Finding your own activism

I was also fascinated by the media guru who posted the item, who admitted that she’s “someone who has never been a protester.”

siena.billboardThis is one of those stories that wasn’t particularly interesting to me UNTIL other people piped up.

Some students at Siena College, in a suburb north of Albany, protested about a billboard they found offense. I was unaware of the controversy until the local media guru posted the response from one of the local radio deejays, a guy named Chuck, with whom I was unfamiliar, on her Facebook feed:

I believe apathy is a dangerous thing and it’s particularly depressing when I see it so frequently exhibited by young people. For that reason, I actually admire the fact you are willing to take action against something you deem offensive and misguided.
With that said, here is my unsolicited advice. Devote your energies to a cause that might actually make a difference in someone’s life.

THAT response rubbed me the wrong way.

Among the Facebook discussion that ensued: “While it certainly wouldn’t be reason enough for me to protest, I’m certainly not going to condemn someone else for taking a stand on something! we need more social engagement in this country and young people have to start somewhere!”

That more or less was my position. Yet, as I reread Chuck’s blather, I got more and more irritated. Maybe it was because I was feeling unwell.

I wrote, “Chuck’s response is a classic diversion stance of ‘Aren’t there more pressing issues?’ Of course, there are, but this one engaged these people in this moment, something that they might change in the moment.”

Chuck had written further in his response:

“You really want to help women? There’s a strip club a couple miles up the road. Maybe some of those women could use your help. Their lives truly ARE dependent on men.”

I noted, “Telling them about a strip club that they might not have even known about, and suggesting they ignore what’s right before their eyes, is patronizing and insulting. Good for the protesters.”

Ultimately, I thought there was less sexism in the ad than in the snarky response by the deejay.

Chuck wrote, “Somehow you have whipped yourselves into a frenzy…a storm of wild indignation and self-righteousness…fooling yourself into believing you are doing something noble and important. I hate to break it to you but….you’re not.”

The subtext to me of his comments was clear: they were silly, overly sensitive “girls” who didn’t know about “real life” or “marketing.” Someone wrote of the DJ: “You are perpetuating the many stereotypes assigned to women over the years who get passionate about unpopular ideas” which sounds about right.

I was also fascinated by the media guru who posted the item, who admitted that she’s “someone who has never been a protester.” As someone who has protested a lot of things over the years, I’m interested to see how someone, albeit half my age, could not moved by some cause, some issue. It’s just foreign to me.

The C-word and other things that bother me

joniernstI’m not a big fan of Joni Ernst, the recently-elected US Senator from Iowa, who gave the Republican response to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. IMNSHO, she has some wacky ideas, and is a bit of a hypocrite.

Still, I got extremely irritated when I saw her referred to online as a “stupid c@#!”. The “stupid” part, frankly, didn’t bother me all that much, but the reduction of a woman to a body part, using a term not historically used in civil conversation, really got me enraged.

And I see it a lot, when some comment about women whose views they don’t share: former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R-AK), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY), former Presidential contender Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), or Holly Hobby Lobby, among others.

It’s not dissimilar to saying of a black person, whose ideas that you disagree with, is a “stupid n@#$%!”, suggesting the stupidity comes from his or her blackness. But the C-word infuriates me more because, while most decent people will call out obvious racism, some (comedian Bill Maher, I’m talking about YOU) seem to justify their sexism because they’re “comedians” or “commentators” or some other BS.

An obituary for COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best-selling author, was a piece of work. “Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth.”

Speaking of condescending: US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) shushes CNBC reporter Kelly Evans during an interview. If he decides to run for President, his opponents should run this clip repeatedly.

Female veteran finds a nasty note on her car after parking in ‘reserved for veterans’ spot, because only men go to war these days.

Male professors are brilliant, awesome, and knowledgeable. Women are bossy and annoying, and beautiful or ugly.

The best thing about the SONY hack – Exposing the pay gap between male and female stars.

The War On Women 2015 in the US. Of course, it could be worse: No Pardon – Young Woman To Serve 30 Years For Miscarriage in El Salvador. Oh, wait: Indiana Convicts Its First Pregnant Person of ‘Feticide’.

September Rambling: unlikely friendships, and NYC songs


Infrastructure, Suburbs, and the Long Descent to Ferguson. Also, Pantheon Songs on the singing group The Impressions, featuring Curtis Mayfield, which is also about Ferguson.

Next Time Someone Says Women Aren’t Victims Of Harassment, Show Them This. Plus, These Are The Things Men Say To Women On The Street. Oy: Woman Discovers ‘Rape Room’ in Comic Book Store; Is Promptly Fired. Also, Ray Rice, a Broken NFL Culture, and How to Fix It and ‘The Burning Bed,’ 30 years later. And Ray Rice, now.

John Oliver’s investigation reveals Miss America scholarship claims are made of lies.

This month, the 7th circuit struck down gay marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin. “The three judge panel was unanimous and the opinion was written by [conservative] Judge Richard Posner.” After listening to his oral arguments and reading the opinion, what kind of rebuttal could someone could possibly make? Continue reading “September Rambling: unlikely friendships, and NYC songs”

August Rambling: Deep dark secrets

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website.

The Hook-Up Culture Is Getting 20-Somethings Nowhere. On the other hand, Casual Love.

How we get through life every day.

Nixon’s still the one. And What We Lost 40 Years Ago When Nixon Resigned. See Harry Shearer recreate Richard Nixon as he preps and delivers his resignation speech. Plus George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.

New Zealand’s non-partisan Get Out the Vote campaign. I don’t see such things often in the US. Sure, there’s get our SUPPORTERS to vote, but that’s a different animal.

Deep Dark Fears is “a series of comics exploring those intimate, personal fears that mostly stem from your imagination getting darkly carried away.” Read more about it.

Rod Serling’s closing remarks from The Obsolete Man episode of The Twilight Zone. “It remains profoundly prescient and relevant.”

All these in a 48-hour period: How games’ lazy storytelling uses rape and violence against women as wallpaper and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has come forward with several stories of being called “chubby,” “fat,” and “porky” by her male colleagues in Congress and Fark prohibits misogyny in new addition to moderator guidelines and Snappy response to sexist harasser in the tech field.

Modern Office with Christina Hendricks.

FLOWCHART: Should You Catcall Her?

Guns and The Rule of Intended Consequences.

What our nightly views might look like if planets, instead of our moon, orbited Earth.

Cartoon: Pinocchio, Inc.

Remember when I wrote about flooding in Albany this month? Dan explains the systemic reason WHY it happened.

Arthur makes the case against “the case against time zones.” I’m not feeling the abolition of time zones either, at this point.

Nōtan: Dark and Light principles of Design.

The jungle gym as math tool.

The disaster drafts for professional sports.

The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It.

One of my favorite movie quotes, maybe because it’s so meta: “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” (Grand Canyon, 1991)

Seriously, Rebecca Jade, the first niece, is in about four different groups, in a variety of genres. Here’s The Soultones cover band – Promo video. Plus a link to her latest release, Galaxy, with Jaz Williams.

Tosy’s U2, ranked 40-31 and 30-21.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, 2004.

August 22, 1969: The Beatles’ Final Photo Shoot

Coverville 1043: The Elvis Costello Cover Story III, in honor of him turning 60.

4 chairs, 4 women; 4 women, no chairs.

12 billion light-years from the edge. A funny bit!

Don Pardo, R.I.P..

Lauren Bacall: always the life of the party. And cinema icon of Hollywood’s golden age, 1924-2014. A Dustbury recollection.

More Robin Williams: on ‘cowardice’ and compassion. Also, a Dan Meth drawing and Aladdin’s Broadway cast gave a him beautiful tribute. Plus, a meeting of Yarmy’s Army and Ulysses.

Jaquandor remembers little Quinn. Damn middle recording made me cry.

The Wellington Hotel Annex in Albany, N.Y. was… murdered in plain sight in front of hundreds of onlookers. “If I were a building, this is how I’d like to go.” Here’s another view.

SamuraiFrog’s Muppet jamboree: C is for Clodhoppers and D Is for Delbert (who evolved) and E is for Eric the Parrot and F is for a Fraggle and G Is for the Gogolala Jubilee Jugband.

New SCRABBLE words. Word Up has identified some of the new three-letter words.

I SO don’t care: one space or two after the period. Here’s a third choice.

The ultimate word on that “digital natives” crap.

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?

Freedom from fear.

Ever wondered what those books behind the glass doors of the cupboard might be thinking or feeling?

The New Yorker thinks Yankovic is weirdly popular.

Here’s a nice Billy Joel story.

Pop songs as sonnets.

House of Clerks, a parody of House of Cards.

Saturday Night Live Political Secrets Revealed.

This Sergio Aragonés masterpiece is included as a fold-out poster within Inside Mad. His priceless gift to all Mad fans shows over six decades of Mad contributors and ephemera within a mish-mash of Mad office walls. The only thing missing in this beautiful mess is a key. Doug Gilford will be attempting to label everything you see with brief (pop-up) descriptions and links to pertinent pages…

Hello Kitty is not a cat. You may have known that; somehow, I missed it.

You May Have Something Extremely Valuable Hiding In Your Change.

Improved names for everyday things


I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website. J. Eric Smith, who used to be a TU blogger, responds at length.

SamuraiFrog responds to my response to 16 Habits of Sensitive People. Also, per moi, he does his #1 songs on his birthday: 1987-1996 and 1997-2006, and 2007-2013. I’ll go back to this myself, eventually.

Dustbury on the theme song to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which a passage in Schutte’s Mass resembles more than slightly. He discovers a Singapore McDonalds product.

Jaquandor answers my questions about vices such as swearing and politics/American exceptionalism.

He also writes of buckets and the dumping of the water therein, which Gordon thinks hurts nonprofits. Snopes, BTW, debunks the claim that 73 percent of donations to the ALS Association fund executive salaries and overhead.

Do you know that ABC Wednesday meme I mention with a great amount of regularity? I think this recent introduction I wrote explains it fairly well.

Well, maybe not ALL people, but…

How is it that rape and sexual assault is so common on college campuses and in the nation’s military?

handglovesKen Screven was, according to the Times Union newspaper’s Chris Churchill, “the most recognizable black person here in one of the nation’s whitest metropolitan areas,” i.e., Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY, for most of his 34 years as a now-retired television reporter. Having lived here for most of this period, I daresay Churchill was right. Screven even covered a couple of stories I was involved with, notably the January 1985 Rock for Raoul benefit, honoring the late Albany cartoonist/FantaCo employee/my friend Raoul Vezina.

I had this, literally, a nodding acquaintance with Screven when I’d see him in Albany’s Center Square, sort of the curse someone who has met a LOT of people (Ken) go through. We’ve more recently become Facebook friends, sometime after he became a blogger for the Times Union website, as I am.

Churchill reported: “Cellphone footage of the [Arbor Hill street brawl among black teens]… has circulated widely by now. Screven saw it shortly after it happened — on Facebook — and decided it would be provocative material for [his] blog… So he posted it, along with his reaction.”

Part of the narrative was that Screven found “the fight troubling — and, as an African-American, embarrassing.” And I totally GOT that, because I tend to feel that way. My late father most assuredly did.

Churchill noted that he doesn’t feel embarrassed by the stupid things white people do – such as the Kegs and Eggs riot of 2011 in Albany – and I’m sure that is true. Screven noted, “It just takes one black person to do one bad thing and the whole culture is demonized… The white culture is going to say, ‘There they go again.'”

Churchill is technically correct when he suggests that “not the entire white culture” reacts that way. It happens often enough, though, that this cartoon by Keith Knight feels very true, particularly the comparison between a misguided youth and a thug.

I remember reading a black columnist back in December 1993 – William Raspberry, perhaps? – talking about how much he, and black people he knew, hoped that the Long Island Railroad massacre shooter was not black. Of course, he was.

In an interesting variation, I’m now seeing this narrative, after the recent shootings near Santa Barbara, California, about some men feeling a sense of entitlement when it comes to access to women’s bodies. #NotAllMen, the Twitter hashtag reads; some guys are decent, sensitive souls who fight sexism with every fiber of their being, and surely that is true. We should not castigate an entire gender, because isn’t that prejudiced?

Yet #YesAllWomen resonates as true. I know a strong, independent, accomplished, married woman who has recently noted: “an innate instinct of self-protection around, yes, most men learned very early.” Women give out wrong phone numbers, tell guys they have a boyfriend (this piece notwithstanding), avoid eye contact with men lest they think you’re “interested.” You don’t even have to be in conversation with a guy; the drive-by schmucks are alive and well.

How is it that rape and sexual assault are so common on college campuses and in the nation’s military? Why are women demanding the same access to contraceptives as men do to Viagra met with slut-shaming? How is it that “gun extremists” target women with spitting, stalking, and threats of rape?

What has prompted someone to initiate a petition to stop sexual harassment at the San Diego Comic-Con and to create a formal anti-harassment policy, a document I signed, BTW? Maybe it’s Yes, All Men? Or as Louis CK put it, “There is no greater threat to women than men.”

No, most men are not rapists, or deadbeat dads, or mass murders. But almost all mass murders are men, and, in the United States, white men at that. Maybe that’s a good thing, because, perhaps, the situation will spark enough concern and outrage to aid in dealing with mental health issues, and controlling the sale of guns to people who are deranged. Nah, I’m just messing with you; we’ll have the same damn conversation after the next massacre.