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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Cos' LiveJournal:

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    Thursday, January 1st, 2037
    12:00 am
    Other Places I Post
    I have two other LJs: cosmusic, coslinks

    See what links I've been reading on del.icio.us (coslinks),
     and what links I've been posting on reddit (cos).
    Update: I abandoned delicious in 2016 after they'd been deterioriating for a few years, and I now post links on pinboard instead.

    Photos: Some from the 90s on my old web site, newer ones on Flickr (cospics) and most recent (pretty much anything since 2006) on Facebook
    Videos: YouTube (youcos)

    Where are you? Fill out my LJ poll.

    Thursday, August 30th, 2018
    10:52 am
    Nika Elugardo for State Rep - and to change the MA House
    If I had been able to arrange my life such that I could spend some time in Boston in July & August, I probably would've found a couple of days to go volunteer for Nika Elugardo. She's in a Democratic primary against incumbent Massachusetts state rep Jeffrey Sanchez, in the 15th Suffolk District, which goes from JP to Mission Hill with a chunk of Brookline south of Route 9.

    I see here not only an excellent candidate, but also an opportunity to nudge the whole state legislature.

    We have this long-running problem in Massachusetts where the House, despite its large Democratic majority, repeatedly punts on important legislation or pares back necessary reforms. While we have quite a few wonderful progressive House members, they're a minority, and House leadership has often either been conservative or, for whatever reason, seemed to try to avoid embarassing situations for Republicans (especially Republican Governors) by protecting them from having to vote on or veto legislation they don't like.

    Jeffrey Sanchez is the relatively new chair of House Ways and Means, making him one of the most powerful members of the House, and he really seems to be part of this. I'm extremely disappointed in him. For example:
    • The MA Senate added several important protections for immigrants to the state budget, by a large majority. We really need this now! But the House wouldn't even bring those measures to a vote, so the House version of the budget didn't have them. As chair of Ways & Means Committee, Sanchez was one of the leaders of the conference committee to work out the final budget from the House and Senate versions - and the immigrant protections weren't there. He said there was no "consensus", but we're pretty sure there was a very solid majority for these provisions in the House, just as in the Senate (if only there had been a vote, maybe we'd know!). Baker clearly didn't like it, and maybe some conservative Democrats in the House didn't either, and because of Sanchez and speaker DeLeo, they were saved from having to actually take a stand one way or the other. Baker's shiny image would've been tarnished if he vetoed the budget over his objections to protecting immigrants, but signing it might have hurt him with his base, so Baker I'm sure is happy to be able to evade that. But now we have another year without these protections.

    • State law gives state employees the right to collective bargaining, but due to a technicality, public defenders aren't considered covered by that definition, even though they are paid by the state. So they can't unionize. They're severely underpaid, their case loads are too high, and there's lots of attrition. A very simply and straightforward bill to clarify that they have the same right to unionize as anyone else who works for the state, just sat in Ways & Means for the entire session. Despite a flurry of phone calls (including a few from me) in the final week, when many bills get reported out of committee, this one was stuck there and never got a vote.

    When I spoke to someone at Nika Elugardo's campaign, they were already very familiar with and knowledgeable about both of these issues, and others. She's been talking about them on the campaign trail. If she can beat Sanchez in an upset, his failure to get important legislation through his committee, and the whole general habit of House leadership of dropping progressive legislation on the floor to protect conservatives and Republicans from embarassment, will be highlighted. Other legislators will see that this endangers their seats, even if they're powerful and supposedly safe for re-election like Sanchez.

    Take a look at Nika Elugardo's policy section. She advocates for ranked choice voting, important criminal justice reforms, single payer health care, protections for immigrants, and investing in the T - another thing the state House has hobbled over the years, even when we had a governor (Deval Patrick) who really tried. Unlike Sanchez, she really seems like she will work for the things she's talking about.

    Are you in Boston? Maybe you can find a half day between now and Tuesday to volunteer for Nika!
    (You can sign up here, but they may be overwhelmed in the final days, so you could also call at 617-971-8743 if you don't hear back soon)

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Wednesday, May 30th, 2018
    11:07 am
    What's happening to children at the border
    Several different stories hit the news last week about the border patrol and related agencies doing awful things to children, and now is an excellent time to do something about it while it's in the news and there's a lot of public outrage. But I also see a lot of confusion because these different stories all got reported at once, so first I want to disentangle it a bit. Here are the three main stories about this from last week:
    1. An ACLU report revealed many cases of abuse of children who had arrived at the border unacompannied - including threats, denial of medical care, and physical violence. This is not new; the ACLU report is based on document from 2014 and earlier. What's new is that they just published the report, after taking a while to get the documents from the government in the first place, then read and analyze them all. One of the things they stress in the report is a "culture of impunity" in Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), meaning these abuses will continue.

    2. The Trump administration has a new policy of forcibly separating families who arrive at the border together, something they had been doing sporadically for a while and are now doing systematically. Even very young children are forcibly taken from their parents and imprisoned separately.

    3. A story about 1475 "missing" children. However, most of them, maybe all, are probably not actually "missing". These are children who arrived at the border unaccompanied, in the past. They were transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR - a part of the Dept of Health and Human Services), whose job was to find sponsors for them to live with, often while waiting for their immigration cases to be processed. ORR tries to find a relative living in the US to place them with, but when no relative can be found, they may place kids in temporary shelters. ORR did a cursory survey of about 7500 kids that had been placed with sponsors or shelters in recent years, and did not get responses or accurate up to date information about 1475 of them. Most or all of those kids are probably living with relatives, and many may not want to be contacted or found by the government.

    4. As a result of the "missing" children story, another news story from several years ago came back: In 2016 it was discovered that one of those temporary shelters has placed some children with human traffickers in 2014. This was during a huge wave of unacompannied minors arriving at the border, due to a surge in violence in several Central American countries; the system was overwhelmed, and they weren't doing thorough enough checks on who children got placed with. After this story broke in 2016, reforms were made to vet placements better, but also, the wave of unaccompanied minors slowed down, so they got less overwhelmed. (Although if this new policy of separating kids from parents also turns into transferring them to ORR, maybe they'll get overwhelmed again?)

    Hearing about all of these all at once led to a lot of confusion, which could misdirect anger in unproductive directions, when there's a lot of reason for anger. One understandable and common misunderstanding was "they're taking children away from their parents and losing track of them and placing some of them with traffickers!" Nobody has reported such a thing happening.

    Also, the "missing" children aren't a problem, per se. It used to be that ORR was explicitly told *not* to cooperate with immigration enforcement, to make it easier for them to find relatives to place children with - relatives who may be scared of dealing with immigration. But the Trump administration has changed that, so that now, if ORR can find these children, it may deport some of them, or deport their sponsors, or someone else living with them. Many of them now have very good reason not to want to be found. So the fact that ORR's very low-effort survey ended up with "we don't know" for 1475 kids doesn't mean much.

    Misunderstandings aside, there are horrible things in this news. Most importantly,
    • Children and parents are being forcibly separated at the border!

    • Abuses like the ones that happened until 2014, are likely still happening.

    Thase are the things to organize about now!

    Begin by calling both of your Senators and your US Representative ASAP.
    You can look up their numbers by state at senate.gov and by ZIP code at house.gov

    Pick one of the above for your call. Either tell them it's immoral and inexcusable to forcibly separate families at the border, and they should demand the CBP stop doing that, or tell them you're horrified at the stories of abuse of unaccompanied children by the CBP and they need to put in place effective policies to prevent it.

    The next day, call them all again, but this time about the issue you didn't call about the first time.

    Next, find people you know in other states and districts - especially ones represented by Republicans, who need the most convincing and are the ones most in a position to do something about this - and urge them to call. One by one, text or email or call your friends and ask them to call.

    Donate to a bunch of groups working to help kids at the border: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kidsattheborder

    Plan to attend a March for Stolen Children on June 14th.

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Sunday, March 18th, 2018
    1:26 pm
    My one brief experience trying Lyft
    We're going to the airport. Unlike in Boston, the trip to the airport in Seattle is long and annoying with public transit, so if we have large bags we drive or take a cab. Maybe we could try Lyft this time?

    I open the App store on my iPad and search for Lyft. Uber app pops up as first hit; no Lyft app. Oh, maybe they only have an iPhone app, and the app store is stupid... I change preferences to look for iPhone apps, and there it is. I install it.

    Open up the Lyft app, and it asks me to enter my phone number, which it will verify with a text message. I enter the number of my Android phone and it just does nothing. Maybe this is one of those ridiculous apps that verifies by sending itself a text and checking for it automatically, which of course can't work on iPad because you can't SMS an iPad? But it has a "log in with Facebook" option, worth a try.

    Try logging in with Facebook. It complains that there's no Lyft account associated with this Facebook account, so I need to create one first, using a phone number.

    I'm not going to use an app that can't be used on my iPad at all, but maybe I can register on my Android phone and then log in to the same account on the iPad? I find the Lyft app for Android and install it on my Android phone.

    Open up Lyft on Android, again the prompt for a phone number, but this time it suggests a number! Without looking, I say yes, and nothing happens. I try again, nothing happens. Then I realize - wait, this is not this phone's number! This is the phone number of my old Treo phone!

    Okay, so I reject the suggested number, and now it prompts me to enter one. I enter my Android's phone number. It turns red and the app complains, "please enter a valid phone number". I double-check the number, it's correct. Try again, same thing.

    We call a taxi company, and they take us to the airport.

    P.S. Does anyone know of a decent app-based taxi/rideshare service we could use in Seattle? In Boston, we use fasten, but they're not in Seattle. Uber has been too loathsome a company, I'd feel too icky using them. Lyft's app is crap. Anything else we could try?

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Monday, January 22nd, 2018
    5:41 pm
    A word that isn't cool yet
    Hipsters are said to like things before they were cool. Now that everyone knows about the thing, to the hipster it's no longer cool.

    We're looking for a word for someone who's on the other side of that. They get into things that were cool, but whose cool-time has passed. Now people think "what, someone's still into that?" ... and that's when this person gets into it in the first place. Suggest a good word for that?

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Tuesday, December 26th, 2017
    9:11 pm
    Jessie cat's week
    One of those posts that's more for me than for anyone else; I wanted to get this all written down while it's still clear in my memory. Also, a place to point people to if they want to know how Jessie cat's last week went.

    Read more...Collapse )

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Sunday, December 24th, 2017
    2:05 pm
    Jessie Cat is gone
    jessie cat sleeping curled up
    This is Jessie Cat. She finally succumbed to the FIV she's had since my then-housemate and I first found her on our back porch in late 2007. She was the nicest sweetest cat and I'll write more about her later. For now, here she is sleeping sweetly earlier this week.

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Saturday, August 5th, 2017
    3:59 pm
    More scientists in Congress next time?
    Almost ten years ago I posted about scientists in Congress - at the time, there were four. I posted again four years ago, when Rush Holt was running for US Senate. His leaving Congress brought the number of scientists down to just one the following year.

    Originally starting from just curiosity, I was dismayed by how few there were! I knew there weren't enough, since it was already showing quite obviously by 2007 that Congress did not have enough scientific perspective, but I though out of the 535 there would be, maybe, 15-20 scientists. In fact I don't think we've had more than 5 at the same time in decades. Maybe the next Congress will change that?

    Donald Trump's War on Scientists Has Had One Big Side Effect: More than a dozen Democratic candidates with scientific backgrounds are running for Congress.

    This article conflates "scientists" with a broader range of STEM fields. We actually already have a few engineers in Congress, and this article includes engineers, as well as doctors (of which we have even more - but many of them clearly don't have a scientific outlook). But even if you discount those, there are more people with a science background running than anytime I'm aware of, at least in decades. Let's keep an eye on this and see how it turns out in 2018.

    P.S. The only scientist I'm aware of in Congress currently is Bill Foster, the same one who was first running for the office when I posted ten years ago. Are there any others you know of?

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Friday, June 30th, 2017
    12:01 am
    Alternatives to Simple's credit card
    I'm looking for a credit card with these features:
    • Presents itself as a credit card (compatible with holds, car rentals, etc.) but acts like a debit card, drawing money from its own account. If there's no money in that account, it fails to work. No bills to pay.

    • Has a web UI, iOS app, and Android app, all three of which give access to all of the features below:

    • Easy scheduled transfers to or from any of my regular bank accounts.

    • Remotely instantly disable or re-enable the card, at my whim.

    • Clear transaction log that shows all transactions, even from a minute ago, and gives the time of each transaction, not just the date.

    • On mobile, instant notifications for every transaction.

    I have a card from simple.com that does all of that, but I'm looking for other alternatives. I've called a few banks (like Capital One) and haven't found anything else that does all of these. Do you know of any?

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Saturday, June 17th, 2017
    10:13 pm
    Where are these bridges?

    Four photos from a very old folder. Based on the date, I'm fairly sure I took them on the flight home to Boston from attending Minicon in Minneapolis with [profile] silentmachine. But I can't find any record of that flight so I don't know what stopover city I might've gone through. Click on the image to see all four photos; do you recognize those bridges?

    Edit: Commenters have identified the first bridge as the Throgs Neck Bridge and the second one as the Verazzano Narrows Bridge (both in NYC).

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Tuesday, May 30th, 2017
    1:01 pm
    How do we know each other?
    Since a lot of people got different usernames on dreamwidth than they
    had on LiveJournal (some because they could finally get the name they
    always wanted that was taken on LJ, some because their LJ name was
    already taken on DW, and some because they just felt like a change),
    I now see more names on my reading page without remembering who they
    are, even though I probably know them.

    Maybe that means it's a good time for that old livejournal game from
    a decade ago, where people post comments saying how we met or got to
    know each other, online or off. As a side effect, I'll also figure
    out which real-world person goes with that username, for those whose
    dreamwidth usernames I don't know or remember.


    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Saturday, May 20th, 2017
    12:04 am
    Help me read your posts
    I haven't been reading dreamwidth nearly as much as I used to read livejournal, because I find the default reading page really hard to read, and it kind of repels me. Due to the unpleasant experience, I just don't visit as often. But I haven't had time to try to figure out how to fix it, and the few FAQs and settings I found were either confusing or just didn't seem to address the issue.

    On LiveJournal, I had a "friends page" setup that worked really well for me, for many years. What I liked about it that I wish I could have here includes:
    • Clear separation between different entries, in the form of a wide colored divider bar across the page. On LJ that bar was also where the title of the next post would be, but I don't need that specifically; just a clear visual separation between posts.

    • Userpics did not take up their own vertical space. Instead they appeared on the left sidebar, next to the post. [Edit: This is especially bad on comments; I want userpics not to take up vertical space in the comment section either.]

    • I could pick a unique combination of foreground and background color for each person. The post itself didn't appear in that combo, but the post was outlined by the background color, and the post title and person's username would appear in the foreground color I chose. This let me easily "recognize" whose post I was looking at by color.

    Is there any way to make my reading page on dreamwidth like that? What do I need to do?

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Monday, April 10th, 2017
    11:34 pm
    I've stuck with LiveJournal all these years largely because that's where more of the people I know and read still were. But the new Russian terms of service are driving so many to Dreamwidth that the balance has shifted.

    And the new Russian terms of service... they say political advocacy is prohibited. That's more than 1/4 of my posts. I have a feeling they really only care about getting Russian activist bloggers and won't bug the English language livejournals, but who knows; my account risks getting deleted or locked for violating the new terms.

    So I've imported all of my old posts to cos.dreamwidth.org and set up automatic crossposting to LiveJournal. I'm going to post there from now on, and hope you'll follow me there if you read me on LJ. If your DW username doesn't match your LJ username, comment on this entry using your LJ account telling me what your DW username is.

    Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post (comment count unavailable comments on DW)
    Thursday, January 12th, 2017
    6:35 pm
    Car advice or suggestions?
    I'm going to keep my used VW Passat wagon here in Cambridge so I have a car when I'm visiting home, and planning to buy a new car in Seattle. I don't know that much about cars, and haven't bought a new one in nearly 20 years (the VW is a 2004 I bought used in 2009 from an acquaintance) ... so I don't know much about the cars that are out there now, even if I buy used again.

    Maybe if I tell y'all what I want, some of you may have opinions or suggestions? Worth a try!
    • Long range, easy to refill/recharge anywhere. I think that rules out fully-electric. Although I won't do it that often, I'd like a car that I can drive to places like Eugene (~300 miles) or Yellowstone (~750 miles) in one trip sometimes.

    • Fuel-efficient. So maybe a hybrid. I don't know much about hybrids, never had one.

    • Key that isn't too bulky - one of my main annoyances with the VW is how big the key is. But also, a key that lets me fully operate the car even if its electronics fail. I've had a horrible experience with a rental car that was rendered useless when they key's electronics stopped working.

    • Enough space to carry camping stuff, or a few extra people, or both at once :) But it doesn't have to be particularly large, just not too compact.
    Sunday, January 8th, 2017
    2:17 pm
    Jeff Sessions: racism, war on drugs, and against voting rights
    When Jeff Sessions was nominated to be a Federal judge in 1986, a Republican majority voted to deny him because he was too racist. Among the things that came out at his hearing were the time he prosecuted a group of black people doing a voting registration drive on trumped up charges (the jury quickly voted them not guilty on all charges), the time he called a white civil rights lawyer "a disgrace to his race", and that he thought the KKK was okay until he learned they smoke pot.

    Now Trump has nominated Sessions to be Attorney General of the US, and it's going to take a couple of Republican votes to stop him, just like it did in 1986. Confirmation hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, so the more calls senators get about him on Monday, the better our chances.

    In addition to hhis racism, those things that came up in 1986 are quite telling in other ways...

    His hostility to the right to vote has been fierce and longstanding. Harassing innocent voters and trying to prosecute black voter registration is just part of it. He opposed the Voting Rights Act when it was originally passed, and he praised the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision gutting a significant portion of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Now he's trying to head the Department of Justice, responsible for enforcing the Voting Rights Act, which will allow him not to enforce the remaining parts of it.

    He seems to think smoking marijuana is much worse than being racist. "Good people do not smoke marijuana", he said. Obama's Justice Department decided to leave Colorado, Washington, and other states that vote to legalize marijuana in peace, even though they could've continued to prosecute people in those states under Federal law. Jeff Sessions would like to kick the war on drugs back up a notch, and as Attorney General, he could do it.

    If you want him stopped, call your US Senators on Monday! (To find their numbers, go to senate.gov and select your state from the "Find Your Senators" menu at top right.

    Also, think of who you know who lives in Pennsylvania, Maine, Arizona, or Alaska, and ask them to make calls. The Republican Senators I think most likely to vote against Sessions are from those states. [Maybe also Rand Paul of Kentucky, if he sticks to his principles against the war on drugs, but he would love to have an ally against voting rights, and his father published a white supremacist magazine that he never really condemned, so I don't expect it from him.]
    Thursday, January 5th, 2017
    9:09 pm
    New England Tahk
    From a coworker:
      My mother who had a career as a school psychologist, moved to Southern Maine in her forties, having lived in Cincinnati since girlhood. Early on, she was testing a kid, and asked him, "Can you tell me what a hat is?"

      The kid answered, "A haht? A haht's what beats in your chest!"

      The thing is, when I tell that story to native New Englanders, they don't get it. "That's a perfectly good answer for a kid!"
    Thursday, December 1st, 2016
    7:25 pm
    Going to Seattle
    I'm transferring to a team at Google Seattle, much to my surprise (well, to the surprise of me a month ago or anytime in the past few decades, more accurately). Planning to move there, along with Alice, around early February, but keeping the house in Cambridge with intent to return in a few years...

    Oh, we also have to figure out how to move a cat.
    Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
    4:16 pm
    On organizing, and hope
    My friend Dan Cohen, one of the most effective and skilled people in progressive politics I have ever met, wrote this on Facebook today. I posted it on my Facebook too (and if you have an account, please like/comment/share so more people will see it), but asked him if I could copy to here for people who don't read Facebook.

      "Everywhere people and organizations are gathering -- to process and plan, or just to continue the work that they have been doing all along -- people are coming out of the woodwork to get involved.
      Read more...Collapse )
    Friday, October 7th, 2016
    4:31 pm
    Hurricane Matthew hit rural southwest Haiti yesterday hardest, cutting much of the peninsula off from the rest of Haiti (roads and communications) for at least a day, and killing at least a few hundred people. If you have money to donate and are looking for good organizations to donate to, consider Fonkoze.

    Fonkoze arose from the Fondwa Peasants Association, whose story you can see in the short film The Road to Fondwa. Go ahead and watch it if you haven't seen it!

    Fondwa Peasants Association founder and coordinator Father Joseph Philippe founded Fonkoze 6 years later, in 1994, as a rural development bank and microfinance instution, with the goal of getting poor Haitians economically organized in addition to just politically organized, and with a focus on poor women. They couple microfinance and banking services for the very-poor with literacy programs, long-term business skills mentorships, and a "road out of poverty" program that begins with giving a woman the materials to build a small house with water purification, and helping her build it.

    Fonkoze has grown to cover the entire country, and when much of what Fondwa built was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake, Fonkoze made it possible for them to rebuild. Coincidentally, they had recently introduced a new earthquake and disaster insurance program before the earthquake hit, but it was new and not many people had signed up - so after the earthquake hit they decided to treat all of their members as if they had retroactively gotten the insurance.

    Since 1996, they have been raising money through a sister organization in the US called Fonkoze USA, which has a 4-star rating on charitynavigator. Fonkoze as a whole also has a platinum rating from GuideStar, whose report includes a good summary of their impact.

    With 8 branches and over 100 client centers in the hardest-hit southwest, they are probably going to need extra resources to rebuild and resume providing services. As a long-lived homegrown organization with roots in every corner of Haiti, they seem like an important part of building Haiti's long term robustness and capacity to get out of poverty. Donate here.
    Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
    4:29 pm
    Unexpected COnnection
    I was reading about a congressional race in Colorado, where a woman named Morgan Carroll is challenging Mike Coffman and seems to have a chance. What I read about her seemed promising so I wanted to know more, and wrote a friend in Colorado. He co-founded MassForDean here in Boston many years ago and I worked closely with him on that for a year, and on some other campaigns, before he moved to Colorado. He's stayed involved in politics, including a run for state rep, so I figured he'd know something about her and I trust his political judgement.

    He wrote me back, and the first sentence was:
    "I'm biased here, because Morgan and I have been together for about 10 years."


    ... also, donating to her campaign now.
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