Friday Night Fun and Culture: Laura Nyro

When I was first coming out I used to smoke weed with my friends at night and then go to my room and listen to Laura Nyro before I crashed.

Her music was a real friend those first few months when I felt alone and scared.

It’s about time she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Keeping Students From the Polls

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/opinion/keeping-college-students-from-the-polls.html

Editorial
Published: December 26, 2011
Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote.

Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal.

Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license or a passport) to vote, which many students don’t have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting.

It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young, who are more likely to support President Obama, are disproportionately represented in the 21 million people without government IDs. On Friday, the Justice Department, finally taking action against these abuses, blocked the new voter ID law in South Carolina.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/opinion/keeping-college-students-from-the-polls.html

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Today’s GOP makes Mississippi look liberal

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2011/12/29/todays_gop_females_have_more_rights_before_theyre_born/

Most 2012 contenders back a personhood amendment too extreme for a red, red state, while Rick Perry hits a new low

By Joan Walsh
Thursday, Dec 29, 2011

The flailing Rick Perry is trying to revive his sinking campaign by histrionically announcing he’s changed his views on abortion and now opposes it even in cases of rape and incest. Apparently Perry met a young woman who’d been conceived as a result of rape, and that changed his mind.

“Looking in her eyes, I couldn’t come up with an answer to defend the exemptions for rape and incest,” he said at a “tele-town hall” sponsored by far-right Iowa radio host Steve Deace. “And over the course of the last few weeks, the Christmas holidays and reflecting on that … all I can say is that God was working on my heart.”

It’s just one more step toward society’s political margins for the GOP contenders. Perry has already announced his support for the “personhood” movement, which declares that life begins the moment an egg is fertilized, a measure that was rejected by the deep-red state of Mississippi as too extreme. But Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum also back the personhood crusade. That’s your modern Republican Party: It makes Mississippi look liberal. They’d like women to have more rights before they’re born than after.

It’s obvious the Tea Party is pulling the GOP even further to the right. While the movement’s fans used to insist it was about the economy, not social issues, in fact its House caucus has used its year in office working harder to stop all funding for Planned Parenthood than to reduce unemployment. The House even passed a bill that lets health providers “exercise their conscience” and refuse to perform an abortion even in cases where the woman would die without the procedure. (h/t Digby)

Continue reading at:   http://www.salon.com/2011/12/29/todays_gop_females_have_more_rights_before_theyre_born/

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The Power Media Can Have

#Liberate LEGO!

From Huffington Post:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lyn-mikel-brown/legos-for-girls_b_1172876.html?ref=tw

Lyn Mikel Brown
Posted: 12/28/11

When LEGO announced that after four years of marketing research, the best they could come up with was a thinner, pinker version of their product, I admit, I laughed out loud. My first reaction wasn’t outrage, but incredulity. A billion dollars of marketing research bought you… LEGO Barbie? After marketers have carpet-bombed a pink, appearance-obsessed consumer version of girl power via every conceivable media outlet for the past decade, did you really expect to hear little girls express a desire for anything else?

Turns out I wasn’t the only one with a strong reaction to the new Ladyfig LEGOs. (“Ladyfigs”? Really, ask for your money back.) SPARK (Sexualization Protest: Action Resistance Knowledge) movement girl blogger, Stephanie Cole wrote, “the part of me that still fondly remembers epic LEGO vs. Playmobile battles with my sister and cousin, is pretty royally pissed off.” The new Ladyfigs, she notes, “are taller, skinnier and they have boobs. They will be marketed to girls five and up. Why?”

We know why. In truth, LEGO may very well get a larger market share if they have two separate lines of products. “Unisex” and “gender neutral” are blasphemy to a large percentage of parents, who are quick to point out that girls and boys play differently. But as neuroscientist Lise Eliot explains, “boy-girl differences are not as ‘hard-wired’ as many parents today, imbued with the Mars/Venus philosophy, believe.” The human brain is “fantastically plastic” and the best thing we can do for our children is to give them a full range of opportunities and experiences, especially in the early years. We don’t know at five how little Tierra’s or Tommy’s passions and talents will surface, so why pay good money to limit their options to the pink and blue aisles of toy stores?

SPARKTeam blogger, Bailey, promoting Stephanie’s post on Twitter, soon began an exchange with LEGO: “They thanked me…and respectfully disagreed, stating that four years of research had told them,” in so many words, “that the mini-skirt-wearing, hot-tub-bathing, beauty-shop-running LEGO ladies are what girls want now.” As if Bailey didn’t know the difference between market research, the goal of which is to figure out the best way to target and sell to children, and unbiased scientific research, the goal of which is to know what’s good or bad for developing children. Of course, the unbiased research finds that the path LEGO has chosen, narrowing girls’ options to a stereotypical version of femininity, is bad for girls.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lyn-mikel-brown/legos-for-girls_b_1172876.html?ref=tw

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STUNNING – ‘I REMEMBER, SO I’M VOTING, AND NOT REPUBLICAN.’

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Tweeting the word ‘drill’ could mean your Twitter account is read by U.S. government spies

From The Daily Mail UK:   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2079283/Tweeting-word-drill-mean-Twitter-account-read-government-spies.html

  • Fake profiles used by Department of Homeland Security, says privacy group
  • List of keywords flags ‘danger’ signal
  • DHS may attempt to identify users from their accounts
  • Keywords include ‘virus’, ‘drill’ and ‘illegal immigrant’

By Rob Waugh
28th December 2011

The Department of Homeland Security makes fake Twitter and Facebook profiles for the specific purpose of scanning the networks for ‘sensitive’ words – and tracking people who use them.

Simply using a word or phrase from the DHS’s ‘watch’ list could mean that spies from the government read your posts, investigate your account, and attempt to identify you from it, acccording to an online privacy group.

The words which attract attention range from ones seemingly related to diseases or bioweapons such as ‘human to animal’ and ‘outbreak’ to other, more obscure words such as ‘drill’ and ‘strain’.

The DHS also watches for words such as ‘illegal immigrant’.

The DHS outlined plans to scans blogs, Twitter and Facebook for words such as ‘illegal immigrant’, ‘outbreak’, ‘drill’, ‘strain’, ‘virus’, ‘recovery’, ‘deaths’, ‘collapse’, ‘human to animal’ and ‘trojan’, according to an ‘impact asssessment’ document filed by the agency.

When its search tools net an account using the phrases, they record personal information.

It’s still not clear how this information is used – and who the DHS shares it with.

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