating the villains with Hostess Fruit Pies.

Part of me wants to go on a self-righteous tear about how the vile nature of torture is compounded by its ineffectiveness.

Look at the icon: which part do you think won this one?

It's particularly ironic because those who try to defend "enhanced interrogation" love to accuse their opponents of "coddling" terrorist suspect. "Maybe we should just serve them tea and cookies, instead! That's sure to get them to talk!"

Guess what? It does, assholes.

Treating people as people, as human beings, goes a long way toward getting them to see you as human in turn.

Those who defend and support torture don't give a damn about facts or evidence. They don't care about getting useful or accurate information out of these prisoners. They don't even care about the "ticking time bomb" scenario gleaned from their careful, in-depth research into Kiefer Sutherland.

They just want to hurt people, or have people hurt in their name. They just want to cause pain. They don't care about terrorism or any of the rest of it; 9/11 just gave them a justification to do what they've always wanted to do, to indulge their vicious cruelty, and to assert loudly and contemptuously that any other approach is naive and weak.

It is indefensible that I live in a nation that can even debate this issue.

Not when the alternative is cookies.

athelind: (Default)
This has been making the rounds tonight, and it should.

Edit: Embed fixed. Thanx, Cargo.

athelind: (Default) is planning a Parade to Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition on 05 December, and they're looking for a Bay Area resident turning 75 and another turning 21 on December 5th to act as Grand Marshalls.

...if they could find someone turning 96, they'd have someone who actually was legally allowed to drink on that day!

Yes, this one gets the "politics" tag, among others. The Repeal of Prohibition marked the end of the last Big Wave Of Moralizing Religious Stupidity that screwed up this country.
athelind: (Default)
There's a move to revoke the LDS Church's tax-exempt status for violating the section of the Federal code that limits the use of such organizations to influence legislation.

This seems entirely appropriate to me.

Do As Thou Wilt.

athelind: (Default)
This is, very specifically, a request for solid information that, thus far, I have been unable to find on my own.

I am going to try to be very specific here, because I have a history of getting answers to every question except the one that I actually thought I asked.

Those who wish to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples often take refuge in the excuse that the laws of [State X] allow for "civil unions" that, supposedly, provide "all the same legal rights" as marriage.

Is this actually the case?

Do "civil unions", in particular those specified in California law, actually provide all of the legal benefits and protections of different-sex marriage?

I'm not asking for opinion. I'm asking for data. In particular, I'm asking for ammunition to counter those claims.

I am not opening this thread to a debate on whether any kind of marriage should have legal status, or whether anything over and above a "civil union" is a violation of the Wall of Separation between Church and State.* I have a Delete button, and I know how to use it.

I, personally, hold to the principle that "separate but equal" is never truly equal. Moreover, I feel that "merely semantic" distinctions are, in fact, important; "mere semantics" underlies how the human psyche works.

* Organized religion does not hold a monopoly on social tradition. Why do both its most vocal advocates and its most vocal opponents insist that it does?**
** I am not opening this thread to a discussion of Church monopoly of social tradition, either.***
*** If you want unlimited freedom of speech, git yer own damn blog.

athelind: (Default)
[ profile] toob just got married a few months ago, making him and his husband among the people that Proposition 8 most directly impacts.

I have nothing to say that he hasn't just said more clearly and truly:

Listen to what I am saying: they won nothing. All they did was briefly, temporarily revert California to the state it was in at the beginning of the year. But they are standing there with their thumb in the dike (Ha!) and new leaks are springing all around them.

They haven't lost -- but they are losing.

Sail on.

Nov. 4th, 2008 10:43 pm
athelind: (Default)


Leonard Cohen, 1992

It's coming through a hole in the air,
From those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It's coming from the feel
That this ain't exactly real,
Or it's real, but it ain't exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
From the fires of the homeless,
From the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming through a crack in the wall;
On a visionary flood of alcohol;
From the staggering account
Of the Sermon on the Mount
Which I don't pretend to understand at all.
It's coming from the silence
On the dock of the bay,
From the brave, the bold, the battered heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the sorrow in the street,
The holy places where the races meet;
From the homicidal bitchin'
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

It's coming to America first,
The cradle of the best and of the worst.
It's here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it's here they got the spiritual thirst.
It's here the family's broken
and it's here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we'll be making love again.
We'll be going down so deep
The river's going to weep,
And the mountain's going to shout Amen!
It's coming like the tidal flood
Beneath the lunar sway,
Imperial, mysterious, in amorous array:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean;
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right,
I'm just staying home tonight,
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
That Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on....

athelind: (Default)

Thank you.

athelind: (Default)
To my surprise, I find myself praying.

This is hard to admit, this year, this hour. Not only am I an avowed agnostic, but the Religious Right has been so soundly mocked for praying for the victory of their Chosen Candidate, as if they could command their God.

The last eight years, however...

It's not much of a prayer, as prayers go. It's just a single word, but one that keeps echoing in my soul as I read Barack Obama's speeches, or watch them on video, or see the words and images of those who have come together, having finally found someone that they can genuinely support, rather than a mere placeholder for their opposition.

It's a single word:


Last night, [ profile] ounceofreason said, It's Christmas Eve, except that there's a decent chance that Santa will burn my house down.

That single sentence perfectly encapsulates how I feel right now.


Perhaps I'm praying to Old Man Coyote. The last election, for me, moved "Coyote Loves Us" from a wry acknowledgment of Murphy's Law to something akin to an epiphany. It staggered me that Americans could put that man back into the Oval Office even by such a slim margin after seeing what he'd done to this country in that first term; what better evidence that our little corner of the universe was in the paws of a prankster, a practical joker with a penchant toward the scatological, who'd just pulled the national-if-not-global equivalent of a banana peel?

Nice one, Coyote. But just this once...


I'm going to work now, to while away the next several hours in the ever-so-important task of unpacking and inventorying this week's shipment of comic books and pop culture trinkets.

I welcome the distraction.

When I leave the back room refuge of the comics shop, perhaps there will be good news.

Perhaps I can allow myself to hope.


athelind: (Default)

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Let's look at that statement in bold for a moment, for a bold statement it is.

There's a tendency in recent years for American Christians, led astray by the Fundamentalists and Dominionists, to look askance at the Wall of Separation between Church and State.

The problem is that they're taking it out of historical context.

The "Establishment Clause" and the "Free Exercise Clause" are there to keep other churches from telling your church how to worship.

It was originally written to keep the peace between competing Christian sects, and to protect any dissenters from the fallout between them.

Proposition 8 supporters insist that they're protecting "Freedom of Religion", but, whether they realize it or not*, their initiative will infringe upon the freedom of at least one major Christian denomination and many smaller ones who do accept, support, and will perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Under current law, no church is required to perform such ceremonies.

*I am sure the more fervent Fundamentalists and Dominionists are well aware that they're imposing on other people's religious freedom, but dismiss that because tehy don't consider them to be practicing a "real" religion. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the rest, however, and assume that they simply haven't viewed the question in this framework.
athelind: (Default)
[ profile] quelonzia and I voted today.

And now... a Reality Check.

The video says, "Hey, we liberals can sling mud, too," but honestly? We don't need to sling mud. They've got huge piles of shit all around them; all we have to do is lift up the corner of the flag they're trying to cover it all with.

Thanks to [ profile] wingywoof for the video link.

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