Archive for the ‘Issues and Trends’ Category

Together We are Strong   1 comment

together-we-are-strong

Another thing that frustrated me about this past week of no computer was that I had work locked up in it, in a barely-begun stage.  Thankfully, I was able to get going on it during the weekend here.  That was some badly needed free time, to figure out how to mask out the background on the basic pictures (ChromaKey green wouldn’t work in every case) and assemble the final photo.  Even after getting everyone in position, it didn’t come together until I decided to replace the background with posters.  I’m not too displeased with the final result, though.  Donald Trump likes pretty women; well, here’s seven of them, about as sexy as he could desire, and each one is strongly tempted to stick a dagger in his ribs and kick him in the teeth.

All seven are me.  These are all of the primary characters I write my stories for:  Ariel, Jo, Sharra, Latifah, Keiko, Maren and Dannta.  All seven are women, and assuredly multiethnic (Ariel is a cyborg from the 48th century, and Dannta is an alien residing in our world and time)1.  All seven are professionals:  entertainer, physician, foundation chairwoman, teacher, businesswoman, lawyer and executive director.  And, to be brutally frank, all seven are pissed at the direction current affairs in the United States are taking.  This photo shows their obvious solidarity with the goals of the Women’s March; but they also protest against the assaults on immigrants and minorities and a more science-based environmental policy; against the attempted forcing of governmental affairs toward a more big-business-friendly, laissez-faire model; against the coming assaults on education, arts and the humanities — in short, against about anything the current administration and its ultra-conservative supporters in Congress plan to do over the next two to four years.

(Yes, this blog is getting political, possibly edging toward strident.  But, babes, men and women, it’s not as strident as it could get.  You oughta see my husband’s Facebook shares; he’s so much looser than I am, this photo is pale by comparison.  He feels betrayed by his party; he’s a fiscal conservative, but liberal on social issues, and the rise of the Tea Party and Trumpites has left him disgusted beyond bounds.  This will probably be the last thing in the blog for some time, unless I get too aggravated again — entirely possible, considering the actions of the current administration — but there will almost surely be more until we can be shut of this man and all his works.)

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Full-size version available on my Flickr stream

UPDATED: See also Strawberry Singh’s article.

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1 I wish I’d had a Hispanic and an Arab or Muslim character now, but I’ve never developed those before.  My next story will need to address that.  (Anyway, I’d have needed to shrink the individual women down to fit nine women in this shot; not to mention the even longer post work.)

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Bread and Roses: The Rising of the Women   Leave a comment

I was never planning on making this a political blog, but recent events in American politics are rather pulling posts in that direction, at least for a brief time.  This won’t be a habit, but we wanted to put this in for your thought.

In the light of the world’s Marches on Washington this past Saturday, we’re sharing with you a blog article I found. I hope you will read it all when you hit the link, then take the power we share out into the street and the state house and the ballot box, and continue the struggle both for bread and for roses — the equality of the sexes, the recognition that we are people and not to be marginalized or objectified, the struggle for human dignity for all people, no matter sex or creed or country.

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Strixian Woods

Photo courtesy of the Illustrious Katie RoseAn offering to the Crows: Photo courtesy of the Illustrious Katie Rose

“What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist — the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too. Help, you women of privilege, give her the ballot to fight with.”

—Rose Schneiderman, 1912

As we stood circled and gave final thanks to the Gods, spirits, and allies that inspirited the temple, the crows called outside and the sacred space shifted, changing it’s role like a breath held at length finally released.  Where a moment ago stood the Temple of the Morrigan and Her Tribe, was a simple bare hotel room stacked with sacred items and offerings.  …

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From the Archive — In Memory of Broken Glass

This would have been a good article to republish under any circumstances.  In light of recent events, though, it’s even more important that we remember this thing, and that we swear, solemnly and before all that we all hold holy in this world, that it will never happen again, to any people on this planet.

I’ve checked the Map, and Israel Island is still there.  Spare a moment, I beg ye, whoever ye may be and whatever be thy creed and faith, and visit this place, and pray for the souls of the dead, for the Righteous Gentiles, and for all who died as the result of a madman’s insanity.

“Rest quietly, for we will not repeat the evil….”

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Kristallnacht blog

While we’re remembering our veterans today, both alive and dead, it’s appropriate that we remember others as well, who died for no reason other than the desires of a madman. I will tell you right now that this isn’t a light article, a happy fashion piece or a visit to some beautiful vista, and I pull no punches in my subject or my choice of language. If you find this a hard thing, my sorrow for you, and you should move on to another blog for now. But an evil this great must be remembered; must be kept alive in the history of the world, so that we may see the signs and take steps to stop it before it grabs hold of us again.

Read more after the break.

Pray for Orlando

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Anyone who reads this blog regularly (and anyone else who’s seen the right articles) know that I lived for a time in Orlando, Florida, and that my husband is a native.  They (clearly!) know by now of my love for Orlando City SC, the predecessors of which I saw playing in the same stadium the MLS team uses now, to far smaller crowds back in 1986 or 1987.  They know that I attended Rollins College in nearby Winter Park.

They don’t know of my appreciation for Orlando, if not the same love I have for my native soil of Michigan.  My husband is one reason, of course, and his family, who have lived in the area since the 1910s.  Despite the tremendous buildup and overcrowding there since I moved to Florida in 1980, there are still many areas of beauty and interest, and I don’t speak of Disney.  If I absolutely must live in the south, then my sorrow for the state where I live now, but I’d rather be in Orlando than anywhere else.

This is why the murders of June 12, 2016 move me.  Orlando, like any large city, has its share of crime, of shootings and murders; but never anything on this scale before.  This is something completely foreign to the area.  It makes me fearful on several counts:

  • I fear for the lives that may yet be lost by those who were injured but not killed outright by the shooter
  • I fear for the inevitable political backlash against Muslims, since the shooter apparently called 911 and stated that he pledged himself and his actions toward the terrorist cell which claims to be a nation-state
  • I fear even more for the reactions of area residents against their Muslim neighbors, based not on sense but on fear and suspicion, perpetuating the cycle of hate
  • I fear most of all for the lives yet to be lost before our political leaders finally ignore the NRA and similar “unconditional gun rights” lobbyists and pass effective gun control, eliminating or strongly limiting the right to possess AR-style weapons by individuals

The last may not be a popular stand, and surely won’t be among many of my neighbors here in Alabama.  But how many of the mass shootings over this past few years have been done by crazies who have gotten hold of assault-style rifles one way or another?  There’s no need for an individual who’s a competent shot to have such a gun; it’s surely not needed for hunting, unless you’re lazy and want to “field-dress” your deer into hamburger on the spot.  And if it’s suggested that we need this right to “protect our liberties from the government,” well, I’d worry more about the individuals with the private ARs than the government….  (The Michigan Militia, and similar “militia organizations,” have worried me for years.)

I don’t argue here with the right to keep and bear arms — I do argue against an unconditional right.  The need for that is gone; we no longer live in a country that’s mostly frontier, facing potential threats coming from the forest.  We need to recast the argument in the proper context, and get these things off the street, before more innocents are killed.  I recognize the “radicalizing Islamist” aspect of Sunday’s crime as well, but this was not a crime committed on order.  The shootings were committed by a single man who had been deluded by a pack of hyperzealous fools, and does not represent the beliefs and principles of all Muslims.  I have known many Muslims in my life, especially in my university days; serve many at my workplace; and we all know of at least one prominent Muslim among our many Second Life bloggers, who is just as concerned for those whose lives are lost — and, if I may, who I suspect is filled with worry and grief for her coreligionists who are innocent of any crime.

This article will remain at the top of the blog, and the blog’s background will go to black, for one week in memory of those killed in Pulse.  I ask you to join me in prayer to your faith for those dead, for the survivors, for the relatives, and for the government to find sanity and deal properly with the scourge that threatens innocent lives every day.

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The above is a personal opinion by Harper Ganesvoort, and is added to this blog with the endorsement of her co-authors.

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Fighting Through Koinup Difficulties

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I used to prefer Koinup, the European site devoted to photos from virtual worlds, as recently as a year or so ago.  Frankly, I always seemed to get more attention from people on Koinup than I did on Flickr, and I was acquainted with Pier, its Italian founder.  At one point, though, the owners chose to sell Koinup to another group — possibly, based on information from the site, because running it was clashing with more paying jobs — and the new owners have chosen an apparent policy of malign neglect.  Site difficulties take several days to fix with no information on what’s going on, which is insanely frustrating.

Just as importantly, the group section has become filled with spammers listing groups that have no function other than taking up space, the owners won’t delete any of them despite repeated complaints from several accounts, and it’s been impossible for months to use the group search function to sift through all these bogus groups — it returns a “site error” every time.  I’ve developed a “workaround” of sorts, though — a far from satisfactory one, but it will at least hop you past a lot of chaff for now.

Click on this link.  At the moment, this should jump you past most of the junk in the general group listing, page by page.  For the moment, it drops you around page 75 of the listings, but I won’t be surprised if that changes over time (at least if spammers are still adding “groups”).  If so, start upping the page number by 5 or 10 each time until you hit a point where you’re getting legitimate groups again.  You’ll need to go through by hand from there on to find anything interesting, but it’s better to take off from a mostly good point than to have to go through dozens of pages of the southbound output of a northbound ovine.

Please, if you’re a member of Koinup, please feel free to reblog this article, and spread the word.  If I knew how to contact Koinup’s current owners, I’d encourage you to drop a link in a letter on them, and maybe we can get some actual work done on the site, and bring back another venue for sharing our SL photos — as well as photos from all the other virtual worlds.

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Recalling Jonathan Myrick Daniels

me at courthouse

I’m standing (or, more accurately, hovering) in front of the Lowndes County Courthouse in Hayneville, Alabama.  Hayneville is like many of the towns in the Black Belt of Alabama (so called because it’s one of the few regions in the state where the soil is black earth instead of red clay):  small, sleepy, economically challenged if not outright dying.  Once a year, though, visitors descend on Hayneville — not for a festival in the sense most people think, but to remember a life of dedication to service and faith, to courage, and to the beginning (pray God) of an end.  Yearly, around August 14, the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama holds a pilgrimage dedicated to the life and death of a man not from their region, but who shook up the region in ways nobody could foresee at the time.

Daniels as a VMI cadet.

Daniels as a VMI cadet.

Jonathan Myrick Daniels was a New Hampshire man, the son of a doctor.  Born in 1939, he applied himself well enough to enter Virginia Military Institute, from which he graduated in 1961 as the class valedictorian.  He was awarded a valuable scholarship, and entered Harvard University to major in English.

Jonathan Daniels at seminary

Plans can change, though.  Daniels had been brought up a Congregationalist, but questioned his faith while at VMI.  However, in 1962, while attending an Easter service in Boston, he felt a renewed calling, and chose to change career paths.  He enrolled in the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge in 1963.

Daniels in Alabama

Things changed again in 1965.  As many of us may recall who were alive then, 1965 was a turbulent time, to put it mildly.  American involvement in the Vietnam war was increasing; more importantly to this story, the civil rights movement was meeting with huge resistance from the southern states it was at work in.  Hearing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call for more white clergy to get involved in the black voter-registration work going on, Daniels, now a seminarian, looked deep into himself, doubted his feelings for a time, but ultimately answered the call when he felt sure that God was asking him to help.  He set off for Selma in the summer, and the work he entered into ultimately led him to the town of Ft. Deposit.

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The building which housed the store in front of which Daniels was killed. The owner of the building had it torn down, along with the apron where Daniels died, in 2014.

Daniels was arrested on August 14, along with other protesters involved in picketing “whites-only” stores in Fort Deposit.  They were transported to Hayneville and held in the jail there; some were released early, but several others, including Daniels, refused to go unless all were given the opportunity to make bail.  After being held in an steamy jail for six days, the group was finally released without explanation on August 20; none of them had paid or been offered bail.  No transportation was supplied for them to return to Fort Deposit; while one of the group went to telephone to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for a ride back, Daniels, Father Richard Morrisroe (a Catholic priest) and two African American students walked to a store which was willing to sell to blacks, to get some cold drinks.  Outside of the store, Thomas Coleman, a former deputy sheriff, barred the way with a shotgun, and aimed it at Ruby Sales, one of the students.  Daniels reacted on instinct and pushed Sales out of the line of fire; in doing so, he took the shot himself, and died on the store’s concrete apron.  Father Morrisroe, attempting to escape with student Joyce Bailey, took a second shot, but survived his wounds and is alive today.  Coleman was charged with manslaughter, but claimed self-defense, saying that he had been threatened with a knife and a gun.  He was acquitted by an all-white jury, which the Attorney General of Alabama (!) deplored as “[an example of the] democratic process going down the drain of irrationality, bigotry and improper law enforcement.”

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Daniels Pilgrimage

It took the death of a courageous man to break through some mindsets, but it was effective.  Much of the Episcopal Church began re-evaluating positions following the murder, which was characterized by Martin Luther King as “one of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry….”  Daniels was eventually proclaimed a martyr of the church, and his name added to the calendar of Lesser Feasts.  August 14 is the day set aside for remembrance of him, and an annual pilgrimage of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama walks the courthouse square of Hayneville each year on or near that date to commemorate him and remember his death, as well as others who died in Alabama working for civil rights.

O God of justice and compassion, who put down the proud and the mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and afflicted: We give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and  violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one: who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Heartbleed Concerns

It’s sad to do my 1,001st article on a thing that shouldn’t be happening in a rational society, where everyone obeys the law.  Unfortunately, the Real World isn’t that rational.  If you aren’t sick about reading about the Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL, keep going here, because this brief piece on Around the Grid concerns you.  If you are sick of reading about it, keep reading anyway; you probably have at least one account affected by the crisis.

Mashable has run a recent article on Heartbleed, and it identifies a number of sites that were running the flawed version of OpenSSL, which could render your passwords and personal data vulnerable.  This is really vital reading to everyone!!!  Most of us have a Facebook account; many of us use some service offered by Yahoo or Google, run a Tumblr blog, or do a mess of pinning on Pinterest.  And other services may be affected as well.  The Mashable article has a substantial list of businesses and whether or not they admit they were running a site with the bug.  Every one that you have an account on which is marked with a green check mark, get yourself there soon and change your password.  And make it a good one as well; there are references available to teach you how to construct memorable, reasonably safe passwords — longish phrases with a mix of cases, numbers and punctuation are excellent in my experience.  Record your new passwords in several different places that you can access easily to update them when needed — and then change them on a periodic basis, whether there’s a security crisis or not going on.  It’s just safer that way.  (I keep two separate password vaults:  one on my desktop and one on my phone.  Both are password locked themselves, and are mostly mirrors of each other.)

As for Second Life, it didn’t make the Mashable list, but I don’t know if anyone has checked with Linden Lab.  I’m taking no chances, and changing my password again with them in a few minutes as part of my overall upgrade to my security.  I’d encourage you to do the same, just as a reasoned precaution; I think the account servers can handle the strain.  I also have accounts on Flickr, Google and Tumblr, and I’ve changed the passwords there as well.  Other services I’m doing just as a precaution; I’ll probably throw in my financial accounts within 24 hours, just to really be on the safe side, although every bank claims to be safe.

Call it raving paranoia, if you wish.  I call it constructive paranoia at the worst, and sound precaution at the least.  Change your passwords!

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