Friday, November 28, 2014

Memo to Law Enforcement - Updated

I'm so heartbroken about this:  12 year old killed by policeMore here. Rest in Peace, Tamir Rice.

Memo to Law Enforcement:

Stop being trigger happy and killing innocents; don't use lethal force as a first alternative.
Be trained in how NOT to escalate situations.
Remember you are there to SERVE AND PROTECT. 


After I read the article at the link below, I barely had words.  How can a human, a child be treated like this?

More info on Tamir Rice investigation


This is unbelievable.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Women's Voices 2 - Another Outrage

Right now I'm steaming.  I'm steaming at a Mr. John Berman who let Mark O'Mara and another fellow talk all over the other guest in the segment (on possible mishandling of evidence in the Michael Brown case), a lady, a CNN legal analyst herself, Sunni (?) Hostin.  If you didn't see it, it may be available on demand or online - it was during the 8 p.m hour of Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN.  I immediately got online and sent CNN an e-mail and followed also with a voice message (yeah, just TRY getting a human with these voice messaging systems).  It anyone reading this is on Twitter and also feels outrage, I hope you send out a tweet or two!

This is NOT the first time I've witnessed such cavalier attitudes toward female commentators.  Ted Koppel was guilty of letting another MP talk all over a female MP on a segment of Nightline some years ago.  Yes, I was outraged then, but e-mail was probably just getting going around that time and I probably didn't think to do a phone call. 

I am really tired of seeing women's voices being treated so offhandedly.  This needs to stop!  Not to mention, I feel that letting one guest talk over another is quite bad form.  The host should see that all voices are treated more respectfully.

Raise your voices, sisters!!!


I just remembered another, semi-recent  incident related to this topic.  Jill Abramson (former NYT Exec. Ed.) and Janine Gibson (a former Guardian editor were on a panel about journalism post-Snowden with two fellows (Cass Sunstein and someone I can't remember now). At one point, Ms. Abramson reminded the moderator that the gentlemen had gotten a lot of time in the discussion and the ladies needed some time to balance this out (can't quote her exact words, but that was the gist of it).  And the moderator was a woman!

And :-) to SH.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Women's Voices

I suppose if I posted on every issue or noteworthy news item, I'd never even have time to eat!  

One thing that has been hitting home recently in the wake of the accusations against Bill Cosby and in the events taking place at Univ. of VA., is that women's voices are too often doubted or ignored.  Many women columnists have raised the point that it was only after a male comedian talked of allegations against Cosby that the story gained notice. In the U. VA case, the woman who told her story to Rolling Stone has indicated she met with little encouragement to come forward. 

Many, many working women have told, and still tell, stories of their contribution to a discussion being ignored until being brought up again by a male co-worker.  And if you haven't seen it, there's a famous commercial which calls attention to the different way women leaders are labelled.  In fact, isn't there a "campaign" to eliminate the label "bossy" from the vernacular?

However, we women have been and continue to be strong and resilient.  We have found ways to voice our concerns.  From Abigail Adams exhorting John to "Remember the Ladies" to the suffragists to Eleanor Roosevelt, who found her unique voice in being useful and in speaking up for those who needed a voice, we have fought to make ourselves heard.  We must not stop now!

And speaking of women who found a voice, we cannot forget Sojourner Truth!  Here is a video of a modern actress, Kerry Washington, doing a recreation of one of her most famous speeches.

Keep speaking up, Sisters;  and Brothers, stand with us!

UPDATE 12/6:

It has come out that there are real inconsistencies in the Rolling Stone story mentioned above.  I just hope this doesn't deter other women from coming forward and from being believed.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Surveillance Art

There's a new article up at The Intercept, this one by Peter Maass on art and surveillance.  I did find it interesting, though I think some of the projects themselves are downright creepy.

But hey -  it got me inspired to try to do something artistically and that certainly can't be bad.  If you read the article and check out the links he provides you'll notice that in addition to the visual arts, there was also a musical project and a book of poetry (why didn't I know about that before?).

I would like to do something visual as that would be something different (keep watching this space; although my artistic ability is quite limited I might come up with something). I guess I'm more language oriented, so first out is a poem! 

The Gaze 

All seeing eyes

But who gets the prize

When peek-a-boo is not a game

And prying queries have no shame

All seeing eyes

Classify and categorize

But this arbitrary gaze

Can fracture the ordinariness of days

All seeing eyes

Sifting through social ties

Never taking the time to blink

Recording, then storing in digital ink

All seeing eyes, though you can patterns perceive

Humanity’s essence you cannot digitally retrieve.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Response to Ms. Vargas-Cooper

This is written in response to an article by Natasha Vargas-Cooper published here at The Intercept.

Dear Ms. Vargas-Cooper:

The more I think about it, the more I have found your article to be less than satisfactory. 

First of all there was this:  “We should disabuse ourselves of old ideas, especially this hold-over notion from the baby-boomer generation that somehow social institutions can be jammed, subverted, reformed, or overthrown through buying stuff.”  Aside from boomer-bashing, you offered not one reference to support your contention or put it into context.  Was this somehow a resolution passed in a Boomer Congress I wasn’t aware of?

Does ‘buying stuff’ matter?  Another way to reframe the question is to ask: ‘Does the way we spend our money make a difference?’  Throughout history, consumer activists have answered “yes.”  A scholarly book by Lawrence Glickman, published in 2009 explores such activism, and is reviewed here .

You have not mentioned political activities which have impacted women’s rights, which in an election year might seem an obvious thing to do.  Of course there are varying viewpoints, even among feminists, so I’ll just suggest a few starting points for further reading and investigation.  My own state of NJ has elected its first African-American woman to serve in Congress!  Here’s a roundup of some critical issues that were up for votes across the country.  I confess I don’t know how all of them fared, but those curious can do a search, I’m sure.  Here’s a look back at the mid-term elections.   And here’s an alternative view.

I think almost everyone would agree that grassroots, people-by-people activism has declined.  But I truly believe it’s way too simplistic to “blame the boomers.”  What about examining societal forces that have fractured such efforts?  For example, there was the throttling of the Occupy Movement.  What about the way protests are greeted?  The Intercept and other outlets have detailed the sometimes overly harsh reaction to protests in Ferguson, MO.  Fast food protesters were often met with riot police – and not a whole lot of media coverage.  And what of the ramifications of the rise of digital communications which has enabled “connections” online?  How has this affected face-to-face organizing?  And then there’s a big question: with the economy as it is, is it any wonder that so many are just too tired or stressed from making a living to be activists?  Many posters at The Intercept and also The Guardian have made that observation.  Here are some articles related to the number of hours worked by Americans:  ABC News article, detailing Gallup poll results, and this one, comparing us to a few other countries.  It seems as though there is some evidence which might support those posters’ suppositions.

Then there’s the matter of toys.  Do the toys we buy our children (girls, specifically) make a difference or not? Your argument is that they do not.  But not everyone sees it that way. Here’s one researcher  that does not.  Now this leads me to conclude that whatever side one might favor, the issue is worthy of thoughtful consideration – and debate.  Certainly not a “Shut up.”

That leads me to my final problem with your article.  I found that ending by telling your readers to “Shut up.” was both rude and condescending.  Not to mention it was no way to encourage me, at least, to your viewpoint.  I would think that as a journalist, you would encourage readers to be vocal on the issues. 

All in all, I felt the article fell far short of the quality I would have hoped for.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

That Sickening Feeling

I read the election headlines - the GOP getting control of the Senate and gaining in the House.  Those headlines really made me feel - well - sick.  I had to put on some classical music to calm my nervous system down a bit.  Then I just had to post something to my blog.  Had to.

I want to shout, scream at people - "What are you thinking?"  Now, I've come to see that both parties are way too similar now - too beholden to corporate interests primarily.  But I still find the brand of conservatism, neo-conservatism, libertarianism, whatever pushed by so many GOP'ers to be distasteful for this Liberal.  I think that close inspection reveals their policies mostly benefit the well-off and corporate interests, and are socially repressive, especially toward women and minorities.  Not that Democrats are all that great now, but I think they do have to pay some attention, however small and superficial to the concerns of the traditionally underrepresented and disenfranchised.  Of course, I wish they'd do more.  After all, Eleanor Roosevelt had to continually press FDR.  Civil rights leaders had to press Kennedy and other leaders. 

Some things related here concern me.  One is apathy.  Too many of our citizens either feel that nothing can be done or are just too busy trying to make a living to be activist at any level.  This applies to economic issues as well as issues around mass surveillance.  We somehow must break through this and come together to press for some real reforms.  

The other is the attitude displayed toward some fellow Americans.  I've mentioned this before.  Just read the comments on Yahoo or at The Guardian when the story concerns those who are economically challenged. There are not a few that will maintain it's all "their fault."  Ok, there is something to be said for personal responsibility, but that doesn't mean the social contract should be thrown out on its head or the safety net dismantled.  What about such a thing as a living wage?  I happened to see a discussion on one of the c-spans with Marianne Cooper, author of Cut Adrift: Families in Insecure Times.  One thing she said was that if you're working full-time, you shouldn't be living in poverty.  Well, Amen to that! (It would also be a good idea for businesses to give more people full-time hours!)

 One more thing:  The U. S. had a pretty decent economy in say, the 50's and 60; policies and programs designed to strengthen and expand the middle class helped drive that.  I think we have somehow lost track of that.  Of course not everyone shared in that economy equally, but if we look back on some of the programs that were successful - like the G. I. Bill - maybe we could design some programs to work on today's challenges.

Well, I think I'm about ranted out.  Looks like a bitter morning after...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Let's Just Hack Everybody, Shall We?

Dear folks, here's something we REALLY need to be aware of: FBI proposal

Let's get this straight.  If the rule change is granted, the FBI can be warranted to hack, yes, hack as insert malware into any computer computing device, anywhere for surveillance purposes  Does anyone else find this extremely alarming?  This is certainly an attack on anonymity online and a real threat to privacy of probably many innocent individuals!  The ACLU has a 29 page (!) response to this - which you can find here.

A hearing is set for next week, Nov. 5.  The public is able to comment on this and other proposed rule changes!  Comments will be accepted until Feb. 7, 2015.  You can comment, electonically only, by going here - and scrolling way down to link for "review or comment on proposed amendments to federal rules of criminal procedure" (or something very close to that wording!).  I think it would be an excellent idea to let this group know how we feel on this issue.  I intend to comment, after I read just a bit more and work up my statement!