asterroc: We Can Do It Sinfest - Up Yours (We Can Do It Sinfest - Up Yours)
Finally, the TSA is accepting comments on their "AIT" x-ray and microwave scanners of passengers. Here's the comment I submitted. Feel free to model after mine.

I do not feel that there is sufficient necessity for x-ray and microwave machines to justify the additional exposure. I have not seen sufficient evidence from independent third-party evaluators that the dosage of x-ray and microwave radiation used by AIT machines is safe, and I have not seen any evidence that exposing me to these types of radiation is either in my best interest, or in the public good. I understand that I am already exposed to these types of radiation on a daily basis due to other devices (such as medical x-rays and cellphones), but in those cases I feel that the need to use such devices justifies the exposure. Neither x-ray nor microwave radiation are inherently harmless, and even types of radiation which are harmless at typical dosages can cause harm at high dosage - for example, visible light is harmless at the dosage in flashlights, but can cause blindness at the dosage in laser pointers. In the absence of evidence of sufficient need for the increased risk to my health, it is my wish that I not be exposed to potentially harmful x-ray and microwave radiation.

I always opt out of the AIT machines when traveling by air, however I do not feel this option is sufficient to maintain my safety because I am usually told to stand next to the AIT machines while waiting for the pat-down, resulting in exposure to x-ray and microwave radiation despite my decision to opt out. I feel that the only resolution which would maintain my safety by reducing my exposure to unnecessary and potentially harmful x-ray and microwave radiation is to remove AIT machines from airports entirely.

Tracking # 1jx-84jq-nset

Originally posted on Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments there. Comment here or there.
Bad Astronomy (Phil Plait)'s post on the subject

House Committee on Appropriations post on the subject

Write your own letter to Congress (site via the National Education Association, but you'll be writing your own content and can opt out of sending a copy to the NEA or getting on their email lists)

Model letter to congress on the subject )
Edit: I have received a response, and it seems good.

LJ is now requiring new users to specify "male" or "female" on new account creation. If you don't like this,

  1. Edit your profile and select Unspecified for your gender option.

  2. Give feedback to LJ about this, see sample below.

  3. Send an email to Anjelika, GM of US operations,, again see sample below.

More info here. You have until this Thursday (12/17) to make your voice heard.

sample text )
An open letter to my senators and representatives.

I am writing to you today regarding the health care reform bill currently before the house and senate.

The bill as it currently stands sets women's rights back decades. Not only does the bill currently not provide access to safe, legal abortions, but it also does not provide access to the hormonal birth control which would reduce the necessity for abortions. If women are not provided access to safe legal abortions, some women will be forced return to back alley hack-job abortions, coat hanger abortions, or chemical abortions. The greatest benefit of Roe vs. Wade was not that it allowed women to have abortions, women were already having them, but allowing women to have SAFE abortions. In addition, removing access to hormonal birth control will only increase the need for illegal unsafe abortions.

What's even worse is that the bill as it currently stands does not allow for pelvic exams, a necessary routine yearly medical examination for the physical health of women. This routine preventative exam helps catch the early stages of fertility and life threatening diseases such as ovarian cancer or cervical cancer. Removing access to such exams threatens the lives of every woman on such a health plan, and will increase health care costs in the long run through treating the full blown disease instead of preventing it. In addition only women are being denied access to routine exams, giving the message that only men should have the right to good health care.

I urge you to work towards a more equitable health care bill by supporting any amendments that would provide access to abortion, to hormonal birth control, and to pelvic exams.

Look up your Reps and send your letter here.
asterroc: (xkcd - Fuck the Cosine)
I used to think when I was younger that Anne McCaffrey was a feminist writer. This might have been partially due to the fact that I viewed my mother as a feminist and she was the one who started me on the Dragonriders of Pern series when I was still in elementary school. It was probably due more to my early notions of what feminism entailed: McCaffrey was a woman, and her books contained a lot of strong women characters who bucked the norm. What I failed to see that the time was that while they bucked aspects of the norm, they did not fight against the gender stratification of their societies, and all of McCaffrey's societies were gender stratified.

And "Freedom's Choice" fits neatly into this trend of hers. "Choice" is the second in the 4-novel Catteni series - I've only read the first two so far, but I'm a glutton for punishment and do intend to read the rest. The main character Kris Bjornsen is a strong woman fighting against the slavery of mankind by an alien race. She takes on a role advising the first leader of the involuntary colonists dropped onto an unknown planet by the enslaving race, and then continues to serve the colony as a scout.

Where the series takes its sharp turn from feminism is when Kris is informed that the leadership has decided (while she was out scouting) to start pregnancy rosters whereby all women in the colony would take turns bearing children. Kris's response is a petulant whine that she doesn't want to have children, or at least to put off childbearing for years (her friend implies this is selfish, and tells her Kris's name was put at the bottom of the list because of her value to the colony), or concern that she will not be a good mother (this problem too has been solved, with creches where unwilling incubators can drop off the babies after birth and never have anything else to do with them, though it's never indicated that anyone actually does this). McCaffrey blows off Kris's concerns as being childish and irresponsible; nobody ever takes them seriously, not even Kris's alien lover (who because of being a different species could never be the father of a child of Kris).

Kris goes along with the program in the end, never outright objecting to the leadership at all. In the end though, the reason she goes along with the program is even worse (IMO) than the program itself. After rebuffing dozens of men trying to get in her pants with the excuse that it's for breeding purposes, Kris is date-raped while drunk. She excuses it to herself as "oh, I was just drunk," and yet she never tells anyone else (not even her lover), when she learns she is pregnant she is embarrassed and then enraged that one of her "friends" reveals it to everyone (and even tries to attack the "friend" and has to be held back), and moreover Kris doesn't even reveal to her rapist that he is the father - if that isn't a clear sign that the sex was NOT a good thing, I don't know what is. And to make it clear that Kris's rape was a good thing and her distaste for it a bad thing, at the end of the book McCaffrey has an omnipotent race appear and reveal to Kris's rapist that the child is his, and he offers to help care for the child when she has to go on another scouting mission. Kris is filled with a benevolent glow and realizes the childishness of her past actions.

Because we all know that a woman doing anything other than meekly submitting to a culture that promotes women as vessels for men's seed is just childish.

How did I *ever* think McCaffrey a feminist? I kinda want to reread the Pern series now, but am afraid to do so (what with the dragons' rape flights and all).
The House of Representatives is currently working on a bill that would outlaw all non-native species of animals in captivity - that is, anything other than cats and dogs - whether as pets, for research, or for education. I urge you to contact your Representatives about this bill because it would not only decimate zoos and scientific research, but it would also severely limit the rest of my life with my bird Kappa.

Write your Legislators:

More detail and links )

Edit: [ profile] amavia, guinea pigs are not among the exempt species (despite the fact that they are domesticated), so you might want to get your networks cracking on this.

Thanks for your time!
Time to boycott . They've decided to delist factual and useful books on homosexuality from their internal search engine, calling them "adult themed," so that "ex-gay" books show up on searches before other books on homosexuality. For example, the book "Heather Has Two Mommies" does exist on in both the original edition and the 10th anniversary edition, however it does not show up when you search all of Amazon on the title and only the 10th anniversary edition shows when you search on the title under Books only. You also will not find the book's sales rank anywhere on either edition's page (do a Find on the page for "rank" or "sales rank"), as opposed to on the page for another random book.

More details and about what's going on, including an explanation of how the sales rank is being misrepresented or deleted entirely, are on [ profile] rosefox's blog linky linky here. And just to clarify, Amazon does say it is their own choice to filter on "adult themes", not the choice of some database they are buying into.

Edit: I have submitted the following letter (identifying information redacted) to's Customer Service online, and will be looking up their mailing address and sending another copy on school stationary. Feel free to copy or modify for your own letter.

I recently heard about Amazon's policy to derank books on homosexuality and remove them from the search results. I am very disappointed in this policy and will no longer be purchasing from Amazon, unless this policy is revoked. In addition, my influence extends beyond my own dollar, as I am informing my friends and family of this new hateful policy.

I am also a faculty at a community college (subject, school, and location redacted). Every year I have hundreds of students, and in the past I have recommend that they can purchase their textbooks for cheaper than the college bookstore by buying them on Some of the goals of a college education is for students to broaden their horizons, and to learn to see the world from different points of view. In order to achieve this goal, we must all have access to as much information as possible. Amazon's policy to selectively blacklist certain topics that one portion of the population finds offensive is in direct opposition to the goals of a college education. Therefore I cannot in good conscience recommend Amazon to my college students as a source for textbooks. Until Amazon changes this policy, I will no longer be recommending Amazon to my students but instead will recommend competitors and .

Edit: According to Publisher's Weekly, Amazon is backpedaling and claiming it's all just a glitch, but they do not appear to be making any efforts to fix said glitch. Searching on Heather Has Two Mommies still doesn't turn up the book, the book itself still has no rank listed, and a site-wide search on "homosexuality" still turns up ex-gay propaganda bullshit. I also haven't seen anything about Amazon's comment elsewhere - like on Amazon. I'll start listening to Amazon's comments when they start actually doing something about them.

Edit: Amazon is emailing everyone who emailed them to say it's an error.

From Amazon: Customer Service to me
2:05 AM (4 hours ago)


Thanks for contacting us. We recently discovered a glitch in our systems and it's being fixed.

Thanks again for contacting us. We hope to see you again soon.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:

If not, click here:

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Mehul Damera
We're Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company
[link removed, I don't want to give them traffic right now]

I clicked on "No, it's not resolved" and wrote:

Sending an email to say "we're working on fixing this problem" without providing any evidence of said work is frustrating. I hope that I am informed when this is actually fixed, because it is not fixed as of yet and I still intend to boycott Amazon until it is.

Also, you have lost a lot of reputation from this supposed glitch. I do not see how this could be just a glitch, and I feel that you simply are not owning up to a deliberate bias that turned out to cost the company money, so instead you're pretending it never happened. Fess up, get a press release out, and spend a week featuring books on homosexuality on the front page: that would build good will in the LGBT/ally community and show that it really was in error.
asterroc: (xkcd - Fuck the Cosine)
I warn you, this post could be trigger-y for some people.

Sometimes I try to explain to men that women have an entirely different experience of life because we are habitually victims. We have to look over our shoulders. We have to worry if the guy asking us directions is planning to rape us. We can't go out at night, or constantly fear assault if we do. It's absolutely horrible, and it makes me want to slap the guys who don't understand and say that we're no more likely to be victimized than men, or worse, that it's our own faults for not fighting back when we are victimized.

Take the latest Savage Love column for example.

Quoted here for posterity or if you don't like links )

It's just horrible. Not only was this woman raped, but now her own beloved boyfriend is saying it wasn't rape and she cheated on him! This woman had the choice to gouge her attacker's eyes out, or to be raped, and her boyfriend is blaming her because she "chose" the rape?! Fuck. She didn't even feel she had the choice to gouge his eyes out, b/c of societal pressure to not be a bad girl like that. Ugh. This makes me too disgusted for words.


Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:16 pm
Don't forget to vote tomorrow. If you live in MA, you can find where you vote at
A nice "doctored" video about civil rights. California is facing a ballot question that would make gay marriage illegal, Question 8. The Yes on 8 people put out a video w/ people talking about what's wrong w/ gay marriage, yadda yadda. And then someone took that video and replaced every mention of "same-sex" with "interracial," and "gay" with "black," even re-recording the vocal track.

Check it )

I am multi-racial, and I approve.
asterroc: (xkcd - Fuck the Cosine)
I know there's a couple of you who read me. The Gov of Texas has just appointed a 6-person committee to revamp the state's K-12 science curriculum. One of these six individuals is a creationist. A second person on the committee is not just any ol' creationist, but the director of the US's biggest creationist organization: Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute. And the chair of the committee is Donald McLeroy, who has gone on record as saying that biology textbooks containing evolution are anti-Christian and anti-American.

If you give a shit about this, there's more info on astronomer Phil Plat's blog along w/ more links. Unfortunately the only one who can change this situation is the governor, and he's in power until 2010, but perhaps you guys can make his life a little more difficult.
If your state has a touch-screen based voting system, some of them may be having problems when you vote straight ticket (that is, checking off a single box to vote for all candidates in the same party). You can prevent the possibility of this problem by taking the extra few seconds to vote for each and every candidate in the party of your choice.
asterroc: (xkcd - Fuck the Cosine)
I'm pissed at Gov. Deval Patrick's speech tonight in which he said that "no cuts would be made to education." [source] If that's really what he said (I didn't see a full text of his speech nor watch it), he's a lying sack of shit because every last institution of public higher education in the state is receiving cuts of around 5%. And if you think that's bad, the Suicide Prevention and Intervention Program is receiving a cut of 12% and Family Health Services by 23%. Suicide Prevention! Explain to me how that is "limit[ing] the impact on the state's most vulnerable citizens"?!?!

But my point.

The state is already facing severe budget cuts even without losing 37% of the state's revenue by removing the income tax. Vote no.
I've been telling everyone that should the income tax be repealed, that we'd lose critical services like police and firefighters, as well as massive K-12 teacher layoffs. I'm kinda surprised and disappointed that no one has challenged me on it. Surprised b/c the state doesn't directly pay for any of these, the towns/cities/districts do, and disappointed b/c I now have a perfect comeback.

This interactive map, created by the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) shows the predicted result of a 37% statewide budget cut on all the towns in the state, both the overall state budget, and the school budgets. The state legislature won't be able to just make a 37% cut across the board with all the line items in the state budget, since some items are mandatory, and it wouldn't even make sense to do so, since some items receive federal matching funds reducing those would be shooting yourself in the foot twice. Well that map takes all that into account.

Most towns would actually lose 65% of their state funding, not the mere 37% of the income tax cut. And school districts will lose anywhere from 10% (New Ashford) to 91% (Middletown). Yikes. Hover over the map to see how much your town would lose, and click on your town for more details.



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