bookmark_borderCivil Discourse


What kind of society do we have where a class has to be offered for political civil discourse? One of the outcomes of the shooting in Tuscon where Rep. Giffords and others were shot is the University of Arizona in Tuscon is starting a “Civility Institute” and will offer classes and seminars in political civil discourse. We have to take classes to learn how to be speak nicely to each other? Sure, in high school we had debate classes and in college we took speaking classes. You’d think that politicians would remember at least some of what they learned there.

But, nope. News programs are focused on sensationalism instead of journalism because it “sells” better.Who wants to watch two political opponents being nice to each other during a debate? Even the Weather Channel is more about drama than the weather.

Dr. Milward said the institute would focus on political disagreements “from the grass roots all the way to the top.”

“In a great democracy, it’s important for people to hold fast to principles, but at the same time to understand where they might be able to compromise,” he said.


Mr. DuVal, who was a friend of Ms. Giffords’s and was a co-chairman of her finance committee, said he hoped the institute would be one way the nation could work toward such a goal. One of the first steps, he said, would be to attempt defining “best practices and corrosive practices.”

“How do we nurture robustness on one hand and not in any way chill speech, and keep it in bounds that are not destructive to democracy?” he said. “Will it change the nature of dialogue? That will be a tall order.”


I don’t mind arguing during a debate. It can reveal flaws as well as the beauty and truth in your point. Or theirs.

I think one of the things that has created this kind of separation between common decency and our words is the creation of the internet and it’s many outlets. On a forum, no one knows you are sitting in your robe or in a cafe (hopefully not both at once). You can say what you want because no one really knows who you are. That feeling of anonymity flows over into places where we are known. Sensationalism eggs us on. A chart with crosshairs over your “enemies” isn’t really violence or promoting violence. It is a visual imagery representing your goals. It is your site so you can limit who can contribute and no real debate takes place. Only your side is presented. You don’t have to be nice. Why should you? Would Palin have told Gifford to her face in a civil discussion that she considers her to be within her group’s crosshairs? The she considers Gifford worthy of elimination, not just defeated in an election?

It’s not just the politicians who need to attend any classes they may have. We all need to learn how to discuss things as rational beings. From Westboro representatives protesting at funerals to politicians denying civil rights, common decency is going extinct.

bookmark_borderMore on Borders Books

More information and better written articles are slowly appearing. Writer Beware has an excellent (as always) post about it that has good links to further explanations and opinions.

Borders isn’t the only bookstore to announce bankruptcy. There’s one in Canada (which came as a surprise as opposed to the slow shipwreck crash of Borders) and a huge chain in Australia.

What is interesting are the comments to the post. I was going to quote some of them and decided not to. My theories on the self-publish mentality belong in another post/rant for another time.

bookmark_borderBorders Books Bankruptcy

(say that real fast three times!)

At first, I was saddened by the bankruptcy filing of Borders Books. Not that we have one near us, but that any bookstore closing/failing is never a good thing.

But then someone reminded me of why it is an awful thing in this case. Let me explain.

As a writer, my publisher sells my book for me. Regal Crest is listed with several distributors who produce catalogs from which bookstores, such as Borders, order books from. But, unlike you and me ordering from a catalog, books are done differently. If I order seeds from a catalog, I pay for those seeds first, get them, and if I don’t use them all, unless the packet was unopened and IF the company has a decent return policy, I am S.O.L. and have seeds left over. Now let’s say Borders orders 5 of my books. They don’t pay for them. Consider it commission sales, I suppose. They sell 3. They return 2 (returns are standard practice and publishers who don’t accept returns, don’t survive for long). And, eventually, they get around to paying the distributor for the 3 they sold. Then, the distributor pays Regal Crest who then pays me. Bigger publishing houses are their own distributors so Borders would be paying them directly.

Now, back to the seeds. If I bought the seeds on my credit card, the credit card company pays the seed company then waits for me to pay them. If I declare bankruptcy, I can either pay them back a very small fraction or not at all, depending on the type of bankruptcy. So the credit card company is out of the money I owe them.

Borders is declaring bankruptcy. They sold a lot of books. They got paid for them immediately by the customer or shortly after by the credit card companies. But they’ve not paid the distributors or publishers yet. Which means RCE’s distributor isn’t getting paid which means RCE isn’t getting paid which means, you guessed it, I’m not getting paid.

In reading an article about Borders, I came across this information: (bolding mine)

Now the company is set to close some 200 stores and shed much of its staff in the coming weeks. The stores slated for closure are scattered throughout the country, including three outlets in Manhattan, 35 in California and 15 stores in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The company currently operates more than 650 stores and employs 19,500 people. Borders said that its stores would remain open during the bankruptcy process and that its rewards program would remain in effect. The company said it would continue to honor gift cards and coupons.

In its filing in United States Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, Borders listed $1.29 billion in debt and $1.27 billion in assets. As of the filing, Borders owed $272 million to its 30 largest unsecured creditors — including $41.1 million to the Penguin Group USA.


Now, first, FIFTEEN stores in the Chicago area?! Fifteen? For real? And that’s just the number they are closing. FIFTEEN!?

Second, $41.1 million owed just to Penguin. That’s a lot of money. And you can bet those writers aren’t going to be paid any more than I will be.

I am betting that we are going to start seeing other large chain stores start to falter. Like Borders, a lot of them exploded in growth that no longer has the demand. Borders (and the other Big Box Book Stores) killed a lot of small, locally owned bookstores. And now the Internet has killed them. Karma’s a bitch.

bookmark_borderSarah Palin Rant

(I’m in a bad mood again. Consider yerse’f warned.)

I saw a headline a few days ago that made me twitch. It was where Palin said we (meaning the US) need to stand beside our North Korean allies.

Now, I’m not a history buff. I couldn’t tell you the time frame of the Korean War. But I could tell you which side we (meaning the US) are allied with. It ain’t the North.

I assumed I had mis-read and since I wasn’t interested in a blood pressure increase, I didn’t read further. Today I came across this article: (bold text is my doing)

Why Sarah Palin’s North Korea Flub Matters

Sarah Palin provided prime material for news outlets and comedy programs when she said on Glenn Beck’s radio show Wednesday:

“But obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies.”

If she hasn’t already, I’m sure Palin will say that the “elitist,” “lamestream” media is doing her wrong, and that she is once again a victim of “gotcha journalism.” And Palin’s small but passionate group of supporters will undoubtedly argue that Palin made an honest slip of the tongue, something that could happen to any of us. Her supporters are right. Saying “North” instead of “South” is something that any of us could easily do.

But here’s the thing: Any of us did not stand up two years ago and claim we were qualified to fill a job that is a heartbeat away from the American presidency. We haven’t written books, made speeches, endorsed candidates and spoken to the (mostly right-wing) media as if we were policy experts. And we haven’t been scouting office space in Iowa for a 2012 presidential run.


That’s the real story about the Palin flub about North Korea that the media isn’t covering. It’s not that she misspoke, but that anyone cared what she had to say on the issue in the first place.

Sarah Palin, with her reliance on spouting talking points, simplistic approach to issues and complete lack of experience beyond a half term as governor of a state the size of Columbus, Ohio, is not competent to be discussing North Korea. (Columbus, Ohio’s population is bigger than Alaska’s, 769,360 to 698,743.) And shame on any media outlet that treats her opinions as if they’re worth anything.

The real damning Palin quote in the Beck interview is the one in which she worries if “the White House is gonna come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea’s gonna do.” Putting aside her usual butchering of the English language, she takes a complicated problem facing the United States (and the world) and reduces it to a talking-point political attack on the president.

Her comment reveals that she has no understanding that we are dealing with a North Korean leadership that may not be rational and may even be self-destructive. And one with the firepower to kill legions of South Korean civilians. To her simplistic, politics-driven approach, it’s only about how the Democratic president isn’t tough enough. (As an aside, she is talking about a president who has increased troops in Afghanistan, stepped up drone attacks on the enemy, and taken out more Taliban and al Qaeda leaders than George W. Bush ever did, but I digress… )

Personally, the fact she baled out of her job as governor just half-way through her term tells me she got a case of the big-head and wanted more. To hell with her obligations to Alaska. She’d ridden that boat as far as she thought it could take her then jumped to another.

I sincerely doubt the Republican Party is insane enough to nominate her to run for President in 2012. I know they have slid backwards a lot lately but, surely, not that far back.

As y’all know from previous posts, I full support the right of Free Speech. I support Palin’s right to open her mouth and continue to prove she is an idiot. What I don’t support is this “pot calling the kettle black” mentality and here I will digress some.

What the fudge are they doing calling themselves the Tea Party for? They injure the original Tea Party folks. The original one, which happened in Boston harbor in 1773, was an early act of rebellion by the Colonists against Britain and Big Corporations. (read about it on Wikipedia) Basically it was about taxation without representation.

Now we have these idiots Americans who call themselves the Tea Party as a response to the way they think America is being run. Thing is, they started this group at the change of government, putting total blame on a brand new President and NOT on the previous administration. Um, wha…? They protest the acts of this new administration, blaming it for the unemployment, the recession, and for not acting quick enough to do what they want. Um, wha…? The original Boston Tea Party-goers did something. They stopped bitching and they did something. Granted, that something got everyone in trouble (the 5 ‘Coercive Acts’) but they did something at least. What has the current Tea Party done? Caused a huge rift in an already crumbling political party, brought all the nut cases out from all sorts of closets, and made us the further laughing stock of the rest of the world. (please, please, stop calling them “tea baggers”. makes me gag)

We can’t act as a nation with so many directional pulls. On the one hand, McCain (bless his twisted heart) says the repeal of the DADT push by Obama is ‘politically driven’ (duh, it’s Washington. what else fuels the crap there besides money?). What is Palin’s comments based on? Sheer love for this country or sheer love of the power and big-head case she has? No, it is also politically driven but for some reason, for her it is allowed. Oh, that’s right, she’s a Republican and therefore exempt. Riiiiight.

One last thing and then I will shut up. Maybe.

I think that when a person holding a political office decides to run for another office, they need to quit first. While H. Clinton was running against Obama, who was looking out for the state of NY’s interests in the Senate? While Palin was joy-riding with McCain, who was looking out for Alaska? And after losing, they all go back to their original jobs and proceed to represent their constituents against an opponent they lost against. It ain’t right. Not right at all.

Let’s say Lorna wanted to work for FedEx. But first, she needs to show that FedEx delivers better than the USPS and UPS and how she, as a future employer of FedEx, would be a good representative if hired. Meanwhile, she is still delivering mail for USPS. How far do you think that would last? And how happy do you think USPS would be when she returned, unhired to FedEx, to get back to work for a company she ignored and/or mistreated?

So why would the state of Alaska, NY, and all those others even WANT them back?

bookmark_borderMore on TSA pat downs

I feel good knowing I am not the only one shrugging off the new TSA rules. As a person with a disability, the type of pat downs I’ve had to go through for years is not much different from what I will now have to endure should I ever fly again.

For disabled, airport security hassles are old hat

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – For air passengers already fed up with being hauled off to the side of the security line for a pat-down or facing aggressive questions about bulky clothing or odd items in their luggage, advocates for the disabled have this to say: Welcome to our lives.

For the disabled and infirmed – many forced to go through security lines in wheelchairs with ample hiding places for contraband, wearing prosthetic limbs that could harbor drugs or explosives or lugging oxygen tanks that could really contain god-knows-what – the added discomfort and inconvenience that many travelers are now experiencing is something they’ve put up with for years.


Since the new airport security screening procedures began Nov. 1, stories of travelers with disabilities or medical conditions being humiliated, perhaps inadvertently, by Transportation Security Administration agents have made headlines: A bladder cancer survivor from Michigan had to board a plane covered in urine after agents tore open his urostomy bag during a pat-down; a flight attendant and breast cancer survivor in North Carolina said she was ordered to expose her prosthetic breast to two TSA staffers.


For Guinivan, speaking to The Associated Press by phone from her home, the concern for her son goes beyond pat-downs to worries that his wheelchair may get damaged or that he will have trouble sitting between two passengers on the flight.

“Our expectation when we fly is to be prepared for uncomfortable situations,” she said. “A lot of the things people with disabilities experience every day, the general public is now having to deal with.”

Eric Lipp, a partial paraplegic, said he had no problems when he recently took four flights over two days, though he definitely noticed the pat-down he received was more aggressive.

Lipp, executive director of the Open Doors Organization, a Chicago-based nonprofit group that focuses on accessibility in travel and tourism, said that TSA agents should get more training in how to treat people with disabilities in a respectful manner, but that he does not object to the new policies.

“It might be a little more intrusive now,” Lipp said, “but it’s expected.”

A dear friend of mine pointed out how the new pat down rules are exceptionally traumatic for those who have PTSD or have been raped/molested. I agree. And I consider them brothers and sisters who have had to endure this for ages now. I don’t feel that the few inches closer to their crotch wouldn’t matter in that case. They’re either immune to it at this point or they prepare themselves mentally for it. Or they don’t fly.

I don’t fly often, didn’t before 9/11. It isn’t a matter of packing a few bags and taking a cab. People who have never done it have no clue what it involves. I can’t take just any cab. I don’t pack just one bag. I have to let the airlines know ahead of time. Luckily, I don’t have to have my ass squeezed into one of those aisle chairs and endure that humiliation. Then there’s the fear that my chair won’t be waiting for me when I land. Or it won’t be in the same condition. Every time I fly, something on my chair breaks. So the idea of being touched in private areas in public spaces doesn’t bother me that much. Been there, done that.

bookmark_borderTSA ‘pat down’ rant

About the new TSA pat down rules:

[rant mode on]

Where the f* y’all been? People with disabilities have been physically frisked for decades. We get touched, rubbed, scanned. We get catheters tugged, feeding tubes yanked, and questioned about private stuff. We have had hands in bras, prostheses removed, medications discussed. We’ve been ignored, put down, treated like mental imbeciles. Have been for, like, ever. Nobody but us cared or complained or noticed. It has slowly gotten better, though, through *massive* education of TSA staff. It isn’t perfect but it has gotten better.

And now you TABs get frisked and you freak? Please. So your tampon or pad shows. Do you really think these people care? Do you really think those over worked, underpaid, constantly watched TSA people are really truly getting their jollies feeling up millions of people a day? Do you really? If so, paranoia is a treatable illness ya know. And those scans? Get over it. They are viewed remotely, way far away from you, and no one even knows who you are. Next time you are at the docs office or an emergency room, take a look at the xrays being viewed by anyone who walks by. Look at the breasts being profiled, the fat revealed, the ‘junk’ shown. Right there. Right there with very visible names on them.

You bitch and complain about privacy. You ought to ask frequent flying crips how they handle it. They’re experts since they’ve been experiencing it for far longer.

But then, TSA could stop doing all of it, get back to the other routine. And when that plane full of people crashes somewhere, who is going to get blamed? Those same over worked, underpaid, constantly watched TSA agents you are treating like un-registered perverts and pedophiles.

[rant mode off…maybe]

On other notes, the pic going around of the nun being frisked by, gasp, a woman wearing a hijab? That’s from 2006. And the one of the woman in the new scanner? That’s from, I think, 2004. I can’t find their exact origin now because they were taken from people’s sites and reused without permission (except the one I found that had links to their original source) so now they are, as they say, ‘viral’.

bookmark_borderFree Speech

This is a case of not having enough hands as I ponder the points.

The US Supreme Court is faced with a decision concerning Free Speech. Free Speech is a right granted to Americans in the US Constitution. Basically, we have the right to say what we want. I agree with that. I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend your right to do so.

The particular case is Albert Snyder vs Westboro Church. Snyder is the father of deceased Matthew Snyder and Westboro Church is where the Phelps are from. The church members picketed outside the funeral of Matthew (who died in Iraq). They held signs that said their usual acidic “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “You’re going to hell”. The Phelps and their followers believe the US is being punished because of tolerance toward homosexuality and abortion.

So on the one hand, Phelps and his idiot followers have every right to stand out there and protest.

On the other hand, this was a soldier killed in action. As his father said, “I had one chance to bury my son and they took it from me.”

On another hand, the Phelps are idiots who are wallowing in the media attention as they always do.

On still another hand, Matthew Snyder is still dead. The money awarded to the father via the lower courts will not bring him back but it will smack the Phelps down a peg. Maybe.

Yet, it goes back to that first hand. The idiots have every right to say whatever idiocy they want to say. Take away their right to do so and it will open up all sorts of issues. How can the Supreme Court word it so it has enough ‘howevers’ and ‘buts’ that it won’t happen otherwise? What if the situation was reversed? What if, when Phelps dies (the good die young so he’ll be around a long time) soldiers stand out there with signs that praise God that the vitriol from Phelps’ mouth is now stopped? That God Loves Fags? That God is Dancing with Joy that the Earth is now cleansed? What if Phelps’ family took those soldiers to court, saying they couldn’t do that? We would all be a lot more comfortable with that scenario, wouldn’t we? Would the case had even made it to the Supreme Court?

No matter how painful it was for the father to see that sign about God being happy his son is dead, the idiots had every right to hold it up. Just as he had every right to take them to court for it. There are groups now that block the view of the signs from funeral attendees just as the “angels” did for Matthew Shepherd trials and stuff. The Phelps had the right to hold up signs and the angels had the right to wear big huge wings to block their view.

I’m truly sorry, Mr. Snyder that your son is dead. He was a man of honor, I am sure. I am even sorrier that you had to bury him with that filth so close to you. I wish you didn’t have to experience that. God doesn’t hate your son and God didn’t have him killed in order to prove a point. That’s not how God works. At least not the God I know. Are you a homosexual? Was your son? Have either of you funded an abortion? If not, then why would God kill him and punish you?

But, I’m also sorry I have to agree that the Phelps have the constitutional right to stand out there with their signs.

The other issue, and perhaps the one the court will latch onto, is how “private” was the funeral? Were they the proper distance away, as set by the local laws? Did their follow up internet posts that were derogatory toward the Snyders cross the line? I don’t know if the court is ready to make a judgement on the internet aspect. But I think the privacy issue of the funeral will play a huge part. They want to shut Phelps up. That’s evident in the fact they are having problems with the case. No sane person truly believes what they (Phelps and Westboro) have to say. The problem though is whatever the Supreme Court decides will set a precedent for future cases. Just because a picket sign is painful and hateful and full of shit and it severely and permanently hurts someone, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to be there with the sign. Who decides what is painful enough to be wrong? Many many people believe gays shouldn’t marry and that we are all sinners and that for the governments to say we can marry is so very very wrong. If gays were picketing them, and the signs gays held were painful for the others (the truth hurts), then do the gays not have the right to picket?

As much as it hurts me to say this, the US Supreme Court has no choice but to say it was within their First Amendment Rights to be assholes with dumbass signs that severely hurt an already hurting family.

Justices struggle with funeral-protest case – First Amendment Center (good linkages at the bottom)
First Amendment – Wikipedia

bookmark_borderKindle vs the ADA

In a round-a-bout way, Kindle just got smacked by the US Govmint. Hopefully they ( will start listening to the complaints they’ve had since the Kindle was first released. But then, a lot of the ebook readers have fallen short of the accessibility issues.

(bolding and underlining of the paragraph is my doing)

Justice Department Reaches Three Settlements Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Regarding the Use of Electronic Book Readers

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced separate agreements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Pace University in New York City and Reed College in Portland, Ore., regarding the use in a classroom setting of the electronic book reader, the Kindle DX, a hand-held technological device that simulates the experience of reading a book.

Under the agreements reached today, the universities generally will not purchase, recommend or promote use of the Kindle DX, or any other dedicated electronic book reader, unless the devices are fully accessible to students who are blind and have low vision. The universities agree that if they use dedicated electronic book readers, they will ensure that students with vision disabilities are able to access and acquire the same materials and information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use. The agreements that the Justice Department reached with these universities extend beyond the Kindle DX to any dedicated electronic reading device.


A handful of universities participated in a pilot project in cooperation with Inc. to test the viability of the Kindle DX in a classroom setting. The terms of the Justice Department’s agreement with each university become effective at the end of the pilot projects.

The current model of the Kindle DX has the capability to read texts aloud, so that the materials would be accessible to blind individuals, but the device does not include a similar text-to-speech function for the menu and navigational controls. Without access to the menus, students who are blind have no way to know which book they have selected or how to access the Kindle DX Web browser or its other functions. The technological “know how” to make navigational controls or menu selections accessible is available.

Other universities, such as Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, also examined the utility of the Kindle DX as a teaching device and decided that they would not use the Kindle DX until it is accessible to blind individuals.