Saturday, December 04, 2010

Just because A is true doesn't mean B is false

Julian Assange may very well be a rapist. He's also very likely to be an egomaniac who hates America. These things can be true, and it's still important that we get information on the secret things our government has been doing in our name.

(I should note that part of my belief in radical democracy also includes a belief that neither governments nor business have the same right to privacy that individuals have. A government is not a person in the same way a corporation in not a person.You can't fire a non-employee from a business, and you shouldn't be able to prosecute a non-citizen for going (nonviolently) against a government that isn't their own.) (On second thought, you shouldn't be able to prosecute a citizen for non-violently going against a government that is there own.)

It's not hard. It doesn't take a leap of logic to say that Assange is very likely a misogynist asshole, but the dumping of government documents means the people of Spain can see just how much influence a foreign government has over their judicial system, or the people of Honduras can find out what was going on behind closed doors during their recent coup.

A lot of the arguing I see happening are the same arguments we saw about Polanski. "But he's a great artist!" "But he had a horrible life!" "Nazis!" "Sharon Tate". All those things are true, and Polanski is still a child rapist.

The difference, of course, is that Assange's masterpiece is not a film or even a carefully crafted and researched piece in the New York Times, but the dumping of massive government documents so that people can figure out for themselves what is going on. It's slightly more important than pretty camera work, but doesn't negate the rapey parts of his personality.

Oddly, this is one of the few cases where you can actually be bipartisan. Assange should answer for his crimes in Sweden against women, but perhaps we should all simmer down a bit on the calls to assassinate him or to deify him.

Besides, it's much more interesting to check out what the leaks have done. Being that the elites are supposed to be the cream on top, it's entertaining to me how often they end up acting like tantrum throwing children. That's diplomacy in a nutshell, diffusing tantrums with promises of lollipops.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A Little Thought Experiment

Let's imagine for a second the Obama is the person people thought they were voting for: a stealth progressive, a grassroots community organizer type, a pro the-little-people democrat, the anti-war candidate.

We'd still have:

Health care reform that mostly benefits the insurance companies.
A mortgage crisis with nothing being done to help the homeowners.
A 24% disemployment rate (9 percent counted, 18 percent actual, the rest are underemployed and I think that number is low)
2 wars with more wars brewing
No extension of unemployment benefits
Skyrocketing wealth disparity
A federal freeze on spending and COLAs for federal employees.
TSA getting grabby and the continued erosion of the bill of rights.

So even with a Democratic House, Senate and presidency, democratic platforms can't be enacted. That is one seriously broken system. The representational part of representational democracy is broken.

That's what I mean when I say that voting doesn't make a damn bit of difference, the powers that be simply won't let us get what we voted for if it's not in their best interest. I don't know if this is new, or worse than it was before, but it's bad.

How we fix that is a big scary question, one too big for me or you to figure out by ourselves. But I know one thing, you never ever get what you want if you don't ask for it (or in this case, demand it). I find it a far better use of my time thinking about the kind of world I want the Kid to live in. It's what gives me hope, the idea that things have not always been this way, and they won't always be this way.

100 years ago, 40 hour work weeks and women's suffrage were pipe dreams. 60 years ago, trips to the moon were impossible. So perhaps it's wistful daydreaming. Perhaps I have replaced a belief in god with baseless optimism. Perhaps I am just audaciously hopeful. But here's a few things that I want in a better world:

20 hour work weeks. I know! Shock, awe, how could we possibly live with 20 hour work weeks? But think about all the downsizing, the "increases in productivity" which are just code words for "we make one person do the job of 2 or more". We would solve unemployment in a heartbeat. If working 20 hours a week means you can afford the basics like food, housing, medical and education, then the rest of your time is yours to do with as you please. Want to make more money and buy shiny toys- congrats, you now have the time to do that. Want to spend time puttering around making music or art or baking pies. Do that. Want to raise your kids instead of sending them to 8 or 10 hours a day of daycare, do that. It would make it easier for PWD to work if endurance is one of their problems. (still have to work on that tricky ableism thing, I know the hours are not the only thing causing high unemployment rates among PWD). It would make being a poor student who has to work full time possible, because full time would now be as many hours as you'd spend in a work study job (well slightly more, but you get the drift). Boomers who don't have enough money to retire? Well now you can work half time while opening up a position for someone else.

A serious commitment to body autonomy. I am just so freaking tired of it being every bodies business what someone else does with their own body. I don't fucking care what you put into it (food, drugs, medicine, penises, babies, etc) or take out of it or who you do those things with as long as you're all adults with informed consent.

And since California's prison situation has been in the news lately (let's just say that all those non-violent drug offenders fall under RQ's body autonomy dream) how about an end to the prison industrial complex. My ultimate dream world involves a world without prisons. I'd much prefer a society of choice, you choose not to follow the rules then go live elsewhere. I don't care where, but not here. Sure there end up being whole societies made up of rapey mcrapersons, but since they'd be hard pressed to get women to stay it might die out pretty quick. But since exile is only possible now for people who kill in the 10s or 100s of thousands, how about we make the whole penal system a bit less racist, classist, and horrible all around.

And while I'm on the whole society of choice thing, no more nationalist bullshit. Pick where you want to live, anywhere in the world. Agree to to follow that society's rules and your in. No "illegals", no scary border guards. No handwringing about the immigration problem. We like to think that America is all about freedom, but most of us never got to choose the society we live in. We can choose 100 types of breakfast cereal, but not our social identity. That's not really freedom.

And while we're dreaming, and end to the fucking kyriarchy. No more isms. No more excuses for making one person worth less than another.

What do you want? You'll never get it unless you ask, so ask away.

Book snobbery

So this is a meme that's been going around a bit:

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!

1. Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings- J.R.R. Tolkein

3. Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7. Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations- Charles Dickens

11. Little Women- Louisa May Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (nobody finishes War and Peace, nobody!)

25. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy- Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30. The Wind in the Willows- Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield- Charles Dickens

33. The Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh- A.A. Milne

41. Animal Farm- George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code- Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52. Dune- Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick- Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72. Dracula- Bram Stoker

73. The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses- James Joyce

76. The Inferno- Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol- Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple- Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94. Watership Down- Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So I've got 49 read (that I remember. I feel like I've read Les Miserable and The Count of Monte Christo and a bunch of others that were also made into movies, but I may just remembering the movies). And I'm not going to count the starteds. I've read a bunch of Shakespeare but never sat down with the complete works.

Whaddaya got?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Just in time for Christmas!

A federal pay freeze!!! Santa, it wasn't even on your list!

I've never been the kind of poor person to hate on the slightly less poor, so I'm feeling some serious empathy for people whose pay starts (in my location) at $21,641 and maxes out at a grand $27,075.

Happy holidays. You ain't getting a COLA this year (or next) cause someone wants to play bipartisan weasel.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Anyone else find the call to arrest Julian Assange, a non-American, for treason a little hypocritical coming from the same people who were pro-outing Valerie Plame?

And I feel the same way about Wikileaks and I did about Plame. The person committing the crime isn't the journalist doing their job, but the government employee (Cheney, Turd Blossom) who leaks that shit.

Why the sudden urge for civility

All over the teevee, newsbunnies and talking heads and "serious people" are talking about the "shock, horror" level of discourse in society of late.

They want us little people to be more civil, more thoughtful. We only say such mean angry things because technology lets us publish without a time out to consider our words.

I have only one thing to say to that.

Fuck off you overpaid wankers.

We yell and scream, fight and insult because we are justifiably pissed off. Our country is fucked. Our economy is fucked. Our political system is fucked. And instead of doing the hard work of making it better, you all are sitting on your fucking hands whinging about how mad us little people are. Anyone doing any kind of anti-ism work will recognize your calls for civility as the meta version of "if you were only less shrill/angry/loud then people might pay more attention to you".

The problem with our country is not the level of civility. The problem is that the 20 percent at the top, (which includes every single person who makes it on those teevee news shows) have robbed those of us at the bottom of the basic resources we need to live. We won't be quiet about that. Uncivil words are the least of your problems.