Everything is Going To Be Alright

Everything is going to be alright
I'm going to be alright

I'll live a life and it will be beautiful
every second of it
and someday, maybe soon, maybe long from now
someday I'll die
and it will be beautiful
because from death, comes life
and I will love that death like I love this life
because they're the same thing

I'm going to be alright
We're going to be alright

I love you
I love you so much
We are beautiful

How could I have not seen this?

Wyatt is My Dog

I love Wyatt, my dog. He is not "my dog" in the sense that he is my property, even if most people, society, the government or whatever institution assumes he is. I care for him. It's that simple.

I think about this a lot because one time in summer camp a counselor had a dog with him and I innocently asked if the dog was "his dog." He said: "Oh I get this all the time; no he is not my property, I just care for him."

I felt judged and hurt. I remembered that moment well because I thought about and still think about it to this day. One thing I realized about the language of "my dog" is that it's the same as "my partner" or "my husband," but in these instances no one, whether asking or stating, assumes that property is implied. So why must it mean that in the case of dogs or other pets?

Well surely society in general does think this, government thinks this, many institutions assume this, and they use the same language to mean property, but as shown with people, it doesn't have to mean that.

So for me, I don't think I own my dog. As I said, I care for him. When people ask me if he is my dog I remind myself of all of these ideas and say, yes, he's my dog, knowing what it means to me and knowing that whoever asks is innocent no matter what they mean.

Fun with bugs, racism, genetics, and psychology

What a great way to round out the night. I had planned on going out dancing tonight but instead opted not to make the trek to Chapel Hill so I could research an article I'm working on. I made some progress on that and then got tired so I went and tried to DJ a little before bed but ran into a bug. Unfortunately this wasn't the type of bug I could let Mr. Wyatt try to bite out of the air, no this was a software bug, for I am a brave enough soul to try and DJ with a computer. Not just any computer though, I am so brave that I run my computer with constantly changing and updating open source software. From one day to the next, I never run the same code, because that would be boring, because nothing is more exciting than getting ready to mix and play music than searching through log files and bug reports at 11:30pm on a Friday night trying to figure out why your sound is dying, ah yes, the life of open source. So after finding the relevant bug report [1] and adding my own experience and log files I came back to Facebook to see what other exciting events my friends had to report..

Apparently all my friends are too busy living exciting lives in open source too because no one was posting boring stuff about dancing, or DJing, or any sort of tom-follery or shenanigans. They too must have been busy searching their logs or bug reports for the cause of the latest change in behavior affecting major functionality of their computers. We do have it made.

However, I did find my close Facebook friend "The Greater Good Science Center" posting a Discover article entitled "Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes."[2] Now this is something I can get behind. Nothing like a little genetics mixed with psychology at 12am to get the blood pumping again. Who needs open source anyway?

It reminded me of the thread that came out of one of my many posts about why I think George Zimmerman acted out of racism (Implicit Bias): In one of the threads someone posted a story about two young African American boys who shot a baby. That person was comparing it to the Trayvon Martin tragedy and saying "Where is the outrage?" My response was that this was not similar to the Trayvon Martin tragedy at all because this (based on the article) looked like two people who had run out of resources and were using violence to get what they needed. Someone asked me if I was condoning what they did. No, I was describing their motive to show how different it was compared to George Zimmerman's. "What the hell does this have to do with that article he referenced earlier?" You might be thinking that.. I don't know, I can't remember, just kidding. I'm getting there.

Oh, yeah so I was arguing that these kids, like all people that resort to violence are acting out of fear due to feeling unloved, that in our case has been enacted out by systemically disenfranchising certain people. We remove love, remove resources and then people get scared because they have nothing and they do what people do when they get scared, they get violent. So the response from a few people was that, "no, some people are born bad, some people are just bad." My response was that while I don't doubt there are people that may have bad behavior from birth through death that that behavior could be transferred from an unloved mother through to her child and here in this article is essentially scientific proof of the possibility of that.

I only read the first page and a quarter of the three page article because like I said, I was tired an hour ago and just wanted to DJ a little before bed, but one sweet software bug later and a little Facebook perusing and here we are having way more fun with racism, genetics and psychology. Anyway the article seemed to say that something (methyl?) which affects the way DNA gets built can be transferred through to children (where it then affects the way the child's DNA is built) and this thing can be affected by not only diet and other physical things but also by traumatic experiences. Essentially if a mother is traumatized that pain can be transferred through to her children.

Back to the facebook thread, I argued that we are all connected, and every day science gets a little bit closer to realizing what mystics and spiritual cultures have known for centuries. I argued something that science probably can't validate now, and said that even "random bad people" (where maybe their mother was healty) are just indications of the unlovingness with which we treat ourselves. If we believe some people are just born bad and we look around and we see people acting violently we will see it as simple as that. Unfortunately the more we ignore the problem of systemic disenfranchisement and just general unlovingness the more we create a situation where people act out their fears through violence, so the more violence we see the more strong our belief in "born bad people" becomes. What a great perspective to have of ourselves.. Anyway right about now is the time where I conclude with something inspirational and goading towards a more meaningful life so here you go:

We are all connected and you can either accept it now and open up to the beautiful and empowering possibilities of what that entails or you can wait until science makes you comfortable enough to open up to it, either way we're all going to have to open up to love and our connectedness eventually for it's the only way out of all our problems.

1) Red Hat Bugzilla # 975158
2) http://discovermagazine.com/2013/may/13-grandmas-experiences-leave-epige...

Validating

Today I went to my first men's group where I heard two men describe separate but similar stories of ambivalence towards making the right choice. In one man's story I recognized a theme of feeling bad for his consideration of the wrong choices. In another man's story I heard his own knowingness of the right choice. Technically these stories started out as requests for advice, but to me, and this I told them, to me, the actual dialog felt more like a mirroring back of what they already knew: that they were not bad, but good and capable and worthy of making the right choices.

In my own request for advice I was overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas I wanted help with. I told them as much and eventually a central "problem" was understood. I was told that this problem was common to most men and not at all unique. In my complaining about the problem and explanation of all of the work I had done related to it, I expressed doubt as to the fairness or value of said work. Afterwards one man said I should be "honored" for the work I had done. This was incredibly validating.

In the same way that the other men's queries for help turned to requests for mirroring of their worthiness based in their ability to make the right and obvious choice my complaint of the unfairness of the work I had done turned into a request for mirroring of the worthiness of myself for what I had already done. Afterwards we all hugged and I felt a subtle but noticeable sense of warmth and goodness in my chest on down through to my stomach.

I drove home. Along the way I picked up an oreo milk shake at Cookout as a reward for myself. After arriving I sat down with my Dog Wyatt, sharing my attention between him and the milk shake, but never sharing it with him. Eventually I ate it hole and fell asleep watching Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Through the first half for which I was awake and the conclusion for which I woke up just in time to hear, I understood a theme. The cleverness to connect it to the theme of this story evades me but upon awakening I can report that while the warm feeling in my chest was gone there was still a feeling in my stomach although it was not the same at all as the feeling before.

I was wrong to believe in assumption

My last blog post started out answering a question I received on facebook "Can a white American never be suspicious of a black American?" Some of the content of this post came out of a separate conversation with a friend where I conveyed this idea:

"It is impossible to know whether or not someone was thinking racist thoughts either consciously or subconsciously but I still think that unless we know George Zimmerman was aware of and acted against issues like implicit bias we should assume he was biased. In my opinion it's our refusal to admit our implicit bias (due to our shame) that perpetuates racism.

I further went on to say:

"We all know that racism is strongly alive in America. No one denies that. POC live it though, white people don't. So when POC assume that white people are likely to be racist, or are acting in racist ways (like George Zimmerman), it's not shameful, it's accurate and it's a perspective they have to have in order to protect themselves from the racism that white people don't want to talk about."

You may have noticed I said "it's not shameful." If it seemed out of place or without context, it's because it was. I said it because after conveying the first idea with my friend I was described as shameful because my assumptions were similar to prejudiced assumptions. This has since given me a lot of emotional stress. It hurt me because there was truth in it.

Without reasonable indication that someone was affected by implicit bias in their actions, it is wrong to assume an individual was affected by bias. I still think the points I was making were getting at something important, however the point may have been more fairly made as "POC have to use *caution* with white people because of the relatively high chances that bias could negatively affect their interactions." But, again, it is not okay to look at a problematic situation and assume bias played a role without reasonable indication. That doesn't preclude us from putting in place polices or procedures where bias is statistically relevant, like in police stops.

That said, we don't have to assume George Zimmerman was affected by implicit bias in his assessment of Trayvon Martin. It's clear because he had no indication that Trayvon was engaged in any illegal activities at all, especially not anything like what he was looking for: Burglars. However, he still chose to follow him, even though the 911 operator said they didn't need him "to do that." He characterized Trayvon Martin as a "Fucking Punk" even though he didn't know him and finally Zimmerman's stated reasons for suspicion of Trayvon were behaviors that people partake in every day: like "looking around," "walking in the rain at night" and "not walking along the sidewalk." To me that is indication of implicit bias, bias caused by and rooted in racism. So when you ask me if I think George Zimmerman acted out of racism, I will say yes.

One last thought on shame. Shame is the word I used to start this conversation that I've been engaged in for days. I originally said and I still say that people do not deserve shame over racism, or for any reason. One of the other radical paradigms [1] I am a proponent of is the paradigm that we are all wounded people. We are all capable of immense love yet with this capacity for love comes incredible vulnerability, as individuals and as a society. It is due to this vulnerability that we so easily become wounded, again as a society and as individuals. In our woundedness we believe we are not worthy, that we are bad and are unloving. Shame is the component of this that says we are bad. If we cannot believe that we are actually good, loving and worthy we will perpetuate the behavior that, to us, prove we should be shameful. So that is why I say no one should be ashamed.

The reason I talked about the individual and the society above is to preemptively prepare for arguments that some people are "born evil." While most people are wounded in their first years due to unlove by their parents I think that some people could be wounded while still in the womb through a wounded mother. Other individuals have issues we assume are inherent to the individual: "insanity," "craziness," and "evilness" these, to me, are expressions of the woundedness of society that we don't acknowledge.

1) (because understanding America through a lens colored by Racism is apparently radical to many people)

Can a white American never be suspicious of a black American?

"Can a white American never be suspicious of a black American?"

A white American can be suspicious of a black American but it should be with an awareness of the biases that color our interpretation of POC (people of color):

The differences that the dominant culture observes in anyone that doesn't fully fit in are seen as "not normal, primitive, uneducated," or some other descriptor that ultimately means "bad." This is a process called "othering." This is why it's bad to wear a hoodie.

Everyone, including POC and people that advocate against prejudice act in prejudiced ways subconsciously. This is called implicit bias [1] and it's echoed in our actions.

POC are constantly and unjustly profiled, harrassed and sometimes murdered by police. [2]

Without this awareness any behavior that the dominant culture is unfamiliar with can potentially be justification for "suspicion."

Even behavior that the dominant culture partakes in like "looking around," "walking in the rain at night" and "not walking along the sidewalk" can become suspicious.

Martin's behavior before Zimmerman saw him is irrelevant as to whether he deserved suspicion. It's also irrelevant that Zimmerman didn't know or recognize him. If Zimmerman was able to "think" Trayvon was Black he was capable of unconsciously acting out prejudice.

It is impossible to know whether or not someone was thinking racist thoughts either consciously or subconsciously but I still think that unless we know George Zimmerman was aware of and acted against issues like implicit bias we should assume he was biased. In my opinion it's our refusal to admit our implicit bias (due to our shame) that perpetuates racism.

You may have a problem with this idea that some characterize as "Guilty until proven innocent." Here is my response to that:

We all know that racism is strongly alive in America. No one denies that. POC live it though, white people don't. So when POC assume that white people are likely to be racist, or are acting in racist ways (like George Zimmerman), it's not shameful, it's accurate and it's a perspective they have to have in order to protect themselves from the racism that white people don't want to talk about.

When white people have a national conversation on the problems of a normative culture's judging and othering of other cultures and when white people have a conversation on implicit bias and all of its manifestations and when white people in majority can admit that they have implicit bias, maybe then it will start to become safe for POC to stop assuming that white people act in racist ways. Until then myself and POC will assume that when people act in racist ways, it's due to racism.

1) http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/07/racist-without-even-knowing-it.html
2) http://mxgm.org/report-on-the-extrajudicial-killings-of-120-black-people/

edit: I have a problem with my assumption that POC all have the same perspective as I do. That is a mistake and I will correct it.

Shame and Racism

Below I'm linking to an article that predicted George Zimmerman's acquittal due to colorbindedness ("the belief that it is possible to not notice a particular individual is not white"). It questions whether we can judge if a violent situation was just or not while simultaneously ignoring how a history of racism affected that violent situation.

It's a great article and it references and links to another great article by Dr. Stephany “Stiletto” Rose which should be read along with this article. I have some hesitation to post this because like anything that questions the behavior of those that hold power it causes a lot of defensiveness which usually is incredibly arduous to argue against. It's not arduous to argue because the evidence, history or logic is weak, in fact it's irrefutable, it's arduous because the defensiveness that is encountered is strongly emotional, yet the discussion normally never addresses the strong emotions that cause the defensiveness in the first place.

So, if you don't already agree that racism affected almost every aspect of how George Zimmerman was treated after he killed Trayvon Martin I want you to ask yourself how this article about color blindedness makes you feel? If you comment on my post here I would love if you could share how it makes you feel. You're welcome to comment on logic and evidence too, but don't miss the point. Even if you are uncomfortable talking about how you feel here, think about it with yourself or talk to someone you feel more comfortable with. As an aside, if you can identify the emotion, don't just think about it but feel it, for if you allow yourself to really feel it you can become comfortable with it enough to release it. Whatever you do with your emotions, do not ignore them.

I have a suggestion on one emotion you could think about. Shame. It's something I learned about from Brené Brown who has two excellent Ted Talks on vulnerability and shame. In the shame Ted Talk she specifically talks about how important shame is in the discussion of racism. Think about that for moment. Our nation was literally built on the backs of racism. It was integral to our economy. Racism was still overtly written into our laws only 40 or 50 years ago. Everyone agrees racism is despicable but how can we think we are colorblind so quickly? How can we come to terms with our past behavior, not to mention how it benefits us today? Brené Brown's research says that shame is the result of not being able to disassociate negative behavior from ourselves. If you can acknowledge behavior is bad but not representative of you it's easier to apologize and let go and correct. But if you associate it with yourself you can't apologize or correct because to do so would hurt the self so greatly, you just can't.

In the shame Ted Talk Brené Brown only briefly mentions the connection between shame and our racist history. I haven't read Brené Brown's books or looked for any further discussion on this connection but it's absolutely clear to me that when discussing racism in America we should be centering our discussion not on logic, or evidence or just on history, but on the shame that we feel from our past actions. Only then can we truly become the post-racial-society we imagine ourselves to be.

Here is the article on colorbindedness.

That article links to the article by Dr. Stilleto but here it is to be sure you read it:
http://thedrstiletto.com/2013/07/05/what-americans-wont-understand-even-...

How can we encourage more women to participate in hackerspaces?

Jeff Crews, current President of Splat Space from this article:
http://www.infoworld.com/d/application-development/why-you-should-care-a...

Q. How can we encourage more women to participate in hackerspaces?

A. Stop being a**holes. It's that simple, but I'll expand on it. The ownership of breasts, ovaries, and/or uterus is irrelevant to the ability to think logically, plan a project, present ideas clearly, use mathematics, code, solder, fabricate, or do anything else that might be going on in a hackerspace. (It becomes relevant only if and when a female member decides to do some bio-gyno-hacking on herself so that she can bear a genetically engineered baby-superweapon. That isn't an issue yet.) It is as irrelevant to hacking as is the social construct of "race" or someone's genetic makeup/ethnic background.

Women, like everyone else, want a welcoming and comfortable environment. An African-American potential member would probably look askance at a hackerspace that flew the Confederate battle flag. Likewise, a weekly rape joke competition would create what is known as a "hostile environment" for potential female members.

It's a delicate issue, especially since hackerspaces are often home to people who espouse various libertarian/Objectivist/anarchist/radical honesty philosophies, who see this as an assault on free speech. What those people don't realize is that those philosophies and the willingness to employ them usually come from a position of enormous privilege and safety that not everyone shares. Curbing one's tongue to make others feel more comfortable isn't censorship, it's courtesy. It's also good business for any organization.

Epson 4490 Scanner in linux

According to http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1432944&page=2 and the FAQ at http://download.ebz.epson.net/faq/linux/faq_ls_00002.html you need to install two packages to get it working in Linux:

iscan-data
iscan

but it didn't work for me until I also installed

iscan-plugin-gt-x750

Hope this helps someone.

search for 4490 at this page to get the download links:

http://download.ebz.epson.net/dsc/search/01/search/searchModule

Dropping Committed Relationship Status In Conversation

Have you ever been talking to someone and noticed they dropped the fact that they were in a relationship into the conversation, even though it didn't seem relevant? To hear someone do it it can be annoying if you think their opinion of themselves is so high that they need to warn you that they aren't available, because of course you should be attracted to them. Well, here's one reason they might do it that could make you feel a bit better about yourself and more empathetic towards them:

They could be attracted to you and feel uncomfortable with their attraction towards you. Their unnecessary mention of their monogamous relationship might be a warning to people they're attracted to: "Don't tempt me, I can't control myself." This would ultimately be a sign of insecurity in their ability to be monogamous.

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