Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gitmo WTF?!

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Bad news first: Today Robert Gates announced that the Guantanamo Bay detention center will likely remain open for a while, despite President Obama's pledge and efforts to close it within the first year or two of his administration. The obstacles to permanently closing the facility are about what we might expect - the GOP, and Tea Party candidates/congresspeople. Basically, we're not going to see any definitive actions on the issue for another two years. There have also been claims that the President might indefinitely detain some of Gitmo's prisoners.

I don't know about you, but I vaguely, almost indeterminately remember something about an executive order that required Gitmo to be closed by the beginning of THIS year... That clearly didn't go as planned.

So how exactly do they expect this all to play out? What now? Congress blocked funding for the (parts of the) Defense Authorization Bill that would have transferred prisoners out of the detention center. And still, Congress continues to refuse to fund much of anything. None of the other states, nor even countries want to take the prisoners. We all saw that fiasco with New York... As much as I hate to think that there's little that can be done at the moment, that might very well be the case. The US will continue to censor, and detain, and torture, until...?

I think what I find most disturbing about this is the fact that so many of our political leaders (and failed half-term political wannabes), news commentators, and various other people continually call for violence and denial of basic human, civil, and legal rights to those they determine are "enemies." Our justice system promises fairness, and "innocence until proven guilty," and protection from "cruel and unusual punishment"-- for ALL, even non-citzens. Yet again and again we see the same faces, same names, same voices calling for blood, for "whatever means necessary," condemning based on conjecture alone. The Guantanamo Bay detention center is very much un-American, and I would like to see it closed ASAP. Not soon, not later, not "in a while," but now.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Random Holiday Happenings/Ramblings - AWK-WARD!!!

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Ye-ah, please don't retweet this.

This isn't going to be serious or anything. In fact, it might not even be coherent. I'm riding a sugar wave so high, my head might explode into skittles and ice cream. My co-workers tell me that my excuse until New Years is "It's the holidays!", which also explains why I've gained back 5 of the 15 lost pounds in the last 3 weeks. (Please people, stop feeding me! I'm trying not to be rude by letting it sit there untouched in front of me, after you've placed it there even though I've said I don't want any, because I've noticed that it makes you very sad when I don't eat it. But I really don't want to eat anymore! Delicious, but seriously, stop it!)

I should totally just rename this post to Why I Hate Christmas. But then I'd get branded a "knee-jerk commie liberal" (which, ironically, I would probably like) hell-bent on destroying Christmas. Whatever. I can't think of any time of year that makes me want to grab a chainsaw and smash the hell out of a radio tower (before remembering that chainsaws can cut things) than Christmas. But I digress.

So I spent a lot of the morning either watching the Nightmare Before Christmas (which is like somewhere lost in my top 3 favorite movies of all time. And of course I'm wearing my Pumpkin King tee with my plaid pajama pants this morning, while adoring the packet of awesomeness Storyteller Knight sent me... By the way, I will be sending something in return, once I decide on exactly what...) or reading this on AS (may not be a gay lady [though I suppose I'm close enough, these days], but I love these girls to pieces lol... I have yet to find more amusing comments ANYWHERE. And I really, really mean that. Except some of these scare me, if only because I'm like "zomg, me too!" only I've never once had a crush on one of my female best friends... Yea, sorry if it ever seemed that way? Just in case you thought I did, for some reason or whatever? Wow I'm way off topic, what the hell was I talking about? And it just occurred to me that I picked out plaid flannel... shoes. And those shirts at work are starting to look more appealing every day... This makes me rather uncomfortable. Stupid stereotypes... [hums along to the Lumberjack song...])

Alright then... As usual, holidays at my house are more awkward than the mint I just popped into my mouth. It's not a mint, it's a freakin "hard candy" that was painted to look like a peppermint. LIES! BLASPHEMY! MOAR WINE! Like this morning, my mom and I totally had a *Moment* while peeling apples for a pie. It was like Hallmark and Oxygen and LOGO and Oprah all rolled into one-- until she flipped out that I was trying too hard to make it look nice and bake properly...??? Whatever. Fast forward a few hours... Anyway, so my mom was in the shower when the doorbell rang. We were all pretty surprised to see Dad on the other side, holding 2 wrapped boxes-- both for me. (Oh FSM. We'll get to that horror in a second.) Apparently, he was here to pick up my sisters to take them over to his house in PA for Christmas with his wife and step-kids. Only, they had no intentions of ever going, and thought he knew that. Awk-ward. Mom got dressed and came downstairs to argue that he knew that we all like to spend Christmas here. So he just left, all super-sad and mopey, and now we're all standing around here, super-awkward and feeling kind of bad. (Well, I don't think I was invited anyway. Seeing as he brought my presents here, and left theirs at his house, clearly he wasn't expecting me to go. But then again, I've never once had any intentions of playing "happy family" with his new wife. Even if I'm hoping to use her connections to pay my way through grad school. I know, I'm being evil, but as far as my 13-year old self is concerned, bitch ruined my life! :-t  Plus she was kind of a total bitch to me before I knew who she was, and made my life a living hell before I knew they were even together, let alone getting married. He didn't tell us they got married, but that's a whole other nightmare. I have very, very little reason to like her.)

Right, so about those presents... I wasn't able to afford my annual Toys for Tots gift this year (is it just me, or have toy prices skyrocketed in the past 2 years?! Or am I just really that poor now?), but I'm thinking I might have a few donations for the thrift store or Goodwill (or the Goodwill thrift store...). But ack. I know we always say that "it's the thought that counts," but that's the part that hurts the most sometimes. I could care less about presents. I'm lucky enough to get some, and grateful for what I get, but there are people who don't have homes or food right now, and that matters so much more. Give a donation to Greenpeace (oh, but I have a rant about them too...), or Interfaith Hospitality Network (now called Family Promise, so I've been informed), or St. Jude's instead. I'd actually be far happier with that than receiving anything for myself. But when your parents pick out things that are the exact opposite of "me," proving that A) they don't know you at all or B) they didn't bother to think about "me," I'd rather just go without. This year - 2 Old Navy belted sweater cardigan things with a matching knit beret and rainbow striped gloves. I'm not even going to talk about the gloves. I'll just show you.

I know, right?? Seriously. And that patch of black in the left bottom corner is one of the sweaters. The beret matches it.

 A beret?!?! Has he EVER seen me wear a hat? Hell, has ANYONE ever seen me wear a hat? I have cat ears and a gray and black striped baseball cap from H&M that I oh so rarely wear except when I'm feeling particularly emo (or queer. Honestly. I don't know what it is, but some days, this hat screams *PRIDE*). I wear black. Lots of black. And occasionally bright teal or purple or blue, with more black. Ripped up things, band t-shirts and jeans and things with skulls on them and skate shoes or my geisha high-tops that everyone who's ever seen them loves (Seriously. These things are magic, I tell you, pure magic. I've had random people come up to me on the street and say how awesome they are. Kohl's 2009 clearance, $11. Magic.) and the occasional skirt or corset. The last time I shopped at Old Navy I was 14 and needed a super cheap bathing suit bottom to go under my new Billabong surf shorts. Me= occasionally girly, but mostly andro tomboy. Tomboy, this is not. Preppy & girly, yes, tomboy, no. Evil-sister is the preppy ivy league one who likes sweaters and berets, remember? I burn them. Hey, remember me? No? Ok.

I feel like such a spoiled, ungrateful little brat for feeling upset about all of this, which is why I'm probably not going to say anything (unless he asks, at which point I don't know if I can lie). But really, it's the lack of thought that counts, and I'm kind of like, REALLY upset that he would let his wife pick out, wrap, and write his name on a present for me like he couldn't be bothered to do it himself. (My mom even said it. "It's not even personal." It's one thing when it's someone from work who barely knows you, but it's completely another when it's your parent...) So what do we do when we get gifts we don't like? Suck it up and pretend to like it, even though inside we're really disappointed-- not because it's a sucky gift, because in all fairness it's not all that bad and someone else would totally appreciate it, but because it's just not right for "me" and shows a lack of personal touch-- and sit around feeling guilty because you feel like you're being ungrateful? Try to get our hands on a receipt? Or just smile and donate it to charity when we can? I'm opting for that last one, I think. (I tried one of the sweaters on anyway. It looks terrible on me... Seriously. I can't wear this kind of style. It's for someone taller and thinner. >_< Other than the fact that it doesn't suit my personality either...)

ANYWAY! So my mom and sisters and I just spent the last few hours watching Girlfriends. ZOMG I am waaay too much like that one girl. Ex-Roomie says her name is Lynn, "except you're not as lazy as she is." Well, that is kind of comforting... but really, between the character's anthropology classes, and vegetarianism, that time she found an old skateboard, her upbringing (other characters complain that she's too "white," because she was raised in a very... monochromatic neighborhood and her family isn't African American), and her tendency to go on feminist/egalitarian/human rights rants, boho academic type, etc... (& without getting into details - I may be one of the last few v-card holders in the group, but from discussions, I think it's fair to say I'm apparently open to way more than a lot of my friends... Then again, a lot of them are kind of conservative, socially and sexually, so... I guess that kind of makes sense, if that makes sense.) It's a little freaky. I can't escape stereotypes!

I think I will probably shut up now. I need more wine. And sleep, since I actually just realized it's actually after 2AM, I have work in a few hours, and I typed this up hours ago and never posted it. Fuck. Oh well, I can go back in time on Blogger! [giggles maniacally] Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I sure hope so. (RT@ltdanchoi)

Obama Signs DADT Repeal Into Law | TPMDC

Obama Signs DADT Repeal Into Law

WOOT! WE DID IT! It's official- DADT repeal is law. Now the question is, how long will it take until we truly see the end? The military is supposed to stop discharging LGBT soldiers within 60 days of the bill's signing, but there are some practical concerns that have to be addressed as well-- benefits packages, housing of families (& apparently other living/shower arrangements? I don't think there's a real need for that.) recognizing marriages and civil unions, etc. I see a lot of new paperwork in their future... But it can be done, and it will be done, and then we can get back to work on DOMA, and ENDA, and equal pay for women. (I went off on a mini-rant when Obama started talking about how men and women are treated as equals in America. I'll believe it when I see it. [Just as a note, I do not identify as a feminist. I'm an egalitarian. And I'm going to backtrack and delete what I was about to say, because I'm getting way off topic, and heading into the "off-limits" zone...])

So TL;DR: DADT has been officially repealed, but we're still waiting for it to really end. Still, progress is progress.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mid-Week Updates. Because I felt like it. | #DADT, #DREAM, #FCC

Mid-week updates:
  • You may have noticed a few minor changes here and there. I'm renovating! New year, new look. (Well, maybe. I don't know how far I'm planning on going with this, but we'll see...) Storyteller Knight has also been promoted! Yay! lol... She now officially has her own page here,  accessible from the link at the top. Check it out. (Uh, layout's still a work in progress ^^" I got into a fight with the html & css editor... Ultimately, I won, but it was a long, hard battle with a bit of collateral damage.)
  • I think I should make a general statement regarding a topic that has been brought up far more times than I am comfortable with. Several people have mentioned or asked about the Assange rape allegations and events stemming from it (more specifically, controversial comments made by 2 very well-known media figures). Other than the brief and somewhat off-hand comments I made regarding this situation before, I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to think about it, I'm not going to discuss it. I've had enough of horrifying sex abuse stories for one year. Between this, and the Columbia "consensual" incest thing [shudder], and all of the other stories I hear on a daily basis, I don't want to think about it. This sensitive topic is already one that rarely leaves a woman's mind, and in light of recent events, I would like to ask that you not attempt to discuss it with me, or on this particular page at this time. (I believe Storyteller Knight may be interested, *hint-hint* so maybe you should head over to her new page. Yes, this is also a shameless plug. Believe me, I can fit these in anywhere. Plus it takes my mind off of the topic for a moment, so...) I don't think either side would like what I have to say on the subject, and as I've gone off on one too many fem-rants this week, I would really rather not get involved in the feud. So I'm staying out of it and keeping my mouth shut, lest someone get their head bitten off. ([grumbles] Fucking asshole called me "Baby"...)
  • The FCC caved. Bye-bye net neutrality, hello "premium corporate speed lane" for those of you with the $$$. The rest of us will probably be waiting for Facebook to load, so that we can complain about how slow the internet's gotten. That is, if Facebook doesn't get on AT&T's shit-list.
  • And the only news I really care about right now - DADT repeal bill is getting signed tomorrow, 9:15AM EST. I'll be watching. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed by how much is getting done in the lame duck session. We've had 2 years with few major bills getting through, and now all of a sudden we have DADT repeal, the START treaty, the Food Safety bill now sitting on President Obama's desk, this tax "deal" (regardless of how I feel about it, or the FCC deal, fact is something actually got done for once). Now if Obama & Congress can just pass the 9/11 Responders bill, close Gitmo, repeal DOMA, do something productive and proactive to fix the immigration system, up job growth, and end these stupid, expensive wars, he might do alright after all... I think that might be enough to make everybody happy. (What a wish list, eh? But that is their job...)
  • Speaking of fixing immigration, I came across some comments the other day that suggested (well, ok, flat out said) that the DREAM Act is just another way to say "amnesty." How is it amnesty if they're required to work for it? Getting into, paying for (without scholarships!), and completing 2 years of college is super easy? Military service is "just a giveaway?" I'm not sure I'd buy that argument.
  • Even Fox News was in on the WTF?! regarding the obstruction of the 9/11 responders healthcare bill.
  • Oh yea... Speaking of the Food Safety bill, I'm going to take a few moments to totally bask in the glory of being totally right for once ^^". Remember a while back I got into that argument with all of those people on Care2 regarding their claims that the bill would allow the government to take over people's personal gardens? And remember how I kept showing them that the bill explicitly stated that it was intended for farmers only, and I kept asking them to clarify exactly where they were seeing this "garden" clause? Yea, well they couldn't tell me. Because it was "sugar-coded [sic]". Yea right. Like I said, IT WASN'T THERE! Politifact ruled that statement to be Pants On Fire. So yay, 10 points for Kiely!
  • Massive snowstorm in Europe... and I'm dreading the fact that we're actually supposed to have a "white Christmas" as well this year. I hate snow. And I hate it even more when I have to shovel it.
Alright, that's enough of that...  I have very little time before the sibling from hell arrives home from college. This is my last chance to spend some time alone, for almost an entire month. I want to enjoy it while I can...

FCC Caves on Net Neutrality -- Tuesday Betrayal Assured (NSFW Vid)

Timothy Karr: Obama FCC Caves on Net Neutrality -- Tuesday Betrayal Assured

(In my haste, I accidentally published this to the wrong blog this morning when I was getting ready for work. Oops...)

Corporations will now be able to control the internet as they wish. The FCC has the power to ensure that the internet remains free and open for everyone, and they're choosing not to.

Fuck. FUCK. There is no other word right now. Here, let Eric Idle (from Monty Python) do it:

I'd very much like for someone to prove us all wrong right now, that this idiotic bill isn't about to pass and good things are going to happen from here on out, but I don't really suspect that will happen. If there is anything that has really been reinforced this year, it's that "free speech" in this country will never truly be free. And "caving" seems to be a trend. (Well, at least finally I stood my ground this year. Maybe that's why everything's so out of whack...)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More DADT comments...

Still suppressing disappointment about the DREAM Act. Obama has insisted that he's not giving up on it. Which to me doesn't really mean much right now, but I won't take it off the list just yet...

Anyway, I was posting a reply to a comment on one of my many forums, and decided against sharing a huge chunk of what I wrote (leaving my response to a meager 2 sentences). So since I've already typed it up, I thought I might as well just stick it here:

DADT has done much more harm than the so-called "good compromise" it was purported to be. Instead of protecting LGBT soldiers from potential harm or "protecting" hetero soldiers from being uncomfortable, it left the door wide open for LGBT soldiers to be abused and unable to defend themselves out of fear of losing their careers, everything they had worked towards, simply because of who they were. As many soldiers noted during the survey and various interviews, they knew that there were LGBT people living and working with them, sharing showers, etc. I think any fear associated with being ogled in the showers, or sleeping in the same barracks is pretty irrational. Nothing happened before, nothing's going to happen when DADT is officially repealed.  The only difference is now everyone can know who's gay/bi and who's not.

The military's moral code isn't going to go flying out the window because soldiers are finally allowed to be honest. If there are soldiers who are so uncomfortable being around openly gay people that it affects their ability to do their job, they should not be there... To put it simply, it's very unprofessional. Many of us will at some point in our lives have to work with people who make us uncomfortable. But part of our job is sucking it up, getting over it, and getting the job done, as a team, regardless of any personal feelings.

By the way, this was me trying not to start a fight, cuz I seem to accidentally do that often... [sigh] Yea, I know, I'm an annoying know-it-all bitch. What else is new...

All of this being said, I'm absolutely dreading the upcoming year... Between the Tea Party, and applying for grad school, and not having hours at work to pay my bills for a few months (as well as dealing with a few thousand jobs being cut in my state, & competing amongst thousands of 99ers for another entry-level position)... I don't see much being particularly good for a while. Oh well. So let's enjoy this victory while we can.

DADT Repealed by Congress!!!

Ok, President Obama. Another promise kept. Thanks, man. (But I'm still going to pout in the corner over the tax "deal" thing, and Gitmo, and surges in Afghanistan, and [grumbles on...])

You'll have to forgive me for posting this so late. I had work, & then spent the rest of the night celebrating/getting distracted... After all the efforts we've put in over the years, all of the letters, the phone calls, the donations, the urgent pleas and cries for equality- The military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy has been REPEALED. All that's left is the President's signature. Granted, the repeal doesn't go into effect immediately-- the armed forces will have a period of time to make any necessary adjustments to ensure a smooth "transition" in openness. But they did it. I didn't think they would be able to do it in time, but they did. The Senate passed the stand-alone bill at about 3:02 pm, December 18th, 2010, after a successful cloture vote after 10AM this morning.

It's funny... it was only until this morning that I realized that DADT directly affects me as well. Just last year I had been looking into a job with the army. But being... Well, it occurred to me that I wouldn't be allowed to take the job. I would have been fired if anyone found out... (Though I wonder if I would have even figured it out, had I chosen that route...) And that brief moment of "omg I'm screwed," I feel like I could understand just a bit of what it feels like... To be forced to choose between hiding a part of yourself and lying (under oath) to everyone around you, or losing something you've worked towards your whole life. Though many of us do face smaller incidents like that throughout our lives. I'm "closeted" IRL because I choose to be. Not because of fear of backlash (anyone who matters pretty much knows anyway, or I'm working up to it, and thankfully, they don't seem to care), but because I dislike awkwardness. (Plus my family already treats me  So for all of that joking around that DADT was my last chance at legally dodging the draft [insert smirk], I'm so very thrilled that it's going to end. If the military is what you want, you should be allowed to serve openly, just the way you are. And if others can't accept that, can't/won't do their jobs because they have a problem with that, they shouldn't be alongside you. I certainly wouldn't want them to be. So if the paleos' fears of a "max exodus" should actually happen, I say this-- good riddance. Way to prove you're weak and can't hack a "hardship." (Yea, I'm just being a brat tonight because I'm so happ-eeeee!!!!)

But in less happy news... the DREAM Act failed. I'm waiting to process this info until morning, when all of this really starts to sink in. Tonight, I just want to celebrate. (That & listen to Dr. Rachel Maddow talk about it. ^^" she's totally my hero/girlcrush lol... Nerds r awesome. Oh, and if that wasn't enough... Is this getting creepy now? Lol, I was just curious, and one link lead to another...)

Just a quick, wine-induced shout-out-- to all of us who annoyed the hell out of our senators and reps, and President (especially regarding last week's flood of emails, "tweets," and calls regarding an Executive Order, should Congress have failed...)-- way to go, everyone! WE DID IT! To my awesome senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, & my super-awesome Rep Rush Holt-- Thanks, guys!!! Obviously wouldn't have been possible without you, seeing as you're the ones who actually get to vote & stuff lol... (Menendez- wtf was up with the tax deal, though?! Dude!) To the HRC for their tireless and continued efforts to ensure civil rights for all Americans. To the 8 Republicans who stood up against the rest of their party for the rights of LGBT servicepeople. Way to rock, everyone! 1 down, 3 more to go. DREAM, DOMA/Prop8, ENDA - you're next.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Updates -Tax Cuts, #Wikileaks, #Payback/#Leakspin, & #DADT

Ok, now that I've had a bit of time to process some of what's been going on lately (among other things), I think it's about time I get back to the weekly updates (and once the holidays are over, I'll finally be able to work on real posts again! Yay!)

  • Crazy weather all over the world, from massive blizzards in the Midwestern US, to torrential rain in the Middle East... This winter is going to be brutal. I hate winter. Stupid global warming/climate change... [grumbles]
  • Haiti was tormented this weekend by the arrival of yet another disaster in their country, decked in cargo pants and giant designer sunglasses. Can't catch a break, can they? [sigh] Ms. Palin's "humanitarian" trip was marked by the quizzical stares of perplexed Haitians (None of the people interviewed had any idea who she was. They're so lucky... I wish America could say the same. Damn you, McCain staffers!!!)-- who promptly decided that any publicity was good publicity, amongst the cholera outbreak and continued post-earthquake rebuild.
  • Anyway... In LGBT related news- 
    • The Prop 8 trial is back in court for the appeal! And is certainly looking good for our side.
    • Illinois passed a civil unions bill. Progress is progress.
    • DADT repeal is currently somewhat stalled. While we're hoping for Obama to step up and sign an executive order (a move he has stated he does not want to take), the fight isn't quite over yet. The stand-alone bill has been introduced in the Senate, however odds are, we aren't going to see a successful vote on it (or the DREAM Act) until this tax-cut issue is resolved.
  • Speaking of tax cuts... Obama's deal with the GOP. Wow. Um, no, no, that's not a good idea, Mr. President. Since this is a huge story overall, I'll break it up into parts:
    • Backstory: GOP threatens to block everything (yea, what else is new) unless they get to continue or expand tax cuts for the uber-wealthy. Obama, in what I'm sure was supposed to initially be a friendly gesture to keep things moving, met with McConnell, and made a deal, and then announced it to everyone - Democrats would get their wish of 1 more year of unemployment benefits and tax cuts for the middle class, and Republicans would get... everything else. Tax cuts for the top 2%, including a reduced estate tax.
    • Here's why it's a bad idea - it actually raises the tax burden on the lower and middle classes (primarily by replacing a current tax cut with a payroll tax cut. For anyone making less than $20,000, and $40,000 for families, the payroll tax cut is smaller, and will basically leave us with smaller paychecks... Trust me, $80-100 LESS a month adds up fast when you're poor. A day after I shared this info with Care2, I discovered that the White House admitted it was true. So yea, guys, apparently it is actually true.) while giving the upper classes (especially those making over $5million a year) a bunch of very huge breaks that last for 2 years-- while unemployment benefits will only get 13 months of extension. We know that the continued tax cuts have been estimated to add a staggering $700+ billion to the deficit, but the CBO recently announced that this plan will actually add $858 billion. It will cost almost $100 BILLION more than the stimulus plan, and we actually got something positive out of that. This, not so much. So, yea, dreadful idea. I mean, I have nothing against compromise, but dude, it's not a compromise when it's a sneaky, back-door deal in which the other side gets everything and you get the wimpy consolation prize. Totally lame. Create jobs? I fail to see how continuing the same tax cuts that failed to create this magical trickle-down job thing will somehow work now that the rich can continue get richer without doing a damn thing-- well, nothing but screwing over the rest of us. So you're going to have to explain this one to me. I've tried, and tried, but nothing. Supply-side simply doesn't work.
    • So what's happened since? - Democrats in Congress have basically revolted. 54 Dems in the House signed a letter, rejecting the deal. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders staged an 8.5-hour-long filibuster explaining why he did not agree with the President's decision. (Mixed feelings. Awesome, epic speech, but I really hate filibusters. Total waste of time, which we are seriously running out of. In just 3 weeks, the so-called "Teabaggers" take over, remember? And that's not even taking into account the holiday recess. Then again, maybe wasting time is in our best interests here-- waste enough, and ALL of the tax cuts will expire. Which will suck for us, yes, but will probably do a lot more good for the budget than this deal ever could.) Speaking of the TP, this is one thing we SHOULD actually agree on, though apparently they're split on this. TP "Patriots" says no, FreedomWorks (you know, the corporate leaders of the TP) says yes.
    •  As a result of all of this, there are rumors of a possible rival in the 2012 Democratic Primary... Good idea, or bad idea? I personally think it depends on who it is... but overall, probably a bad idea. I don't know if there are enough of us to get a strong progressive in the White House, nor do I want the GOP to have the satisfaction of having their dreams of a "one-term Obama presidency" come true. (Ok, that one might be a little petty, but c'mon!)
  • I think now I should get around to the whole Wikileaks issue. I won't/can't talk about my own opinions of it all right now, or any involvement I may or may not have in anything other than blogging about it ;-), but if you know my past or what I stand for, you should know where I stand.
    •  Well, we know now how the world feels. Less than 2 weeks later, we have this long, lovely list of the government leaders' reactions. Some are negative, some positive, some indifferent. Will it spark an international war? Other than what's already been started, it's unlikely, for the time being.
    • The "sex by surprise" charges brought against Assange in Sweden might be dropped if the US decides to go ahead with the new plan-- charging him with espionage. I'm not even going to go into how silly that is, (or how ignorant a certain someone sounds when she calls him un-American-- lady, he's AUSTRALIAN, not American.) or how strange consensual "sex-by-surprise" sounds when in the US or the UK, it wouldn't even qualify as sexual harassment, let alone rape. I'm all for women's rights of course, and I do believe that rape allegations should always be taken very seriously; but based on what information I have right now, I think that in this case it's likely it's a specious argument. Well, very suspect, to say the least. (Btw, if you want someone to get tested for STDs, wouldn't it make far more sense to do that BEFORE you sleep with them? And then not try to sell the story to tabloids & get "caught" via text messages? Just sayin... It sounds a little weird. But maybe that's just how things go down in Sweden. I don't know.)
    • Over the past few weeks, the gathering known as Anonymous has been launching cyberattacks on opponents of Wikileaks-- primarily against the companies that have been censoring information or trying to shut down or block aid to the whistle-blower organization: Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, etc. They will be switching tactics away from the DDoS attacks of Operation Payback to a flood of information known as Operation Leakspin. The media--well, one half of it, anyway-- is very wrong about the group, though-- they're not cyberterrorists. Most of them aren't even hackers and were not involved in the DDoSing attacks. Their objective, as they state, is not about damaging or destroying anything, but getting noticed, and getting a message out, which is why the tactics have been changed. So again, I'm still not "officially" announcing my position on any of this, but tonight, I'll recruit for them. If you're interested in getting involved, or just finding out more information, email me or find me on IRC, Care2, or AIM. I know they need hosts, writers, editors and graphic designers. (Official Info & sites are somewhat hidden and change frequently due to government/corporate intervention plus various attacks from "enemies," so unless you're already involved, it might be difficult to keep up with them. I've been trying to keep an eye on all sides of things, to say the very least, and it sometimes proves to be a challenge... There's a lot going on.)
    • I love Love LOVE Dennis Kucinich. "Wikileaks ... gave us 92,000 reasons to end the wars. Pick one!"
    • There are rumors of a new Patriot Act for the internet. I'm hoping it's just related to that horrific, supposed law that gives the President the power to effectively shut down the entire internet (good luck with that...), and it's not the new horrific supposed law that allows them to tap into our IMs and emails and webcams, and is a continuation/expansion of this crusade against the P2P community... Call us paranoid, but this is a netizen's worst nightmare.
    • I finally found a much better organized database of all of the cables and their contents, at the Guardian. (Yea, trust the British media to do it right!) Or you could just find one of the mirrors at this point. Either way, seriously, go check it out. You'll find out some pretty wacky things.
      • Like how Iran is hiring ninjas to take part in political assassinations. Yes, NINJAS. (Let the ninja-pirate wars begin!!) So if you're unemployed and have wicked nun-chuck skillz, I'd get on that. Probably your best bet at a job nowadays...
      • Or how Sarkozy chased a dog chasing a rabbit chasing a... well, I don't remember what, but diplomats share some damn weird gossip...
And most importantly... this past week saw the passing of Elizabeth Edwards, a woman of great grace and courage who fought for our rights to proper, affordable healthcare. RIP.

And I thought 2010 was bad. 2011 is looking to be a whole new level of Hell...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Go Away, Sarah Palin, Go Away! (Video)

Video by Tom Chapin

Currently watching this. Best thing I've seen all night (that I can talk about, that is... Still not publicly taking sides on certain issues... at least, trying not to, but beliefs are getting in the way of that...)

Little updates on the world - DREAM Act passed in the House today, DADT cloture vote is tomorrow morning. See my Twitter feed for info about Obama's tax cut "compromise," as I'm not getting into that anymore tonight.

Go away, Sarah Palin, go away... [drifts off to sleep, humming...]

Saturday, December 4, 2010

@StateDept - re: Wikileaks & social networks-- Confidential was so last week.

Let me just state that I am not discussing the Wikileaks fiasco tonight. I was going to, but then this little issue popped up...

Dear State Department,

I am rather irritated by your request to the students of Columbia that they refrain from discussing Wikileaks on Facebook and Twitter. It is utter nonsense to claim that discussing what can now be considered public knowledge should have any effect whatsoever on a person's ability to handle confidential information. The information revealed by Wikileaks stopped being confidential the moment the first few cables were shared with the entire world. (Or, if you want to get technical, when they were leaked by someone-- possibly in the State Department!) Get over it. The information is out there (and oh, is it so very interesting...). This is a public matter now. What you should be focused on right now is not threatening students' future jobs or even hunting down Julian Assange, but finding out who it was that breached confidentiality protocol, and preventing future leaks. Assange is just the messenger, the face to the Wikileaks name. He is not the one you should be worried about. ([gasp!] There's a spy among you! A double agent! Oh no!)

Students should absolutely use this situation to their advantage to discuss diplomatic/international affairs (as well as the need for honest/privacy) in matters of state, how to avoid international incidents if issues like this should arise, etc. I'm sure you get my point. This is a learning experience in foreign relations, not a time for you, the government, to tell the world to cover their ears and pretend they've never heard of the most infamous scandal of their lifetimes (well, other than the Clinton affair, but we were little kids back then...).

Yes, there are some secrets that should probably never be shared. But the problem is, once they're out, they're out, and there is nothing you can do about it. Trust me, I've been there. Forget about trying to control what people are talking about, and focus on what you do best- controlling what people know. And the whole being a diplomat thing, because odds are, you're probably going to need that skill right now.

All of that being said, I am thrilled I decided a long time ago that I had no interest in working for you, or the United Nations. (And it is likely that you will reject my younger sister as well. But that's for your own good. She's a total bitch.) I hope you all have happy, long lives, locked away alone in your "secret" little buildings, pretending the world doesn't know anything about what you do-- just the way you want it.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

State of the "Union," Early Edition!

Wow, ok, quite a bit has happened recently, and there's a lot to talk about, so I thought I would do this now rather than wait until Sunday. (Especially since I haven't been here due to NaNo! I would have been here sooner, but I haven't been home much today...)

- The DADT press conference was yesterday, along with the release of the final report (PDF, & suggest you skip ahead to Section VI. It's kind of interesting/depressing/infuriating, but then it gets better. And a bit sad.) -- to make a long story short, the Pentagon now officially endorses repealing DADT immediately, but Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants Congress to allow the military some time to prepare. How long, he can't say, but I guess it's still good news that one way or another, it's going to end.

- I just found out today that new offshore drilling off the East Coast has been BANNED for the next 7 years!!! But sadly, this news came after an offshore drilling rig exploded off the coast of New Orleans, injuring 3 people. Offshore drilling will be banned in certain sections of the Gulf until 2020. (So we have 10 years to stop it completely and create new alternatives!)

- Extended unemployment benefits were allowed to expire last night, several days after the most financially successful Black Friday we've had in a long time. Food banks are said to be preparing for a huge rush (so donate what you can!) My guess is this is going to be a very rough holiday season for many families (hence the rush to get the "best" deals last Friday), and this may very well be a bigger-than-anticipated hit to the economy, especially once holiday workers are let go. Job growth has been increasing, but it still isn't enough to bring us completely out of the red... But don't take my opinion for fact, I'm not an economist by any stretch of the imagination.

- Today is World AIDS Day. Get tested. (How do you know if you should be tested? Check out these general guidelines.)

- So I had this whole section on the Wikileaks thing, and it's gone. Don't ask where it went, I don't know. Point is,  [that's "telegrams" for all of us under 50, which, I've learned, are some sort of primeval communication method that existed prior to the invention of email and texting. Go figure ;-) ], revealing all sorts of state secrets and potentially straining our international relationships with... well... everyone.

- Here's something incredible - Texas (you know, that state that carries out close to one third of all capital punishment executions in the US?) might soon rule the death penalty to be unconstitutional. Yes, I said UNCONSTITUTIONAL. (Conservative red-state Texas wants to rule the death penalty unconstitutional. I think this may be the first -- and last-- time I'll ever say "Way to go, Texas!") Can you believe that?? It will be a huge victory for those of us who want to do away with the death penalty entirely, even if it's just a state thing
-- you know, provided it ever actually happens. I doubt it. But the argument being presented is that there are too many innocent people being killed-- "disproportionately high risk of wrongful convictions." (Haven't we also been telling them that for the longest time?) Hmm...

- What else is new? GOP threatens to filibuster forever unless they get their tax cuts for the rich. [yawn]  Have they done much else lately, or did I miss something between the "sticking up for the corporations?"

- Oh! I almost forgot. Remember I went off on a rant about how I got into a fight with all of those people on Care2 about the new food safety bill? It passed with bipartisan votes in the Senate. And people who aren't Tea Partiers (or hardcore hippies, apparently...) like it! (I'm off to go gloat in my room-- not really, it's totes bedtime.)

- NaNoWriMo is over!!! And I was a winner! Yay! Storyteller Knight was a winner! Yay! (Winning means writing over 50,000 words between November 1st-30th, by the way) So congrats to all of our fellow winners-- we did it! Way to go! (And I already have a story topic for next year... Sweet.)

- Wikileaks... Where do I even begin? I personally have mixed feelings about the whole affair, but let's take a look: On Monday, Nov 28th, Wikileaks  published almost 300 of over 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables [that's "telegrams" to those of us under 50. Apparently telegrams are some kind of primeval communication method that existed before email and Facebook. Go figure ;-) ], revealing all sorts of confidential state secrets and potentially straining our international relationships with... well... everyone. Amazon has removed the Wikileaks sites from their servers today, though I was able to sneak a peek when it hit the net. Wikipedia has a long list of some of the contents. The director of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is being considered for charges of espionage... you know, for leaking state secrets to the world. So... hmm. Again, mixed feelings on all of this.

I look forward to getting back to regular posts... though i do think I'm going to keep working on my novel for NaNo, if only because I left off during a very interesting argument, and I want to see where it goes... Goodnight!

P.S. - This is mostly a note to myself: Have a hilarious video link re: the TSA. I should find it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Tally

This weekend has been far too eventful...

Thanksgiving Weekend Tally:
  • Times my family made fun of or belittled me: 13,427
  • Times my mother acted like a bratty 3 year old: 679
  • Times I got called a "weirdo" for noticing that the Victoria's Secret model on the coupon I got in the mail had on see-through underwear (and a Brazilian): 1 
    • (I was shopping! And the girl next to her was modeling something I wanted! I wasn't TRYING to be a perv, I was just kind of unpleasantly surprised by how trashy it looked... [inner feminist goes off on a rant])
  • Number of times my sister fell asleep on her phone and "accidentally" called the police: 1
  • Number of 1 AM Visits from the Old Bridge Police Department: 1
  • Times OBPD officers chatted with me about how awesome Metal Gear Solid is and how cool it was that I was playing it, as they peeked into my bedroom, blinding me with their flashlights: 1
  • Number of times my 17 year old sister let strange men into the house without telling anyone: 1
  • Times I gave up on NaNoWriMo: 6
  • NaNoWriMo word count: 43, 547
  • Where NaNoWriMo word count should be: 45,000
  • Times I got frustrated trying to come up with new plot lines and gave up to write a sex scene instead: 3
  • Times I considered coming out to my family: 5
  • Times I actually did: 0
  • When I actually plan to: Never, if I can help it.
  • Hours spent playing Metal Gear Solid 3: 22
  • Articles read about how horrible Thanksgiving is: 24
  • Tweets sent regarding how horrible Thanksgiving is: 6
  • Times felt bad about deliberately ruining someone's (falsified, myth-based) view of Thanksgiving: 36
  • Arguments over politics: 0
  • Arguments over religion: one half. 
    • My mother told me she prays regularly. I rolled my eyes, and under my breath said, "Right, because that really works, doesn't it?"
  • Time spent rolling my eyes and glaring at the Salvation Army bell ringers: 2 hours
  • Time spent at work: way too fucking long.
  • Time spent thinking about genocide, smallpox, and Native Americans: 7 hours
  • Time spent doing something about it: 15 minutes
  • Emails or comments received from creepy old guys who think I'd be interested in marrying them: 3

So, what have you been up to?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Up for a Laugh? Fox Readers Confused Onion Article with Real News.

Alright, I'm sure this is a little mean of me, but c'mon, this is just too funny! So if you look over at my shared news over there, you might see an article I shared from The Onion about Obama's 75,000 word email/rant about the state of the country. Read it, it's hilarious. But here's where the story really gets good-- apparently earlier today, Fox Nation posted that same article, without mentioning (until the very very end, in tiny print, as a link to read the rest of the story) that it was from The Onion and was satirical. Guess what happened? The commenters thought it was real-- because somehow they all knew someone who had gotten this nonexistent email! Apparently the page was taken down as of 5 minutes ago, but screen shots are sure to be circulating...

XD Seriously though, I get that most of Fox's readership is pretty old and to have never heard of the Onion is totally one thing, (and yes, sometimes they have headlines that are actually eerily accurate, which throws me for a loop occasionally because I think they're making it up, as usual, but then they're not?? lol-- "I read this on The Onion! It's not supposed to be true!" What can I say, they're really good at what they do!) but 1) they all jumped on the bandwagon without any proof, or having received this alleged email; 2) when someone pointed out that it was an Onion article, no one else bothered to look it up? Instead, they all continued to comment, believing it was real?? Seriously??? Oh, but then! Some guy actually said he emailed The Onion to confirm the story. Now my question is, if he really did, how the hell would he have done that without, in the process, finding out that The Onion is a satirical newspaper & website? 3) What does this say about FOX's readers (other than the fact that satire apparently goes right over their heads...)? 4) What does this say about FOX? They can present blatant lies as fact, but people will believe it anyway? Well, ok, we already knew that. The comments, if on any other website, could have been seen as sarcasm, mock outrage, playing along, etc... But I highly doubt it. (Other rumors/speculation - this whole Fox gaffe is an Onion prank. Plausible. And that would still be pretty damn funny. Either way, I find this whole thing to be hilarious, and it's completely distracting me from NaNo!)

So there we have it- something to lighten up your Friday. Happy Friday! (May you all be touched by His Noodly Appendage, RAmen. But only if you want to be. No forcing of religions, here, of course. Though I'd love to recommend Pastafarian Sparrowism. S'All good.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tune out the Bells-- Just Say No to the Salvation Army

So how have I not seen this before? Apparently it was banned. Either way, it's the hottest thing I've ever seen in advertising, and I would totally buy this product. Wait, what?

Believe it or not, but this is actually relevant to something for once! My novel for NaNo, that is. Well, not the priests. And characters do not get it on with ice cream in their hands. (They're very good about waiting til they get out of the kitchen or finish eating... [LED light bulb flashes over head] O_O ooo, wait!)

"Thanksgiving" is tomorrow. My sister's been home for about 40 minutes now, and already the screaming matches have begun. (Not with me. I'm staying by myself in the basement until it's over. This weekend, that is. My bedroom will be a war zone at some point, I'm sure of it.) But speaking of "holidays" based on the systematic government-sanctioned genocides of innocent people (oh, were you expecting something else?)-- for those of us not participating in the Commercialized Day of Gluttony, a bit of advice for raising our future children to understand the true story behind Thanksgiving.

Moving on to the next Commercialized Holiday - honestly, I have no idea what Christmas is even about anymore, other than shopping and decorating and cooking and screaming at your sibling because she's a total bitch. It's nothing like the magical time it used to be when I was growing up... Anyway, before I get all nostalgic-- one aspect of the holiday season that never seems to change is the emergence of red-capped employees of the Salvation Army outside every store. Pavlov's dogs have nothing on us. I can feel my wallet grow heavier in my purse as the jingle-jangle next to the little red cauldron (*ahem* I mean "kettle") screams "FEED ME!" and my hands automatically begin to rove my pockets for loose change, just as I did when I was little. It's hard to describe the feeling I get when I have to pass by without dropping in at least a few cents, but I can't say that it's a good one. My family has been donating clothes and other items to them for as long as I've been alive. They were my first stop when the tsunami hit Indonesia, and when the earthquake destroyed much of Haiti. I never even thought twice about it. It feels like purposefully ignoring the ringing bells is a one-way ticket to Rush Limbaugh's house (a.k.a. Hell), and he (I mean his "hired help") is making liver and onions and gizzards for dinner. (Excuse me while I go puke up my tofu and beans...) However, as much "good" as they do in the world (and they certainly do a lot of it), they do a lot of not-so-great things as well...

This is going to sound harsh, but hear me out-- I'm about to explain why you shouldn't donate to the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is very much Anti-Gay:
  • In 2004, they threatened to close down all of their NYC soup kitchens if federal law required the companies they worked with to provide health benefits to same-sex partners of employees.
  • They requested to be exempted from local laws that bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as a religious organization receiving federal money.
  • Too many things to list.

But if the subject of LGBT rights isn't enough to make you find a new charity, consider this:
  • the Salvation Army is an evangelical international Christian organization, set up like a paramilitary, that denies assistance or jobs to anyone it feels does not perfectly fit into their "Christian values" and "scripture." [Last I checked, Charity and Love were Christian values. But hey, I was born into a Catholic family, and only went to Catholic school for 13 yeas and was forced to read the Bible every fucking day, all while acting as a leader of my high school's annual religious retreat (at which point I was the only agnostic/atheist there). I could be totally wrong here.]
  • They believe the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gives them the right to discriminate based on religious beliefs.
  • They use taxpayer money to practice religious discrimination against employees-- "The Salvation Army recently began to require all employees in its Social Services for Children division to fill out a form on which they: a) identify their church affiliation and all other churches attended for the past decade, b) authorize their religious leaders to reveal private communications to The Salvation Army; and c) pledge to adhere to the religious mission of The Salvation Army which, according to The Salvation Army, is to 'preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.'"
  • They are hardcore followers of "Scripture." So yes, ladies, we are officially still considered inferior to our "husbands," are not allowed to date or marry other women, and deserve to be stoned (and not the hypothetically good kind) if we're not obedient. Yay!
  • They function as a billion dollar multinational corporation, but are exempt from taxes, because the government considers them to technically be a church.
  • They raised $20.5 million dollars for disaster relief in Haiti. Which is seriously awesome. Except for the fact that only $6.8 million of that money actually went to Haiti. And many people are still displaced, hungry, living in tents, and sick. (Sign this petition if you want something to be done about it!)
  • The Salvation Army has a long history of sexual abuse cases-- internationally. The most recent involves a swim team. (Yea, who didn't see that one coming?)
  • They are "at war" against "social evils." I'm not even touching that.
  • Officers are forced to sign contracts stating they can only marry other officers of the "Army." Yes, the Salvation Army tells you who you can or cannot marry...
  • But those officers also get a pretty sweet deal-- free housing, in million dollar neighborhoods! Yay! The Salvation Army spends quite a bit of money buying houses... But what's a couple million? The poor and homeless are used to not having any money-- they won't miss it! Surely they would understand how important it is for officers to have a nice hot tub to relax in after spending so much time with the dirty beggars at the soup kitchen...
  • Very questionable finances. I mean, I really don't know many people who can buy a $435,000 house with cash, or who lose $400 million dollars a year between income and expenses (source is lost somewhere among the million tabs I currently have open in Firefox... Working on it! Oh, here's one from Forbes)
Do they do great work? Absolutely. But to me, that's not enough. I'm rather disgusted by all of this. So I'll be in search of a new charity, and I hope this has convinced you as well. If you know of a good one, now's a great time to share! (I know there's some reason why I also avoid the Red Cross if possible. Someone needs to remind me... Oh, I remember. Less than 10 cents out of every dollar donated ever actually goes towards something. Or was it out of every $5... I don't remember.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Math Time -- By Storyteller Knight

I keep hearing the words ‘trade-off’ and ‘necessary evil’ coming from TSA high ranking officials when it comes to these new, invasive and intrusive security screenings at the airport.  They keep promising that there are bad, bad people in the world that will start blowing up airplanes willy-nilly the moment TSA relaxes security.  And then the scare tactic to end all scare tactics—whatever happens, it will be on your head for backing down, not mine.
But despite all these promises of the world ending if we lax airport security down to something more reasonable and less invasive, I can only think of three terrorist plots to blow up US bound airplanes in past nine years since 9/11.  Two of them made it through airport security and one was caught before ever reaching the airport.  Not one has originated on US soil since 9/11.  I have never heard of a terrorist plot being caught by TSA during the security screening process.  Now, I’m sure the TSA catches a lot of stuff that shouldn’t go on airplanes, but it’s more likely to be that guy who’s using his camping backpack as a carry-on bag and forgot he keeps his pocket knife in there.  Or a contractor who had put some work tools in his briefcase the day before flying while looking at a site and forgot to take them out.  Or a college kid who had put sunscreen in a not often used pouch in her computer bag and forgot she had it in there.  Dumb stuff, by people who aren’t thinking, is what the TSA is more likely to catch than a terrorist plot.

Look at it another way.  Over 800 million people fly within, into and out of the United States each year—falling somehow under the TSA’s jurisdiction.  That’s more than 7.2 billon people since 9/11.  Of that 7.2 billion, two have been terrorists (not counting the liquid bombers because they didn’t make it to the airport).  .00000003% of flyers over the past nine years have been terrorists intending to blow up an airplane.  With those numbers, the likelihood of the TSA screeners catching a terrorist—one guy in 3.6 billion people every 4.5 years—is insanely improbable. 

Here’s what the TSA officers are more likely to encounter.  It is more likely that the person they are using the enhanced pat down procedure on is a victim of rape who will relive their assault as you pat them down than a terrorist (1 out of 4 for women and 1 in 8 for men).  It is more likely that the person being pat down has PTSD and touching them so invasively will trigger a violent reaction (about 3.5% of the population suffers from PTSD).  It is more likely that the passenger has a medical condition that the body scanners and/or the enhanced pat down will aggravate.  On any given day with over 2 million people passing through security, the TSA is more likely to cause harm to multiple plane loads of passengers than protect them from a terrorist.

You cannot fool proof a system that handles over 2 million people a day and 800 million people a year.  There is always going to be the one dumb schmuck who gets through due mainly to sheer luck.  2 guys in 9 years is an insanely good track record, even more so when you consider that none of those plots originated on US soil.  So enough with the screening process that only makes people feel secure without offering any actual security.  There are better ways to spend our money—like ensuring that if a terrorist does get through the screening process, the right people (like a couple of air marshals on every flight) are in place to stop his or her plot from coming to fruition.               

Sunday, November 21, 2010

From TSA to T&A - The Right to NOT be Groped!

In light of this bullshit with the TSA, I thought it might be appropriate to re-post my comments from this summer- I went off on a mini rant regarding the Patriot Act and airport security following the September 11th attacks. And, at the risk of sounding like a crazy person, or worse, a "libertarian" TPer, I'm probably going to go off on a mini-rant right now, because I've had a ton of sugar from Poptart World and I should be sleeping. (Factual, well though out rant to follow later at some point when I'm not in an altered state of mind...)

This is where you see my "left libertarian" side come out - if you feel the need to go through excessive "security" measures and have your every move tracked in the name of "fighting terrorism" to feel safe, then go right ahead. That's your business.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

I can't say that I'm comfortable with losing civil rights and privacy in favor of allowing the government to see what I'm reading today, or watch my IMs or phone calls because I've had a copy of a shorter version of the Anarchist Cookbook "hidden" on one of my laptops [deleting this part, because it's irrelevant right now & takes up space] even if I have no plans whatsoever to ever try anything in it (except picking an old Masterlock, because I totally forgot the combo ^^") and I've said that many times now. (In fact, friends and I used to purposely start throwing in trigger words and make up the most random conversations just to mess with anyone who could be reading our messages. It's even more amusing on the phone, because of random wiretapping... You never know. Yay for instilling paranoia in the people!!!) And some new security rules are just...???. Like having to take off flip-flops at the airport. It's all out there in the open, what the hell else is there to see? A microchip implanted in the bottom of someone's foot??? Trust me, if someone were trying to sneak a bomb onto a plane in their flip-flops, 1. they're about as bright as a burnt out light-bulb, and 2. you'd probably notice, unless you were too. A knife, maybe, but there's really only so much you can do with a knife that small... I wouldn't really consider them to be a threat. Don't get me wrong here, safety is absolutely a priority, right down there at the base of Maslow's hierarchy, between sleep and friendship... It's just that sometimes you really have to wonder how effective these things are, and just how far we have to go to stop feeling so scared about everything. What will it take for us to feel secure as a people? An authoritarian nanny-state (which is NOT true socialism, no matter how much the ignoramuses think it is [rolls eyes] sorry, in a combative mood after dealing with Murphy's Law for an entire day.) where we're told how to feel in the morning? I don't think so. I have a big problem with laws that are meant to target criminal behavior but affect more innocent people than "guilty." I've been searching high and low for evidence that the Patriot Act has actually been effective. I haven't found any, friends haven't found any, because there apparently really isn't any... Why our government officials felt a need to renew this bullshit, well who really knows. Other countries have passed laws to intentionally block the Act from affecting their own citizens' civil rights and privacy - that's how broad this is. There are necessary safety rules, and then there are paranoid delusions-- and sometimes I really wonder if we too often cross that line...

 So. All of that being said-- I came across a great article in the Trentonian Times, about how these new body scanners are a complete invasion of our privacy and our rights, and serve no real purpose except to humiliate us, etc. (Ok, so maybe I'm paraphrasing a bit...) It was nice, until I saw the comments- what a nightmare! Apparently there are in fact people who praise these scanners as the greatest thing to happen to airport security, because it makes them feel safe. I'm sorry, but no. I drew the line at taking off my fucking flip-flops that were supposedly carrying knives, or so I was told, and giving up a completely full, UNOPENED bottle of apple juice I had just purchased and forgotten about (because I do that). I was pissed off about the waste of perfectly good juice, and the money I had spent on it, and the fact that I was pretty freakin' thirsty and already running late and wouldn't have time to down the bottle right there, but whatever, I could deal with that. I am NOT giving anyone permission to molest me just so that you feel safe on a giant metal object careening through the sky. And my refusal does NOT give you permission to sue me or any other person who does not want to be sexually assaulted on their way to Disney World, if something should actually go wrong. A choice to fly? You know there are a lot of big open spaces between those things we call countries, right? And they're full of dihydrogen monoxide? Which kills people who can't swim 3,000 miles at a time? How the fuck, then, do you expect us to get overseas? Boat? Good luck finding one nowadays. Takes 3 days and 3 times the money of a plane ticket to get anywhere-- and despite what they tell you, those days in between are rarely "fun" once you realize that guy at the bar has been stalking you and plans to kill you in your bed-closet. My father travels often for work, all over the country, all over the world. What do you propose he do? All of the people from school who were planning to study abroad - tough luck? To the rape victims, to those of us who were abused and don't like to be touched by strangers- get over it, you're going to be groped whether you like it or not?? Yea, great, thanks. So glad you're concerned about our well-being. Never mind the fact that it's a trigger, and will probably cause us to collapse in a panic or fit of self-loathing depression, leading us to yet another suicide attempt. No, go right ahead. Grope away.

And Mr. President-- I'm especially pissed off that you're supporting this nonsense. If you're going to NOT be Bush, then dude, you have to actually NOT be Bush-like. We said we hated these things before. Why should now be any different? I understand that some people (oh yea, I'm using that phrase) feel that this is necessary, but let's be frank- it's not, and you know it. You wanted bipartisanship-- well, on this, you're certainly going to get it. But you're not going to like the results. This is a massive violation of our rights not to be publicly groped by government officials. Where is that in the Constitution? 4th Amendment- Unreasonable Search. Yes, I'm saying that patting down a 5 year old because you think she has a bomb hidden in her Dora the Explorer panties is pretty damn unreasonable. And I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that yes, taking pictures of her nude body is pretty damn illegal, too. You're no Sally Mann. TSA, if I'm not horribly mistaken, I'm pretty sure you're required to have probable cause. So how about the guy with a violent criminal record? Not that I'm judging him, because he's repaid his "debt to society"and is probably now trying to be a very nice person and I don't want to take that away from him, but seriously? Between little Sally, or Tom (warning - I kind of think this borders on child pr0n, honestly. TSA strip search of a CHILD-- way to scar him for life, man!), and Jack the Ripper, don't you think that perhaps you're targeting the wrong person? Statistics, people!

You, TSA, fucked up with the racial profiling thing, and the religious profiling thing. That wasn't cool. So now you think it's fair if you just sexually abuse everyone? I don't think so. "The terrorists have won." Exactly. Whether they exist or not is irrelevant, because they have you in a corner shitting your pants every time some hack job with a couple of wires shows up claiming to be a terrorist mastermind hell bent on destroying the planet or whatever it is they're trying to do (and failing so horribly). So now we, the public, must choose - be subjected to potentially harmful xray photographs of ourselves naked, for anyone to see, or be publicly molested? (Unless you set off the scanners, because then you get molested anyway. Oh, but you get another choice! Aren't we lucky? Groped in public, or we can go find somewhere private and secluded...) Or, if we're brave enough, refuse completely and get slapped with a $10,000 fine and possible prison sentence. Hmm, decisions, decisions...

And while we're on the subject of invasive procedures, let's go with another little detail they forgot to mention - who's up for a prostate exam/anal weapons check? Anyone? C'mon, we'll kill two birds with one finger! (Or two, if you'd like... No judgment here!) By the way, who the hell are they hiring to do these "checks?" Because, I'm thinking here, if someone were you know, a sexual predator, they would probably want this job, where they are legally required to fondle people.Why are we not concerned about this??

Can I just say something? Of course I can, it's my blog. We have been dehumanized, humiliated, abused, deluded, lied to, and ignored far enough in this country, by too many. I'm all for National Opt-Out Day. Sounds like fun. (Well, not exactly. Don't touch me. I will hurt you if you touch me, and I don't like to hurt people.) I feel bad for the people who might be held up because of it, but hey, no lines on the scanners, right? Have fun being a (forced) exhibitionist for a day. I'll pass, thanks. Can I trade in my frequent flier miles for skipping this whole ordeal? I'll even get your stupid credit card, Continental!

And on another note, I REALLY want to talk about the Harry Potter movie & how it totally plays into this, because it soo does...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Potter Puppet Pals! The Mysterious Ticking Noise

Warning - no spoilers (I promise), but prepare for massive Harry Potter fangirling & uber-geekiness that totally shows my age. (Ish? I've realized in the past few weeks, I'm like a high schooler all over again -_-" lol...)

So yea, if you haven't seen my Facebook or Twitter by now, I saw Harry Potter today and it was freakin awesome. And I spent all morning watching this video (and the other Potter Puppet Pals videos! I miss those from high school... good times...) and bouncing off the walls at work in excitement. (And then spent a good portion of the movie slashing characters... DracoXHarry!!!) So hurry up and see it so I can actually talk about it next week!!! I don't want to spoil it (though seriously, if you've read the books, you know what happens and how totally epic it is... ZOMFG!!!) And then of course I came home, still feeling totally high from the AWESOMENESS that is the entire Harry Potter franchise, and watched A Very Potter Musical... parts of which I loved, parts of which were [meh]. I waited until today to watch it, despite having heard about it for a while... Anyway, go see that if you haven't, cuz it's amusing and Voldemort & Quirrell are fucking awesome. (But makes me hate Blaine even more than I already do... Kurt/Dave is so much more interesting, even though it's kinda fucked up...) And then go back and watch all of the Puppet Pals, because they're freakin hilarious!

I'm wondering how many of the 90 million+ views are me... Probably a good 50 just from today! (Seriously. I LOVE this! Don't ask why, I dunno, but I'm sooo making it a ringtone!)

Anyway... I'm off to bed now-- because I'm seeing it AGAIN, in NYC tomorrow. [SQUEE!!!]

/fangirl mode

Friday, November 19, 2010

BREAKING- Scarborough Suspended from MSNBC

So... I guess they did decide to be fair about this. MSNBC's token conservative voice Charles Joeseph "Morning Joe" Scarborough was suspended from MSNBC today, for 2 days, for donating to the political campaigns of friends and relatives. Fine- if they're going to make this a rule for all employees, then fine. Do it. I still think it's a ridiculous rule in the first place that denies employees their First Amendment rights (yes, even when Fox does it) and is pointless because the private lives of individual newscasters and commentators (and what they choose to do with their money) has so little bearing on whether or not we think the entire "news channel" is biased-- it's what they say that matters more; and calling Scarborough a "journalist" is a dubious assumption (because he, like Olbermann, is a commentator as far as I'm concerned!). But if they're going to be fair and apply the rule to everyone, then fine, I won't complain anymore. I concede- this round. I don't agree that the "crime" is really a "crime" at all, but at least they gave him a specific time frame instead of "indefinitely!" And at least this time, he had warning that it could/would happen, and NBC followed suit. (I would have been more pissed off if NBC hadn't, after all the fuss they made about Olbermann...) So fine, give him a 2 day suspension, make that your policy and make clear who it applies to, and let's get this over with. We have far more important things to be worried about than a few measly donations. Like the upcoming vote on DADT repeal, or the rest of the Prop 8 trial/appeal process that I just learned will be airing LIVE on C-SPAN, on December 6th. Details to follow when available.

If they were talking thousands of dollars, it might be another story; but $500 every once in a while, to friends, isn't really much-- well, for people who make that much money. Anyone want a send a $500 contribution my way? Anyone?? O:-)