Category Archives: Activism

Overload…

I can only begin this post by stating I am aware of the privileges I have as a white middle class woman. I recognize my experience is different from that of a person of color. In fact, I recognize my experience is different from that of a person with a visible disability, instead of my invisible illness. In societal terms I am, within the boundaries set forth for women, acceptable, and to a large point, welcome.

So I can only begin to imagine the stress my less welcomed fellow Americans are undergoing right now. I can only extrapolate from my own sense of powerlessness the helplessness they must be feeling. I share in their anger and dismay but I cannot fully understand how they feel.

I can only hope there is something I can do to help put an end to this madness.

There’s an added complexity for me, one that is the underlying cause of this post. My invisible illnesses are made significantly worse by emotional stress. I am literally making myself sick reading about everything that is going on with my beloved country every day. So I need to strike a balance between knowing what is happening so that I can find ways to help and giving myself space to process so I don’t make myself sicker. (Again, I recognize that being able to give myself that space is – in and of itself – a privilege.)

This is a concern I have heard repeated in the SpoonieSphere. Many spoonies want to help, want to make a difference, but are experiencing this same drain on their already limited resources. Many can’t march with protests, most don’t have extra money to donate. What are the best ways to help while still “putting on our oxygen masks first”?

Let’s begin by choosing some reputable news sources that come out once or twice a week. For example, Code Switch by NPR has been recommended along with New York Times’ The Daily . These two podcasts provide fairly thorough reporting on what’s happening in the U.S. You can also give British papers a read through, I find the U.K.’s take on our happenings to be less biased one way or another.

Second, there are some things we can do at home to help support the fight against hate.

  1. You can stand against hate in social media. Confront those who spew hate, and loudly disavow it on your social platforms. Be one of the voices condemning it.
  2. You can support your local marches and vigils, even if you can’t attend. Perhaps you can make a few signs and give them to the organizers to hand out to people, or you can use your social network to enhance the message of the protest.
  3. Write to your representatives in the government. Let them know you stand against racism and you want them to stand against it to. Write to everyone who represents you. You can do it in email, through the post, or via petitions.
  4. Personally message the people you know who are targets of these attacks. Send them a loving and supportive text or email or card. Call them. Let them know you are a member of their community who loves them and wants them to be there.

There are things we spoonies can do without making ourselves sick and we should do them. I don’t know about you but sitting around doing nothing is untenable for me.

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A Week in Trump USA Part 1…

My high school choir Director, a brilliant artist and loving man, posted this on his Facebook page yesterday:

“Those who study authoritarian regimes suggest keeping a list of abnormal events after a demagogue is elected, as a way to remind yourself that this isn’t normal and to keep from being overwhelmed into acceptance by the onslaught of attacks on our rights.
Here is a list below. We are 4 days in. As one author says, “when you see all of this in one list, it is easy to get overwhelmed, at first– it is also easy to see a pattern and to finally, finally recognize that none of this is normal, nor is it ok.”

  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.
  •  On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.
    * On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.
  • On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
  • On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.
  • On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
  • On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.
  • On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
  • On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”
  • On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
  • On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.
  • On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.
  • On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is of the 2009 inauguration of 44th President Barack Obama, and is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
  • On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.
  • On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.
  • On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
  • On January 24th, 2017, Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterized federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”
  • On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
  • On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.”

Thank you to Mr. Taylor for the information.

In further news, after various government agencies were asked to stop reporting scientific information about the environment numerous alternative twitter feeds for these agencies popped up. I never imagined the National Parks Service would lead the revolution but ladies and gentlemen it certainly has. Follow these alternative feeds for publications about science that the Trump administration cannot stem:

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Finally, are you looking for something to do to improve your mind? How about a little light reading courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act? Take a gander on over to the FOIA.Gov site and read through how to make a FOIA request. Since the Trump Administration has put a gag order into place I suggest we help these agencies out.

FOIA requests can cost some research time and reprinting costs however, you may request a waiver of fees. “Under the FOIA, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.”

I would argue that requesting the release of scientific information gathered by our government on the status of our environmental health during a time when the Executive branch has restricted the release of any information falls quite clearing under the requirements for fee waivers.

 

The bees knees…

We are getting bees!!

It started like this:

Mom and I were driving home the other day when she asked me if that man in our alley was wearing a hazmat suit. I peered beyond her and declared it was a beekeeper!!

We immediately halted the car, rolled down the windows, and fairly mobbed him with questions. He is an Urban Farmer and beekeeper. He has a hive a few doors down from us and soon will put one in our yard!

He does all the maintenance and beekeeping while we get honey and bees!! My plants will have more bees and I can finally feel like I’m doing more for the vanishing bee population than just planting flowers.

Best of all my kids will get as-local-as-you-can-get honey for their allergies and they will get to learn about co-existing with these amazing time creatures that do so much for our food supply.

Oliver and I have already been setting out water for the neighborhood bees and we sit in the garden and watch them line up to drink. Their tiny furry bodies rest on the edge of the water pool as they delicately sip. Yum. He is super excited to have a hive of our own and has been telling me all about how to stay still when they land on you so they don’t feel threatened.

I plan to put up a page on the hive’s progress so keep your eyes out!

Update:

They are here!!

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The Sooky Foo Honey Company brought our lovely little hive early this afternoon!

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It’s so wonderful to see them out in the garden. Many of our neighbors have stopped by to see them and the dog has already been checking them out.

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Squee!! We have bees!

Interview with a woman in a position of power…

I had my lunch meeting yesterday and spent a very agreeable nigh two hours discussing law, politics, and gender bias over tamales and taco salad.

The woman I met with has a colorful reputation, and has many times been referred to in less than flattering terms. However, she is in a position of power in a field of law still dominated by men, and as such, I think she gets that lovely double whammy of the double standard. I mean seriously, how can you be tough on crime and feminine, it can’t happen, you must be a bitch to lay down the law. Of course, men can be completly tough and manage to appear “direct” or “authoratative” instead of prickish, but that is the way the cookie currently crumbles.

Happily, I might actually get to work for a woman who knows what I am talking about and isn’t afraid to discuss it. In fact, during our interview, she told me she was impressed that a woman my age was even aware we still had gender bias issues, as so many woman my age seem to think they are things of the past. (Don’t ask your male co-workers what they earn ladies, you won’t like the answer.) I explained to her that after nearly a decade in politics and legal education of one kind or another one would have to be an idiot not to see how differently our nation treats our female leaders and representatives from our male ones, the most recent election being an easy example.

Then she surprised me by telling me that she stopped wearing full fledged suits in court and acting unfeminine. She believes our legal system will never get used to seeing women in positions of authority if all we do when we get there is emulate men. She encouraged me to wear suits with flowing and feminine styles, lots of colors, jewelry, etc. She explained the jury will likely identify with me more too, if I look like a woman, instead of a woman trying to look like a man. Win/Win in my opinion. I would love to wear bright teal to work, and a fish hem looks heaps better on me than an a-line.

She encourages her attorneys to bring their children into the workplace, not minding if their offices contain cribs, so long as the babies don’t really distract other co-workers. She encouraged me to take work home so I can have dinner with my family and tuck my children into bed, you know, so I can actually have a work life balance.

It’s a dream within a dream, a chance to become an attorney with the experience that punches my union card without waving goodbye to my husband and kids for a decade. It’s a chance to work with a boss who gets the woman’s point of view, who understands how patronizing some people become when your suit happens to accomodate breasts and a uterus. It’s a chance to come home at the end of a frustrating day, filled with gender bias and condensencion, and know in my heart that none of it came from my boss. Not one little bit.

I am thrilled. It’s been an issue all my professional life, as an extremely generous cup size and an overabundance of natural blond hair has led to sexual harassment, improper suggestions, and emotions from dismissal to condesecion at almost every job I have ever had. I have been told to dress more conservatively than everyone else in my office, because when I put on something that other women wear, I really fill it out. I have asked to bed by bosses, and I have been treated like a child or an incompetant by older more experienced men.

Since having children it’s gotten worse, this assumption that my value is somehow lessened by their demands on my time and mind. A suggestion, by the way, that I find equally insulting to men, as it basically infers that they think nothing of their issue as they go about their day, caring only for their work. One of the reasons I began my own practice was because I was tired of being treated to the “mommy track” behaviors of potential employers. When I mentioned this at lunch, I was given a woman’s answer.

Of course it’s inconvenient when an employee goes on maternity leave, but it’s an inconvenience we, as a society, need to undertake.

I can’t wait to work for this woman.

A message from Gloria Steinem in the LA Times…

For the (hopefully) few of you who don’t know, Gloria Steinem is a feminist icon and a powerful advocate for women’s rights. She founded Ms. Magazine and the National Women’s Politcal Caucus.

Here is her LA Times article on Sarah Palin;
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Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.
By Gloria Steinem
September 4, 2008
Here’s the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing — the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party — are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women — and to many men too — who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the “white-male-only” sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won’t work. This isn’t the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It’s about making life more fair for women everywhere. It’s not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It’s about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton’s candidacy stood for — and that Barack Obama’s still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, “Somebody stole my shoes, so I’ll amputate my legs.”

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can’t do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn’t say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden’s 37 years’ experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn’t know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, “I still can’t answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?” When asked about Iraq, she said, “I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.”

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she’s won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain’s campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn’t know it’s about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate’s views on “God, guns and gays” ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

So let’s be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can’t tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin’s value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women’s wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves “abstinence-only” programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers’ millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn’t spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

I don’t doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn’t just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn’t just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn’t just echo McCain’s pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, “women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership,” so he may be voting for Palin’s husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.

Republicans may learn they can’t appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can’t be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.

This could be huge.

Gloria Steinem is an author, feminist organizer and co-founder of the Women’s Media Center. She supported Hillary Clinton and is now supporting Barack Obama.

Palin’s perturbing policies…

A message from the Defender’s of Wildlife Action Fund discusses Palin’s policies regarding aerial hunting of wolves and bears. Remember, Wolves were only recently de-listed after decades of trying to revive their species from near extinction. Palin wasted no time before promoting policies intended to eradicate the once protected species.

Here is the message from Defender’s followed by a video. Please read and watch:

Alaska Governor and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is a strong promoter of the aerial hunting of wolves and bears, a practice that has been condemned by conservationists, scientists and many hunters alike. It involves shooting wolves and bears from the air or chasing them to exhaustion and then landing and shooting them point blank. The animals, shot with a shotgun, usually die a painful death. The hunters involved in the program keep and sell the animals’ pelts.

“Sarah Palin’s anti-conservation position is so extreme that she condones shooting wolves and bears from airplanes or using airplanes to chase them to exhaustion and then shoot them point blank. Most Americans find this practice barbaric, but it’s routine in Alaska under Palin’s leadership,” said Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund president Rodger Schlickeisen.

Sarah Palin has supported aerial hunting since taking office despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, the American Society of Mammalogists, and more than 120 other scientists have called for a halt to the program, citing its lack of scientific justification and despite opposition from many hunters who see it as violating the sportsmen’s ethic of fair chase. Palin in 2007 even proposed offering a bounty of $150 per wolf, as long as the hunter provided the wolf’s foreleg as proof of the kill. And just earlier this year, she introduced legislation to expand the program and derail a scheduled August 2008 citizens’ vote on the issue. The bounty was determined to violate the state’s constitution and her legislation failed.

“Sarah Palin’s positions against America’s wildlife could put her to the right of even the Bush administration,” said Schlickeisen. “She is a promoter of one of our nation’s most ugly and cruel wildlife hunting programs and Americans deserve to know her views on such matters before they vote.”

The following video is disturbing, but important. Please let people know the truth behind this candidate for our nations second highest office.

Baaoon Mama… Baaoon!

99 dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It’s all over and I’m standin’ pretty
In this dust that was a city
If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go
99 Red Balloons Nena

Whenever I hear this song I think back to my youth, and get a sense of freedom and joy, an overwhelming desire to spin.

That desire popped, much like a balloon, as soon as I learned that we are depleting our helium reserves in the U.S., and the helium balloon, that amazing anti-gravity children’s toy, may not be around for my grandkids. Imagine not seeing the wonder in a baby’s face as he tries to figure out why this thing goes up… instead of down.

Helium is non-renewable and irreplaceable. There are pockets of the gas in Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma and Russia has large pockets of natural gas, helium included, but there has not been a push to extract it. Further, a great deal of Helium is lost in the process of separating it from oil and natural gas. As the oil and gas are brought out of the ground, the Helium comes with them, but it is not captured as it releases, so it drifts up into the atmosphere and … away. The world’s largest pocket of Helium is located in the Texas Panhandle, and at our current rate of use, that reserve will be depleted by 2015.

In personal terms, this means Monkey will probably not have a balloon arch at her prom, and Otter may not be choosing a balloon from a vendor at a carnival by the time he is eight.

Helium can be produced directly in nuclear fusion reactors, and is an indirect side effect of fisson reactors, but the amount created by both these sources don’t begin to reach our current use. Basically, it has taken billions of years for the Earth to create our Helium stores, so it’s not really a build on demand kind of resource.

Helium can be recycled, and the larger industries users, such as NASA, do recycle it. However, any Helium released into the atmosphere is lost to the Earth forever, and there are no small users currently recycling the gas. To learn more, read up on the issue.

If we are not careful with our Helium, we will be waving goodbye to a childhood tradition, in addition to a scientific resource. This is such a amazing substance, with nothing else like it on earth. It is our connection to the unbelievable, the fantastic, the magical. Let’s do our best to keep it around.


“Bbvvoomm… Ma ma na… Baavmmm”