Planned Parenthood Solidarity Tomorrow!

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Do you support Planned Parenthood? Do you live in or near Minneapolis*? Do you have the day off of work, or can you call in sick tomorrow? Then you can come to the Vandalia Clinic’s Planned Parenthood Solidarity event! From the PP Advocate website:

Why Good Friday? Why the need for solidarity? Every year on this day, hundreds of anti-women’s health protesters gather outside our health center to intimidate our patients and attempt to disrupt our work. It presents an opportunity for supporters of Planned Parenthood to come together and celebrate what makes the organization, its volunteers and its activists so great and so necessary!

There will be like-minded people, fantastic signs, music, and a chance to see a scary number of abortion opponents who would like nothing more than for you and me and everyone else to be denied our right to make the health care and reproductive choices that are right for us. If the idea of confrontation makes you squeamish – don’t worry. Both groups are separate and ignore the other – we’re each doing our own thing. Their side does the somber, downcast thing, and we do the celebratory, jubilant thing. I’ll be live-tweeting from the event, so follow me on Twitter for updates and photos. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I’ll be at the sign-in table from 8:30-10:30am and then I’ll be walking in the line for much of the rest of the day (except between noon and 2pm when I’ll be inside volunteering). If you see me, come and say hi! I’ll be wearing a blue Surlyramic with the red atheist “A” on it. And I’ll do my best to answer any questions about the event via Twitter, Facebook or the comments.

Have a happy Solidarity Day!

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Taken by me at the 2011 Solidarity Day at the old Highland Park clinic in St. Paul. Look how much fun we have!

*Want to get involved in other cities? There may be an event near you! I recommend Googling for local Planned Parenthood and abortion clinic sites to see if they have solidarity events planned.

Voter ID Laws

I was notified on Flickr that a group had used one of my photos for an article. I was a bit worried for a second because the photo that was used was this one:

Vote Yes on Voter ID

In my brain: “Please don’t be a pro-Voter ID article, please don’t be a pro-Voter ID article…”

I was happy to discover that the article was entitled: “How the New Voter ID Laws Impede Disadvantaged Citizens“. The article is on the The Society Pages Scholars Strategy Network. “SSN participants share a commitment to connecting good public policymaking to citizen engagement and responsive democratic government.”

Voter ID laws have more potential to disenfranchise minority voters than to solve the fake non-issue of in-person voter fraud. I’m pleased as punch that an article pointing out the downsides of Voter ID laws is using my work. Also, here’s another shout out for Creative Commons – sometimes your original content shows up in some pretty cool places!

Weekend Report

I was hoping to get a lot of writing done this weekend because there is SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT! I got exactly zero writing done, but looking back on my weekend, it turns out I did some pretty cool stuff.

Friday night was supposed to be a night of relaxing and hanging out with the Virtual Drinking Skeptically (VDS) gang. Unfortunately, work setbacks trashed that idea. I didn’t have all my ducks in a row and ended up working until midnight :(  Long story short, I grabbed some material (calibrators) for a study and forgot to check the expiration date. After doing all of the set-up on Friday morning, I went to use the calibrators and discovered that they were expired. No problem, I’ll just go grab a new lot, right? Ohhhh…so sad for me: there are no unexpired lots left in the freezer. Luckily, my company makes the darned things on site, so I’ll just go over to manufacturing and pick some up. Three hours later…

At some point during the morning’s series of fiascoes I noted with that sort of inappropriate hilarity that often precludes a mental breakdown that I was going through various stages of grief as my Friday night went up in flames.

  • Shock/Denial: WHAT? How the hell are the calibrators expired? What do you mean we don’t have any extra calibrators in the building? How is that possible? I am NOT letting this get in the way of Virtual Drinking Skeptically tonight.
  • Pain/Guilt: How could I be so stupid as to not check the expiration date before I started!? How could I have everything in place and forget that? I haven’t been to a VDS in months and I feel horrible for not showing up and supporting it because it’s awesome and I can’t believe I’ve ruined my evening like this!
  • Anger/Bargaining: How did NO ONE stock calibrators? Why did this have to happen tonight!? Maybe I could use the expired cals and write some sort of justification. No? Okay, if I can just get the study started, I can sneak away and come in over the weekend to finish things up.
  • Depression/Loneliness: This sucks. I hate working late on Friday nights. Everyone goes home to relax and start their weekend and I’m going to be stuck here pipetting samples until kingdom come. Which isn’t coming, so that means FOREVER. I’m not making it to VDS.
  • Upward Turn: Okay… I have new calibrators. The instruments are all ready to go. Let’s calibrate and see if the controls pass. Samples are thawed, time to start pipetting. If I can load 20 samples per hour and I’ve got 149 samples to load… awwww, man. Wait, calm…I can do this.
  • Acceptance/Hope: Okay, there’s no way I’m getting out of here in time for VDS, but I’ll just have to plan to make the next one. And hey, everything’s running well and I’m going to make it through at least half of these samples today. I’ll come back on Sunday and finish ‘em up. And I’ll still have all of Saturday. Every little thing… is gonna be alright.

That’s a whole lot of emotion to go through over the course of a day! Like I said earlier, I left at midnight, but I did get to come home to a sympathetic partner and a whiskey nightcap. So that was nice.

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Clinic Escorting Encounters

After President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in 1994, protesters have been limited in their ability to interfere with people who visit abortion clinics. For example, they’re no longer allowed to physically block the entrances to clinics. But they still do their damnedest to convince clients to not to go through those doors on their own. And so there are clinic escorts.

Clinic escorts give clients the strength to walk past the protesters, to ignore the offensive, lie-filled literature that is thrust at them. We make it okay for them to avert their eyes from the little plastic fetuses, the swinging rosaries, the gory pictures that are held up as they walk by or are posted in their line of sight. We give them an excuse to not listen to the prayers, the hymns, the questions and accusations that are thrown at them.  We are a psychological barrier between the clients and the protesters.

On Saturday I was escorting at Whole Women’s Health in downtown Minneapolis. When I showed up there were 13 protesters lining the narrow sidewalk that leads up to the clinic entrance. Two were active protesters (antis who rush up to heckle the clients) and the rest were passively praying, singing, touching the beads on their rosaries, and walking up and down the sidewalk. This later group had four kids who looked to be under the age of 12 with them. It always makes me sad to see kids with the protesters.

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Thank You

Earlier this week I invited you to join me on the microlending website, Kiva. I asked that if you were willing, able and wanted to join after learning more about the institution, to join through my personal invitation link so that I could receive $25 Kiva bonuses. Two of you took me up on my invitation, resulting in $50 worth of loan money that I was able to turn around tonight. Here’s who we’re funding:

 This is Ruth Del Carmen from Guasmo, Ecuador. She owns her own house, and since separating from her husband she is raising two children on her own. She runs a restaurant and sells cosmetics to supplement her income. She is planning on using this loan to buy chairs, table and a display case for her businesses. You can read her full story here.

Meet the Nuestro Sueño Group from Temuco, Chile. Group loans can be a good investment because members of a community come together to borrow, and have group support and peer pressure to make timely repayments. Members of Nuestro Sueño are planning on using their loans to purchase products for their individual businesses, which include food, clothing, crafts, and firewood sales.

Thanks for making these two loans possible, my Kiva loan buddies.

If you have an interest in joining Kiva, I invite you to join through my link here – Kiva is still giving $25 bonuses out!

Twin Cities – Get Involved TONIGHT!

There are a couple of interesting-looking events happening in Minneapolis this evening:

Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment – Community Awareness/Education Event

Congressman Keith Ellison is hosting a community forum and panel discussion to discuss the Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment that will be on the Minnesota ballot this fall. Representative Ellison is encouraging constituents to come out and learn about “the dangerous photo ID constitutional amendment and how you can take action to defeat it.”

The forum is taking place tonight from 6:00 – 8:00pm at the Sabes Jewish Community Center, which is located at 4330 Cedar Lake Road S, St. Louis Park, MN 55416. Click here for a map. For last minute questions you can contact campaign@keithellison.org or call (612) 522-4416.

Dr. Eugenie Scott at the University of Minnesota

Dr. Eugenie Scott will present a free public forum on “Climate Science in Schools: The Next Evolution”. The event is tonight at 7pm and will be held in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Cowles Auditorium (301 19th Ave S , Minneapolis, MN). Here’s the write up about Dr. Scott that I found at the Minnesota Atheists meetup group:

Dr. Eugenie Scott, is the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). For the past 30 years NCSE has primarily focused on defending the teaching of evolution in the classroom. In 2012, in response to complaints from teachers that they were coming under fire for teaching global warming and other climate change concepts, NCSE decided to support the teaching of climate change in addition to evolution.

Scott has been both a researcher and an activist in the creationism/evolution controversy for over twenty-five years, and can address the nature of science in education. She launched NCSE’s new climate initiative in January 2012 and has appeared on a number of media outlets, including NPR’s Science Friday, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, and more. She holds a PhD and eight honorary degrees.

Event sponsored by the Will Steger Foundation and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy.

There’s never a dull moment around this place!

6 O’Clock BS: Bridegroom

I sent $25 to this Kickstarter, because damn.

As of this writing the Bridegroom project needs less than $7000 to meet their $300,000 goal, and they’re got eight days to do it. They’re proposing to use the money to enhance the production value of the film, and for marketing, distribution and music. They want to release the documentary by this fall – just in time for November elections when a lot of us will be faced at the polling booth with choices that could affect the equality of our gay and lesbian friends, family, neighbors and fellow citizens.

From the Bridegroom Movie Facebook group:

BRIDEGROOM, AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY, will tell the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship – a relationship that was cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death– of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized– is poignant, enraging and opens a window onto the issue of marriage equality like no speech or lecture ever will.

6 O’Clock BS – Joining Groups

Look at that – it’s six o’clock! Today let’s talk about how to choose a cause. If you believe that getting involved in groups, issues, debates, community building, et cetera is a good way to spend your time, then it’s not an issue of finding an issue, it’s a matter of choosing one (or several). Thanks to the internet you can find or get involved with almost any issue from almost any location, and there is no end of groups that are looking for people to help spread their message, fight for their cause or to just hang out and be social. In many cases, the only limiting factors to your involvement are your time, your attention or interest, and your sanity.

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Blogging as Activism – Harassment Policies

For those people who think that blogging is narcissistic, self-centered prattling, that we’re yelling into a void, that we’re just whining and not working to make real change, Stephanie Zvan is here to prove that blogging can be activism and can lead to change of the best kind.

Over at her blog, Almost Diamonds, she posted about sexist behavior at conventions which leads to women and men feeling uncomfortable, and in cases, unsafe. Unchecked sexually-charged atmospheres have earned some conventions a reputation of being unwelcoming to women. Some – including myself – would argue that this is one reason why women have been slow to join active communities outside of the internet.  It is a controversial topic because it’s a serious topic, and unless you have personally witnessed or been a victim of this sort of unwanted attention, it’s easy to believe that it doesn’t exist, or that it’s not as pervasive as witnesses have been saying, that people are over-reacting or misinterpreting. It’s easy to think this way because not enough of us have been working to open all of our eyes to this issue. But Stephanie has a way to help change this: Harassment policies at conventions.

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