And the US government persists in attempting to describe Muslim sectarian conflicts as if it were baseball, ignorant of differences in theology among groups and unwilling to take the time to actually learn what they're talking about. That approach to international relations is mindbogglingly stupid. If you don't know the basis for the argument, how can you even have an opinion on how to solve the situation? But they don't want to solve it, do they?
"Justice for Renisha would have looked like Michael Brown being able to attend college. Justice for Trayvon would have looked like Renisha McBride getting the help she needed the night of her accident. Justice for Oscar Grant would have looked like Trayvon Martin making it home to finish watching the NBA All-Star game, Skittles and iced tea in tow. And so on, and so on. Justice should be the affirmation of our existence.
"In the absence of such justice, we take to the streets. We protest, we hold vigils and, yes, we riot. What options are left? Rioting/looting (what some would call rebellion) may not provide answers or justice. But what to do with the anger in the meantime? We are told to stay calm, but calm has not delivered justice either. Do we wait for the FBI to investigate? I guess, but what to do in the meantime, as the images coming from Ferguson echo Watts in 1965? We're told not to tear up our own communities, when time and time again we're reminded that they don't belong to us. Deaths like Michael Brown's tell us we don't belong here. What, then?"
But there doesn't seem to be a free alternative to run on your own server. Today I realised that this could be done fairly easily as an extension to a bug tracker like Bugzilla-- take out most of the fields on the "create a bug" page, optionally add anonymous uploads and quotas, and you're pretty much there. This would be useful enough for me that I might well have a go.
Update: A friend suggests OwnCloud.
"Libraries aren't really relevant anymore because so much information is on the internet."
"I go to the library, but they never have what I want, and there are always homeless people sleeping at the tables."
"I used to use the library a lot, but these days I don't. I just use Google."
I sympathize with all of this! I would say it about myself, basically! If I did not go to the library every week for work, I am sure I would find it more convenient to buy the e-book of everything I wanted to read -- which would be kind of expensive, but not prohibitively so; I'm not a book-a-day reader -- and not even have to deal with lots of paper books piling up around my home.
(I'm glad for the library because I read a lot of books I expect to feel only lukewarm towards for my committee, and I definitely wouldn't want to pay full price for those even at e-book prices, but if I didn't have a library job then I would read fewer of those!)
The thing is, library funding existed for a long time on a Social Security-like model. Everyone pays into it, everyone benefits from it, so it's really popular even though some people benefit much more than others. Everyone pays a little; everyone gets to borrow books; and even if you can afford the new Danielle Steel hardcover, you know it's not really something you'd pay $25 for, so you're happy to be able to borrow it for free (even if you're #123 on the hold list.)
I think it's harder now to make that argument, because the same book you wouldn't pay $25 for is often one that you would pay $10.99 for, especially when you don't have to deal with the library's wait list and limited opening hours, or even deal with going outside. I think a lot of middle-class people who aren't really voracious readers perceive -- not incorrectly, necessarily! -- that they don't get as much from the library as they put into it. And maybe the only way to advocate library funding, when you start from there, is to make an argument the same way you'd argue for welfare -- from either a noblesse-oblige standpoint, or a pure utilitarian standpoint of "we'll all be better off if lower-income people are more able to apply for jobs online, and study for the GED, and take ESOL classes, and read books."
The flip side of that is that as soon as you talk about libraries being for poor people, rather than libraries being for everybody, there starts to be a question of controlling what information you think poor people deserve to have access to. Like when people go off about people buying soda or organic beans with food stamps. And I suspect that the end result would be a lot less popular fiction on the shelves because it's not "useful" or "improving" enough.
I get a twinge of feeling disrespected when I see library director jobs that aren't full-time, that don't even require a Bachelor's degree, that kind of pay enough to live on, and certainly I'm worried about the deprofessionalization of library jobs, but when I start thinking about how you even advocate for library funding when my friends don't go to the library... that's when I get really worried.
(I don't want to open up a can of worms about how library competence isn't measured in terms of a degree. But if you think that you're going to get a good library director for $15 / hr, 20 hours a week, then you are hoping for a miracle or a doormat. Or a miracle doormat.)
"When radical #feminism has the same position on trans
people and sex work as the religious right, it's time to quit
pretending it's radical.
A truly radical and gender critical feminism wouldn't be enforcing the gender binary by attacking trans people.
A truly radical feminism wouldn't be attacking women who do sex work, but the system that forces women into it via economic coercion.
Radical would be dismantling the capitalist misogynist racist systems of oppression, not attacking those trying to survive those systems."
-- @SabinePublic, 2014-08-11, series of four tweets [thanks to @tjathurman for retweeting]
In earlier times he might well have been hanged from the highest tree in the area -- but the American elms of the Mall are in sad shape with the weather changes, and they are more worthwhile for many reasons than he was. The only good thing I can think of that Nixon did was to authorize creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2014-01-12:
"You know, as much as aging sucks, there's a huge advantage to it, and that's called life experience. No, I don't like having lines on my face and stuff, but, on the other hand, I really like knowing what I'm doing." -- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, actress.
(submitted to the mailing list by Lynn Kisilenko)
A thought on official statistics:
Bear in mind that government-reported "unemployment rates" include only the number of people who have shown up looking for public assistance (which is less likely in certain circumstances); it's generally understood that the average real rate is at least double the official one, and can be much higher at times. So, if there is officially 7% unemployment, it's actually at least 14% and could be much higher -- and of course this includes only those who are able to be employed, i.e. not children, not elderly or disabled people. Since the unemployment office workers have, for at least the last 30 years, done their damnedest to make the process unpleasant, and since more and more requirements have been laid on unemployed people in order for them to receive back the money they already paid into the system -- because you can't receive unemployment until you've worked for a certain number of weeks -- the official number is certain to be undercounted, sometimes drastically. For instance, the requirement to present yourself to an office at a certain time and day every week requires transportation to an (usually more urban) area, which someone who lives more than a short distance outside a city may not easily have, since public transportation in this country was allowed to deteriorate after World War II.
[I can't speak for how it is now. However: when I was on unemployment for a time in the 1970s, (after the newspaper I worked for went bankrupt) if you did not show up on your appointed day and time you got royally bitched out and told you were ungrateful and so on when you did show up. Fortunately for me, the reason I didn't show was that I had an out-of-town job interview, so that when I said that, with a big smile because after this time I didn't have to see them again, it shut them up. And I collected my check for $59.50 for the week and left to drive 25 miles back out into the farm district. No, that wasn't enough to live on.]
I am mentioning this because it's one of the misleading numbers that gets tossed around as if it always reliably summarizes the same situation in all communities and circumstances, which it doesn't. And the same problem may extend to any other kind of statistics that involve people voluntarily talking to someone in an office in person, as opposed to by phone or computer.
"I've never undersood the appeal of vampire romances. The traditional Dracula scenario is to be mesmerized by a vampire who sucks your blood for sustenance. The real life equivalent would be a handsome man seducing you while you're drunk and stealing your wallet to buy a sandwich." -- Grace Sciuridae, in EGS:NP, an out-of-continuity side-comic using the same characters as El Goonish Shive, by Dan Shive, sometimes in 2009
also, I am officially leaving for a week at the rainbow gathering with my kid and some friends tomorrow morning. SO FUCKING EXCITED, I haven't been to one in literally 20 years. and I've never been to a gathering when I was this well prepared, but i am not taking a kid into the woods and expecting a bunch of hippies to provide. so there is a duffle full of mac and cheese and granola bars.
It just seems like the middle of a life change like moving and reconsidering my life path is a damn good time to go back to the woods, as part of the culture that was part of the happiest time of my life.
I expect I might come back as a new person.
(I will take my small victories wherever I find them.)
Not a Tea Party -- a Confederate party. This confirms my own personal observations from the last 20+ years and more.
It’s not a Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party protest was aimed at a Parliament where the colonists had no representation, and at an appointed governor who did not have to answer to the people he ruled. Today’s Tea Party faces a completely different problem: how a shrinking conservative minority can keep change at bay in spite of the democratic processes defined in the Constitution. That’s why they need guns. That’s why they need to keep the wrong people from voting in their full numbers.
These right-wing extremists have misappropriated the Boston patriots and the Philadelphia founders because their true ancestors — Jefferson Davis and the Confederates — are in poor repute. 
But the veneer of Bostonian rebellion easily scrapes off; the tea bags and tricorn hats are just props. The symbol Tea Partiers actually revere is the Confederate stars and bars. Let a group of right-wingers ramble for any length of time, and you will soon hear that slavery wasn’t really so bad, that Andrew Johnson was right, that Lincoln shouldn’t have fought the war, that states have the rights of nullification and secession, that the war wasn’t really about slavery anyway, and a lot of other Confederate mythology that (until recently) had left me asking, “Why are we talking about this?”
The new racism -- this is how the civil rights movement ends. This is a look at the actual politics of Alabama, and how white Republicans are systematically removing any strength or authority from black representatives who are elected and trying to nullify any gains by black people within the state, to the point of defunding universities. It is a primer in dirty politics. Read it, and look for this kind of behavior in the political maneuvers within your own community.
These are pulling the pieces together with a vengeance.
So. What can we do?
(Please think before commenting. Thoughtful, considered and constructive comments are treasured. Comments that simply point fingers and spew will be deleted.)
People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing. The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don’t need to make a judgment. I know that doesn’t sound like liberation, because we live and work in an opinion-based economy. But it is.Thanx to Making Light.
"In queering a text, one of the first steps may simply be to acknowledge those individuals already in that text who are presented as sexual minorities. It is not terribly radical actually, but it can go a long way to open up a discussion about otherness in the Bible and the essential roles that non-gender normative people play in it and in the world today. If you see yourself as an LGBTQ ally, the next time you talk give a sermon or perform a skit about the Book of Esther, go out of your way to include the eunuchs. Do not overlook the gender-variant, sexual minorities all over the page." -- Peterson Toscano, "Eunuch-Inclusive Esther--Queer Theology 101", 2013-09-30