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Friday, August 19, 2016

Looks Like I'm Still Looking

I did my first, training, day today with Community Voters Project, which turned out also to be my last. Possibly this had something to do with the fact that there wasn't much actual training.

We were given a talk about what we were supposed to do and how, and then assigned to teams. Once arriving at our sites, however, we each worked on our own.

True, my team leader asked if I'd like to spend some time watching him, and I declined since, in past experience, I've done well on things like registering voters, petitioning, etc. as a volunteer. Still, you'd think an organization that's serious about training wouldn't just let someone go because he overestimated how well he'd do unsupervised on the first day. You'd expect them to say, "Next time spend some time watching me so you can see how it's done."

Also, it seemed a little disingenuous of him to acknowledge that luck can be a factor but "rules are rules," since in fact, of those coworkers who gave me a precise figure when I asked how many people they'd registered, neither of them had met the quota either, although they'd come closer.

In this context it was interesting that, when I left the building, I saw someone sitting nearby with a sign reading, "Community Voters Project discriminates." He told me he thinks they wouldn't hire him because of his age, and I suppose that could have covertly been a factor in their letting me go, too. Another factor, perhaps in combination with bias, may be general incompetence. You might think, for instance, that leaders of an organization based and operating in Center City Philadelphia would be familiar with its streets. Yet, when I left with my team leader to go to our target site, he initially started us in the wrong direction, until I pointed out it was the other way.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Looks Like I Have a New Job

A few months ago I was laid off from the courier job I'd held for a long time. Today I interviewed with the Community Voters Project, which aims to increase registration and voting in communities of color, and the interviewer seemed quite enthusiastic about me, especially when she asked me to come back next week for training. So, unless I do poorly at that -- which I don't expect, since I already know I'm good at this sort of thing -- I suppose this means I'll have a new job. The starting pay will be slightly higher than my last one, with opportunities for advancement for which I likely will qualify.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


I've completed another piece of math art. In "Goggles," the color of each cell reflects, to the nearest whole number, the product of that cell's center-to-center distances from the two foci.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Another Kind of Political Principle

Ont the latest On the Media, a Canadian advocate for strategic voting explained how it helped that country elect a more progressive government without reducing the Green vote:

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Getting Refocused After the Cult

Last weekend I attended a workshop for those recovering from an experience with a high-demand, high-control group and its aftermath. Although a delay in the bus trip got me there a few hours late on Friday, and I didn't recover full alertness until Sunday, I still got some important insights I expect will help me make the most of the rest of my life. Even though my cultic experience was a long time ago, I'm still dealing with some of the aftereffects, especially since I didn't start to understand what had happened until relatively recently.

If you've had an experience with a high-demand, high-control group, it may likewise be affecting you in ways you don't yet recognize; such groups never advertise themselves as cults, and are very good at convincing you that if you leave -- voluntarily or otherwise -- there's something wrong with you, not with the group. I recommend that if you even think this might apply to you, or someone you know, you should check out the resources provided by reFOCUS and the International Cultic Studies Association. For that matter, these are things everyone should learn about to help them avoid psychological manipulation in the first place.

Remember, no one ever joins a cult. People join groups of friendly people who seem to be doing important things, and only later find themselves stuck in a cult. Asking what kind of person would join a cult is like asking what kind of person would step in quicksand.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

An Unprecedented Rally in Defense of Trans People in Philadelphia

I spent part of this afternoon at The Great Wall of Love, a peaceful mobilization called in response to the Westboro Baptist Church cult's plans to protest the LGBT-oriented Mazzoni Center clinic, and its transgender patients in particular. The purpose was not to confront WBC, but rather to shield patients from having to see or hear their hatred. To that end music and songs were played by the Philadelphia Freedom Band, including my friend Erin Worrell whom I hadn't seen in several months.

I especially liked the WBC parody signs with messages like "God Hates Single Ply," "God Hates the Schuylkill Expressway," and "Legalize Gay Marijuana."

As it was winding down, I heard an organizer call it the largest specifically pro-trans rally ever. Apparently no more than five cultists actually showed up and they only stayed for about five minutes, so that most of us never saw them.

Monday, July 25, 2016

NPR Does Another Totally Gender-Biased Story About Sexual Harassment

In the wake of Roger Ailes's dismissal from Fox (So-Called) News, NPR ran yet another interview that blithely assumes men can only be sexual victimizers and women only victims. I posted this comment:

Another thoroughly sexist story about sexual harassment. If you'd thought to check your assumptions, you might have discovered articles like "Male Rape in America" (, showing that women's capacity for sexual abuse is comparable to men's. Given this fact, what reason is there to believe West's claim that "when women are in power, this kind of thing will stop"? None whatever; more women in power would just mean a larger proportion of female abusers and a larger proportion of male victims.

Abuses of power aren't about gender; they're about power. If we want to eliminate sexual harassment, we have to end the class stratification that gives some people power over others.