Just Shelley

Kicking funk

Today’s a really nice day–warm, but with a cool breeze and low humidity. The clouds are nice, fat, and fluffy white, against a dark blue sky and people smile at you without you even having to ask for it; even the birds seem to be singing more. This is good because I’ve been in a funk lately, and just haven’t been feeling up to challenging trails (or even sidewalks).

The run of good weather will last through the weekend, so this will probably be my last post for a few days, as I am turning this titanium dominatrix off and spending time outside. In the outdoors. Away from computer. Away from my cellphone. Maybe even away from the camera, though I’m not sure I know how to walk without the camera bag on my back.

First though I had errands to run. I got my hair cut by Ramona, who did a really great job. It’s now a mass of short, wavy curls, with a flirty little flip at the bottom. I feel so hip and fun–not bad for one of those inexpensive walk-in places. Not bad for an older woman with the funk.

Then it was to Petsmart to pick up grass to give to my chlorophyll-junkie cat, and to spend time petting and patting the pups that people bring in. Today, one of the women who works at the store had her 12-week old west highland terrier puppy with her, and that little sweetie just stole my heart.

After extended puppy therapy, I stopped by the market and picked up fresh fruit: bananas, white nectarines, pluots (plum-apricot hybrid), and cherries. The cherries are really nice firm, dark bings–sweet and juicy. And the rest of the fruit seems equally luscious, though it cost an outrageous amount of money. It’s not easy or cheap to eat healthy, but I felt needed the fresh produce, for medicinal reasons.

I also picked up some homemade spinach fettuccine noodles, as well as some unusual new small, but larger than cherry-sized tomatoes, artichokes in seasoned oil, black olives, garlic, onion, cream, and cheese to make a vegetarian Alfredo. It’s simple — just cut the tomatoes and olives up into the artichoke oil to marinade for a time (then drain), cook the sauce (with the garlic and onion) and the noodles and then toss all of together . That’s it — no salad, no bread. And fresh fruit and sorbet for desert.

If this doesn’t kick the funk, nothing will.

Coming back, I passed an intersection where firemen will hold their boots out to collect for charities, and one of the local churches collects for its mission downtown. Today, though, a young man was standing on it, holding up a sign that read, simply, “Down on my luck”. Just standing there, stiff backed, holding that sign. Not approaching the cars, or extending containers to the drivers. Just standing there, looking straight ahead.

I guess it goes to show that no matter how put upon you’re feeling, someone else has it worse. If the sight of him didn’t kick me in the funk, it definitely kicked me in the butt.

Life is good. I have fresh cherries to eat, so life is good.

Connecting Social Media

When one hears persistent squeakings of teeth

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There has been a great deal of discussion, a pile-on really (as Scoble can attest), about the fact that MSN Spaces is ‘censoring’ certain words such as ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ from being used in specific instances associated with MSN Space-hosted weblogs. This is based on a recent article with the provocative title of “Microsoft bans ‘Democracy’ for China web users”.

From Steve Donohue:

Well, I still hate using them, and it takes me about three times as long to get anything done on a Mac, but this makes me absolutely enraged at Microsoft.

Secular Blasphemy writes:

Microsoft has cowardly decided to ban words like “democracy” and “freedom” in descriptions of personal profiles in blogs at Microsoft Spaces.

NYGirl writes:

How sad, I was hoping that the rise of the internet & blogging will pry open the doors of democracy in China.

This from LaBouilloire Magique (from which Bablefish translation I found this post’s title):

Démocratie et liberté, vous voyez la frontière là ? Si si on sait qu’on l’a atteinte quand on entend les grincements de dents persistants du gouvernement. Et bien, c’est là que vous vous arrêtez. C’est à se demander si le blocage du site de Libération n’est pas dû qu’à son nom un peu trop subversif pour le régime…

Dan Gilmore writes:

It’s easy enough to understand why our craven corporate giants are doing the dictators’ bidding. But Microsoft and Google, like so many others, rose to enormous wealth and influence by leveraging the freedom they enjoy in the United States. They may be serving their shareholders’ interests. But what they’re doing is not honorable. Why does money trump honor? Is this really the American way?

Rebecca MacKinnon writes:

I agree with Scoble: no outsiders, including Microsoft, can force China to change. But nobody’s asking Microsoft to force China to do anything. The issue is whether Microsoft should be collaborating with the Chinese regime as it builds an increasingly sophisticated system of Internet censorship and control. (See this ONI report for lots of details on that system.) Declining to collaborate with this system is not “forcing the Chinese into a position they don’t believe in.” Declining to collaborate would be the only way to show that your stated belief in free speech is more than 空话: empty words. If you believe that Chinese people deserve the same respect as Americans, then please put your money where your mouth is.

Wired writes:

On Monday, Agence France-Presse, the French news agency, said bloggers were not allowed to post terms to MSN Spaces such as “democracy,” “human rights” and “Taiwan independence.” Attempts to enter those words were said to generate a message saying the language was prohibited.

David Weinberger writes:

understand the argument — Google’s, for example — that it’s better to provide limited access to Web services than no access. Of course, that argument happens to work out in favor of the companies’ commercial interests, so it’s tainted. But there’s also a point at which the compromises turn your software into an instrument of control. I don’t know where that point is but it should be making companies intensely uncomfortable.

…Personally, I think there are times when we absolutely do not want to enable other governments to do whatever it is that they want to do. I would not have wanted my company to help enable Apartheid, and I won’t even go back to enabling the legitimate government of Germany in the 1930s. My point is not that the Chinese government should be compared to this or that other regime but that I do not agree with Scoble’s idea that companies have no right to take moral stances against the policies of other governments.

And Tim Bray writes:

Look, there’s nothing in the basic workings of the free market, nor in U.S. legislation, that says MSN can’t be Beijing’s bitch to buy some bloggers. But remember, it is a free market, on this side of the Pacific. So first, I suspect there’s a lot of people—the kind of creative, independent-minded people that Microsoft needs—who’d generally rather not work at a company that does that. And second, there are a lot of other people who’d prefer to avoid buying products from one.

Yesterday Dare Obasanjo noted that there was a great deal of confusion about this issue. He wrote:

I will say two things though. First of all, the behavior of MSN Spaces isn’t something that is tied to any recent ventures in the past month or two by MSN in China as the article purports. In December of last year Boing Boing ran a post entitled Chinese editions of MSN Spaces censor political terms which covers the behavior described in the Financial Times article.

The second is that the response to the initial feedback on the “censorship” on MSN Spaces made by Michael Connolly in his post Comments on Content Moderation is still valid. Specifically he wrote

…Unfortunately, whenever you create an open platform for people to say whatever they want, and open it up to the wide world (14 languages, in 26 different markets), there is always a handful of people who spoil the party, and post a bunch of inappropriate (and in some cases illegal) stuff. And to make matters worse, what exactly is deemed “appropriate” or not is very subjective, not only from person to person, but from country to country

…We block a set of specific words from being used in 3 areas: the url you select, the title of your Space, and the title of your blog entry. These three fields are reused and displayed in a variety of areas, like search results, so we thought it would be a little thing we could do to cut down on the obvious cases that would most easily offend.

What Dare’s post is saying is that the censorship amounts to the material that shows up in the public spaces of the application. This includes the blog title, post title, and the URL.

I noticed that there is a French publication and weblogger who have commented on this. I guess neither is aware that Google, Yahoo, and other search engines are forced to censor certain web sites related to the neo-Nazi movement from the German and French versions of the search engines because of laws passed in those countries.

I’m guessing that most of these commenters would be surprised to learn that pound for pound, internet censorship is practiced as heavily in other ‘freer’ countries. For instance, Australian censorship laws are infamous, with their ambigous definitions of what is or is not objectionable material.

In fact if you look closely most countries have some form of censorship laws on the books related to internet content–not all having to do with pornography. And I even imagine that most people have forgotten that Dave Winer does (or did) censor weblogs that appeared in based purely on their title (My Big Penis, or something like that, is one that comes to mind).

Frankly, I doubt many of our weblogs could pass all internet censorship laws in all countries, or even those implemented at most public libraries. But since my weblog is not called My Big Penis, it will show up on Dave Winer’s

It is not up to our corporations and businesses to fight for freedom and against censorship. Giving such political and legislative power to business can only result in an overall negative experience regardless of the medium, and the internet is no exception. I have found from history that Business is a lousy judge and a worse executioner.

It is up to the people to fight for freedom and laws to protect freedom. We, first, must fight for freedom in our own countries; and then we must take that fight to others: through pressure from our governments and through international organizations such as the UN. Even then, we must be careful to differentiate the freedom that is a basic human right, and the freedom that is a frivolous desire to act without regard to the consequences.

By putting the responsibility to battle for freedom of speech into Microsoft’s (or Google’s or Yahoo’s or any other internet-based content provider’s) hands, we are holding them accountable for enforcing our views without taking any accountability for this on ourselves.

Question: for those of you who have condemned Microsoft for this action, how many of you avoid buying products manufactured, directly or indirectly, in China? If you own Apple products, take a look at the manufacturer’s label. Oh, and be prepared to give up that cute little iPod.

In other words, if you condemn the censorship in China, the place to make a stand starts in your wallet, not in Redmond.

Copyright Weblogging

The EFF’s Blogger legal guide

As much as I’ve tweaked the issue of Creative Commons and weblogging accountability, I would be remiss if I didn’t provide a link to EFF’s Legal Guide for Bloggers.

The guide provides some good overview of issues such as legal liability, copyright, and defamation. It isn’t detailed, but chances are if you need detail, you probably need a lawyer.

The guide does reference Creative Commons, but a very neutral overview of it, primarily pointing us to the CC site. If I think one section is weak, it is the section devoted to copyright, Creative Commons, and people making comments:

When a person enters comments on a blog for the purpose of public display, he is probably giving an implied license at least for that display and the incidental copying that goes along with it. If you want to make things clearer, you can add a Creative Commons license to your blog’s comment post page and a statement that by posting comments, writers agree to license them under it.

Just to clarify this: if you comment here, it’s going to display here. If you don’t want it to display here, don’t comment here. If after you comment, you regret the fact — delete the comment. If you can’t manage your own destiny with all this, and you sue me, I’ll send Microsoft after you. After all–I’m the only blogger that hasn’t condemned MSN Spaces and blamed the company for the upcoming fall of the internet. The company owes me.



We’re getting the worst storm of the season tonight and I went to my favorite storm watching spot to get photos. It was a magnificent cloud with lightning, which I couldn’t capture as I was just too slow. I love the wind pushed in front of the storms, though, and leaning into it as it blasts around me.

When it started raining heavily I headed home. Entering the complex, I started up the hill using my regular route, forgetting that part of the road is closed off for road re-surfacing. The car in front of me also forgot, and was stopped at the barrier. Looking in the rearview mirrow, I spotted an SUV behind me.

It’s narrow to turn around in that spot with cars parked on both sides. The car in front started backing up, and I started backing up but the lady in the SUV wasn’t moving. I finally stopped, and the blue car ahead of me, impatient, started backing up on the other side of me.

Did I happen to mention it’s narrow? And that he was impatient? Sure enough, on the other side of me, he hit a parked car, scarping his car’s side down the other fender. He stopped, and I thought he was going to get out, but then he just took off. I rolled down my window to see where he went and saw him a couple of blocks away, turning the corner. The lady behind asked if I got the license plate, which I hadn’t. But she did back up the SUV enough for me to turn around and I followed him to see if I could identify his car.

I couldn’t find him so I headed back to the damaged car, calling the police to report a hit and run. When I got to the car, a young guy was standing beside it and thinking it was the owner, I yelled out I had called the police. Seems it wasn’t the car owner but the ‘hit and run’ driver.

He had pulled around to where his house was to park, and then walked back. He was pretty unhappy I had called the police, but as I told him he took off without a word to anyone and to all intents and purposes, he was a hit and run. I called the police to let them know the guy showed up, but the dispatcher told me and the guy to wait, the police were on the way. I told the guy I would say I misunderstood the situation, but he was still unhappy.

The rain became extremely heavy and I ran back to my car to wait for the police. I then noticed I had left the back door of the car open and the back seat was soaked. I was soaked, too, and for being as hot as it was, feeling really cold. When the policewoman came, I ran out into miserable downpour long enough to briefly tell her my story. She said I could go, and I took off.

When I got home, I told my roommate what happened and asked him: was I wrong to have called the police? He answered no way. The guy had driven several blocks away, without a word to anyone, and leaving the site of an accident. For all I and the other lady knew, he was a hit and run driver.

So why did I let the guy make me feel I was in the wrong?

Anyway, my roommate made me some chicken soup and I’m curled up in my chair with a soft blanket over my legs, still feeling upset about the experience. Then a knock on the door–a neighbor lady had found my wallet out in the street in a puddle by my car and was returning it. Though everything is soggy, it’s all there. And as much as the water has been running, it’s lucky it wasn’t washed away. That was nice of her, and her actions made me feel a little better; but I still feel that right now I would rather be walking the beach near Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon at sunrise–by myself–than be here. Walking, flying my huge sport kite, checking out the tidal pools–anything but be here, and anything but be with people.

None of the pictures really came out, so no photos. But I did want to point out that in addition to the thoughtful comments to my last post there’s a lively discussion about it at Lauren’s weblog–excellent discussion attached to both posts. And Dennis Kennedy at Corante’s Between Lawyers wrote a great follow-on post to the recent Creative Commons post.


The playing field

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I struggled for my first breath at 7:01 in the morning on the 18th of November, 1954. My struggle for equality began at 7:02.

Last week, Kos of the Daily Kos published a post supposedly in response to some people who were offended by an ad at his site. The ad features that silly new reality show based on that even sillier, but at least original, Gilligan’s Island. In the ad, two women playing Ginger and Mary Ann–busty and tight clothed–get into a pie throwing contest, to the titillation of the ersatz Skipper and Gilligan watching from the bushes.

Many folk found this ad offensive to women. Personally, and if you’ve read the Lehman poem Sexisim you’ll understand where I’m coming from, I found it offensive to men, as much as women. However, what became more of an issue than the ad is Kos reaction to those who expressed concern and outrage. We can only term it thoughtless at best, dismissive and arrogant at worst.

He responded first with:

So over the weekend, certain segments of the community have erupted in anger over the TBS ad for their reality show, the Real Gilligan’s Island. Apparently, having two women throw pies at each other, wrestle each other in a sexy, lesbianic manner, then having water splashed on their ample, fake bosoms is degrading to women. Or something like that.

Whatever. Feel free to be offended. I find such humorless, knee-jerk reactions, to be tedious at best, sanctimonious and arrogant at worst. I don’t care for such sanctimony from Joe Lieberman, I don’t care for it from anyone else. Some people find such content offensive. Some people find it arousing. Some people find it funny. To each his or her own.

Me, I’ll focus on the important shit.

He also made a crack about the women’s study set, which he later amended, writing

Hmm, after considering the early feedback, it seems most people didn’t have a problem with the ad, but had a huge problem with my sweeping generalization of the “women’s studies set”.

It’s a fair critique, and duly noted. I stand by everything else written, which is offensive enough to some people as is. But I honestly didn’t mean to smear anyone who has ever taken a women’s studies course, or majored or minored or gotten an advance degree in it. Just what is, to me, a small, extremist set looking for signs of female subjugation under every rock. So yeah, a poor choice of words that cast the net far too wide to cover the people that have, in fact, pissed me off.

Sorry about that, but not sorry about my broader point — that being sanctimonious about this ad is no different than the sanctimony we decry from people like Lieberman, Dobson, and the Family Values Coalition.

This unleashed a backlash that equals any other that I’ve seen in weblogging, and one that doesn’t look to be going away, because it’s really not about Kos. Not anymore. It’s tapped a frustration among many who consider themselves part of a growing political progressive movement.

I first heard about the discussion at Feministe where Lauren wrote:

Is the ad in and of itself offensive? Not necessarily. What is offensive is Kos’ dismissal of feminist complaint, concern and criticism regarding a pretty sexist ad designed for het male titillation run on the most widely-known progressive blog for his own personal profit.

Objectifying and demeaning any minority group for the sake of profit, be it corporate or personal, is abhorrent. This is exactly why I resist the Democratic party and most of its advocates. Women and women’s opinions don’t matter if they run contrary to the bottom line.

Others also responded, too many to link directly but among them are Echinde of the SnakesShakespeare’s SisterMediaGirlPandagonWaiting for Dorothy, and on and on — not just people responding to Kos’ statement, but also each other. (A cross-weblog thread I would surely love to capture in its entirety. Here’s a synopsis.)

I don’t care about Kos. I don’t find him particularly erudite or thoughtful in his writing; he has poor impulse control and is way too stuffed with his sense of his own importance. If this was about Kos, it wouldn’t interest me. But the focus on this discussion quickly went from Kos to the Democratic Party and even the progressive movement, and this does interest me.

Note in Lauren’s first post on this issue, the final two sentences: This is exactly why I resist the Democratic party and most of its advocates. Women and women’s opinions don’t matter if they run contrary to the bottom line. Shakespeare’s Sister also noted that this disregard for women among some of the more politically expedient of the liberal movement has deep roots, writing:

Indeed, the complaints about the male-centric upper echelon of the lefty blogosphere almost perfectly mirror the complaints about the male-centric leadership of the 1960’s anti-war movement—namely, that women were excluded from positions of power and influence.

Not only excluded, and I can’t find the original reference, but one of the original leaders in the Black Panther Movement was rumored to have said that the place for women in the movement was on their backs. Whether this is true, or, more likely, a misstatement, it is a known fact that women did not have full equality in the movement, even though they comprised the majority of the membership. From the paper, The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense about the history of the Black Panther organization:

The role of women within the Panthers was an area with many problems. At one point, women comprised 70% of the membership of the organization. Yet, all the leading positions were occupied by men. This is not a petty point because it illustrated the different roles that men and women took on. It seems that many women were confined to secretarial, administrative, childcare or other traditional roles whilst men were encouraged to develop the political ideas, speaking and leadership abilities. Also, some of the brothers complained that they were not taking directions from a woman! At other times it was found that accusations of being a counter-revolutionary were spread about a woman just because she did not want to sleep with someone.

These problems would have cut the Panthers off from a whole layer of Black women who were not prepared to put up with this nonsense. However, we have to see that sexist attitudes were not unique to the Panthers – it is something that occurs in all organizations because it is related to the oppressive nature of this society and the way in which it exploits women. The Panthers did take action against these attitudes but they did not fully succeed – equality in the party was never achieved. And you cannot be a true community organization, fighting the oppression of society if women are being oppressed within your organization.

My own political involvements at the time were all under the direction of men, even though women were many times placed in the front when police would come to break up demonstrations. In a paper on the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), David Gilbert wrote on an early meeting of women members of the organization, and a reception to their findings among the general body:

Meanwhile, the inspiration of the civil rights movement, the key and assertive work of women in it, and the problems of sexism within the left, all led to a re-birth of women’s liberation. An early example was SDS’s first ever all women’s workshop at our 6/67 national convention. The air crackled with the energy and creativity the women generated. But their report to the plenary got a raucous reception — including catcalls and paper airplanes — from many SDS men. Given there had been little history of struggle, it isn’t surprising that men were still very sexist, but such blatant hostility was shocking for an organization that prided itself on always siding with the oppressed. That debacle was an example of the problems that pushed many women to leave the “left” and contributed to an unfortunate tension between anti-imperialism and feminism, which weakened both. Many principled women — strengthened by the often unsung examples and leadership of women of color — continued to struggle on both fronts, but it took an Amazonian effort to do so.

But let’s not stop in the Sixties–we can follow along the path for the fight for rights for all and find women all along the way; women all too often recruited to swell the ranks of the fighters, and all too often discarded as soon as the fight is either lost or won. We are just so damn convenient; that is until we are no longer convenient.

Now the women who are angry at the lack of voice for women in what is supposedly the party that represents women, are being accused of costing the Democrats elections. Lauren wrote another scathingly angry piece on the issue of humor and feminists. She wrote:

Those who appear to be our natural allies appeal to women during election time, forget about us after the election is over, dismiss us when we call bullshit, demean us when we demand integrity, and then use our bodies to sell their product

She also pointed to a couple of other posts that discuss our ‘badness’ for raising such issues.

Poetic Leanings wrote:

The most important thing I can say is that feminism and the strong women behind critical social issues are NOT costing the Democratic Party votes and elections. Gay marriage is NOT costing Democrats votes and elections. The media “experts” will tell you otherwise, and various talking heads will point again and again to how specific social issues are harming the progressive movement.

…What loses elections for Democrats is cowardice. Refusing to have the courage to stand up for our beliefs, or holding to a hypocrisy based upon the idea that we can only be righteously indignant on issues when it is politically expedient to do so, is the reason Democrats lose elections. We are not true to our convictions. Voters are given a choice between a Republican and a Republican, and they vote … well … for the Republican. It is time for Democrats to stop apologizing for being on the correct side of issues. Ways of defending these positions must be promoted instead until more voters understand that Republicans are anti-woman, minority, blue collar worker, the middle class, God, and on and on and on. People might listen to progressives if they trust that we believe in what we say. Cowering in fear of the extremism of Republicans is hardly the best way of doing this.

What loses elections for Democrats is cowardice. Elections? Or self-respect?

Rana at Frogs and Ravens asks the question: does this sound familiar?

“You lefties just don’t get it. Standing up for the environment /arguing against the Iraq war /defending women’s rights /rallying for gay marriage /questioning free trade /regulating corporations is going to drive away voters. Let’s get the next election over with first, then we can deal with those things.”

“Greens will never win. You have to vote for Democrats, or the Republicans will win.”

“Why are you offended by this? It’s no big deal, and we have more important things to talk about. Why are you getting all bent out of shape by trivia?”

“Let’s get Bush out of the White House first. Then we can talk about racism /sexism /homophobia.”

“It’s a two-party system; third parties are a waste of your time.”

“It’s not like Roe v. Wade is going to overturned — and maybe if it is, that’d be a good thing, because then we could have a better debate about it.”

“Women’s issues are small stuff. Let’s deal with the important things first.”

Oh, and lest you think this is just a woman’s thing and therefore easy to dismiss, read Charlie’s take:

When it comes time for elections, Democrats are all about the women’s vote. But when the elections are over, and it comes time to pony up and actually lead by example, we get this instead. If you don’t want to see the party divided, don’t ignore the people whose vote you rely upon. And Kos, I’m well aware that you aren’t setting the agenda of the Democratic National Convention. But we all know that you’re considered one of the most influential liberal bloggers. And from your contemptuous comment about other bloggers needing the patronage, I think you’re well aware of that.

If you want to know why the Democrats are having trouble pulling people together, look no further than yourself.

This discussion resonated deeply within me, considering the following post I was in the middle of writing last week:

I’ve been a straight voting Democrat for close to thirty years, and though there has been, twice, when I’ve voted for a Republican, the only other time I’ve waivered from a strong party line was when voting for independents or Greens. Never at the national level though–only locally.

Well, I should say, I was a voting Democrat because I have quit the party. It wasn’t due to this latest fiasco, though I’ll admit this helped confirm my decision. It also wasn’t due to the Party picking Howard Dean as Chairman, though I’ll admit this did have something to do with it. The decision came from a lot of different factors, and began even before the Presidential election.

It used to be that the Democratic Party represented a strongly social agenda, while the Republicans focused primarily on economics. Lately, this has been reversed, and not in a positive way for either party.

The Republicans who, once, represented a fiscally conservative section of the populace that preferred to keep social matters out of the government, have embraced religious fundamentalism at its core; abandoning restrictions on government spending in favor of restrictions on personal lifestyle choices. Oh it still irresponsibly waves about tax cuts, as a panecea to all problems. Yet the government dominated by this party spends, madly at times, wildly at others–and seems incapable of connecting the two and a growing and dangerous deficit.

The Democrats, on the other hand, once focused on bringing more social responsibility into the government, even at the risk of an inceased tax burden. Where is the Party now that once helped bring civil rights to the South and hope to the ghettos? Now, the Party focuses on Social Security and balance of trade and unemployment, with an understanding that it has to pick and choose which battles to fight. (And let’s face it, there’s not enough gays to swing the election, and the poor can’t pay for medical insurance much less donate to the Party coffers. As for women? Hey, no one is stopping us from being fully equal, are they?)

I watched in the last several months as Congress came dangerously close to breaking the barriers that separate the legislative branch of government from the judicial; selling ANWR out through the back door; passing bill after bill that erodes our freedom and our dignity, as it caters sometimes slavishly and unthinkingly to corporate interests. I look carefully to see how each party votes, and the only time I can tell the difference between the two, is whether a politician is smiling when Howard Dean is present; or whether he or she looks ready to kill.

(And that’s not a guaranteed Party filter.)

Even now, most of the energy of the Democratic Party is being focused on protecting the chairman, Howard Dean, as he jumps up and down. The Party says he brings passion, but what the Party really likes is that he brings in money. Oh, and yeah — we need to put some Democrats in Mississippi and Kansas. You know, the places where the guys in pickup trucks fly them Confederate flags.

It gave me such pride to read Lauren’s and Shakespeare’s sister and Rana and Amanda and the others as they expressed their anger and their dissatisfaction, openly and directly, not afraid of being either condemned or questioned; not once backing down from their beliefs even if, in spite of, ‘rocking the boat’ for the ranked political bloggers.

We’re told that change comes from within, and if we want to make a difference, we need to get along to get ahead. I haven’t seen this strategy work in my technology-related profession, conditions of which seem to have worsened since weblogging has started. I haven’t seen this work in my society, where women being concerned about sexism are dismissed as ‘humorless women’s studies types’ who can’t focus on ‘more important issues’. I haven’t seen this work in the Democratic Party, which spends most of its time scrambling for the tattered ribbon of ‘morality’. I definitely don’t see it in very many countries, where rape is still a favored weapon of war, and women are still considered property. Even in my own supposedly egalitarian country, women make up half the population but only about 15% of the leadership.

The game is rigged, so I’m picking up my marbles, and I’m going to find a different playing field, and different players. My most sincere thanks to the prominant Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian gentlemen bloggers for showing me the light.

As of last week, I am now an official member of the Green Party. At some point I realized that the only vote you throw away is the one that you cast because it’s the lesser of two evils. I will no longer compromise on full rights for gays, equal representation and application of the law for minorities, the environment, global health care, separation of church and state, corporate responsibility, and above all, women’s issues. But I won’t stop with being a passive member, I plan on becoming involved as deeply as I can with how this party is run. I am not going to let another political organization classify the concerns of half the population as a ‘bullet’ item in a preset agenda.