urbpan: (Get Your War On)
Tomorrow is voting day. If you've been reading things I've been writing for any time at all, I'm not about to surprise you: I'm a far left liberal environmentalist/social libertarian. If you are interested to see what I'm voting for, I'm laying it out here; this will save me valuable thinking time in the booth tomorrow:

Senator in Congress: Ed Markey (D) - I have heard literally nothing about the challenger. He must be double digits behind in the polls. Don't know, don't care, this position MUST be held by a Democrat.

Governor: Martha Coakley (D) - this is a vote against the Republican businessman candidate. Coakley is a disastrous campaigner, hopefully that won't translate to being a bad executive, but I'll vote for anyone to keep a capitalist like Baker out of the job. Keep ruining the private sector jackass, stay out of government, your kind has enough power.

Attorney General: The Democrat

All the rest of the State Offices: I'm voting for the Green-Rainbow candidates, in the hopes that a genuinely liberal third party will get some more power in the state.

Question 1: NO. The Massachusetts gas tax is tied to the Consumer Price Index, meaning it goes up automatically as other things get more expensive. A yes vote would turn the gas tax into a political football.

Question 2: YES. This is the expansion of the bottle bill--right now only carbonated beverage containers are required to have a deposit on them. That means all the roadside litter in the state is non-returnable beverage cans and bottles. Put a deposit on water and iced tea and wine bottles (I don't know which of these will actually be covered, since this is a limited expansion) and those containers will disappear from the litter stream. There is literally no reason this shouldn't pass, except that the beverage companies are throwing millions of dollars at an ad campaign to try to convince people that something that has worked for 40 years for beer and coke won't work for Four-Loko, orange juice, and canned coffee.

Question 3: This is the toughest one--it's essentially a prohibition of gambling. I'm in favor of legalized gambling in principle. However the way our state is trying to legalize it is by awarding three contracts to three gigantic corporations to make three big casinos. A yes vote will send them back to the drawing board. I think I'm voting yes.

Question 4: YES. This mandates that companies with more than eleven employees would have to provide paid sick time. This should be a federal law, in my opinion, but I support my state mandating it.

NOT on the ballot: a question to stop changing the clocks every six months like a bunch of idiots.
Also NOT on the ballot: a question to make marijuana legal to use just because you want to get high, and not have to come up with some phony baloney excuse about your anxiety or your back pain.
urbpan: (dandelion)
Recently each time there's a spate of tragedies in the news (constantly, but they seem to come in pulses) I've been thinking of this bumper sticker. Only it doesn't exist. But it will soon, since I had it made. Let me know if you're interested in one, maybe we can do a trade or arrange a donation to a charity I like.

EDITED TO ADD: I had five of these made, I'm keeping one. I can send the other four to the first four people with United States' addresses (not being bigoted, being cheap). If over the next few days people come out of the woodwork wanting them, I'll have more made.

 photo 10523872_10203935887693454_8034571670492944694_n_zps4387fd57.jpg
urbpan: (dandelion)
I am parceling out my rage to my various social media outlets. So far LiveJournal is unscathed. I have 17 pictures from my weekend to post but all I want to do is fume about the supreme court.
urbpan: (dandelion)
 photo IMG_5359_zpsc2032f12.jpg
I was in a line in the Post Office when my eyes drifted up the wall to this mural. First I noticed the pilgrims dancing in a circle--seemed frivolous for puritans. Then I noticed the hairstyles of the men without head coverings, are those anachronistic? I guess I don't know anything about hairstyles of the colonists, but I assumed everyone just let it grow long and stuffed it in a hat.

More interesting perhaps is the story of the mural itself. Painted in 1936 by W. Lester Stevens, it hearkens back to the New Deal, when the US government took such an interest in putting citizens to work that it literally hired artists to paint murals. It seems so alien to today's world. If you suggested such a thing these days you'd be condemned as a communist.
urbpan: (Get Your War On)
I dislike conflict and argument, so I try to avoid discussions of politics.

Facebook is the worst, because while 99.3 percent of your facebook friends will ignore your politics post or "like" it and move on, that one relative or friend from high school (or friend of a friend--how is he even seeing my post?, that's creepy!) will jump in and you will have the some discussion over and over again.

Part of the problem is that the "sides" are fully entrenched, and every talking point is preapproved and predigested by our pundits and proxies. I've never seen a political disagreement move one side or the other a single inch. The point seems to be to shut the other person up, to make your point louder or funnier, or with more help with friends, until exhaustion or awkwardness takes over.

And I'm still doing it, even though I keep vowing to stop. The current argument is about voter disenfranchisement. I somehow managed to stay out of the recent flaps about Marriage Equality and Chicken Sandwiches.

I believe Soundgarden said some good things that pertain to all disagreements, but that now seem particularly pertinent to the "Christianity versus Marriage Equality" disagreement:
Pray, if you want to pray
If you like to kneel
If you like to lay
Hate, if you want to hate
If it keeps you safe
If it makes you brave
Don't come over here
And piss on my gate
Save it just keep it
Off my wave
urbpan: (Default)
Thanks to my Dedham Natural Wonders friend for this follow-up: http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Assam/Killer-spiders-strike-in-Assam-s-Maoist-hub/Article1-859430.aspx

The short version is that this region of India is involved in conflict, and the villagers affected were non-Maoist holdouts. Speculation leans toward deliberate dumping of dangerous spiders into the lives of political targets. Arachnid terrorism. Also the article says that the spiders look more like Lactrodectus spiders (widows) than tarantulas.

Still leaning toward "Species of Least Concern Podcast," with a "non-charismatic microfauna corner" segment.
urbpan: (obama)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] heavenscalyx for reminding me, 8 years ago today I became incredibly proud of Massachusetts for being the first state to grant the civil right of marriage to same sex couples. It seemed inconceivable to me at the time, and now it seems just as unlikely that this particular right has not been granted to all Americans. I'm also very proud that my president agrees with me.I wrote an article about the celebration that happened that night.

[my tags seem hopelessly anachronistic--it's "marriage equality" and "civil rights," grampa]

Yo

Mar. 25th, 2012 04:27 pm
urbpan: (Default)
Not too long ago there was this meme/trend on LJ and the rest of the internet but especially LJ about calling people out about "Privilege." I didn't really get it--I mean I kind of got it--I know that first worlders, North Americans, white people, middle class people, men, basically anyone who looks like/is descended from the people who hold most of the power in the world have an easier time in life, in general. I mean, I get that. But I didn't get what I was supposed to do about it. And most of those memes were so humorless and mean mean spirited that even a lefty bleeding heart sensitive white guy like myself felt pretty put off by it all.

Anyway, I've spent the last hour reading yoisthisracist.com and I feel like it carries the message(s) a little better, and I highly recommend reading it, whether or not you are racist.

-----
EXAMPLES:
Anonymous asked: Is it racist that i think we should have a white history month along with hispanic/black & asian-pacific? i think its fair.

Oh, word, that’s a great idea. You could take the opportunity to study American and European History, read some White authors, and maybe even discuss the works of some White philosophers. It’s a shame that that shit gets ignored the rest of the year, YOU FUCKING RACIST IDIOT.

Anonymous asked: Two White ladies stated that White people are facing the same struggles that African American people faced 40 years ago adding that a "race war" was starting. I know it's racist but as a POC sitting there listening to it, I really need a pick me up. Comments?

Yo, I don’t know, I think as a person who knows right from wrong, you should have protected them from that firehose, rather than writing in to me about it.

Anonymous asked: I've always been taught not to see color or race. I've never understood why our institutions of learning divide us by culture and race. History of America from an African perspective. History in America from a Mexican perspective. Entrance into college based on racial quotas. End all this crap right now. Quit dividing us.

Yo, I know you’re mad stupid and whatnot, but you do understand that “not seeing race” is really only something that you have the luxury of doing if you’re White, right? The rest of us get race seen upon us all the goddamn time.

Anonymous asked: Wait, is the word uppity racist??

Yeah, that’s some shit that’s excusively used by racists.




-----

So yeah, that's a bit more my speed, yo.

p.s. I can't stop reading (on another browser tag)!!!
urbpan: (Default)
Five years ago today I posted about the Democratic field for president, and how their positions on the Iraq war were not helpful for distinguishing them. One candidate spoke my mind: "Bring home the troops NOW." Remember Bill Richardson? I didn't until I re-read that post. He was going to be part of the Obama administration but some minor tax scandal scrubbed him out early. The important part of this post was my remark "Man, we're going to be paying for this fucking war for a long time."


I also posted this snapshot, number three.

And, of course, I followed up on the mysterious mass bird death in Austin. It wasn't the Joker, after all.


or was it?
urbpan: (Default)
I just noticed that I'm only 2 species away from finishing my 100 species project. I have #99 ready to go, and #100 is in my camera, which I left at work this weekend. I'm tentative about starting a new project for next year, partly because I like to take the winter off, and partly because I expect next year to be a very busy one.

Why is next year going to be busy? Several reasons: I plan to start keeping chickens and making beer, for two. Also, there will be a Presidential Election, and I anticipate being an anxious wreck, especially as the year wears on. I remember 2008 all too well, being anxious all the time that America would idiotically elect a Republican for president, as if the previous 8 years weren't enough reason not to. This coming year may be less stressful, in that they haven't managed to find anyone qualified for the office, and most of the people running would be hilarious if they weren't evil scumbags. However the country has had 4 years to forget what hell it was to live under a GOP administration, and many people have blamed Obama for not farting unicorns even though he accomplished more in foreign policy than any president since Nixon (without, you know, being a crook), and probably averted a second Great Depression. All the while the Republicans have steadfastly stood in the way of everything Obama tried to do EVEN WHEN IT WAS ORIGINALLY THEIR IDEA. Where was I? Oh yeah, I'll be preoccupied with the election next year.

Speaking of elections, I'll be running for President of NEAAZK this year (the Zookeeper Association at my Zoo) and so far it looks like I'll be unopposed. That's good, but it means that much of the year I'll be in a position of responsibility like I've never experienced before, planning events and making decisions and whatnot. This is the main reason I'm nervous about committing to a blog project.

Nonetheless, I have a pretty good idea of what that project will be called and what it will consist of. I don't expect to surprise you too much, but I will be putting out a reliable blog product (maybe fewer typos?).

Also I want to do more Urban Nature Walks.
urbpan: (Default)


Futurama nap.

The new LJ cliche is to complain about spammers, and god DAMN it's getting bad.
Now it's about an 8 to 1 ratio of spam to real comments. I hate the idea of locking my journal, but I'm not sure what else to do. If I did that it would essentially block my journal from my dad. I suppose I just just ignore the spam like everyone else does, and just delete it as I come across it, instead of meticulously deleting every message that comes through. Do those people even sell anything, or are they just making money by having their scam be higher on searches than others (which I assume is the point of posting their stupid links on my journal).

Oh, that reminds me: on the Bugle podcast John Oliver was describing the current roster of GOP presidential candidates and dismissed Rick Santorum as "A Platinum-grade arsehole." I appreciated that.
urbpan: (Default)


Photographed this car in Brookline Village. Why take sides?
urbpan: (Default)
I'm not sure why I learned about this through Wikileaks, but apparently the Baghdad Zoo is the most popular park in the city. I have two reactions to this: Baghdad has a zoo? And: Oh great, now that they've leaked how popular it is, some idiot will plant a bomb there.
urbpan: (Default)


Hey, I know most of you if you're going to read my movie reviews already do, but there may be some new people. I reviewed Inception

There were a few essays about the shooting in Arizona that I wanted to keep around, to read in the future, or show my dad maybe.

The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right

The Rude Pundit: "Dear Right-Wingers, You Are All Muslims Now"

And behind the cut, Tom Tomorrow's strip about it )
urbpan: (family portrait)

Alexis shows off her "cleaned entire house by herself" muscles.


"How you know you live in Massachusetts" exhibit (a.
urbpan: (PART OF EVERYTHING)
Sometimes I wish that I believed something that could be easily expressed in three small words printed large on an ugly paper sign: Abortion kills Children. Meat is Murder. God Hates Fags. Taxes are Bad.

But I'm an adult, with complex and nuanced beliefs informed by years of experience and the power of reason.

Grow up you stupid children. Black and white beliefs are for fairy tales.
urbpan: (Get Your War On)
This should be especially informative for those of you outside the U.S.

In Utah women are primarily vessels for incubating children, and they will be punished if they act otherwise.

In Arizona, thinly veiled racism is alive and well. (bonus fun fact: Arizona was one of the last 3 states to make Martin Luther King day a holiday; the others being "Confederate Flag" South Dakota and our next state...)

New Hampshire is hilariously explicit with its bigotry!


I know you'll think I'm cherry picking weird news stories about politicians being insane, and I am, but fair is fair. My state?

In Massachusetts we equate voter frustration with flying an airplane into a building full of people.
urbpan: (potto)

A zookeeper makes diets for small primates.

Unrelated to that, how about some mushrooms for dessert? I've eaten other mushrooms in the genus Lactarius but not the couple species called "candy caps." Now I want to. Not sure I want to drop San Francisco money on some though.

If you are a Portland Oregon person, I recommend you bookmark Urban Adventure League, the blog by my old friend Shawn Granton from the zine days. Like me he is a former Nutmegger who leads urban nature walks--but he takes it to the next level, leading urban nature HIKES and urban nature bike rides. This Saturday he's leading a workshop on long-distance (by my standards) bike touring, like with saddlebags loaded with tents and stuff.

Ever read a comic and thought that a 5 year old could do a better job writing this crap? Maybe he has.

Obligatory political note: undoubtedly you've already heard about Sarah Palin's hand note. Palin is the conservative's gift to the liberals. I can't wait to hear the talk shows take this story for a ride. What are her chances for running for president now? How stupid is too stupid for the teabaggers?
urbpan: (Republican)
What are we to make of the Obama victory (massive landslide in Massachusetts) quickly followed by the Scott Brown victory? "We want change--only not so fast/so much?" I think a lot of people just do what FOX news tells them to do.

Coakely ran a completely incompetent campaign, and never once showed a sign of Charisma, or distinguished herself in any way that rang clear, but who cares? Republican is Republican. Voting for these people is an expression of hate and fear. It's a terrible black mark on Massachusetts. It was bad enough we voted in Weld as governor--and that was just because the Democratic opponent Silber was unrepentantly loathesome--which led to three consecutive Republican governorships completely out of inertia. But that showed that Mass wasn't impenetrable to Republicans--as long as they were articulate and relatively handsome young men.

Let me type it out for anyone who thought they were "sending a message:" The Republican party pretends to care about working class people and social issues in order to get votes, and it works. EVERY SINGLE POLICY they put into place actually removes social safety nets, removes rights from minorities, and consolidates wealth into a chosen elite. They don't actually care about gay marriage or abortion, but since Joe Pickup does, they coast on those issues while deregulating the banks and closing the mental hospitals (and work to eliminate gay marriage and safe and legal abortion).

The silver lining is that we only have to put up with this embarrassment for two years, and in the meanwhile Capuano or someone else worthwhile can build up a decent head of steam to get rid of this guy. In all likelihood, I won't be in Massachusetts to help, but that's okay, Massachusetts doesn't feel very special this morning.

Right now I feel like: where's my handbasket?
urbpan: (Default)
Is the United States the only nation where large numbers of literate people don't believe in man-made climate change? I believe in man-made disbelief of science, which is almost as scary as large-scale famine caused by droughts and floods. I did meet a nice Australian lady on my trip to Greenland who had her doubts about man-made climate change, and I wondered if the fact that her husband worked for the mining industry had informed those doubts.

If we are the only country that has a large influential population of climate change deniers, I think a little national shame is in order.

Speaking of which, human rights watchers may raise an eyebrow at Denmark, which has passed laws essentially allowing the arrest and detention of protesters who LOOK like they might start trouble.

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