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Don’t Mourn…Organize

One of the things that has been irking me recently is that people who support Trump and even some of those who didn’t, keep talking about the many protests around the country as if they are about “whining” or being sore losers.  That is a great way to shut down their voices.  Look I’m not one of those, “he’s not my president”.  For better or worse he is the duly elected President of the United States.  I will support his agenda…as much as Republicans supported Obama’s.  Obama won Electoral and Popular votes, and Republicans stymied him every chance, so should we.  Republicans threatened to not even allow Hillary if she was elected to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, I think we should too.

Getting back to what these protests are about.  It isn’t about the fact that we lost, it is about what we stand to lose with a Trump presidency.  Already there have been hundreds of hate crimes committed.  I shared the fear that children are feeling as related to me by my sister who is a social worker at an underprivileged school.

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The point of the protests is to let Muslims, Women, the LGTBIA community, Hispanics, African-Americans, and the WORLD, know that America may have made a mistake, but there are still friends and allies in this country.  These protesters got off the sidelines to let their community know that there are still people who will defend their right to exist in this country.  That hate may have won a battle, but it will not win the war, because it never has. Trump brought the KKK out of the woodwork and into the light, and it is these protesters who are going to ensure they have no safe-haven, not through violence but through ensuring their message remains one to be ashamed of.  That can only be accomplished by making your voice loud and heard.  You know, by taking to the streets in larger numbers than them.

It is, however, not enough to just protest.  This is where Republicans constantly beat us Progressives and Liberals.  They didn’t get the election results they wanted with Obama, so they set about trying to ensure it would be harder for his supporters to vote.  Long lines at the polls is not a symbol of how great our democracy is, though it is great to see so many people willing to wait to just cast a vote, long lines are a symbol of a failure of governmental efficiency.  Sadly, it is intentional on the part of certain people.  There were more polling places closed this election year and many had shorter hours.  That was by design.  I don’t believe the election was stolen from Hillary, but I do believe there is a movement to make it harder for the poor and minorities to vote, you know supporters of Democrats.

So we as Progressives and Liberals need to go to work.  Organize and fight back.  Not with violence as they have, but with institutional change.  We must keep our elected representatives in check.  We must run for local offices.  We must motivate our community to stand with us.  We must ensure that in two years Republicans lose the House and two years after that they lose The White House. I mourn for now, but as I said in my Facebook post, I’m getting my ass off the sidelines.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2016 in Random

 

The Linus of the 2nd Amendment

The Linus of the 2nd Amendment

I move to begin calling 2nd Amendment supporters Linus.  Hear me out.

I recently participated in the #cocksnotglocks rally.  I work for the company that supplied the dildos and warehoused others sent from supportive companies.  (Read my company’s stance here) When I first read the story, the day Jessica Jin posted the event, I immediately texted my partner Shannon and we were in touch with her before the weekend was through.  We knew we could supply the dildos and possibly drive a little business our way.  The idea of the protest was to fight absurdity with absurdity. It is absurd to freely walk around (or conceal carry) a weapon that can kill people, but if you carry a dildo out in the open…misdemeanor.  Until the company I work for, Dreamers, overturned the Sex Toy Ban you couldn’t legally sell a dildo, except by the same convoluted logic that head shops sell “water pipes”.  There is a reason all stores, and the industry as a whole, calls them novelties, because we couldn’t (and in most of the country still can’t) call them sex toys.  Marital aids is another popular euphemism.  So this absurd treatment of guns versus dildos is what the protest hoped to show in stark relief.

That point was missed by the majority of gun enthusiasts.

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Most of the responses in various comment sections (when not just being outright idiotic) centered around “why shouldn’t I be able to defend myself” or “good luck defending yourself with a dildo when some maniac begins shooting at your campus”.  Not to mention flat out threatening other people.  #notallgunlovers

This belief that at any moment you could be John McClane and need to defend Nakatomi Plaza is delusional.  I hate to use that word because of the connotations attached to it, but that is literally the definition of delusion: to believe something despite reality contradicting it.  This is the SAFEST TIME IN ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY to live. I encourage you to google that phrase.  Better yet, read Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker.  If you live in the United States you are seriously safe!

from factcheck.org

I’m not saying no one is in danger of dying, but ALL CRIME in the U.S. has decreased.  Almost every type of crime has decreased in Austin, including murder and aggravated assault.  In 2014, there were only 34 murders in Austin, a city that has a little over 900,000 citizens, and only 30 in 2015.  We have a lower murder rate per 100,000 citizens than Houston and way lower than places like Detroit or Baltimore.  So why so scared?

If you are a white male living in Austin you are at a higher risk of dying of nearly anything other than murder.  You have better odds of having a beer with Matthew McConaughey after which he pulls a gun and kills you. Seriously.  Texas Monthly said of Austin in their crime report when referring to how safe it is to live in Austin, “Austin is basically a fairy tale land populated by elves and hobbits..”

You’ll notice a lot of people in comments and in defense of open carry or concealed carry talk about defending themselves.  During the democratic debates Webb made a comment about Obama and Hillary having armed guards.  “Why can’t ordinary citizens defend themselves?” he asked.  Um, maybe because we’re not in constant mortal danger?  Obama and Hillary probably receive death threats on a daily basis, maybe even hourly.  If you are receiving death threats, you probably should carry a gun, or have a bodyguard, too.  That makes sense.  People threatening to kill you or posting your address on the net means your fears are not unfounded.  If you live in Austin and NO ONE has legitimately threatened your life, you have unfounded fears.  The gun makes you feel safe when you are not actually in any danger.

Which brings me to Linus.  You remember that character from Charlie Brown always walking around with the blanket.  Guns are nothing but glorified security blankets.  I’m sure you can point to someone somewhere defending themselves with a gun, but that doesn’t disprove my point.  Just because someone used a gun to defend themselves (and there is no way to know if they even needed the gun), it still doesn’t change the fact that YOUR odds of being in mortal danger have not changed.  We are ridiculously safe right now.  One of my favorite comments about Cocks Not Glocks was this one (which clearly illustrates the delusion of threat)

FB post 1

If someone tries to rob me at gunpoint I’m just going to hand over my wallet (I don’t carry cash and can cancel each card within the hour) and my phone is insured.  Why would I pull a gun and escalate a situation that is already deadly and increase my chances of being shot? Why?

Also, what idiot would try to mug you with people around?  I know muggers aren’t the brainiest people, but still.

Here’s some more of the delusion.

fb post 2That second one is my favorite.  I assume he walks around with a defibrillator (735K heart attacks each year) and oxygen tank (130K stroke deaths).  Reminder murders per year: FBI data for 2014 showed 13K nationwide and again last year in Austin: 30.  You should be defending yourself against red meat rather than rogue gunmen.

Since 2013 there have been 191 campus shootings, but that stat includes every school.  There are 4,409 colleges across the country, 98,706 public schools (k-12) and 33,740 private schools.  That equates 136,855 schools and 77 MILLION students.  Which again, if all those shootings happened last year, as opposed over 3 years, colleges and schools would still be some of the safest places to be.

And I do believe it is true, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  I, however, believe that is why my tax dollars go to arm the police, FBI, CIA, and Military.  These organizations may not be perfect, but they are made up of other citizens of the United States and if you believe that some random citizen with no training is better than any of the groups I just mentioned, well that’s something to tackle in another blog.

Finally, I know it may not seem like it but I am not anti-gun.  If I had a little more disposable income I might actually own one and go to the range on weekends.  I grew up with guns and was taught to respect the weapon.  I don’t think guns should be banned and I’ve written three different times about how NO ONE WILL EVER BAN GUNS!  But I don’t think they are necessary.  That’s what this entire post has been about.  Just say you like guns and leave it at that.  Stop trying to make the patently false argument that you need it for safety.  Because unless you’re driving the safest car and also have a state of the art alarm system in both your car and house, and have your house outfitted with nearly bullet proof windows, then safety isn’t really what concerns you.

You should also ask yourself, where is this fear coming from?  Why do you need the security blanket?

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2016 in Politics

 

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There is no War on Christians in America

Look religious persecution is a real thing, and it is horrible when it happens.  However, there is no war on Christians in America.  How do I know.  Because I’m an atheist.  The problem is when you are religious you don’t notice all the little religious symbols, phrases, and themes around you.  You can’t see how pervasive things are.  America may not be a “Christian” nation officially, but it pretty much is, just ask a Jew or Muslim when the last time everyone took the day off work for a holiday that represented their faith.  At the University of Texas at Austin Good Friday generally meant a half day of classes.  Don’t see that for other religions.  Sure you can take a religious holiday off of work, but only Christmas is a federal holiday.  Also, try being atheist on Easter.  Seriously, I have to overpay for toilet paper and can’t shop at Best Buy (wait, I don’t shop at Best Buy regularly).

Also, do you realize how many places of worship there are?  I live across the street from a church, and I pass by multiple churches on my way to work.  I have a 15 minute drive and pass at least 4 christian churches.

North Austin Church Map

These are just churches in north Austin.  Every red dot is a church!

My sister once dated a guy who honestly believed that Christians in America were being persecuted.  We began to discuss it briefly in my childhood home, which is LITERALLY a stone’s throw from two churches.  I don’t mean figuratively, I mean I can literally throw a stone and hit two churches.  There is one on my block two houses down from where I lived, and if you go through my back yard and cross the neighboring property, there’s another church.  There are 11K people in my hometown and I know of at least 5 churches I’ve visited and according to churchfinder.com there at 18 Christian Churches (it probably doesn’t list the little revival churches of which there are plenty).  Even without the revival churches that’s still one church for every 600 people.  That map above shows churches in Just North Austin.  Liberal bastion of Texas, Austin! No matter which route I take home, I pass a church.  Even if you ignore the church across the street from me, I couldn’t pick a route home that kept me from passing a church.  If this is Christianity on the run I assume unchecked there would be a church in my home.

Forget Churches, how are people suppressing their religion?  The place where I buy breakfast Kolaches from plays the Christian Music Station.  For a while at the place where I would buy breakfast tacos, the woman would say, “Have a blessed day!”  I doubt she meant Mohammad should bless me.  You can’t run for political office unless you’re Christian.  Some Christians say that these politicians aren’t real Christians, but that doesn’t matter, they still have to lie and say they are to have any chance of winning office.  No President has ever been (openly) atheist.  The recent Republican debate had question that asked what God thinks of tax plans.

Bill O’Reilly and others on FOX claim there is a war on Christmas, but every year people still celebrate Christmas!  And if it is persecution to not acknowledge someone’s religious holiday…then I guess America persecutes Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoist, etc.  If saying Happy Holidays is a war on Christians, then not saying Happy Hanukkah is a war on Jews.  It only follows.  Seriously, the only reason stores are decorated for the holidays is because the “holiday” is Christmas!  Also, if Christians were being persecuted, would they be allowed on television on the highest rated cable news network!

Try being an atheist for a day and see if you can avoid religious symbols.  You can’t.  I have a billboard for a theology degree that I pass every day on my way to work.  That’s some persecution if you can openly advertise for people to become experts in your religion.  I’ve been meaning to start an art project where I photograph all the religious billboards I see in Texas.

Atheist Community Center

Just one atheist center. One.

Frankly, if you think you’re being persecuted and you attend a church every Sunday with hundreds of others, you should really look up the word persecution.  When I drive around on Sunday mornings and pass these churches, they have cops directing traffic to help them exit the church.  They’re not there to protect people but to help ease the traffic caused by churchgoers leaving because there are that many of you!

So, let’s stop with this ridiculous rhetoric and save it for people who are actually persecuted.  There are people in other countries actually dying because of their faith.  There are people in this country who have their property vandalized because of their faith.  Just because someone doesn’t say Merry Christmas to you doesn’t mean you are in the same boat.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2015 in Politics, Religion

 

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What will it take?

I haven’t written in a while, but I haven’t stopped writing in my head.  I guess I just had to get angry enough to feel the need to write and publish.  I like many people watched the video of the cop from McKinney, TX , my home state (Buzzfeed, who broke the story, has great coverage), wrestle a young girl to the ground and then sit on her.  It disgusted me.  As I watched it I knew that those on the right were going to find some way to say this was deserved.  I just hoped I wouldn’t see it since I don’t watch FOX.  I hoped if I had to see it, I would see it being made fun of on the Daily Show, so my anger would be mitigated.  Nope, saw it on my Facebook feed, then saw people who I assumed were intelligent agree with something Breitbart posted.  Seriously, Breitbart.com.  If you follow politics, you know Breitbart is not legitimate journalism.  It’s a right-wing website.  Unashamedly.  It’s anti-choice, anti-climate change, anti-Obama, anti-democrat.  Remember the ACORN “scandal”, with the ridiculously dressed “pimp”, that was Breitbart.  So, of course, they would claim this was justified, and the fault of the black teens. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2015 in Politics

 

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What our democracy needs is voters

The mid-term elections are over and per tradition the party not in charge of the White House picked up seats.  There will be, I’m certain, lots written about what this means.  What it means to me is, not enough people vote.

I’m from Texas.  A very RED STATE.  Here’s what bothers me, not that Greg Abbott won (though that annoys me to no end), but how few people actually voted for ANYONE!

By the numbers:

  • Population of Texas: 27 million (source)
  • Registered voters:  about 14 million (source)
  • Population who voted for Texas Governor: 4.7 million (source)
  • Number who voted for Greg Abbott: 2.8 million (source)

So what you have is:

  • percentage of Texans who voted for Governor: 17%
  • Percentage of registered voters who voted for Governor: 34%
  • Percentage of registered voters who voted for Greg Abbott: 20%

This is why the vocal minority wins.  Most people favor liberal policies but most people don’t vote.

By the numbers:

  • Percentage of people who believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances: 21% (source)
  • Percentage of Americans who believe gun laws should be made LESS strict: 14% (source)
  • Percentage of Americans who take the Bible literally: 30% (source)
  • Percentage who think government favors the less well off: 26%
  • Percentage who oppose raising the minimum wage: 31%
  • Percentage who think minimum wage should be lower: 13% (source for last 3)

These people are highly motivated to go to the polls, middle of the roaders…not so much.  While there may have been a better than average amount of voter suppression in Texas, it didn’t keep 9 million people from voting.  Apathy did that just fine.

 

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2014 in Politics

 

I, too, am a feminist

Hopefully you’ve already seen this.  A couple days ago Emma Watson addressed the United Nations on the issue of gender inequality.  Well worth the watch, so I’ll wait.

 

I readily describe myself as a feminist, in much the same way I’ll not back down from describing myself as a liberal.  For me feminism is quite simple, to quote Joss Whedon, “You either believe that women are people or you don’t. It’s that simple.”

If you think there are not people who consider women as less, or second hand citizens, look no further than Ray Rice and his appeal to his indefinite suspension.  He can’t argue that he hit his wife, so he’s going to argue: I have no idea.  It’s his legal right to get representation and be defended.  It’s our moral right to ask that he never play football again.  Michael Vick was hated for dog fighting, but he at least served time in jail for what he did.  Rice doesn’t even want to serve a suspension.  I didn’t even mention Greg Hardy.

From CNN on Greg Hardy,

In May, authorities say, Hardy choked his then-girlfriend, dragged her by her hair and threatened to kill her. He was sentenced in July to 18 months of probation and a 60-day suspended sentence for the misdemeanors he was charged with.

Hardy said he is innocent and has appealed a guilty verdict.

He’s on the exempt list so he’ll still be earning his money.  He was CONVICTED of his crime. No dogs were harmed…so…probation seems cool.

But how did we get here?

I posted on Facebook a while back about a teenage girl who was, there’s no other word for it, sexually assaulted.  A student, after harassing her with a laser pointer aimed at her breasts, fakes apologizing, then grabs her ass going into her dress.  The school officials play it off as no big deal (seriously) “You should have ignored them.”  What do you think that leads to?  These boys felt no fear at what they were doing, and rightly so.  They were going to suffer no repercussions for their actions, until a different teacher went to bat for her.  This story I have not verified as real, but I’ve heard this story first hand from many other women.  I don’t know of a single woman who hasn’t been groped at one point in her life.

Not a single one.

I almost exclusively hang out with women, and to not have met one woman who hasn’t been groped is ridiculous.  That’s not even mentioning those that have suffered much worse.  There’s a reason we call it ‘rape culture‘.

Don’t think that behavior means anything?

After reading that post from Women’s Rights News, I read about a bartender who had her ass grabbed.  Huh, wonder where he learned that was okay?  Cool thing about this one is that we get the follow-up from the ass-grabber (it is the NY Post, but still):

“I’ve grabbed plenty of girls’ asses in my life,” Brian H. Lederman boasted to The Post. “But I’ve never grabbed hers.”

also

“I clearly remember making a joke when the girl said, ‘What would you like,’ ” he said. “I kiddingly said, ‘I would like you to go with nothing on it.’ ”

He said he was furious that she claimed he did more than spew sleaze.

“That f–king c–t, for her to do something like that is pretty ridiculous,” he told The Post.

Stay Classy!

Earlier this year I figured out that part of the problem is we tell kids to obey the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  The problem with this is that men and women are different.  A majority of men would love to be groped while out by women, ogled, sexualized.  They’re treating women how they’d like to be treated.  To these men it’s a compliment.  Most men, statistically speaking, would like to have sex at almost any moment.  So yeah, they don’t get it.

However, if instead we changed the Golden Rule to: Do unto others, as they ask to have done unto themselves (not sure about biblical grammar), then you’d have a better conversation.  You shouldn’t treat people how you’d like to be treated, but treat people how THEY want to be treated.  This will require finding out how that person wants to be treated, but guess what?  You’ll not be accused of rape or harassment if you find out that this person doesn’t like blond jokes, and though she may be friendly after a few drinks, that’s not an invitation to actually have sex, it’s just that she’s drunk. Likewise, you can let people know that at times you make inappropriate jokes and to let you know if you go too far or found something offensive.  Again, treating people as they want, not by your ego-centric standards.

I’m not saying that would solve everything, but it’s a start.  And we really have to do something.  I don’t want to have a daughter someday tell her friend about going to a club and having her butt grabbed by some stranger, or worse.  My daughter should be able to go out, get tipsy, and worry that the worst that will happen is she loses her phone or keys.

I’m going to do my small part to make that happen, hopefully others will too.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2014 in Politics

 

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Office Kitty

Our office cat is really smart.  He has trained me to open the door for him.  Here’s how it usually goes (and just did a few minutes ago).

I call him Pumpernickel Jazzpaws.

I call him Pumpernickel Jazzpaws.

He will walk outside my office and begin to meow.  I walk into the hallway and he makes me open the door to our storage room.  I believe this is his way of making sure I know he wants a door open.  Once I’ve opened that door he will meow at me and begin walking towards the back door.  Our office is located in a house that is zoned for office work.  So we actually have a backyard.  The garage has been converted into a mini warehouse and we have a warehouse manager working in that office; this is where the backdoor is located.  He walks me all the way across the house, meowing and looking over his shoulder to make sure I’m following.  Then he walks to the door, sits down in front of it, and waits for me to open the door.

He does this almost every day.  Since it’s hot in Texas we can’t open it all the time, because we have to leave it open, so there are times when I have to tell him no.  I assume during these times he feels that I’ve forgotten all the training we’ve gone through and that he’s disappointed in me.

It’s funny because he doesn’t ask our warehouse manager to open the door.  Though she’s sitting right there, he walks across the house and finds me.

He will also occasionally walk across the office to get me and make me follow him to the “living room” so that I may pet him there. Seriously.  He will walk into my office, meow his “follow me” meow and plop down in the middle of the floor so that I may pet him.  He is very spoiled.  I also think he believes he is my boss.

Has anyone else been trained by their cats?  Do you have an office pet, and does he run things?

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2014 in Random

 

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