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:-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On How Terrorists Make Shit Look Smart and WTF TSA? -- By Storyteller Knight

Guest post by Storyteller Knight

I was checking out Jim Hines’ ( blog today (as I do every morning because he is awesome).  Today’s entry consisted of a list of links on the new airport security rules and regulations and ruminations how it was basically tantamount to government sanctioned sexual assault.  I had been hearing buzzing about this for a while but after reading these links and other news stories, I’m seriously disturbed (my heart absolutely broke during the story of the rape victim to whom the choice of full body scanner or the invasive pat down was no choice at all—either option was a trigger).  And I’m really pissed that TSA officials admit to making these new pat downs as humiliating as possible in order to make people think twice about opting out of the full body scanner.  Jeez, people.  This is not okay.

Here’s a fact that I don’t think many people either consider or realize.  Terrorists are dumb.  No, seriously.  These guys make shit look intelligent.  Not to diminish the tragedy that was 9/11, but that wasn’t exactly the most innovative of attacks.  There were a lot of loop holes in FAA regulations- such as allowing blades less than 4 inches into airplane cabins.  Personally, I think were lucky that it took so long for a terrorist organization of any kind to realize that a- 4 inch blades could be carried onto an airplane or b- 4 inch blades can cause a lot of damage.  We went through what?  At least thirty years of air plane travel without anyone capitalizing on that rule?  Either we got really lucky or, as I firmly believe, terrorists are really dumb.

The shoe bomber (who still owes me five hours of my life back, thanks), the liquid bombers and the underwear bomber have done nothing to make me thing otherwise.  And that’s because they’re still so obsessed with blowing up airplanes.  WHY?  I don’t understand.  No, really, what is the point of continuing to try and blow up airplanes?  First off, with the new TSA regulations that grow tighter and more absurd with every terror plot (more on that later), it must be an absolute bitch to try and blow up an airplane.  Second, blowing up an airplane only knocks off about 400 people if it’s a really big plane.  That’s kinda... lame. 

And once again, not to dismiss the pain caused to anyone who hypothetically lost a family member in the hypothetical blown up airplane, but I’m simply not impressed by that plot anymore.  The point of terrorism, as far as I understand it, is to incite terror and create chaos within the infrastructure of whatever you’re attacking.  Blowing up airplanes doesn’t do that anymore.  The people who were terrorized by 9/11 aren’t flying anymore, and shoe, liquid and underwear bombs aren’t going to stop the people who are still flying.  And the infrastructure of flying isn’t going to fall apart if any airplane blows up midflight.  TSA will tighten down security, a new airplane will get built and we move on. 

To me, looking at this from a purely academic standpoint, the attacks on the London buses in 2005 and the Mumbai attacks in 2008 were more useful to the terrorist goals—the incited terror and the caused chaos within those infrastructures.  If I didn’t know that terrorists were dumb, I’d be seriously surprised that no attacks have occurred on American infrastructures yet.  And it’s not like they would even have to come up with the plans themselves.  Thrillers— books, movies, and TV shows run like terrorist tutorials.  The 24 hour news media loves to point out which of our institutions are totally vulnerable to terrorist attacks- ground transportation (cars, buses, subways) food (especially processing), water, schools, hospitals (as the pro-lifers prove time and time again), buildings of worship (and mailing bombs on airplanes are as totally unimpressive as blowing up airplanes—that’s like asking to be caught) and shopping centers.  Hell, if you want to stick with the air theme, blow up an airport.  You could kill thousands of people without ever having to pass through airport security (by the way, how funny is the warning to watch out for unattended baggage?  That totally does not take into account the suicide aspect of suicide bombings).

Which brings me to airport security.  You guys are making the terrorists look smart.  You’re so predictable it’s almost funny.  Someone tries to blow an airplane with a shoe, shoes have to come off.  Someone plots to blow up an airplane using liquids, liquids in containers larger than 4oz are no longer allowed through security (but empty containers larger than 4oz are, so we’ll see how long it takes to the terrorist to figure that one out).  Someone tries to blow up an airplane with his underwear, these virtual strip searches are mandated (which would not have detected the explosives in the underwear, but whatever).  And look, I get that it’s scary.  I was flying during two of those incidences (to Hawaii on the day of the attempted shoe bombing and home from Greece/Amsterdam the day the liquid bombing was supposed to occur).  But none of these restrictions are going to stop a smart terrorist from blowing up an airplane.  It’s barely stopping the dumb ones.  Because these full body scanners only show the surface of the body and not what’s in it, I fully expect in four years to being hearing breaking news on the Tampon Bomber, or the Butt Plug Bomber, or the I ate the Bomb Bomber.  So what happens then?  Will we require actual strip searches and endoscopic probes into the mouth, nose, ears, vagina and anus?  Don’t answer that.

The question is often asked about which plane would people get on if two were offered- one with the highest security possible and one with no security.  Um... I would actually get on the plane without any security.  No contest.  Because terrorists aren’t going to give a flying fuck about the plane without any security measures.  Because those of us on that airplane are showing them that despite all the terrorist attacks on airplanes, we’re still not afraid of them.  And if our airplane gets blown up, everyone will agree that we deserved it because we thought we’d be safe without security.  But if the plane with the highest level of security possible gets blown up, it sends the message that no matter how secure you think you are, we can still get to you.  That will make the news, that will send people into a panic and that’s why the dumb terrorist will go after the secure plane instead of the unsecure one. 

But I’m not advocate that we go back to no airport security.  I’m advocating for airport security that is actually secure instead of one that gives the fa├žade of being secure without any actual security (as I pointed out, these invasive strip searches would not have stopped the underwear bomber).  Go back to metal detectors and x-ray machines.  Let me keep my shoes on.  Let me keep my liquids.  Stop spending so much god damn money on the screening process and spend more money on making sure a handful of air marshals are on every flight.  We’ve gotten to the point where we can no longer predict for/stop every possible threat from passing through check point security.  Now it’s time to make sure that if something bad does get through, people are in place to make sure that weapon or chemical or explosive can’t be used.    

Philosophy of Politics - Keeping to the Code.

Haha, it seems I'm getting lazy and letting Storyteller Knight take over for me with a multitude of guest posts. (Speaking of which, there will be another one coming up in a few hours... and I will be sharing my formal guest post policy, should anyone else want to submit something. I've actually had requests! Imagine that! By the way, if you're reading this, I do plan on emailing you back as soon as my ADD permits me!)

As previously mentioned, I've been busy with NaNoWriMo, and work, among other things, and I just have not gotten around to writing anything for this blog lately. So I thought now would be a good time to share some (very, very random, unpublished) thoughts regarding the Philosophy of Politics. (Yea, I know-- it's been a while, right?) Forgive me if this starts to sound too Cosmo. I was probably a little bit drunk. And there's totally a point to it... somewhere.

How do I put this... I was bored and wrote all of this up way back in September. I had been thinking back on on childhood fads and oral traditions passed on to us by the older girls on the playground...  So I thought we could examine the philosophy of politics and law from another angle... Keeping to the Code. Girl's Code, that is.

For example, most women are aware of an "unwritten" moral code by which we are supposed to conduct ourselves, in order to maintain peace within the Girl World. (The Code has been written down occasionally, but has always been considered oral tradition.) Rules may vary by region or age group, but the general message is the same. (Unlike the Rules of Dating, the Girls' Code is pretty concrete.) This sounds silly, and yes, to some extent it is, but believe me, it matters more than many realize. Men have a similar code as well. (I will be getting around to gender issues later...)

Girls' Code of Honor (and how it compares to the men)-
1. This is the most important (and most complicated) rule of them all -- You do NOT mess with the guy your friend likes, is dating, has recently dated, guys who have used her, etc. This includes hanging out (without the friend present), extensive conversations, etc. You do NOT hook up with a friend's ex. It is completely off limits-- unless it was a one-time hookup. After an extensive time period, for any of the above situations, you may ask your friend. If she says it's ok, you may consider it, but don't be surprised if it's weird afterwards. However, if she is not dating a guy and claims she doesn't like him [i.e. a guy she used to like] but he likes you, he is fair game.
To simplify this - if your friend has any sort of history with a guy, for the sake of your friendship, it's best to avoid getting involved with him unless she insists that she's ok with it (& even then, tread carefully). It's already complicated enough, and you would be hurting your friend in the process. Which means more to you, a guy or true friendship?
(Guys' code- an ex is an ex and therefore fair game any time.)

2. If you and your friend like the same guy, he is OFF LIMITS. If one person indicates she likes him before the other person does, then we refer to rule 1. If it is discovered at the same time, refer to rule 2. If guy asks for your number, and Rule 1 is in effect, you are required to "campaign" for your friend first. (Guys' code - whoever gets the girl wins, unless friend was first to admit he liked her, a.k.a. called dibs.)

3. Do NOT let your friends do stupid things while drunk. This includes hooking up with random, shady guys, table dancing, going home with shady guys, (Guys' code - "Feel free to make your own stupid mistakes. In fact, we'll encourage you.")

4. Do not choose a guy over your best friend. You should find equal time for both. Friendships come before relationships. (Guys' code - "Bros before hoes.") Friends should be understanding, but ample notice should be given before breaking off plans with your girls to hang out with your guy! Not cool.

5. Do not ever diss a friend's crush or boyfriend unless said guy has done something absolutely worthy of it (i.e. cheating, dumped friend). You may politely nod along if she says something about him being a jerk/asshole/bastard, but you CANNOT initiate such language. Upon a breakup, you are obligated to remind your friend that she deserves better. (Guys' code- If you don't like the girl your friend is dating, you should always tell him.)
6. Never insult your friend, but give honest advice (tastefully, of course) and don't share each other's secrets.
7. If you want to date a friend's brother (or other close relative), you must first ask your friend for permission.
8. A Girls' Night Out is for girls only- no inviting boyfriends.

As we can see, it begins with issues of ethics and social justice (and respect). It is all based very loosely on a "do unto others" type of morality, rather simplistic, yet favors a complex egalitarian system of ethics. (How would you feel if your best friend asked out someone she knew you really liked?) Girl code exists as a means of protection for (and from) each other. It's safer to follow the laws than it is to disobey, because of indirect consequences-- e.g. causing conflict between 2 female friends would lead to more harm than the direct consequences of table dancing while drunk. These laws are designed to minimize and avoid tension. Girls are socialized to use psychological means of warfare instead of displaying physical aggression. However, as we are also socialized to be in tune with our emotions (and openly display them), this type of battle has the potential to be more harmful. Aggression is internalized by both parties, and can lead to far more emotional scarring than physically fighting. Consequences can lead to bullying, exile, shunning/social rejection, etc.... and in many cases, suicide.

The men's code, however, is far more simplistic in that it literally advocates an "every man for himself" type of system. Interfere if you want to, but it's fair game.

So what does this have to do with politics in general? If you really need me to answer that, you weren't paying attention... But the point is that everything we do is politics, and politics are all philosophy in action. Without it, we might be a bit of a mess, but maybe not-- after all, these here are unofficial laws. Anarchy does not have to mean chaos. All animals & organisms, whether tiny ants or humans, create for themselves systems of acceptable behavior that can be either implicit or explicit, and self-government is not only entirely possible, but instinctual-- provided that all are in agreement with only engaging in "appropriate" behaviors... (And as we can see from our own society... that's kind of impossible right now.) It's not a matter of rulers and constitutions, etc, but one of conducting ourselves in a manner that is conducive to our survival as a species, and as a society. (Is it just me, or do I kind of sound like a textbook today? Sorry, must've been the tofu...) Differing opinions without regard for conducting oneself in a constructive manner leads to the sad sort of tribal warfare it seems our nation has been reduced to, at least as far as the MSM is concerned. Maybe one of these days the pathetic in-group/out-group dynamic will fizzle out when we realize that we're all the in-group this time around...

I'm a live and let live kinda girl, except when someone's hurting someone else. That's my code - do no harm. (Well, irreparable harm... Some things in life are unavoidable.) And at the base of most laws not tainted by one group's idea of morality, that seems to be the case. When we think about what the world used to be like, and how it is now, how is it that some universally "bad" behaviors survived while "good" behaviors were suppressed? Hurting others for convenience, vs. expressing & enjoying natural human behaviors. (Think  insurance companies vs. sex outside of marriage, and the argument that one is just the "free market" and "the American Way" and the other is "perversion" that means a person will spend all of eternity in unbearable agony. Yay.) In losing our instinctual roots and codes of behavior in favor of "religious values" and whatnot, we've suppressed our potential not only for equality and true passion for life, but for unequivocal peace. (Do not take my words as an attack on religion; I may not be fond of the subject, however that's not my point. Today.) We as humans know the difference between right and wrong without needing to be told. Children understand right and wrong at a very young age -- I should know, I've read at least 3/4 of the literature on morality for my senior thesis! At the age of 4, children can definitively identify what is "good" and what is "bad." We learn from our parents, from our teachers and friends, through word of mouth, not law. From how it feels, not from what a judge has decided. But as a result of some ideologies, especially those descendant from the Abrahamic religions, we have lost far more than what's been gained. Anyone not copulating within "wedlock" with a member of the opposite sex (provided you were both also socialized to follow the "correct" behaviors of your genders as well), became inferior and reviled; our bodies were covered up in shame of our natural beauty; our own rights to our own bodies were now the property of others; the substances we choose to put into or onto our bodies are now marks of inferiority and "sin," even though the vast majority of us cause less harm to others than those who condemn. I do have to wonder, if we were left to our own devices, to follow our own natural codes of law, what would our society have become? Would we still be fighting each other for equality? Would it be worse? Would ethnocentricity have had such a profound effect on history? (Need examples? Slavery; World Wars I & II... the Holocaust...)

What bothers me isn't that it probably wouldn't be much better, if we take into account the full history of slavery worldwide, and women's rights, etc, but that it isn't much better now. We are supposed to have evolved from those sorts of things. The Western World is supposed to be the most advanced in terms of rights, and law, and politics. Yet everywhere in the world, and within our own borders there is still some form of slavery, and women are still being subjugated, and anyone not exclusively in a heterosexual, monogamous, "married" relationship is still being punished, whether it's by bullying, or by denial of rights given to all others--  or by death, or tortured, or raped as a "corrective" measure. What is it that is inside of us that allows these things to happen? How did this become our idea of "justice?" More importantly, what the fuck is it inside of us that does these things to our fellow human beings? What is it that allows us to not care? Where has all the empathy gone? And somehow, it all leads back to politics...

Anyway, I suppose that was me rambling through things as usual. I need to get back to NaNo now. (But again, awesome guest posts to follow!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Whiny Young Democrat's Response to a Whiny Old Democrat-- By Storyteller Knight

The following is a response to "Letter to a whiny young Democrat" written by a Mr. Mark Morford, for

(For pete’s sake, people.  It’s NaNo!  I have better things to do with my time than 1,000 word essays explaining to old people how young people think!)

Dear Mark Morford,

This isn't meant to be nasty and it's not my intention to start an argument with you (assuming you see it, which you probably won’t because you’re old and don’t frequent blogs.  Like how I’m young and don’t have an attention span beyond 140 characters).  I’m posting this over here because it feels weird to e-mail you 7 days after you posted your original article and I have no interest in getting an SFGate account so I can comment (I quite enjoy my next-to-nothing internet presence—see how bare it is?  I have to guest post on someone else’s blog).  I'm sure you've had a lot of angry people respond either in the comments or in e-mails giving you lists a mile long about why you're a ::insert creative insult here:: for ragging on the youth and not on the democratic party for making wet noodles look tough.  This is not one of those responses.  I respect your comments to us and for the most part agree.  We dropped the ball in this election.  There’s no arguing that fact.  But what I don't think you understand is that we actually don't care that we dropped the ball.

I voted in 2010, but I completely understand the mentality not to.  Because, to a lot of youth, all the candidates are actually the same.  Because we grew up in a different world than you did.  College is an insanely progressive landscape and each year it grows more so.  Each year brings in a class of students who grew up in a more diverse environment than the one before.  And then we exit college and enter the workforce and find ourselves in a world completely backwards of the one we grew up in.  It may seem to you that we're reaching for the moon with all this crazy, 22nd century progressive ideas.  But to us we're not.  To us this is normal.  

We know homosexuals deserve the rights and benefits of marriage.  We know that Muslims are people and deserve to be treated as such, not as terrorists.  We know that everyone deserves a chance at the American dream no matter what their economic background and shouldn't be labeled as lazy or worthless just because they weren't given the same chances, because they weren't afforded the same opportunities as those who have reached their dreams.  We know that we are on the verge of a catastrophic climate crisis and that waiting is no longer an option.  Note that these aren't things we believe in with the vague hope that we'll get there someday, maybe.  These are things we know, because that's how we grew up.  So when two candidates get up and one says 'no gay marriage' and the other says 'civil unions', what we hear is 'homosexuals are lesser citizens and undeserving of basic human rights' from both candidates.  When we hear 'no Ground Zero Mosque' from one candidate and 'maybe it would be smart to reconsider the location' from the other, what we hear from both is 'All Muslims are terrorist and can't be trusted to build a community center'.  When one party says 'tax cuts for the rich' and the other says 'maybe we can compromise on that point' we hear 'only the wealthy are deserving of the American dream'.  When one side says ‘climate change is a hoax’ and the other says ‘it will take 10 years to enact a comprehensive bill’, we hear ‘there is no evidence to suggest that we are out of time.’  Would you bother voting if both candidates were campaigning on the bases of a world you knew was wrong and unfair?

Voting for political candidates so very rarely changes the world for the better.  Grass roots organizing from the bottom up does so much more.  When the constituents raise their heads en mass and say 'no, this is wrong', I can guarantee you their representatives are going to agree with them, even if they originally campaigned that it was right.  Youth are well versed in working outside the political system to bring about change.  We don't care about the party and we don't care about the long view.  We care about doing what's right and clearly the way to get that done is to focus on building up from the bottom than to vote once every two years and then sit around on our thumbs waiting for politicians to change the law they already promised they weren't going to change.

We came out in droves in 2008 because Obama spoke to us.  He promised us that the law would reflect the world we had grown up in.  And since then, he has proven himself more interested in appeasing that weirder, dumber, backwards right.  If they are less interested in the world we grew up in than the republicans before them, why on earth should we believe compromising with them is a good idea?  Why should we support a party that has allowed the GOP to pull them backwards when they built their 2008 campaign on moving forwards?  For us, because of how we grew up and the way we see the world, the 2010 election proved not worth it. 

We don't want super!Jesus.  But we also don't want a president who is considered progressive by old world standards.  We want a president who is progressive by our standards.  We want a party with strong principles and beliefs that they stand up for and don’t back down from or concede when the other side puffs up its chest and calls them a mean name.  And if you think we’re whiny and selfish to remove ourselves from that system, that’s your prerogative and you are totally right that we lost the election for you.  Just realize that telling us ‘you should be grateful for the small changes that have already occurred, even though they don’t even come close to the world you grew up in, so get your ass over here and vote’ isn’t going to illicit any sort of response from us in 2012.  You only lose if you’re invested in the political system, and we’re not.    

As I said in my open letter to President Obama, if old democrats want our help in 2012 (and let’s face it, you need our help), you need to give us a reason to believe in the system.  We’re not interested in baby steps forward, because we’re already way ahead of you.  In a few short years, we will outnumber you and be able to vote down a gay marriage ban easily, with or without your system.  Our generation has proven time and time again that we don’t support the generalization of hate and/or fear and every generation that follows will continue prove this as well until acts of discrimination and bigotry are only propagated by a tiny, unwelcome minority.  We regularly volunteer and we take jobs to help others less fortunate than us.  And when no organization exists that focuses on the change we are looking for, we build it ourselves.  And we are building organic gardens, starting city bike programs, hosting the largest climate rallies in the history of climate change and doing everything else we can think of to educate about and mitigate the effects of climate change, because ten years from now is too late.

So if you want our vote in 2012, you had better take time to listen to us and consider that we have reasons for our actions beyond spite or laziness.  Youth activism isn’t dead, it just isn’t political.  Give a reason and we will put all that energy back into campaigning for democratic candidates again.  Because you’re right.  A lot can change in a few years.  But you’re not advocating for change.  You’re advocating for things to stay the same and for youth to get over it.  And that’s something we have no interest in doing.

tl;dr in < 140 characters: Why do the youth always have to compromise their ideals? Why can’t the old dying guys compromise for once instead?

~Storyteller Knight

Hyperactivity means Great Posts to Follow!

Don't ask me why I'm so damn hyper right now, or why I'm not working on NaNo at the moment (heading to the library soon for hardcore non-stop writing timezz. Should be fun. Maybe.) But there was this infuriating article I read this morning. I was going to post a reply, but I also sent the link to Storyteller Knight & I'm sure she could do it better than I could ^^". So stay tuned for that in a little bit...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Open Letter to President Obama -- by Storyteller Knight

Dear President Barack Obama,

I’ve spent most of the day debating whether or not to write this, because chances are you won’t ever see it and its November and I’ve got a novel to write.  But, after much thought I’ve decided I just need to say this.  I don’t care if you read it or not.  It needs to be said and put out there for others to read. 

Do you remember what it was like to be young, President Obama?  Do you remember school and college and how insanely progressive that environment was?  Do you remember how you left that bubble to find a world where the laws didn’t reflect the environment you had grown up in?  You were a community organizer for crying out loud!  You have to remember some of those feelings!

And here’s the disconnect, President Obama.  Maybe the world we live on now is the one you were expecting and worked for when you were young.  Or maybe it’s fallen short and with your old age you’ve just bought into the idea that any change is good change.  Well, here’s some news for you, Mr. President, that progressive environment experienced in college?  It doesn’t exist anymore.  It has grown far beyond anything you could have possibly conceived in the mid 80s.  It is more progressive, more tolerate, more interested in nonviolent solutions, more concerned about the environment than I’m sure the twenty year old you would have believed possible.  And youth are exiting college to the same backwards country you found yourself standing in when you became a community organizer.  Did you think voting would make the world a better place 1985?  Or did you see the same old people promising the same old, intolerant world that you wanted to rally against?  What’s the point if all the candidates are essentially the same?

You want to know why young people so rarely turn out in large numbers to vote?  Because no one ever campaigns to us.  They campaign to white men, to women, to blacks, to Hispanics, to Asians, to the rich, to the poor, to the middle class, to married couples, to families with children... they even campaign to the elderly.  No one campaigns to the youth, especially those of us just going in, in or just coming out of college.  We are ignored.

Nobody campaigns on the platform of college being more affordable.  They don’t campaign to the platform of making sure jobs are available for us when we exit college with nothing but a heaping pile of loans and a piece of paper that’s supposed to promise us a future.  They don’t campaign promising just-out-of-college grads affordable housing so we don’t get into a crazy amount of debt our first year out of college trying to pay for food, housing, fuel and pay back our loans.  Nobody promises us the more tolerant, progressive, peaceful, sustainable world we experienced in college.  And if we ever try to interject our voices into the political debate, we’re told that we’re too young to possibly understand.  Is it any wonder that we’ve decided to remove ourselves from the political process?  There are many other ways to bring about the change we know needs to happen without taking part in a system that honestly doesn’t care what we think.

And then, in 2008, you entered the political stage and you spoke to us.  You promised us that the system would deliver the world we had been working so hard to attain.  You promised us that the law would soon reflect what we knew to be right.  And we turned out in droves to support you.  We made up 18% of the vote in 2008 and 66% of us voted for you. 

Independents didn’t win the election for you, President Obama.  Progressives (especially youth and minorities) won the election for you.  And in the past two years, you have proven more interested in appeasing the right than delivering the promises you made to us.  And this is not the moderate right.  This is a right who doesn’t believe you’re an American citizen.  Who calls you a racist, a communist, a Nazi, Hitler, the Joker.  Who demand concession after concession after concession after concession without ever giving anything in return.  A party who happily refer to themselves as the “The Party of No.”  They have proven that nothing you do will ever appease them, and yet you continue to try and reach out to them, and turn your back on the people who have supported you from the start.

We are angry and frustrated by your continued attempts to reach across the aisle to a party that will never accept.  You may not hear us.  We’re certainly not yelling as loudly as the Tea Party because... what’s the point?  We’re disappointed by your actions, but we’re not surprised.  It’s not like this hasn’t happened before.  And so, as you turned your back on us, we turned our back on you and didn’t vote in the midterm elections.  What would have been the point?  Either way the election goes, we’ve no reason to look to the system for the change we were promised.

Here’s the thing, Mr. President.  We don’t need you and we don’t need the system.  We are well versed in working without political leadership and outside the system.  We can bring about the change we want to see without you and without the law changing.  But we want your help, because change is easier to achieve when the law supports you.  And while easy is by no means necessary, it would certainly be appreciated.

The GOP has just sent the message that no matter what you do, it will never be enough for them, so just stop trying.  Plant your feet here and concede nothing else.  Do not renew the Bush Tax Cuts, stop defending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in courts, increase government programs and jobs with that, enact a comprehensive policy to fight climate change... the list is endless.  If congress fights you on it, dust of those executive orders and your veto pen.  When they tell outrageous lies about you and your policies, call them on it.  Call them out as liars loudly and often and maybe with a little bit of passion.  They’re raise hell about it, they’ll turn up their violent rhetoric, but you need to stand strong against it.  That’s the only way to show your progressive base that you are fighting for them.  And once we know that you’re committed to fighting for us, we will turn out for you in 2012 in numbers never see before.  You lost the vote of the old white man in 2008.  You won everyone else in record numbers.  There are more blacks, Hispanics, Asians, woman and youth than old white men in this country.  And if you give them a reason to believe in you and believe in the system, you will be easily elected again and the 115th Congress will be the most progressive ever seen. 

We can do this.  Easily.  But we need to know you’re with us, like you promised you’d be.  So it’s up to you to make the first move, Mr. President.  We’re waiting.

~Storyteller Knight