Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering the Newtown Kids on the First Anniversary of Their Murders

  • The 1st anniversary after the #newtown murders - remember the kids shot that day, as the NRA-owned Congress does not care - WE DO! #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Emilie Parker who would've been 7 on 5/12, wanted to be Hermionie Granger for her birthday. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Charlotte Bacon, in whose memory a Kindness Award was started. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Jesse Lewis who wrote "Nurturing Healing Love" on a chalkboard at home before he was murdered. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering the rambunctious Noah Pozner whose twin sister was in another class. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering red-headed Daniel Barden whose dad taught him Jingle Bells on the piano on his last morning. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Olivia Engel, who was a Daisy Girl Scout. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Josephine Gay, who loved the water and whose parents set up a fund for autistic children. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Dylan Hockley whose parents included a reading of Goodnight Moon at his memorial service. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Madeleine Hsu who loved dogs and wearing pink. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Catherine Hubbard who loved animals. Her parents asked for donations to an animal center. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Chase Kowalski who loved sports & played baseball. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Ana Marquez-Greene, who sang via video during her funeral. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering James Mattioli who always loved to sing. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Grace McDonnell who loved the beach. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Jack Pinto who was buried in a NY Giants jersey. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Caroline Previdi whose favorite charity was The Toy Chest at her church. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Jessica Rekos who wanted cowboy boots for Christmas. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Avielle Richman whose Dad had been blogging about her adventures in 2012. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Jonathan Wheeler who wanted to be a paleontologist. #WeAreNewtown
  • Remembering Allison Wyatt, an artistic girl who shared with strangers. #WeAreNewtown
  • We should never forget the children of #newtown, particularly on the anniversary of their murders. Write your representative - better gun laws save lives. #WeAreNewtown

I have remembered the educators who tried to protect the children on Dead People Server.


Never forget that these were the senators who cared more about the NRA's opinion of them than the 90% of the public who wants better background checks. Here are the Twitter accounts of these senators:

@SenAlexander @KellyAyotte @SenJohnBarrasso @MaxBaucus @SenatorBegich

@RoyBlunt @JohnBoozeman @SenatorBurr @SaxbyChambliss @SenDanCoates

@TomCoburn @JeffFlake @SenThadCochran @SenBobCorker @JohnCornyn

@MikeCrapo @SenTedCruz @SenatorEnzi @SenMikeLee @SenatorFischer

@GrahamBlog @ChuckGrassley @SenOrrinHatch @jiminhofe

@SenatorHeitkamp @SenDeanHeller @SenJohnHoeven @SenatorIsakson

@Mike_Johanns @SenRonJohnson @McConnellPress @JerryMoran

@lisamurkowski @SenRandPaul @robportman @SenMarkPryor @SenatorRisch

@SenPatRoberts @marcorubio @SenatorTimScott @SenatorSessions

@SenShelbyPress @SenJohnThune @DavidVitter @SenatorWicker

Friday, December 13, 2013

Twitter Hashtag - #FirstThingIBoughtOnline

Started a Twitter hashtag in honor of this most commercial of seasons: #FirstThingIBoughtOnline: 3-year old cheddar cheese @CabotCoop 12/1994 What's the first thing you bought online? Stop by Twitter, use the hashtag and write about it!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Facebook Was Broken for Me Today (10/21/2013)

When I wake up, I check my mail, Facebook and Twitter. All was well this morning. Ran some errands and was back around 9am. Everything else was fine...except that I could not add comments to any Facebook page. Earlier, some of the pages also looked wrong, but that problem has since gone away. Very annoying. So if you're looking for me on Facebook, I guess you won't find me there today.


By about 10:30, the problem went away as mysteriously as it came. Other people have reported similar problems on Facebook today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Never Forget: These Senators Voted for the United States to Default on Its Debts

As you consider who to vote for in future elections, remember these Senators voted for the United States to default on its debts.

@TomCoburn @JohnCornyn @MikeCrapo @SenTedCruz @SenatorEnzi
@ChuckGrassley @SenDeanHeller @SenRonJohnson @SenMikeLee
@SenRandPaul @SenatorRisch @SenPatRoberts @marcorubio
@SenatorTimScott @SenatorSessions @SenShelbyPress
@SenToomey @DavidVitter @SenatorWicker

Oh, and even though everyone knew there would be a vote last night, Inhofe did not vote at all, though he was reported to be sick.

Interesting but not surprising that the overwhelming number of Senators voting "No" (for default) represent former slave states.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thinking About Convention Codes of Conduct

In the "old days" (about 1976 or so), there was an informal Fannish Code of Conduct:

Do Good
Do No Harm
Throw a Good Room Party

At last night's Confluence meeting, we had a brief discussion about developing a code of conduct for Confluence and I said I'd help develop one.

Ideally, I'd like it to be what we had in the '70s - something extremely short, to just remind people to be adults.

There have been some harassment issues at Confluence. They haven't been quite as ugly as at other cons, but I know they have happened. People have the right to attend a con and if they feel unsafe, the con com should be told and the harasser should have his (or her) membership pulled.

Boskone's Code of Conduct gets pretty much to the point (and was vetted by at least one if not two lawyers):

http://www.nesfa.org/boskone/codeofconduct.html

I think some cons have codes of conduct that go on a bit long (even if I do agree with most of its points):

http://techdays.org/2013/03/code-of-conduct/

Both John Scalzi

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/07/02/my-new-convention-harassment-policy/

and Mary Robinette Kowal

http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/on-sexual-harassment-at-conventions-elise-matheson-speaks-out/

have written at length about Con Behavior/Codes of Conduct.

It would be nice if our Code of Conduct could be something simple as:

Don't be a jagoff
A jagoff is a person who harasses others, feels entitled to make sexual advances, tries to make others feel uncomfortable. If someone tells you "No" or "Go Away" and you don't go away, you're a jagoff. If your behavior continues and is reported to a con com member, we can pull your badge and tell you to "Go Away."
So, don't be a jagoff, be an adult.

For folks from outside the Pittsburgh area, common definitions for jagoff.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Hate the Republican Shutdown? E-mail Your Tea Party Rep/Senator EVERY DAY

I live in a reddish area outside of Pittsburgh, so my Congressman, Tim Murphy and Senator, Pat Toomey are both pretty solidly Tea Party (though Toomey did vote for the Violence Against Women Act and did work with Joe Manchin to try to improve gun checks, so he very occasionally shows a little sense). We know politicians tend to lie, but Republicans seem wedded to the big lie. Most of the Tea Party claims that they are only hearing from the "Shut the Government Down" faction.

It is vital for the people who want the government re-opened to contact their reps, even if they're Tea Party types, frequently, every day if possible.

I have E-mailed Murphy and Toomey every day of the Republican shutdown. They need constant reminders that many people in every district want a progressive, properly funded country. I urge you to write to your federal legislators.

In addition, I tweet a message supporting Obama every day, and telling Boehner to let the Congress vote. Tweets are more symbolic than practical. But I think they are useful.

I'll keep a record of my E-mails and tweets here and will update it daily.

To E-mail any Senator, go to senate.gov. To E-mail any Representative, to to house.gov.


10/7

My daily E-mail to Tea Party Tim Murphy & Senator Pat Toomey:
Republicans keep claiming that the Affordable Care Act, which is still not completely implemented, has "failed." A year ago, Republicans kept claiming that Romney would beat Obama in the November election. How can we believe people who are that out-of-touch? I encourage you to ignore your Tea Party overlords and do what's right for the American people - stop the shutdown!

(And, at the same time that people are pounding on the ACA for some bad coding on the ACA Website, Toomey's Web crew continues to be so incompetent that they can't process the information from a single Webform with about 20 fields. So, again, I had to go into the Tea Party-infested Facebook page of Pat Toomey to submit my daily complaint.)

Tweets (OK, I'm guilty of a repeat here)
.@BarackObama, Democrats & some Republicans: Stay strong and DON'T BLINK. Americans have your backs. #BoehnerShutdown
.@SpeakerBoehner - it's clear if you had the courage to stand up to the Tea Party insurgency, the Senate's clean bill would pass. #DOYOURJOB


10/6

My daily E-mail to Tea Party Tim Murphy & Senator Pat Toomey:
Much as I do think the government must go back to work, I am glad you voted to pay furloughed Federal workers. Please fight for the people and get back to work.

[[Toomey's CAPCHA code was broken AGAIN so I had to go to his Facebook page...*sigh*]]

Tweets:
.@BarackObama, Democrats & some Republicans: Stay strong and DON'T BLINK. Americans have your backs. #BoehnerShutdown
.@SpeakerBoehner - it's clear if you had the courage to stand up to the Tea Party insurgency, the Senate's clean bill would pass. #DOYOURJOB


10/5

My daily E-mail to Tea Party Tim Murphy & Senator Pat Toomey:
The Republican shutdown continues even on a weekend, so I'm writing to you on a weekend to remind you that you don't just represent the Tea Party - you're supposed to be representing ALL of your constituents. Not everyone agrees with you; many of us care about the country, and it is only being damaged by your shutdown.

Tweets:
.@BarackObama, Democrats & rational Republicans - some of us write our TP reps daily in support of you. Stay strong, we have your backs.
.@SpeakerBoehner Thanks again for showing up you have no courage against the Tea Party insurgents-PERMIT A VOTE. #BoehnerShutdown


10/4

To Representative Murphy & Senator Toomey:
My daily reminder that not all of your constituents are Tea Partiers. In fact, many of us will never vote for another Republican after this Republican shutdown. Get back to work.

Tweets:
To @BarackObama, Democrats & Rational Republicans - Stand strong against the tea party insurgency. We have your backs! #BoehnerShutdown
.@SpeakerBoehner Show you have courage against the Tea Party insurgents-PERMIT A VOTE. The Republican shutdown is now the #BoehnerShutdown


10/3

E-mail to Representative Murphy & Senator Toomey:
I watched a video where Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer of Texas harassed a National Park Ranger, trying to blame the ranger for obeying the rules of the government shutdown. Aren't you at least a little ashamed to be in the same party as someone who who can't take responsibility for the actions of your party? Your party started the shutdown, and your party is the only group who can stop it. Get back to work.

Tweets:
To @BarackObama, Democratic & a Growing Number of Republican Reps: Stay strong for America & DON'T BLINK. More voters than have your backs
@SpeakerBoehner Stop being the Tea Party's lapdog! Do something for AMERICANS for a change - bring the Senate bill to a vote TODAY.


10/2

E-mail to Representative Murphy & Senator Toomey:
This is my daily reminder to you - I live in Pennsylvania and I do not believe the Republicans should either shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act or play games with the debt ceiling. Stop it and get back to work.

Tweets:
To President Obama, Democrats & an increasing number of Republicans: Stay strong against the extremists and DON'T BLINK. We have your backs


10/1

E-mail to Representative Tim Murphy & Senator Pat Toomey:
I will try to write to you every day of the Republican shutdown of the federal government, just to remind you that Americans are disgusted. I am opposed to the government being shut down because you Republicans don't believe in the Affordable Care Act. It passed. Get over it and move on.
As my friend Laura Anne Gilman says: To: every member of Congress. From: nearly every US citizen. Hand in your paychecks until you decide to work again.
If there's any part of government who most deserves to not be paid, it's the Congress, especially the Republican members.

Tweets:
President Obama, Democrats, & the few rational Republicans - Stay strong and don't blink. We have your backs against the American Taliban

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Think About This Country's Financial Obligations [[An Open Letter to Congress]]

I originally published this on Facebook on July 12, 2011 at 12:35pm. However, it pathetic that our "talk-lots/do-nothing" Congress has put us back in this position again so I'm republishing this short essay again.


Have you bothered to read the Constitution?

Do you know what the 14th Amendment means?

Third World countries default on their debts, but countries like America never should.

The debt ceiling needs to be raised, millionaires need to pay more taxes, tax loopholes need to be closed, the minimum age for Social Security benefits needs to be raised, and the government should not start wars it has no plan to pay for.

You should all be ashamed of your obstructionism, but, of course, you are not.


It is ironic these days that the "traditional enemies" of the US do not seem to be Iran or Russia anymore - it's the many obstructionist Republican members of the House (including the representative for our district, Timothy Murphy and one senator, Pat Toomey).
The only thing I'd change in this essay is "the minimum age for Social Security benefits needs to be raised." What I should have said was "the salary ceiling for Social Security should be increased to the first $500,000 of income."

Monday, September 16, 2013

In Praise of Police When They Protect and Serve and Not When They Murder the Public

I've been extremely troubled by a rash of police pre-emptively shooting people, generally black men. Isn't the slogan for police "To Protect and Serve"? How is the murder of men like Jonathan Ferrell protecting or serving anyone?

I blame poor education, bad training and entrenched racism for most of these shootings. Cops everywhere do not behave so stupidly. When cops are properly hired and trained, they can solve problems.

We had an incident at our house a couple of years ago when a drunk teenager, apparently looking for his girlfriend, chose our doorbell to ring at 4am. We went and talked to the kid, but he refused to go away (frankly, he was too drunk). We said if you don't leave we're calling the cops. He didn't leave, so we called the cops. A single female cop showed up within ten minutes and talked to the kid. She diffused the situation in a way we could not, not by shooting, tasing or arresting the kid, but by firmly talking to him. She figured out where he lived and brought him home. She protected and served, which is what cops ought to be doing. We declined to press any charges because she solved the situation.

I wish all Americans could rely on the police as we did. Jonathan Ferrell, apparently upset by having been in a car accident, did not have that opportunity.

2013.09.17 - In news reports about the North Carolina shooting, the cop pumped 10 bullets into Jonathan Ferrell. Sometimes, cops do accidentally kill innocent people, but shooting 12 times, at least 10 of those shots hitting their intended target? That was no accident.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Things I'm on the Fence About

I'm generally an independent person, but the Republican party has gone so far to the right over the last 20 years that I haven't voted for a Republican since 1999 and have been a registered Democrat since just after the 2004 presidential election.

Despite this, I try not to be a knee-jerk progressive. I don't completely agree with progressives on a couple of issues:

  • Government-ID for voting. Most poor people do have government-issued ID, even if they don't have a driver's license. It isn't that hard to get. If anything, it might be harder for older people or people who live in very rural areas, and who might be more likely to vote Republican to get a government-issued ID if they don't already have a driver's license. That said, the Republicans are clearly over-rating potential voter fraud, and are trying to disenfranchise people likely to vote for Democrats. I encourage everyone to ensure they have a valid, government-issued ID of some kind to ensure they can vote no matter what weird gymnastics the Republicans require.
  • Edward Snowden. He's not a traitor and he's not a hero either. Still not quite sure what to make of him. Neither side, nor Snowden himself, have made a compelling argument either way. He is telling us stuff our government has been doing for years, but I've found everything unsurprising. He's clearly broken a number of federal laws (as a government contractor, he had to sign a number of papers promising not to divulge what he learned in his job), but that isn't the same thing as being a traitor. But the Snowden problem raises a larger issue, one that's been generally ignored - why the hell is the NSA hiring contractors? If our security is so important, why isn't the NSA only hiring regular government employees who have to undergo a full security clearance before they are hired?
  • Investing. I've always believed in enlightened self-interest. Capitalism and the stock market can raise people out of poverty. I only need look as far as my own husband to see that (coupled with native intelligence and an excellent education, paid for by scholarships, work/study and loans). Sadly, many people who start investing don't understand what they're doing. Coupled with unregulated behavior by many financial institutions, it looks like the deck is hopelessly stacked against small investors. It isn't - you need to be a careful investor. If anyone tells you they have an easy way to $1,000,000, they are lying.

When I was younger, I used to be more on the fence about unions, but given the current mess Republicans (pushed by ALEC and the Kook...errh, Koch Brothers) have made of employee rights, we need unions now more than ever.

I believe strongly in the tenants of the modern Democratic party, including its promotion of personal rights, protecting women and minorities, education, gun control, infrastructure, having a strong social safety net including health care and environmental protection. The Republicans have been very much wrong over their anti-tax raving. As Twitterer @AngieinWAState said "I like paying taxes, with them I buy...civilization." I want to live in a civilized country. The Republicans don't care if the United States is a civilized country, they only care to keep as much of the country's wealth for themselves.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

My Uterus - a Look Back

Wouldn't you know that during the year after my hysterectomy, public discussion of the uterus is more popular than ever?

Despite my lack of a uterus and ovaries, I don't feel particularly left out. Jim and I felt early on that one kid was plenty and that my anatomy did not mean I had to have many children. We were always extremely careful about birth control, stopped using it when we were ready to have a child, had a child, returned to mandatory birth control use and then Jim had a vasectomy when we were sure we were ready for that. We made those plans and we retained control of the size of our family and of our reproductive health.

At the same time, while birth control no longer impacts me directly, I have always very strongly believed that individuals must have easy access to birth control, Plan B, and abortion. So I will continue to stand with women across the country who must fight the state to retain their rights to unimpeded birth control and abortion.

I didn't wake up one morning and decide "I think I'll get rid of my uterus and ovaries so I'll never need to worry about them again." I'd had a few rounds of ovarian cysts that got progressively more painful and led to multiple surgeries. In fact, when the cysts came back again when I was 51, I switched to a new gynecologist whenever I was told "You should have a hysterectomy." After all, I was well into perimenopause, and menopause itself tends to stop ovarian cysts from reoccurring. But, at 55, I was still having painful periods and then got quite sick. So I was more than ready to say "Enough, I'll finally have a hysterectomy." It was my decision. My choice. I had the surgery because I was ready for it.

Women should always be able to make their own decisions about their reproductive health care, something that is no longer true in states like Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Oklahoma...the list goes on.

If you look up information about hysterectomies online, you'll read all kinds of information, some of it quite scary. Women are different, and the age you have a hysterectomy makes a huge difference. Since I was 55, my ovaries were already making less estrogen. Since I have a history of endometriosis and am a DES daughter, I could not consider going on hormone replacement therapy after the surgery. I admit, I was a little concerned about that, even though I've never been a "girly girl" type. Would a hysterectomy create more problems than it would fix?

While I had some problems post-op (an infected ovary led to an infection that migrated to the surgical wound which required all kinds of extra treatment (but, luckily, no additional hospitalization)), I recovered pretty rapidly. I felt I was about 95% back to normal within 6 weeks of surgery. Jim and I went to Chicon and while I couldn't carry much, I walked a lot and had some great meals out.

A year post-op, I feel pretty good. I lost and regained 20 pounds, so I weigh about the same I had for the last couple of years. My weight "realigned" a little - my skin is a little looser, my breasts are a little smaller and so on. I'm walking a little over 2 miles a day (I've walked over 1,000 miles since early 2012 when I increased my walking and started using MapMyWalk to track my activity). But the frequent pelvic pain and all that extra bleeding is gone and I generally feel better. I still have a horrible case of insomnia, so I'm exhausted much of the time and my concentration is so-so - the hysterectomy had no impact on that at all.

So, do I talk a little about sex? A hysterectomy impacts a woman's sex life in many ways. The issue here is that while I may want to be very open about how I feel about sex, I'm part of a longtime couple, and Jim is not fond of TMI-type discussions because they involve him too, and I do respect his privacy. A hysterectomy has to impact your sexual response over the short term because of scar tissue, the lack of a uterus, lack of estrogen...but, after a few months, if you take sex very easy (think of any kind of physical rehab), it can be as good as before. Sex is slightly different for me, but really not that much. My advice is don't panic during the first couple of months about sex after a hysterectomy, but if you have severe pain, go see your doctor. In general, if you had a positive attitude/experience about sex pre-surgery, you'll make adjustments and have a positive attitude/experience afterwards.

Support from family and friends after any major surgery was extremely helpful. I was very moved to get many messages from folks online after my surgery. I was very active in an online forum called Hystersisters for a few months which is for women who are having/have had hysterectomies. I had some mixed feelings about the forum. Most of the information they gave was accurate and practical, and sharing posts with other women who were pretty-much home-bound for a few weeks about their experiences was good. But...it was cutesy in places ("pamper the princess" - UGH), they tended to be overly cautious on activity and there's some odd group-think that goes on among the leaders. With those cautions, I do recommend that hysterectomy patients check out the forum to see if it's helpful to them.


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Fighting the Rapislators

Did you know that we now live in a country where some of the states are now legislating state-sponsored rape while gagging doctors' ability to provide actual medical advice?

Here is the FBI definition of rape (1/2012)

“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

In Ohio, legislation that Republicans have passed mandate that women have an ultrasound (which is not medically necessary for an early abortion) with a vaginal probe (ditto).

I don't know about you, but I would observe that a state mandating an unnecessary test that includes a vaginal probe is the state raping the woman symbolically. It's meant to make abortions more difficult, impeding women of their right to have an abortion if they chose to have one. It means states like Ohio and Texas no longer have Republican legislators - they have rapislators, a sadly accurate term coined by @WiseRiseInfo on Twitter on 7/1/2013. Rapislators are people (usually men, almost always Republicans) who are using state-sponsored rape to restrict women's rights.

Often, we hear rapislators claim they are pro-life. BULLSHIT! Rapislators are are only interested in restricting women's rights. In Ohio, they've gone so far to add the unnecessary sonogram with vaginal probe to women seeking birth control. If you are truly only anti-abortion, you'd encourage women to get birth control. And, apparently there's language that restricts a doctor's ability to give accurate medical information to women who want to get abortions.

I do not believe abortion is murder. But, if it is murder, it is murder in self-defense. It's a woman standing her ground. If a woman does not want to have an abortion, I support her decision. But I do not, I cannot, support any government that makes any decision about her reproductive health for her.

We need to find ways to fight the rapislators. I'm sending the following to Attorney General Eric Holder and to President Barack Obama:

 

Dear Sir:

In January 2012, the FBI defined rape in the following way:

“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

Since this is now the definition of rape, how can the Justice Department permit states like Ohio to mandate an unnecessary test like a sonogram with a vaginal probe before a woman gets an abortion? How is that not rape?

The Justice Department should nullify any state law that includes unnecessary medical tests and runs counter to Roe vs. Wade. Frankly, it looks like the federal government is supporting symbolic state-sponsored rape by some states by not acting.

 

I could not find a direct address for Attorney General Holder, but this address askdoj@usdoj.gov is supposed to forward DOJ E-mail. And you can write to President Obama via this form.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Approach to Following Accounts on Twitter

(last updated 9/9/2016)

When it first got going, I was one of the "What's the point of Twitter?" people. But, gradually, I found it more interesting, and, since late 2012, have been an avid participant.

I like real followers. I regularly purge fake followers and inactive followers except for a few friends/relatives who like to read but not participate. ManageFlitter is a useful tool for managing Twitter followers. However it doesn't identify obvious spam accounts with profiles like this:

I do not intend to share pic on Twitter however you can add my snapchat: XXXX so I am able to send you my pictures etc.

or

Goт мy ғιrѕт oғғer тodαy ғroм 100ĸғollowerѕ INC, GET 10,000 Twιттer Followerѕ ғor $39, αт http://bit.ly/XXXXXXX

I now report profiles like to Twitter as spam accounts before I block them. If you add me to a list, I block you.

I'm not the kind to follow back everyone. I don't follow (or immediately unfollow and sometimes block) any of the following kinds of accounts:

  • Accounts that are sexist, racist, religiously fanatical, gun-loving, #RWNJ (RightWingNutJob), #GamerGate (if you don't know about this, you really don't want to know about this), pro-puppy (ditto), political bots (people obviously only trying to make trouble).
  • Block any account with a gun in their profile or background picture.
  • Commercial-only accounts (except for those related to interesting books, movies, restaurants or places to visit), or accounts by individuals that seem only to link to "special deals." Some of these individual accounts have perfectly-reasonable bios, but when you read the tweets, it's clear these "individuals" have nothing real to say.
  • Accounts with an "egg" icon, a fish-face photo, a porn-like photo or no biographical description. I want to know something about the people I'm following. If you can't say something about yourself or upload a photo, how do I know you're not just a bot? Twitter should be interactive - why should we interact? Occasionally, I do follow egg/no bio accounts when they've made some interesting tweets.
  • Trolls (and, yes, sometimes even accounts I'd agree with on paper are trolls who are only there to stir things up).
  • Any tweet that's just a link gets its account blocked and reported because often these are links to viruses.
  • People I know IRL and would rather not engage with on Twitter. It's a free country.
  • People who use "tools" that spam people with direct messages (which are an annoying "feature" of Twitter) like http://www.twitterautofollowback.com/. Anyone dumb enough to use tools that spam aren't people I want to deal with. I generally delete anyone who DMs me or who primarily posts how many people have followed/unfollowed them.

While I'm very active on #uniteblue, I don't automatically follow-back because some people who are members of #uniteblue fall under one of the above categories.

I also think demanding a follow back or visiting a link is silly. I appreciate follow backs but don't demand them. I might be too outspoken for many and that's fine.

The single best way to guarantee that I'll unfollow you is to send me a DM. Hate DMs on Twitter, they're annoying.

Basically, when I run into people I'd rather not follow, I unfollow them and sometimes I block them and move on. If they're overly abusive, commercial, or pornographic, I also report them to Twitter.

I do not read DMs and have said even so in my Twitter bio. They are a horrific waste of time. With only a few exceptions, they've been spam from a Twitter app or harassment. I'm at the point where I unfollow accounts which send out DMs.

I'm glad there are now tools to make blocking abuse accounts much easier. If you're interested in learning more about blocking sock puppets, visit BlockTogether. You can create block lists and share them if you'd like to. If you got ensnared in the whole #GamerGate mess, follow GGAutoBlocker on Twitter.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Who Voted in the Senate to Protect Military Rapists?

There has been an epidemic of reported rapes in the military over the last few years. So what does the Senate Armed Services Committee decide to do?

Protect the rapists.

I'm particularly disappointed by Claire McCaskill's vote. She, sometimes, pretended to be a progressive (certainly compared to Todd Akin, she was). But she's a woman with half a brain in her head part of the time, and yet she voted to continue to shield military rapists. SHAME!

(corrected phone list from Politics USA)

Kelly Ayotte (R -NH) (202) 224-3324
Roy Blunt (R – MO) (202) 224-5721
Saxby Chambliss (R – GA) (202) 224-3521
Deb Fischer (R – NE) (202) 224-6551
Lindsey Graham (R – SC) (202) 224-5972
James Inhofe (R – OK) (202) 224-4721
Tim Kaine (D – VA) (202) 224-4024
Angus King (I – ME) (202) 224-5344
Mike Lee (R – UT) (202) 224-5444
Carl Levin (D – MI) (202) 224-6221
Joe Manchin (D – WV) (202) 224-3954
John McCain (R – AZ) (202) 224-2235
Claire McCaskill (D – MO)(202) 224-6154
Bill Nelson (D – FL) (202) 224-5274
Jack Reed (D – RI) (202) 224-4642
Jeff Sessions (R – AL) (202) 224-4124
Roger Wicker (R – MS) (202) 224-6253

Twitter list, many of the same people who voted against the Violence Against Women Act and Gun Background Checks:

@KellyAyotte @RoyBlunt @SaxbyChambliss

@SenatorFischer @GrahamBlog @jiminhofe

@timkaine @SenAngusKing @SenMikeLee

@SenCarlLevin @Sen_JoeManchin @SenJohnMcCain

@clairecmc @SenBillNelson @SenJackReed

@SenatorSessions @SenatorWicker


Remembering the Newtown Kids on Father's Day

On Mother's Day, I stumbled over a lovely essay by one of the Newtown Mothers...and it made me want to remember each of the kids. I would be especially angry if I were a Newtown mother, on Mother's Day. These kids should all still be with their parents and their schools. So, I tweeted about each of the kids in honor of Father's Day. Here's what I said:

  • The 1st Father's Day after #newtown - we should remember the kids who were murdered that day, as a callous government doesn't care - WE DO!
  • Remembering Emilie Parker who would've been 7 on 5/12, wanted to be Hermionie Granger for her birthday. #newtown
  • Remembering Charlotte Bacon, in whose memory a Kindness Award was started. #newtown
  • Remembering Jesse Lewis who wrote "Nurturing Healing Love" on a chalkboard at home before he was murdered. #newtown
  • Remembering the rambunctious Noah Pozner whose twin sister was in another class. #newtown
  • Remembering red-headed Daniel Barden whose dad taught him Jingle Bells on the piano on his last morning. #newtown
  • Remembering Olivia Engel, who was a Daisy Girl Scout. #newtown
  • Remembering Josephine Gay, who loved the water and whose parents set up a fund for autistic children. #newtown
  • Remembering Dylan Hockley whose parents included a reading of Goodnight Moon at his memorial service. #newtown
  • Remembering Madeleine Hsu who loved dogs and wearing pink. #newtown
  • Remembering Catherine Hubbard who loved animals. Her parents asked for donations to an animal center. #newtown
  • Remembering Chase Kowalski who loved sports & played baseball. #newtown
  • Remembering Ana Marquez-Greene, who sang via video during her funeral. #newtown
  • Remembering James Mattioli who always loved to sing. #newtown
  • Remembering Grace McDonnell who loved the beach. #newtown
  • Remembering Jack Pinto who was buried in a NY Giants jersey. #newtown
  • Remembering Caroline Previdi whose favorite charity was The Toy Chest at her church. #newtown
  • Remembering Jessica Rekos who wanted cowboy boots for Christmas. #newtown
  • Remembering Avielle Richman whose Dad had been blogging about her adventures in 2012. #newtown
  • Remembering Jonathan Wheeler who wanted to be a paleontologist. #newtown
  • Remembering Allison Wyatt, an artistic girl who shared with strangers. #newtown
  • We should never forget the children of #newtown, particularly on Father's Day. Write your representative - better gun laws save lives.

Never forget that these were the senators who cared more about the NRA's opinion of them than the 90% of the public who wants better background checks. Here are the Twitter accounts of these senators:

@SenAlexander @KellyAyotte @SenJohnBarrasso @MaxBaucus @SenatorBegich

@RoyBlunt @JohnBoozeman @SenatorBurr @SaxbyChambliss @SenDanCoates

@TomCoburn @JeffFlake @SenThadCochran @SenBobCorker @JohnCornyn

@MikeCrapo @SenTedCruz @SenatorEnzi @SenMikeLee @SenatorFischer

@GrahamBlog @ChuckGrassley @SenOrrinHatch @jiminhofe

@SenatorHeitkamp @SenDeanHeller @SenJohnHoeven @SenatorIsakson

@Mike_Johanns @SenRonJohnson @McConnellPress @JerryMoran

@lisamurkowski @SenRandPaul @robportman @SenMarkPryor @SenatorRisch

@SenPatRoberts @marcorubio @SenatorTimScott @SenatorSessions

@SenShelbyPress @SenJohnThune @DavidVitter @SenatorWicker

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Remembering the Newtown Kids on Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, I stumbled over a lovely essay by one of the Newtown Mothers...and it made me want to remember each of the kids. I would be especially angry if I were a Newtown mother, on Mother's Day. These kids should all still be with their parents and their schools. So, I tweeted about each of the kids on Mother's Day. Here's what I said:

  • Remembering Emilie Parker who would've been 7 on 5/12, wanted to be Hermionie Granger for her birthday. #newtown
  • Remembering Charlotte Bacon, in whose memory a Kindness Award was started. #newtown
  • Remembering Jesse Lewis who wrote "Nurturing Healing Love" on a chalkboard at home before he was murdered. #newtown
  • Remembering the rambunctious Noah Pozner whose twin sister was in another class. #newtown
  • The 1st Mother's Day after #newtown - we should remember the kids who were murdered that day, as a callous government doesn't care - WE DO!
  • Remembering red-headed Daniel Barden whose dad taught him Jingle Bells on the piano on his last morning. #newtown
  • Remembering Olivia Engel, who was a Daisy Girl Scout. #newtown
  • Remembering Josephine Gay, who loved the water and whose parents set up a fund for autistic children. #newtown
  • Remembering Dylan Hockley whose parents included a reading of Goodnight Moon at his memorial service. #newtown
  • Remembering Madeleine Hsu who loved dogs and wearing pink. #newtown
  • Remembering Catherine Hubbard who loved animals. Her parents asked for donations to an animal center. #newtown
  • Remembering Chase Kowalski who loved sports & played baseball. #newtown
  • Remembering Ana Marquez-Greene, who sang via video during her funeral. #newtown
  • Remembering James Mattioli who always loved to sing. #newtown
  • Remembering Grace McDonnell who loved the beach. #newtown
  • Remembering Jack Pinto who was buried in a NY Giants jersey. #newtown
  • Remembering Caroline Previdi whose favorite charity was The Toy Chest at her church. #newtown
  • Remembering Jessica Rekos who wanted cowboy boots for Christmas. #newtown
  • Remembering Avielle Richman whose Dad had been blogging about her adventures in 2012. #newtown
  • Remembering Jonathan Wheeler who wanted to be a paleontologist. #newtown
  • Remembering Allison Wyatt, an artistic girl who shared with strangers. #newtown
  • We should never forget the children of #newtown, particularly on Mother's Day. Write your representative - better gun laws save lives.
  • It took 9 months to create my child & a few secs for a tormented individual to destroy her with a gun. #newtown Mom

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Weighty Matters

I sometimes make surprisingly long posts in other people's blogs. I responded to a posting and some comments in the blog The Skeptical Scalpel: "Institute of Medicine: Obesity is not caused by lack of willpower" and thought I'd reprint them here. The quote that set me off was not made by the blogger, but was made by one of the commenters.
[[Fall 2012]]

"We are way too accepting of the obese. We should be sure to mock and scorn the obese more often. We should make fun of those who don't exercise or who frequent McDonald's. "

Harassment is never helpful (unless you're pulling a "Modest Proposal" here and I'm missing it).

I've been thin, fat, obese, morbidly obese, obese and now am merely fat. I've lost 65 pounds over the last 16 years, and have about 45 more pounds to go to be roughly average. I was harassed constantly about my weight in school, and, trust me, it did not help make me a thin person. It made me really pissed off. On the other hand, it did train me that most people's opinions do not matter. [[small clarification - I wrote most of this in the fall of 2012. I regained the 20 pounds after writing this.]]

I have a mixed viewpoint on the issue of obesity and health.

Genetics do matter, but they are not necessarily destiny. I come from a long line of fat people. Carbs and proteins taste great to me. While I've learned to eat some vegetables and fruits, I never, ever crave them, as much as I should. I'm still learning.

No matter what your weight is, you have to accept yourself, be reasonably active, and eat sensibly. There are a lot of self-hating thin and fat people out there.

Gym classes in school need to be dramatically rethought. When I was in school in the '60s and '70s, they focused on sports. Some of us were and have always been wretched at sports. They ought to be focused more on activities and health. They should expose kids to sports, but if the kids happier walking the track than trying to hit a baseball, that should be considered an acceptable gym activity.

The interaction of obesity and the medical community is, frankly, awkward. During the 90s, I remember being shocked by being asked "do you mind if we weigh you?" While people need to be respected by clinicians no matter what their weight, information like their weight, height, cholesterol, blood sugar (and so on) need to be recorded. Fat people should not be harassed, but they do need to be reminded about good eating habits and activity no matter what their weight is.

I think the thing that made me finally start to lose weight was the introduction of gastric bypass. While I eat less than I used to and do exercise more, I love a good meal. I still find eating very pleasurable, despite its potential dangers. I was at the point where gastric bypass was an option, and I knew I didn't want to have eating be that unpleasant.

I opted to start walking. I just did little things at first, like parking across a parking lot from my work or a store. Right now, I'm unemployed and am walking 3-4 miles a day.

I think one of the other big problems with attitudes towards obesity and dieting is this idea that loosing weight can be easy and fast. It isn't. Relearning how to eat is hard. But, the more we can non-medicalize loosing weight (focusing on diet and exercise rather than drugs and surgery), but better we all be in the long run.

I don't think there is "a" solution. Obesity/anorexia are tricky conditions and relate to upbringing, education, community planning, marketing...there are many unrelated pieces to a person's size. Medical personnel need to be respectful (and generally are), but need to have good information about nutrition available. And I understand nutrition isn't generally taught in med school.


[[Spring 2013]]

I don't really agree with the anonymous poster who said "it has to do with hunger." It has to do with our REACTIONS to hunger.

At some times of the day (morning), if I'm hungry I'll have a glass of water and feel fine with it. At other times of the day (afternoon), I need something to eat. It used to be junk food...and sometimes, it still is. But, generally, my afternoon snack is hummus and crackers or some peanuts.

Last year, I lost 20 pounds, but most of that was due to illness. However, in the fall, I went off of one medication, and noticed I was really craving carbs badly, which meant I was again eating more carbs. Also, it seemed like I was gaining weight no matter what I did (I walked 90 miles one month last fall and still gained 5 pounds that month). So I gained back the 20 pounds in 5 months.

I realized the obvious thing (beyond I was eating more than I should) - I'm now through menopause, so of course I'm going to gain weight a little more easily. I am being more careful again, am not craving carbs quite so much, and am back to really slow weight loss.

For many people, maintaining an average weight is easy. You're VERY lucky. For many of us, it's hard. To blame JUST the individual or JUST the environment is wrong-headed - weight is a very awkward combination of personal and societal.


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Petition to Oppose Politics in National Science Foundation (NSF) Funding and a Letter to the White House Petition Site

On April 29, I was disgusted (though not surprised) to read that a Republican Congressional Representative wanted to do away with using peer-review to determine National Science Foundation funding of projects. So, I started a White House petition and asked people to sign it.

Even though I publicized it as I had an earlier petition, I got almost no response. So, I wrote to the petition site.

To: White House Petition Site:

I'm sad that this petition site seems to be going the way of many other Obama policies - it's a good idea, it's talked about and then it's ignored.

Several of us started petitions about the Westboro Baptist Church last year. Mine was the request to investigate its tax exempt status. I got the then-required 25,000 signatures in a couple of days. The petition is still up and has over 96,000 signatures.

No response from the administration.

With the later increase to 100,000 signatures, people clearly see that starting a petition here is a waste of time. I started a petition about the fact that a Republican Congressional representative is trying to do away with peer-review for NSF grants. I have many friends into science, and publicized this petition the same way I had the Westboro Baptist Church petition.

I've gotten almost no response. After 2 days, I'm up to 29 signatures.

This is sad, but, clearly, people don't want to waste their time with petitions that the administration will then completely ignore.

It's true we got very used to being lied to during the Bush administration. It's sad the Obama administration seems to be going in the same direction. If you have to lie about the little things (and, I know, the petition site is a "little thing"), how can we trust you about the big things?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Who Voted to Kill Gun Background Checks in the Senate?

After months of arguing, and a rare bipartisan proposal between conservative Democrat Joe Manchin (WV) and conservative Republican Pat Toomey (PA), a minority of Senators got together to filibuster a bill to have background checks on gun purchases. Here's a list, in a ready-to-use Twitter format (thanks to Huffington Post for providing the list of Senators and their Twitter handles), so you can tweet about these people who believe criminals and insane people should always be able to buy any guns they want:

@SenAlexander @KellyAyotte @SenJohnBarrasso @MaxBaucus @SenatorBegich

@RoyBlunt @JohnBoozeman @SenatorBurr @SaxbyChambliss @SenDanCoates

@TomCoburn @JeffFlake @SenThadCochran @SenBobCorker @JohnCornyn

@MikeCrapo @SenTedCruz @SenatorEnzi @SenMikeLee @SenatorFischer

@GrahamBlog @ChuckGrassley @SenOrrinHatch @jiminhofe

@SenatorHeitkamp @SenDeanHeller @SenJohnHoeven @SenatorIsakson

@Mike_Johanns @SenRonJohnson @McConnellPress @JerryMoran

@lisamurkowski @SenRandPaul @robportman @SenMarkPryor @SenatorRisch

@SenPatRoberts @marcorubio @SenatorTimScott @SenatorSessions

@SenShelbyPress @SenJohnThune @DavidVitter @SenatorWicker

Also, the folks at DemandAPlan have a form where you can write a letter to express your unhappiness with the Senate's lack of action on gun control and the letter will go to all of the Senators on this list.

And, to no one's surprise, half of these "leaders" also voted against the Violence Against Women Act, but, luckily, enough rational politicians voted for it, so VAWA is again the law of the land.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Who Voted Against the Raise in Minimum Wage

And the answer is...every single Republican in the House.

So when you want to know why the minimum wage continues to stagnate at a time when companies are making huge profits...ask a House Republican.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Who Voted Against the Violence Against Women Act, 2013

We must always remember who voted against this bill - especially during the 2014 election. I know my representative, Tim Murphy voted against it, which means I am very glad I never have voted for him and never will. Both senators, Bob Casey, and, to my shock, the usually super-far right Pat Toomey, voted for it.

MotherJones has an excellent analysis of the VAWA votes, including some interesting (but depressing) maps.

Here are the senators (all Republicans) who voted against VAWA:

  • John Barrasso (Wyo.)
  • Roy Blunt (Mo.)
  • John Boozman (Ark.)
  • Tom Coburn (Okla.)
  • John Cornyn (Texas)
  • Ted Cruz (Texas)
  • Mike Enzi (Wyo.)
  • Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
  • Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
  • Orrin Hatch (Utah)
  • James Inhofe (Okla.)
  • Mike Johanns (Neb.)
  • Ron Johnson (Wisc.)
  • Mike Lee (Utah)
  • Mitch McConnell (Ky.)
  • Rand Paul (Ky.)
  • Jim Risch (Idaho)
  • Pat Roberts (Kansas)
  • Marco Rubio (Fla.)
  • Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
  • John Thune (S.D.)
  • Tim Scott (S.C.)

(from HuffingtonPost)

And here are their Twitter handles, to remind them that you remember how they voted against VAWA:

@SenJohnBarrasso @RoyBlunt @JohnBoozeman @TomCoburn @JohnCornyn

@SenTedCruz @SenatorEnzi @GrahamBlog @ChuckGrassley @SenOrrinHatch

@jiminhofe @Mike_Johanns @SenRonJohnson @McConnellPress

@SenRandPaul @SenatorRisch @SenPatRoberts @marcorubio

@SenatorTimScott @SenatorSessions @SenJohnThune

Here are the representatives (all Republicans) who voted against VAWA:

  • Aderholt
  • Amash
  • Bachmann
  • Barton
  • Bentivolio
  • Bilirakis
  • Bishop (UT)
  • Black
  • Blackburn
  • Bonner
  • Brady (TX)
  • Bridenstine
  • Brooks (AL)
  • Broun (GA)
  • Burgess
  • Campbell
  • Cantor
  • Carter
  • Cassidy
  • Chabot
  • Chaffetz
  • Collins (GA)
  • Conaway
  • Cotton
  • Crawford
  • Culberson
  • DeSantis
  • DesJarlais
  • Duncan (SC)
  • Duncan (TN)
  • Ellmers
  • Fincher
  • Fleischmann
  • Fleming
  • Flores
  • Forbes
  • Fortenberry
  • Foxx
  • Franks (AZ)
  • Garrett
  • Gingrey (GA)
  • Gohmert
  • Goodlatte
  • Gosar
  • Gowdy
  • Graves (GA)
  • Graves (MO)
  • Griffin (AR)
  • Griffith (VA)
  • Guthrie
  • Hall
  • Harris
  • Hartzler
  • Hastings (WA)
  • Hensarling
  • Holding
  • Hudson
  • Huelskamp
  • Huizenga (MI)
  • Hultgren
  • Hurt
  • Johnson (OH)
  • Jones
  • Jordan
  • Kelly
  • King (IA)
  • Kingston
  • Labrador
  • LaMalfa
  • Lamborn
  • Lankford
  • Latta
  • Long
  • Lucas
  • Luetkemeyer
  • Lummis
  • Marchant
  • Marino
  • Massie
  • McCaul
  • McClintock
  • Meadows
  • Mica
  • Miller (FL)
  • Mullin
  • Mulvaney
  • Murphy (PA)
  • Neugebauer
  • Noem
  • Nunnelee
  • Olson
  • Palazzo
  • Perry
  • Petri
  • Pittenger
  • Pitts
  • Pompeo
  • Posey
  • Price (GA)
  • Radel
  • Ribble
  • Rice (SC)
  • Roby
  • Roe (TN)
  • Rogers (AL)
  • Rogers (KY)
  • Rohrabacher
  • Rooney
  • Roskam
  • Ross
  • Rothfus
  • Salmon
  • Scalise
  • Schweikert
  • Scott, Austin
  • Sensenbrenner
  • Sessions
  • Smith (NE)
  • Smith (NJ)
  • Smith (TX)
  • Southerland
  • Stewart
  • Stockman
  • Stutzman
  • Thornberry
  • Wagner
  • Walberg
  • Weber (TX)
  • Wenstrup
  • Westmoreland
  • Whitfield
  • Williams
  • Wilson (SC)
  • Wittman
  • Wolf
  • Womack
  • Woodall
  • Yoho

Not voting

  • Coble
  • Granger
  • Hinojosa
  • Johnson, Sam
  • Miller, Gary
  • Reed

(from clerk.house.gov)

Many of these same people failed to vote for Sandy relief and failed to vote on raising debt ceilings (as they traditionally did for Republican presidents) or jobs for years.

In a rational society, sexual assault should never be condoned. As usual, the Republicans who represent us, are badly out of touch with Americans who support VAWA.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Annual Look at the Oscars 2013

For the last 44 years or so, I've made predictions about Oscar winners. 2012 was a good year for movies, but there are very few "Oscar locks" this year, which may make the show a little more interesting I saw most of the Best Picture nominees, and liked most of them (haven't seen Amour (and would really like to) or Life of Pi (and have very mixed feelings about that, much as I love most Ang Lee movies or Zero Dark Thirty or Django Unchained (again, mixed feelings on those two))

I noted several hopeful trends in my last year's Oscar notes, including several movies with large, strong casts of actresses. Sadly, I can't say I noticed that trend this year. There was some interesting, ambitious SF - Hunger Games, Looper and Cloud Atlas. Sometimes, Hollywood remembers it takes a little more than strong production values or a superhero to make a science fiction movie. Sadly, Cloud Atlas tanked at the box office. I think it's the sort of movie people will look back at and appreciate as it's a fascinating movie.

I'm going to an Oscar party again this year, and expect to be there for all of it as I'm going to the Hollywood Theater Oscar Party in Dormont.

[[Comments made after the show.]]

Best Picture

  • Amour
  • Argo WON (will win)
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln (should win)
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

This is a tough category but for weird reasons. I really loved Lincoln. I'm a huge history buff and love it when a movie gets so much of it so right. Some of the complaints about Lincoln are on the strange side - it shouldn't win because of Spielberg - it shouldn't win because 20th Century Fox (AKA Rupert Murdock) was involved. I liked Argo very much, and Ben Affleck really captured the chaos around the Iran hostage crisis very well. However, upon a second viewing, its flaws really bothered me (lack of distinctive characterizations outside of the Hollywood guys, severe Hollywoodization of the last half hour of the movie). Beasts is simultaneously the most naturalistic and the most fantastic movie of the lot. I loved Q. Wallis' fierce performance (and, I'm sorry, you can't call it anything but that). Silver Linings Playbook had a very smart script and terrific performances all the way around, but is a little light for a Best Picture Oscar. This might be the year of the surprise winner, so maybe something like Django Unchained or Silver Linings Playbook could win. However, I think Argo will win, mostly as an apology to Ben Affleck who didn't get nominated for Best Director, but I think Lincoln deserves to win.

[[By the end of the show, it looked like Life of Pi could have pulled a massive upset.]]

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
  • Daniel Day-Lewis WON - Lincoln (should win, will win)
  • Hugh Jackman - Les Misérables
  • Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
  • Denzel Washington - Flight

There are two Oscar locks, and this is one of them. Daniel Day-Lewis will be the second person to win three Best Acting Oscars (after Katharine Hepburn (4) (Meryl Streep has only won 2 + 1 for supporting). His performance as Lincoln was spot-on and very moving. And, remember, DDL is only 55 so he could be winning them for decades to come. Both Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman gave strong performances in their respective movies.

[[After a rocky night of humor onstage, Daniel Day-Lewis, who's often kind of shy in public, told a great joke when he said that he was supposed to have played Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep had given him his Oscar) and Streep was due to play Lincoln. He knew who he was talking to. Seth McFarlane struggled with this all evening.]]

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Alan Arkin - Argo
  • Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook (should win, will win)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
  • Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
  • Christoph Waltz WON- Django Unchained

I'm really not sure how Oscar voters are going to go on this one. I've heard a lot about De Niro possibly getting an Oscar for this as he's only won 1 for support and 1 for leading. That's possible; also, this is one of his comic roles, and he's become a brilliant comic actor over the years. If Django Unchained or The Master don't get other awards, perhaps Waltz or Hoffman will win here. I liked Tommy Lee Jones, but I found his performance much weaker the second time I saw Lincoln.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
  • Jennifer Lawrence WON - Silver Linings Playbook
  • Emmanuelle Riva - Amour (will win)
  • Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Naomi Watts - The Impossible (should win)

Naomi Watts gave one of the best performances ever in the little-seen The Impossible. It's about the most harrowing performances since Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice (though for slightly different reasons). I liked Jennifer Lawrence very much in Silver Linings Playbook, but I think I liked her performance ever more in Hunger Games. Quvenzhané Wallis was perfect in Beasts. Jessica Chastain (based on the many ads I've seen for Zero Dark Thirty) gives a solid performance.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams - The Master
  • Sally Field - Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway WON - Les Misérables (should win, will win)
  • Helen Hunt - The Sessions
  • Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook

OK, this is the other lock. Anne Hathaway gave a short but amazing performance in Les Mis. I thought Sally Field also gave a very strong performance - I half wish this category could see a tie.

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Brave WON - Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
  • Frankenweenie - Tim Burton (should win, will win)
  • Paranorman - Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Peter Lord
  • Wreck-it Ralph - Rich Moore

This is a surprisingly tough category. I loved the design and voice casting of Brave, and the script was a little stronger than a typical kid's feature. Frankenweenie is marvelously weird. While I didn't see Wreck-it Ralph, it's very clever.

Best Cinemetography

  • Anna Karenina - Seamus McGarvey
  • Django Unchained - Robert Richardson
  • Life of Pi WON - Claudio Miranda
  • Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski
  • Skyfall - Roger Deakins (should win, will win)

Moderately tough category.

Best Costume Design

  • Anna Karenina WON - Jacqueline Durran (will win)
  • Les Misérables - Paco Delgado
  • Lincoln - Joanna Johnston
  • Mirror Mirror - Eiko Ishioka (should win)
  • Snow White and the Huntsman - Colleen Atwood

This category has the most bizarre nominees. The costumes in Les Mis and Snow White were so-so. I liked the costumes in Mirror Mirror since everything in that movie was meant to be over-the-top and on the cartoony side, and the nominee died before the movie even opened.

Best Directing

  • Amour - Michael Haneke
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild - Benh Zeitlin
  • Life of Pi WON - Ang Lee
  • Lincoln - Steven Spielberg (should win, will win)
  • Silver Linings Playbook - David O. Russell

Despite the anti-Lincoln backlash, I think Spielberg deserves the Oscar.

[[This was the biggest surprise of the night. I generally like Ang Lee movies very much, but didn't like the sound of Life of Pi]]

Best Documentary Feature

  • 5 Broken Cameras - Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
  • The Gatekeepers - Dror Moreh, Philippa Kowarsky and Estelle Fialon
  • How to Survive A Plague - David France and Howard Gertler (should win, will win)
  • The Invisible War - Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering
  • Searching for Sugar Man WON - Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn

I haven't seen any of these documentaries this year, but the two movies I've heard the most about are How to Survive a Plague (about AIDS) and Searching for Sugar Man (about an obscure American singer/songwriter whose works were huge in South Africa). One of these two is the most likely to win, and I think it's more likely to be How to Survive a Plague.

Best Documentary Short Subject

  • "Inocente" WON - Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • "Kings Point" - Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • "Mondays at Racine" - Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • "Open Heart" - Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • "Redemption" - Jon Alpert and Matthew o’Neill

I think I'll ever skip guessing on this one as I have no idea.

Best Film Editing

  • Argo WON - William Goldenberg (should win, will win)
  • life of Pi - Tim Squyres
  • Lincoln - Michael Kahn
  • Silver Linings Playbook - Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • Zero Dark Thirty - Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

I thought the editing for Argo was especially good.

Best Foreign Langauge Film

  • Amour WON - Austria (should win, will win)
  • Kon-Tiki - Norway
  • No - Chile
  • A Royal Affair - Denmark
  • War Witch - Canada

Hope to see Amour.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Hitchcock - Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane (should win, will win)
  • Les Misérables WON - Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

This has the single worst nominee - Les Mis. Sorry, the make-up was good here and there, but mostly way, way overdone. But The Hobbit has a similar problem - some of the make-up is good, and others of it is overly cartoony.

Best Music (Original Score)

  • Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli
  • Argo - Alexandre Desplat
  • Life of Pi WON - Mychael Danna
  • Lincoln - John Williams (should win, will win)
  • Skyfall - Thomas Newman

My favorite score was ignored - Cloud Atlas was the best from last year.

[[The little snippets they played from Life of Pi sounded very nice.]]

Best Music (Original Song)

  • "Before my Time" Chasing Ice - Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • "Everybody Needs A Best Friend" Ted - Music by Walter Murphy Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • "Pi’s Lullaby" Life of Pi - Music by Mychael Danna Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • "Skyfall" Skyfall WON - Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth (should win, will win)
  • "Suddenly" Les Misérables - Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Best Production Design

  • Anna Karenina - Production Design: Sarah Greenwood Set Decoration: Katie Spencer (should win, will win)
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Production Design: Dan Hennah Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
  • Les Misérables - Production Design: Eve Stewart Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
  • Life of Pi - Production Design: David Gropman Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • Lincoln WON - Production Design: Rick Carter Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Lincoln had detailed, accurate production design, and I wouldn't object at all if it won. But Anna Karenina was fresh and inventive and I love its playing around with stagecraft.

Best Short Film (Animated)

  • "Adam and Dog" - Minkyu Lee
  • "Fresh Guacamole" - PES (should win, will win)
  • "Head Over Heels" - Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin o’Reilly
  • "Maggie Simpson" in “The Longest Daycare” - David Silverman
  • "Paperman" WON - John Kahrs

I hadn't seen any of these, but Sunday Morning played "Fresh Guacamole" this morning and it was very inventive

Best Short Film (Live Action)

  • "Asad" - Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
  • "Buzkashi Boys" - Sam French and Ariel Nasr (should win, will win)
  • "Curfew" WON - Shawn Christensen
  • "Death of a Shadow" ("Dood van een SchaduW") - Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
  • "Henry" - Yan England

"Buzkashi Boys," about boys in Afghanistan, has had incredible buzz.

Best Sound Editing

  • Argo - Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
  • Django Unchained - Wylie Stateman
  • Life of Pi - Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
  • Skyfall WON - Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers (should win, will win)
  • Zero Dark Thirty WON - Paul N.J. Ottosson

Haven't seen most of these so I'll guess Skyfall.

[[A very rare tie]]

Best Sound Mixing

  • Argo - John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
  • Les Misérables WON - Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
  • Life of Pi - Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin (should win, will win)
  • Lincoln - Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
  • Skyfall - Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

[[Now, that's a Les Mis win I really can't complain about, particularly given that the songs were sung live during the filming and the music sounded great.]]

Best Visual Effects

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
  • Life of Pi WON - Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
  • Marvel’s the Avengers - Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick (will win)
  • Prometheus - Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill (should win)
  • Snow White and the Huntsman - Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

I'm torn on this category. It was a year when the most visually interesting movie (Cloud Atlas) was completely shut out. Movies like Prometheus and Snow White weren't very good movies, though the effects in Prometheus were really great. The Hobbit has strong effects...but, sometimes, they, like its make-up, were very cartoony and out of place.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • Argo WON - Screenplay by Chris Terrio
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild - Screenplay by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
  • Life of Pi - Screenplay by David Magee
  • Lincoln - Screenplay by Tony Kushner (should win, will win)
  • Silver Linings Playbook - Screenplay by David O. Russell

A very tough category with four very strong options (haven't seen Life of Pi). I think ultimately it goes back to Lincoln, but if the Oscars turn out to be an Argo or Silver Lingings Playbook sweep, this award will go to one of them.

[[Much of the script for Argo is pretty good...but...*sigh*]]

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • Amour - Written by Michael Haneke
  • Django Unchained WON - Written by Quentin Tarantino (will win)
  • Flight - Written by John Gatins
  • Moonrise Kingdom - Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (should win)
  • Zero Dark Thirty - Written by Mark Boal

Moonrise Kingdom was one of my favorite films of last year. I'm still surprised it wasn't nominated for its unique production design. I would love to see this win, but I expect this is the award Tarantino will get.


2/25/13

The show was kind of a mixed bag. The focus was on movie music and it went very well - Shirley Bassey, Jennifer Hudson and Adele really rocked the hall. Seth McFarlane is a decent singer and song and dance man, but..."I Saw Her Boobs" went on for too long. His opening joke about "Making Tommy Lee Jones laugh" was great, but it went down hill from there. It was a very glittery night, both set design and gown wise.

I had a very good time at the Hollywood Theater Oscar party. I won a mini Oscar statuette for answering some movie trivia questions correctly. Comfy seats, snacks and watching the Oscar show on a large screen.

I had one of my worse years of making Oscar predictions ever - I probably only guessed about 20% right. Mostly, it was from my failure to appreciate Life of Pi, which I haven't seen yet. [[[And, when I finally saw it, I really didn't like it that much, though it looks great.]]]


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Woman's Right for All Health Care

It's that simple - an important part of woman's health care is access to pre-natal care, fertility treatments, birth control and abortion. Access to health care, and what types of health care she wants to use, is up to her.

I'm part of the 70% - I believe Roe vs. Wade should not be overturned and that abortion should stay a woman's choice.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sleep Schedule for an Insomniac

This is a little extreme even for me, but here's what happened last night:
  • 10:45: Get into bed, turn on House Hunters
  • 10:50: Fall asleep (I was tired, but not that tired)
  • 10:59: Wake up, watch the news
  • 11:15: Fall asleep
  • 11:34: Wake up, feel wide awake, consider watching Jimmy Kimmel
  • 11:36: Fall asleep
  • 11:55: Wake up, turn off the TV
    Toss and turn for at least 20 minutes (yes, I know they tell you not to have a TV in your bedroom, but TV sometimes helps me sleep)
    Jim gets into bed sometime after this, but he doesn't wake me up.
  • 1:00: Wake up
  • 1:10: Fell back to sleep
  • 2:20: Wake up. I might have fallen back to sleep quickly except Jim has a cold and he was breathing very noisly. Tried various sleep positions, counting things, any other quiet trick I could think of. Nada. Wide awake.
  • 3:20: Got out of bed, went to the guest room, started reading The Signal and the Noise (great first chapter, too much baseball in the second but I know Nate Silver loves baseball)
  • 4:30: Decided I was tired enough to go to sleep, so I put the book down and turned off the light
  • 4:50ish: Fell asleep
  • 6ish: Wake up after having an odd dream that I now can't remember
  • 6:10ish: Fell back to sleep
  • 7:04: Wake up, went downstairs

So, I was in bed for a little over 8 hours, and I slept about 5 hours of that. Usually, I'm in bed for under 6 hours. Have had 3 nights in a row of 5 hours of sleep, but this was the most disrupted sleep night I've had in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Deer Attack

We have some very nice bushes near our door, as a photo from last spring indicates.

Or I should say "had," because this is what they look like now:

Upon closer inspection, we saw the deer prints. I guess they took the reindeer sign literally.

   

Sunrise Photography (1/9/13)

One small advantage of chronic insomnia is I see sunrise almost every morning. And we have a nice view of sunrise from our deck (actually, our sliding glass doors just now as the deck still has a few inches of snow):

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Living Among the Gas Wells

In 2011, I didn't think we lived very near any gas wells. About a year ago I realized one was being built south of me (I don't tend to drive that way very often). By April, I was seeing gas burn-off from, not one, but from two nearby wells. Luckily, burn-off and the reek from it is only a temporary phenomenon.

So, for the last nine months, there have been two active wells within a few miles of my house, two more planned...and something being built on a nearby hill (the question mark)


Map courtesy of Independent Water Testing.

About that question mark...we live in modern residential neighborhood in a fairly rural area. Last winter, a small dirt road went in between two houses, which was odd. The area behind the houses is acres and acres of pasture land and some small groves. This week, the dirt road was extended to the top of the next hill, about a half mile away.

I'd like to believe some rich person is building a dream house out that way. Maybe so. But the way land is being gobbled up for gas wells, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the land will be permitted (though, at this time, it seems it hasn't been yet). [[By March 2013, it was clear the ? is for someone's dream house. I was very relieved, and the house looks very cool.]]

I worry about the pollution from this, but I worry more about the water. Luckily, we're not on well water.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

I'm disgusted by the goings-on around the gang rape of a drunk 16-year-old in Steubenville, so I went to #occupysteubenville today. I got there early and took a number of pictures:


More photos.

Next #occupysteubenville rally is planned for February 2. Groundhog day as a symbol for rape makes sense - we've heard about incidents like the Steubenville gang rape where the woman is not believed many, many times and we're sick to death of it.