Drinking Liberaly Chapel Hill Style!

The Chapel Hill chapter of Drinking Liberally will be meeting this Thursday, April 6, at Tyler’s (back in the Speakeasy) from 7pm until 10pm. To keep up with goings-on, you can sign up for the chapter mailing list here. A word or two about DL:

An informal, inclusive progressive drinking club. Raise your spirits while you raise your glass, and share ideas while you share a pitcher. Drinking Liberally gives like-minded, left-leaning individuals a place to talk politics. You don’t need to be a policy expert and this isn’t a book club – just come and learn from peers, trade jokes, vent frustration and hang out in an environment where it’s not taboo to talk politics.

Bars are democratic spaces – you talk to strangers, you share booths, you feel the bond of common ground. Bring democratic discourse to your local democratic space – build democracy one drink at a time.

Via: OrangePolitics, BlueNC

Save Jerry Conner

This podcast is an interview with Mark Kleinschmidt a lawyer at The Center for Death Penalty Litigation. It’s about the death penalty case of Jerry Conner. He was convicted of rape and murder in 1991 and has been in prison since then. He is scheduled to be executed on May 12 by the state of North Carolina. It will be the fourth execution in North Carolina this year. Jerry Conner maintains his innocence.

The state of North Carolina is refusing to conduct a new DNA test for Jerry. The accuracy of DNA test since 1991 have improved dramatically. On top of that a NC State Bureau of Investigations agent was fired recently for mishandling lots of DNA test evidence. A new test could demonstrate Jerry’s innocence and save his life. We need to work to prevent the state sponsored killing of an innocent man!

You can find action items, such as calling the governor of North Carolina, in my blog post North Carolina Obstructs DNA Testing for Condemned Man. You can also goto jerryconner.blogspot.com for more information. Please link to this site in your blog posts about this.

MP3 5m 05s 2.4MB 44.1kHz 64kbps

North Carolina Obstructs DNA Testing for Condemned Man

The State of North Carolina is refusing to perform a DNA test in the case of Jerry Conner. He maintains his innocence of the murder of Minh Rogers and the rape and murder of Linda Rogers. A DNA test could show he did not commit these crimes. The State of North Carolina and Governor Easley must act fast because Mr. Conner is scheduled to be executed on May 12.

It appears that earlier DNA tests taken by the FBI in 1991 are not as reliable as test done today. Not only that but, “The SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) agent in charge of handling, preparing and transmitting the 1991 DNA to the FBI was Brenda Bissette, an agent who was forced to resign from the SBI lab for mishandling DNA evidence in up to 50 cases.” [1] Instead of preventing new DNA tests the State of North Carolina should fix the mistakes of one of their former employees. ESPECIALLY if it could mean the death of an innocent man.

The information in this post was obtained from the blog called jerryconner.blogspot.com. You can find many more facts there. (I also know one of the Attorneys working on Mr. Conner’s case. I have great trust in the attorney so I trust this information.)

If you want to help stop Mr. Conner’s death you can do several things. All the links bellow will take you to the info you need to act.
1) Contact Governor Easley
2) Contact Attorney General Roy Cooper
3) Contact Your Legislators
4) Write a Letter to the Editor
5) Write a blog post
6) Record a podcast

National Change Starts Locally

I’ve been reading Emergence by Steven Johnson. Part of it is about organized complexity and discusses how global/national change happens when we interact with our neighbors locally. It’s confirming evidence I already have in the form of Ruby and OrangePolitics.org.

If you know me even just a little bit you might be thinking I’m biased on this. (I’m getting married to Ruby in July. The best decision I ever made.) Hell yes I am! But that is beside the point. Really!

In this day and age, when our national government is run by money hungry religious fanatics with no space for people who are different than them and will stop at nothing to retain control, you start looking around you for options. Really close around you. Options for positive change that you think have a chance.

One good example of the national-local phenomena is municipal internet networks. (WiFi) Network World writer Susan Briedenbach in her article Building boom for Wi-Fi networks says,

This ripple in the pond of municipal infrastructure advancements quickly became a tsunami. By the middle of last year, MuniWireless.com noted that it was “raining RFPs,” and The Yankee Group analyst Lindsay Schroth estimates there are some 320 U.S. municipalities that have or are planning to cover themselves with broadband wireless networks.

When you have access to the entire worlds worth of information – not a big exaggeration – you pull the power of global politics to you. When power is near you it’s local. When your local government can empower it’s citizens – and our guest non-citizens that work so very hard for us – the balance of power shifts. This is only one example of real change happening locally.

Ruby was just on a panel at SXSW (South by Southwest Interactive) called Revenge of the Blogs. She was joined by national blogers Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos – US Liberal) and Mike Krempasky (Right March Red State – US Conservative). In her post Revenge of the panelists she shared some of what happened,

We struck a good balance between talking about the influence of local and national blogs, and some people even began to draw a connection between the two. Judging by the people who came up to talk with me afterward, I think I must have said some interesting and useful things.

She’s been modest I’m sure. She’s been trying to convince liberal activists for years that if you mobilize your neighbors electronically you’re activating the real grassroots. These people are the ones that cause actual change to happen in national politics. The people who are very close to you.

I think that some US national politicians understand this. But they already have their piece of the power pie and are afraid of sharing. Many other circumstances prevent them from really listening to their grassroots. This is not democracy. This is not how the US should exist.

Work with your neighbors online and in person to take over national and local politics.

Local Blogging Community

Last night we held our regular Chapel Hill Bloggers meetup. Usually 3 to 5 people show up. Last night sixteen (by my count) people showed up. One person in town to do research, one person just moved here, one person from Dook :), one Chapel Hill Town Council member, and many regulars. Such a diverse group of people. Bora has pictures up already. Awesome conversation.

I wish Ruby could have been there. But I don’t feel too bad for her. She was in Montevideo, Uruguay, is going to Austin for SXSW today, and then off to Seatle for NTEN. I’m jealous. (only a little bit) 😀 Thanks to Bora for emailing us about the guests and Anton for his steadfast community building. We owe Anton a lot!

Side note:
Q: What the hell does this post have to do with Activism?
A: Everything! Community building is EXTREMLY important in movement building. True these folks I met with last night aren’t all part of some movement. But we are all creative people who blog. Creativity is a political act. Viva La Blogs!

NYT article about Anarchist household in Greensboro

Ed Cone links to a really well written article in the NYT by Liz Seymour called Inviting Anarchy Into My Home. It’s about her experience growing an intentional community run with consensus – aka anarchist collective – in Greensboro, NC. It’s such a beautiful story.

I hope it will help people learn about these lifestyles and have respect for them. So much fear and ignorance abounds. Even the most progressive democrats I know are terrified by the ideas behind Anarchism. It isn’t just made up of the violent, no rules, black hooded, molotov cocktail throwing crowd.

Fear of Anarchism is truly perpetuated by governments. Mainly because some Anarchists suggest that governments aren’t necessary. Some are against ANY government and some are against national governments only.

One of my favorite parts is:

After Isabell came home from college an anarchist herself, I began to put aside my preconceptions about these people — as disorderly, violent and destructive — and to see them as a community dedicated to replacing hierarchy with consensus and cooperation. (Isabell once described them as Quakers who swear a lot.) Over time I found myself drawn to their hopeful view that people know best what is best for them and to their determination, naïve or not, to build a better world right away. Anarchism, at least as practiced here, seemed to be more about building community gardens and making your own fun than about black bandannas and confrontations with the riot police (although it was about those things, too).

If you want the facts about Anarchism I recommend you read An Anarchist FAQ Webpage. But the only way to really understand is by getting to know people with an open heart.

A GRIM Report

Crossposted from OrangePolitics.org
Guest Post by Alan McSurely

Alan McSurely gives an update on efforts to get our member of congress, David Price, to support impeachment of President Bush. There’s been a community forum, two meetings with Price, and now…

We present the Case for Impeachment on Tuesday, February 28th at 7 p.m. at Chapel Hill Town Hall. Michelle Cotton Laws and Rev. Robert Seymour will participate, along with Prof. Dan Pollitt and myself. We will be announcing the formation of GRIM, and asking for your help to build the Movement.
Continue reading “A GRIM Report”

On Dating a Geek

Yep I’m dating a geek. I’m about to get married to her in July actually. (See brianandruby.org) So when I saw this post by Sally Green titled The way to a geek’s heart is through his keyboard I was intrigued. She has linked to an article called The Do’s and Don’ts of Dating Geeks by Maryam Ghaemmaghami Scoble, who I assume is dating Robert Scoble. (Famous in the bloggosphere)

The first thing I noticed is that both these posts were by women who are dating a geek who is man. This seems to be the most common situation. Mine is a bit different in two ways. I’m a geek, who is a man, and I’m dating a woman who is a geek. We self identify as geeks. I’m not putting words in my geeks mouth at all. We like to describe this relationship we have as Geek Socialist Love. Super dorky I know.

So after reading Maryam’s post about dating geeks I wanted to say hell yes much of what she says is true. But also the feminist in me wants to say, DAMN what’s with all these “don’t tell him” and “Do make him” and “Do indulge him“? So many of these good suggestion can go both ways for geek women and geek men. I mean I could just email my partner the URL of this post and say, DO this for ME. Nope. Just too damn selfish. For just about every instant in the Do’s and Don’ts I could replace the female gender in the sentence and have very good advice for my geek partner. It’s interesting when dating advice is two way. No disrespect to Maryam. I’m VERY lucky to be with a geek who understands me as a geek.

What we need is more gender neutrality here. (I can hear people groaning already…) Yes your words and thoughts alter our existence and control the equality or lack of it. If we don’t stop thinking of MEN as the sole owners of brains and geekiness then our society is screwed. Not to mention the future of young girls who want to be programmers, scientists, engineers, physicists, etc. Show some respect. Stop looking at men as the only geeks!

(If you insist on maligning this little rant by calling it Political Correctness think about the propaganda of concervative think tanks and how they’ve planeted the desire to be perjorative in your brain. :D)

Public (Not Private) Internet Access for Chapel Hill

I wrote a guest post on our local politics blog Orange Politics called Public (Not Private) Internet Access for Chapel Hill. Check out the discussion about it over on that thread. Here it is in it’s entirety.
Chapel Hill provides many public services to its citizens. Over the years we’ve recognized the importance for all people to have equal access to basic necessities like water, sewer, electricity, telephone, transportation, roads, sidewalks, parks, etc. (The ones the town doesn’t directly provide the state regulates.) As the town moves into the twenty-first century we find that other types of access are just as important, especially in the new global economies.

One of those new types of access is Internet access. (Wi-Fi is one way to access information on the Internet.) It is steady stream of information that allows people to do all kinds of valuable and important things. In only a few years we have seen this access move from a mere toy to an extremely valuable tool. Very soon Internet access will be more than a tool but a resource that we all can not live without.

In order to assure that public Internet access is consistently provided, maintained, upgraded, and use education is made available we need a long term solution provider. This Internet access provider must have the resources to continue services well into the future. This robustness requires the service provider to function through difficult and prosperous economic times. Because of technologies swift rate of change, profit can not be the primary goal if public Internet access is to be consistently provided.

For these reasons and many others we have a public non-profit entity called OWASA provide our water access. They have the support of the town and county governments and a mandate to continue providing equal access to water resources indefinitely. This type of organization is the best kind to provide public information access to the Citizens of Chapel Hill. Let’s all work together to facilitate the creation of a new non-profit organization to provide public Internet access for all citizens of Chapel Hill.