ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Right now there's a rash of church burnings that targets all or mostly black congregations. There are things people can do to oppose that ...

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
So nobody in power wants to admit that burning black churches counts as a hate crime.   Or terrorism.  Hey, let's get some black folks to comment on how they feel about assaults on black churches.  Now there's a clue.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I am pleased to announce that America now recognizes marriage equality from sea to shining sea! 

What this means to me, aside from celebrating for friends, is that I no longer have to tell some couples "The state will recognize other people's marriage but not yours" if we're discussing handfasting/wedding officiation.  

*throws rainbow ribbons*  *throws birdseed*
ysabetwordsmith: Maryam Smith in a tophat (steamsmith)
This poem came out of the May 5, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] kelkyag and LJ user Marina_bonomi. It also fills the "socialize" square in my 5-2-15 card for the Wellness Toolbox Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to The Steamsmith series.

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ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem is from the March 2015 Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] alexseanchai. It also fills the "Wild Card: Mirror, mirror: Doppelgangers, clones and evil doubles" square in my 12-17-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem contains frank discussions of reproduction and choice politics, along with examples of misogyny and hypocrisy.

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ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem is spillover from the March 3, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] thnidu and [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It also fills the "humble pi(e)" square of my 3-2-15 card for the Pi(e) Bingo Fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
... prevents people from becoming parents.  

Something else that caught my eye, however, is that almost 75% of women seeking abortion cite financial hardship as the primary reason.  Thus, if someone wished to reduce the number of abortions that happened, many avenues are open to reach that 75%.  Increase employment opportunities.  Raise wages.  Make health care more affordable, or better yet free at point of delivery; same for child care.  Provide paid leave for parents.  Those would be actions a caring society could take.  A caring individual could simply offer to pay expenses one-on-one, as some adoptive parents offer.  But these are all very rare tactics for organizations which purport to want a decrease in abortions.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
My partner Doug is watching some thing making fun of Rand Paul, and making side comments ...

Him: "His campaign slogan is 'Release the American Dream.'  It's not the Kraken!"

Me: "That depends on which side of Manifest Destiny you're on.  To me, it fits.  I think it fits perfectly."

Him: *cracks up laughing*

Me: "People on reservations all over America are probably having this conversation."
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
So Obama went to Jamaica, and being a civilized person, opened a speaking event with, "Greetings massive.  Wah gwan, Jamaica?"  (I believe that says roughly, "Hello, everyone.  What's going on, Jamaica?")  Now look at all those grinning faces.  That is the "Oh hey WOW this foreigner is a PERSON!" face.  That's the face I got whenever I said so much as "Hello" in the local language.  (Well, except in Tblisi, where the Georgians were completely flabbergasted first.)  It's a way of being a polite guest, and showing respect for the local hosts.  And then they see you as a person, not just a tourist they have to put up with.

Here we have a fundamental disagreement about what it means to be Presidential.  For me, it's about leading by example, getting the job done, and part of that job is diplomacy.  You can't get other countries to go along with your ideas, or get them to pony up their good ideas for you to share, if they think you're a dick because you're acting like a dick.  Leadership requires mutual respect and cooperation.  Conversely, some people view being President as all about force.  Never giving an inch, making people do what you want whether it is good for them or not.  That way causes more problems than it solves.

*wist*  Imagine how much progress in world diplomacy could have been made if President Obama had been free to do things like this all along.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This poem came out of the April 7, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from Shirley Barrette. It also fills the "Reality Is Illusion" square in my 3-16-15 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.


It began with

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

and grew into a movement
that extends beyond fiction into fact.

Doublespeak is the matter-antimatter collision
of thought in which opposing ideas
react to obliterate logic.

It defines a world in which

Hate is love
Hope is despair
Reality is illusion

so that truths and untruths swirl
together and all things are subject to
interpretation, reinterpretation, subjugation.

It is a ship of fools ultimately destined
to runaground on one inescapable rock:

facts do not cease to be true just
because someone is refusing
to acknowledge their truth,

and reality is what remains
even if you disbelieve it.

* * *


The three italicized lines come from the novel 1984.  The term doublespeak also derives from there, via the word doublethink used in the novel.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an essay on how Muslims could exercise freedom of religion in Indiana.  I think it's great to annoy bigots.

I also think that's all it will accomplish.  People outside mainstream Christianity have repeatedly tried to use religion to justify both positive and negative acts.  They lose.  Privilege is for the dominant group only. Doesn't matter if you're right, only if you have power.  Muslim cabbies have repeatedly tried to get permission to refuse rides to people who are drunk and/or carrying packages of alcohol, because drinking is against their religion.  The answer has always been that cabbies are a public service and must serve everyone equally, so they're only allowed to refuse service if someone is violent or abusive (or broke).
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article takes a tongue-in-cheek look at passing privilege and the issue of identifying who may legally be discriminated against.  How do you "tell" if someone is homosexual?  Sometimes the person advertises it, sometimes it may be inferred from clues, but most of the time it is not so obvious.  This of course raises the issue of misconceptions; many cissexual, heterosexual people have been beaten or even murdered because someone mistakenly thought they were queer.  So too, Indiana will quickly discover that legalizing discrimination against homosexuals will also hit some heterosexuals.

And then there are those of us whose warning label should say, "Activist: push to start."  (I actually have that on a red button.)  Sure, there are times when I use passing privilege of various types because it's easy and I don't have an infinite supply of spoons, or when I believe that acting up would be dangerous.  But there are other times when I'll act up even if it is dangerous, and if I judge it safe, I will make a great big hairy scene.  Never get into a blurting contest with an annoyed bard, you will lose.  Because I can handle the kind of heat that bigots give off when someone objects to them being bigots, and not everyone can, and I want them to know that civilized people won't let them act like giant assholes without at least calling them out for it.

You can readily identify a queer person who does something like, "Oh gosh, you have a sign that says you don't serve queer people in here.  I guess I'll leave this big basket of stuff on the counter and take my $96 queer dollars to a store that is not run by giant assholes."

Just because I'm currently wearing a female body and in a permanent relationship with someone in a male body does not make me any less queer.  It's just a little harder to see from this angle, until I open my mouth.  As long as someone mistaking me for a heterosexual woman doesn't cause an issue, meh, I usually don't care.  Random strangers don't need to know my weirdnesses.  But when it IS an issue?  Open mouth, fire full broadside.  

This is why I got beef with people who claim that privilege is inescapable.  It's not.  It really, really  is not.  In fact it's a lot more frangible than people realize.  You can very easily lose your privilege if someone else mistakes you for a member of a disadvantaged group or if you are forcibly attached to it for some reason.  You can also choose to drop your privilege in the crapper and flush it along with all the other shit you don't need, just by voluntarily associating with disadvantaged people or by verbally dispensing with it when people offer you privilege that you don't want to accept.  Bigots will enthusiastically diss you for any or all of that.  

It's not all or nothing, of course.  If your association is not obvious, then you may have the option of picking your battles.  That lets you stay reasonably safe while still making a difference.  You might flush one privilege today and a different one tomorrow.  You might wax and wane your advertisement of hidden traits based on how much energy you have for a given cause or whether it makes you feel bad to hide (or reveal) what you are.  It's your life, your choice.

Just understand that it is a choice, just as bigotry or tolerance are choices.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article and video explain that police officers customarily and sensibly wear holsters designed for maximum control of their firearms.  That makes it impossible for an officer's gun to fall out of a holster or be misappropriated by someone else.  Further safety features address specific parts of the gun such as the slide and trigger, again to prevent it from firing accidentally or under hostile action.  In order to the remove and fire the gun, it is necessary to know the exact method which the holster is set to permit, in which case the officer can draw and fire quite easily.  Without the knowledge and practice of how this holster works, the gun is not coming lose, because the technology is quite well designed.  Responsible gun owners use equipment like this to avoid stupid accidents like shooting themselves in the crotch or having children fire a gun.  Concerned about your safety?  You could bolt one of these to your bed and not have to worry about shooting yourself in your sleep, yet still have your weapon ready at hand.

None of this does any good if the officer is paranoid and delusional.  By paranoid, I mean generally inclined to believe that everyone is out to get him when it is not the case.  By delusional, I mean believing something which not only did not happen, but could not  happen as claimed.  

There is equipment designed to protect officers and other people around them.  Regrettably it cannot overcome all human failings.  If officers do not understand their equipment, use it properly, and trust  that it will perform as designed -- then they can't take advantage of the safety features as intended.

Put these two factors together and the result is a loss of life which was entirely preventable.  This is just one incident in a widespread pattern of police brutality marked not just by physical violence, but by deep psychological distortions.  When one officer makes a mistake which unnecessarily kills a civilian, that person needs to find a different line of work.  And when the same problem occurs repeatedly throughout multiple departments, then it indicates a pervasive flaw in law enforcement as a whole.

Of course, another consideration is that parts of this problem are not mistakes but are desired goals of a police state.  That's a political issue and somewhat different. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Broadband internet access has been declared a utility.  I am pleased, and a little surprised that they actually got something right.
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem is from the January 6, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] stardreamer and [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "accepting responsibility" square in my 12-30-14 card for the Rites of Passage fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics, and is a direct sequel to "In Dublin's Fair City."

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
"Frontera!" is an animated video which runs about twenty minutes, on the topic of Pueblo history in America and Mexico, told from an indigenous perspective.  It spans at least three languages (English, Spanish, and Tema).  It features multiple styles of art and music, sometimes serious and other times hilarious.  The story presented is much more accurate and nuanced than that typically found in history books.  This is the kind of stuff I grew up on, and I love it.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Mall of America oppressed protesters recently.  My thoughts ...

* Yes, protests can be inconvenient and troublesome, but they are necessary  to a healthy society.  Protests happen when purely rational methods of conflict resolution have failed.  If peaceful protests are suppressed, then violent ones are the next step, and so on down the line until the problem is solved or society comes apart at the seams.  And oh, the irony of Mall of America  oppressing protesters, when freedom of assembly and petition are among the things that the founding fathers went to war to secure.

* If you are a protester targeting a commercial installation, you get the most bang for your buck from hitting them on a day they can't recover from, such as Black Friday or right before Christmas.

* If you're caught up as a bystander in a situation like this, one safe and legal option is to put down whatever you intended to purchase, and leave.  If the establishment is a luxury stop like a mall, refuse to go back.  If it's necessary like a grocery store, you can still deny them your willing support by instead supporting petitions and other actions against them.  Tell the store why they've lost your business.  In this particular case, you might want to spend your money at a black-owned business instead.  Since the only thing some people care about is money, hit them where they live by diverting your funds from them to the people you support.

* This moves Mall of America from my list of places it would be fun to visit, to my list of places I actively disrecommend.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a thoughtful (and explicit) look at how movies and video games present torture as fun and effective.  Yes, I said "fun."  People play game and watch movies for pleasure.  If they are doing that with torture on the screen, particularly in these examples where it is shown in an approving tone, then they find torture to be entertaining rather than appalling.  If heroes are portrayed torturing people, then torture is rendered as heroic.  It's torture pr0n.

This is troublesome.  It makes torture seem okay.  It's not okay.   It is possible to get usable information out of people with torture, but that's extremely difficult.  A majority of victims will, sooner or later, say anything to make the torture stop; it's hard to sort out usable facts from that.  Most of the time, even if information is the purported goal, it's really about personal gratification for the torturers and terrorism -- those things are very easy to get once you have a helpless victim.  Torture harms the victims, of course, but that's "their problem and they deserved it."  Catch is, torture also distorts the personality of the torturers, making small personal flaws into much larger ones.  Those people don't stay in small rooms torturing "legitimate" victims.  They come home.  Maybe they have a spouse and kids.  Maybe they lose their temper, and hey, they think that manipulation and violence are acceptable problem-solving methods.  Look at the rates of domestic violence among police and military families.  Well, now it's everyone's  problem.

I don't often write about torture.  It's challenging to present realistically without squicking the audience, especially if like me you grew up reading hardcore history books, because people have done some ghastly things to each other.  When I do write about it, then it typically causes more problems than it solves.  Some of my villains are really into it -- Jasp, for example.  You will note that it is not portrayed as acceptable behavior.

If you are torturing people, you are not a hero.  Period.  You are doing something evil.  You may attain your goal.  It is still not good.  The end does not justify the means; the means determine the end.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
America currently condones torture, as revealed in a recent report. (That link is fairly graphic.)  They prefer to call it other things, and to purport that it is acceptable. However, it goes on causing all the problems that torture naturally causes, such as breaking people and inciting hatred of the torturers ... and frequently anyone associated with them, like their entire country. But let's look at a dictionary:

noun [C/U] /ˈtɔr·tʃər/ US
› an injury or severe mental pain:
[C] All drivers suffer the tortures of traffic and bad weather.
› Torture is also the act of injuring someone or making someone suffer in an effort to force that person to do or say what you want to be done or said:
[U] The museum has many examples of instruments of torture.
verb [T] /ˈtɔr·tʃər/ US
› to cause great physical or mental pain to someone:
She was tortured by the memory of their last argument.

Yes, the actions described in the report are torture.  Now consider that the people who ordered these heinous acts, and those who performed them, are walking around free.  Having done these things, how do you think they view their fellow human beings?  Do you think they treat others with dignity and respect?  Or are they out there verbally, physically, and sexually abusing more people because they think it is somehow okay  to do these things?  This doesn't make anyone safer.  It makes the world an uglier and more dangerous place.  Justified?  Let me tell you this:

The end does not justify the means.  The means determine the end.


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July 2015

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