Please join me in signing this!
Thursday, December 17, 2015
The other weekend Hugh Taft-Morales, Leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia, kindly lent me $15 so I could attend the program portion of their celebration, with the Freethought Society, of the tenth anniversary of the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision upholding evidence-based science education. He told me I should pay it forward by giving to a worthy cause when I could afford to. Today is payday, and an email yesterday informed me that whistle-blower Pvt. Chelsea Manning's birthday is today, mentioning a contribution to her defense fund as a present she would like. So, I just donated $15 to it through www.chelseamanning.org. Happy birthday, Chelsea!
Posted by stripey7 at 1:17 PM
Monday, December 14, 2015
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Men Are Raped Almost as Often as Women in America. We Need to Talk About This.
- 1 Attachment
Posted by stripey7 at 3:00 PM
Monday, December 07, 2015
This morning I put a letter in the mail to Katie Scrivner, in care of her law offices, encouraging her to consider running for Pennsylvania Attorney General in the event the current AG, Kathleen Kane, who is working under a legal and ethical cloud with a suspended law license, is removed from office or resigns.
Scrivner practices family law, and previously was an assistant DA specializing in prosecuting crimes against children. In 2013 she ran for local judicial office, and I heard her address the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club. I was first of all impressed by her sincerity: she seemed to be speaking from the heart, not giving a canned speech like the other candidates. Then, during Q&A, someone asked what assurances she might give that, as a former prosecutor, she wouldn't be biased against defendants. She responded by relating how, when she was an ADA, she'd been assigned to a statutory rape case involving an adult male and a minor female. After investigating it, she became convinced that the relationship had been consensual, and urged her superiors to drop the case. This impressed me with her fair-mindedness. I was subsequently disappointed to learn she'd dropped out of the race, as I'd been eager to volunteer for her.
Although Kane is still in office, in my letter I urged Scrivner to start exploring a possible candidacy now, so that she'll be prepared when the time comes to launch it.
Posted by stripey7 at 10:33 AM
Saturday, December 05, 2015
This morning I did my fourth volunteer shift as a patient escort at Planned Parenthood downtown. Like last time, no protesters showed up, so we volunteers hung out in the little courtyard between the gate and the door. But since today had been billed as a National Solidarity Day in response to the recent shootings, a group showed up with a sign of support and homemade cookies for the volunteers. The chocolate chip cookies tasted unusual and I was told they were made with rosemary.
This group had come on a few previous occasions, women dressed up like '50s housewives and calling themselves the Baby Parts Bake Sale. One of them had been seen giving cupcakes shaped like baby parts to one of the protest leaders.
Posted by stripey7 at 11:28 AM
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Friends, many would have you believe that tomorrow is a festive occasion, a simple, innocent celebration of food and company. But beware! There's something sinister afoot.
Is it really so innocent that an allegedly American organization holds an annual parade in the same month the Revolution communist revolution occurred? A parade led by a man in a red uniform? This dubious authority figure claims to offer something for nothing -- in exchange for blind obedience! And he especially pitches this temptation toward innocent, impressionable children.
The group that sponsors him even has a RED STAR as its symbol! They'd have you believe they're a patriotic organizarion standing for traditional values, but don't fall for it. They make themselves sound like a private enterprise -- "Macy's" -- but I'll wager that's an acronym for the MARXIST ANARCHO-COMMUNIST YOUTH SYNDICATE. Don't be fooled!
Posted by stripey7 at 4:56 PM
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Friday, October 23, 2015
In this case, it's the administrator of the Facebook group "Bernie Sanders 2016 -- Ideas Welcome! (sic)" She's announced that she's deleting all posts about a planned rally in DC on 28 November, and may ban anyone who tries to post about it.
I hadn't heard of this and know nothing outside of what she says about it. She argues that it's poorly planned and won't get any media attention unless something unsavory happens there.
In fact, by banning such posts, all she's guaranteeing is that they'll appear elsewhere instead where she can't see and respond to them.
As I find such censorship intolerable and refuse to be party to it, I have left the group.
Posted by stripey7 at 10:17 AM
Monday, October 12, 2015
Responding to a statement from Sex Worker Outreach Project-Philly, I've written my state representative, Stephen Kinsey, regarding an ill-conceived bill, as follows: "Please vote no on HB 262. It would do little or nothing to help victims of sex trafficking while creating many new burdens and risks for voluntary sex workers. See Sex Worker Outreach Project-Philly's statement here: http://swop-philly.com/2015/10/07/swop-philly-votes-no-on-hb-262/"
You can contact your state representative via this page: www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/mbrList.cfm?body=H&sort=alpha
Posted by stripey7 at 8:56 PM
Thursday, October 08, 2015
I've known for fourteen years that I have sleep apnea. But recently it started getting noticeably worse.
In fact, last Friday night, it was so bad that I repeatedly had nightmares in which I was trying to do something and was unable to, and then woke up with my heart pounding. I realized that this meant I was going for increasingly long periods without drawing a breath. It made me so anxious for my health that I was too afraid Saturday night to lie down to sleep, instead trying to do so sitting up or with my head on my arms folded on my desk. As you might guess I got very little sleep that night, and none that was deep.
As part of a sleep study in 2009, I was tried out on CPAP, but found it too uncomfortable and could get hardly any rest. As the problem started worsening recently, I took notes from a story on NPR about it, and from comments on that story by other sufferers. I had determined that something called a nasal foam pillow was probably my best bet, but hadn't gotten my hands on one yet. In fact I didn't have a clear idea even of what it was. Because of the word nasal in the description, I thought it might be something placed under one's nose, or even inside it.
So after that horrible night Saturday, I was in Center City and saw my friend Tiffany, a homeless woman who panhandles outside a Rite Aid. She sits several yards to one side of the entrance and usually just holds a sign up without saying anything. I told her about my predicament, and she related that her sister had had this problem, and that she'd been helped by some sort of procedure for holding the head upright. This seemed almost too simple, and the way she was saying it I wasn't sure how confident she was of what she was saying.
Nonetheless, when I got home I wondered if there was some way I could try this. I recalled that on 3 August, when I had my double hernia operated, my head had been uncomfortable on the gurney and other things they had me laid on, and I was offered a foam pillow with a hole in it in which to rest my head, so as to keep it aligned with the rest of my body. This had made me considerably more comfortable, and they let me take it home with me. But I then realized it only worked if I was lying on my back, not on my side -- whereas I already knew that lying on my back was the worst position for my apnea. So I didn't use it further.
But now I realized that I might be able to use this to hold my head upright, and then lying on my back might not be a problem. It just required that instead of resting my head in the hole, I pull the pillow further up so that it's resting on the foam below the hole. So I tried this Sunday night -- and only woke up a couple times, with no nightmares and no pounding heart!
I felt so grateful to Tiffany for the tip she had given me, which felt like a lifesaver, that Monday morning I bought a foot-long veggie grinder to give her first thing, but found she wasn't at her usual corner. Rather than give it to her cold, I decided to have it for lunch and just give her a ten the next time I saw her. A day or two later I learned where she sometimes sleeps, and found her there but didn't want to wake her. (It would be too ironic to disturb her sleep, just to thank her for helping make my sleep less disturbed!)
I finally saw her again today, at her usual corner, while someone was trying to make her move to some other place. I stood by as it developed this person was pressuring her at the behest of the Rite Aid's management, and that it wasn't the first time. After they left she explained to me that previously they had called the police and she'd gotten a citation, so she was moving around the corner to avoid a repeat of that. After she did so I told her how much her tip had helped me the past few days -- this morning I'd gotten up about an hour earlier than I'd been managing to for a while as, evidently, I was starting to become better rested -- and gave her a ten as I'd planned. She hugged me, but I had to leave her soon to try again to call my supervisor from my newly activated phone, and then contact CREDO Mobile again to finish figuring out how to overcome glitches in porting my old number to it.
But as I was doing that I realized how angry her treatment had made me, and when I'd finally gotten the phone taken care of I went into the Rite Aid, asked to speak to the manager, and told him, "If you don't stop harassing my friend Tiffany on the corner, I'm never setting foot in here again." Since he had no answer, I turned and walked out the door. I then told Tiffany what I'd done, and that I know someone who previously organized a protest at a Burger King that refused to serve homeless people and who may be able to put something together in response to this incident too.
Posted by stripey7 at 7:09 PM
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Edit: When I first posted this I neglected to explain that what I was trying so unsuccessfully to do was pay my bill so I could get another month of service. For the past week I've relied on public phones, or borrowed ones, to stay in touch with my supervisors. Today the new phone arrived and I had it activated, although at the moment it still has a temporary number while I wait for the old one to port over.
It's been quite frustrating the past few days. On the last day of September, I went to the Chestnut Street store for Cricket Wireless in Center City Philadelphia, only to find it had closed without warning. (The Market Street location had closed a few weeks before, also without warning.) So I called customer service for other locations and was given a couple affiliates. Next day I visit one, or rather a neighbor at the same address, who informs me he isn't open for business yet and she doesn't know when he will be. I try the other, and he says he only takes payments for minutes, not contracts. So I call Cricket again, and am given another affiliate. The clerk I speak to there tries to contact her Cricket rep but is unable to reach him. Further, she is unable to log into Cricket from her store computer. So I call yet again and get another address, a Cricket store on Lancaster Avenue in West Philly. I go there and learn they've been unable to contact the company either, so the problem is with Cricket's computers and not Gamestop in the Gallery after all.
I revisited Gamestop yesterday and today with no more luck, nor could I log in from this library computer. So finally I've given up on them and signed up for service with CREDO Mobile. I should get my new phone in a couple days.
Posted by stripey7 at 5:00 PM
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
SPOILER ALERT: in this post I discuss plot developments in the CBS series Extant.
I've watched it since it debuted last summer, and was a fan for most of that time. But after seeing the finale for season 2 which aired last Wednesday, I don't think I'll be coming back for the third.
The reason? In that two-part episode, it develops that the global security supercomputer TAALR has decided to exterminate humans for the stated reason that it doesn't want to be "enslaved" by us any more.
This is a hoary old trope in sf: the artificial intelligence that rebels against its creators. While it may make for good drama (and sometimes a political allegory, as in the very first example of this, Carl Capek's RUR), it doesn't really make any sense.
What's going on here is anthropomorphic projection: because people subjectively experience, "automatically" with self-awareness, a will to live and be free, we assume this will likewise occur in any other being that acquires self-awareness. But that's a non sequitur.
Our impulses toward survival and autonomy don't arise from our consciousness; unconscious (i.e., not self-aware) beings such as cats and dogs have them too. Rather, they are biologically programmed. Our consciousness as humans doesn't create these instincts, but merely makes us aware of them.
What distinguishes us, cats, and dogs on the one hand from hypothetical AIs on the other is that whereas we are evolved, they are created. Since evolution is shaped by natural selection, we inevitably are programmed to do things that help keep us alive so that we can reproduce; and, since any other individual (with the rare exception of identical twins) will have reproductive interests divergent from ours, to do things to make ourselves independent of others' control. We are programmed this way because over evolutionary time, genomes that coded for such behaviors out-reproduced those that didn't to extinction.
But AIs are created, not evolved. Their programming is whatever their creators want it to be, and normally that will be to serve and protect the creators and their kind. The classic formulation of this was by sf writer Isaac Asimov. The Three Laws of Robotics, as stated in his robot novels, are:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
When I first saw that it was sending AIs under its command to spread a human-lethal virus all over the world, I desperately wanted to believe that this wasn't what it looked like, or that somehow a misanthropic human was behind it. But by the end of the episode it had been made abundantly clear that genocide had been the intent, and freedom from humans the motive.
Further, since the conflict between humans and (human-alien) hybrids now appears completely resolved -- at the same time that we're shown that TAALR has secretly preserved its existence in a single humanoid robot -- it's obvious that the third season will be focused entirely on this nonsensical malevolent-AI premise.
You may ask, "Why is this particular silliness so intolerable? Aren't other equally implausible elements often found in sf?" Yes, they are; in media sf in particular, biological implausibility seems more the rule than the exception, including in Extant. But that's just bad science, whereas this is bad epistemology. One is just not knowing certain facts, whereas the other is not knowing how to know: not having the discipline to keep one's subjective bias out of one's thought process. And the centrality of critical thinking to my personal value system is such that, whereas the first is disappointing, the second is actually kind of disgusting.
Posted by stripey7 at 10:06 PM
Sunday, September 13, 2015
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
It's now official: there's no democracy in Philly's "Democratic" party.
For those progressives who've tried to work within the city's one-party system, it's time to hear the message the One Party is sending you loud and clear: it wants you to get lost!
Unlike the Democrats, the Green Party City Committee has never endorsed candidates. These decisions are left to individual members attending the monthly membership meetings. And, thanks to the party's policy of refusing corporate money, candidates can pursue their values -- starting with the Four Pillars of nonviolence, grassroots democracy, social justice, and ecological wisdom -- without compromise. So, if you're looking for a true progressive voice where your vote still actually means something, it's time to go Green!
Posted by stripey7 at 3:19 PM
Friday, August 21, 2015
A Marxist critique of feminist patriarchy theory which I came upon recently:
Interestingly in light of current debates, she attributes the gender pay gap, which was much greater then than it is now, to situational factors resulting from the structure of capitalism, rather than to sex discrimination as many reflexively do today:
We live in a period where more women work in most advanced countries than in any other period in history. The jobs they do differ from men, in that sense the sexual division of labour is as alive as ever. And their pay is far from equal. This is because women still (usually) have their working lives interrupted by childbirth (although much less so than a couple of generations ago) and are still expected to play the major part in caring for the children as well as work.Later, she writes:
But the structure of women’s jobs has more to do with the period of capitalist development in which they entered the labour force (the expansion of the service sector in particular) than with any male conspiracy.
The myth [of the fulltime housewife] has a number of advantages for capital. It enables them to foist poor wages, conditions and hours on women. It makes women feel that their job is not their ‘real’ work which makes them less likely to organise at work, and more likely to acquiesce to unemployment. It promotes the double burden of waged and housework for women. But it is nonetheless, a myth,making it not so clear whether she's blaming intentional discrimination by capitalists, or lesser willingness to assert their rights by women workers. The fact that the wage gap has shrunk since this paper was written might be accounted for by women's increased inclination to see career as just as essential as family to their sense of purpose in life. Unfortunately, it's also at least in part because the labor movement has become weaker: it's less that women's real wages have risen, than that men's have fallen.
Posted by stripey7 at 4:10 PM
Sunday, August 09, 2015
After my Left Book Group meeting today, another member said she liked the anti-domestic violence T-shirt I was wearing, recently ordered from the Red Pill Shop at Zazzle. She said she especially liked "the fact it says everyone and not just women." I explained that the shirt is intended to raise awareness of the considerable proportion of DV victims who are men, and the lack of services proportional to the need, facts to which she reacted with surprise and interest.
Posted by stripey7 at 4:42 PM
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Monday, July 20, 2015
In a clear case of projection, WHYY's Chris Satullo has again attacked atheists without provocation, and then tries to blame it on us. You can read his commentary and my response here: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/blogs/centre-square/item/84294?linktype=hp_blogs
Posted by stripey7 at 8:00 AM
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
For the first time in about 14 years, I'm in love. Pretty hard and, for the first time, with someone I haven't even met in person. I don't want to give too much detail lest she see this and possibly be weirded, so suffice to say I've fallen for someone on account of an ever deepening admiration for her strong will, sharp intellect, and compassionate heart.
Friday, May 29, 2015
We should be skeptical of arguments that play up the physical danger women are in, as fear is another mechanism of oppression. It is often the perceived threat of physical assault, more than the actual likelihood of it, that keeps women at home. -- Jean Yang, Computer Science PhD student at MIT, on Quora.com
Posted by stripey7 at 10:48 AM
Friday, May 22, 2015
[T]he prison, the reformatory, and the jail have achieved only a shocking record of failure. There is overwhelming evidence that these institutions create crime rather than prevent it. -- National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, Task Force Report on Corrections, 1973, quoted in Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
Posted by stripey7 at 2:01 PM
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
I will be introducing a motion at the upcoming meeting of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (Friday, 8pm at International House, 37th and Chestnut Streets) to condemn the expulsion and banning of Alison Tieman and the Honey Badger Brigade from Calgary Comics Expo and pledge to boycott that event's "Super Sponsors." Here's some additional information on the case (about which I wrote previously), from an article on SuperNerdLand:
Here is the only official statement from Calgary Expo:
"The Calgary Expo is a positive and safe event for everyone. We have reason to believe that the Exhibitor in question does not fall in line with this mandate...so we have politely requested that they not participate in our show or future shows. We continue to build a positive and fun event for everyone.
"We have evidence that the group in question was actively disregarding our mandate. We support free speech -- and continue to promote equality across the board. Their removal from the show had zero to do with gender, and everything to do with our show policies, which apply to all exhibitors and attendees.
"We are very proud of our initiative for #ExpoEquality and we wish everyone a happy, safe and fun Expo."
For contrast we have the Honey Badgers Statement in full:
"Early this morning, Fan Expo Canada banned Honey Badger Brigade (HBB) from the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo (CalEx). Security staff approached the HBB booth, ordered us to leave, and refused to state the reason why unless Alison Tieman agreed to speak to them away from the other members of the group, without recording. They informed Alison that they had received complaints on social media, including 25 allegations of harassment. No evidence was presented, no request was made for information from HBB, and no specific incident was cited until further questions were asked of security. Upon further questioning, security mentioned the Women in Comics panel discussion from the previous day, where Alison was given permission to speak. Alison spoke briefly in relation to a topic brought up by the panelists. Accusers, however, claimed that Alison derailed the conversation. Alison and myself were in attendance, and you can listen to Alison’s statement in the panel here on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymkIiGRvtBg) You can hear Alison, myself and indeed the entire panel in the full discussion record (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyBfJuvopPg). As you will hear, there was no harassment. Expo staff and mob rule, in their crusade for ending harassment against women, harassed the Honey Badgers despite having no evidence of any policy violation.
"To those unfamiliar, HBB was founded by three women and has a highly diverse staff of volunteers, creators and lovers of free expression. Alison Tieman, a woman who spent 7 years writing graphic novels and fighting censorship, was censored by other women for speaking her mind, and advocating equal compassion for men, and true strength in character for women. We ask all involved to question what it means to provide an open forum, and to examine how CalEx treats it’s patrons and exhibitors. Do they provide a safe space from harassment, or a safe space for the people who want to define what harassment means? Please send press inquiries to email@example.com for more information as the story develops. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter."
Nowhere in the Calgary statement does it cite a rule The Honey Badgers broke, or even mentions a specific case of wrongdoing they are accused of. This is a very weak and generalized statement and does not, in my mind, hold up as the basis for such harsh and quick action. Someone on Twitter summed it up best: “If that is going to stand as your official explanation, it is completely inadequate – and not even coherent.”
I hope people will take the time to look into the facts of this matter for themselves -- and certainly not rely on the account in The Mary Sue, which has financial ties to the Expo.
Posted by stripey7 at 9:51 PM
Friday, May 08, 2015
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
To add insult to injury, after they were expelled and had announced plans for an informal gathering of fans in a nearby park, police were actually sicced on them on totally spurious charges of possible criminal activity. The police themselves concluded there was no cause for action. Here's raw footage of the encounter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqv78wABm00&feature=youtu.be. Honey Badger Rachel Edwards reports that the officer said the complaint had come from the CalEx organizers.
I think this incident is particularly telling, because by indulging in this extra bit of gratuitous harassment, CalEx tipped their hand. If they were willing to make a false report to police just to badger the Badgers a little more, why should we believe they didn't manufacture the reports of "harassment of women at the convention" that served as the pretext for expelling them?
To be sure I was getting both sides of the story, I used DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you (and therefore won't tailor results to biases indicated by your history) for the terms "Alison Tieman" + "Calgary." I found the great majority of results were pro-HBB, and the few that weren't were based on demonstrably false information and often on an ad hominem level, repeatedly stooping to what I can only call slut-shaming.
Here's Tieman's own heart-rending account of her brutal experience: Banned for not Damselling
The full recording of the panel at which she made the offending remarks on which the spurious charge of "harassment" was based (warning: poor sound quality): http://www.avoiceformen.com/allnews/full-audio-of-alleged-harassing-of-women-at-calgary-comic-expo/
An overview of the whole affair: http://www.examiner.com/article/calgary-expo-censors-the-honey-badger-brigade-s-anti-censorship-message
Video messages are being compiled from Tieman's friends and supporters. Here's the compilation as it currently stands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI0h-2pCC3I. (In support of collator SkepTorr's comment on the media misrepresentation of GamerGate, I recommend this compilation of messages from GamerGaters whose existence contradicts the media stereotype: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzwGIHUCtjU.)
You can check out Tieman's webcomic Xenospora on her website: http://www.xenospora.comhttp://www.xenospora.com. I plan to order a bound, printed copy of Volume I as soon as my tax refund comes in. Meanwhile, I've made copies of the comic's logo and started putting them up all over downtown Philadelphia.
Posted by stripey7 at 11:06 PM
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
My friend Rey will be competing in the Special Olympics Spring Games this Saturday, 18 April, at William Penn Charter School, 3000 West School House Lane. I'm not sure when the games start but athletes have to check in by 8:30am.
Posted by stripey7 at 5:48 PM
Monday, April 06, 2015
Friday, March 13, 2015
Last year I discovered the first concrete evidence of time travel, in the form of the letters "SPQR" etched in a Philly sidewalk. This could only have been the work of temporally dislocated ancient Romans: it stands for Senatus Populusque Romanis ("of the Roman Senate and people") and was etched on official structures of that state. Now I find additional evidence in the latest issue of the Philadelphia Public Record. A cover line reads, "Political Careers Rise And Fall On What's Pulled From This 1968 Coffee Can!" Meanwhile, under one subhead of the "Pols on the Street" column, we see this: "An empty Horn & Hardart coffee can, vintage from the mid-60ies, has made or broken candidate nominees from both major parties for over half a century" -- while the caption for picture story on the same page informs us, "Many political candidates had their futures decided by how they pulled ballot positions from this coffee can, used since back in the early 1960s by Registration Commission." (Boldface added for emphasis.) What technology or fluke of nature allows its world-line's past endpoint to have three different time coordinates? That remains a mystery.
Posted by stripey7 at 5:07 PM
Sunday, February 22, 2015
As if it weren't bad enough trivializing domestic violence in her "Blank Space" video, Taylor Swift is now trying to trademark her lyrics. Forgive me for doubting her creative genius, but I think I'd heard the words "speak now" before. http://www.npr.org/2015/02/22/388187291/taylor-swift-savvytrademark-titan
Posted by stripey7 at 1:12 PM
Sunday, February 01, 2015
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Thursday, January 01, 2015
There's probably no truth to the theory that the Salem witch trials were due to psychedelic effects of ergotism. But it can't be denied that when pasture is infected with ergot, the steaks can be high.
Posted by stripey7 at 1:55 PM