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Tuesday: Fits and starts

I followed a link from Susie Madrak’s place yesterday to a post on AlterNet by Sara Robinson called Why Patriarchal Men are Terrified by Birth Control.  Robinson makes several good points that most of us probably figured out several decades ago.  The “scriptures” were written at time when transfer of inherited property depended on having the right credentials.  You could always be sure who your mother was.  Your father?  Ehhhhh, not so much.  And, so, for thousands of years, culture was pretty fixed around keeping an eye on the ladies.  Biology was destiny.  And I guess that the extinction of silphium complicated matters somewhat when it came to having a life outside of marriage.  (Hmmmm, I wonder if you can get an aloe vera plant to express silphium’s active ingredient in its resin?  Yeah, probably.  Now, that would make an interesting horticultural blockbuster.)

But that all changed with the pill and earlier forms of birth control like the diaphragm and the condom.  With reliable birth control, all those scriptures and cultural artifacts seemed anachronistic to those of us who came of age in the 70’s and 80’s.  Because they were.  That old time religion doesn’t apply to us.  I turned my back on the Old Testament probably as soon as I was able to reason out how inapplicable it was to modern times in every way from evolution to gender discrimination, slavery and birth control.  Why the heck we’re still expecting anyone to bow and scrape to these old rules is beyond me.

But Robinson says that we’re going to keep fighting this battle for a few more hundred years because the menfolk need some time to get used to the idea that they’re not alone at the top of the food chain anymore.  I’m not sure I agree with her there.  In Europe, the religious are getting more rare.  Oh, sure, there’s still gender discrimination and violence but that’s a function of how accountable we make the perpetrators.  When there is political will to crack down on it, that will start to fade away.  Of course, women will always be at a disadvantage as far as upper body strength is concerned and rape can be used as a method of control and violence.  I don’t know what we can do about that short of retrofitting our vaginas with taser devices.  But books have been written about how the human species has become less violent over the centuries and I see no reason why rape should be an exception.

Evolution is not necessarily smooth and linear.  Who would have thought just a century ago that the internet would put all of the knowledge of human civilization at our fingertips and change the world?  Look at how much damage we have accomplished just since 1993.  My youngest daughter has never known a world without google.  My oldest learned to read on a computer.  And yet, this year, we are fighting tooth and nail to keep SOPA and PIPA from turning the clock back on what we can do with the internet.  So, there are fits and starts with every new thing.  Birth control has had a profound effect on our culture and this is just a glitch, a short one.

I’m still of the opinion that there is an age factor at work in this latest push back on women’s bodily autonomy.  The most socially conservative voters are elderly and came of age before they had the chance to form their lives according to their own desires.  Many women in their 70’s had responsibility shoved down their throats and their opportunities spirited away by the era they were born into.  If they had been born only a few years later, their lives would have been so much different.  The men of this age, on the other hand, lived in the salad days of post war America where any hard working guy could own a house and a car and earn a pretty decent living with a pension.  Must have been swell.  The guys that came after them have seen their livelihoods diminish over the past 30 years.

I think as the older generation dies off and the newer generation who has thought through the Old Testament problem comes of age, the pendulum will swing away from the patriarchal fear of birth control and this will happen on a much quicker timeframe than several hundred years.  But what has happened to us as a culture, with our diminished expectations, is a result of an economic assault on us by some very determined conservatives.  And those predators have been with us forever.  We need to develop a pill that prevents selfishness and arrogance.  That will be the next modern medical miracle.

******************

Check out this post about dyeing your macbook.  The third picture nearly gave me a heart attack.  I don’t know why you’d want to do this.  White goes with everything.

This macbook decal is a lot less permanent:

There’s more where that came from.  Check out more decals here.

What America needs now is …. Pirates??

Logo of the United States Pirate Party

This Pittsburgh hometown girl is already there.  My first complete sentence was “Beat’em Bucs!”

Many of us might have missed this little bit of hopeful news, what with our seasonal preparations for the next GOP presidential candidates’ debate already underway, but it appears there has been what is being called a rout in the political makeup of the German parliament.  The Pirate Party won enough seats in parliament in the elections a couple of days ago that now they have to be taken seriously.  Even the Pirates were surprised:

As Berlin election results came in on Sunday evening, sweaty members of the Pirate Party danced arm in arm beneath a disco ball at popular club in the city’s Kreuzberg district. The smell of marijuana spread through the informal party, where guests made their own sandwiches and drank bottled beer.

“I can’t believe it,” said newly elected parliamentarian Christopher Lauer as he fell onto a sofa, sending a message of thanks out via his Twitter account for the 8.9 percent of voter support. “It is breathtaking, a surreal feeling, because there is nothing that compares to this.”

Standing before the television screen, the leader of the Pirate Party, Sebastian Nerz, called the historic moment “cool.”

“It’s the first time since the 1980s that a new political power has come onto the stage,” he said.

Indeed, the support for the party — founded in 2006 on a civil liberties platform that focused on Internet freedoms — was sensational. Not only will the Pirate Party enter a regional government for the first time, but its results far surpassed the five percent hurdle needed for parliamentary representation. The success was so unexpected that the party had only put 15 candidates on its list of nominations. Had their support been just a little higher, some of their seats would have remained empty because post-election nominations of candidates isn’t allowed.

With the addition of the unexpected victory of the Pirate Party in Germany to the unexpected victory of the NDP in Canada, we have two points towards a correlation.   Is it too early to predict a break in the stranglehold that traditional party systems have in many countries?  We may also be seeing the demise of the Green Party.  It doesn’t seem to be able to break out and, let’s face it, when it comes to voting next year, do we really want to vote Green?  They pick candidates that no one has ever heard of and their platform is almost alien to many American voters.  I still consider myself a Democrat, albeit one that is in exile.  I’m quite proud of the Democrats that preceded the current bunch.  But this current bunch is scared of its own shadow and after years and years of choosing the least offensive, machine candidates to run, we have a very uninspiring and ineffective party.  The Pirate party could provide  that little bit of random craziness and energy that we need in the political landscape.

And think of the possibilities.  The Pirates are tech geeks.  They’re into net neutrality and expanding access to digital media.  Could we also expect an American Pirate party to put modernization and de-monopolization of broadband on the top of its agenda?  Who’s to say that’s not the right thing to focus our attention on?  We spend so much time on deficits and social spending but maybe what we really need is to protect our first amendment rights from the relentless creep of corporatization.  How many times have we gnashed our teeth in frustration that the media wasn’t covering something we felt was important or had the ability to slow our messages down or curtail them altogether?  If you want to change your country and create a movement, you have to first be able to spread your message.  So, maybe the Pirates are on to something.  Keep it simple, stupid.

The other cool thing about having an American Pirate party is that it might be easier to find it on a ballot where third parties can not land in a consistent position from county to county.  The name and concept are easy enough to grasp that a motivated voter wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time looking for it.  It could appeal to the very people the parties are trying to reach but who are now disaffected – those of us who were young enough to have spent much of our working lives in the high tech and internet age.  We’ve given up on the old fogeys who are running the Democratic party, along with their weird attitudes towards women, and have a hard time reconciling the Republican party with, um, reality as we know it.  It’s time to go marauding for big political booty.

There is a Pirate party in the US.  It’s in its infancy and is currently represented by the Florida Pirate Party.  It’s registered as a recognized party in Massachusetts and Florida but considering how low the bar is to getting on the ballot in many states (even if you’re relegated to an obscure location on it), starting a legitimate Pirate party movement here in the US isn’t as crazy as it sounds.  It just might work.  And 8.9% of 535 is, hang on, let me get my calculator… 47.6.  Round it up to 48 to include the arms and head of one representative.  48 is a number that should put fear into both parties.  Works for me!

 

Twittering the Revolution, Day 2

AP photo/Vahid Salemi

AP photo/Vahid Salemi

I just discovered the power of Twitter a couple of weeks ago when we decided to add a Twitter feed to The Confluence front page. Little did I know how addictive it would be! I found I could learn about breaking news stories from reporters on the ground–before the stories were actually published or broadcast.

Back in the ’60s and ’70s we had underground newspapers that were passed out free on street corners. People had to find ways to bypass the status quo mainstream media and these newspapers gave outlets to new and exciting writers. In recent years, as the media has become even more corporate-controlled than it was in those days, people have used internet newsgroups and then the hunger for real news fueled the explosion of blogs that allowed direct communication of ideas among engaged citizens.

Last night at TC, we noted and dicussed the power of social media in the political process, as Iranians on the ground twittered news of the riots following the possibly rigged election by satellite, begging for attention and support from the West. Continue reading

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