I love viggo mortensen

  • May. 24th, 2006 at 7:21 PM
cali: (viggo is good at photography)
So my longtime hero Viggo Mortensen was honored this week by his alma mater St. Lawrence University with a Doctor of Arts, honoris causa degree. He also spoke at the graduation and in true Viggo fashion, was well spoken, noble, and amazing (not that I'm, you know, biased of anything)

His speech:

Thank you for including me in the distinguished company of this year's other honorary degree recipients, Barb Tewksbury, Dick Gilbert and Frank Piskor. It is a particular privilege to address my soon-to-be fellow St. Lawrence graduates and their families. Congratulations to you all. A special salute goes to those of you who, like me, came from North Country high schools.

My parents are also here today, and I'd like to offer them an overdue public apology. Twenty-six years ago, I ended up being the lone graduating senior not wearing the cap and gown, much to my mother's dismay. To make a long and not very exciting story reasonably short: My motive for doing this was because, like some of my classmates, I was concerned about what we felt were unfair labor practices by the manufacturer of our caps and gowns. Consequently, several among us decided to make a silent show of protest by wearing white armbands in lieu of our caps and gowns. I'm sure that others understandably chose not to go through with this symbolic gesture because they wished to avoid the risk of offending or disrespecting their families and this university. Our president and today's posthumous honoree, the late Dr. Frank Piskor, as well as our commencement speaker, the late Senator (Daniel Patrick) Moynihan of New York, seemed only mildly puzzled by my brief, inexplicably unrobed appearance onstage. I'm sure the senator had no idea why I removed my white armband and handed it to him as I collected my diploma. Probably he thought it was some kind of fraternity prank.

the rest )


cali: (transmet: bad president)
So there was a good discussion in [livejournal.com profile] ethrosdemon's journal earlier today about Immigration laws in the US and I thought maybe I'd collect all of my various comments into one post over here because the topic interests me and the portrayal of the subject in the media has once again completely failed to discuss the reality of the situation.

What you've been seeing on tv: people ranting about illegal immigrant stealing jobs from the american worker and making our economy worse in an already depressed job market.
Lets be honest about this. Illegal immigrants aren't stealing jobs from the american worker. They're taking the shit jobs that no white person would ever deign to do because they're 'an american' and they deserve better than working in a field all day for $2.00/hour. And all of the work they're doing illegally? Is allowing you to go to the store and buy those discounted goods. Illegal workers working sub-minimum wage jobs enable middle class workers to live above their income level. We're all benefitting from illegal immigration.

And anyway. Mexican workers in the US sent $20 billion dollars back to Mexico last year. Holy shit! They can't possibly have sent back 100% of the money they've made. They've had to spend a lot of it too, just to live here. They're not devastating the national economy, they're fueling it. And this is fantastic for US politicians. They can say anything they want about illegal immigrants but they won't be able to stop it from happening because no one really expects them to, you know, solve the "problem" and the legal latino population in the US isn't nearly politically engaged enough to dent the average politician's voter block.

Another thing you've been hearing on tv: we have to punish them because they're breaking the law. It's ILLEGAL and we can't continue to allow it.
The reality? The real truth is that illegal immigrants are more desirable to the US economy than legal immigrants. First because undocumented workers will work for considerably less money than legal workers thus driving down the cost of good in the super market and allowing companies to widen their profit margins. And also because it's cheaper to be able to deny social services to illegal immigrants than it would be to pay for them with legal workers. Also, it should be noted that illegal workers in the US pay over $7 billion dollars into social security every year with no hope of ever getting social security benefits.

The fact that it's illegal has nothing to do with the debate. The fact that it's economically and politically convenient to have undocumented workers providing a dirt-cheap workforce has everything to do with it.

Another question a lot of people are asking is why all these workers don't just apply for visas and follow the legal channels. So, let's talk about that.
Immigrating to the US isn't just a matter of background checks and filling out forms at all. US Immigration law is incredibly convoluted and nearly impossible to navigate unless you have the money to hire a lawyer to do it for you. And unless you have money already, it's practically guaranteed that your application will be denied. After all, if it were an easily accessible resource don't you think more people would opt to come here legally?

After the Immigration Act of 1990, the US expanded it's immigration numbers to allow 700,000 new immigrants in each year. As part of that law, there is a diversity lottery for 50,000 visas meant to benefit people trying to immigrate from countries with low rates of immigration to the US. People coming from Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam are all ineligible for the diversity lottery.

So. Say you're from Mexico and you want to come to the US legally. You can't just go and fill out a bunch of forms and wait. You have to meet certain criteria to even be eligible to fill out the paperwork. Eligibility information according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services and from wikipedia. If you can't get through all of the legalese and limitations (and hell, who could blame you, it's meant to be confusing) here are some highlights:

If you have a close family member who is a US citizen you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency. If you want a work visa however, there are yet more qualifications. You have to have an employer vouch for you in a legal document attesting to the fact that they plan on employing you. You must also be able to prove that you have specialized skills or a college degree. If you don't meet that requirement, you can also, if you have enough money and can prove it, come to the US as an investor looking to start your own business. But what if you aren't educated or skilled or vouched for like most people trying to come to the US for a better oppportunity at life? Well, you're basically fucked.

The last step of the green card process, applying for permanent residency, is where the FBI background checks come in. To apply for permanent residency, you'll first have had to go through the process of applying to temporary worker status. And your application can be turned down for a number of reasons including:

1. The underlying immigrant petition is denied or withdrawn.
2. The applicant is found to have entered or resided in the United States illegally (although this is waived for one who originally entered with a valid visa and is an immediate relative of the US citizen-petitioner.)
3. The applicant is judged as undesirable on the grounds of prior criminal convictions, affiliation with unsuitable political parties or organizations (e.g. former members of the Communist Party), poor character or debilitating health problems, as well as other grounds.

And all this for only 700,000 people/year.

I understand the qualms people have with opening the borders completely to anyone who wants to come to the US (although I don't, necessarily, agree with them.) But the United States has been selling foreigners the American Dream for years now and we're not putting out. US immigration policy is fundamentally broken on a lot of levels. People aren't immigrating here illegally because they want to, they're doing it because there are no other options and the channels for legal immigration have been purposefully blocked to them.

Lastly, immigration laws are incredibly racist and always have been.
The system is set up to weed out anyone who doesn't already have money or connections in the US. Immigration laws exist to exclude undesirable people. It's the entire basis for their creation and always has been, regardless of the more recent jingoistic rhetoric about "protection" and "safety". The history of immigration laws alone should be enough for people to get that, but I'm thinking maybe my high school history class went into the background of the various blatantly racist immigration laws a little more than most.

for reference )


cali: (hee!)
...I read things like this: [ from here ]

cops suing other cops. for civil rights violations. after being threatened with arrest while protesting )

Seriously. I love the world. This is the funniest news in ever. Oh man. The irony of it all! The outrage! I just. If I tried I couldn't make up something this awesome. I nearly fell out of my seat laughing when I first heard about this.
cali: (Jack = hot (jr_moon))
= So the season finale of SGA... )

= Bush's State of the Union address didn't fail to piss me off again this year. The man clearly doesn't live in the same world as the rest of the country what with the healthcare's doing great! the economy's doing great! american workers can't be stopped! let's promote science and math education without making education any more affordable! abstinence only education is working great! bullshit. Also? The smirking really, really annoys me. The upside to all of this was that Stephen Colbert and John Stewart got to mock the shit out of Bush in funny and inventive ways. John Stewart is my hero. He really, really is.

= Also? Stargate (the movie) was an answer on Jeopardy tonight and I swear to god I'm getting better are that game every time I watch. It's really quite gratifying.

= My class on Reality and the New Physics seems like it's going to be a pretty awesome class. We're reading a bunch of interesting sounding books and my Professor for it is an ex-research physicist out of Stanford's Linear Accelerator Center. The vote is still out on my Mexican-US Politics class. I'm afraid I don't know much of anything about Mexican history and I don't speak a word of Spanish so I'm worried I'll be out of my depth for that class. I'm still on track to graduate in May though so that's pretty damned exciting *g*

eyes 1x10, politics

  • Nov. 4th, 2005 at 1:46 PM
cali: (Default)
Here's episode 10 of Eyes, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] adelate for pointing out a working torrent for it :D
[ Eyes - 1x10 - Investigator ] -- avi, 351mb
I'm going to go vote early for California's special election. People in my home county put a measure on the ballot in favor of banning GMOs. You can read a little bit more of my thoughts on Genetically Modified Organisms here if you want to. I'll definitely be voting for that and against props 73-76, 78, and 80.

The only one I really care strongly about is 73 which is the mandate to force teenage girls to tell their parents before getting abortions. I have, luckily, never been pregnant. If the opposite were true I would, without question, get an abortion. I don't like children much. I know I would make a horrible, impatient mother. I cannot imagine disrupting my life with a pregnancy. I would also never, ever tell my parents. My family doesn't talk about feelings or personal matters. Ever. I get along with my parents on a very adult level. If I were to have gotten pregnant in high school I would have rather gotten a back-alley abortion than tell my parents. Because I am that stubborn and I would have been that desperate. I have no doubt that if this measure passes there will be thousands of girls like me desperate to not tell their parents, forced into choosing dangerous operations in unregulated unsafe conditions.

I have a violent, violent hatred for anyone who thinks that banning abortions or scaring people about pre-marital sex or banning condoms will stop people from having sex. It won't. What is will do is kill people, especially women. Apparently the conservative right is okay with that though, they are, after all, in favor of banning a vaccine that will actually prevent cervical cancer because it might encourage girls to have sex. I do not think it is possible for me to hate these people any more than I do. These policies are shortsighted, sexist, and there is absolutely no moral high ground to stand on when you're claiming to protect the sanctity of human life by enforcing policies that kill people. But maybe that doesn't matter because the people most likely to die from policies like this are sinners anyway, right?

huh. I hadn't really planned to say any of that. well, there you go.
cali: (Default)
The Sparkplug Foundation, an awesome grant-giving organization has put together a good list of where to donate to organizations who are:

* Organizing at the grassroots level in New Orleans, Biloxi, Houston and other affected areas
* Providing immediate disaster relief to poor people and people of color
* Directed by, or accountable to, poor people and people of color
* Fostering the democratic inclusion of poor people and people of color in the rebuilding process

This is a great letter about why it's important to support local, grassroots relief efforts.

Also, a message from Keith McHenry, a co-founder of the first Food Not Bombs group back in the early 1980s.


  • Sep. 4th, 2005 at 11:01 AM
cali: (Default)
There's something I've been wanting to talk about for a little while that's even more apparent in light of the hurricane: homelessness. As some of you may know, I've been a volunteer with Food Not Bombs for over 4 years. There are over 175 autonomous Food Not Bombs groups around the world. Each Food Not Bombs group serves free food both to hungry people, and in support of political organizing efforts. Food Not Bombs is, at it's roots, an idea. Each Food Not Bombs group is it's own autonomous organization and anyone, anywhere can start their own group. The group I've been with for the past 4 years cooks and serves food every sunday at 5pm in a downtown park. We've never missed a serving no matter what holiday it is or not. In fact, I've been looking at a calendar and it looks like we'll be cooking on Christmas this year. And we've done this with a core group of about 5 people. My experiences with FNB have given me a lot of perspective on the world and on homelessness.

I think there's a certain amount of shame that goes on when you pass a homeless person on the street panhandling for change. You know that your six quarters aren't going to do anything about getting that person a house or a job so instead you avert your eyes and maybe, if you're a little bit brave, you mumble something about not having any change. Hey! I do that too sometimes! I also think that in a country with over 40 million people on the brink of starvation and possible homelessness, a lot of us recognize that if given the right wrong circumstances we could just as easily be that person begging for money. I think that idea comes into even greater relief when things like this hurricane happen. One natural disaster and boom half a million people homeless, even more without jobs, and some without any resources to get back on their feet. These are people who have no access to running water, no food, and no clothes but the ones on their backs. And these are the survivors.

Yet we at home have survivors as well. We have our own refugees, right here in our communities. They are forced to seek refuge in their cars, under bridges, along rivers and creek beds, and in overcrowded, temporary shelters. Each morning, they must awake to the prospect of another day of neglect and poverty. These are our own refugees. Our own homeless.

A report released earlier this year by my county's Task Force on Homelessness stated that we have at least 2232 homeless persons, comprising 436 families, and at least 464 children under age 18. Yet the report also professes that these numbers are likely much higher. This, in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. I can only imagine that these numbers are not terribly different to reports from most places around the country.

Unfortunately, our refugees are not that dissimilar from those in Louisiana. By and large they are those who, because of their backgrounds, education, and housing status, have been relegated to second class citizenship. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina we have seen dozens of reports of upper and middle class families having the resources to escape to safety, while the poor were left to fend for themselves. Similarly, the homeless have very much been left on their own, with inadequate services, and a government seemingly more interested in criminalizing them than assisting them.

In the aftermath of this hurricane when so many people are banding together to help and so generously opening their pocketbooks, I'd like to urge you all to remember the people in your hometowns, the ones with no place to live and no food and no clothes who most likely will not have the benefit of falling back on insurance claims and the aid money going to the Gulf region.

I know it's easier to feel sorry for the people whose lives have been affected by the storm, and I know a lot of people like to "blame" homeless people for their circumstances but I'm telling you from my personal experiences that the people I've met on the streets don't want to be there. They're hard working and desperate and they've all had really hard lives. A lot of them have mental health issues and even more of them are Unites States Military Veterans. It is absolutely unconscionable that in a country this rich we still have so many people who are so poor.

I fucking love Kanye West

  • Sep. 3rd, 2005 at 5:05 PM
cali: (bush is an idiot (altera))
So Kanye West appeared on NBC's Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert and went completely off the teleprompter into what was clearly an emotional and impromptu message about the devastatingly slow efforts of the government to get help to New Orleans. I fucking love him. I mean, I liked Kanye before but watching this, watching someone be so brave in standing up and calling this what it is was incredibly powerful. Also, I'd like to note that NBC edited out the last portion of his comments when they aired the show on the west coast. The fuckers. Also of note, some anchors at FOX News think he should have been censored completely. Seriously, go watch. He totally made me cry. (video from the good folks at crooksandliars)
[ Kanye West on NBC ] -- avi, 7.8mb
And now something I'm going to call Reporters Straying from Their Scripts: (videos originally from crooksandliars)

Anderson Cooper, from CNN's Anderson Cooper 360º has been reporting from New Orleans the last few days. In a pretty stunning display of humanism, a lot of the reporters in New Orleans have been getting a lot more personal and a lot more willing to talk about the failures of the government during this crisis. Anderson Cooper interviews Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and asks her directly, “Does the federal government bear responsibility for what is happening now? Should they apologize for what is happening now?”
[ Anderson Cooper - Sen. Landrieu ] -- wmv, 2.91mb
Anderson Cooper interviewing Trent Lott is even better.
[ Anderson Cooper - Trent Lott ] -- wmv, 7.11mb
CNN's Paula Zahn interviewing FEMA's Director, Mike Brown on Thursday. Paula Zahn: Sir, you're not telling me, you're not telling me you just learned that the folks at the convention center didn't have food and water until today did you? You had no idea they were completely cut off?

FEMA's Brown: Paula, the federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today.
[ Paula Zahn - Mike Brown ] -- wmv, 2.61
Lastly, Ted Koppel interviewing Mike Brown. And dude, Ted Koppel just refuses to let Brown duck the hard questions.
[ Ted Koppel - Mike Brown ] -- mov, 9.07mb
I've gotta say, it's weird to see the mainstream media news anchors straying from the status quo like this. Really disorienting.

There's a very interesting article on this over at Slate that you guys should read.

eta: feel free to link to this post if you want to.

in the news

  • Aug. 31st, 2005 at 5:01 PM
cali: (Default)
I'm downloading Prison Break right now, I can upload it when it's done if anyone's interested. Let me know. In the meantime interesting articles you should all read:

THE HURRICANE that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming. )

In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war. )

I saw footage from NO on tv for the first time a little earlier today. CNN was on in the polisci lounge at school. My heart seriously goes out to everyone affected by this disaster. I keep thinking that I need to stock up on flashlights and water because SF is due for an earthquake any day now.
cali: (dictionary/thesaurus OTP4eva!)
I'm pissed off about the Grokster decision. The Siva Vaidhyanathan of Salon.com has a great analysis of the significance of the Court's decision:Google, like Grokster, is primarily a search engine. )

And I'm pissed about ridiculous drama that's going on in the real life as well. Some of you are new to my journal, but a lot of you have probably seen me talk about the radical (as in politics) infoshop (read: non-profit, indie media bookstore/community center) that I've been a part of for building for the last 3-4 years. We've managed to open a space and keep it going, and we've done it as a consensus based collective in a surprisingly short time period. I don't think it's really possible to fully explain what it's like to be a part of this group. It's been challenging both personally and politically, and it's been frustrating (if you've ever been a part of a mixed ideology political project you might have some idea what it's been like to try to get shit done without getting burnt-out on the interpersonal bullshit) But over all, accomplishing this has been the most rewarding experience of my life. And it had better be since I'm pretty much married to the damn thing (president of the board, lots of paperwork in my name, thinking about getting the logo tattooed.)

About a month ago I proposed hosting an event in the space. I was interested in putting together an all girl art show and I asked if anyone was interested in helping. A couple other people said they were down, so we started putting it together. After the initial stage of organization two other girls said they wanted to help out, one was going to put together some music, another the flier. All of the artists we asked said yes. So the only thing left for us was to pick a title. And that's when shit got ugly. I wrote something that I'm planning on turning into a mini-zine for the show about it and I'm just going to cut and paste since it pretty much explains shit and because I think debates about feminism are sorely lacking these days:

We probably spent the better part of a couple hours trying to come up with a name for this art show. Most of it involved sitting around with blank looks on our faces. So when one of the artists suggested ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’ we went with it. Art show names are often a little cheesy, and when the only unifying theme for a show is the fact that all the artists identify as female, it’s kind of hard to pick a name that could possibly encompass the wide variety and individuality of all of the talented, inspirational people included in the show.

When a couple of the women involved on the organizing side of the show objected to the title, we spent the better worst part of a week trying to reach some sort of agreement. (How’s that for getting shit done?)

I don’t think anyone has ever questioned my dedication to feminist ideals before. As a girl who is into a lot of typically “boy” activities (bike riding, computers, hip hop, punk rock) I’ve spent a lot of time relishing the act of challenging stereotypes. As one of the only girls I know doing Community Health Outreach work (passing out condoms and doing HIV/STD education and prevention) I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people about sex and watching people’s reactions to being asked if they want free condoms. (I promise this is all getting back to the title of the art show, really.)

I enjoy sex. I enjoy helping other people have safe sex. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with promiscuity. But if that’s not your thing, I think that’s okay too. What I don’t enjoy is the shame so many women are taught to feel about sex. Women are rampantly sexualized by the media and advertising industries. Our bodies are used to sell everything from razor blades to new cars. We’re told to look a certain way, act a certain way, think a certain way, and for god’s sakes DON’T QUESTION ANYTHING. Full stop. At the same time we’re being taught that sex sells, we’re being told that a girl who enjoys sex is a slut or a whore. Wearing too much make-up, a short skirt, and high heels is an invitation for sex. Being opinionated makes you a bitch. Just shut up and suck my fucking dick, okay? (Just don’t enjoy it.)

Society has shamed us into thinking a lot of things about sex. I suspect that every girl who has sex has, at some point, felt guilty afterwards. And while I don’t think that feminism is only about sexual equality, I think it’s important that as feminists, we question society’s stance on women and sex. It’s fucked up that the word “girl” repeated 3 times automatically equals sex and strippers for so many people. It’s fucked up that women are degraded and dismissed so easily by so many people. But if women keep doing it to each other, and if we stop challenging stereotypes, I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere.

For me, the point of a title like “Girls! Girls! Girls!” for an art show featuring women is about that. It’s about taking something that will make someone think one thing, and forcing them to look at it a different way. In the end there is no fucking way we’d ever have found a title that fully encompassed every artist’s life experience. And that’s the point. Art is about expression and communication. So let’s start listening to all of the awesome work around us. And then let’s organize the next thing.