Posts Tagged ‘activism’

There’s a continuum along which one can be a traditionalist, an early adopter, a visionary, or simply an idiot, or insane, or both. The reality is that the same person, in the same place, will appear all along that continuum depending on the observer.

Ursula K LeGuin’s classic tale, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” never dealt with the friends and family of Those Who Walk Away. I started walking away over a decade ago, but stayed ‘a moment’ to enjoy someone’s company. Now I’m on the road again, metaphorically speaking, following in the footsteps of Kerouac, Thoreau, O’Keefe, and others.

How many tried to leave Omelas, but were restrained by friends and family ‘for their own good’? Worse, how many were grateful later on for being saved from such a ‘big mistake’?

Or were they really crazy? If so, the ones who left are a tragedy. If only they hadn’t been so naive and idealistic. If only. It may or may not be the only life we’ve got, but we have to live it as if it is, or it doesn’t count.

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Found this stunning blog entry about the death of someone’s mom via ‘s journal. Went on to read the comments (oh, the comments … heartbreaking) and the follow-up posting. [Edit: and the third posting.]

When I think about my ever-escalating war against the medical establishment to get GOOD treatment for my autoimmune diseases, and my supplement and lifestyle changes to prevent fibro or CFS, I realize that sometimes being a stubborn b**ch can be a good thing.

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The text (of my previous post entitled WORD!!) is a hyperlink of someone else’s words, but the sentiment is near and dear to me.

First let me say that I like the organization, I liked the folks I met at the installfest, and I plan to go back to future ones. I don’t think anyone acted in any way maliciously or unpleasantly. It was just “cultural programming in action”, like fish in water. I am not bitching (verb; to voice a non-positive opinion on anything that makes men feel defensive) about the org or the installfest, merely about the US of A culture in which it rests. That said…

It was less than fully amusing to attend a Linux installfest this past weekend and have total strangers grabbing my equipment without asking me first, and rushing to tell me what to do to set it up as I’m getting it out of the box. I got quite the look when I said, pleasantly but firmly, “Please leave that alone for now, thank you.”

If I’d shown up with a laptop or desktop PC looking lost, I could grok it. But I came loaded for bear with multiple laptops, cabling, hub, keyboard, a bagful of various kinds of serial connectors, my own install disks, and some hardware that a number of folks there had quite literally never seen before. On the latter, I got to watch guys asking other guys about it, rather than me, even though it was clearly part of my setup. When my friend Jeff was there, it was natural to ask him, but I’m not counting that– before he got there several guys went around the room asking other guys about “that hardware on the table”, or trying to pick it up to take it across the room to the folks running the installfest. In the latter case, I said, again pleasantly but firmly, “Hey, hello, that’s my hardware– do you have a question about it?”.

And normally I wouldn’t even bother to write it up, because it’s also Just Another Normal Thing.

So yeah, I don’t go out with placards, or think penetration equals rape, or any of that stuff. But I do consider gender relations in this culture, and many others, to be genuinely screwed up. An interesting book I’m reading on Pagan deities actually turns out to be much more philosophical than I’d realized. One author’s theory is that as agriculture, and warfare that can’t be nomadically avoided because you have to defend your fields/granaries, became more common, male deities and men themselves took more societal prominence, at the consensual request of society.

Now that we’ve moved beyond brute endurance style warfare, for the most part, perhaps societally we can afford to move into a more gender-balanced space. Of course, that actually is a threat to the privileged gender, so there will be a reaction and effort to keep the status quo. Please note that I’m not advocating matriarchy or woman-centric society either. I’d just like to see a bit less gender based grabby/bossy stuff going on, to save myself the trouble of having to smack/push back.

It *is* annoying, and the extra workload that it takes to maintain my own place in the face of all the competitiveness is a workload that I increasingly weigh vs the benefits of being social in professional and recreational groups. The whole aura of “hey, you’re breaking the rules / being a bitch” that gets generated when I, and other women, refuse to let folks talk over us or don’t smile when somebody tries to tell us what to do, that aura is just a royal pain in the ass and I am pretty tired of it.

Oh, and when we go off and make a ‘place of our own’, like linuxchix or the BlogHer conference, as soon as it looks interesting, guys come out of the woodwork to smugly say “you can’t have it both ways” and accuse women of discriminating if guys aren’t allowed. So anybody who comments to say that, get a life.

Screen, screen, screen… if you don’t want to be unscreened, say so in your comment.

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A framework for understanding poverty, by Ruby K. Payne

Whether you have grown up in poverty or in wealth, this book will teach you things you never knew about yourself and your culture, and how it differs from others. Worth buying or reading just for the “class assumptions” quiz, one each for poor, middle class, and wealthy. The questions alone will be a real eye-opener.

I got the book through the library LINK+ system, thinking it was a socioeconomic text. It turns out to be a guidebook for folks in public service, such as teachers, program administrators, and health workers. The book very clearly and candidly tackles the differences in values between classes. It can get a bit heavy-handed at times, but that’s almost a requirement to hammer home the point that people in poverty (and they differentiate between generational and situational poverty) have different values from the middle class. The generationally wealthy have different values from the middle class, too, but the middle class doesn’t spend nearly as much time bashing them as individuals because of those values.

Which, in my opinion, is why all 3 classes are included, as the message is that time and again one sees middle class “helpers” designing programs and individual approaches that are almost guaranteed to fail when dealing with people in generational poverty, because they go directly against the values of those people. Points are also raised about how the differing value sets work against people who are trying to reset their class affiliations, either from poverty to middle class, or from middle class to wealthy.

In my specific case, I am made aware of certain values– and expectations! — of mine which are directly working against my success in some career goals and my satisfaction level in some friendships. That’s incredibly valuable to me. It’s also more than slightly upsetting, seeing more clearly the extent to which I’ve self-sabotaged various things over the years, and also how I’ve unwittingly sometimes ridden various assumptions to the top. Well, I’ll raise a glass to more conscious choices, and continue the learning curve.

I mentioned in an earlier, friends-locked post that I had been feeling keenly disappointed in what I perceived as a lack of reciprocity among some people that I helped through difficult times. Well, there’s a direct-pattern value from generational poverty that says that one is required to share one’s good fortune with one’s community, and that the community will share back. People help each other through difficult times. The middle class community, on the other hand, values self-sufficiency, especially financial self sufficiency, above personal relationships on that level. If you get a bonus, you’re not even obligated to take all your friends out to dinner or buy a round at the neighborhood bar– those are poor to working class values, not middle class.

A specific example– over the years, especially the ‘bad valley years’, I’ve cheerfully picked up the tab for lunches and dinners for friends who weren’t working. Fast-forward to now, when I’ve had some business disappointments (employee nightmare costing me a full quarter’s revenue, and the fiscal year’s profit; me taking some time off to finish a book project). The same friends are going strictly dutch when we go out, down to line items like who had a soda and who didn’t. Nice. Guess who feels like a dork? Not them! [PS- These lunch/dinner folks are not on LJ, afaIk, so if you’re reading this and feel guilty, it’s all in your head.]

So I will chalk up several of those disappointments to class values. There are still one or two cases where I feel like folks personally took advantage of me, either because we were involved or because they perceived me as ‘rich’ compared to them, or both. But going forward, knowing the differences frees me from having to pick up the tab so much, from giving things away because I feel obligated to do so, and generally acting like I’m still stuck in rural NH/Maine during the 1970’s recession/depression.

I also will work on confronting my feelings about how to integrate my love of dressing in unusual ways, and my hatred of brand brandishment with the undeniable FACT that brand conformity (in clothing) is perceived as reliability and stability by the class of folks who hire and fire at the levels I work, and who network socially while clad in those brands. Ugh.

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Thought for the day:

… I am happy, or at the very least willing, to debate whether or not a certain act, behavior, word, or belief is inherently sexist or misogynistic. I am not, however, willing to debate the importance or necessity of feminism. Honestly, if you really truly think feminism is wrong, or that women just have it made these days and that we should suck it up and be grateful for the rights men have already granted us, then you’re a complete fucking tool. Period. No discussion necessary. I won’t ever entertain the notion, no matter how passionately you argue or how solid you think your points are. To try and argue with me about this would be like trying convince Neo that there is no Matrix.

I know it must be hard to fathom that a girl doesn’t care what a smart man thinks about the thing that she cares most about in the world, or that there’s a movement that exists that doesn’t much take into consideration what men have to say on the topic. I know I’m supposed to 1) nod thoughtfully as I process your wisdom, asking clarifying questions about your points just in case I don’t immediately understand something you say, and then 2) offer up some powerful and intelligent argument on why feminism is important, and then 3) try to prove my point with examples from women in politics and a few stories about my grandmother, but of course, in the end, 4) concede that yes, you have some very good points that I will certainly think about, and thank you for educating me about feminism and correcting me on those things I didn’t fully understand about women and the world.

Well, that conversation has been had before and is a bullshit boring ass waste of time that does absolutely nothing for anyone. …

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I will quote directly from this excellent factual article on the history of hemp in America:

The American colonists relied heavily on hemp. At that time, hemp was the world’s leading crop. A law enacted in Virginia in 1619 made hemp production mandatory for all farmers. Similar laws were passed in Massachusetts in 1631, in Connecticut in 1632 and the Chesapeake Colonies in the mid 1700s. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both farmed hemp. “Make the most you can of the hemp seed and grow it everywhere,” wrote George Washington in 1794. The first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper and all early American flags were made with hemp. …

So why is hemp not grown in America today? Why has the American creative genius not found ways to process hemp efficiently and turn it into a myriad of useful products, at least on a large scale?

The reason is twofold: Hemp competes directly with wood products and hemp belongs to the same plant family as marijuana. The history of how hemp products were removed from the American commercial scene deserves retelling, but only after this important disclaimer: This article is not intended to endorse the legalization of marijuana or the recreational use of this drug in any way.

While I personally think that the criminalization of hemp is ridiculous alongside the legal use of alcohol, this is not a song about Alice. My position on hemp is that it could be a key crop for sustainability, from the useful fibers to the oil-rich seeds. There are low-THC strains out there, but growing hemp in this country is very hard to do because of the fanaticism of the anti-drug folks. I’ve read pieces of the story in other places, but this Weston Price article lays it out and links several of the pieces together in ways I’ve not seen before, such as the Dupont/Hearst deal.

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Most people grow up so far out of touch with animals that they probably shouldn’t even be doing animal research. Researchers ‘surprised’ by dogs’ abilities? Did any of them grow up with a family dog?

Growing up with one or more dogs, two or more cats, and various numbers of goats, chickens, and occasionally pigs, a steer, and a horse, one not only sees a wide range of animal behavior, one sees how the animals adapt to other animals and to other people. This is a level of experience that ought to be mandatory for folks doing animal research.

One can say that it introduces a bias toward thinking of animals as more people-like or more sentient than they may be. What about the bias of someone who assumes by default that they are not? Already researchers are questioning the dog studies mentioned in the previous article, and saying they may be clever imitation based on hidden cues, a “Clever Hans” effect. Grr.

We already have dozens of examples of animals using language and tools, ranging from the larger primates, which doesn’t seem to shock anybody, to parrots, dogs, cetaceans, various birds, etc. There are the elephant society studies that have recently become news. The whale dialects. The prairie-dog vocabulary, including the ability to invent, transmit, and re-use multi-word constructs (shades of High German). The list just goes on and on and on.

It’s not a specific brain size, kids. Consciousness and self-awareness is a property of life. Do what you need to for survival. Choose what you need for your comfort. Give up what you can in compassion. Start remaking society with your economic choices as well as your personal ones.

I found the pasture-raised eggs people at the MV Farmer’s Market on Sunday. No more ‘cage-free’ or ‘free-range’ eggs from huge, open, ammonia-laden henhouses with a scheduled 4-hour timeslot into a bare dirt pen. 😦 Now I need to find a source of local pasture-raised milk. Or stop drinking the damn stuff. Buying fancy cheese just got both really tough and really easy– a lot of the expensive stuff I usually avoid is from pasture or mountain ranged sheep and goats, even cows.

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