What is Net Neutrality and why should I care

Today I’m at the OpenWest conference, but today is also a day that — if you noticed the pop up that appeared when you loaded this site — websites and organizations all over the world (including my employer, Human Made) are taking a stand in support of Net Neutrality. There’s a battle being waged but a lot of people don’t really understand the weapons being used by either side or why it should affect them.

I was contacted by someone at VPN Mentor about an infographic they produced that explains what’s happening right now. Full disclosure: I know nothing about VPN Mentor — I use a VPN service called Private Internet Access and have been for several years and am very happy with them. However, I think this infographic is good at explaining what’s going on. Feel free to share if you so desire.

And if you are a WordPress owner and want to support this (and future) campaigns defending internet freedoms, check out and install my Cat Signal plugin.

Ryan Gosling’s snickers are another victory for rape culture

Mashable thought this was pretty funny:

This seems like a pretty typical reading of an alien encounter and a live sketch where Ryan Gosling couldn’t keep it together. Hilarious, right?

Except there’s one thing that is particularly disturbing.

Hey Girl, I'll totally watch while some extra-terrestrials fondle your breasts

Why are we just okay with the narrative here? Taken at face value, we have three individuals who have been kidnapped, one of whom describes in fairly graphic detail waking up half-naked, being observed on by multiple onlookers who are — according to the narrative — taking pleasure in peeping and watching her urinate, and who, later, get in line to take turns fondling her breasts. And this is so hum-drum that the flat retelling of the story in a comedy sketch becomes chuckle-worthy of the actors on stage.

What the actual fuck?

The alien abduction and sex trope may have started with Whitley Streiber’s Communion — a supposedly true account of a man being taken in an alien space ship where they performed experiments on and explored his body — including sexually. When the book came out, it was pretty universally seen as a) a joke and b) a pretty entertaining piece of fiction. In the book, the sexual experiences are not told with any degree of regret or disapproval (in fact, the narrator becomes fairly attached to the aliens who are doing this to him), but never was there any degree of consent. The aliens never said to him (telepathically or otherwise), “hey, is it okay if I make you orgasm for science?” And among the backlash about the book, not once do I recall it ever opening a conversation about male rape or Stockholm syndrome (where the victim falls in love with or empathize with their captors).

And this trope about being abducted with aliens has been so widespread that now it’s just assumed that when anyone talks about being abducted by aliens, it’s obviously for sexual experimentation. So much so that we have the backstory for the SNL sketch above.

Consent is consent. Sexual activity without consent is rape. Whether you were sort of okay with it at the start or you didn’t actually hate it afterwards, if you did not expressly voice consent, it is rape. And this joke isn’t funny. The fact that we think it’s funny is just evidence of how ingrained rape culture is and how messed up our views on sexual consent and ownership of our own bodies are.

Mashable posting this as a ha-ha funny sketch is also troublesome. Not that Mashable is a beacon of light in the darkness of sexist media, particularly, but, in general, they try. Recently, they celebrated a feminist on Tinder who actively trolls the most sexist suitors. They don’t see why this scene is more evidence of rape culture, either.

Surely I’m not the only one, right?

In the SNL sketch, after the abductors were finished, they abandoned the victim on the roof of a Long John Silver’s, still without her pants (and presumably, based on the story, her underwear), which they dropped in a tree several feet away. Again, take this out of the context of the scene for a minute. A woman is abducted, undressed, forced to urinate while others watch, has multiple captors touching her body, and when they are done, they abandon her, half-naked, where she will need to expose herself to others in order to cover her body and go home. There’s no one she can talk to — obviously going to the police in this case would be ineffectual, they are aliens after all — and she can’t even really explain where she’s been or how she got there.

I’m just wondering where the joke is in all this.

Jenny and Jai

Last weekend, we found out that two friends of ours — mothers of our kids’ classmates — were involved in a domestic dispute that left the two of them in the hospital in critical condition from multiple gunshot wounds. Full news reports here and here.

What happened was horrid and devastating and both women not only had families but were teachers and educators; Jai was the librarian at the Open Classroom school and I worked closely with her to develop the Book Review Library plugin for the Open Classroom library. I can’t begin to imagine the repercussions of this experience, physical, emotional and financial. There are a pair of YouCaring pages up for both of them and it would be amazing if you were able to find it in your heart to help these fantastic women and their families out as they work on healing.

Keep your damn guns. Just stop using them to shoot people.

I’ll make a confession. I’m pretty anti-gun. I watched G.I. Joe and other violent TV shows as a kid and I’ve spent hours playing violent first person shooters, but I’ve never been in the military and guns in real life terrify me. I can honestly say that I have never touched a gun, never wanted to, and will hopefully never have to be within 50 feet of one. And it shocks and appalls me how resistant we are as a country to controlling the ownership of weapons. We only have to look across the ocean to see other countries that don’t allow the possession of firearms and see the decrease in violent crimes.

My personal opinion of guns aligns with the Eddie Izzard bit on “the gun thing” — “‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’…But I think the gun helps…”

I also know that because guns are part of the foundation upon which this country was built, we will never, ever be a country that does not allow the possession of firearms. Ever. And I accept that.

None of that matters, though. Because I’m through fighting the gun thing.

You can have your fucking guns. Just stop killing people.

The right to own and carry firearms does not give you the right to walk into a fucking place of worship and start executing people. There’s no justification that can be made for something like that. And this problem isn’t going away. If the NRA thinks the solution to this is more people carrying firearms, fine. Have your damn guns. Just. Stop. Killing. People. I don’t care what it takes.

There is a culture of violence and hatred in this country, and it’s not against people who are foreign — although we sure as hell have that, too — it’s against ourselves. It’s the exclusivist culture that allows some idiots in Utah County to think that having a Caucasian Heritage Night for a minor league baseball team is a pretty freaking swell idea.

So fine, NRA and gun toting assholes. I give up. You win. Take your guns. Wear them to church. Walk through the malls and down streets with me while carrying. Keep me safe from lunatics trying to kill me because obviously it’s only those lunatics over there that actually kill people, not you. Never you. If you think that will make this country safer, have at it. Whatever. Just stop using those guns to kill other human beings.

This is not a thing that is happening to them over there. This is happening to us. Right here. And the sooner we realize that someone who looks different than you, who is maybe a different color or a different shape or loves a different kind of person or has different hair or eyes or came from a different background than you is part of us, is just like you, the sooner we can maybe start to treat this disease that is creating “lunatics” and “outsiders” who “seem like a nice kid” but are really planning on hunting down and killing women, or walking into a school or a church and opening fire. These people, they are us, too. And we need to accept that the way you accept that you have a terminal disease. Oh shit, that’s bad. And then you deal with it. Talking about it, making these assholes out to be something other than us is saying “this problem…it’s not really a problem. That’s a one-time case.” If only that were true. Killing and hurting people who are different? That’s a fucking cultural tradition in America. That’s not a new concept. That’s been done countless times in every state in this country. Accept it. Treat the disease. This isn’t an isolated incident. It’s the product of our cultural upbringing.

I’ll end with Jon Stewart’s reaction to the Charleston Church shooting on The Daily Show.

“Vindicated” after 21 years

This has nothing to do with music, coding or geekery whatsoever, but I wanted to share it anyway.

Since very early on when I quit my “real job” and started doing freelance web development, I’ve been working with a New York lawyer named Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma. Early on, it was my job to focus on building and maintaining a branch of his site that targeted a very specific demographic — one that made me a little uncomfortable. But he seemed like a cool, smart guy who knew enough about technology (he was published in Wired, after all) to understand the stuff I had to say and respected my advice when I gave it.

Photo-of-Antonio-Yarbough-croppedThe last several years he’s been working on a case that involved two teenagers who were wrongfully accused of a triple homicide involving one of the kids’ mother and sister. I got all the updates to the case since I got to make changes to the site. And it was a direction that I was particularly excited to promote — who wouldn’t want to free someone wrongfully accused of murdering their own family?

This week, after 21 years of imprisonment, thanks to my friend/hotshot New York lawyer, Zach, Tony Yarbough was finally freed. And the story is just incredible.