Oh, America

I was reading this article, and honestly, I don’t even know where to begin. No, seriously, I read through this wondering what the heck was going on with the US government. And more to the point: how the hell has this gotten so bad.

I mean really. Forced to carry a stillborn to term, because cows and pigs do? State sanctioned rape?

What the fuck, America. What the fuck.

I’ve spent my entire life knowing full well that I won’t be as good as a guy in several respects. Hell, my own parents are guilty of sexism — accidental, I’m sure, but it’s there. I’ve been passed over for things that I can do because there was a male around. I know, it sounds like bitter whining, but it’s true. In some cases, I’d done similar things, and I’d done them better than the end product of whatever guy who’d been around did.

These things happen. It’s not right, and it sucks that any woman who complains or even mentions the discrepancy about how men and women are treated is labeled a feminist — which is then immediately equated to man-hating bitch. Let’s face it: though a feminist wants equality, the feminists that get heard are the bitter ones who want a chance at being top dog, at the expense of men, who the rest of us just want to be equal to. Personally, I just want the same paycheck as the guy who does the same job. Currently, though, I’ll have to count myself lucky if I make even 80% of it.

But let’s ignore that. Let’s not take into account glass ceilings, or paycheck discrepancies, or any of that. Let’s talk about the body, and who has rights to what.

Let’s talk pregnancy.

Now, let’s face it — men aren’t carrying kids. If they did, this would probably not even be on the table right now. We wouldn’t be having this discussion. This being said — what the hell gives any man who isn’t my boyfriend, my husband, my father, or my brother the right to tell me how to live my life? And what gives any man who I don’t have such ties to the right to tell me how to be pregnant. Because that’s what’s going on, really. There are all these rules about it now, and more that are trying to crop up. And frankly, I think the whole thing is stupid — and dangerous.

Abortion. Under 18? Need your father’s permission. Rape? Doesn’t matter. Incest? Doesn’t matter. Having the child might kill you? Well, at least the kid will probably have a father. You aren’t ready for a child, and have no faith in the adoption system? No worries, babies are usually adopted quickly, if someone’s looking around that time. The child is dead or dying? Eh, carry it anyway — at least you won’t have to feel it kick.

I don’t know. That’s probably harsh of me, but the more I read about this shit, the more I dread the thought of being pregnant, to the point of being on the pill or carrying condoms for the sole purpose of in case of rape seems like a good idea. After all, if you do end up pregnant after being raped, well, that isn’t a good enough reason to not want to have the kid. Hell, you can’t even commit suicide over it if you’re pregnant — because that’s murder.

I don’t get it. Before birth, all a fetus is is a parasite. It sounds bad, but it’s true. We feed off of our mothers until… well, we still feed off of them, but it’s a different sort of feeding, a different sort of reliance after birth.

Look, at the core of it, I don’t inflict my religious beliefs on you. Why do you get to do that to me?


Copy Paste?

So, last Wednesday, I went to Mummy Brown paint’s presentation: Actually, why CAN’T I copy money? and it was pretty fascinating. She had used this blog to base her presentation off of, which is the link that I’m going to base this blog post of off.

While the title is Why can’t I copy money? Is that censorship?: Thoughts on framing SOPA and PIPA, there’s really not much to do with SOPA or PIPA specifically. Instead, the post talks about what is censorship and how to frame and argument and conquering the Internet frontier.

It’s interesting, the post, because it really is about how to frame an argument properly. After all, if you control how something is framed — where the boundaries are, and what the distinctions are — then you have a good bit of control over how it is defined in the end.

An interesting issue that this touches on is what is censorship? When is it a good thing, or a bad thing? What is copyright? How are the two connected?

I really liked the example of not allowing people onto your property being censorship. It’s a twist to the word that no one thinks about — the connotations of censorship have a more malevolent sort of feel. It’s sort of like the aftertaste to the word is bitter and full of vengeance. Which, yeah, the guy standing with the shotgun has the same sort of feel, but locking your gate doesn’t. Yet, censorship can apply here.

I don’t know, I thought it was cool. I like words, and phrases, and origins. (Did you know that close but no cigar comes from days where there were cigar slot machines? And if you didn’t win, well, you were “close, but no cigar?” It’s one of my favorites. Beating a dead horse is an interesting one as well, but let’s not get into that right now.)

I wish that this blog post was longer, but it’s only seven paragraphs, and not much of that is substance. It’s mostly just throwing questions out, thought it does contain a lot of links. There isn’t all that much that can be said solely about this page, except that the author has really bad grammar. (Which, yes, I know it’s rude, and that mine isn’t all that great either, but still. The way the end of this sentence is never, ever going to be anything even resembling “okay”. Just, no. That’s not where the punctuation goes. Not unless every teacher I’ve ever had was terrible. …Though, US education being what it is, that actually wouldn’t surprise me.) I do,  however, like how he used examples of framing to show what he meant. If framed right, you really can lead the conversation down whatever path you want.

It’s really quite manipulative.



Mirror, Mirror

So this is so, so cliche, I know, but I had to do it. It called to me.  I decided to do this ds106 assignment: The Way It Should Have Been. Basically, it’s a what-if exploration in some sort of book or movie or comic. It’s supposed to be a moment that would make it better, but I try not to think in terms of “better,” just in terms of “different.” After all, “better” is all about point of view, and what people think is good differs from person to person. Heck, it differs on my mood — what I like one day, I may loathe another.

No, I didn’t chose Star Trek, though I thought about it. I ended up with Harry Potter. I thought about a few things, actually — not the least of which was Slytherin!Harry. I also contemplated altering Book Six: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in that scene where Harry casts the cutting curse at Draco in the bathroom.

In the end, I went back to the whole AlternateHouse! thing. But not Harry. I ended up with Slytherin!Ron.

Why, you may ask — and I’ll oblige, because it does sound a bit off, doesn’t it? Let’s think about this, though. (I’m not doing the sorting, so you don’t have the benefit of the hat, so I should probably explain now.) Ron Weasley, when he looks into the Mirror of Erised in Chapter 12, sees himself as the best, most successful member of his family. He’s Head Boy, and Quidditch Captain, and chances are he’s got the best grades, even better than Percy. He’s also cunning: he’s a chess player, and a good one. He knows that sometimes, you need to make sacrifices to get what you want, and that winning is pretty much the point.

And what are Slytherins know for? Cunning and ambition, and even at eleven, Ron has it in spades. Certainly, he’s brave, and foolhardy, and in many respects the typical Gryffindor. But what if, in that moment, he was thinking about being the best of them all instead of thinking about how much he needed to conform to the standards of his family? What if, instead of being worried to the point of there’s-nothing-but-this, he was frustrated or otherwise upset with the expectations of his family, knowing that whatever he did, he was “nothing special” in terms of everything that there is to be done, they’ve all done it?

Well, we’d have an entirely different story, wouldn’t we? He’d been telling Harry that Slytherins were evil, so their friendship would go flat, at least for a bit, until both realized they were being idiots. (Which, at eleven, it takes awhile.)

In any case.

Since I don’t actually want to rewrite the books from Ron’s perspective (because let’s face it, even if he and Harry do end up as best buds, there are bound to be discrepancies in the way things get done, because Ron will have developed self-preservation instincts — probably — simply because he’d have been living in a very unfriendly environment), I’m going to go from right after the sorting until right before the first class, which I’m making Potions because I don’t actually remember what it is, and I can’t find my book. I hope you don’t mind.

As always, before I post this, I would like to say just a few more things. I do not own the rights to these books, though I do own a copy of each. I do not own these characters, and nothing I do or say can or will, to the best of my knowledge, influence in any way, shape, or form Harry Potter. I am not making any money from writing using these characters.

So, here’s the story, now that you’ve read the process. Read, or don’t read, that’s up to you — though if you do, feel free to tell me what you think of Slytherin!Ron, because, frankly, it kind of amuses me.


Mirror, Mirror

Ron Weasley sat frozen upon the stool, the hat still covering his eyes. He couldn’t move, refused to move — the hat must have been joking, or he’d misheard, or something, anything, but it couldn’t have possibly meant what he thought it had said.

Except he was being ushered from the stool, towards the table that was very much not where he, or anyone else judging by the silence, thought he’d be going. He sat away from the other first years — Draco Malfoy was giving him particularly poisonous looks, and the other Slytherins were nearly as hateful. The sorting continued, but Ron didn’t pay any attention to it. He looked towards his brothers, but they looked just as shocked, just as horrified.

Ron dropped his gaze to the table. He didn’t want to look up again. How could this have happened? What kind of Weasley was he, to end up in this house for dark wizards?

He paled. What was his mother going to think?

Dinner appeared, but even that couldn’t cheer Ron up. The Slytherins whispered to themselves, looking sidelong at their out of place new housemate. Ron didn’t know what to say to them, either, so he picked at his potatoes and chicken (he had to put something on his plate, after all, and he wasn’t stupid — he needed to eat something if he was going to have to stave off some sort of attack).

At some point, the Headmaster led them all in song. Ron roused himself enough to sort of mumble along, but with his eyes on the table, he couldn’t see the words. He glanced up, once, but when he saw his brothers and Harry Potter (And now how were they going to be friends? Oh, Harry must hate him now — stupid sorting hat. Stupid Slytherins.) looking at him, still horror struck, he quickly redirected his gaze to the empty table.

The Prefects led them into the dungeons soon after. Ron trailed along after the rest, careful not to get too close. All of them were throwing distrustful looks at him, and he guessed he could understand why, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. Still, it wasn’t like he trusted them, so whatever.

Luckily, they were all sent to bed right after. Even better, the first years were in double rooms, unless there were an odd number, and with seven boys, Ron got his own room. No one wanted to share with him, and he was glad of that, at least. If nothing else, he wouldn’t have to worry about his roommates. After all, they were probably a dark wizard, a Death Eater-to-be,  just like all Slyther– but no. That couldn’t be right. Ron was a Slytherin now, too. Unless… was he evil and he just didn’t know until now?

Is that what the hat had seen inside his head? He was evil, or he was going to be, or there was something wrong with him that no one had noticed before?

He got ready for bed, but he spent a long time staring at the ceiling.

Ron woke early. He quickly got ready for the day, and wandered out to the common room. He hoped that someone would be willing to tell him how to get to the Great Hall for breakfast. A few upper year students walked through, but when he moved to follow, or to ask for help, they just glared disdainfully at him until he sat back down.

Eventually, the other first years gathered, and a Prefect led them up the stairs.

The others had clearly decided to ignore his existence. None of his year mates would look at him, and though he asked one of the girls (Millicent? Mandy? M-something, anyway.) to pass the salt for his eggs, no one acknowledged him. Only the Prefect who handed him his scheduled bothered to say anything at all to him, and that was “Here.”

Quickly, he read over it. Ron closed his eyes in resignation. Most of his classes were with Gryffindor. Way to rub it in, he thought. It was like he wasn’t already aware that he was a failure.

Mail came. He froze in fear, hoping he wasn’t going to get a Howler. Luckily, or not, he received nothing. He hoped his parents weren’t too angry.

But who was he kidding? He was a Weasley. Weasleys had always been in Gryffindor. Always. Yes, there must be something wrong with him.

He looked at his schedule again. Potions first, with Gryffindors. Ron grimaced — his brothers had always told him that that teacher favored the Slytherins. Pausing, he reconsidered. It certainly couldn’t hurt him, now, if it were true.

He rose with the other students. It was time for class.

The Beginning

My second ds106 assignment was Comments for Kids. Basically, the idea behind it is to encourage kids who are blogging to keep it up. The ds106 site also give you a quality comment guide link, to a site made by a third grade class. (Can I just add here that I have no idea what to do with life when third graders are creating web content?)

To start with, I went to the list of participants. I have to say, my shock level was sky high when I realized that the youngest was only six. In some ways, this entire thing is really kind of awkward, as the children are, like most bloggers, putting images of themselves up. It’s nothing bad, exactly, but having been raised in a very “We don’t put pictures up of ourselves ever” kind of household, it’s very kind of “…” for me.

In any case. I went through and figured out who I wanted to comment on. This, for me, was really difficult — because there are so many people there, and because it’s always really odd to comment on someone’s blog when you don’t know them. (I know, I know, I have really odd ways of thinking about things, I’ve been told.)

So I wandered through. The assignment called for three to five comments — I decided that four was a nice, reasonable number. (I like using the middle number, what can I say?) I’m not going to tell you where I  made the comments, but feel free to read these blogs and make comments of your own. Some of the blogs are really kind of cool, with game apps and the like (one had a Magic 8 Ball which I played for several minutes, because it’s been ages, and it was fun). Of course, others are terrifying, because girls really like sparkles, and the backgrounds may blind you.

Have a great day!


Tabletop Games

I chose to do this assignment: Common Everyday Object. The point was to manipulate the colors in the picture.

As far as the process goes: I had to figure out what I was going to use. While I tossed a few ideas around (kettle, pan, laptop, books), in the end I opted for a table. It’s a small little thing, a coffee table or an end table (goodness knows I still don’t really know the difference).


The table I chose. You can find it here.

In any case, I liked it. So, I figured, why not.

I wandered over to Picnik, which is good for photoshopping needs. I played around for a bit, and ended up altering the top of the table.

I hope you enjoy!


You can find the revised pic here.

Have a wonderful day.


Bad Things on the Web (or Death and Facebook)

In class, we’ve been doing presentations. It’s been grand, really, because these “presentations” are done in small groups, and are much more like chats, which is great.

My presentation was on a cyber harassment case at Rutgers University. I also used this article, which I mostly only used for emphasis.

Reading the article, I was really taken aback, for several reasons. I wish we knew more about the background of Tyler Clementi, so we knew why exactly he reacted with suicide. No, I’m not one of those “suicide is never the answer!” people, because I can understand that there are some things that someone can’t get over, or through, or even under, and that picking death isn’t actually an easy choice — and actually going through with it, that’s even harder. However, being video taped secretly and having that streamed, well, that’s not exactly on my list of Things That Are Bad Enough To Commit Suicide Over (or, if wouldn’t be if I had a list, but you know what I mean).

So I looked up his background.

While the article makes it seem like he went Oh my God, he taped me, my privacy is gone, I’m going to jump — there was actually more time between Point A and Point B. Not much,  but there was enough time for the roommate to watch him a second time, and for complaints to be made.

However, what interested me most of all wasn’t the why, or the how, but rather, the suicide note.

He left a message on Facebook that said he was going to jump, sorry — and that was it. Several people thought it was a really poor joke — his father was hoping he’d been kidnapped. When they found the body a week later, though, they knew the truth.

Still, it’s interesting, isn’t it, the way our lives and even our deaths are starting to revolve around social networking sites? While this is the first time I’ve heard of Facebook-as-a-place-for-suicide-notes, I admit that it’s not the first time it’s been death related that I’ve seen. More and more, when people die, others leave notes on their Walls, or they Message them. It’s like the online version of a wake — everyone gathering on someone’s Wall and commenting on each others posts. I think it’s kind of creepy, personally. But I guess it saves on gas.

I looked into it, a bit, and found that Facebook allows the family of a deceased person to memorialize or delete profiles. It makes sense — after all, it can’t be pleasant to see your late good friend show up in your Reconnect results. In fact, I would think it’d be a little heartbreaking.

…Looking over what I’ve written, the topic seems to have gotten away from me. I meant to write about the secret taping and sharing of Tyler Clementi in a place where he should have been safe — his dorm room. I meant to write about how his roommate, the guy who taped him, tweeted about it, and how if he’d plead out, he would have gotten 600 hours of community service and some counseling. I meant to write about how a girl in their hall was part of it, and how she ended up with 300 hours of community service and three years of cyber bullying classes. That the laws about cyber bullying/harassment/stalking simply aren’t all that effective — primarily because they aren’t really there, or enforced.

I was asked a question, and though I’ll tell you my answer, feel free to answer as well.

Do you think bullying on the Internet an extension of bullying in real life, or is it a new thing?

Personally, I think it’s a bit of both. Real life and Internet life are one and the same these days. If something outside of the ‘net happens, people bring it to the ‘net — it’s impossible these days to live in only one world, unless you try really, really hard (or are Amish). So, as far as bullying is concerned, of course it’s an extension. It’s just a new place to torment other people, to gossip, to tease.

It’s also a reverse — the bullied can become the bully. This is because, unlike pre-Internet days, it’s really easy to get information about someone onto the web, or to pretend to be someone else. In fact, in a few keystrokes, you could make someone else’s life hell — something that most bullied children daydream about but are unable to do due to size or strength or self confidence issues. It’s a simple matter to get back at someone anonymously as well, something that is harder to do in the physical world.

I would, of course, like to hear (or, you know, read) your opinions on the matter. Which do you think it is? Why?


We Come in Peace, Shoot to Kill, Shoot to Kill, Men

Dear God, I want to move. I’ve been in this apartment for a year and a half, and quite frankly, I regret resigning the lease. It has been one issue after another recently, and I am so, so sick of it, I can’t even tell you.

My apologies: this is going to be one of those blog posts that is pretty much a rant. I just need to get my frustration out somehow, and the party concerned (my landlord) isn’t really someone I can yell at.

See, it began with the ceiling. I looked up one day to realize that there was mold and water damage, and so I send my landlord an e-mail.

No reply.

Some time later, there was an issue with the shower, so I called about it — and while I was at it, I mentioned the ceiling again. They asked for photos, so I took some, and then I tried to send them.

Tried. It bounced back. So I tried again, and again, and then gave up and made tea.

The next day, though, they sent someone to check it out, and as I wasn’t home, asked my flatmate to have me call them. So I did.

The phone rang and rang and rang.

So I sent them an e-mail — and it bounced back, just like the others.

I thought to myself, well then, I’ll just call them tomorrow. Again, no response.

I still haven’t heard from them on the topic.

However, two days ago, the toilet clogged, and nothing we did fixed it. Oh, joy. So, we called yesterday and they said they’d stop by.

Today, I got a lovely e-mail. Here’s a bit:

Yesterday we confirmed with your roommate that the actual problem is not the pipes as

you said but toilet drainage, the water goes very slowly. (It should be noted that

the only time I’ve mentioned pipes to them, it was with regard to my ceiling, as I think there’s

some sort of issue with the pipes, because I’m not on the top floor, and I don’t see

how else water damage could possibly occur on the ceiling.)

After our maintenance checked yesterday we concluded the following : the problem is

most likely by you because probably you throw something in the toilet other than toilet

paper , this clogging is caused by your negligence. (It should be noted: this

occured once, it was a cockroach, and it was in December of 2010, so it is,

in all likelyhood, probably not the cause of this particular trouble.)

Then there was general bitchiness about payment. According to them, they sent be a bill for the last problem (the shower), but I never received it. I’ve checked. Either they never sent it to me, or they e-mailed the wrong address. I had thought that that bill had been paid already — that the flatmate of mine who was home at the time of that fixing had paid it and just not mentioned it (she had offered to pay the bill in its entirety) because it had been taken care of. Apparently, this was not actually the case.

So, after receiving this e-mail, I thought I should call them. You know, try to straighten out any misunderstandings, and figure out where the first bill went, because honestly? I’m so, so not comfortable with the fact that they might have been sending out my information to someone else. Because, no. That’s just not good on so many levels.

The phone rang, and then it was picked up. Of course, the woman didn’t speak English, so she passed me on to someone else. I was looking for the woman who we’re supposed to go through, but I guess she wasn’t there. The next person I spoke to told me she’d call me back — and then hung up on me. Without taking my name, my phone number, or my reason for calling.

I can’t help but feel like something isn’t right here. It doesn’t help that the e-mail ends with a threat to kick us out. It worries me, more than a bit, but I don’t know what I can do about it. I honestly don’t feel like I’m in the wrong here — not for not paying a bill that I never got in the first place, or for asking about the ceiling (“Japan is a special country. You have to keep the windows open or the condensation will cause mold.” …No. No, I’m pretty sure that condensation doesn’t cause damage to this extent.), or for getting help when things don’t work — particularly not when we can’t fix them after we try.

So, I don’t know. I’m terrified that they will kick us out, but also, I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to deal with this stuff anymore. I’d like to think they’re the exception, not the rule. And if that isn’t true?

Well, shit. I guess I better prepare to buy a house.