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.)


clockredbg.jpg It’s Blogathon day (see here for history and explanation). Briefly, in 2000 the spousal unit posted an entry every 15 minutes for a full 24 hours, just for the hell of it. Next year she decided to make it a ~thon, inviting others to play along and get sponsors to donate to charity (like a walkathon, or spellathon, or whatever).
In 2001, 101 bloggers and their sponsors raised just over $20,000; in 2002, 212 bloggers and $58,000; in 2003, 401 bloggers and $102,000. As you might imagine, running this thing is a monumental undertaking. There was a hiatus in 2004, and this year Sheana of Seeworthy is running the show (with a little help from her friends).
It’s an amazing event, and taking part is somewhat gruelling, but fun. People do some truly wonderful stuff — themed series of posts, write-a-novel-in-48-entries, all kinds of things. We’re staying home today, so periodically I’ll post something cool from the ‘thon.

restore and renew the Voting Rights Act

From the ACLU Action Network:

This Saturday marks the 40th Anniversary of Congress passing the most successful piece of civil rights legislation in history: the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. Unfortunately, unless Congress votes to renew several key sections of the law, they will expire by 2007.
Congress could begin considering renewal legislation as early as this fall, so we need your help now to make sure that all of the expiring provisions are renewed and restored and to prevent opponents of the VRA from sabotaging the reauthorization.
Today you can help ensure a return to fairness not just for immigrants, but for everybody, by urging Congress to support the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2005. These are not just “immigration” issues; current policies are a fundamental threat to the guarantee of due process for all people–as expressly required by the Constitution–and they endanger all of our rights.
Calling the VRA the most successful civil rights bill ever really isn’t an exaggeration. By the end of 1965, more than a quarter million blacks had registered to vote. In the past forty years, the number of African-American elected officials has risen from 300 to close to 10,000.
After nearly a century under the “Jim Crow” system, which denied African-Americans the right to vote, the Voting Rights Act finally made clear that the Constitution’s guarantee of equality under the law means what it says.
The expiring provisions include a section that requires voting districts with a history of discrimination to pre-approve or “pre-clear” changes to voting laws with the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington; a provision that gives the attorney general the authority to appoint poll watchers and election monitors; and a crucial provision that guarantees language assistance to voters with limited English proficiency.
These sections must be renewed if we are to ensure the continued success of the Voting Rights Act.
In addition, the legislation must also restore the spirit of the VRA by clarifying the kinds of circumstances that result in a retrenchment of voting rights for minority citizens. These important clarifications are needed because of recent Supreme Court decisions that have substantially weakened the effectiveness of the Act.
Although the law ended poll taxes and literacy tests that were expressly designed to disfranchise minorities, discrimination still occurs in subtler, yet no less harmful, forms. For instance, just last year, a federal court determined that the state of South Dakota was officially conspiring to disfranchise American Indians. And, the state of Louisiana has never had a proposed change to its electoral law approved by the Justice Department.

Click here to urge your representatives to renew the expiring sections and restore the original intent of the Act.


Matthew Baldwin is a genius:

Speaking of this, you know what I think they should do? I think they should make it so if you press an elevator button that’s already lit, it goes off. This would serve two purposes.
First, it would allow a rider to cancel a button pressed in error.
Second, it would thwart those A-personality types who enter the elevator and press the button for their floor even when it’s already lit. This would obviously be the greatest boon of the technology, because, as we all know, those people are totally fucking annoying.

The “this” link goes to a post on Matt’s other blog, Tricks of the Trade (which I just added to the blogroll because it, too, is sheer genius). Apparently there’s a way to get most elevators to go straight to your floor without stopping for anyone else; evil, but useful.

impossible courage

Linda LoaizaThere aren’t words to describe the courage of Linda Loaiza (warning: unutterably wrenching story, graphic images). I can hardly bear to read what happened to her, much less imagine surviving it and continuing to fight.

In July of 2001, 18-year-old Linda Loaiza was rescued by the Caracas police in Luis Carrera Almoina’s apartment. She had been repeatedly raped and brutally tortured for four months [horror elided]. After undergoing nine operations, Linda is still recovering. The lifelong physical effects of her ordeal include cataracts, impaired hearing, reduced movement, facial scarring and an inability to bear children.
The accused perpetrator, Luis Carrera Almoina, had been previously arrested for torturing his then partner in 1999. He is the son of Gustavo Carrera Damas, who at the time was president of a major university in Caracas. After being detained and put under house arrest, Carrera Almoina attempted to flee with the help of his father. He was captured the next day, and his father was later charged with obstructing judicial action.
Linda Loaiza’s case was deferred by the justice system 29 times and 59 judges declined to prosecute the man accused of torturing her. In August of 2004, nearly three years had passed since Carrera Almoina was charged with attempted homicide, rape and torture, and the case was approaching an expiration date, after which the accused would walk free of charges. In response, Loaiza staged a hunger strike on the steps of the Supreme Court. After 13 days on the steps, the media attention and social pressure Linda generated caused the Supreme Tribunal for Justice (the country’s highest judicial body) to call for a trial to begin.
In an attempt to exploit an outrageous piece of the Venezuelan Penal Code which calls for a reduced sentence for crimes against sex workers, Carrera Almoina’s defense claimed that Loaiza was part of a prostitution ring. If sentenced to jail time, Carrera Almoina would have only have had to serve a fifth of the normal sentence. No evidence was presented in support of these claims, and Loaiza has consistently denied them. Nevertheless, on October 21, 2004, the judge acquitted Carrera Almoina and his father of all charges, citing a “lack of evidence

Posted in woe

protest Bolton

From Barbara Boxer (whose PAC For A Change you really should check out), an opportunity to protest Preznit Dumbass’ recess appointment of John Bolton:

On Monday, despite widespread opposition from Senators of both parties, as well as the American people, President Bush appointed John Bolton as UN Ambassador. By using the rarely utilized “recess appointment” while Congress is away over the month of August, the White House effectively thumbed its nose at the Senate, bypassing our Constitutional responsibility to “advise and consent” on such a nomination.

Here’s the body of the letter from me that Smirky the Killer Clown will never read:

It is a sad irony that John Bolton is the perfect person to represent the US to the world at the United Nations. He has a history of abusing his subordinates and steamrolling over inconvenient facts in his determination to make the world answer to his ideology. He is a known liar who presented false information to the Senate in preparation for his hearings. He is a thoroughgoing hypocrite who has made plain his contempt for the UN and a hubris laden fool who now expects that body to take him seriously. He is plainly unqualified for the position, and will only take it up as a result of extraordinary interventions on his behalf.
In his new capacity, then, Bolton is a faithful reflection of his master in the oval office.
This is a sad day for the United States.