Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, anarchist, atheist who likes the letter A

Archive for the ‘Misc’

Things You Might Have Missed

February 06, 2013 By: Mel Category: Misc

The big news this week is that white paper. I read it last night at the bar. I wasn’t drunk enough for that shit. Greenwald’s breakdown here.

A must read interview of Lynn Paltrow over at Guernica about what is happening to pregnant women. In short, get pregnant and kiss your rights goodbye.

This American Life is harassing Siouxsie Q of This American Whore. Melissa Gira Grant wrote a letter.

Good piece in Vice on Why Barrett Brown is facing 100 years in prison. Hint: It’s called investigative journalism.

Cornelius Harris (also known as Soja) has been on hunger strike at Ohio State Penitentiary for more than 30 days now.

Db0 responds to whether or not humans are ready for anarchism. Hope this means he’ll be blogging more again.

Normally I am very supportive of drugs, especially x. But something about telling people to take drugs so that they can stay in a relationship longer seems a little wack. I mean, maybe it is just time to move on.

If not for racism, we might all be drinking cocaine every day.

About an Art at War exhibit – art in France under Nazi occupation. I don’t know about you, but I cannot separate an artist from their art. Once I find out someone was a tool, I can never look at their work the same again.

Wish I could go see this exhibit on anarchist schools.

O.k. everyone. I have a little bit of time on Saturday. Let’s go to Virginia and see how many laws we can break in a day. I’m going to need a bullhorn, a car, a married dude, and a lot of booze.

At least Virginia didn’t only make it illegal for girls to curse.

Things You Might Have Missed

January 30, 2013 By: Mel Category: Misc

I really loved this essay on joy by Zadie Smith. The pursuit of joy may actually explain a lot of the ridiculous shit I do.  Though I don’t know if it now seems more or less sensical.

Fascinating article on Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill.

Our friends at Red Emmas are still trying to raise money for their new space. They are about halfway to their goal.  Pitch in a bit if you can.

There is a new movie coming out about anarchists called The East. I’m not holding my breath that it will be in any way thoughtful. But I am going to go see it.

More evidence that laws change long after people start ignoring them. “Shacking Up” May Soon Be Legal in Virginia.

Four days in jail over an $85 court fine and a 22 year old warrant related to stealing a carton of cigarettes. Seems reasonable.

But that is a walk in the park compared to what happened to this mentally ill woman in prison.

A juvenile judge in Georgia testified that approximately one-third of their cases were school related and mostly misdemeanors, the result of police in schools. Story here.

The Catholic Church is in full damage control mode. First, there is this amazing piece of investigative journalism in the Guardian showing How the Vatican built a secret property empire using Mussolini’s millions. But they don’t want to use any of those millions to settle a malpractice suit related to childbirth. Nope, for that they will do a 180 and claim a fetus is not a person with legal rights. And then, of course, they will 180 right back again and turn away rape victims so that the Catholic hospital doesn’t risk having to recommend a morning after pill. Charming. Charming people.

Ok. I hate the anti-abortion protesters too. I’m sure this guy is vile. But banning? I mean if we let those dregs go in and out of the congressional building every day, I don’t think we have much of a case banning anyone else.

I stole that graphic up top from Facebook, but I can’t remember from who. Oops. Anyway, a good illustration of how confrontational tactics are wildly unpopular until they work.

Things You Might Have Missed

January 16, 2013 By: Mel Category: Misc

The internets are rapidly finishing the job Aaron Swartz started.

Must read article on what is happening to women who are pregnant. Arrests. Deaths. Involuntary commitment. Medical tests.

I am so glad my parents did not have access to microchipping technology. Though I suspect I would have gotten extremely tech savvy. By now I’d probably be programming ankle bracelets to say people are home when they are actually slamming beers at a bar and planning the next occupation.

I hope somebody out there has skills like that. As it seems our injustice system will now be using some bullshit program to determine who will commit crimes in the future. Probation and parole will be judged accordingly.

Sending people to prison for things they have not yet done is not new.  I highly recommend reading this New Yorker piece on sex offenders. It is so disturbing.

Great that the ACLU is pointing out what happens when you put cops in schools. But good luck getting people to listen.

I knew John Kiriakou’s prosecution was bullshit, but I did not know he has basically been convicted of sharing a business card.

Anybody have the details on the bombing of journalists in Greece? Supposedly some of ours who did this dumbass shit.

Cliff at The Pervocracy on how we screw up kid’s heads about sex.

Many of you give me a hard time for living in DC. But there are some things we can be proud of. Like we watch more porn than anybody.

Of course, we also have cops in the DMV who drive women to secluded areas to rape them. And one that decided to murder his mistress and then leave their baby in a car to die.

Also, it seems we have decided to go the Texas route and “get tough” on truancy. Cause that went so well in Texas.

Sigh.  Home sweet home.

Pregnancy, Coercion, and Responsibility

January 14, 2013 By: Mel Category: Misc

I was reading about this abortion restricting bill in Michigan. While I realize that it is another attempt to regulate abortion out of existence under the guise of safety and regulations, something in that article struck me.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has approved a controversial package of abortion restrictions that will limit abortion access for women who live in rural areas, require doctors to prove that mentally competent women haven’t been “coerced” into their decision to have the procedure, and enact unnecessary, complicated rules for abortion clinics and providers.

Why those quotes around “coerced”? I know young women who were coerced into having abortions because their parents were embarrassed, because they said they would refuse to help take care of the child, because the father would not take any responsibility, because the community would not take any responsibility, because they had no other place to turn to.

I also know many women who were coerced into having children. Women have their contraception tampered with. They are pressured by their husbands and families to reproduce when they don’t want to, even though the primary responsibility for the kids will fall on them. They are pressured by their community and religious institutions not to abort. They are pressured by the social assumption that everybody “should” have kids.

If you read The Girls Who Went Away, you will read story after heartbreaking story of young women prior to Roe v. Wade who did not have the option to abort and who were coerced into giving their children up for adoption. When I say coerced, I don’t just mean the shame and social pressure. I mean that actual force was used to get them to sign adoption papers. Sometimes the papers were even forged.

And what about all those women around the world who have no access to birth control, much less abortion, and who are poor? Some wealthy couple from the U.S. or Europe sweeps in and pays an attorney tens of thousands of dollars to adopt the child. They take the child away from their mother and community and we are supposed to think that it is a happy ending. Meanwhile, if the mother received the money that went to the attorney, she might have been able to keep the child. Isn’t that a form of coercion?

Nobody should be coerced into having children and nobody should be coerced into not having children. But it is more complicated than not telling women what to do with their bodies. It is also about economics and social support.

And here is where it gets even more complicated. Whether or not other people have kids affects us. I sincerely wish that wasn’t true. I wish my decision not to have kids meant that I would never have to deal with the responsibility of children. But much as I hate to admit it, it just isn’t the case, not even in the best of circumstances. But it is especially true when really damaged people decide to bring kids into the world.

It may be tempting to say that some people should not be allowed to have children. But as much as I may cringe at the prospect of certain people being parents, even more cringe-worthy is the idea that there is anyone out there who has the right or the impeccable/superhuman/prejudice-free judgment to determine who is worthy to have children. We can’t have judges ordering women not to reproduce. We can’t let governments decide to sterilize people because they are trans or poor or disabled.

Other people’s lives and decisions affect us – even people we don’t know. Sometimes that really sucks. Sometimes people make horrible, irrational, and irresponsible decisions that we all have to live with – and that includes people who lived long before we were born. But sometimes people also do things that we all benefit from without having had to make any effort or sacrifice. While we are quick to condemn those whose bad decisions cause us inconvenience, nobody wakes up in the morning feeling guilty that they don’t have polio because some other person’s kid invented a vaccine.

I have written before about how I think the nuclear family is a failure, that it is really a mechanism for limiting our responsibility. It has also been used to control and shame women, especially poor women. Some of those Girls Who Went Away later found out that the only real difference between them and the adopted mother was a husband and a slightly larger bank account. But those two things are significant when we live in a society that likes the benefits without the responsibilities.

Conservatives want everyone to be in the supposedly perfect and stable nuclear family where the father and mother take care of everything and nobody else (supposedly) has to get involved. Maybe your church or neighborhood might pitch in. Liberals want to get involved (entirely too much) by legislating, taxing, or sending in some (hopefully) well-meaning civil servant who is getting paid to kinda care. Because paying a tax and sending in a social worker takes a lot less effort than actually getting involved in a kid’s life. Neither way is working very well.

All of which is to say that, when it comes to pregnancy and children, there are a lot of tensions that cannot be resolved. They can only be managed. The question is how to manage those tensions in a way that is not coercive or authoritarian. How to accept that we cannot seal ourselves off from others decisions, but also not leave us constantly cleaning up other people’s messes. How to get out of these intractable and unhelpful debates where we just grab onto a platitude and refuse to listen to anyone else.

Not easy.

Things You Might Have Missed

January 09, 2013 By: Mel Category: Misc

Must listen talk by Ashanti Alston over on the AK Press site called Anarchism, Zapatismo & the Black Panthers.

More cops and cab driver impersonators out raping women. Charming.

Holy crap. 75% of West Virginia teens don’t use any birth control?! Can somebody rent a crop duster and drop-bomb some condoms please? And lest you think that is a Southern thing, a California school district is saying that getting plenty of rest prevents STDs.

I doubt any of you missed the MoJo article on the connection between lead and crime, but just in case.

Fuck Yeah to Trickle-Down Feminism.

Listen anarchists. If you are going to throw molotovs, could you at least represent us better than throwing a PBR? It is embarrassing.

I finally checked out The Central Park Five this weekend. Go see it before it leaves theaters. It is infuriating. Just keep in mind that this shit happens all the time.

More locksmiths refusing to participate in foreclosures please.

“It’s tough to find out who’s responsible for the action as the cat doesn’t speak.” Best quote by a spokesperson ever. And also more proof that cats are anarchists. Somebody needs to break that compañero out of kitty prison.

That comic strip is from Anarchy in Your Head. You can see more Anarkitty on the website. You can also buy Anarkitty swag on Cafepress.

Nothing Should Last Forever

January 04, 2013 By: Mel Category: Misc

This might be the creepiest thing I have ever read.

Many engineers, including me, think that some time around 2050, we will be able to make very high quality links between the brains and machines. To such an extent that it will thereafter be possible (albeit expensive for some years) to arrange that most of your mind – your thinking, memories, even sensations and emotions, could reside mainly in the machine world…The main aim of this research area is to design electronic solutions to immortality.

Just in case those links between brains and machines seem completely beyond possibility, you might want to check out the research that may soon lead to mind-controlled prosthetics. Those prosthetics would be amazing. But immortality? Trying to keep your thoughts, memories, and emotions alive forever?


Perhaps you think it would be useful to tap into the memories of generations of people. As a history nerd, I can see the appeal. But do we really need to tap into the emotions and damage forever? I’m glad that the generational memory of the pogroms and holocaust are not fresh wounds for me like they are for previous generations. It is hard enough to get over the damage.

I get not wanting to die. I get not wanting to lose the people you love. But the fact that nothing lasts forever is the most hopeful fact we have in life and, painful as loss and death are, we should embrace it.

Think about what the alternative would be. If the good things lasted forever, the bad things would have to also. Forever wars. Forever genocides. Forever tyrants. Do you want Hitler or Lloyd Blankfein or Charles Manson to live forever?

Things need to end to make room for new things. People need to move on to make room for new people. You never know what wonderful thing you may be missing out on by trying to hold on to things that need to be let go of. Besides, what kind of megalomaniac would actually think they should live forever?

Things You Might Have Missed

January 02, 2013 By: Mel Category: Misc

HRW has a new report out called Sex Workers at Risk. If you don’t have time to read the whole report, skim through some of the testimonies. How cops treat sex workers and trans people is disgusting.

Of course cops treat a lot of other people like shit too as this kickass kid managed to record during a stop and frisk.

And what about this dickhead 911 operator who hung up on and then arrested a girl trying to get help for her collapsed father. Unbelievable.

Some interesting short videos about the drug war in Latin America over at TNI, this one from Ecuador in particular.

Hey, remember when Obama said he was going to close Gitmo? Psych!  Turns out “Prison conditions and legal constraints have only gotten tougher, not easier, under the Democratic president.”

A good overview of solitary confinement from one of the prisoners at Corcoran. It looks like there may be another hunger strike.

What happens when you lose your hands while making flat screens in Mexico? You are screwed.

I haven’t actually looked at the research, but apparently liberals are more prone to stereotypes than conservatives.

Can someone explain to me why this GEO exec and his son are not in one of their abusive private prisons instead of say undocumented immigrants who haven’t done shit?

Guess we are too busy arresting kids for doodling.

Any of you have recent info about ankle bracelets on truant students?

So in India, if you are raped, they will stick two fingers up your crotch to make sure you aren’t a slut. In Swaziland, if you wear a miniskirt, you will be sent to jail for six months for provoking rape. And in Italy, a Catholic priest said women are being killed by their husbands because they are too confident. Nice world.

Finally got around to watching this interview of David Graeber. I need to read his debt book. Any of you gotten to it yet?

P.S. When I was looking for a Gitmo image for this post, I came across so many horrifying political cartoons supporting indefinite detention without trial or just plain murdering those prisoners. WTF!

Stuff You Read 2012

December 28, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

I feel like I hardly posted at all this year. But it turns I actually managed to spew stuff out. You even read some of it. So the top 10 for 2012 are:

And there are a few oldies that are still in the top ten and getting some reads.

Thanks to those of you who have stuck around. Looking at the list, it seems you all want to read about sex, drugs, music, that special brand of bullshit that comes from liberals/feminists, and things referencing my lady parts.  Why am I not surprised?

Degenerates are my people.

P.S. Came across that movie poster looking for a graphic to go with degenerate. How have I never heard of that before? It must be so awful/great. Just don’t make the mistake I did and try to play the trailer at the office.  Ummm. Oops.  NSFW.

2012 – Damn

December 26, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

When I was fourteen a schoolmate of mine hung himself, my father had a stroke, my family lost our business, and the IRS came after us. When I was twenty-six, my father died (something I may finally be ready to write about). Those were by far the two hardest years of my life. 2012 is now added to that list, which is why I have been absent a lot this year.

Not to say that everything in 2012 was horrible. There were some incredible highs too. I also know that those previous roller-coaster years were defining years. I came out a different person each time. Kinda of curious as to who I am going to be after this.

Sometimes I think we may need to screw up our lives and put the pieces back together. It’s just too easy to trade joy and sorrow for safety and contentment. But avoiding pain only causes more pain in the end. That said, I’ll be quite happy to take a break from the roller-coaster for a bit.

One thing I have definitely re-learned after this year is how important and incredible my friends are. Some of them have been there for me for twenty-five years. And I am not always easy to be friends with. Turns out there is such a thing as unconditional love. Took me forty years to believe it. (Even cynical me can be convinced. Who would have thunk it.)

My roommate was talking about bucket lists the other day. I don’t have one. I used to have a whole lot of things I wanted to check off having done with my life. Not anymore. There are lots of places I would love to see and things I would like to do. But I only really have two goals in life now – to be fearless and to be a really good friend.

So goodbye 2012. Much thanks to my friends and to vodka tonics for getting me through this year. No idea what 2013 has in store. But we’ll muddle through it together.



Things You Might Have Missed

December 20, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

If you pay attention to nothing else in this post, please read this piece on how the government created residential segregation in our cities. De facto my ass.

Red Emma’s in Baltimore is expanding. Please help.

Is giving homeless people cigarettes an ethical dilemma or are Swedish health groups full of shit?

Excellent interview with Victoria Law on The Struggles of Incarcerated Women.

The sexual abuse in prisons is just beyond words.

But hey, at least some nonprofits are getting money from prison labor. (Someday I really need to write a book on nonprofits.)

Yup. Obama is a liberal.

Education is not the answer to poverty.

You have probably read The Woes of an American Drone Operator, but just in case.

Incorporation is collusion.

The inside scoop on how Walmart trains managers to keep the workers in line.

I’ve posted this before, but I feel like No One is Innocent needs a repeat.

And happy end of the world. Looks like Michigan closed 33 schools early in preparation. Hope you all have fun plans.