I am deeply saddened to hear that a beloved colleague has passed away, succumbing to a long fight with cancer.
I had the honor and joy of collaborating with renown artist and identity designer Michael P. Cronan and his surviving wife, Karin Hibma, on Fora.tv. Michael was perhaps best known as the genius behind the branding work for TiVo and the Kindle, but his and Karin’s involvement was far more than just logos and brand names. Michael was a deep creative thinker who saw people’s lives as more than just a commercial decision-making context into which product messaging should be impressed. Defining the real relevance, helpfulness, and enjoyment which good products bring in our worlds far, far outweighed Michael’s profit motive in doing so.
The Cronans were two of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. Warm, enthusiastic, curious, and unaffected, Michael especially had a natural ability to make you feel like the center of a brilliant, positive universe where a successful end to our endeavors was a given and every step of the journey there was going to be fun. His energy was infectious without being manic, driven by a worldview that focused on wonder and delight.
Michael seemed to approach the world without anxiety, with a confidence in his bones that he had surrounded himself with good people and interesting work. It is a quality Karin also shares, something I observed with grateful awe. I know he must have had warts and closet skeletons like the rest of us, but managed not to be overwhelmed or stifled by them, even as he fought for life through multiple rounds of cancer treatments. Even from his sickbed, he contributed guidance and perspective to his friends’ projects. I joked with our colleagues that I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to work with the Cronans, marry them, or have them adopt me.
On one of the two times they welcomed me into their lovely Berkeley Hills home (oh how I wish I had been braver or pushier and called on them more, without waiting for a reason) Michael gave me an art tour of their house and studio. Michael presented his own beautiful paintings with humility, Karin’s work with thoughtfulness, and their son Shawn’s sculpture with a beaming, tender pride. I wish I could remember more details of our dinner conversation that evening, but my main takeaway was that of being as delighted as a little girl at her first time at the adults’ table, basking in the glow of smart people in love with their life.
I couldn’t help but be a little in love with them, too, both for who they are and for becoming my belated, erstwhile role models. My heart goes out to Karin, whose grief I can barely imagine, and Shawn, whom I did not get to meet but for a bright spark in his parents’ eyes. Michael couldn’t have been the wonderful person he was, without them. No one gets to be that awesome by themselves.
I can’t say rest in peace, Michael, because I think you were happiest as an object in motion, the joyful personification of the inertial laws of physics. With our loss comes a tasty infusion of your fantastic energy back into the cosmic soup. Our view of the universe is a little dimmer for now, but even in my current sadness for us, I can be happy for the people who will be touched by bits of you yet.
Thank you for the bits you shared with me. Happy trails, Michael.
[EDIT: I’ve reversed my position on Prop F in on the San Francisco ballot after being pointed to a very convincing Pro-F op-ed piece. Details below.]
Hello my peeps, it’s that time again. If you’re reading this, chances are you have seen my earlier guides and/or follow me on social media. You are not a massive group, but I number you in the couple-of-hundreds, and I’m grateful and flattered that you find value in what I have to share. Here goes!
PLEASE DON’T FORGET: you don’t have to wait to go to the polls. In SF, you can go to the registrar of voters office in City Hall and vote at any time during regular business hours. There is rarely a line and it will help boost pre-election day poll numbers if you do.
THE USUAL DISCLAIMER: this guide is the output of my own armchair analysis of mainstream and alternative news, conversations with colleagues, various super-lefty voter guides and comparative analysis with a few right-wing ones. I have no experience in office or government work myself, I take no donations, and I’m too small-time to represent any person or entity except myself. I don’t want you to blindly agree with my choices – you decide for yourself. Feedback and challenges always welcome – this is just the best I can do on my own, and I’m always open to new information.
The SHORT LIST
President: Barack Obama
U.S. House of Representatives District 12: Nancy Pelosi
U.S. Senate: Dianne Feinstein
State Senator: Mark Leno
Assemblyman: Tom Ammiano
Prop 30: Yes
Prop 31: No
Prop 32: OH HELL NO
Prop 33: No
Prop 34: Yes
Prop 35: Yes, but…
Prop 36: Yes
Prop 37: Hellz Yeah
Prop 38: Yes
Prop 39: Yes
Prop 40: Yes
CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
County Board of Education:Fewer, Garcia-Meza, Soto, and Walton
District 5 Supervisor: Rizzo, Olague
SF Community College Board: Rafael Mandelman
BART Director: Margaret Gordon
Prop A: Yes
Prop B: No
Prop C: Yes
Prop D: No
Prop E: Yes
Prop F: Yes
Prop G: Hell yes
The LONG BIT
“Exasperation: The state of being exasperated; frustrated annoyance.”
Yeah that about nails it. This election cycle, on all levels, has been REALLY. FUCKING. ANNOYING.
The Presidential election has been a tragicomedy of lies, damned lies, and Paul Ryan. Outrageous claims from Romney that just won’t die though they are repeatedly debunked and fact-checked and countered. Blatant voter suppression efforts to unabashedly undermine democracy as we know it. The anti-Obama hysteria, while not at the same fever pitch as in 2008, is still drawing people to really fucking bizarre behavior. (Let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that we have seen the resurgence of simulated lynching – LYNCHING, fer chrissakes - as a fun and in some places still very acceptable form of theatrical protest).
Corporate-backed state propositions written to boondoggle folks into thinking they are supporting good causes and making bad guys pay. Always pitting parks against taxpayers, schools against homeowners, as if we can’t support more than one actually good cause at a time.
And don’t even get me started on City politics. If I turn that rant on, I may never stop, I’ll just eventually shrink to nothingness as my last atoms cry out “Anyone but London Breed!”
But on closer inspection, what we actually have before us is a palette of opportunity. The overall dickishness of the election coverage has done its real job so far – obscuring the fact that we have some good state and local legislation to approve, and some important local races to decide. We have the opportunity to call shenanigans where we see it, to work toward our own interests where possible, and to push back the neocons who seek to encroach upon us further. Voting is AWESOME that way.
Flex that sweet American muscle of yours and get thee to the polls!
President: Barack Obama
Like you even had to ask.
U.S. House of Representatives District 12: Nancy Pelosi
U.S. Senate: Dianne Feinstein
Two of the fiercest fighters in Congress. They may sometimes disappoint, but we need their voices to remain strong and loud against the nattering din of those ignorant misogynist asshats that keep getting elected by our brothers and sisters outside our bubble. I know I have offered more detailed bios and list of accomplishments in the past, but come on. Do you really need more convincing?
Assemblyman: Tom Ammiano
I’ve supported Ammiano is every race since his run as the President of the Board of Supes, and I will do so forever. He’s a progressive in the policy mold of Bernie Sanders and the late great Paul Wellstone, but with an SF values angle: a champion for tenant rights, immigrant rights, prisoner’s rights, and medical cannabis users’ rights. He’s a powerhouse bill sponsor, putting 22 bills in front of the Governor this year alone.
State Senator: Leno
I’ve been a longtime supporter of Leno (though I voted for Carole Midgen in his first Assembly race) and his progressive record shows why. A constant proponent of the human rights we sometimes call gay and transgender rights, perhaps the most visible proponent of single payer healthcare in the state (which is still opposed by too many elected Democrats), and a strong advocate for the energy policies that would let SF residents buy green energy, which will get us closer to pubic power. He’s had 12 bills signed into law in this legislative session, supporting veterans, foster youth, people with disabilities, homeowners facing foreclosure, and more
Prop 30: Yes
TEMPORARY TAXES TO FUND EDUCATION. GUARANTEED LOCAL PUBLIC SAFETY FUNDING.INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
Propositions 30 and 38 are both tax measures which will plug the gaping hole in CA’s education budget. If both pass, the one with the more votes wins I prefer this one over 38, by a lot. The tax increases here are only temporary and mostly affect wealthy folks who keep approving spending cuts but not any reasonable ongoing tax measure. Education doesn’t happen magically – school have no income other than tax revenue, and we need to stop treating at the state level like it’s a bad investment of taxpayer money.
Prop 31: No
STATE BUDGET. STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.
Easily the most confusing of all the items on the ballot, I give special props to KQED and Michael Kraszny, and Voter’s Edge CA for helping to make sense of it. You might want to go pee and fix yourself a snack before reading further.
This legislation, created by a bipartisan group called “California Forward”, has nine distinct and somewhat unrelated components. Responding to the call for transparency and accountability in our state government, it’s an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach that masks a couple of decidedly uncool actions with some very cool ones.
Here’s what it does:
Prop 32: OH HELL NO
POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS BY PAYROLL DEDUCTION.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANDIDATES.
I think you’ve all heard about this one, but just in case – this is the most duplicitous, steaming pile of crap on the ballot. This is an attempt to hamstring unions so that they can’t use money from union members’ paycheck for political purposes. But of couirse corporations have no exact analog so while they too have to abide by it, they lose nothing because they actually play a whole different set of rules. The true monstrousness here of course is the rank hypocrisy of claiming parity while exacting the exact opposite. This is Citizen’s United, Jr., and there are a lot of people who see it for what it is, so add your voice and vote NO.
Prop 33: No
AUTO INSURANCE COMPANIES. PRICES BASED ON DRIVER’S HISTORY OF INSURANCE COVERAGE. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This is the one that keeps getting put on the bill by George Joseph, an insurance billionaire who has spent SIXTEEN MILLION DOLLARS on this. Why? Because it’s an investment that will make him billions by basically applying the worst aspects of health insurance to auto insurance. Stated that it will provide discounts for drivers with clean records, what it really means is that it will allow them to set any rate it wants, which I guarantee means up, not down. This is the most blatant example of buying an election I’ve ever seen. Joseph tried to get this through in 2010 and failed. There’s a little history I don’t mind repeating.
Prop 34: Yes
DEATH PENALTY. INITIATIVE STATUTE
Repeal the death penalty now, Californians. We’re better than that. If the moral argument against state-sponsored killing doesn’t sway you, how about the billions we waste on the care and legal aid to death row inmates? How about the fact that white juries are more likely to sentence African-Americans to death than white criminals? How about the fact that (thankfully) we hardly ever execute in California? How about he fact that this legislation will make the convicts work to provide restitution to the families of their victims?
Prop 35: Yes, but…
HUMAN TRAFFICKING. PENALTIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
I say “yes, but…” because while the bulk of this measure will help law enforcement go after sex traffickers and keep them behind bars for longer, its broad sweep will most likely also adversely affect consensual sex workers. It’s a tough call, but I believe that sex workers will have an easier time fighting for revisions in court than trafficking victims will have fighting for their lives. Human trafficking is a systemic problem that can’t be solved with police action alone, and the lack of legalized prostitution and a spotty safety net for at-risk women and girls guarantees that it will continue. YMMV.
[edit: one additional point on Prop 35. It brands people as “sex offenders” for life, and it’s broadly worded so that it may applied to consensual sex workers. It may overreach, but I believe it will be limited by some future court challenge. I’m generally loathe to support law enforcement expanding power, but I think this is an exception to the rule. Right now human traffickers get 2-6 years, and sex traffickers can get 3-8 years in CA, which is less than half the federal sentence.]
Prop 36: Yes
THREE STRIKES LAW.REPEAT FELONY OFFENDERS. PENALTIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Finally, a substantive change to the three strikes law! Let’s abolish the current mandatory life sentencing for a third felony conviction for any crime. Leave life sentences for the serious and violent offenders, only. Aside form bing the humane choice, it will help prison overcrowding. 3 Strikes was a very successful campaign that exploited voters’ fears to guarantee massive profits within the prison industrial complex, which expanded mightily since.
Prop 37: Hellz Yeah
GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS. LABELING. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Label foods if they’re GMO. Why are we even talking about this?
GMO foods aren’t inherently evil. They are vital to meeting food demand now and in the future, which, like it or not, will bring food shortages as populations exceed supply. Unless we give nature an assist in rebalancing the ecosystem when we all die from global warming-related disasters, of course. But if California ends up sunk in the Pacific due to glacier melt, I want it to know what effect my corpse will have on the food chain. And the only real opponent to this is Monsanto and the people who run it who are demonstrably evil. Best known for creating safe products like seeds that create their own insecticide and terminator seeds which could render heirloom crops extinct in one generation but “promises” not to use them — shenanigans that could only have been, and were, approved by the notoriously corporate cock-sucking Bush-era EPA. Vote yes on 37; sunshine the fuck out of those dicks.
Prop 38: yes
TAX TO FUND EDUCATION AND EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Another tax measure, but I’m not in love with this because even though it is on a sliding scale, it still adds to the tax burden of those making between $7K and $100K. I just don’t think those folks should have to give up what is a substantially more impactful percentage of their incomes than those making $100K+.
Prop 39: Yes
TAX TREATMENT FOR MULTISTATE BUSINESSES. CLEAN ENERGY AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY FUNDING. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Prop 39 closes a loophole that lets multistate business choose their own tax contributions and would generate $1B a year, some of which will be put towards energy efficiency and sustainable energy projects.
Prop 40: Yes
REDISTRICTING. STATE SENATE DISTRICTS. REFERENDUM.
Oh for crying out loud. We voted to have a panel do the redistricting. We voted to approve their changes, And then again. And now? Once against this is a last ditch effort by State Republicans to try to fix the game by rejecting the results we’ve already accepted! It’s done, jerks. Deal with it.
County Board of Education: Fewer, Garcia-Meza, Soto, and Walton
I’m going to admit that I lifted these straight from the Green Party endorsements, for the simple reason that they all strongly oppose the privatization of our public schools. Just because there is bipartisan support or charter schools, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.
District 5 Board of supervisors: Christina Olague, John Rizzo
I was as skeptical as the next lefty when Mayor Lee-appointed Olague was handed the keys to my district. But Lee was in a tough position then, campaigning for his own job and aware of our quickness to call foul, so he appointed a woman with strong progressive credentials to replace the wildly popular progressive Mirkarimi. If Lee thought he had a yes-woman in pocket, he learned differently when Olague publicly contradicted statements he made under oath during the Mirkarimi epic drama. She’s earned the endorsement of almost every progressive in city and state government, most labor unions, the SF Bike Coalition, and the Tenants Union. She also has, I think, the best chance of beating the anti-tenants rights London Breed if it comes down to ranked-choice voting.
Aside from sharing his surname with my cat, Rizzo is the kind of deep-integrity progressive worthy of representing us in District 5. He will fight against wealthy development interests that benefit at our expense, rooted out corruption at City College. The Green Party loves him, even though he actually seems effective!
SF Community College Board: Rafael Mandelman
Another anti-privatization voice and successor to Rizzo’s anti-corruption mantle.
BART Director: Margaret Gordon
A veteran activist who served as Oakland Port Commission and was a leader in the anti-idling efforts in West Oakland to improve air quality and reduce pollution-related asthma, it looks like she has set her sights on the BART. I say let her at it. The incumbent Tom Radulovich has been at it for 16 years, and while the service is still commendable overall, we need a new approach to getting it expanded.
Prop A: yes
Here’s the thing – I don’t care how badly CCSF is managed. A crappily managed community college is better for our city than none at all. CCSF still manages to offer an AMAZING variety of classes, including nearly-free vocational training and ESL classes for immigrants. Plus CCSF is a huge employer. Closing it means not just putting hundreds of people out of work, but also hurting the neighboring businesses who rely on student customers.
Prop B: No
I know what you’re thinking “She hates parks! Get the pitchforks and torches!” Well easy, killer. My problem with this is that:
a) it’s bond measure, which means that taxpayers end up spending more to pay it back later while the wealthy folks who buy the bonds get just that more wealth redistributed to them down the road
b) It only covers construction and repair, anyway. We need those things, yes, but we don’t need them as much as we do rangers and lifeguards and landscapers and such, and not so badly that we should get into further hock.
c) the Recreation and Parks department is notoriously corrupt, intent on privatizing park resources and experiences. The Green Party tells me they can’t be trusted with more cash. I’m inclined to agree.
Prop C: Yes
Finally some action on affordable housing! Prop C will take revenue from property taxes meant for the now-dissolved SF redevelopment agencies (as well as from Prop E, if it passes) to guarantee $1.2 billion over 30 years for affordable housing. This is a significant leap forward, past a development environment of the past twenty years or so that has resulted in rents rising 300% since I first moved here and that has our city filled with empty luxury lofts instead of apartments and flats that San Franciscans can afford.
Prop D: No
While it’s my dream to have election days be holidays, until that happens, I think it’s a bad idea to try to cram all races into one election. Can you imagine how many propositions we’d have to try to digest? And how many candidates we’d have to assess? I’d have to quit my day job in order to write this voter guide! Plus it would give the Mayor even more power, because when anyone leaves office in the middle of a term, the Mayor appoints replacements until the next election cycle. It’s a recipe for shenanigans. I love the idea of saving the city some money, but I think the reality is that it will discourage even more people from voting.
Prop E: Yes
Again, finally! Right now the City taxes employers based on how much they pay their employees. The current flat tax is regressive, as small business owns have to pay the same as megacorporations. This proposition switches it up so that employers will instead be taxed on their gross receipts, which will close the loophole that high-earning professionals in a partnership (lawyers, doctors, architects, etc) are exempt since they aren’t technically employees. The difference is an estimated $28million/yr.
Prop F: Yes (REVISED POSITION)
My original stand against this was based on the apparent lack of brokenness in the Hetchy Hetchy water system, the current effectiveness of the O’Shaughnessy dam, and the idea that the study itself seemed like money wasted for an effort that has to be eventually voted upon by the general public and that will take around 50 years to realize. It seemed to me that we had bigger infrastructure issues to contend with right now.
But my lovely and informed friend Ben Carlson pointed to an op-ed that turned me around, and he summarized the key takeaways of it succinctly:
”…the timetable envisioned by Prop F is that implementation would occur in 2025, so the current recession isn’t a factor. Also, doing a plan now is more likely to save money versus putting it off. Implementation (i.e. if we vote for the plan in 2016) will definitely create jobs to build and maintain water recycling and water filtration plants and wind and solar power installations. Also, the $8 million cost of the plan will come from bond money that’s already approved.”
This op-ed accurately calls hooey both on the budgetary misinformation being spread and on the notion that the water in Hetch Hetchy is anything but the ENTIRE state’s resource. While the system may not be broke (yet) for the SF Bay Area, waiting for it to be is pretty stupidly short-sighted, and putting off studies to find solutions now was a bad call. The idea of restoring Hetch Hetchy to make it hikeable for a still relatively elite set of vacationers/campers/wilderness folks, as posited by the League of Young Voters (whom I adore for their bombastic punk ethos and former name, League of Pissed Off voters) struck one anti-privilege chord while ignoring the others. We should be jumping at the chance to make this already-funded study happen now.
I think I also fell into the “disproportion” trap, whereby we get so caught up in the “CA is broke” narrative that we look at these relatively tiny items as of they will make a fundamental difference. $8M is a drop in the bucket to our state, and looking beyond San Francisco’s water needs is extremely important. Being from Northern California, I’ll cop to the notion that we have an inflated sense of entitlement about “our” water. We get possessive because so much of it originates here…as if that gives us greater rights to it than our neighbors in the south.
From the op-ed:
”The opening up of another valley in Yosemite, should the dam be removed, would provide potentially big economic benefits from new visitors coming to the area, said Ellen Hanak, an economist specializing in water policy at the nonpartisan and nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California.
Studies by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the state Department of Water Resources, and others show that restoring the valley is technically feasible. According to a National Park Service study, the sediment load of the Tuolumne River appears to be quite low. “There’s not a lot of uncertainly in the science,” says Peter Moyle, a professor of fish biology at UC Davis. ”You’d get a pretty good ecosystem in fifty years after the reservoir had been drained. In the end, it’s a political question.” “
Indeed it is. And my political answer is “Yes.”
Prop G: Hell yes
I will take any opportunity to dissent against corporate personhood, whether it’s a policy statement or a binding measure or a cocktail party or a trip to the dentist. Say it, say it again, say it again but LOUDER. Corporations are not people!!
Why is it that the polls, the same polls used for the last who-knows-how many elections, conducted by the same research agencies and market research companies for decades, are somehow “way off”, just this one year?
I know that this is the message being repeated across right-wing television and radio, and bleeding into mainstream news, but think about that for just one second.
So if neither the methods, the math, the practitioners, nor the test groups have changed, exactly how can the polls be inaccurate, just for this one election cycle?
Well the answer is - they aren’t. The data is the data, and the cross-section of biased and unbiased poll sources hit on a relatively accurate median. The difference is in the analysis. There is a legitimate finding that regular polling actually underrepresents minorities, single women, and younger voters, and that those numbers effected the mathematical, if not the actual, effect of the 2008 election - e.g. Obama won Arizona by a much wider margin than predicted, because Latinos were underrepresented in the polling.
The polling companies and news agencies, having recognized this, created “likely” voter analysis, which compensates for the skew towards those old white married folks who have landlines - phone polling is still the main generator of polling data, but they can’t get cell phone numbers - by giving the underrepresented groups’ opinions greater weight, since they know their samples are smaller than they should be.
So the real question then becomes: why is this myth of inaccurate polling being pushed?
There is a simple answer to that, too: to make Republicans feel less hopeless, because hopelessness = low voter turnout. Following the party policy of denying and attacking the facts, science, and mathematics that do not actively support their agenda, the GOP has now begun to deny their own market research.
But what really worries me is that there might be a more complex answer: that this insistence that the polls are wrong is another step to undermine the election itself.
It is no secret that the GOP are involved in a coordinated, well-funded plan to deny voting rights to citizens most likely to vote against the Tea Party and their Republican minions. Knowing that the majority of the public clearly does not support the right-wing agenda nor right-wing candidates, the Koch-led ALEC lobbying group has been responsible for driving hundreds of legislative efforts to attack equality measures for women, people of color, and the LGBT community, reduce public education, destroy any efforts toward increasing public health, and set fire to any existing, past or proposed business and financial regulations that might limit corporate profits in the face of pesky liberal concerns like the economic collapse and global warming. But the summit of ALEC’s work is to control more wealth by subverting democracy and manipulating elections with its voter suppression plan, which includes the efforts of the past few years to invent the voter fraud boogeyman and create bills in 30 states - 18 of which have already passed, though some, like in Texas, have been since struck down - to create barriers for traditionally Democratic voters.
There is also a coordinated shadow movement to create the most outrageous propaganda in our nation’s history, including flyers and robocalls to registered Democrats in poorer neighborhoods trying to trick them into believing that that Election Day has changed, and various church-related materials which seriously and sincerely declares Obama to be the antichrist. The freaking antichrist. OK I hated Bush as much as the next liberal, but when we drew him as Satan, we were being sarcastic and political, not that we thought he was the incarnation of Lucifer on earth. Because we actually understand the difference between the nuance of political satire and the lunacy of religious apocalypse fantasy.
So given all these extraordinary efforts that defy legality and morality and logic and mathematics, when I ask myself why the right-wingers have now attacked an entire community of news agents and research groups, including their own, the simple answer became clear. But when I ask myself why this “inaccurate polling” nonsense made it into the talking point memo that all the right-wing outlets get each morning, the answer is cloudier and scarier. I fear that this propaganda isn’t just about getting more Republicans to the polls.
What I fear is that it is setting a foundation of disbelief in the election itself, and that the Republicans are willing to further undermine democracy by rigging the Halliburton electronic polling machines they have shoe-horned into 23 states despite the proven problems and vulnerabilities with these machines. Despite the fact that the problems they incurred in 2004 have not been addressed, this is how people in these states vote.
If these combined efforts are successful, Romney wins, and they can claim “see the polls were wrong”. If they fail, Obama wins, and they can cry “bad polls unfairly influecned the outcome!” This inaccurate polling hooey spins both ways.
When it comes down to it, it’s all about money. I firmly believe that the Kochs’ and their brethren work very hard and spend a lot of money keeping us essentially distracted by the issues that we care about and think we understand - largely domestic issues that are driven by our religious and moral influences like women’s health and - and prevent us from thinking about issues that we care about but don’t really understand - like voter suppression and the economy - in terms that will actually afford solutions, all in order to pull shenanigans of treasonous immensity.
I just hope that I’m only getting caught up in the furor, and that this doesn’t come to pass. But the GOP continues to destroy it’s own credibility, and pulls such outrageous maneuvers that it seems like an inevitable leap to flat-out rig our election. I don’t understand why those who vote Republican - the real majority of whom, I believe, are decent, honest individuals, just like the rest of us - have not just allowed, but fully bought into this shameful movement of lying at all cost to win.
Don’t let your vote be stolen, not by propaganda, by restrictive voting requirements, by inertia or despair. Get out and vote, and make sure your vote is counted.
For some of us, most days are makeup-free, but I remember a time where I would rather be late for school than leave my apartment without at least a little eyeliner and mascara.
I remember becoming conscious of the notion that I had to erase my face and re-draw it in order to be beautiful as a 13-yr old girl…and how it was years between that revelation and the moment I started feeling resentful of it…and even more before I stopped doing it.
I remember the first time I calculated that makeup is a hidden tax on working women that costs me an average of $300/yr to adhere to a standard of professional appearance that is never, ever applied to men. And I don’t buy very expensive stuff.
We expose ourselves to chemicals, feed the animal testing industry, sexualize our childhoods, and spend billions every year on products with wasteful, largely non-recyclable packaging. Why?
Because every single “positive” image we see of women and girls shows them wearing makeup and a lot of it. As girls, it delivers a repeated and uncompromising message that we are plain, if not downright ugly, without it. As professional women, we understand that how we appear too often has a direct effect on how our work is perceived and compensated. Maybe we can’t change our height or our ethnicity, but we are at least obligated to *try* to look like a fuckable sitcom star. And don’t even get me started on hair products.
I have no issue with makeup in other contexts. It’s super fun to play with your appearance for social events or your own amusement. It’s the societal *requirement* of makeup for baseline acceptance that this day is meant to counter.
So for day, let’s all step away from the lip pencil and mineral rouge, and shows girls today what being ourselves really looks like. Let’s not indoctrinate another generation into this foolishness.
I am a news junkie. When people say that, they usually just mean that they feel compelled to stay current. They read from more than one source and like to discuss current events with others who read and think about the world around them. They probably have special areas of interest where they have dug into a deeper understanding of the topic than many. They enjoy a healthy, even mutually-supportive relationship with news and information.
I when I say I’m a news junkie, I mean I am a news JUNKIE.
I start out fine, just a lucky freelancer who gets to occasionally work in my pajamas from my modest apartment in a beautiful major/small city. I check my email and Facebook (sometimes even some SFGate over morning tea, more out of nostalgia of a once-terrific newspaper than anything else). I get a little taste, maybe a link someone posted to Huffpo Impact, or an infographic from GOOD or from The Oatmeal, or one of the many email newsletters I get from organizations and causes I support.
I start out cool, just catching up with the NPR on my phone, no big. I check in with Amy Goodman, veer off into the NYT, and chase it with a bit of last night’s Stewart and Colbert. Still cool, handling my high, but I can feel the itch start in my typing fingers. Links from FDL and ThinkProgress get reposts and pithy comments that take 20 minutes to craft. I try to reel it in, bring it in-house, distract myself with goings on closer to home on haighteration and Local Addition, squeeze in a little of The Bold Italic, my last nod to mainstream hipster media after I acknowledge my age.
I reach outside my comfort zone, dig up a little CNN, Christian Science Monitor and USA Today to check out how the dwindling tribes of relative moderates see the world and get my opinion in their polls. Then I get a little erratic, going back to Huffpo and making the mistake of letting my eyes drop into the comments section. I reach for the anti-venom of reasoned reality at Racialicious or illdoctrine, go back to FB share it and find that someone’s spreading the latest manufactured FoxNews crisis even though they agree it’s not real info. I manage to pull away before getting sucked in too far, dosing myself with the sweet methadone of TED Talks until the bifurcation of all that positive and cataclysmic futurism drives me back to FB to ooh and ahh over somebody’s baby or dog pics and wish whoever is having a birthday a happy one.
Thing gets fuzzy from there and the eternal scroll keeps going and going, so many interesting and silly and important issues. I fall into a k-hole of post reply rebut repost like share refute like unlike link repost. Suddenly I wake up to the fact that it’s 3:49am on a Wednesday and I’m kicking up a verbal red shoes whirlwind dance of death on some poor right-winger my old roommate used to go to high school with, fueled by midnight Chinese food and a stevia-sweetened Dr. Pepper analog and my own adrenaline-spiked reaction to some willfully ignorant but probably basically decent dude I have never and will never know in real life but mighty as I feel it’s my feet that are falling off and I haven’t left my apartment in two days and I really, really have to pee.
I crash with the slam of my laptop closing on one last half-written, unsent coup de grace. I take a breath and pop a couple Excedrin, grab a burrito from the taqueria across the street, and bury my head back in the blissfully muffling sand of casual point-and-click games and XKCD and underrated, canceled comedies on Netflix until I level out.
Or, you know, something approximate to that.
So this is a place to try to waste less time on consuming info I can’t healthily absorb and give myself I chance to think through what I can in a more positive fashion. I’m going to start my reposting some of my older and longer notes and posts from previous social media sources, partly to have it all in one place and partly to see what might still resonate.
Ongoing, this’ll be a mishmash of whatever shiny objects catch my Waddell-like attention.
Oh right, the title. Aside from it being the best potential band name ever, I wanted to combine my socio-digital identity with my desire to get more women interested in registering and voting this year. I was reminded that my great-grandmother, whom we called Noni, arrived from Italy the same year women won the right to vote, an intense legislative and cultural battle that began in earnest fifty years before. She was 22 years old. The women she left behind in Italy wouldn’t get full voting rights for another 25 years, a full generation away.
Keep an eye out for my next voter guide.
This morning my friend and feminist ally Jason W. shared a link to a terrific call-to-action from adjunct game design professor Ernest W. Adams on his Facebook page. In the wake of the horrifically organized online sexual harassment and threats of physical attack experienced by Anita Sarkeesian, and the ensuing international conversation about sexism in gaming and elsewhere, Adams wrote this commendable essay calling on men to change their gaming culture and help others grow up for the good of society. And he does a brilliant job of breaking down the knee-jerk responses we hear from the manboys who defend their misogynistic game space and culture.
I include it here in its entirety with the permission of the author. All emphases are his:
A Call to Arms for Decent Men
Normally I write for everybody, but this month’s column is a call to arms, addressed to the reasonable, decent, but much too silent majority of male gamers and developers.
Guys, we have a problem. We are letting way too many boys get into adulthood without actually becoming men. We’re seeing more and more adult males around who are not men. They’re as old as men, but they have the mentality of nine-year-old boys. They’re causing a lot of trouble, both in general and for the game industry specifically. We need to deal with this.
Why us? Because it’s our job to see to it that a boy becomes a man, and we are failing.
When we were little boys we all went through a stage when we said we hated girls. Girls had “cooties.” They were silly and frilly and everything that a boy isn’t supposed to be. We got into this stage at about age seven, and we left it again at maybe 10 or 11.
Then puberty hit and, if we were straight, we actively wanted the company of girls. We wanted to “go with” them, date them, and eventually we wanted to fall in love and live with one, maybe for the rest of our lives. That’s the way heterosexual boys are supposed to mature, unless they become monks.
My point is, you’re supposed to leave that phase of hating girls behind. Straight or gay, you’re supposed to grow the hell up.
What might be temporarily tolerable in a boy when he’s nine is pretty damned ugly when he’s fifteen and it’s downright psychopathic when he’s twenty. Instead of maturing into a man’s role and a man’s responsibilities, a lot of boys are stuck at the phase of hating girls and women. The boys continue to treat them like diseased subhumans right through adolescence and into adulthood.
Men have more power than women: financially, politically, and physically. What distinguishes a real man from a boy is that a man takes responsibility for his actions and does not abuse this power. If you don’t treat women with courtesy and respect – if you’re still stuck in that “I hate girls” phase – then no matter what age you are, you are a boy and not entitled to the privileges of adulthood.
When this puerile mentality is combined with the physical strength and sexual aggressiveness of an older boy or an adult male, it goes beyond bad manners. It’s threatening and anti-social, and if those boys are permitted to congregate together and support each other, it becomes actively dangerous. Yes, even online.
Of course, I don’t mean all boys are like this. Most of them get out of the cootie phase quickly and grow up just fine. But far too many don’t. If we don’t do something about these permanent nine-year-olds pretty soon, they’re going to start having boys of their own who will be just as bad if not worse, and life will not be worth living. Life is already not worth living on Xbox Live Chat.
In addition to the harm they do to women – our mothers, our sisters, our daughters – these full-grown juveniles harm us, too. A boy who refuses to grow up has lousy social skills, a short attention span, and a poor attitude to work. Furthermore, all men – that’s you and me, bro – get the blame for their bad behavior. And we deserve it, because we’ve been sitting on our butts for too long. We let them be bullies online and get away with it.
Some of you might think it’s sexist that I’m dumping this problem on us men. It isn’t; it’s just pragmatic. Women can not solve this problem. A boy who hates girls and women simply isn’t going to pay attention to a woman’s opinion. The only people who can ensure that boys are taught, or if necessary forced, to grow up into men are other men.
Let’s be clear about something else. This is not a political issue. This is not a subject for debate, any more than whether your son is allowed to swear at his mother or molest his sister is a subject for debate. There is no “other point of view.” The real-world analogy is not to social issues but to violent crime. Muggers don’t get to have a point of view.
So how do we change things?
First, we need to serve as positive examples. With the very little boys, we need to guide them gently but firmly out of the cootie phase. To the impressionable teenagers, we must demonstrate how a man behaves and how he doesn’t. Be the change you want to see. Use your real name and your real picture online, to show that you are a man who stands behind his words. Of course, you can’t prove your name is real, but it doesn’t matter. If you consistently behave with integrity online, the message will get across.
Secondly, we men need to stand up for courtesy and decency online. We can’t just treat this as a problem for women (or blacks, or gays, or anybody else the juvenile bullies have in their sights). Tell them and their friends that their behavior is not acceptable, that real men don’t agree with them, that they are in the minority. Say these words into your headset: “I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were a man, not a whiny, insecure little boy.” Don’t argue or engage with them. Never answer their questions or remarks, just repeat your disgust and disapproval. Assume the absolute moral superiority to which you are entitled over a bully or a criminal.
Finally, we need to put a stop to this behavior. It’s time for us to force the permanent nine-year-olds to grow up or get out of our games and forums. It’s not enough just to mute them. We need to build the infrastructure that precludes this kind of behavior entirely – Club Penguin has already done it for children – or failing that, we have to make the bullies pay a price for their behavior. Appealing to their better nature won’t work; bullies have none. We do not request, we do not debate, we demand and we punish.
I have some specific suggestions, from the least to the most extreme.
Now I’m going to address some objections from the very juvenile delinquents I’ve been talking about – if any of them have read this far.
OK, back to the real men for a few final words.
This is not about “protecting women.” It’s about cleaning out the sewers that our games have become. This will not be easy and it will not be fun. Standing up to these little jerks will require the same courage from us that women like Anita Sarkeesian have already shown. We will become objects of hatred, ridicule, and contempt. Our manhood will be questioned. But if we remember who we are and stand strong together, we can beat them. In any case we won’t be threatened with sexual violence the way women are. We have it easier than they do.
It’s time to stand up. If you’re a writer, blogger, or forum moderator, please write your own piece spreading the message, or at least link to this one. I also encourage you to visit Gamers Against Bigotry (http://gamersagainstbigotry.org), sign the pledge, are share it.
Use your heavy man’s hand in the online spaces where you go – and especially the ones you control – to demand courtesy and punish abuse. Don’t just mute them. Report them, block them, ban them, use every weapon you have. (They may try to report us in return. That won’t work. If you always behave with integrity, it will be clear who’s in the right.)
Let’s stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women we love, and work with, and game with, and say, “We’re with you. And we’re going to win.”
I found the Alternet story What About the Men? Why Our Gender System Sucks for Men, Too to be a thoughtful an challenging piece. The title is a bit disarming, as it refers to a full book which is not yet finished. The excerpt shared here focuses on the responsibility of those in the feminist movement - who the authors credit with having created the tools to effectively address and repair gender inequality - to take the lead in addressing misandry as well as misogyny, because the men’s movement hasn’t gotten that far yet.
I agreed with the meat of the excerpt. It’s true that misandry is the flipside to misogyny. It’s true that one can’t be effectively resolved without addressing the other. It’s true that a very high number of men are also victims of rape culture. And it’s true that some feminist efforts exclude men.
But the authors took all that and then leapt to the conclusion that feminists are too exclusive and apparently unaware of the devastating effect they are having on the anti-misandry movement by withholding all that we’ve learned and taught ourselves so far. One could easily look at it as the authors laying a huge guilt trip on women for not creating safe spaces for men. I saw it as a somewhat stereotypically insensitive and privileged male way of saying they needed help without wanting to ask for it.
I read it on Facebook and my reply to this was relatively mellow:
“Very insightful and challenging article. It makes a strong case for re-purposing and expanding the work of feminism as a means for liberating all sectors and genders - though I do not believe it gives feminist activists enough credit for already getting this. Speaking to capital-F Feminism is a challenge because it is not a hegemony. There are many different feminist voices and attitudes, some welcoming to men, some not.
I appreciate the authors’ brief dissection of privilege, but I find it curious that they did not seem to notice it in the way they posit this whole issue: while they are absolutely right that since feminists have worked for centuries to develop tools for understanding and addressing sexism from the feminist perspective, and since sexism is misandry as well as misogyny, the feminism movement should address both; so why do they lack the humility to *ask* feminist communities for help, instead of placing the full burden of the gender rights movement on women to act proactively? Being told by men what to do, instead of asked, is a big issue of privilege. A small point relative to the article as a whole, but notable.”
The further parallel here is the civil rights movement. Did whites put the burden of their participation on the African-Americans who were already working their asses off? Were they waiting for engraved invitations and assurances of their being welcomed, valued, honored, and appreciated? “Oh please Mr. White Man and Miss White Lady, let me hand you everything you need on a silver platter and reassure you time and time again that you are welcome here? And then never ever challenge you on anything you say or do because you were so kind and righteous to join us?”
Some probably did. But I doubt those were people who made a difference.
I went back to the original article on Alternet.org to re-post my comment there, and immediate got sucked into the usual comments morass. It was all very expected: along with the reasonable responses from feminists and their allies were rabid ignorance (even from progressives), anger and dismissal from feminism apologists, a bunch of man-hating lesbian comments, lots of claims of parity etc etc etc. I was about to leave when I saw one comment that I felt I could not ignore:
In response to another commenter who, like I, expressed exasperation with the burden of the humanist movement being put on the shoulders of women, someone wrote:
”Do you expect men to just forget how they were demeaned and ridiculed during the “Womens Movement”? Women should have realized how their words and actions could backfire on them some day. It certainly didn’t help the women who had always respected the differences between men and women, who are now lumped in with the feminists in the minds of men. It’s no wonder that some men presume we are all raging feminists who hate men. “
Once I got over the fact it was a woman named BethMorrison who expressed this, it was easy to see past her accusation into the internalized misogyny which prompted it. I felt bad for her, because I knew exactly where it came from: her whole life.
I remember when I was 17 I was walking down the aisle at the Cala Foods supermarket on Stanyan in the Haight-Ashbury, and saw another pretty young woman walking towards me. One minute before my life’s mission had been to get to the Cocoa Puffs, but suddenly I lived to hate this girl. I locked onto her by raising an eyebrow and looking just past her to her left, in the way women do. As we passed we gave each other a couple of extremely hostile yet indirect sidelong glances. I felt my blood rise and my face get hot as I focused sideways death rays of bad vibes at her.
It’s a paradoxical tactic to boys, but girls learn how to assassinate someone without acknowledging them at a pretty early age. You know what you are doing, and she knows what you are doing. To the untrained eye, it’s just two girls passing each other in the aisle. But to us it may as well be hand-to-hand combat. And we both walk away bloodied and bruised in our hearts whether we think we’ve won or lost.
I’m sure this had happened before, many times with many other girls, but as I moved a few feet passed the girl in CALA Foods, I became conscious, really conscious, of what I had just done and stopped in my tracks. I thought “What the hell was that? Why did that just happen? I don’t know her, she could be the coolest person I’ve ever met. Why do I hate her?”
I was suddenly aware of the fact that somewhere, somehow, I’d learned that women are the enemy. I didn’t have the composure to turn around and talk to her about it, or apologize for the unwarranted hostility then. But I thought about it for weeks afterward. I’m still thinking about it. and I thought about it as I wrote this reply to BethMorrison: