baby in sink

Cleaning Up My Internets: Starting the Simple Actions Community

Hi Friends.

Im posting this in case you want me to un-friend you, delete past comments from public posts, etc. I've been scrubbing my history on LJ, and I'll probably be at it for a few more weeks. Why?

I'm starting (thinking of starting?) a community ( simple_actions) that would just be a feed of one simple thing you could do today to influnce politics within MA. I've noticed that a lot of the mail I get is national, and quite frankly, most of the legislators MA sends to DC are fighting the good fight, and I don't need to call them nine times out of ten.

There's one sample post up - take a look if you like. If this is going to get going I'd like to have 1-2 other people who can help moderate.

Why do this as a LJ community? Both for public ease of use:

  • It's a webpage, important information like phone numbers, rep locators, and where to publically comment on things can have a permanent place in the sidebar.

  • It's a webpage, if it takes off people can just subscribe to the RSS

  • It's searchable by tag and issue; and I think you could just RSS for the issues that interest you.

And for anonyminity:

  • Only moderators will be able to post

  • The community will not record IP addresses

  • Comments will be disabled on "action" posts

  • There will be a pinned post at the top with a  "how to format your action" behind a cut. This post will allow anonymous comments, and all comments will be moderated. Moderators will copy the information from the comment into an action post and delete the comment.

  • If this seems like it's working out, we can upgrade to a paid account, and the community will have an e-mail address that will allow even-more-anonymous posting/information about actions to take.

The downside of anonyminity - the moderators of this space will be the public face (in fact the ONLY face) of it. If it becomes internet famous, there could be a lot of trolling, and probably even some hate. While I can't see anything objectionable about saying, "Hey, here's a thing and you should call this person" or "Hey here's a proposed regulation about a thing - please click through to comment" (If you disagreed with me 100% it would still be useful because you could call and say "DONT DO THING"), I also don't see anything objectionable about loving someone of the same gender, changing your body to match your gender, or a lot of things that the current party in power object to.

So, yeah, let me know. I know that if there's going to be trouble over forwarding things on facebook, I might as well court the same trouble here so I can shield a few others from it.

Peace to you and yours.


baby in sink

Book Review: Hawaii, A History by Ruth M. Tabrah

Earlier this year it seemed likely that M. and I would relocate to Hawaii, and as another part of that, we read up on the islands. Specifically So You Want to Live in Hawaii by Toni Polancy and Hawaii, A History by Ruth M. Tabrah.

This Hawaii, A History was published in 1980 as part of a series of books commissioned for America's Bicentennial. I have to recommend it for the first 85% of the book: from the "discovery" of the islands by Captain Cook to the end of WWII. If you want to know more about post-war Hawaii, it's struggle for statehood, and how that's reflected today, you'll need another book.

Ms. Tabrah is very good at presenting history from the perspective of the natives, and later, the common people. She covers how King Kamehameha the first united the islands (somewhat in response to Cook's landing), and how things that may not make sense initially, such as riots at sugar and pineapple plantations, make sense when the rioter's perspective is considered.

In many ways, this book could serve as a condensed history of the United States: the same struggles between natives and immigrants, labor and management, progress and conservation play out over about 200 years and 6000 square miles. The author never falls into the trap of thinking the islands a paradise; she exposes the problems and solutions, or non-solutions, encountered over its history.

The book does have its biases. It will always side with the little guy, and has no problems pointing out the cruelties of the big five landowners (who overthrew the monarchy, oppressed both native Hawaiians and imported workers from Japan, China, and everywhere else, advocated for military rule during WWII, and were the backbone of the Republican Party after that). I suppose if you want to see Hawaii as a rich man's playground this book would be an unpleasantly cold shower, but as my biases align with hers, I found it an enjoyable read.
  • Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
  • Current Music: Clementine-The Decemberists-Castaways And Cutouts
baby in sink


Wherein I realize that my musical repertoire is utterly unsuited to lullabies.

Case in point: Shankill Butchers by the Decemberists

The Shankill Butchers Ride Tonight
you'd better shut your windows tight
they're sharpening their cleavers and their knives
and taking all their whiskey by the pint

'cause everybody knows
if you don't mind your mother's words
a wicked wind will blow
your ribbons from your curls
everybody moan, everybody shake
the Shankill butchers want to catch you away

they used to be just like me and you
they used to be sweet little boys
but something went horribly askew
and now killing is their only source of joy.


I can also sing, semi-on key, White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane, the first half of "Hush Little Baby" (don't ask me what comes after the looking glass), and The Rainbow Connection, although I tend to confuse and repeat verses.

Infant amnesia is the only thing between this kid and massive amounts of therapy.


Disenfranchisement Ho!

So yeah. The numbers have been run. Unless Obama or Clinton can snare about 2/3rds of the remaining pledged delegates (those schmoes that you and I vote for) it's going to come down to how the super-delegates fall.

Super-delegates include Democratic house members, senators, governors, DNC bigwigs and a few others (like ex-presidents). They all get one vote.

I know you voted. Or will vote. And you probably voted for a good portion all of the suer-delegates who represent your area (at least in the general). So if you feel passionately, write or call them. Offer thanks if you agree and register complaint if you don't. (Please be nice to the staffer who takes your call). They can change their vote at any time for any reason.

Here's the list of super-delegates (by state) who have publicly stated their support for a candidate.

And here's the list of uncommittededs. Go to.
  • Current Mood: blah blah

Retain Your Bitching Rights... VOTE

Today is the Presidential Preference Primary in over 1/2 of all states. If you don't vote, I don't want to hear any complaints before November, and if it's not your candidate after November None of how he/she would have won it/passed the most perfect bill EVAR/etc. etc.

So retain those bitching rights. Vote. Polls opened in Massachusetts at 18 minutes ago, and will stay open until 8:00pm.

I know who I'm voting for - not only because of policy proposals and rhetoric, but also because of endorsements. I don't think that I'm usually swayed by them, but several local lawmakers I dislike have endorsed the same candidate and it does not help my opinion at all.

(I've left the name off because you should vote. Even if you disagree with me and your candidate wins and then I have to spend the next few months/years exercising my right to bitch.)
  • Current Mood: busy busy

Book Review: James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips

James Tiptree Jr. is an author that I'm very fond of, and I've been meaning to read this book for years. I finally picked up a copy in SF, and I meant to read it on the plane home.

I started it then, but I didn't finish it for nearly three weeks. You know how fast I read, but I just kept having to walk away.

The entire book is so skillfully written that you feel that you know things about Alice (the author calls her Alli as much as she can) that Alice couldn't recognize about herself. It's voyeuristic, and I felt at times that I shouldn't be here, that I shouldn't be reading this person's secrets and hopes and fears.

It was pretty amazing that I could feel that way. Other biographies I've read (or read from, usually for reports) were dry things, factual accountings of lives well lived and accomplishments left behind. This was intensely emotional: each era or experience was recounted but also how it affected Alli and how it would come to be reflected in her writing. And she had a lot of writing. Alli corresponded regularly with her mother and other authors in SF. She wrote memos about her life and half completed (auto)biographies about Tiptree's. And then there was other's writing about her - her first marriage was reported in the Chicago Tribune, her mother wrote novels based on what she thought Alli's experience as a child on Safari in Africa was, what other authors though of her/Tiptree's work.

It doesn't feel as if the author has to stretch or conjecture to fill in the blanks and give us a complete picture of the woman that Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr. was.

The first half of the book is a quick, easy read. Alice is born in Chicago in 1915 to a wealthy family. She is taken on Safari twice in her childhood. Her family has a cabin/property on the lake where they summer. She has a formal coming out. In a lot of ways I read this as a compare and contrast section; my grandmother was born at almost the same time to a family of lesser- but still wealth. I kept reading about Alli's life, but it was the candid portrayal of a different era - one before telephone, television, commercialized air travel - that stuck with me. I don't know which of these things my grandmother did (she, like Alli, went to college), but for the first time I felt that I had an idea of what it must have been like to be a woman of that time.

I'm not sure I could have done it.

At one point Alli thinks that she could have perfectly happy as a man - some sort of engineer - and that she's cursed to be female. I can't imagine what I would do if I wasn't an engineer. If I wasn't allowed to think logically and mathematically and be valued doing so. And I wonder if I would have ended up as mad as her.

That's what makes the second half of the book so hard. Alli is more than a little mad. She's probably bipolar, definitely bisexual (if not a lesbian), inclined towards science, and trapped in a time and world that doesn't know how to help her. As an adult she's trying to find her own way and that leads through an a short-lived explosive marriage, a stint in the WAFF, the marriage that will last until their deaths, a chicken hatchery (really!), and the creation of her pen-name/alter ego: James Tiptree Jr.

One night in 1987, at the age of 71, she shot her husband in the head and then killed herself. I knew this was coming from before I turned the first page, but it was still painful to read. (I'm tearing up just typing this). Alli believed that an artist could only be judged, and deemed great, after his (and I want to say or her, but I'm not sure Alli could have considered that) death.

She, and her works, were brilliant. Julie Phillips does her justice here, and that's why you should read this book.
  • Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

May I just say

Fuck the Fed. And the horse it rode in on.

Short term CD rates are at 3.2%. This isn't even going to keep pace with inflation.

I'd like to invest in my country. I think that I understand it better than anywhere else. But when it's screwing me this badly, the Euro-zone looks mighty tempting.
  • Current Mood: pissed off pissed off

Book Review: Your credit Score by Liz Pullman Weston

So for a while now M. and I have been thinking of getting a house, and then there is this whole "we'd like to transfer you to Hawaii"-thing with my job. (Renting in Hawaii is supposedly a really bad deal because non-resident tourists snap up the properties sight unseen). So I did the first thing I knew to do: I pulled our credit reports. And then I paid for our scores. And while M.'s was good, mine was not what I wanted it to be.

So I did what any over-educated, middle-class, girl would do: I went to the library. And I checked out Your Credit Score by Liz Pullman Weston. She's been a finance write for around 20 years now - including on a Pulitzer-winning investigative team.

It's a simple book with a lot of tips. Most of them only apply if your credit is fucked up due to mistakes on your report, and a lot of them are for after things have gone really wrong. Still, it was a short (159 pages with a lot of whitespace & bullet points), informative read. If you can pay your bills and want to improve your score I came away with the following things that you should know:

+ Bills overdue, but less than 30 days overdue, do not show up on your credit report but can affect your credit score.
+ You should have a good mix of unsecured credit (re: credit cards) and secured credit (re: bank and home loans)
+ You should never be using more than 30% of your total unsecured credit, and never more than 30% on any given card.
+ If you have a lot of credit, the above drops to 20%.
+ Accounts you've had for a long time show a good/long credit history. Closing older accounts (especially those open for 10 years) hurts you. Lots. Because it makes you look like you've had credit for a lot less time than you really have.
+ It takes 7 years for a missed payment to slide off your bill.

So the answer to my problem is basically patience - M. and I aren't about to take out any car (or other secured) loans but we can do the following things:

+ Set up automatic bill pay though our bank, or the companies billing us, to ensure we don't miss payments
+ Put my name on his cards so my score improves via his
+ Keep our balance below 20% by making mid-month payments where necessary

So yeah, even if you pay off your cards every month, keep this in mind. Or read her book. It'll only take you an hour or two.
  • Current Mood: accomplished accomplished