Category Archives: People

An Interview with Charlene Mitchell by Amber Cortes

This podcast is an interview with Charlene Mitchell by Amber Cortes. Charlene Mitchell was the first African-American woman to run for President. She was a third-party candidate in the United States presidential election in 1968 and represented the Communist Party USA.

This is audio was produced for WBAI by Amber Cortes. I found it when Amber commented on my post The Stories of Experienced Radicals. She has graciously allowed me to link to this audio and thus share it with you. Her new blog and podcast is called You Never Know. This audio is from her blog post International Women’s Day Special: Women Who Ran For President. More great audio there. Check it out!

I hope more folks tell me about interviews with experienced radicals. I define experienced radicals as politically left men and women from around the world who’ve worked many years for positive social change. Maybe we can create a podcast site full of valuable stories that can teach the radicals of the future.

MP3 13m 19s 10.7MB 44.1kHz 160kbps

Video shows Bush Warned Before Katrina

The folks over at MoveOn let me know today via email about a new AP story called Video Shows Bush Was Warned Before Katrina. It discusses video footage – I’ve yet to see myself (John Stewart?) – that tha Srub and his unqualified lackeys Chertof and Brown were well aware of the potential destruction of hurricane Katrina BEFORE it hit. Even though they’ve claimed they didn’t and have worked hard to distance themselves from the ultimate responsibility of over 1,500 deaths. Outrageous! At the very least Bush and others are responsible for NOT cutting through all the government red tape and send more resources sooner to help!

Read the whole story by clicking more. (I include here under fair use.) Continue reading Video shows Bush Warned Before Katrina

Pride in Alan Turing

Apple Logo-A symbol of Gay Pride and remembrance of Alan Turing’s death? Last night I was reading the book Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson. (Thanks for lending it to me Justin!) I’m only a few chapters in but I learned something really important about the history of computers. Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, was gay. I mention this not in shock or surprise but in pride. I think it’s wonderful. I’m just really concerned that I’m just now learning this. Maybe it’s because I never researched it. Maybe it’s because people don’t talk or write about it. Well, I’m going to write about it.

I feel that the public history of computer science is incomplete. When we teach the history of computer science or even just talk about it online we need to mention the details of people’s lives. Why? Details inform their work. They give us a fuller image of the men and women we respect and admire. They give us something to connect with. I know that you can be great at what you do no matter your sexual preference, gender, or race – but these things do make a difference. We need to celebrate our uniqueness. Especially freedom loving computer geeks. 🙂

The fact is the majority of geeks online are men – white, heterosexual, men. Not all geeks are men, but a majority are. (Once I have the data to prove this I’ll link to it. But a safe theory I believe.) I happen to be a heterosexual male and am ashamed of this majority I belong to.

The age of hetero male geeks ranges from early teens to senior adults. Sadly many guy geeks where once nerdy teenagers that were uncomfortable with their own sexuality. Young geeks can be pretty immature about sexuality online. Could this contribute to the lack of mainstream discussion of gayness among computer geeks?

While researching the Alan Turing some more I discovered that right before his death he was convicted by Britian’s discriminatory anti-gay law known as,

gross indecency under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. Turing was unrepentant and was convicted. [Why the hell should he repent?] Although he could have been sent to prison, he was placed on probation, conditional on him undergoing hormonal treatment designed to reduce libido. He accepted the oestrogen hormone injections, which lasted for a year, with side effects including the development of breasts. His conviction led to a removal of his security clearance and prevented him from continuing consultancy for GCHQ on cryptographic matters.

Via Wikipedia

This is so incredibly sad. Imagine how many MORE wonderful accomplishments for humanity Turing could have given if he wasn’t harassed, tortured, and possibly murdered. How disrespectful it is to have treated him this way. No man or woman should be treated this way – no matter the time or place. But for such a person who has given our planet so much to be treated this way is difficult to comprehend. We need to make sure that all history books discuss sexuality – and other things – relating to historic people while teaching their accomplishments. To hell with don’t ask don’t tell!

More interesting information from Wikipedia about Turing:

In 1954, he died of cyanide poisoning, apparently from a cyanide-laced apple he left half-eaten. The apple itself was never tested for contamination with cyanide, and cyanide poisoning as a cause of death was established by a post-mortem. Most believe that his death was intentional, and the death was ruled a suicide. It is rumored that this method of self-poisoning was in tribute to Turing’s beloved film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His mother, however, strenuously argued that the ingestion was accidental due to his careless storage of laboratory chemicals. Friends of his have said that Turing may have killed himself in this ambiguous way quite deliberately, to give his mother some plausible deniability. The possibility of assassination has also been suggested, owing to Turing’s involvement in the secret service and the perception of Turing as a security risk due to his homosexuality.

In the book, Zeroes and Ones, author Sadie Plant speculates that the rainbow Apple logo with a bite taken out of it was an homage to Turing. This seems to be an urban legend as the Apple logo was designed in 1976, two years before Gilbert Baker’s rainbow pride flag.

From now on I’ll always think about Turing and his accomplishments when I see the rainbow Apple logo. It’s design may have not been intentionally symbolic but in my mind it is forever repurposed. Here’s to Alan Turing’s accomplishments! Cheers!

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)

The End of Privacy: for Real This Time!

The sad reality is that the US Government has been spying on it’s citizens for decades. (ex. Operation Shamrock where the US Gov. gathered telegraphs) But finally George W. Bush has admited to it. [?!?] Learn more about this subject by reading the following, the NY Times article that broke the story, CNN comments on it, Security Focus links to all kinds of stuff. Sadly the media really isn’t serving us very well with this story. The NY Times says they knew about the story for more than a YEAR but chose not to release it citing national security.

Organizations are now doing somthing about this. The ACLU is suing the NSA! [Wow!] There is something you can do about it. Sign the Move On Pettition to Restore the Rule of Law. Here is the letter that will be sent to your elected representative and the Justice Department. Public pressure works. Especially during a election year.

YOUR COMMENT TO CONGRESS AND THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

TO: Your Senators
CC: (Attorney General Alberto Gonzales)
FROM: (Your Name and Email)
SUBJECT: Thoroughly Investigate the Wiretapping Program
__________

Dear (Senator/Attorney General),

(Your personal note)

President Bush admitted to personally authorizing thousands of potentially illegal wiretaps, and he doesn’t plan to stop. This abuse of power threatens the very core of our Constitution.

We demand a thorough and independent investigation of the Bush administration’s allegedly illegal wiretapping activities, including: (1) appointment of an independent counsel to respond to any criminal activity that may have taken place, (2) a thorough, meaningful and open Congressional investigation, (3) protection for all whistleblowers who come forward with evidence of wrongdoing in this program.

Sincerely,
(Your name)
(Your address)

Sex and War: a new book by Stan Goff

Stan’s new book Sex and War is now available for pre-order on Amazon. See reviews on his blog. Here is the books description:

The notion that war is intrinsic to man’s nature is dealt a powerful setback in Stan Goff’s Sex and War. Goff, a former Special Forces sergeant, argues persuasively that rather than being born that way, men are made into killers by governments, corporations, and systems of power. Drawing both on his experiences in the military and on his reading of feminist writers such as Patricia Williams, bell hooks, and Chandra Mohanty — and as the father of a son stationed in Iraq — Goff journeys through wars, ideologies, and cultures, revealing the transformation of men into killers. His story encompasses not just the battlefield and the book, but the Swift Boat Veterans controversy, the eros of George W. Bush, pornography, the Taliban, and gays and lesbians in the military. Goff’s remarkable ability to connect his own personal experiences to contemporary feminist criticism makes for a provocative discussion of war and masculinity.

Thanks to Ruby for reminding me to blog this… 😀

WP Random Image Plugin

I just installed the WordPress Random Image Plugin by Justin Watt. See that neat o’ image over there on the right side bar? If you click on it you’ll be taken to the associated blog post. Cool! Thanks Justin for writing this plugin!

Also I’m trying out this neat Flickr flash slideshow thingy. You can put it on your own site too! See the article HOW TO Quickie: Embedded Flickr Slideshows.

Check out the AudioActivism Photo Slide Show for my implementation of it. It’ll show you all the photos I’ve uploaded to Flickr. In the near future I’ll be posting a lot more HIGH res pics that I’ve taken. (More details about that soon) Plus some other cool moving image type stuff.

Seven Days

From Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology:

LIBRA (Sept.23-Oct.22): In one of his books, the Dalai Lama challenges readers to go just 10 minutes without having a negative thought about another person. When I told this to my acquaintance Arthur, he said, “What a simplistic, overrated fraud that Dalai Lama dude is. It;s totally easy to go 10 minutes without dissing someone.” Your assignment, Libra, is to submit to a marathon version of the challenge. See if you can go seven whole days without having a negative thought about anyone. His Holiness implies there’s a good selfish reason for doing so: it helps you cultivate a state of mind in which peaceful contentment is a natural condition. (bold mine)

I read this in the Independant as I walked to work this morning. I had for some unknown chearful reason said hello rather loudly to two different men at this point. I think they appreciated me saying hello.

Last night I was in a rather bad mood. I’d said some rather harsh words to someone I didn’t know. I went to bed worn out. I wonder what I dreamed last night? This morning was different. Thank you for sharing His Holiness advice Mr. Brezsny.

Video Games for Peace

The Washington Post has a story – Video Game World Gives Peace a Chance – about the development of multiplayer online video games that have the goal of countering bloodshed instead of creating it. Teams at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Southern California, United Nations’ World Food Programme, and MTV are working to create and promote the video games. The subject of these peaceful video games ranges from creating peace in the Middle East, fighting genocide, and stopping hunger. The game Food Force, sponsored by UN World Food Programme is already launched and in full gear.

A few years ago when I read the online comic The Spiders – thanks Ruby – the concept of the video game console/Internet generation becoming PHYSICALLY active remotely from their living rooms amazed me. Not only could people playing peaceful video games develop positive social justice ideals, be creative, improve hand eye coordination, gain social skills, and make friends they could participate in NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION.

US solders are already guiding remote control flying robots that carry missiles and other weapons. What if the average citizen were able to wield this power? I wouldn’t wish such a nightmare scenario upon the earth but the potential of remote control empowerment is staggering. Video games already act as pre-training for battle. Especially in games like America’s Army, the US Army’s first person shooter video game. There have been reports of improved physical skills among soldiers who have played this game compared to soldiers who did not.

Instead of training new killers why not train activists to spread peace and understanding with high technology? Imagine a digital Engaged Buddhist monk wielding Akido across the physical world by traveling through the conduits of the Internet. William Gibson we are only beginning to understand the accuracy of your literacy soothsaying.

via: Boing Boing, Smart Mobs