Category Archives: government

Watching history

Marriage locks
Photo of Marriage locks on Prague bridge by Thomas Quine. Used under CC BY 2.0

I’ve read, heard, and watched a number of different comments about the Supreme Court hearings over the past couple of days. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, seriously? If you are from the future and the court’s decision has faded into the past to only be dredged up when studying for AP History exams, this is the week the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of California’s voter proposition that changed the CA state constitution to define marriage as only being between 1 man and 1 woman, and they heard arguments on the constitutionality of the federal definition of marriage being 1 man and 1 woman)

I live in California. The passage of Prop. 8 was a sad day, as I think any day we pass legislation that intentionally labels some as other and not worthy of the rules everyone else plays by is a sad day. Continue reading Watching history

Rand Paul Filibustering Senate

I don’t usually agree with Senator Rand Paul. But he’s filibustering the U.S. Senate right now. He’s holding up the confirmation of John Brennan to lead the CIA by speaking out about the U.S. Drone program.

And I think that highlighting this worrying policy of the U.S. where we send in robots to kill people without due process is an important conversation to have. And he’s using the Senate filibuster rule in a way I haven’t seen in real life. Ever.

I hope this act sparks more conversation about how we as a country allow drone strikes to occur because it happens in this nebulous place over “there” to “the enemy”. But we need to acknowledge that we are killing real people and not merely video game avatars.

So thank you Rand Paul for using the rules to speak out and push for change. I hope that more people in congress stand up and speak against the unsettling and problematic policies that are happening now. I hope that this at marks a shift toward actually doing the country’s business again. Where the debate and conversation happens and pushes the U.S. toward its best nature. I hope that it doesn’t entrench the party of “No” status or the partisan politics that have been the new norm.

And really, why hasn’t there been this conversation and train of questioning in the news media? What happened to our journalists?

I would love to see us move more toward the ideal presented in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but I’ll be happy with functionality.

Vote

Vote by 3nglishN3rdThe students at work today asked if I voted. Some of them had taken the “I voted” stickers from other adults in their lives, so I think they wanted to make sure that my sticker was legit.

My Dad gave me my sticker. But only after he watched me, as one of my polling place workers, slide my completed ballot into the box.

I told the students that I voted in this election because I vote in every election. So the students asked how many that is, and I really had to think.

It’s around 22.

California, where I’ve always been registered, usually has 2 elections in a year, and I started voting when I turned 18. I know my math could be off…

I didn’t vote in this election because I believe in everything President Obama has done (Spoiler: I absolutely don’t). I didn’t vote in this election because there were Propositions on the ballot I believe strongly in (Spoiler: There were).

I voted because it was the time set aside for everyone to speak out in the larger conversation of the country, county, city, community where I live. I voted with my passions/concerns/loves/dreams/hopes in mind. I voted with those same thoughts in mind for my friends who are not allowed to speak yet must suffer the decisions made. I voted because there was a time when I couldn’t and there are places in the world where I would still be banned.

I voted because that’s what we do in the U.S.

Tonight, I was relived with the Presidential outcome (and no, this post isn’t where I’ll discuss that). But the races I am most concerned with are the new U.S. Congressional Rep, State Senate and Assembly seats that came from the last census. The results will not make national news, and I don’t expect it to. But it matters to me, because it means for the first time in my history of voting, I will have a more direct voice in the laws that will directly impact my life.

And that’s really to point of voting.

So I’ll see you at the polls in the next election. If you live and are eligible and registered to vote in California, the next election could be this spring! And I can’t wait to see what it holds…

Vote, a photo by 3nglishN3rd on Flickr.

Strike Against SOPA & PIPA

Today the internet is on strike. I am joining the strike against censorship. Because the Senate has PIPA up for a vote soon that would set in place rules that would fundamentally change the way the internet works in order to stop piracy. I’ve written about it here and discuss further here. Below you will find links to sites with more information and ways to contact your congressional representatives, because the House has SOPA, so both branches of the legislature need to hear from you. There are also links to contact the US State Department if you’re out of country.

Yes, people who create should be paid. The megacorporations that lobbied for the drafting of this act should adjust to the market instead of breaking what everyone uses because some people don’t feel the need to pay for their product.

Join The Strike! and add this to your site

The three most definitive articles on SOPA and PIPA: Free Speech, Problems, Security

What Creative America ignores

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5CsX4FwyvY]

I caught this ad on TV the other day and, after picking my chin off the floor, had to find out who funded it. Creative America explains that it’s a grassroots organization that includes the major entertainment corporations.

Content creators should absolutely be compensated for their creations. This is why I pay creators for their content. I buy music, DVDs, pay for movie tickets, purchase books. I also stream a ton of content online through the many creator sanctioned forums.

But the creators’ compensation should not overrule my right to access to the information the internet contains. Continue reading What Creative America ignores

Save the Internet

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/31100268]

I was talking with one of the kids at work the other day about why voting is important. I told him that if he didn’t vote, when he’s old enough, then he was giving up his voice. And when things started happening that he didn’t agree with, he would have no place to complain to or from.

Well, I vote, even though my Congressional Representative does not represent my ideas, but that’s another issue entirely, so now that both the House and the Senate are looking at bills that will lessen the freedoms I currently enjoy and absolutely adore when using the internet, I’m voicing my concerns.

I’ve already used a form to contact both. And now I’m writing to say that trying to protect intellectual property (IP)by punishing everyone who uses the internet is an overreaction.

I know overreacting is what we do now in the U.S. (Hello TSA!), but I’ve said all along that it’s not the best option. It leads to very silly, and often stupid, situations, like adults checking small children for explosives and humiliating people with medical concerns. But the bills before Congress now could lead to reduced freedoms, not only here, but around the world.

We host quite a lot of the websites that people use to coordinate uprisings, like those in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya, so if we try to protect the interests of the entertainment industry, we are less likely to protect the interests of greater society. The video is states accurately that on the sites we use to share ideas, some of us also use to share content that is the IP of someone else. But we also use it to share our art, which does what art has always done by building on the art and culture that has come before. And to limit our freedom of speech because some of us don’t pay the creators throws the baby out with the bathwater. Yes creators should get money for their work. I like being paid for the work I create. But my concerns for payment do not trump the rights of society to free exchange ideas. To assert otherwise rejects the rules we have always played by in the U.S.

If the Congress wants to pass a law under the pretense of attempting to stop online piracy, then they should draft a law that is smart and doesn’t disregard the creation of culture for as long as we’ve created culture and doesn’t set up what could be the U.S. version of the Great Firewall. The law right now look like they will end in tears for the world.

No good comes of restricting the free exchange of ideas.

Westboro Free Speech

If you’ve managed to go this long missing out on who the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas is, you probably want to stop reading now. Because finding out about them will probably set you on a path toward the nearest hard surface to bash your head against.

They are the church that seems to have entirely missed God’s message of love for all people, regardless of action, national descent, personal belief, skin color, number of tattoos, gender, or sex. In their focus on what God hates, they have lost sight of what God loves, which only matters because they choose to share their understanding of a brutal and vengeful God on signs created to offend whoever sees them. And their favorite place to show off their handy work is at the entry to the funerals of U.S. military men and women. Because, apparently, if you believe that God hates everything except you, then you don’t have to extend compassion to hurting and suffering people.

But why am I writing about a group that so irks me, I degenerate into a twitching heap of rage within 20 minutes of thinking about them? Continue reading Westboro Free Speech

Change.gov

Obama has a new website up that lays out his plans in detail on numerous issues, but even cooler is the standing request for input from us – the people. I first heard about it on BoingBoing, but then I went and looked around and threw in my two cents (for what it was worth). I hope that Obama takes this seriously and isn’t simply attempting to look cool. My recommendation is to head over and check it out. If nothing else it provides a more detailed look into the next President of the United States. And if you are really concerned about something, let the new administration know. I just hope ( along with others) that this stays up after he takes office and we really get a new way of interacting with the highest official office in our country.