Faces of bigotry.

OceanCountyFreeholders.jpg OK, here we go: this is just one of the stomach churning stories I alluded to at the start of the last post. Terrance has the full story and links here and here. Briefly: Laurel Hester and her partner of six years, Stacie Andree, registered as domestic partners a year ago, when Hester was diagnosed with lung cancer. Hester now has months to live, and New Jersey law has a loophole of sorts that allows the five assholes pictured above, the Ocean County freeholders board, to decide whether Andree will get Hester’s pension when she dies (it will mean the difference between keeping or losing the house they bought together). The board has said no. You can send them email; keep in mind that these scumbags have all the power here, since there’s no way to change the law before Hester dies, so forgo the satisfaction of a vicious rant and try to get them to do the right thing. Here’s what I sent:

Sirs —
I write to ask you to do the decent thing in respect of Lt Laurel Hester. She has earned that pension, and the right to say to whom it will pass when she dies, with almost a quarter of a century in service to her community. It is simply unjust to deny her that right.
The world is watching. Please show them that American justice has compassion at its core. Please do the right, the fair, the just, the American thing — and grant Lt Hester’s request.

Before I could write that, I had to get this out of my system:

You maggots. You self-righteous, self-satisfied, evil fucking bastards.
Laurel Hester worked her whole life in public service; she’s earned that pension and the right to say to whom it will pass on her death, and you have no right to deny her that. You happen to have the opportunity — the law has made an error, and handed you the opportunity to hurt someone — and you’re falling all over yourselves in your rush to take it.
You contemptible excuses for human beings. If there is a God of eternal torture, as the good Christians tell me, be assured that He is setting aside coals and pincers for you even as you read this.

The spousal unit tells me that Hester may be able to sidestep this whole thing by granting Andree power of attorney. I have the feeling that there’s a reason that won’t work, or they’d have simply done it and avoided the fuss. Any lawyers reading this? I didn’t explain it properly — spousal unit didn’t realise it was an inheritance issue, for which power of attorney is no use.


Unless you’ve been living under a particularly isolated rock, you know what happened when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. If you have been reading any of the blogs on my list over on the right, you are probably about as well informed as anyone. If you want more information, I recommend the coverage at Making Light for basic what’s-going-on (and more), and two posts from Rivka for a good starter on the sociopolitical background: why the aid wasn’t there and depraved indifference.
A friend recently commented that he’d already given to the Red Cross, and if somone wanted more of his money they should come up with something specific not just another link to the Red Cross. Unless you’re a soulless empty-hearted meat puppet you too, dear reader, have already given to the Red Cross, so here are some specific, local, hands-on options:
Firstly, nearly all Katrina victims heading into Texas will pass through Orange, which is Rafe Colburn’s home town. In comments to that entry, Rafe’s mum, who is working with local relief efforts, provides some addresses to which you can send some money. These are churches and I’m an atheist, but ideological differences shouldn’t matter when there are people hungry and cold:

Orange Christian Services
2518 W. Park Ave Orange, Texas 77632
(409) 886-0938
Salvation Army, Orange Chapter
1950 Martin Luther King Dr.
Orange, Texas
(409) 883-4232
Orange Red Cross
908 Pine Ave
Orange, Texas 77632
(409) 883-2322
(Karen Colburn says:) My church is committed to serve these people for however long it takes.
Our address is:
First Presbyterian Congregation of the Church in Orange
Rev. Sam Knight, Pastor
902 Green Ave.
Orange, Texas 77632
(409) 883-2097

Secondly, my pal Brad is organizing an underpants drive:

Who doesn’t love underpants? I love underpants. You know who would really love underpants? People who don’t have any underpants.
Here’s the deal: Thousands of folks affected by Hurricane Katrina are being evacuated to shelters in Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois for who knows how long. Generous people have donated clothing and other supplies for them, but there’s a serious shortage of clean undergarments for women, men and children.
Click here to donate cash via PayPal and DropCash. I’ll be purchasing and drop-shipping as many clean, packaged undergarments as possible. They’ll go directly to folks who fled the hurricane-affected areas and are currently being cared for at relief centers in St. Louis; Belleville, Illinois; and Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. […]
I’m also taking care of the PayPal fees, so your entire gift will go directly to underpants. Cross my…er, heart.

If you don’t have a paypal account, you can email me (sennomaATfastmailDOTfm) and we’ll work something out.
Update: Me = dum. You can put money into Brad’s undies with any charge card (you don’t need to have your own paypal account in order to add money to someone else’s). If you don’t even have a charge card, then send me a carrier pigeon and we’ll work something out.

horns of a dilemma

Amazon’s Nonprofit Innovation Award is down to the ten finalists, and now you can vote with your dollars. The idea is good (encouraging innovation in nonprofits), the list of finalists looks sound… and one of the judges is Henry Fucking Kissinger.
Oy, Bezos, what were you thinking?
For me, there’s always this “yeah, but..” thing going on with Amazon. On the one hand, they’re (in my experience) a pretty good company to deal with: better than adequate customer service, good range of products, even a pretty sweet deal on shipping if you shop there regularly. Their wishlist application is usable, if not perfect, and they are convenient. On the other hand, they’re getting to be an 800-lb gorilla in bookselling terms, and I worry about the squashing of local bookstores, and then there are things like the 1-Click Patent Fiasco and Henry Fucking Kissinger. (On yet a third hand, even the famously intractable Stallman has apparently granted Amazon provisional forgiveness for the patent absurdity.)
So I dunno. I guess I’ll just keep on with my present policy, which is to continue shopping at Amazon but also remember to share the love a bit (Powell’s is right here in Portland… envy me, bibliophiles elsewhere!) when it comes to books.
(hat-tips for the Kissinger NSA link: Randy via Jeanne )

Blogathon 2005: near to my heart

No theme or special project here, but Robert is blogging for The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust — of which I am a life member. Sponsor Robert here.
Hmmm. *goes looking*
Bugger. I’ve been to Jersey, specifically to visit the DWCT, but all my photos are on a Mac disc that our PCs can’t read. Oh well.
Also, I’ve just noticed that Robert takes requests and is getting veeeeerrryyy sleeeeepppyyy, so if you’re reading this please take a moment to leave him a comment.

Blogathon 2005: a memoir in books

RandomBird is writing a memoir in books — her life, as glimpsed through the books she was reading at the time. For instance, her love affair with modernism started (with Hemingway… I really should give him another try) at the same time she got her FIRST REAL BOYFRIEND. (I’d venture to guess the former outlasted the latter.) If you’re any kind of a language/lit geek, it’s good reading.

…on the topic of Little Women: As an eight-year-old I was most struck by a scene early on in the book where the March girls piled crap on their backs and walked around the house symbolically (or perhaps almost literally) “carrying their burdens.” It was at this point that I first discovered the remarkable power of the way that words were attached to physical action. Prior to this, words were just words. Previously, books had simply created vivid stories in my mind that I would be left thinking about for days after I was finished. Little Women showed me that words were the cornerstones of the way in which we wrap our minds around the world, the only way in which we can wrap our minds around the world.

Just for something completely different, she’s also watching the entire first season of 24. RandomBird is blogging for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and you can sponsor her here.

Blogathon 2005: three quickies

Jacki and Robert Myers of Wisdom of the Illiterati are cooking for 24 hours, and Robert is reviewing 24 of his favourite LPs. They’re doing it for Heifer International and you can sponsor them here.
Candice is blogging for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; she has had Type I diabetes for 19 years. It’s quite an eye-opener to see what she goes through every single day — in fact, every time she eats. Sponsor Candice here.
Stephi is blogging for Book Aid, and you can sponsor her here. I’m not sure what her theme is, because her background has burned out my retinas. Jesus.

Blogathon 2005: The Descent of Inanna

The ‘thon team already has two mechanisms in place for surfing cool stuff: the hot spots page for special projects or themes, and the webcam portal.
Not everyone sends in their site for the hot spots page though, and the ‘thon team cannot possibly read every blog and highlight stuff (although plans are afoot to build a way to do just that for future events). So I’m going to try to find stuff that’s not linked from the ‘thon site, but just to whet your appetite here’s one from the hot spots.
Over at The Red Room, Cat (not the spousal unit, a different Cat) is updating The Descent of Inanna. Inanna was the chief deity of ancient Sumeria, and her mythology is among the oldest in writing. The Descent is the story of her journey to the underworld; you can read scholarly translations here and here. Cat is writing in modern language — “hell goddesses and bling” as she puts it. Though she might make some technical errors (“no, that’s not a “dagger”, it was clearly once used to kill a pig and the ancient Sumerians had a different word for that, don’t you know anything?”) she’s making (you should pardon the pun) a hell of a story out of it. To read it in order, go here and scroll to the bottom, then read up.
Cat is blogging for the Global Fund for Women, and you can sponsor her here. (Sponsorship is open throughout the event; how it works is explained here.)