Five Links That Are Actually Important, 9/27/08

September 27, 2008 at 5:38 pm (frightening things, injustice, LGBT, politics) (, )

1. H.R. 5840- “Capitalizing on Crisis”.

2. Court rules in Diane Schroer’s favor, finding that anti-trans discrimination counts as sex discrimination.

3. Judge bans woman from bearing children.

4. Medics detained and harassed in Galveston.

5. Customs agents now legally allowed to seize, read, and copy travelers’ documents without cause of suspicion.

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“Women Deserve Better”

July 31, 2008 at 2:34 pm (amazing things, art, feminism, injustice, movies/video/clips, politics, racism, sexism) (, , , )

From Feministe, this gave me chills. I think think the only word for it is righteous. Her name is Sonya Renee.

Fuck yeah.

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Car Conspiracies, Part 1

April 12, 2008 at 9:08 pm (frightening things, injustice, stupidity) (, , , , )

I am not usually one for conspiracy theories. I do believe that we landed on the moon, that dinosaurs no longer walk the earth, and that it was a single crazed gunman who murdered John F. Kennedy. Feel free to disagree with me on any point. However, the main conspiracy theory that I do put validity in is that cars are part of the root of modern day evil. I understand that this is not a commonly held belief, and my disclaimer on these posts is that it is MY belief, and I am not asking anyone to share it, simply to consider it as another point of view.

There will be more evidence to back me up later, but for now let me present point in case number one, straight from Boing Boing, namely that cities make red-light cameras more profitable by making them less safe.

Red light cameras cause more accidents, and not just because drivers slam their brakes to avoid getting a robo-ticket — also because the optimal money-making strategy for red-light cams is to make them less safe.

If city planners want to reduce traffic accidents at intersections, the best practice is to make the yellow last longer and insert a pause between the red signal on one side and the green on the other. However, if the objective is to make as much money as possible from red-light cameras, the best thing to do is shorten the yellow signal, eliminate the pause, and enrich the city coffers (even as you kill its citizens).

Leftlane reports that six cities have been caught turning down the yellows to make more money.

originally Via /.

Everything about cars, from the manufacturing to the safety measures to why we even need them, was guaranteed made for maximum profit and NEVER for maximum safety. I am not saying that cars are made specifically to be UNsafe, per say, but it is certainly never the first consideration. It is always about money. Human life is assigned a certain amount of cash value, and if the car companies will lose more than that total cash value amounts to by implementing certain expensive safety measures then they will not do it, and a preset percentage of people will die. And they know this beforehand, and it doesn’t matter, because their life is worth less than the amount of money it would have taken to build better set-belts, or a stronger car frame. And the above link supports evidence that even a cities’ government would rather increase the risk of automobile death or injury in order to be able to fine unsafe drivers rather than using sane, rational methods to cut down on dangerous driving entirely.

This lovely rant will probably be continued.

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No one in college is poor or oppressed, ever.

February 24, 2008 at 10:59 am (stupidity) (, , )

By way of introduction: Elaine Vigneault wrote a post claiming that since some people of color are vegans/vegetarians, there is no element of privilege whatsoever to veg*nism, and it’s offensive to claim there is. I responded by saying that, since it is a lot easier for some people to afford fresh, healthy produce than others, there is an element of privilege. She responded that there are cheap veg*an options — PB&J, lentils — therefore there is nothing privileged whatsoever about it. I responded to that with a story about our friend Brenden:

My best friend is at school at the big public university in our state. Even though he’s got an excellent deal on his tuition, he’s busting his ass to pay room and board. Since he has absolutely no extra money and lives on campus, eating in the cafeteria is his only option. And, having eaten there myself while visiting him, I can tell you that being a vegetarian there would be incredibly difficult (it was difficult for me to pull off for a weekend), and being a vegan definitely impossible (unless we expect him to only eat the very limited selection of fruit they provide, which would not be healthy). So, no one’s got any business tell him his situation isn’t an excuse to eat meat; he would love to have other options, but for the moments, he doesn’t. He’s white, but his family is poor. My other best friend and I are both students too, but because our families have more money, neither of us has any kind of problem being vegetarians.

. . . I think the only thing I’m trying to say is: it is one thing to ask someone who can easily access a healthy veg*n diet to do so. Asking someone for whom that would be incredibly difficult or impossible is a different kind of question. Not that we shouldn’t ask and encourage those people, but it’s not the same thing.

To which she responded:

I disagree that your friend’s lack of funds trumps his moral duty to avoid meat. Even in a cafeteria like that, there are options.

There are always some vegans at any college. I was vegetarian throughout college without trouble. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are damn cheap. Baked potatoes = cheap. Spaghetti with tomato sauce = cheap. Bean burrito = cheap. Vegetable soup = cheap. Oatmeal = cheap…

Before college, I was in the Conservation Corps. It was a similar situation to your friend’s. I lived on campus and had to eat at the cafeteria and had no extra money for anything. So I told the head chef I was vegetarian. It took a few weeks but finally they made me special meals.(in he meantime I ate PB&J sandwiches). I ate a lot of the same things over and over because the chef wouldn’t get creative, but I survived. And other people often chose the veg option, too, all because I asked for it.

To which I responded that he has literally no extra money (no PB&J for him), and that, while it’s possible the university would listen and change their menu, there is no guarantee, and anyway, asking him to do that is asking a lot more of him than asking be to just not buy meat.

Okay, here’s where I decided I want to post that. She than said, verbatim, emphasis hers:

Really, he’s in college. College. He can’t use excuses like ‘I’m not privileged enough’. He’s in college.

He’s not a good example of the poor people you’re talking about. And those poor people? To go veg, they need education more than money. (They need money for other things, but not veganism). Veganism is NOT a money thing. It’s an education thing.

Mother. Of. God.

I can’t wait till Brenden finds out he’s actually not poor. He will be so excited.

And, an update, in which she said:

He obviously simply places a low priority on ethical eating and a higher priority on convenience.

Like I said before, there are always some veg students at any college. If he just asked the cafeteria, they will likely provide him with a veg option. His excuse is just that, an excuse. He’s just not ready to do what it takes to live a more ethical lifestyle. There are certainly social barriers, but the choice is ultimately his to make.

I’m just reprinting this here so I can figure out whether she’s insane or I am, by the way. I’m pretty sure it’s not me, but it’s good to get a second opinion.

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Some words about the ongoing struggle for basic human rights in New Orleans.

December 15, 2007 at 3:04 pm (frightening things, injustice, politics) (, , )

I’ve spent a lot of today reading about the government sponsored demolition of thousands of public housing units in New Orleans and the people who very recently stood to prevent the destruction of their homes.

When disaster struck New Orleans in the form of a hurricane, the general response by the public was revealing–and harrowing. Mostly because, well, there was no response. And now, years later, those who were forced from their homes are not seeing them rebuilt, but destroyed; abandoned and homeless at the hands of all government systems in place, supposedly, to protect its people.

Brownfemipower’s got much, much more, including a list of organizations working to fight the demolitions.

As a nation, we’ve done the people of New Orleans the highest of human disservices, and the absolute least we can do is keep them in the forefront of our thoughts.

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Edward Burtynsky and Manufactured Landscapes

December 7, 2007 at 12:25 am (amazing things, art, environment, frightening things, injustice, movies/video/clips) (, , , , , , )

Today in one of my classes we watched about 30 minutes of the film Manufactured Landscapes, a documentary about Edward Burtynsky and his photography, which exposes and explores globalized industry’s effects on the world’s environment. Both the movie and the images that inspired it are visually striking and emotionally haunting. This is definitely something I must see in its entirety. Disruptively upsetting, but mesmerizing and, in an almost perverse sense, beautiful.

(Not sure I’m completely on board with the “no right or wrong way to look at this” sentiment, but, okay.)

Another thing the film does well (at least in the small portion I’ve seen, and corroborated by a classmate’s post-viewing comments), intentionally or not, is to highlight the role played by economic superpowers (hint: US) and the necessitation of severely oppressive class exploitation for the current mode of industrial resource extraction and production to work (maybe that’s a “duh,” but the inescapable visual depiction really enforces and confirms that understanding).

Can’t go wrong with this one, I don’t think.

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CitiBank and Big Coal have declared war on the world.

November 18, 2007 at 5:47 pm (environment, injustice) (, , , , )

Education should be free and easily accessible. People should be able to access it without funding global warming and death. And they should be able to participate in an economy without funding the same, too.

These convictions should be the status quo.

Via brownfemipower.

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King Corn

October 15, 2007 at 10:28 am (environment, movies/video/clips, politics) (, , , , )

Yesterday I attended a showing of King Corn and a Q and A session with the movie’s creators. A quick synopsis of the film:

Ian Cheney and Kurt Ellis came to a disturbing realization when they had their hair tested in a lab and found that it was mostly made of corn. Literally. They moved to Iowa, where most of the country’s corn is produced, to grow one acre of corn and attempt to track the kernels they planted on one acre of land in the mid-west to the crop’s final destination as an ingredient in almost all food products in the country and, subsequently and relatively recently, the make up of people’s bodies.

They imitated what are now conventional farming methods; they used large industrial machines, genetically modified seeds, chemicals, herbicides and the like. They yielded more of their chosen crop than has ever before been possible on equal amounts of land only to find that what they grew was inedible. The corn had to be processed heavily (with protective gear and dangerous substances) before it could be consumed. It then became corn syrup and was mixed with other additives to become one of the most prevalent ingredients in almost all packaged and fast foods in the country. These corn products also end up as roughly 60 percent of factory-farmed beef cattles’ diet. As was stated in the film, any American born in the last 30 years is likely to have only tasted corn-fed beef. Beef consumers beware…were the animals not slaughtered as punctually as planned, they’d likely die of these unnatural and life-threatening diets soon after.

The film effectively provided an understanding about the cultural context in which our current food system was allowed to take precedent. It documented the die-off of family farms at the hands of government subsidies and examined the influence of our corn-based diets on human health. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much more than this. And there was so much potential for it to do so. Environmental repercussions were all but ignored and there was no attempt to explore alternative farming practices or food policy. Of course, like every other film, the resultant product is cut from hours and hours of footage and can’t reasonably be expected to touch upon every aspect of a given issue…but given the relaxed and decidedly un-rushed feeling of this movie, I can’t help but feel that some more precise editing could have provided significantly more room for dialogue.

But, and that’s another thing: it didn’t feel like any was meant to be made. it seems like the creators of King Corn were afraid to make any firm statement about the way the corn industry works and what effects it has on the public. The subject is increasingly political and it’s absurd to act like it isn’t, especially given the conclusions that Ian and Kurt came to following their experiment. One of them said something about how now that the movie’s done, their diet is more varied in color- before, all they ate were beige foods. Coincidence? Please, say more about that. In fact, I only have a sense of what the conclusion of the project felt like to the movie-makers because of what they told the audience after the viewing, in person. The film doesn’t really make any statement about the effects of the project itself, but only implies them.

So, when the movie starts playing near where you live, see it, if only for affirmation of your belief that the way we currently produce and distribute food robs people of their communities, their local economies, their environment, their cultures, and their health. But don’t expect any answers or hints about the directions in which we now need to move politically. Don’t expect anything more (or nearly as profound and informative) as what you could learn more eloquently from Michael Pollan. Rather, recommend the movie to friends that maybe know nothing of the issue of industrial capitalist agriculture and wouldn’t prefer to read about it.

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George Bush fears healthy kids.

October 3, 2007 at 10:12 am (frightening things, injustice, politics, stupidity) (, , , , )

So, to ensure that sick kids in the U.S. stay sick, he’s vetoed a bill that would have provided funding and healthcare for millions of kids without insurance. What a sweet man.

From Bloggernista:

The bill would double the number of poor kids would receive healthcare. Bush opposes the bill because he says its a step toward universal coverage, which he opposes on philosophical grounds. As if ensuring that all Americans are able to see a doctor when they need to would be a bad thing.

Oh, the horror, the horror!

Find a Move-On organized rally opposing the veto near you.

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The Shock Doctrine

September 8, 2007 at 9:57 pm (books, frightening things, injustice, politics) (, )

Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, has a new book coming out called The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. To accompany the book, she and the directors of Children of Men collaborated on a short video. Check it out.

I loved No Logo, and am intrigued by the premise of The Shock Doctrine. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

Via Boing Boing.

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