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Several people have asked me how they can help DC protect itself from the ravages of the current congress and administration. I have an idea.

DCist has an article about the current abortion law before congress. There's also a link to a "death with dignity" law with which congress is trying to interfere and, though there's no link, mention of a gun law which the House, especially, has already tried to overturn. They've already interfered with our decriminalization of marijuana laws, leaving us in the awkward position of not being able to regulate a trade which, through taxation, would help us immensely.

Call your congress people and Senators. I don't care if you agree with DC's law. I disagree with the "death with dignity" law and the only reason I don't disagree on abortion is that someone who doesn't have bodily autonomy isn't a full citizen in the eyes of the law. I see anything forbidding the right to choose as a slippery slope to women no longer being seen as full citizens. After all, it's been less than a hundred years since we were seen as full citizens. The point is actually more powerful if you disagree.

The point is that we have Home Rule. The point is that congress is not allowed to interfere with Boston, Denver, Oklahoma City, Detroit, Memphis, Nashville, Seattle, El Paso, or Portland, OR all of which are cities within 50,000 of our population. If the US Congress passed a law that said only the citizens of Seattle had to turn in their personal guns, everyone would rightly be up in arms (no pun intended). If they passed a law that said only the citizens of El Paso were required to have a gun on them at all times, the NRA might be happy, but the rest of us would be up in arms.

The more conservative the state you live in, the more powerful the statement. It's primarily, though not exclusively, Republicans and conservatives who are putting their fingers in our pies. Many of them are the same Republicans who shout from the mountaintop that the Federal government shouldn't interfere in local laws -- like those "religious freedom" laws and "bathroom bills."

Call. Please call. Call often. Adapt one of the sample scripts from thesixtyfive.org. More than anything else, make certain that you say your are their constituent and that you support the District of Columbia's right to autonomy in local matters. It can also be phrased as support for the District's right to Home Rule. While you're at The Sixty-five, pick another call to make. This isn't going to be a short haul on any issue. If you call your congress critter on another issue, throw in a "and don't interfere in the District of Columbia's local laws" at the end of it.

Thank you. Spread this message any way you can.


Jan. 23rd, 2016 03:37 pm
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I have a snow drift on my balcony. I decided it was time to close the window.

We're getting the nearly 2" an hour that was promised. As of an hour ago, Capitol Hill had 16" of snow. This is getting interesting.


Apr. 30th, 2015 12:47 pm
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Crikey. People are saying, quoting a remark by David Simon, that "there are now two Americas."

All I can think is, "Oh, honey, no." There have always been multiple Americas; it's just that white folks have always thought theirs was the only one that counted.

I watch demonstrations of white privilege every fucking day. I probably demonstrate my own privilege in ways that I don't fully comprehend because that's the problem of privilege: you don't always recognize it when you have it.

But. I'm more aware because I'm in the reverse situation from most people of color. I'm the only white person in my office. I'm one of fifteen or so in my 300+ person organization. When I tell my friends who work for the Federal government that I work for DC government, one of the first questions is about how do I feel about working with people that don't look like me. The questions are less direct than that, of course. None of us is a bigot. But aren't you worried that you live in a mix-raced neighborhood, go to that area of town, work with people who went to different types of schools... all of the subtle, and not so subtle codes.

I'm tired. I'm tired of the twenty-something white people going to Nats or Caps games who won't give up their seats on the Metro to an elderly black person or a pregnant black woman or a disabled black man. I know it's not general obliviousness, because they snap up and offer to white people with the same issues.

I'm tired of the rare white customer being so relieved to see me or requesting me when they get one of my colleagues in the rotation.

Baltimore's issues exist because we don't look at racism. We don't realize that Samuel L. Jackson, to give a famous example, was over 20 before segregation ended in the city where he was born. People remember segregation. AIDS policies were and still are geared more toward the gay community than toward the Black community, but AIDS for whatever reason spreads more quickly and more ways in Black communities. It's estimated that one in twenty people (5%) of the District's population is HIV positive. Some of this is due to poor education. Some of this is due to Congress not allowing needle exchange programs. We have a generation in this city reared by their grandparents because their parents died of AIDS.

Those of you in Boston remember busing. Imagine living with that fight every single fucking day and you'll have some idea of what being poor and black in Baltimore is like.
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First bit: Please go read [livejournal.com profile] ladyofastolat's post titled Of the Rings of PowerPoint and the Third Age. Everyone has been to the type of meeting she describes at the beginning.

Second bit and/or bob: As always, I like to commemorate an anniversary on this day. This is the date my father got back from his last tour in Vietnam. He swears he'll get over the jet lag soon. I'm lucky that he's still with us, but after 40 years, I still remember greeting him at the airport with "We just heard that Da Nang fell." His answer was, "Then that's the end." By the end of April, he was right.

Article which prompted everything below is here.

I'll start by saying that I don't have children. However, like most of us, I was a child at one point, and I remember growing up.

When I was 5 I went to kindergarten. The school, Ashlawn, was three or eight blocks away depending upon the route. My mother walked the three block version, which included a short trip through some public greenery on the edge of the playground, for about a week before school was due to begin. The night before the first day of school, she asked me if I wanted her to come with me. I replied that I was a big girl, and I walked to school by myself.

Part of me regrets not having her walk me to school the first day, mostly because she never offered again. But I also remember how proud of myself I was for being "a big girl."

Mom made certain I knew all the smart things: never get in a car with an adult you don't know, never tell anyone where you live (other than a policeman if you're lost), come straight home. I took these to heart. In late October or early November, it began to rain while I was at school. I had my rain coat, boots, and umbrella, so I was prepared, but no one realized how windy it was going to be or how much the temperature would drop. I began to walk home. My umbrella blew inside out as soon as I got out of the trees and the wind felt like it was going right through me. At the first of two street crossings, a woman stopped and asked if I wanted a lift home. She knew my name, but I didn't recognize her -- not for sure -- so I told her that I didn't take rides from strangers. I completed my route home.

The woman, whose name I don't think I ever knew, had called Mom as soon as she got home. Praised her for training me so well, and warned her that I was still over a block away and very cold and wet. Mom says she debated whether to come get me. She didn't. Instead, when I got home, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup were waiting to warm me from the inside out. Mom was never big on praise, but that day I got a lot of it -- especially for turning down the ride.

We moved to London just before first grade. Because the bus stop was on a busy street near a three lane roundabout, Dad walked me to the bus stop every morning and Mom picked me up from it every afternoon. But there were still things I did on my own, ranging from walking two blocks to the pillar box to post letters to deciding what books I wanted to read. (I attribute being able to read at a 10th grade level at age 7 to the fact that neither parent tried to censor my reading.) Third grade, I was in small town America and walked my little sister to kindergarten every morning. We walked to the bus stop in 4th and 1st grades. We walked to and from school -- a mile each way -- from my 5th - 8th grades. We also had a paper route, went to summer camp for 10 weeks every year, and were allowed to go to the movies by ourselves. With my paper route money, I bought theater tickets. I saw the Mormon Tabernacle Choir standing room only when I was 12. I went to see plays, too.

At 15 I went to boarding school. I found out much later that my parents had signed the permission slip for me to smoke. They figured I might try it some time and didn't want me to get in trouble for it. Beyond that, I was shocked when I wasn't allowed to attend an evening movie or go to a restaurant on my own in downtown Richmond. I found a friend who was willing to see the Olivier Wuthering Heights with me, fortunately, and I had to fight to be allowed to attend the Nutcracker on my own at the Richmond Mosque (theater name, not religious establishment).

In Belgium, at 17, I discovered the Musee du Cinema. I saw Il Trovatore standing room only. Hell, I went to Paris for the day by myself (six hours each way by train which left me about seven hours to explore the city). Not one thing I did there was something I'd done before. But I was trusted to figure out public transportation on my own, trusted to call if I had a problem (pre-cellphone: I think we used tin cans and string back in the Dark ages), and trusted to stick to the schedule I'd discussed.

One of my fellow alumni came up to me at the reunion I attended and said, "I didn't appreciate you enough. You were the only one of us to go out and have adventures." He also thanked me for introducing him to Gilbert & Sullivan which became a lifelong love of his.

The thing that I want to emphasize most out of all this: the crime rate was much, much higher back then. Washington DC was the murder capital of the country when I was going to the theater on my own at age 12. If it was an evening performance, my parents would pick me up afterward, but if it was a matinee, I was trusted to find my way home. I was trusted to buy ingredients for the dinner I was cooking from the time I was 10, even though it involved crossing a major street with no cross walk. That's what I remember most, being trusted. And that's what I worry the kids today aren't getting.
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I've liked, but not loved, the Corcoran for a long time. Their collection was eclectic, but not shaped to one person's/family's taste as the Phillips is (the Phillips is becoming less this way, but it still feels coherent to me). It was also part of a legacy endowment with a fantastic building in a wonderful location. A few years ago, before the crash of 2008, they were trying to expand into my neighborhood by moving their College of Art to an old school building near me which would have freed space in the main building for more art works. They sold that school to a private developer (and there's a great deal of debate over whether they were allowed to since they'd gotten a sweetheart deal on city land) in order to boost their coffers once the crash happened. About a decade prior to that, they'd commissioned a Frank Gehry extension to the original building that failed to raise enough money and/or flunked the zoning and Commission of Fine Arts Review -- which is important since the original building is a) listed on the historic register and b) two blocks from the White House.

Other solutions were presented to the Corcoran's problems, including moving the collection to Virginia and turning the historically registered building into condos. Those of us who paid membership fees for the Corcoran protested that mightily for a wide variety of reasons. Then there were rumors, which I've seen both confirmed and denied by the parties involved, that the University of Maryland was going to take over the collection and the building. Instead, in a last minute move, the National Gallery of Art has taken over the building and the collection in collaboration with George Washington University which is taking over the school and will get some of the collection somehow.

Some of the process of integrating the collections was covered in an article in The New York Times today.

One thing that struck me as odd is that there are people who think the National Gallery has a lot of American Art. It has some, but the major collection of American Art is at the Smithsonian.

UPDATED with the proposed ghastlyGehry extension.

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I'm fine. My evening commute was bollixed up, but I am absolutely fine.

One person is dead. Two are in critical condition. Another 81 people were affected badly enough to require a trip to the hospital. No one saw any flames, just smoke.

I feel pretty lucky.

And, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] eanja's generosity, I'll see many of you at Arisia.
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I'm tired, y'all. The District of Columbia has a larger population than Wyoming. Wyoming has two Senators and a Representative in the House. They paid $3,828,379,000 in gross income tax for fiscal year 2012 (per Wikipedia. I know.)

The District paid $20,747,652,000.

We pay more in income tax than Montana, Wyoming, and both Dakotas combined ($19,013,215,000 for all four of them vs $20,747,652,000 for the District using those 2012 numbers).

But the death of Marion Barry and the Ferguson protests here (which have not erupted in violence) are getting dismissive comments about our being "like children" who "lack any capacity to govern." If we weren't a predominantly black city, I don't think anyone would use those phrases.

We have more Ph.D.s per capita than Cambridge, MA and three wards with a combined illiteracy rate of 27%. We're trying to combat the latter, but it's not easy. Generations of people who were never encouraged to read, who lost their children to AIDS (one in five DC residents is HIV positive -- per a study from 2011, it's probably less now because the population has increased) and are now trying to rear their grandchildren and, in some cases, great-grandchildren.

The thing is, some of the policies that would help our situation are opposed by a conservative Congress. We've lost our needle exchange programs which is part of our Medicaid (paid by our local taxes; this isn't federal money) because Congress has interfered. Ditto some of our abortion rights. If Congress doesn't like something we fund, they can stop it. They can't in Boston or Chicago or any other major city, but they can here. But we're "like children."
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Guardian Obituary

New York Times Obituary

Washington Post on the DC Summer Jobs Program

I met the man. I've shaken his hand. He kept a group of us waiting for over half an hour for a meeting he'd called. Once he was in the room, though, he was laser focused on the issue at hand, and he knew the facts of the matter. He had the knack for remembering people -- maybe not their names, but why and when he'd met them -- which made him a popular politician.

There is an annual turkey giveaway in DC. In addition to providing turkeys to poor families, there's a meal for every homeless person in the city. It's financed through donations and city funds, by the way, not a penny of federal money.

Marion Barry helped make Home Rule possible. Was he a great man? Well, he certainly had great flaws. But I think he achieved some niche greatness.

This is a response to someone else's comment at The Guardian:

Let me tell you about Marion Barry. But first, let me tell you about myself. I have lived in DC for 7 years now and lived in the DC area for 12 years in my childhood and teens.

DC has a non-voting Delegate in Congress. We wouldn't have even that much, if it weren't for Marion Barry. We wouldn't have the ability to make our own laws, if it weren't for Marion Barry. We have a better city for the poorest because Marion Barry fought for them. You can be cynical and say he was only doing it for a vote, but the fact is he got people fed, clothed, and employed.

His summer jobs program continues to this day and is the biggest in the country with 14,000 getting jobs last year and we do it all with local, not federal money.

At his death, I think it's just as appropriate to remember the man who helped achieve home rule, and who did so much to improve the city as it is to remember the man who was arrested for crack.
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I voted. I'm still disappointed that "None of the Above" is not an option in some of these races.

I got to meet Dick Gregory! He was handing out literature for one of the At-Large council races.

The only vote of mine which I will reveal is that I voted "Yes" on Marijuana legalization. I'm not entirely certain I think it's a good idea (I've never tried it), but a) I don't want my neighbors who smoke enough that I get a contact high by leaving the windows open to get in trouble and b) It will piss-off certain members of Congress -- possibly to the point where they interfere.

I really think the District won't get other states caring about our lack of representation until congressional interference is seen.
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The NTLive Frankenstein is being reshown on Halloween. I already have tickets for me, a work friend, and her teenaged daughter (Friend says I'm the daughter's real mother, she just carried her, because daughter and I have such similar outlooks.) I'm doing a happy dance in my seat.

I don't know which actor is playing which role and I really, really wish they were showing both versions.
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An artist by the name of Jake Chapman was quoted in The Independent as saying children shouldn't be taken to art galleries because they can't appreciate the point the artist is trying to make.

Yes, I'm screaming. I loved going to art museums when I was a kid. One of my most visceral memories is of seeing Winged Victory (Nike of Samothrace) for the first time when I was seven. I would beg to be allowed to go to the National Gallery or the Portrait Gallery after church when we moved back to DC, and, from the time I was ten, my parents would let me go on my own.

Field trips to The Phillips Collection or the Corcoran were high points of my school year.

And then there was the tutoring when I grew up. One of the things I had the hardest time with, both in DC and Boston, was encouraging the students to develop their own tastes. Especially in DC, the students were hesitant to voice an opinion because they were afraid either of being "wrong" (in quotes because, while bad taste exists, it's still a personal taste and therefore can't be wrong) or of disagreeing with an adult.

And yet, some of the best times I've ever had have been with preteens at a museum. There was the girl next door who had a hard time keeping her hands off the Babylonian art and tried to touch the Van Gogh's. She didn't care for Egyptian art at all and thought Monet was a little dull (for the record, I like Monet better than Van Gogh and prefer Egyptian to Babylonian, but her enthusiasm was infectious.). The group I took to the National Gallery was fascinated by the Venetian paintings and had some very pointed comments about a nude that we passed. Some loved still lifes, others thought the carved table was the bomb (their word, not mine), and all of them adored Villareal's Multiverse installation.

How can anyone say that kids can't enjoy art? Worse, how can anyone say that a child isn't human yet?

Villareal's Multiverse (it's a little sped up)


Jul. 17th, 2014 04:18 pm
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I got off early tonight and was able to stop at the Farmer's Market. Kale Kimchi, DC dill pickles, two different cheeses, and a half gallon of the best chocolate milk (Yes, it even tops the milk found at Pennsic) are among my haul. I stopped for a half dozen oysters and a glass of white wine, too.

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I just came from an AFI Docs screening of this movie. It talks about the life and activism of Aaron Swartz, and I cannot praise it highly enough. The film goes on wide release next Friday, including a paid video on demand option, and, for those of you in Boston, they are arranging a showing with a discussion panel at MIT which should be interesting as no one from MIT was willing to comment on screen about Swartz's prosecution.

I've come away with a very emotional impression of the whole thing. The movie certainly has a point of view and presents Swartz as a mensch who followed through on his ideas for a more just internet -- and by extension a more just society. It certainly makes me question the definition of public domain and makes me want to support Project Gutenberg more directly.
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Good thing: [livejournal.com profile] jerminating is in town. We met up for dinner last night and will have a chance to spend some time talking before his flight leaves on Sunday, too.

Bad thing: Yesterday, four people were shot during business hours about a block from where I work. As of the last report I read, none has died. The bus stop is on the bus line I use to get home.
Local news report here
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One of my colleagues looked at my feet (one booted, one braced) and said the universe is trying to tell me to take one step at a time.

Could less pain be involved in the next message?
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I don't know what Congress is up to, but the lights are still on in the cupola at 23:35.
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So. My top books are still city planning and architecture books. I want to know more, help DC grow without losing its character, and generally create a more sustainable future.

In other words, I want to get a degree in Urban Planning (possibly with an "and Public Policy" thrown in). I don't have the foggiest idea how to find funding for a graduate degree. I know that I can't afford it by myself in the near term.

Has anyone ever applied for grants for graduate work? How likely is it to get one for something that isn't a hard science? I'm soliciting advice.
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My flight was cancelled last night due to the United computer glitch, so no Boston for me this weekend.

Two of my stranded compatriots decided to get to New York or New England by the 3:15 Amtrak departure and were dropped at Union Station just before I was let off.

I did the tourist thing, especially with the woman who lives in Albany but spends a great deal of time in Denver. She's a schoolteacher and the questions she asked about "the bad parts of town" were slightly prejudiced -- though to her credit she didn't know it until I explained and she seemed quite compassionate after I gave her a potted history of the city.

But she also did not know, nor did the other person in the van with us, that the District had no representation in Congress. They both asked a few questions, and I made my usual plea for them to ask their representatives to give me a representative (at least).

I also did some sightseeing spiel for them, since she'd never been to DC before and I included the tidbit that the statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol is actually slightly taller than the one of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial which is impossible to tell from the angles. I then mentioned that Jefferson Davis when he was Secretary of the Interior was responsible for the change to the headdress (it was originally supposed to be a French style Liberty cap) because he didn't want the slaves who were building the Capitol to get any ideas.

She said, "I don't like to hear about things like that," and shuddered.

It's part of our history. She's tall (at least compared to me), slim, and blue-eyed. How many people don't know because they don't like to hear about it?

It's amazing to me.
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There was an article in a local blog yesterday by Gary Imhoff which talks about the DC statehood movement and says we should be like Hawaii and Alaska rather than taking our cue from the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.

There's a difference.

Hawaii has huge strategic importance, and Pearl Harbor was engrained in the memories of those old enough to vote when it was up for ratification.

Alaska has vast tracts of natural resources, and, during the Cold War, was of even greater strategic importance than Hawaii. After all, you could see Russia from there.

DC had to wait another fourteen years after these two territories became states for Home Rule which allowed us to vote in Presidential elections and gave us a vague and whimsical permission to govern ourselves -- when Congress thought it was acceptable and with Congress controlling even our local purse strings.

The military was allowed to vote before we were. (Hands up everyone who didn't realize the military wasn't allowed to vote for President until after World War II and that military bases weren't allowed to vote for local offices until 1986.) Eighteen year olds were allowed to vote before we were, and I happily exercised my franchise on an absentee ballot as soon as I could.

The fight for Home Rule was part of the Civil Rights movement. The patronizing attitudes of much of Congress and many people in other parts of the country -- on both ends of the social and political spectra -- make this a Civil Rights movement.

My city

Aug. 9th, 2010 05:12 pm
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I am a white woman in a predominantly black city.

I am a city worker in a place where most people work for the federal government.

And I am sick of the racism I read in the comments of The Washington Post.

There was an incident this weekend on the Metro at the stop I use most often. I wasn't there, because I tend to walk or take the bus when I can in order to save money. People were injured. It's been characterized as both a brawl and a riot depending on the article and the people doing the characterizing.

The assumption -- which is probably correct based solely on the city's demographics -- is that the young people who started the incident were black. The invective which has been unleashed is sickening. "Untermensch." "Make a coon-skin cap out of you."

Few people see this as anything but young black people making trouble. No one is questioning why they might be disaffected, though you'd be amazed at how many want to know "where are the parents?" Based on my experience in the neighborhood and through my job, the parents are probably working a second job to try to afford school supplies for their kids.

Even fewer people seem to be willing to do anything like mentor, tutor, or volunteer at a school. They are in favor of "shooting hooligans in the face" and going armed into the city.

I lived here in the 1970s, though in the suburbs. I remember the struggles -- real riots over things like the KKK marching. From the descriptions, this was much smaller than the kinds of troubles I used to experience in the early 80s from the soccer fans in London.

I don't in any way condone this type of behavior. I don't like being hassled and yelled at any more than the next person, and I hate being caught in violence. It's happened to me. But I don't for a moment think that race is a proximate cause for a minor eruption of violence on a hot summer's night.


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