RIP "Rosie the Riveter" model Geraldine Doyle

Posted on: Thu, 12/30/2010 - 15:43 By: Tom Swiss

Geraldine Doyle was the model for the "We Can Do It!" WWII poster that became a feminist icon. She died Sunday, aged 86.

A photo of Doyle taken by a UPI photographer was used as a model (just for the face, not the muscular arm) by Westinghouse graphic artist J. Howard Miller when he created the poster, which was originally aimed at deterring strikes and absenteeism. Doyle herself didn't know about the poster until the 1980s, when it became a icon of the women's movement.

The character in the image is often called "Rosie the Riveter", a name that comes from stems from a 1942 song. The song was inspired by Rosalind P. Walter, and Rose Will Monroe became the best-known "Rosie" after she was featured in a wartime promotional film. But the image modeled on Doyle -- though never originally associaited with the Rosie name -- perhaps proved to have more staying power, after it was re-discovered in the 1970s or 80s.

According to Doyle's daughter, Doyle was quick to correct people who thought she was the original Rosie the Riveter: "She would say that she was the 'We Can Do It!" girl...She never wanted to take anything away from the other Rosies."

Amazon must be destroyed

Posted on: Thu, 12/30/2010 - 11:26 By: Tom Swiss

Amazon -- the company, not the river -- has been on my shit list since they became patent-abusing bastards. But their recent actions have moved them up the list.

Most troubling is the sudden removal of WikiLeaks's content from Amazon Web Services. There was much speculation that the U.S. government put pressure on Amazon to make this happen -- but just a few weeks later, Amazon was bragging that the federal government is one of its biggest customers. This suggests that the pressure involved was good ol' money: piss of one of AWS's big customers, and Amazon will pull the plug on you.

But wait -- there's more. Rather like the rat bastards at Apple, Amazon's censorship of WikiLeaks goes along with a pattern of censorship of sexually explicit material.

It's not as if they don't know what they're doing. When people objected to a book with the (disgusting, to be sure) title Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure showing up the Kindle store, Amazon said, "Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions." That's a wonderful statement -- but Amazon then caved in and removed the book.

Amazon is now removing erotic incest fantasy fiction and works that portray homosexual rape -- and not just removing such stories from further sales, but deleting stories from purchaser's Kindles. Amazon was famously sued over such remote deletion last year, and supposedly set a policy which limited its use.

Amazon now says that the recent retroactive deletion was due to a "technical issue". Ha.

Woz on net neutrality

Posted on: Fri, 12/24/2010 - 00:21 By: Tom Swiss

As you may have gathered from my last post about them, I am not a fan of Steve Jobs and Apple; they've been on my shit list since the infamous look and feel lawsuits of the late 80s and early 90s. But I am a fan of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. "Woz", as many know him, is pretty much the anti-Jobs: he was the engineering genius behind Apple's early success, back in the pre-Mac days when functionality and openness were Apple's virtues. He was the sole developer of the hardware, circuit board designs, and operating system for the Apple I, and did the vast majority of the design and development for the Apple II. Many technophiles have contrasted the openness and elegance of Woz's work with the closed, walled-garden, and pretty but technologically deficient designs pushed by Jobs.

Before Apple, Woz founded a Dial-a-Joke line; after Apple, he spent almost a decade teaching computer science, without pay, for public schools in Los Gatos. When Apple went public, Woz shared his stock options with employees he though had been unfairly left out. Wired columnist Leander Kahney calls Woz "a man who has lived his life according to deeply geeky and humanistic principles," which seems to me like a correct description and a high complement.

So when Woz talks about something with both technological and humanistic implications, like network neutrality, the wise pay heed:

The early Internet was so accidental, it also was free and open in this sense. The Internet has become as important as anything man has ever created. But those freedoms are being chipped away. Please, I beg you, open your senses to the will of the people to keep the Internet as free as possible. Local ISP's should provide connection to the Internet but then it should be treated as though you own those wires and can choose what to do with them when and how you want to, as long as you don't destruct them. I don't want to feel that whichever content supplier had the best government connections or paid the most money determined what I can watch and for how much. This is the monopolistic approach and not representative of a truly free market in the case of today's Internet.

Imagine that when we started Apple we set things up so that we could charge purchasers of our computers by the number of bits they use. The personal computer revolution would have been delayed a decade or more. If I had to pay for each bit I used on my 6502 microprocessor, I would not have been able to build my own computers anyway.

an open letter concerning Maryland's proposed changes to massage therapy continuing education regulations Tom Swiss Wed, 12/22/2010 - 13:50

To regs@dhmh.state.md.us:

Dear Ms. Phinney:

It has been brought to my attention that that Board of Chiropractic and Massage Therapy Examiners is considering changes to Maryland's massage therapy regulations. As a Licensed Massage Therapist I find the elements of the proposal dealing with continuing education to be deeply disturbing.

The most troubling change is that which requires the State Board of Chiropractic and Massage Therapy Examiners to pre-approve all continuing education courses. Under this plan, the board will no longer accept courses that are approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) -- even though NCBTMB certification is the dominant credential used for licensing in the first place. (Certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is also recognized for licensure, and as an Asian Bodywork Therapist I believe that is very important.)

This will reduce the quality of continuing education available to LMTs in Maryland. I have received much of my continuing education at the national conventions of the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA), traveling as far as California to receive instruction from the best teachers available. AOBTA is an NCBTMB certified provider, but if each individual state were to require approval of continuing education courses, such national providers would find it difficult or impossible to continue.

The proposal states that it "has no economic impact" and "has minimal or no economic impact on small businesses." This is a stunningly inaccurate statement. Many, if not most, massage therapists work for small businesses or are sole proprietors themselves, and continuing education makes up a significant outlay. And this proposal would heavily impact continuing education providers both in Maryland and across the nation.

This proposal is not in the best interests of the public, and I strongly urge DHMH to reject it. Thank you.

Very truly yours,

Tom Swiss

Apple pulls WikiLeaks app

Posted on: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 15:18 By: Tom Swiss

If you needed more proof that Apple is a bunch of evil censoring bastards, here it is: Apple has pulled a "WikiLeaks" app from its App store. The $1.99 app, created by Igor Barinov to make the WikiLeaks data more browsable and accessible, was yanked without explanation. The app had no data in it that isn't already public.

This comes on top of Steve Jobs telling us he wants to give us "freedom from porn", and Apple banning apps with political cartoons by a Pulitzer-winning cartoonist, a gay travel guide to New York, and graphic novels based on James Joyce's Ulysses and on The Importance of Being Earnest. Public outcry has made them pull back on some of those decisions, but it does not make the fact that they were made in the first place less outrageous.

"Think Different"? No. More and more, Apple shows that it wants people who use its hardware to think the same.

And if you have a problem with that, Apple might just put you down the memory hole, as when they delete from their message boards discussion threads that are critical of their shiny but underfunctional geegaws.

Of course, censorship never does take very well. (Let's be clear: this is censorship. Apologists for corporatism like to say that only the government can engage in censorship, but that's not what the word means; when a business says "this is objectionable" rather than "people won't buy this", that's censorship.) The iPad has a built-in web browser, and though it doesn't support Flash -- the format of most video on the web today -- adult website "YouPorn" is already offering a selection of its videos in HTML5, which does work on the iPad.

So you can still view pr0n on the iPad -- just like you can still view WikiLeaks information. That does not change the fact that Apple's attempt to moralize is more appropriate for a church than for a technology company; and given that Apple is getting its fingers more and more around our information channels, it's much more disturbing.

If you support free expression, support free software. So long as you don't have the choice of what to install on your computer, your freedom is limited. We're headed more and more toward the world RMS envisioned in his short story The Right To Read.

repeal the 1917 Espionage Act

Posted on: Sun, 12/12/2010 - 16:26 By: Tom Swiss

You may know about Eugene Debs, the socialist presidential candidate in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. You might know how he was arrested in 1918 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for making an anti-war speech. (His 1920 presidential campaign was run from his prison cell.) You might even have heard the famous statement he made at his sentencing hearing: "Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."

Every thoughtful American recognizes that Debs' imprisonment was a low mark in our nation's history, a radically unconstitutional act. But did you know that the law under which Debs was sentenced not only passed muster with the Supreme Court, but that many of its provisions remain on the books today -- and that many politicians are calling for it to be applied to journalist Julian Assange, his WikiLeaks website, and even the New York Times?

Go Senator Sanders!

Posted on: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 17:59 By: Tom Swiss

For years now, the "filibuster" has been a mere procedural threat. No Senator has actually held the floor for an extended time to speak against a bill, they've just threatened to do so. But Senator Bernie Sanders is kickin' it old school; right now (5:52 pm EST) he's been on the floor since 10:24 a.m., (with a little relief from his friends) speaking out against the Obama tax "compromise" with the G.O.P. that would screw the middle class and the working poor in order to benefit the richest Americans.

See the video live here.

See also a recent speech by Senator Sanders on the same topic here.

why I prefer to pay with cash

Posted on: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 15:51 By: Tom Swiss

Wired reports on documents obtained by security researcher Christopher Soghoian under a FOIA request, which show how federal law enforcement agencies have been tracking Americans -- in real time -- via credit cards, retail "loyalty program" cards, and rental car agencies.

More detail is at Soghoian's blog. He notes:

The document also reveals that DOJ's preferred method of obtaining this information is via an administrative subpoena. The only role that courts play in this process is in issuing non-disclosure orders to the banks, preventing them from telling their customers that the government has spied on their financial transactions. No Fourth Amendment analysis is conducted by judges when issuing such non-disclosure orders.

While Congress has required that the courts compile and publish detailed statistical reports on the degree to which law enforcement agencies engage in wiretapping, we currently have no idea how often law enforcement agencies engage in real-time surveillance of financial transactions.

TSA sexual assault

Posted on: Fri, 11/19/2010 - 11:08 By: Tom Swiss

The difference between sexual assault and other forms of intimate contact is informed consent. If someone has intimate contact with you, in a situation where you did not -- explictly or implictly -- consent to it, it's sexual assault.

When I go to my doctor and she snaps that latex glove and tells me to cough, that's intimate contact; I don't like it but I know what's coming and, by coming to the appointment and not objecting, I'm giving my consent. When I do massage or acupressure on the gluteal region for a client (which I sometimes do for sciatica that might arise from impingement by the piriformis muscle), I inform them what I'm going to do and give them a chance to give or withhold consent.

But when a performer in the TSA's security theater, without warning, explanation, or option, grabs a woman's genitals and breasts, that is sexual assault. Read Erin's story and weep.

GOP health care hypocrisy part XVII: Andy Harris Tom Swiss Tue, 11/16/2010 - 13:03

Andy Harris is an incoming GOP Representative from Maryland's Eastern Shore. He defeated Democrat Frank Kratovil in part by campaigning against the health care reform act (even though Kratovil had twice voted against it), telling voters that "the answer to the ever-rising cost of insurance is not the expansion of government-run or government-mandated insurance but, instead, common-sense market based solutions that ensure decisions are made by patients and their doctors."

As a member of Congress, of course, Harris will now get government-subsidized health care. But he's upset that it doesn't start soon enough -- he was outspokenly upset to learn that his new insurance will take effect on February 1, 28 days after he's sworn into office.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”.

“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.

I love that last bit: yes, I think the option of purchasing insurance from the government -- a.k.a., the public option -- would be a fine idea. Funny how Harris came around to it real quick when he saw that he might have a gap in his coverage, isn't it?

Harris's spokeswoman Anna Nix later said that Harris wasn’t being hypocritical, heavens no, he was just pointing out the inefficiency of government-run health care.

For the record, members of Congress get the same health insurance options that other federal employees do, with a range of private plans including a popular Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO. But unlike my friends who work at the Goddard Space Flight Center, for example, Congresscritters and Senators can get taxpayer-subsidized treatment -- including free (to them) outpatient procedures -- by top docs in "VIP Wards" at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center (rather different care, we must note, than most wounded vets get there.)

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