Fight the Power

Radio Raheem

Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate: it was with this hand that Cain iced his brother. Love: these five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Ooh, it’s a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love.

–Radio Raheem

In the wake of the expected, yet unfortunate news that Darren Wilson won’t be charged in Michael Brown’s killing and the violence that is sure to follow, I felt like this was more important than ever. It’s very easy to give in to the hatred that has been simmering under the surface in the months since this shooting. Yet, wouldn’t it be something if we rose above it all and conquered the world with love and not hate.

Just something to think about. Always do the right thing.

This Land Is Your Land

Polling Place

The honest truth is that pretty much every race in this year’s election is more or less predetermined where I live, from US Senator down to the local school board. You can blame the fact that Jersey is still a strong blue state (in spite of our governor), as well as strong gerrymandering for that. I’m sure it’s the forgone conclusion nature of so many elections that will keep a lot of people home and not voting in this election. That, or general apathy over the fact that our government in Washington is hopelessly gridlocked (it’s hard to have a working government when one side has decided that its only prerogative is to destroy the other side because the black man is president).

Still, I have a strong civic pride in the whole voting thing. I’ve voted in every general election since 2000. Not necessarily because I thought my one vote was going to swing a race or impact the world in some great way, but because it’s the thing to do. I think that we Americans, of all political stripes, really do take our political freedoms for granted. We may not always like the people we’re asked to vote for (and trust me, there’s plenty wrong with both sides), but we’re the last word in putting and keeping them in power. And maybe, one day, enough of us will be able to band together and fix some of the problems in the fucking system (like getting all the money out of the elections).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even when you’re stacked with somewhat shitty candidates and races that you can’t get excited about, voting still fucking matters. You’re a goddamned American and this your goddamned civic duty. If you’re not getting out there and voting each and every year, maybe you need to stop and ask yourself what you’re doing calling yourself a member of the stars and stripes nation.

Get out and vote. If you don’t know where to go, this website will help you out. Just plug in your address. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for or talk about who I’m voting for. Vote your conscience. Vote your ideals. Vote your pragmatism. Whatever it is, just fucking vote, okay?

Photo Credit: stephenvelasco on Flickr released under a cc by-nc 2.0 license.

Gimme Shelter


I started writing this on August 14th. I let it go for almost a week, but, nope, the anger still hasn’t bubbled over.

See those guys in the full tactical gear up there, standing in front of an armored vehicle? That looks like it should come from a report in Iraq, or Syria, or Gaza. We’ve seen so many of those images over the past 13 years that we’re pretty immune to them, I think. Except, this is not any of those places. This is motherfucking Missouri. MISSOURI for Christ’s sake. The middle of our own damn country. This is the fruition of 13 years of fear and loathing in the wake of 9/11. We’ve officially descended into a police state.

Why do townie cops in suburban towns need full tactical gear, high powered rifles, gas grenade launchers, and armored vehicles? Are they the NYPD? Are they trying to prevent another 9/11? Hell, we could have a whole other argument about whether the NYPD really needs to be a junior division of the US Army, but that’s for another time. Life in a lot of these places isn’t all that crazy. There aren’t a ton of major crimes like in a big city, or on the Mexican border, and etc. And this generation, shit. Think about this. You have a generation of kids who grew up playing Halo and Call of Duty and such, and now they get to do it for real. That line of thinking isn’t just me generalizing. I think it’s encouraged. Becoming a cop isn’t just about protecting your town and doing some good. It’s about being the hero and saving everyone. And we wonder why some of these responses aren’t proportional?

Even more troubling is how the local police are handling this. Hiding the identity of the cop who shot the kid? Hiding the investigation? Realizing that hiding the cop doesn’t work and doxing him only to frame it as “the kid was a robber, so he totally deserved to get shot all those times”? Sending out your idiot cops in full motherfucking tac gear and armored vehicles, having them fire tear gas and flash bangs, and expecting less? This is all from the “Holy shit, here’s how to do it as wrongly as possible” manual. This is not motherfucking America anymore. This shit has gone to the gonzo zone. And the worst part of it is, even as more and more facts come to light, continuing to hide the police report about the shooting just makes things look worse. Maybe the kid did come at the cop in a threatening way that caused the cop to defend himself. You would think, though, that if that were in the report, they would have put that shit out the day it happened, and this likely would have blown over more quickly.

Let’s not forget the real stew that has bubbled over and then some. Ferguson, MO, is predominately black. Its power structure and police apparatus is predominately white, and pretty obviously racist as fuck. This really isn’t news. Minorities all over this stupid nation have to deal with the presumption of being guilty just because of the color of their skin. Keep that shit happening and it turns into a powder keg. A powder keg that exploded the minute that kid got shot. Don’t let anyone dissuade the happenings here. The race problem runs deep in this shit. Like it does when so many other minorities get done in by the strictures of power that are meant to protect them. The sad part is that so many white people can’t figure out why these people are angry. How do you think they feel when these protestors are met by an army — a real live fucking army, like they’re in the third world or some shit.

Lastly, for those of you who don’t get it. Who think the cop is the one being persecuted. Who think the kid “deserved” it. Step your white asses back and check yourselves. And for the love of fuck, don’t cry the fucking blues about how white people are being persecuted. You wouldn’t know persecution if it hit you in the balls. I know I don’t and I’m not even white. Seriously, check yourself.

This has been a fucked up week. It’s not really looking any better on the horizon yet. Maybe, one day, we’ll be able to learn from things like this and not let them happen again. A man can dream.

Header Photo Credit: The New York Times

What Does the Fox Say?


I’m a stalwart Firefox user (I roll with their cutting edge Aurora build, which is a beta to the beta of forthcoming versions of Firefox). I’ve used Firefox for years. Hell, I was using it even before it was called Firefox. I feel kind of old school about it. I’m not a huge fan of Chrome. I don’t think it’s the best browser out there and I hate that as time has gone on, the heads who make Firefox have tried to make it look more and more like Chrome. Firefox has become, in some ways, such an afterthought in the browser world, that it’s almost crazy to see the level of press that Mozilla, the people who make Firefox, has gotten recently.

All of this stems from the fact that they promoted Brendan Eich, a guy who gave a fair amount of money in support of Prop 8, to be their CEO. This naturally caused a lot of blow-back, because Americans are finally waking up and realizing that it’s not exactly cool to deny people rights because they’re not the exact same as you. This continued to build for a few days until the guy resigned. Then the blow-back started the other way, about how the hell could they do that, it was his personal opinion, and etc. I’m happy that this was the final decision, and this is why.

It doesn’t take a lot of looking around to see just how much influence corporations and CEOs now have over our nation’s policies and politics. Supported by a legislature that bows before the corporate altar and a judiciary that is inclined to allow corporate rights to run amok, we’re at an interesting place these days. You don’t have to look much further than the Hobby Lobby case that was argued in front of the Supreme Court recently. At stake here? Essentially, the rights of a corporation to deny rights to a class of employees because of what they believe in. Supporters of the Hobby Lobby folks will try to offer a more narrow interpretation of this, but that’s what it comes down to (well, that, and the fact that conservatives hate vaginas). If the Court sides with them, it could open the door for all kinds of companies to deny rights about things to all sorts of people because they don’t agree with them. Sure, a small non-profit foundation that makes a free internet browser isn’t going to make as many waves as that, but you have to draw a line at some point.

In some ways, of course, this is an exaggerated comparison, but the fact stands that when a CEO is appointed, what they believe in matters greatly to the world around them. In a world where CEOs wield such influence (and a judiciary that continues to say that money talks… loudly), our rights can disappear just like that. If they go in believing that certain kinds of people don’t deserve rights, what’s to stop them from pushing their political agenda?

In Mozilla’s tag line on their homepage, they say that doing good is a part of their code. They’ve maintained policies that sacrifice usability in the name of higher standards (like holding out on h.264 for so long). Having a CEO who believes that a whole class of people don’t deserve the same rights that he enjoys and likely takes for granted is doing the exact opposite of that. No matter what his supporters think, firing Brendan Eich was the only possible outcome for Mozilla. You can’t do the most good otherwise. Kudos to Mozilla for getting this one as right as they could.