Tag Archives: Politics

It turns out what we do matters

Just a few things to note.

Across the street from me, the Macy’s is being renovated. The pace of change in the whole neighborhood is crazy, but the interior of the Macy’s is getting changed, they are tearing out and rebuilding the floors above the store, the parking garage catty-corner is getting torn down- it’s a lot.

And it’s loud. SO LOUD. The folks running the projects were doing demolition all through the night.

I’m on the board of our building so people asked me how to get this to stop. I had no clue. I just told them to call 311, report the noise repeatedly and lets see if our combined hectoring led to anything. Eventually, we posted a sample of text for folks to make it easier – they didn’t have to figure out what’s important to say, just read what we posted. Of course, I didn’t have much hope because who’s going to listen to some folks like us when there’s a big developer behind the renovation?

I was wrong. We got their night permit suspended. One of the reasons cited was the volume of calls from our building.

Our voices mattered.

Just like they did when we rejected the initial proposal for Ryan/TrumpCare. And they will keep mattering.  This is good, but it is also a responsibility. I grew up with a lot of cynicism about participation in the political system – lots of folks in my generation figured the game is rigged. So why play?

The game might be rigged, but you’re definitely fucked if you don’t play. If you fight you get some wins. That matters.

So now I’m more committed to doing my bit. I can’t do it all, but I can make some calls each day at lunch with 5calls.org. I can join in and support groups like Tech Solidarity. I can donate cash to campaigns that need it. I can phone bank. I can text Resist Bot and send short messages to my government representatives. It’s NEVER been easier to have some effect.

And your voice and actions matter too, friend. It’s time to make yourself a schedule or an appointment of small sustainable things you can do every day. Please take 10 minutes today to think about what matters to you and come up with a small, easy to keep up with plan. Call me if you need any support. Please tell me about what you decided! Sharing your experience helps keep you energized! I will talk through it with you!

Another way to give

This week I dropped off 13 phones at the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund. I saw Executive Director Peter Goldberg speak at the NYC Tech Solidarity meeting in February and he went over the story of Kalief Browder.

Peter talked about the amazing effects that bail has on guilt. If you can post bail, you are magically less likely to plead guilty to charges and to go to jail. Heck, if I can help people magically not commit crimes by helping them get bail, that seems like a great way to reduce crime!

Peter said they ( and all non-profits) have surprising needs that nerds with good jobs wouldn’t expect. They need laptops, desktops, phones.

In the BCBF’s case, loaning someone a phone means they have a vastly higher chance of not missing their court date. It allows the bail fund to communicate with their clients and make sure everything works out.

I went to my help desk and CTO, and talked with them about old phones available for donations – we cycle through new equipment and have lots of “loaners” or used phones – more than we reasonably need. Just by asking and working with the help desk team to wipe old phones we managed to get phones that we’d just pay someone to recycle for us into the hands of folks who can fight for a fair trial.

Not bad, and not much work to do a hell of a lot of good. If you want to give them a few bucks to do this good work, you can also donate to the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund online. Let me know if you do!

Ten Things I Want My Children To Learn From 9/11

Ten Things I Want My Children To Learn From 9/11 via  Popehat.

The headings are good, but the explanations are better.  Good to read or re-read on this day.

  1. Ordinary People Are Capable Of Extraordinary Things.
  2. Evil Exists.
  3. Good Exists.
  4. It’s Best To Define Yourself By Your Reaction To Events, Not By The Events Themselves.
  5. A Thing Is Not the Same As Our Reaction To A Thing.
  6. Beware of How People Use Great And Terrible Things And Events.
  7. Fear, Anger, and Apathy Are Perilous.
  8. Understanding Is Not The Same As Justifying.
  9. People Are Not Abstractions.“Each person who died on 9/11 represented an entire world ending.”
  10. There is Nothing New Under the Sun.

Pot and Spoon – for kids to learn about Occupy

I read this story of a pot and a spoon that get impounded as evidence and a woman’s struggle with the state to get them back – and it was wonderful. I’m printing a copy for MAXIMUM LAZER.

Pot and Spoon, a true tale of Occupy Wall Street by Jerry Goralnick and illustrated by Ruthie Rosenfeld is available for free download on their site.

Pot and Spoon tells the tale of Madeline, a young woman who brought her pot and spoon to the OWS protests and had them confiscated by the Police. As Madeline tries to get them back we learn about flaws in the system, unhelpful public employees and police over reach. Pot and Spoon, locked up in an evidence holding warehouse, have a great conversation about social structure and the types of change the Occupy movement hopes to engender.

via Boing Boing .

All you need to know about the David Petraeus affair

David Simon, creator of The Wire, breaks it down:

Hypocrisy will never go out of style in American journalism or American life. But sitting there and watching the rewrite and sports desk mobilize to surround the sexual wanderings of a sportscaster, I remember making a decision: Enough. This is just sex. This is nothing more than the odd, notable penis or the odd, notable vagina staggering off the marked path and rubbing against the wrong tree. This is just people.

David keeps responding in the commens, where I found this gem of a story about Churchill and the World Trade Center tragedy.

Even better is this Tumblr of David Petraeus Affair Photos.

My two cents – if you are searching for any way to react to this that isn’t based around gossip, look for the best of human emotions.
Look to bind yourselves to those in trouble, exercise your empathy and compassion.

Volunteer Your Computer to Keep Privacy Possible

The good folks over at Wild Bee have an excellent article about how you can use your computer to help the world while you sleep. Lotsa people run SETI@home – I think it is because of the screensaver. Instead of a looking for aliens, you could help political dissidents in repressive regimes, protect anonymous whistleblowers, and even protect our intelligence agents overseas. Install TOR and volunteer your computer for global privacy.

Is your internet provider cheating you?

The FCC has a tool you can use to find out if your broadband provider is advertising better speeds than they provide.Check it out over at Broadband.gov.

This seems like a nice crowdsourced way to catch cheats. It will work better the more people participate, so go over and take the test.

Also of interest is that they are using open source software to provide the tests – software that can be independently verified.

The country and the country

Geoff over at BLDGBLOG has a great post about how Australia’s strange bid to avoid refugees makes some islands both Australian and not Australian. These islands become strange limbo zones of tortured legality, much like in “The City and The City”.

It’s strange to see them give up sovereignty over land to avoid their own laws about providing safe harbor to refugees. It seems that the self-image of mercifulness is more valuable than the land, but less valuable than actually welcoming in refugees.