election musings

I got tuesday off work. That means that I can slog out to my polling place and vote that morning. I know I could have voted early or absentee, I could ride my bike or even call either of the campaigns for a ride (and tactically, I should call the McCain campaign, but really, no, that's the sort of shit the black hats do, not my side. Well, if I find the memebers of my side that do that sort of thing, I'm panning on meeting them in a dark ally some day, but I digress...) but call it a mediation on the system. I find that taking the time to walk some distance to the polls and then waiting in line to vote holds some value. (sadly, English lacks non-supernatural references for this whole category of event, but oh well, that's what I get for speaking a language with a basis in superstitious cultures. So all of them.) Essentially, one takes part in the spirit of the event by the saccrifice of some minimal time and effort. No utilitarian value, but a symbolic one, and you have to be pretty stubbornly blind to completely spurn the value of symbolisim both in the personal and public sphere.

Also, speaking of alleys, I have some folks I want to meet in one.
Riding in to work I see assorted campaign signs in people's yards. While I think that the blackhat candidate is a moral and political danger to the United Statea, I don't believe that his followers should be silenced. Especially when they are using their own space to unobtrusively post their message. Well, both his signs and the good guy's signs have occasionally been taken by people who would silence the supporters of one or the other candidate. Two I noticed in particular.
In one of the nicer neighborhoods on my ride to work, there is a lone McCain/Palin sign. This morning all that was out there was the metal stand the sign was supposed to be slipped over.
In another neighborhood, rather closer to home, an Obama/Biden sign is missing stand and all.
Even though I'm supporting Obama and even though that sign was an act trying to silence my own personal voice, I am more upset by the McCain sign. See the Obama sign was taken by McCain's supporters, a group who historically have worked to suppress the voices of their opposition through pretty vile tactics in a representitive government. I expect black hats to act like black hats and when they fail to do so, I am pleasantly suprised, but when they do act like black hats, I am not particularly bothered. I may take action to try to counter their actions, but they are black hats, and thus are expected to act like thugs.

On the other hand, when my own side does the same, I get pissed off. We are the fucking good guys ass holes. You are fucking dragging us down to the black hats' level by your actions. Please stop. I will eventually find you somewhere alone and far from help and remind you that decent people don't act like that. (I think the good guys should be turning some of the blackhats tactics and methods against them, but that doesn't mean amoral free for all.)

oi vey

Reunion this weekend. It is spread out over two days and the way it is arranged is maybe silly, but c'est la vie. I'm wasting a lot of weekend here in not reunion stuff. To deal with that problem, I brought several things with me.
I brought the PS2 and my new game (FF12), I brought the as yet unwatched Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog, and I brought a thumbdrive full of music.
I forgot the PS2's controller. So I can watch the trailer, maybe.
I forgot that mom's computer's soundcard is completely borked, so I can't do either of the other things I'd planned on doing this weekend.
I also decided last minute that I was going to not bring my bike, so yay that too, being stuck way out in the middle of nowhere.

THis year, not a cowl

I have completed my costume
I have some things I can do, but I have nothing I need to do to have a functiopnal blogger costume
I've spent more on halloween this year than in all of the previous years since I developed my Hiro Protagonist costume


My library book stack:
Rebel's Quest, a quasi sf quasi romance. I read these because I keep hoping to find something like the best work by the best sf authors who include romance in their books. guess how often that happens.)
Schneier's Beyond Fear
Resnick's Starship: Mutany (There's maybe a dozen authors out there who I really wish I could be. Resnick, even if I'm not always fond of his work, is one of them.)
The Mirrored Heavens, claims to be more cyberpunk than the cyberpunks... probably basic military/corporate city violence book
Knitting for Dummies


Written last night in a McDonalds. Other things came up that kept me from transcribing it.

So, I bought a cape for halloween today. On my way home (via College Ave.,) I realized that I was biking while in possession of a cape that I wasn't actually wearing . I immediately corrected this problem. I now know why super heroes wear capes.

Now, I just need some blogger-goggles. Well, actually, I also need to modify the cape to toughen it up a bit. A couple of weights in the corners and a hardening of the trailing edge to keep it from fraying in the wind would be nice.
I'm considering wearing the blogger costume to the reunion.

Also, those bluetooth earpiece phones? Hilarious. You'll not catch me with one of those until they are more along the lines of micro-hearing aids and throat patches. (possibly a pendant/microphone) I'd definately wear something bigger if it was techy-cool. I'm talking large mags and such. I'm still wanting wearable computers.

I don't understand (while still partaking in some degree) the human urge to entropy, especially at the expense of others. I went to a resturaunt with self service free refills of sodas. In fact, I'm blogging from there right now (sort of, I'm writing long hand, but it will get transcribed to the blogs.) Well, the drink station is somewhat obscured from the employees' view. Some jackass(es)* rigged the icemachine to run constantly until it ran out of ice, causing it to run out onto the counter. I really don't get that one. The store's manager spent at least 20 minutes fixing the problem. I don't understand the desire to break other people's stuff, to make life unpleasant for random people. I do get some enjoyment from acts of destruction per destruction, but I limit that to things that are my own, usually items that have no more use. At the same tme I do enjoy making life easier for others, making things work, facillitating people's success.

I guess it breaks down to keeping my playing with entropy limited behind the aegis of "an ye harm none..."

Also, watching how closing works at this resturaunt, I really really like working at Kroger. The manager ended up doing a lot of work that she shouldn't have been doing, not because it was the best use of her time, but because she'd have had to babysit her workers while they worked on it. (Yeah, that's as much a statement on the competency of the management there as the employees.) We're very very lucky that we have several real competant managers at various levels throughout the store at my Kroger. We beat the average for competant and better managers. I think I'll hold my assessment of the whos and whats of competent or not until I''m not working there anywhere.

* Yeah, they didn'ty actually rig it they way I thought they did. The machine broke and they rigged it to quit spewing ice. And then didn't actually tell anyone that it wasn't working. Still not good, but better than I thought.

1001 uses for a ground red pepper

So popcorn shows the same improvement and decline curve as chex mix with the addition of red pepper flakes. Of course, adding those red pepper flakes to popcorn is much harder. (What you really want with popcorn is for the oil to be infused with the pepper, not the flakes on the popcorn itself.)


So, I made a "Love my body day" shirt and alas, no one else did. Oh well. A buck for the shirt, a few minutes with my permanent markers and google looking for pictures of the pineal gland, and wham! I have a non-conversation starter.

FMLA et al


I'm putting thoughts and motivations in hypothetical people's heads in this post. Be aware that I could be wrong about all sorts of things, like lines of reasoning and people's beliefs. Just remember that a lot of this is speculation.

I went to the FMLA movie and potluck today. We didn't end up watching a movie, but instead we sat around and talked for several hours. These folks feel like an extension of my inner circle some times, and I hardly know most of them. I was going to say something about us not being as closely in accord as the inner circle, but then I scrubbed away the mists of stupidness and memory and recalled that my inner circle is about as fractious as it is possible to be. We are held together by friendship/love and an enjoyment of eachother's assorted company. I've got as much in common with some of these men and women as I do with my closest friends, I'm just not close friends with these people, hopefully yet.
*chuckles* There are some slight discrepencies in the way some of the folks involved see the world and the way I see it. Not a shock, but occasionally jaring. On the other hand, it was somewhat reassuring to find myself on opposite sides of a position with my original contact with the group. (Believe me, after a while it becomes nice to find a point of disagreement with people.)
So it seems that there are two different images of what the FMLA is/should be. Some folks want it to be more active in direct activism, to stake out a cause and go after it full tilt. Others see it as more of a, if you will, social club. In their vision, it acts as a safe haven, a community that can do a lot to enable cross-activism. Sort of like the best of blogging moved into meatspace. There's obviously a spectrum of thoughts on this matter, I'm just pulling out the polar ends. I personally think that it serves its purpose best as a meeting for people who each have allied causes without doing too much specific activism. Honestly, I suspect that I am the only person who comes to the meetings who isn't active in at least one other organization, and the FMLA itself acts as a more than a little useful crossfertilization zone for the actions and memes of each of these groups. I'm all about the meta, the interstices, the crossfertilization, so, of course I like the way things seem to work now. It seems that being too active outside of what the group already does might well be counter productive, especially since most of the members are already active in their own organizations and if the FMLA starts demanding more from them, they are likely to say "screw this."

Of course there are already the sorts of things that the FMLA here traditionally does. They host a Women't Health Day thing, they do/intend to publish a newsletter thingy about stuff going on in the world of feminism. They do/intend to publish an essay collection on feminism. They help organize the production of the Vagina Monologues.

Of course, in the eyes of the first group, these aren't actions, they are the sort of thing that you do to fill in the gaps between real actions.

Personally, I see them as building community, doing outreach, helping to expand the memespace. Since all activism needs to be cross activism, I really think that these are as important as any direct political action, possibly more so. Hell, reclaiming the word "feminisim" from the blackhats is almost entirely the place of this sort of thing, it is entirely a matter of changing our cultural memespace and doing better than the blackhats at one of the things that they do better than almost anything, defining the public conversation.

I think that I've mentioned this before, but at the center of things, I have three primary social causes:
a Social Justice
b Environmental Conservation
c Civil Liberties

I think that I have also mentioned before that I don't think that you can seperate any of those from any of the others.

It is late. I might continue this later. Depends on my mood and or feedback. Good night

New stories, anyone?

I'm looking for some new Fantasy and Science Fiction (preferably series) to read. Mostly I want a character like Harry Dresden and the next Dresden book isn't out until next year. (Late Artemis Fowl would be neat too.) Dresden is my kind of hero, Magic or No, and I'd love to find some more books with that style of protagonist/hero. (When she isn't being kind of whiny, Dante Valentine fits the bill, though if she and Japh don't get their little problems straightened out soon...)

Elizabeth Bear's Matthew *I forget his last name* fits the bill pretty well, but I've read those books too.

last but not...

Last post of the night. Definitely the most important which takes some doing tonight.

Earlier today up in the bitter bitter north where they don't even have airplanes, one of my best friends, my closest friend and water brother married her long time boyfriend.
Eva Nicole Schiffer, Alan De Smet, congratulations and I wish you the joy of each other. I wish that I had been able to attend, but I've been thinking about you all day.
Pax Vobiscum


I went to the 10 year vigil for Matthew Shepherd.
I talk about how much the world has changed from time to time, but being there with a bunch of kids who were little kids when he was killed, hearing them talk about how they perceive the differences in the world since then, it makes me wonder. (Any of you reading this, I'm not using "kids" pejoratively or in a dismissive manner. I treasure the (fairly large) chunk of kidhood that I've hung onto since I was your age. I hope you each manage to do as well or better than I did)
Mostly we stood in silence, a few of the leaders spoke. Most of the folks here are more directly touched by the violence against Shepherd and other gays. For them, it is always a horrible possibility that someone might attack them because they are members of the lgbt community. The society that we are part of still persists in treating them, in many ways, as second class citizens, restricting the ways that they can express love and devotion, telling them that crimes committed against them because of their sexual identity are obviously not hate crimes, a hundred hundred things that I am privileged not to experience. For that, as much as for the fact that I had nothing to add, I kept quiet myself. There is beauty in silent togetherness as well as vocal community, and I was not going to break the first to attempt to gain the second.
All places and times are holy, but those moments in that circle, they are worth singling out. The sun sinks below the horizon, our faces are lit by our candles and the falling dusk. A bitter melancholy and a tang of hope, the belief that progress has been made, these are the contents of the circle. If we have come less far than these people around me believe, it is only because the past they believe in was not quite as bad as they think it was. These people are part of the hope of the world.
Afterward, we break up and turn to inconsequential talk, Pippin (a name I remember because it is full of awesome) assumes that I'm gay myself, something that I will correct next time I see him, but for now, correcting a misapprehension is not worth breaking the moment.

These are my people. They aren't all of my people, and their cause is not the entirety of my cause, but people gathered together in good will to bring about change for the better, they are all mine as I am theirs if they will have me. If their portion of the cause is what they see most clearly, that is no short coming, it is part of our shared humanity.

We depart into the night, richer for each other.

a decade

10 years.
It has been 10 years since 1998.
I don't have time to do the research to talk about how the world has changed.
10 years have rocked the world to the very foundations.
Some times though, it looks like nothing has changed at all.
I run into that especially when I go to things with the young activists and what have you on campus. They talk about events of a decade ago, of the culture of then, as if it was a foreign country. And to them, it is. I know the world has changed since I was in highschool and they were beginning grade school, but I'm sure it hasn't changed quite that much. This isn't where I wanted to go with this post. I've been doing a lot of musing about the state of the past's future recently, and it tends to color the things that I say. I'll be back in a minute with the original intended post.

The more they stay...

I meant to blog about this yesterday, but then I didn't do it.
The world is completely different than it was. On the cusp of the second decade of the twenty first century, not 200 yards from the little old lady with the dog and the phone, there were a bunch of kids running around playing with toy trucks on strings. Sure, they were plastic and multi-colored instead of wooden and monotone, but they were doing the same things that kids have always done.

The more things change

I meant to blog about this yesterday, but then I didn't do it.
The world is completely different than it was. On the cusp of the second decade of the twenty first century, walking around talking to yourself like a crazy homeless man is a status symbol. It means that you own a cell phone with attachments so advanced that no one can actually see them.

Moreover, I saw a little old lady walking her little dog the other day. Chatitng away on her little metalic pink cell phone. Old people having tech adoptation issues? Not so much any more.


Oh I almost forgot!
The coffee shop in the Wells Library has Fair Trade Hot Chocolate. Yays.


Sunday October Next, there is a candlelight vigil in honor/memory of Matthew Shepard.
It meets in Dunn Meadow by the stage (the hill on the west side of the meadow for those of us who had to ask what the stage was in an essentialy stage-less meadow.)

People doing good things.

Went to the FMLA meeting.
Got there way late. Will try harder next time. Alas, I was late because I needed pointy sticks. Will explain later.

I got to discuss fundraising methods and concerns. It was fun. I really like hanging out with activists. Like seriously, even if they aren't activisting about my particular issues (more on that in a graph or two.) So collectivist thinking is not compatable with computer security. Along the same lines, I bet IU doesn't let you set up multiple passwords for a single account, even for a student group. They really should. Also, even if you are required to keep the IU provided tools for your groups, you should move group management and such to a modern system (I'd suggest gmail and google groups, though any shared information system would work. Set the IU email account up to auto forward to the other system (if you are worried about privacy, you should be able to set up pgp as an intermediate somehow, but I'm not absolutely sure how.)
Evan is my kind of geek, by the way. He keeps using words from assorted Joss-verses. Sadly, I don't pepper my fandoms so much into my daily speech, though I guess I do pepper it with my geekery, but that is just part of me, not an expression of geekery. (Shindig and shiny within 30 minutes of each other triggered this.)

Oh Confirmation, Olivia was the 3rd name from the other day. Alas, I just grabbed a dozen new names not to remember. Oh well, I lose some and then lose some more.

Went to the Out meeting after the FMLA meeting. I'm definately more FMLA's target audience than OUT, but activisim is activisim and their cause is just, and the people are fun, so, ya know. (Kinsey 1.1, glad they're straight friendly.)

I like the big poster on their wall, I want it in a vinyl wall thingy:
"Safe Zone
This zone is declared SAFE.
Regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age and ability, you will be treated and respected as a human being. Ignorance, bigotry, and harassment will not be tolerated."

Happily it doesn't list "snark" or "sarcasm" though I guess both of those sort of fall under harassment of you aren't ready to deal with them. I'm not sure that I could give up my snark. But I do promise that I'll not snark you any more or any less because of any of the above.

The degree to which tech has changed the way people do stuff is horribly evident in these meetings by the way. 7 people, 4 computers and an Ipod with communications capabilities. They influenced the way the meeting ran. Incredibly cool, not really a possibility when I was these "kids" ages. (I know, I know, but you youngins'll always be "kids" to YT.

Good time, hope to relearn some of the names.

Circularity, what's that?

In an effort to do more posting on my lj, I've decided to not talk to several of you about the sort of things that I am likely to blog via IM since that drastically decreases your likelyhood of commenting which in turn drastically decreases my number of comments per post which further decreases my likely hood of actually posting, which increases my use of IM to talk to some of you about what I'd be posting about, which further decreases comments which further... and et cetera.


I was having a bit of a talk with one of my bestest friends, and I realized something. Life needs more shindigs. Specifically my life needs more shindigs. More specifically, I need some stone soup-style shindigs. Anyone interested?

Take back the what?


We are spread out across the field, singles and pairs and other small groupings. This seems a little bit off to me, though many of us are strangers and our purpose for meeting is such that we might have reason to be wary of strangers. Of course, we also have every reason to come together, to become one group, to eschew isolation. As it is we are a thousand points of light, each illuminating our own few square feet. Little circles of hope in a darkness that has nothing to do with the shorter fall days. We shouldn't stand alone, the thousand points of light is great when you are looking at the world from on high, but while you walk among the fields and the trees, down the streets and through our homes, they fail. We should gather, we should organize, we should come together and form a great blazing beacon. All activism is political, and all political action is, in part, about shaping perceptions. We get together because we want to change the memetic background of society and to do so it is nearly as important to appear to be winning as it is to be winning. An interesting part of memetics, at least among humans, is that the when your memes appear to be popular they often bring other people to accept your memes.

*chuckles* The library computers shut down and I went home and went to bed (well, several hours after that, but still...)

*The Next Evening*

I've come back and I am troubled by something that troubled me while I was writing the original notes for this post. The whole time I was there I was keeping part of myself disengaged so that I'd be able to write about it, and my experience was thus colored by a constant analysis of the hows and whys of the events. It comes out somewhat critical (I like the above imagery, but it distinctly suggests a "here's how it should have been done" tone to the post. I'm not going to change that in the rest of my post, but I want to be clear, in case I get distracted and fail to put enough focus on it, it was a good event run by skilled people.)

The music was a neat introduction to Take Back the Night, a rally and march that, as I understood it was to increase awareness of rape and violence, not exclusively as they are perpetrated upon women, but with a focus on that as a women's issue. (Clumsy wording and not quite true, but it stays.)

Okay, the new dean of women's affairs or some similar meaning of the acronym (OWA) gave one speech. I've been listening to some really wonderful speekers recently who were also great speech writers or who had excellent speech writers. Almost everyone suffers in comparison to, say, Martin Luther King. I occasionally get West Wing syndrome, specifically, I sometimes thing "oh hey, I could be a speech writer and that would be fun." It was in full swing while I was listening to her. She had a really good speech, content wise, she just needed to polish it a little. She spoke about how the issue of rape had changed (possibly only perceptionally) from something that involved a stranger attacking a woman in the dark to something that is done mostly by people the victim knows. Take back the night elicits images of the attacker in the shadows while the reality now (and possibly always) is that most rape is acquaintance/friend/date/party rape and the most common weapon is alcohol. (I'm not sure that this shadow isn't deeper than the darkest alley in the darkest night in all the world, but I digress.)

After making sure to reinforce the fact that men can be the victims of sexual violence, the speech definitely went on to imply (mostly via word choices) that rape was something that happens to women and that is perpetrated by men.

I also found myself triggering on the use of conflict and military terminology in the presentations, but honestly, on further reflection, I'm happy to keep the terms of conflict of socially masculine concepts in this particular discussion.

The second speaker was Toby Strout, the directer of the local women's shelter. She's a stronger speaker and I didn't take many notes on her speech. I did note that I want to think more about "teaching empathy." Also? She had the best quote of the evening. The IDS managed to fudge it and only misquote part of it, but they tried. She said about rape and domestic violence (and any other way that people deny the absolute right of other people to be secure in their selves) "the one thing you can not do and consider yourself a citizen of the world is nothing."

Sadly there were two fliers for the chants for the actual walk and I grabbed the one that was more gender (woman) specific. Mostly the one I didn't grab was the one that was used.

I got one after the event though.

(I also bought one of the shirts. I modified it to make the slogan more inclusive. I'm like that some days.)

1 Women Unite!
Take Back the Night!

2. Yes means Yes, No means No!
Whatever we wear, wherever we go!

3. Claim our bodies, Claim our rights!
Take a stand, Take back the night!

4. We are women, we are men
Toghether we fight, Take back the night!

5. We have the power, we have the might!
The streets are ours, Take back the night!

6. We are women, we are strong!
Violence against us has lived too long!

7. Many voices, breaking silence!
Demand an end to all the violence!

The march was fun, the guys walked in the back and since we mostly all grabbed the wrong flier (not that there were enough of us anyway mutter...) we discussed activism and other points of interest.

When we got to the court house, we broke into two groups, the men and the women. Most of the guys peeled off before our part started. The women gathered and had a discussion of their experiences with violence, we gathered on the opposite side of the building and had a fairly broad ranging discussion.

I understand the need for protected and exclusionary spaces (though I think that they generally should be kept to an absolute minimum. I generally find the value of a more diverse set of cscfs is of primary importance. That's why I oppose gender segregated learning environments beyond the high school level (and I'm not in favor of them below that point.)
I don't think that protected exclusionary spaces and public events mix, but like all of my minor gripes about the event, it fades in important next to the awesomness of the whole thing.

After the discussions, we headed back to Dunn Meadow and I helped with the cleanup of the tables and such. There we demonstrated one of those basic physics things. I'm fairly heavy. The tables were pretty heavy too, but they don't really compete. Most of the people cleaning up were women. They weren't nearly as heavy as I am. I had a much easier time carrying the tables than they did (I team carried them with the other guy who helped clean up. I'll get back to him in a minute. Let's just say for now that he's on the list of "neat people I met because I came to this event") It isn't that we were signifigantly stronger, it is just that moving objects is amatter of matching your momentum to the object's momentum, and my momentum provides me a pretty big advantage in that particular contest. Thus I can carry fairly heavy objects and not get tired because I'm bigger than they are.
After cleanup about 10 of us went on to Noodles or something like that. It's a decent noodle shop on Kirkwood. The noodles were okay, not worth the price, but not bad. The conversation, on the other hand? Excellent. After that we fragmented even further, leaving Ethan (possibly? I know his name starts with an E, also the guy I was talking about above, a browncoat, and my kind of geek. We spent a fair amount of time talking about blogs and bloggers.) myself, Indara (the president of the WSA), and Olivia (again, not absolutely sure about the name, it started with an "o". I'm bad about those things. I know Indara's because I had to look it up for something else.) and we went down to Baked. This is an absolutely awesome cookie place. Their sugar cookie dough is amazing.) We went on to talk until like midnight and all headed off to the winds. (Olivia, if you run across this, Fosse was killed by humans, I went and checked the next day.) I met a bunch of good people doing good works. This was amazingly energizing. Sorry I skipped out on the GoodWill Brie, but you should have too.