Thursday, January 29, 2015

Two for T

For more than a year, I've been hearing rumblings about the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a troubling new international trade deal being negotiated in secret by the Obama Administration. Today I learned that the administration is also negotiating another deal called TTIP which sounds just as bad.

First, the TPP:

In late 2013, Wikileaks has found and released the TPP chapter on intellectual property, and it doesn't look good. The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that argues that the deal will seriously limit users' rights to information and Internet freedom.

In early 2014, Wikileaks also released the full chapter on the environment. Kate Sheppard of the Huffington Post argues that unlike other parts of the agreement, it lacks any enforcement measures.

To make matters worse, President Obama is pushing for fast-track authority that would give him leverage to push trade deals through Congress with a minimum of interference. As Democratic activist Sally Kohn explains it:
Trade promotion authority is a new synonym for "fast-track authority" which would give the president authority to negotiate international trade agreements on his own. Congress could veto such deals, but could not amend or filibuster them. Fast-track trade authority removes important checks and balances not only in our legislative process but in our economy as a whole.
For a quick, entertaining explanation of what the TPP would do, see this video by former Clinton Administration labor secretary Robert Reich. Reich describes the TPP as "the worst trade deal you've never heard of."

But wait, there's another one that's just as bad.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is gaining a lot of attention in Great Britain,. One prime concern is likely effects on their National Health System. They don't want the NHS to come under the control of US healthcare corporations. And who could blame them?

But as Josh Bivens and Dean Baker point out, both trade deals are likely to have bad effects on ordinary people in the United States as well.

Whatever warm, fuzzy feelings I had about President Obama's recent State of the Union address have vanished amidst my realization the president is determined to push through TPP and TTIP with a minimum of public debate.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

About what happened in Ferguson, MO

Watch this. It takes a whole hour, but it's worth it:

If you'd rather watch or read the individual stories from Democracy Now!, here are the links:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Will another one bite the dust?

Back in May, Paste Magazine reported that there were only 13 feminist bookstores left in the United States and Canada. These were:
Now, reports that In Other Words in Portland will hold a meeting on Sunday, October 5 to dicuss what their community wants from them, and whether that need still exists.

I hope they make it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tying the knot

Okay, so some time ago I was walking right before Big Trash Day in my neighborhood and found a slightly garish but very cool table lamp sitting out on the curb, just begging to be picked up and given a home.

There was just one small problem. The wiring looked like it might not be safe. Not to worry, I thought. I'd just rewire it.

After all, I did quite a bit of my own house wiring back in the day when I lived in Eugene, Oregon (where such things were legal). If I can install an entire electrical service, rewiring a lamp ought to be simple, right?

Tonight I got out a screwdriver and my old wire stripper and set to work. I was making good progress until I came to the place where you tie an underwriter's knot before you put the switch in place. There was a picture of an underwriter's knot in the repair book I was using, but no instructions on how to tie it.

I thought I made a knot that matched the picture in the book, but I just wasn't sure. And it's very important to get this right. The underwriter's knot is the thing that keeps the wires from pulling away from the light socket.

Fortunately, I found this extremely helpful YouTube video with clear step-by-step instructions on how to tie the knot:

The video comes from the home repair web site See Jane Drill. You can find out more about them here.

For more complete lamp rewiring instructions, this video looks as if it would be helpful.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cruel and unusual and made in Oklahoma

Tuesday night's horrifically botched execution of 38-year-old Clayton Locket caused the postponement of another execution scheduled for that evening and revitalized arguments that the death penalty by its very nature violates the constitutional prohibition of "cruel and unusual" punishment.

Today's web headlines tell the news. You can read all about it on
At least, Governor Mary Fallin has called for a complete review of the state's death penalty procedures before Oklahoma executes anyone else. Fallin's goal is to find an acceptable method for delivering the death penalty, but as Holly Near would point out, that's a foolish notion.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

This looks like a good food blog if you need one

Sadly, I'm not much of a cook. As a little girl, I was so focused on resisting femininity that I resisted acquiring this useful skill as well. Even now, cooking is not so much a creative exercise as a way to get something to eat. I tend to cook things that can be put on the stove for a long time and forgotten,. like soup or even hard-boiled eggs.

This morning, however, I wanted soft boiled eggs, and realized that I didn't know how to make them. Fortunately, I found this recipe on the blog eat, live,run.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Reality of Climate Change -- and the Keystone XL Pipeline

A little less than a week ago, the US National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Society jointly issued a report on the causes and effects of climate change. Most of the information in this report has been available for quite a while, according to NBC News. Nevertheless, the 36-page-booklet is clear and easy to read and well worth your attention.

While the words are easy to understand, and it is well-illustrated with plenty of charts and graphs, much of the information in the report is quite painful. For instance, we learn that even if production of carbon dioxide suddenly stopped, the Earth's temperature would not return to pre-1880 levels for thousands of years.

Furthermore, on Page 19 of the report we learn:
Both theory and direct observations have confirmed that global warming is associated with greater warming over land than oceans, moistening of the atmosphere, shifts in regional precipitation patterns and increases in extreme weather events, ocean acidification, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels (which increases the risk of coastal inundation and storm surge). Already, record high temperatures are on average significantly outpacing record low temperatures, wet areas are becoming wetter as dry areas are becoming drier, heavy rainstorms have become heavier, and snowpacks (an important source of freshwater for many regions) are decreasing.

These impacts are expected to increase with greater warming and will threaten food production,freshwater supplies, coastal infrastructure, and especially the welfare of the huge population currently living in low-lying areas. Even though certain regions may realise some local benefit from the warming, the long-term consequences overall will be disruptive.
Yes, we've heard this before, but does that make the impact any less drastic?

Meanwhile, a study by a nonprofit group in the UK claims that the Keystone XL Pipeline would have a much greater impact on climate change than the State Department's environmental impact statement admits. Also two U.S. senators have argued that the health effects of the pipeline on people living near its path need to be studied

The State Department has yet to make a formal recommendation to President Obama on whether construction of the pipeline should be permitted. Public comment is open until this coming Friday, March 7

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Joanna Russ

The other day I was just telling someone an excellent collection of essays called Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans, and Perverts by the lesbian-feminist science fiction writer Joanna Russ. Yesterday, before my Contemporary Feminist Thought class, I looked up Joanna Russ in the Bizzell Library catalog, hoping the book would be available. I thought it would be a great counterpoint to the Helene Cixous essay we were going to be discussing. (Cixous says some interesting things, but seems to have a penchant for academic jargon and sweeping generalizations, both of which Russ manages to do without.)

Anyway, when I did the catalog search on Joanna Russ, I discovered that the library has 10 books by Joanna Russ (but not the one that I was looking for). And because the catalog listing referred to "Russ, Joanna, 1937-2011," I realized for the first time that Joanna Russ is dead. Darn it. I'd always wanted to meet her.

Maybe I should pay more attention to mainstream news -- she had an obituary in the New York Times.

This essay by Brit Mandelo on is also well worth reading. It's part of Mandelo's series on Reading Joanna Russ.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How climate change works

In honor of my friends Bailey and Stefan, I'm posting this video about how climate change works:

The site How Global Warming Works also has longer (and shorter) explanation videos. Compated to a bunch of glitter, the effects of climate change are really scary.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Happy birthday, Ms. Hopper

However evil Google might be, they do a few cool things. One of them is the periodic Google Doodle, which honors some notable person or event by changing the art on the Google search page.

Today's doodle honors the 107th birthday of computer pioneer Grace Murray Hopper. Among other things, Hopper is known for finding the first computer bug. (It was a moth, which accounts for the little thing that flies out of the animated doodle at the end.) More notably, Hopper was also one of the programmers of the Mark I computer, and the creator of the first computer code compiler.

The doodle also links to a set of search results about Hopper's life and career. My favorite of the things I found on this list was Hopper's appearance on Late Night with David Letterman just before her 80th birthday. Letterman is a bit patronizing, I think, but Hopper's wry sense of humor carries the evening:

Also -- apparently in Hopper's honor -- today's search page contains a link to another video about a project called Hour of Code. The idea is that everyone should learn simple computer programming skills. Here is the video and the page for the Hour of Code project.