Stand With Wendy

If you get your news from, well, major news outlets, chances are that you have no idea who Wendy Davis is. She is a state senator from Texas who, on Tuesday, spent thirteen hours filibustering a piece of anti-choice legislation. SB5 aims to not only ban abortion after twenty weeks of gestation, but to raise the requirements for clinics where abortions can be performed to such a level that the law would effectively shut down all but a handful of the state’s clinics.

Texas has over twenty-six million residents. This is a big deal for millions of American women. With a Republican majority in the Texas senate and Governor Yosemite Sam Rick Perry unlikely to veto any anti-choice measures, the only way to stop SB5 from being passed was with a filibuster.

Each state has its own specific regulations for its state legislature. On a federal level, filibusters can go wildly off-topic (we have all heard stories of entries from a phone book being read) and can even be performed without anyone actually standing and speaking. In Texas, filibustering means speaking on-topic without sitting, leaning against your podium, or taking a break.

So that is what Wendy Davis did. For thirteen hours. She received three “warnings,” being accused of going off-topic (in once case by discussing Roe v. Wade, because, you know, that’s so unrelated to a bill that restricts a woman’s right to choose?).

She was then prevented from filibustering further, but her allies in the senate then began asking questions on procedure and arguing against Wendy being silenced (to stall for time). When the questions failed, crowds of onlookers began chanting so loudly that the senate was unable to call a vote until after midnight (the deadline).

Now, just to clarify, this was not followed by major news outlets. But this was livestreamed. It was all over Twitter. If you don’t take Twitter news seriously, you should know that it’s not just for gossip or Arab Springs or hearing about earthquakes before everyone else. #StandWithWendy was trending, worldwide, above almost everything else.

While there are millions of wonderful, pro-equality, and tech-savvy baby-boomers in the world, this image best represents my thoughts on the livestream:

This is really, truly important. My dashboard on Tumblr is usually full of fandom images, funny images, and occasionally beautiful people in various stages of undress. Tonight, it was all about Wendy Davis, Texas, and the filibuster—from images or a few words of support to my friend’s wonderful thoughts on the filibuster and how people view Southern politics. Twitter was no different. It was beautiful.

We followed the filibuster, we followed the debate on procedures, we followed the protest as the senate Republicans desperately raced against time.

To the collective outrage of hundreds of thousands of people who were viewing this live (I listened to the livestream for hours, like a radio show, while doing other things), the senate “passed” SB5, though it was after midnight. Which is illegal. And they stamped the official time as 11:59. As some people phrased it, they “mansplained time to a clock.”

As if no one would notice.

It was only while I was already writing this post that the closed-door session announced that, despite their best efforts, they could not get away with “passing” SB5. Because, officially, they were determining if it had been passed, but they were actually determining whether or not they could get away with their time-altering shenanigans (time-travel irritates me in science fiction, so you can imagine that I was not delighted to see it used by politicians to break their own rules—rules that had been so important to them when a female senator was breaking them).

But SB5 failed. Thanks, in large part, to Wendy Davis.

The reaction of the crowd of Texans who had gathered was thunderous applause.

Guys, this was a great example. We’re all excited and nervous about today, when we’ll find out how the SCOTUS has ruled on issues of marriage equality. But it is important that we also remember that tonight was a victory for Texas women. Which means that it was a victory for people.

Finally, this post would not be complete without me adapting a Star Wars quote to this situation:

PS: It is 4AM and “Wendy” and “Texas” are both still trending. Worldwide.



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Grow Food Or Lawns: Whatever Works For You

Have you guys seen (usually through social media, such as Facebook or Tumblr) the “Grow Food Not Lawns” campaigners? Basically, they believe that people should not obsess over perfectly manicured lawns and grow edible fruits, vegetables, and herbs on their own property. The potential benefits in terms of less fuel consumed when food is shipped are obvious—if enough people were to do this to make a difference. Those whoa re fans of organic food might enjoy the peace of mind that comes with growing the food yourself.

There’s an easy argument against this—that not everyone, even in the suburbs, lives in a neighborhood (or town or city) that allows what the Grow Food Not Lawns proponents are encouraging. From what I understand, in some places, doing something like this could get part of your lawn bulldozed—and you billed for it.

There is another, more important argument.

I’m not a “grass person” (I love trees and ivy, personally) and many types of gardens look absolutely lovely, but there’s just no way that I’m ever going to do that. How about if I fulfill one of my specialized skills and, as a person who hates the feeling of dirt or grime and who gets genuinely uncomfortably warm at 70F, leave the gardening to people who have both the desire and inclination. Growing flowers and managing a garden is work. Growing crops that you intend to eat, even if you do not intend to rely upon them as your primary source of sustenance, is a lot of work.

Also, not everyone eats the kind of food that you can grow in your lawn. There are some teas and flavorful herbs and some wonderful fruits and berries that could grow in my yard, but let’s be honest: I can’t grow enchiladas or macaroni and cheese. I cannot grow sesame chicken or pizza.

I understand the environmental ideas behind this movement—I really do. But I’m not just objecting to people telling me what to do with my lawn like someone objecting at being told to shave (or not shave, as the case may be). It’s not just that people are being pushy—it’s that the idea does not work. Not for everyone.

We like the idea of a Jack-Of-All-Trades in fiction—someone who can kick ass, perform battlefield surgery, solve a complex riddle, survive in the wilderness for three months, and hack into any computer on the planet. But as anyone who has played a hybrid class in a video game might tell you, being a little good at a lot of things does not work. If you can act and write and paint and sing and you also have other talents, great. But chances are that if you’re working on your new album and filming a movie, you aren’t going to be able to devote that time that you wanted to spend on solving the Riemann Hypothesis, designing that new video game you thought of in the shower, and also growing your own food. And that’s if you don’t have children.

We each have our own particular aptitudes, sets of knowledge, capabilities, and interests. If you want to grow your own food, that’s great. If I want to do what I can do with my abilities, receive currency—my effort and merit measured out—and then exchange that currency to someone else (like a grocery store) for that store’s product (thus rewarding them for doing their work as I am rewarded for doing mine), then that’s wonderful. That’s the world in which we live.

The solution to unhealthy food is to fix the food and/or to fix our bodies so that we are not punished for enjoying the foods that we love. The solution to the environmental impact of transporting foods across distances is to use clean, renewable energy. We won’t exhaust sunlight transporting out-of-season strawberries halfway across the continent so that I can eat them when I want to.

If you want to make time to grow your own food or solve unsolved mathematical equations, good for you. But don’t criticize someone for using his or her property for a different purpose.

PS: I’m an environmentalist. I really am. I am just not a farmer. I like plants but we just thrive in totally different environments. They thrive in sunny, warm, humid environments where there are also things like insects and dirt and I do not care for any of those things in the least.



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“She Wasn’t Conscious So She Technically Didn’t Say No” Is The New Defense In Rape Cases

I’ve tried to be quiet about the Steubenville rape case but I can no longer keep my mouth shut. A sixteen-year-old girl found out she was raped, multiple times, when she went on to her social media and saw pictures of her unconscious body being carted by two boys. She texted the boys and others from the party and was met with ‘you wanted it’ type responses. In fact one of her rapists told her he looked out for her and if she told anyone what happened he, “would never do anything nice for you again.” It was so nice to put your fingers inside her while she was unconscious in the backseat of a car while someone else filmed it. Good looking out, bro. Or wait, maybe he was referring to the time he tried to make her give him a blowjob in the basement while others watched and testified she “wasn’t into it”.

The boys took her from party to party where they (and others) raped her. I’m not putting “allegedly” in there because they did it. There is photographic evidence of it and recently someone has testified that they even recorded some it on their cellphone.
This case has gotten a lot of attention because Anonymous, the hacktivist group, hacked into some social accounts and uncovered a video in which a few football players, including both suspects, were joking about the incident. Here are some choice quotes:

“He’s puttin’ a wang in the butthole, dude.”

“They peed on her. That’s how you know she’s dead, because someone pissed on her.”

“They raped her harder than that cop raped Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction.”

“They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson raped that one girl.”

“They raped her more than the Duke Lacrosse team.”

“Her puss is about as dry as the sun right now.”

“It isn’t really rape because you don’t know if she wanted to or not.”

As disgusting as that is, what’s worse is the defense for these cocksuckers. The defense is, “it was not rape because she was unconscious therefore she didn’t SAY no.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!? That’s the defense? That’s what we’re calling a “defense”?!!? Those lawyers should be brought up on charges of their own. Half the people in that town are SUPPORTING the rapists. I don’t care if she was a “party girl” I don’t care if they play football THEY RAPED SOMEONE.

It’s disgusting, it’s frustrating, it’s infuriating and I hope those boys find themselves in jail where they meet a lovely cell mate that will be “puttin’ a wang in a the butthole, dude”. I hope those lawyers have daughters that drink too much at a party one night and they see pictures of her unconscious with two men dragging her to the back room where they will “rape her harder than that cop raped Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction”. I hope that half of that town find themselves at a party with the Duke Lacrosse team.

When will it stop? When will men learn that women are not their property? When will men learn DO NOT RAPE?

On Sunday, March 17th 2013 these two men were found guilty of rape. They were tried as juveniles and received minimum 1 and 2 year sentences, respectfully the maximum time they will spend in a juvenile detention center is 5 years. It will be up to the center to decided their release and they will get credit for all time served. The only punishment that they received that I found fitting to the crime is: they will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their life. Good, because that is exactly what they are.



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The Twitter Lifeline During Hurricane Sandy and the Impact of Social Media on Current Events

photo of twitter hurricane sandy pictures
When super-storm Sandy was making her way to NYC, I was sitting in my little cube at my job in California. I have a little TV in my cube and so do my coworkers, and all of the TVs were on and tuned in to the news but the sound was off and backs were turned, the faces were reading Twitter.

Every desk I walked by was pouring over a Twitter feed of some kind. That’s how I got my news, too. I read Ice-T and Coco, who were breaking down the storm from New Jersey, and Julie Klausner who was in the thick of Manhattan. Even today I’m following their updates about the storm. Julie was evacuated to a friend’s apartment with her cat, and Ice-T and Coco still have no power.

I was watching my feed as my friends in New York tweeted that they were okay, where they were, and what was happening. Later during the hurricane, I fell in love with Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

The night of the storm I lay in bed and saw a RT from Bette Middler of Cory Booker. I clicked on his feed, I had no idea who he was at the time, but I saw this man responding to tweets every few seconds. ‘DM me your address I’ll come there’, when someone would say the emergency number wasn’t working he would reply with one that was. When someone said power was out he responded with “I’ll report it, I’m in the area do you need anything?” he was out all night. Three days later he’s still updating people on Twitter letting them know he’s there.

When word got out that the NYC Marathon was going to go on, I watched my feed explode with anger. People going on and on about how awful it was to not cancel it and a few hours ago I watched as they rejoiced that Bloomberg announced that due to an outcry on social media, the race had been canceled. I saw pictures of people sharing power with signs that said “We have power, please use it to charge your phones or go online”. Getting online was a connection, it let us know you were there and what you needed.

I saw the storms devastation on Instagram and Twitpics, I saw the share link for the Google doc that was listing displace persons, and I read the hashtag #NOLATONYC where survivors of Katrina reached out and comforted people over 1,300 miles away.

Like it or not our lives play out over social media. Or lives intersect over social media. It is an age of rapid fire information. And is that always such a bad thing?



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