social justice/civics/politics /legal

All things social.

Mo’olelo

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”  - Mahatma Gandhi

 

Our stories certainly describe the world in which we have traveled, in which we have lived and by which we have been shaped. Our stories inform us the ways in which we have been conditioned, and perhaps describe the ways in which we have transcended those conditions. These conditions and conditionings describe the outlines, are the contours and edges of our identities, both allowing us the scaffolding on which to construct meaningful lives, and also confining us to the parameters of that scaffolding. As we find the pathways of our lives' interwoven with one another, we enrich and enliven that contextual scaffolding, and so sharing stories has always been a meaningful and significant act to me. Being intentional in this endeavor, building new structures and scaffolding that I know are destined to be transcended, I hope to add to the context of the world, some richness to its texture, and not just blindly live out the momentum of my experience, merely coming and going with the wind.

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A community resource

Here's a social work and human services oriented website that I developed as a part of an internship. It never reached full realization, but there are some really usefull resources there, especially if you happen to live in the SE Michigan, Washtenaw County area. Aside from the local resources there are resume building and job interview skill tips as well.

Please make use of... (what started of as...)

My.AvalonHousing 

at semi.resource.joshpanter.com

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Lawrence Lessig on Copyright v1.0 and v1.1

Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law Professor, former CEO and "founding father" of Creative Commons and former Eff board member stoped by the Colbert Show to talk about his new book on copyright, Remix:Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. A quote from the interview regarding the current copyright climate (the past 10 years or so) in the US:

"Artists have gotten no more money, businesses have not gotten more profit, and our kids have been turned into criminals."

 

Watch the video...

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Equality

A paradox of reason. We know, intuitively, that some people are simply better equipped to perform certain tasks in reality. Stephen Hawking has a mental capacity that certainly makes him better at solving physics problems, while someone like Micheal Jordan's physique has certainly given him a natural head start in the world of sports. If Jordan would have been born with a weak heart, for example, he would not be equally as good as his peers at sports. If Hawking would have been born with, say, an impacted frontal lobe, his advanced thinking process would have been negatively affected at birth. This does not even begin to get in to being born into money or abject poverty.

So what is this "All people created equal" really trying get at, then?

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Labels

People feel they need to categorize things to understand them, to poses them, to not be controlled by them; and to, in turn, be in control themselves. People feel they want to be categorized so that they might belong to something, to fit into a category is to not be alone. Categorization, the act of labeling is a mechanism of limitation, and it becomes a requirement, an obsessive requirement when you look at the differences between things before you look at the likenesses shared among them. If we were to teach ourselves, and in turn one another, that it is right to look at the commonalities we share with people before we distinctualize the differences, we would see a core bond of livingness, of feelingness, of what we refer to as the inherently HUMAN part of our nature as the initial defining characteristic of anyone we meet. We label to combat the perception of isolation.

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The wage gap..."gender" equality not just about women...I'm not talking LGBT

There is one obvious area where the equal pay concept stretches out beyond the male/female paradigm, and that is, of course, the LGBT world. But that conversation, to me, is as easy as saying: wouldn't it be great if we lived in a society where people all got treated fairly regardless of their minority status?

This is about something a bit more interesting, in my opinion, than the complaint that there are people in the world who are biased, bigoted asses. I found a handful of articles on a recent study about sexist attitudes and the wage gap, these articles explain that it is not just women, but also men that support equal pay and women in the work force, that receive less pay than men that lead households that support the so-called traditional gender roles in regards to out-of-the-home work.

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A Brief Note On Family...

My mom could not biologically have children, something wrong with her insides. My older brother and I were adopted. The family I was raised in as a boy, a chosen/created family, was so ideal, so full of love and warmth and care, so connected and dedicated that I never really questioned my belonging. But I knew friends who's families were anything but warm, anything but actively, outwardly loving. Those were biological families. I met my biological mother, it was surreal, and I would love to write a book about it, about the strange feeling of magnetic connection, a blood awareness...which was and is not love, and how that contrasts with what a family requires to BE a family.

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The Most Important Factor...(Free Culture and the Body of Politics Pt.2)

So, remembering my previous post about the need to inform a democratic people before they vote I went to YouTube to resurrect a piece I found about why we need to teach civics to the masses. This falls in line with the notion that if you want your Democracy to exist AT ALL, there is an absolute necessity to make certain that the people are well educated, well informed, and an active part of the system.

The thing about this clip I appreciate the most is how it points out at the very beginning that dissent is required in any Democracy. That dissent can be nurtured and actually taught to people. Proper dissent that provokes new ideas and fresh perspectives within a properly functioning democracy. In light of this concept, one can reach the conclusion that those who would silence dissent within a democracy, are actually not in favor of that democracy. Now, ask yourself, who, in American politics has shown intolerance against dissent of any sort at any time in the past? Please keep that in mind at all times.

Anyway, the video...

 

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Free Culture and The Body of Politics - Micheal Moore's "Slacker Uprising"

26 Days to go until election day here in the US, and I thought I should admit a cynical fear. To express this fear, it is necessary to remember that in the year 2000, Al Gore was told that, even though he had more votes than the other guy, that he still lost the election. ??? When this happened I really began to wonder just what was going on in America. At the time nobody really saw any difference between the candidates, and not too much was done to correct the voter fraud and questions surrounding the election. 8 years later and there is no doubt that the entire world would be a different place if (Nobel Prize winner) Al Gore would have been in the Oval Office instead of (can barely speak a sentence-stomp out the evil-doers) George "Dubbya" Bush.

The fear is that we may see a smiler event take place in less than a month. I believe that America wants a real change from the last 8 years of insanity and failure, I believe that only one of the two candidates is capable of making that change and that the other is just a cronie of the current administration. No one in this election year can say that there is little difference between the two candidates, and no one in America can ever again say that an election doesn't really matter. I am not trying to sway opinions here on which candidate is better, but I am saying that, never again, should we be lulled into inaction and complacency. Never again should we, as a nation, allow ourselves to be swayed by misinformation, patronizing politicians, or dirty politics. We cannot afford to be fooled by dirty tricks, slander or lies. Now, I am not trying to say that any one of the current candidates is engaged in this stuff, but I am saying that we need to make sure our votes get counted. That is what this process is all about.

Thomas Jefferson said that he had great faith in the people to lead and govern themselves. To vote for their future. AS LONG AS they were INFORMED CITIZENS. We cannot direct ourselves, cannot govern ourselves, cannot make a wise decision if we are not well informed, if we are mislead by mischaracterizations, lies, slander, spin media, or any of the like. Biased media is fine, as long as it admits it is biased, but this is another issue entirely. The point here is that we need to be well informed to make intelligent choices. Another way to say this is that stupid people should not be allowed to vote. Now the problem is that we cannot take away anyone's right to vote, so the only thing left to do to make sure that no stupid people are voting is to EDUCATE AND INFORM THEM. Lead a horse to water...hope it drinks.
The question here is, how do we inform everyone, if the media required to facilitate that education is not FREE?

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PSPP - Open Source Statistics (Moving Towards an Open Educational Experience)

Anybody out there who has ever had to analyze any statistical data in any serious way or take a class on stats has been introduced to the mighty SPSS , or Statistical Package for the Social Sciences in long form. This is software which was designed for, is standardized by, and expected for your use by the scientific community at large for statistical data analysis. It is required for use at many universities at both the undergraduate (poor college kid) level and the graduate (even poorer college young adult) level, and is not cheap in any way.

There is, however, a slightly crippled down version of the software offered to students, which is quite a bit cheaper than it's "full" version counterpart, and can typically be found for about $80 or $90. This can be a serious crunch to the hungry students budget, at least it is for mine. So I looked, and I found the wonderful PSPP, a very functional free and open source alternative for SPSS. It is good to see that the good people over at the Free Software Foundation understand that scientific knowledge should be free and open, and that educational tools should be as well. (Knowledge cannot be licensed out, nor can it be owned...ever.)

I have to pay for school, and then the wildly overpriced books (that the authors make very little on, despite the high price), and then again a piece of closed source software (the actual opposite to the ideal of the sharing of knowledge) as well. The educational experience needs to be based on the basic principal that knowledge is beyond ownership, that it is the right and requirement of every individual in a functioning society to have free and open access to the accumulated wisdom of the human race, and that any restriction of that based off of social or economic standing is simply saying that the poor of wallet are not worthy of this knowledge, that only the opulent or affluent are worthy or capable of doing anything worthwhile with this knowledge (to humanities benefit) in any way. This is not the case, we know this on an intuitive level, yet we cling to forced payment for knowledge, culture, paying for and restricting the use of basic scientific tools, and the tools used to manage knowledge and information. This seems backwards to me in the most fundamental way.

So, we have the organizations like the Free Software Foundation promoting and creating free and open software, like PSPP, and the good folks over at Creative Commons fighting for, developing and promoting the use of a sane copyright culture, and the good people at FreeCulture.org - Students For For Free Culture and on and on. Please pay attention to, and support these movements, they are the flagships of sanity in an insane copyright and knowledge-restriction based culture.

Now...back to PSPP...Briefly, it works very well, handling SPSS's native .sav files, and it does all you need to do for your familiar SPSS data analysis. It can be installed in Linux (I am currently running it on my Ubuntu machines, even on the tiny EeePc), on MacOS, and on Windows (from what I gather, anyway). One limitation I have found, it doesn't seem to put out the nice graphs that the latest SPSS version does, but it spits out all of the information you need quite nicely none the less. It also requires a little bit more to get installed, so...if you are running Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron, and would like a nice SPSS replacement WITH A GRAPHICAL INTERFACE, then read on. If you want command line only, just install through apt or synaptic.

EDIT: PSPP with front end has been included in the Ubuntu Software Center since 12.04, and is currently on version 0.7.9 (under Ubuntu 14.04), whereas the GNU repository is currently showing version 0.8.5 as the latest.

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I went to see Obama!!

A little late to blog about it, but... I went to my very very first political rally! I feel so adult now. My wife, Mary, and I went to Toledo before the primary to be a part of a crowd of 10,000 to hear Obama give a speech. It was a record-breaking crowd, and the energy was akin to some crazy rock show or sporting event. I just want to put here, that Obama is one heck of a speaker: he sais exactly what I want to hear, he puts hope back in me that I can believe in and participate (in a way that makes a difference) in America, and makes me all warm and fuzzy.

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To blog or not to blog...

It's been all quiet on my blog for quite some time, so I thought I should make a post. I should blame school for this, but the fact of the matter is that I am just not so certain as to what direction to take this blog. I know I have the whole "technical progress" thing, which is fun, but doesn't fill what I am hungry for.

I do have my family, and ultra-personal things I could publish here, which I could do for hours, but I think I rather keep some things from the public arena. I also feel like I betray privacy when I get out to blog about my family. I suppose I am feeling out what I am comfortable publishing here on that level. I also feel there is only egotism involved in blogging about myself, and believe you me, my ego is pretty big as it is.
Socio-Political? This is easy. Almost toooooo easy. Seriously, who wants another rant-blog/opinion piece collection? I have some very strong opinions and ideas there, some bordering on the anarcho-communist, and some not quite so extreme. But I want to put out GOOD ideas, not just Angry ideas, and it seems that most political blogs are either angry or bereft with tunnel-vision. That is certainly not what I want to appear as. I think I might open up some forum space for that. I know there is ONE reader interested in that sort of EXCHANGE.

And here we have it, EXCHANGE. The platform I am using for this site is based off of communal exchange, community building, not just blogging or serving up the occasional media file. Exchange. This is what Drupal is good for. And I don't mean the blase` social networking sites like facebook or myspace. While they have their place, it seems that while they benefit from and, in a very nominal way enhance social bonds, they seem to me to be not much more than predatory spaces doing little more than exploiting existing social relationships and providing space for egocentrical expression without providing a means to, or encouraging the exchange of socially relevant content.

Let me explain that: social networking sites capitalize on pre-existing relationships and affiliations to build a user base. In essence they do nothing more than attempt to take the place of the "face" of the relationship, to become the channel in which the relationship is expressed without actually providing any new content. You see, it does nothing new and nothing more than attempt to exploit people's ego and egotism. While this is fine for them, and I am sure has its place...somewhere... What I would like to see, and would love to be a part of is something entirely different. Some thing which does not simply take advantage of existing networks, but promotes the formation of NEW networks based on the EXCHANGE of socially relevant, substance based CONTENT.

Another way to view these two differing ideas is to look at them as recipies which create similar dishes. In one, you start with pre-existing social networks, and you add an avenue of egocentric expression, and you get an online community. The other you start by promoting substance based content, provide an avenue of relating the content to other pieces of content, and you get a totally new community. Drupal is a brilliant platform for this. Community building based off of content, and the exchange of relevant content. Substance, not ego.

I think that is why it has been so quiet around here this month. I am looking to build a substance based site, with a focus on community and the exchange of relevant content. So I have been really muling over the direction I want. Really trying to keep things from being "all about me", and trying to brew up a good direction that still leaves the site open-ended enough to take on new avenues of thought and expression.

I want ideas to live and grow here, not just ego.

I could now go into a piece about how I think that the contrast between substance and ego is the very thing that is spurring degradation of our culture, our politics and our lives in general...but I will not. I will, perhaps, work on that as an opinion piece, and give it its own little place to live. I will leave it at that for now.

So, it seems as if the content here, is the concept of content itself. H'm. Content based content. Stop. In the end all things degrade down into nothingness. So, in the spirit of the totally confusing nature of thing/nothingness, I now have a blog/site which is content based in its intent, but has absolutely no direction for that content. In other words, it is a site for substantial ideas, not egos...but it is about nothing in particular and is totally fine with a purely egocentric expression, just so long as the egotism comes after the substance in the content, and doesn't try to create substance in order to validate the ego into content. Well, it makes sense to me...

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Brighter Light

Well, a few posts back there I had the pure pleasure of blogging about not being able to return to school next semester due to some clerical issue blah blah blah. Well, I am happy to say that I found a way around this little blunder, and what I took to be cause for major alarm turned out to be nothing but the equivalent of...say, a very minor alarm? Yes, a very minor alarm indeed. One simple form filled out and all wounds were instantly healed. Looks like I'll be back in there in a few weeks, but only 6 credit hours, time to make some money! Do read on...

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