My fellow employees and I were getting along splendidly using Teambox and then it relaunched as Redbooth. Since then, it has been a nightmare to navigate and work with and none of us are happy with it. To make matters worse, when I searched for help on google, I found several results that seemed to mimic my concerns, however, upon clicking the result links, I found they were all dead (“Oops, The page you were looking for does not exist!”). You can still click on the cached versions of the links, for now, but I’m sure they are working hard to remove those as well.

It seems that Redbooth had previously included a help section as a kind of open forum set-up, but has since removed that feature- most likely due to all the negative comments about how the new Redbooth sucks. So you go to the new Redbooth site and click on the help section and you get a bunch of useless garbage. There is an option to submit a request, but I don’t know what that means and I don’t have time to do that and wait for a reply when I’m trying to find out an answer to something I need help with immediately. So at this point, there is no way users can publish their problems/questions/solutions/suggestions for other users to find when looking for help. It is exactly this type of business practice that will ensure their eventual failure. My organization is now looking for other team management applications because this is just horrible.

I don’t understand why if something is extremely popular and growing, companies decide to trash it and force an entirely new product on the users. People used the site because it worked for them. It doesn’t work now. And I know I’m not the only one or Redbooth wouldn’t be working so hard to make sure the internet doesn’t find out how many people are not happy. Sorry Redbooth, we know.

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New blog

June 7, 2012

Here is the link to my new blog, which also contains some of the older posts from this one, which I copied and pasted there. It’s just easier for me to use Blogger than WordPress since WordPress doesn’t allow AdSense.

http://imanygirl.blogspot.com/

 

June 7, 2012

As I scan the reactions to Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin, I’m seeing a few recurring themes. The first and most obvious one being about the money involved. The second, which ties into the first, is about the Citizen’s United decision and how it has corrupted our political system, and the other is about voter turn-out.  Putting the details aside for a moment, I can’t help but take a step back and wonder why we continue at all? Yes, I understand that “it’s the future of our democracy” and “to save the middle class” and “to fight for America” and all that. I get it. But if this were ANY area other than politics, to keep trying would be thought of as insanity. We have already lost, we just don’t know it yet. The system is now so unbelievably financially rigged that individual citizens like myself have been rendered irrelevant.

There are two ways in which money has destroyed our democracy and the entire political system. The first is the easiest and most straightforward way- buying politicians who are already in office. When corporations or special interests “donate” to those politicians, there are specific strings attached. Once a corporation  buys a politician, they own them. Then they simply direct them on how to vote when it comes to legislative bills. Individual citizens can never hope to raise enough money to buy legislation and compete with the massive and continuous flow of money available to huge corporations.

A corporation is made up of people, but a corporation is not a person. A gang is made up of people, but a gang is not a person. A union, a  school, a hospital are all made up of people, but none are or are representative of an individual person. Collectively, any of these groups is obviously larger and more powerful than any one person, but none of these groups’ primary purpose is political activism. Corporations provide goods and/or services. Unions represent workers. Schools educate students. Hospitals care for the sick and injured. None of these groups should have an “extra” say in our political system, but especially corporations. The goal of a corporation is to make money. There is nothing wrong with that, until it goes wrong. When corporations do things that hurt the public or the environment or buy politicians in order to enact legislation that helps them be more profitable- that’s when things go wrong.

The second way money has destroyed democracy is more complicated, but it involves actual elections. The sickening amount of money spent on attack ads and trying to discourage certain groups from voting and suppressing voter turn-out. One national trend going on right now is individual states  trying to suppress the Latino/Hispanic vote by creating laws that require a person prove citizenship before being allowed to vote. While this may discourage illegal immigrants from voting, it also discourages legal immigrants as well.  The right has an amazing ability to rile people up and get them motivated enough to get up off their fat asses and vote. They do this by tapping into their base’s hatred and bigotry. The people on the right hate Obama so much and are so angry and do not want him to win again so much that I predict they will be showing up in record numbers in the upcoming presidential election, while the people on the left have become so disenchanted and disappointed with Obama, there is no way they will show up in the same numbers they did in 2008. The republicans have dominated the debate no matter what the issue and no matter what it means for the country. They are experts at taking over and twisting an issue to their favor and they are never called out or punished for their tactics, which often involve outright lies. Republicans are admirably united and unwavering in their talking points and stance. Democrats are so weak and so pathetically incapable of fighting back or uniting or taking a stand, they are utterly useless. What bothers me the most is that despite the fact Obama has been more to the right than Bush and Reagan, the republicans have succeeded in convincing a huge portion of the American public that he is a far-left, liberal, progressive, socialist. I am not going to vote for Obama not because he IS any of those things, but because he is not. No, that does not mean I am voting for the alternative, and should my non-Obama vote mean that the other side wins, so be it, but that is not my fault.

And this is how I arrive at wondering what’s the point and why should we bother anymore. Even if Obama wins, it’s still Obama and Obama is not progressive, not liberal, not even a democrat. There is no candidate who represents me and my values and my views and even if there were, once elected, there is no reason whatsoever to assume they would govern that way. I’ve written about this before, but I honestly believed in Obama. I believed him and his campaign promises, his promises for the country and to not have “politics as usual,” I believed in his message of hope and I felt excited for the future. I’m embarrassed at how naive I was and my cynicism is bordering on turning into complete indifference. I find it very hard to believe there is any way to win back democracy without having the country fall so hard, it leaves no other choice but for the people to take it back, but even then I have my doubts.

Every time I hear about the millions and billions being spent on campaigns and Super PACs, I can’t help but think how awesome this country could be if that money was actually spent on something real- like high-speed rail or just improved public transportation, infrastructure, education and research, technology, science, even a fucking awesome theme park, for crying out loud! Anything other than “air space” to spew bullshit. If all those corporations and super rich “donors” reinvested that money into their employees, into improving their products, into the public sector, into making the country better for EVERYONE, this country could be better than ever and a place to be proud of again. If we could get true campaign finance reform and get the money out of politics, corporations and the rich “donors” would save a lot of money or they could choose to spend it elsewhere. It’s not as though they would lose as this is not about anti-capitalism. It’s just about having a fair and just political system where the individual citizens have the most powerful voice and we decide how the country is run and most importantly, the politicians WE elect, represent US- you know, as in, “We the people…” Remember that?

Occupy Wall Street Sign Ideas

September 30, 2011

Criminal Lies (draft)

September 26, 2011

Politicians lie. No big surprise there, but as we all know, there are different types of lies and there are varying degrees of lies, especially when it comes to politics. In politics, some of the lies are the lies of omission, lies of opinion, lies of memory, lies of misused wording, etc. and then there are the factual lies. These are the lies that are absolutely, unequivocally, blatant, outright false statements- lies made with full knowledge that they are indeed false. It is this type of  lie that can posses a definitive criminal element and I intend to make that case.

As the law is structured today, each state has its own laws regarding politicians and lies. Unfortunately, they all seem to address lies politicians make about other politicians, primarily their opponents, and do not address lies made with the intention to influence legislation or to secure funding. I am not worried so much about politicians lying about other politicians. For the most part, they can take care of themselves by addressing the lie in the media or, depending on the state, in court through defamation suits. If  Politician A lies about Politician B, it’s up to Politician B to figure out how to hold Politician A accountable. That is easy enough and I would imagine comes with the territory. My concern is who is going to hold accountable the politician who lies about something other than another politician? And does the court even allow for that kind of accountability? I intend to find out.*

I’ve noticed a trend in politics lately and it involves the overall nonchalance, general acceptance and expectations of lies politicians make. Again, I’m not talking about the typical evading-questions and dancing-around-the-issue-types of lies. I’m talking about the big ones; the ones made with zero factual basis and made with the full knowledge they are false. The latest liar to be brought to light is South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican. She made a statement claiming that half the people who applied for jobs at the Savannah River Site, a nuclear facility near Aiken, tested positive for drugs. She used that (false) information to push for mandatory drug testing for all those who receive unemployment benefits. The Governor claims she was given this information and it never occurred to her to verify that information or to double check the numbers.

“Department of Energy spokesmen Jim Giusti said less than 1 percent of the workers hired by the Savannah River Site’s primary contractor, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, failed pre-employment screening tests. He said no other pre-employment screening is conducted before people accept jobs.” (http://www.bostonherald.com/news/national/south/view.bg?&articleid=1367196&format=&page=1&listingType=natsouth#articleFull)

When confronted with the facts, Haley responded, “I’ve never felt like I had to back up what people tell me. You assume that you’re given good information. And now I’m learning through you guys that I have to be careful before I say something.” Ya think? Since she is so supportive of pre-employment testing, perhaps we should institute an IQ test, or even a basic common sense test, before allowing elected officials to hold their positions in office. I’d really like to see the failure rate on those tests.

Haley is just the most recent example. Another recent example is Representative Michelle Bachman’s (R- MN) claim that some woman approached her following the Republican debate and informed her that after receiving the HPV vaccine, her daughter suffered from mental retardation. Bachman used that (mis) information to warn the nation of the “dangers” of the drug, despite having no scientific evidence or substantiation to back up her claim. Furthermore, there is no evidence any woman approached Bachman with that story and the director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics has even offered $10,000 for proof of the vaccine victim. He made his offer after a professor from the University of Minnesota made an offer of $1000 to the woman who supposedly made these claims and a release of her daughter’s medical records so that they may be examined by medical professionals. (http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/129821498.html)

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/us/07lying.html

*(Currently, I am taking a legal research course in an ABA-approved (graduate-level) paralegal program at CUNY. I intend to research this issue on my own using the knowledge and resources obtained from class.)

Google has has this feature for a while now. You go to type in your search and it tries to complete the words for you. This drives me absolutely insane. I hate it. I have turned it off in the settings, only to have it turn itself back on a few days later. Now it seems they’ve made it impossible to do anything about it at all. Thankfully, I found ways around it.

So on my one laptop, I have an older version of the Firefox browser and instead of using http://www.google.com to look something up, I have been using, http://www.google.com/firefox because that completely eliminates any issues with insight. I don’t even have to change the settings. Problem solved, right? Well, not so much. On my other computer, I have the most recent Firefox browser and the google.com/firefox url redirects and reverts to the most recent google.com site. I panicked for a bit before finally finding another alternative: http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=0  So there you have it. If you want to turn off google insight (or at least not have to worry about constantly changing the settings), use one of these urls instead.

On Friday’s show Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher brought up the fact that Christians in this country refuse to acknowledge that Norwegian terrorist, Anders Breivik, is in fact, a Christian. He points to Bill O’Reilly who claimed,  “That’s impossible. No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder.” (Never mind the silly Crusades or Timothy McVeigh or the countless other Christian terrorists throughout history.) Maher goes on to point out that none of these same Christians who are so outraged at the depiction of Breivik as a Christian terrorist, defended Islam against calling those responsible for 9/11, Muslim terrorists. Margaret Hoover, a guest panelist on the show, countered by saying that atheists have killed more people than Christians citing Russian communism as an example. Elliot Spitzer, another panelist, somewhat agreed with Hoover but his argument was that religion itself was not the culprit, but fanaticism. I do not agree with Spitzer’s point of view, but I can accept it as a legitimate argument. Hoover’s idea, however, is completely baseless and makes no sense whatsoever. She is confusing an socioeconomic system with religion. And atheism is no more a religion than a poodle is a wild animal. One is a natural evolution or state in nature- untamed, pure, innate, authentic; and the other is an artificially selected, man-made, manipulated creation.

Let’s take this argument and put it in a different context to make it clearer. Instead of religion, I’m going to use being on the road as the context, and I will break it down into drivers (religious believers), non-drivers (atheists), and drunk drivers (religious extremists). Keep in mind, this is not an actual argument about driving or not driving, but an example to show how the religious argument can be seen from a different context.

No one is going to argue that drunk driving is clearly reprehensible and those who do so and murder innocent people deserve to condemned for their actions. For the  most part, non-drunk drivers are more responsible, though occasional texting, putting on make-up, eating, etc, while driving is also dangerous and can cause serious accidents and even death. This cannot be discounted, and they still risk putting the lives of others in danger by getting behind the wheel and making poor choices. Non-drivers, however, cannot kill or risk anyone’s well-being on the road since they don’t drive at all.  This is not to say that all drivers are killers or that all drivers are dangerous, but all drivers have a potential to be dangerous and to effect the lives of other drivers and non-drivers alike by simply getting behind the wheel. (Again, this is all meant to be kept in the context of being on the road and is not to say that both drivers and non-drivers do not kill in other contexts or environments, but in those cases it has nothing to do with being a driver or a non-driver.)

Now let’s put each person’s argument into this new context. What O’Reilly is saying is that a drunk driver who kills multiple people on the road is not a driver because a driver would never drive while under the influence, even though the driver himself admitted to being completely drunk while driving. (The denial a statement like that involves is unprecedented.) What Hoover is saying is that non-drivers are responsible for more deaths on the road than drivers, including drunk drivers, but she is taking one side of her argument completely out of context (off the road) while keeping the other side in context (on the road) and that delegitimatizes her entire argument. (It’s like an argument about Red Delicious apples versus Granny Smith apples and she is brings up carrots.) Spitzer is saying, it’s not drivers as a whole who are irresponsible, but the drunk drivers. Finally, Maher is saying that all driving is the problem because even those who supposedly drive responsibly, also pose a risk to other drivers and non-drivers alike.

I agree with Maher. Religion as an institution is a problem because even those who are not extremists and who would never consider actually killing in the name of their religion, still pose a risk to society by imposing their beliefs on everyone else and limiting the choices and freedoms of others. They even pose a risk to themselves by advocating for things like abstinence-only sex education and ending abortion. By not giving teenagers the knowledge they need to make their own choices, they are putting them at risk for STDs and pregnancy. By limiting or ending abortion as a legal option, they are risking the lives of women who suffer complications in pregnancies and who might otherwise need an abortion to save themselves. The religious stifle scientific breakthroughs and cures by trying to limit things like stem-cell research and protesting against funding for scientific development. They risk our children’s education and understanding about the world we live in by advocating for mythological-based education standards and fighting against facts and science. They risk the lives of our youth by condemning homosexuality and calling gay people sinners and evil. They stifle truth and debate in this country by trying to hide facts they choose to ignore and dismiss and by promoting falsehoods and misinformation. They are making choices for others they have no business making and infiltrate policy and legislation in ways that effect everyone. Religious institutions do not pay taxes. They get a free pass on their hatred and bigotry by calling it “religion”. They preach about love and doing right, but hate others who do not believe as they do. Religion is dangerous. Not just Christianity, but all religion. People can believe whatever they want, but I don’t understand why they cannot keep it to themselves and apply it to their own lives and leave it at that.

The argument that atheism is its own religion and that atheists try to force their beliefs on others or try to convert the religious into being non-believers is unfounded and absurd. Atheists don’t have an agenda or a system of beliefs to force on anyone! You can’t force a non-belief on anyone. Atheists also couldn’t care less what the religious believe, but we don’t want to hear about it and we definitely don’t want the religious to impose their beliefs on us in a way that limits our choices or forces us to bend to their beliefs. The only time atheists get worked up and will get involved and make a stand is in order to defend our rights against the religious. We don’t go door-to-door or hand out pamphlets or have a special book or oath we use to distinguish ourselves. We have no church or building or standing to request government funding. We have no rituals or exclusion or inclusion criteria or secret handshake or politics. We are individuals who simply do not believe in religion or a god or gods or magic underwear or talking snakes or heaven or hell or miracles or prayer or any other idea that comes out of religion. I can’t say what “we” believe in because we are individuals and we each have our own ideas about the world, so none of us can speak for each other. Our only shared commonality is that we do not believe in religion or god(s).