Dept. of Politics

Tuesday, 2 April 2019 07:42 pm
kaffyr: (Joe Hill)
Lori Lightfoot

According to the Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times, Lori Lightfoot has overwhelmingly won the election to become Mayor of Chicago. She is only the third African American to hold the position, the second woman, and the first openly gay candidate. She's also the most progressive candidate. 

It would have been a win-win situation as far as our household was concerned; Lightfoot's opponent was Toni Preckwinckle, a black woman who is the first woman president of the Cook County Board, as well as being the head of the Cook County Democratic Party. She had her own progressive history as a Chicago alderman, and although that cred had eroded over the years as she rose in the party heirarchy, it wasn't gone. 

But Lightfoot was our choice, and she has won.

She has inherited a city with huge financial problems, one with a horrendous history of systemic racism that is especially glaring in the way its police department operates (as far as this union maid is concerned, the Fraternal Order of Police is one of the few bad unions.) 

But she knows that. And I think she's willing to put in the work, and she's tough enough to take on some of the bad faith operators. 

Here's the editorial from the Sun-Times when that paper (my old, old paper, and the one I still feel more attuned to than my last employer) endorsed her. It's a beautiful piece of editorial writing, and it therefore puts the case beautifully for Lori Lightfoot. 

This is the first time, since Harold Washington's two mayoral wins back in the 1980s that I've felt this hopeful about my city. Come to think of it, it's one of the few times since November of 2016 that I've felt politically hopeful. (Winning back the House in D.C. this year was only half the battle, so my happiness was definitely measured.)
kaffyr: Animation of a Ghibli film scene, water rolling into shore. (Anoesis)
Transgender Day of Remembrance

The official day of remembrance, at least here in the U.S., is almost over. But that's OK. We need to remember - I need to remember - every day of the year. And more - I need to speak out against transgender violence, whether that's hate speech, emotional and legal violence, physical violence, or any other kind of deliberate, direct, indirect or unthinking marginalization and minimization. I need to do it even when it's uncomfortable for me to do it. Because my discomfort is pretty small compared to what these human beings, my brothers, sisters and siblings, deal with. 

These stories say more than I can

kaffyr: (Joe Hill)
I Know Which Side I'm On

Seven years ago, I found these songs on YouTube. Although they don't speak directly to the issue of working people and their place in our society, they certainly stand in judgement of those who would — and did — wreck the lives of untold numbers of working people, all for love of gold. Declaring that loving gold over humanity is wrong is at least one of the pillars supporting the dignity of working men and women.

Under here )

Dept. of America

Tuesday, 4 July 2017 03:38 pm
kaffyr: Mid-afternoon view from the spirit world train. (Train view)
I Am Silent In the Face of Heartbreak

Every year, I try to write something about this country on July 4, because I love it. 

(Oh sure, you do, 
[personal profile] kaffyr  ... how come you're not a citizen?)

But this year, after eight months of surreality - 

(What makes a country great? What makes it great again? How can it become great for the first time?)

I find that I cannot.

(Some must think that makes me a traitor. Some must think I must be spineless. Some must think it makes me a patriot. I think it makes me confused.

I still love it.

(Can't figure out why, except that it's still got a chance to be great, and isn't that almost enough?)

So I turn to music. 

This man's guitar killed fascists. 

This man was prescient in so many ways, but he was wrong about the revolution. Or maybe he'll still be right. It's apparently the counter-revolution that's being televised. 

This American Woman slays - and she frightens racists. 

And this one ... I forgive him for forgetting that there were a lot of folks here when the Mayflower arrived, because ... because, because, because, and partly because of the beauty of their two voices. Every year this one makes me weep more. 

Dept. of May Day

Monday, 1 May 2017 10:16 pm
kaffyr: (Joe Hill)
The First of May

"The bosses gave us Labor Day. May Day we took for ourselves."  

I took this from a friend's Twitter feed, because it's certainly the truth in the U.S., where Labor Day, in September, is celebrated, and not International Workers' Day, on  May 1. And by "celebrated" I mean "The working class/political origins of Labor Day and May Day? La-la-la I can't hear you!"

(The reasons for Canada and other countries going with the fall holiday may differ, so I'm sticking just with what might be reasons in this country.)

There's some interesting suggestions out there about why the United States chose September and not May. Some people believe that Grover Cleveland signed the September date into law to help turn peoples' attention away from the troops he sent in to kill workers in Chicago during the Pullman strikes (sorry for the Huffpost link - not a fan of aggregation sites, me - but it's late and I'm too lazy to seek better links. I hope you'll forgive me), although that doesn't completely address the choice of date. Other sources say that the country's determined rejection of May 1 stemmed from general American government/capital mistrust of connecting American labor movements with international labor movements that had already coalesced around that date.

It seems fairly clear to me that whatever the specific source of the American disconnect from International Workers' Day, the general establishment dislike of an empowered working class had a great deal to do with the blindness to May 1 and the watering down of the September Labor Day from a celebration of workers to a picnic-oriented long weekend.

This year, though, more people in America paid attention to May 1. I hope the trend, if not the reasons for it, continue.

kaffyr: (We used to dream)
  photo fb3cd480-2f3f-4212-87a0-472a9271dbf6_zps3tzojemf.png

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus
kaffyr: She's at a typewriter; is she legal? (Are Girls Legal?)
This I Believe

 photo fb3cd480-2f3f-4212-87a0-472a9271dbf6_zps3tzojemf.png

Apologies for the large image, but you don't hide Lady Liberty's light under a bushel.

I live-streamed the Women's March on Washington. My First Born attended the march in Chicago. And, although I know it's just the beginning - continued resistance is hard work - I think knowing how much support, how many allies, there are around the world, is a tremendous boost.
kaffyr: Weeping angel peers through "clock" (Time's no Angel)
Phyllis Schlafly is Dead

As it says on the tin.
I wish I could think of something nice to say about the woman. She certainly was a bundle of energy. How about these? She had a way with words.  

She was also a mean-spirited, hypocritical ultra-conservative force for regression and oppression. And of all those attributes, it may be her hypocrisy that has always rubbed me the most raw. She was able to live her very independent life, dedicated to fighting against independence for women, because she married a rich man. 

Faugh. Enough. There were people who loved her, and I am sorry that they feel the loss. 

But the world was made worse through her efforts, and if there is a seat of god, she ought to hang her head in shame before it.
kaffyr: (Joe Hill)
I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night

It doesn't matter that Labor Day is almost over. That's because every day is Labor Day. On this Labor Day
, I remember Joe Hill
YouTube heavy post under here )

Dept. of Independence

Monday, 4 July 2016 04:30 pm
kaffyr: (Joe Hill)
A Plea

Every Independence Day, I try to write a post that tells friends and acquaintances what I feel about Independence Day in America. This year, my post is a plea to everyone in this amazing country - and, frankly, to any of my friends and acquaintances around the world. Because what I'm about to ask all of you is something that I think is necessary. It's a plea from my heart, asking you all to help maintain democracy in a way that goes beyond love and duty, to action. 

Read newspapers. 

Read newspapers that you agree with, read the ones you're pretty sure are wrong-headed. Compare their stories. Continue reading them. Read newspapers from other countries if you can. 

Pay for those newspapers.

If you read them online, and there's a way to subscribe to a digital version of those papers, think hard about which ones you think are doing a good job - not necessary the job you like, but a good job - of trying to inform their reading public. 

If you read them in hard copy, subscribe. If you can only afford to get weekend delivery, do that. If you can afford seven-day-a-week delivery, do that. It'll be more expensive, but it's worth it to you - after all, you won't have to worry about your access to news dying with a recalcitrant laptop or aging tablet. And you'll have something to line your birdcage with eventually. More importantly, you'll be able to turn a page and find news you hadn't expected, hadn't looked for - and you might learn something important about your world. That's another benefit to hard-copy. When you read online news sources, they tend to conform themselves, via algorithms and other marketing magic, to what they think you want to read, or hear. Voila, instant echo chamber. 

So, yes, if you can, read newspapers, and pay for them. 

Most of you know I'm a reporter, so you may assume this is my biased, and slightly panicked, plea to my friends and acquaintances to help keep my source of income alive. Well, of course it is. 

But there's also this: this is what The Nation wrote most recently about the public's decreasing access to news that men, women, and children need to know, in order to make informed decisions about what's going on in their neighborhoods, their towns, their counties and provinces and states and nations and world. 

It's nothing new, as even the author states. But it's frightening in the extreme. 

They call journalism The Fourth Estate. I consider it one of the important pillars of democracy, along with informed voting, and continued informed involvement in democracy before and after voting. In fact, if you don't know what is happening around you - what businesses, governments, individuals, corporations, courts, et al, are doing to and for you - you cannot vote in an informed fashion. 

Newspapers are dying. And I'm not sure that live media is doing much of a job providing the news that people need in place of newspapers. Reading heavily targeted news that agrees with what you believe (something of which I'm equally guilty) will not tell you what's going on in this world. Newspapers, general circulation newspapers - small, medium, large, weekly and daily, neighborhood and national -  are what will help. 

They need money to keep going. So pay up. You're helping pay for democracy. 

Will keeping newspapers alive keep news alive? Probably not, in the long run, or at least in the way we once thought of news and newspapers. But it will help. And I can't think of a more patriotic thing to do on this Independence Day, than to check your wallet, figure out which two or three newspapers to support (remember to make one of them one that you don't agree with, but which you think has half-way decent reportage), and put your money into a subscription. 

Nor can I think of anything more patriotic for Canadians, for Brits, for Australians - for anyone whose country has a half-way open society - to do. We don't have the excuse of personal danger when we subscribe to good news sources that many folks across the world have. Let's use that freedom. 

Thank you, and here's a little something from Robert Reich that says other good things about democracy.

kaffyr: (Bacon!)
Just a Thought

What if people and corporations used to making obscene profits at the expense of other human beings could somehow be convinced to live with only slightly risque profits instead? 

I mean, yes, Come the Revolution and all that, but until then ....
kaffyr: (Bored in Porco Rosso)
Long Day

Long day, long week, no brain - or at least little brain - tired body (but I'm managing to exercise at least 5 days out of 7). Getting a little more gutted by Face the Raven each day, which I think shows the power of that episode. Maybe I'll talk about it tomorrow. 

More gutted, by news of the Laquan McDonald tragedy and travesty. I'm the sister of a police officer, but I feel no hesitation at all in saying yes, the system of policing in this country (and probably on this continent) is built to reinforce racism, despite the best efforts of good police officers, built to maintain systemic destruction of black bodies, minds, lives, and futures. It does so in the service of a culture that does not think The Other is part of it. Each death, and each denial that it's racism - or misogyny, or transphobia, take your pick -  kills democracy just that little bit more. 

Going out now for miso soup, green tea, some mackerel, and relaxation. Back later. Love y'all.
kaffyr: A cartoon dog ponders reality (Subjective pup)
Keeping Up with Keeping Up

Short, and probably not completely sweet:

The Hugos. Kudos to Noah Ward, and pointing and jeering (albeit, believe it or not, with a great deal of sadness) and the Sad and Rabids, who have been involved in a frothing and gnashing of teeth-type declarations that "Our Loss Proclaims Our Win!" and/or "Our Loss Proclaims that The Tiny Clique of Evil Anti-Democratic SJW's Somehow Gathered Enough Votes to Beat Us despite us asking everyone we could think of to game the system wait, that's right out, we did not say that" - or possibly both, because ... because Puppies. 

Stupidity in real life )Fun with coding, sort of )

And finally, I've started re-reading one of my favorite C.J. Cherryh series, the Chanur series. I had forgotten how much I loved all the characters, and the world-building; the hani, the mahe ... and, for providing really fascinating villains, the kif. And of course the methane breathers ... I'm into the fourth book and still loving it. 

So - how's by everyone else?

Also -
I promise I'll get back and respond to folks in earlier posts, and try to catch up with everyone else. 
kaffyr: Cylon Hybrid leaps into future. (Jump!)
The "But" in the Marriage Rights Victory

As I rejoiced and happy-danced this morning in the wake of the SCOTUS decision on marriage rights, I was also sadly aware that we have not yet won the battle, not by any stretch of the imagination. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and non-binary people in the United States, especially young people and people of color, still face life and death issues unfairly imposed on them by law, by heteronormative culture, and by us, when we fail to try to change the way things still stand. This is a brief, but pretty clear reminder. 

Dept. of W00t!!1!

Friday, 26 June 2015 09:17 am
kaffyr: (Hurrah!)

I might have wanted more of them to understand the idea of rights for all, but I'll take a 5-4 decision: SCOTUS rules in favor of marriage for everyone. 

There are too many things out there that need fixing and fighting to spend too long celebrating, but allow those of us who live in the U.S. at least a while to breath out a sigh of relief, to indulge in some fist-pumps, to hug each other and cry or dance in relief. 

Then let's get on with continuing to make our corner of the world better. 

kaffyr: A stupid comment about gender (No gender)
Boosting the Signal

Just so you folks know, I sent this email to the Wikimedia Foundation earlier tonight.

To Whom It May Concern,

This year, for the first time, I donated money to support the Wikimedia Foundation, and I thought I had done a good thing in doing so.

However, the recent news that your Arbitration Committee has made a decision to permanently ban five writers and editors, in response to pressure from members of the so-called Gamergate community, has decreased my respect for, and confidence in, your organization and its policies.

I hope someday to be able to donate to your organization again. For now, however, I join other members of the Internet community in saying that, until you fix Wikipedia's systemic bias against women, you will not get another penny from me.

And please do not indulge in the traditional defense of the disingenuous and cowardly; do not say, "We are not responsible." Of course you are, because you are financing and supporting the toxic atmosphere of its administrative and cultural infrastructure.

The buck stops with you.

Most sincerely,
Kathryn J. Routliffe

With many thanks to [personal profile] kerravonsen 

kaffyr: A typical day in the BSG!verse (Frakkin' Watchtower)
 With a Hat Tip to [personal profile] supergee  ...

... who pointed out this excellent and rightly angry piece by Mia McKenzie, talking about what you shouldn't get distracted by when a black teenager is murdered. Damn. Why does this even have to be written? And why do we - and I include me in the sorry list - have to be reminded? 

kaffyr: Weeping angel peers through "clock" (Time's no Angel)
Supreme Disgust

The next time I hear the phrase "5-4" I am seriously going to start hoping that one or two of the current "five" on the Supreme Court ... aaargh; no. I can't, I can't wish for bad things to happen to someone, not even Scalia, Alito, Roberts, or Thomas - but I can and do wish to slap anyone who suggests that these miserable people have anything but the basest of political motives when they make the majority of their decisions.

And yes, this is about the
goddamned Hobby Lobby decision. I can't even bear to look at it, at least not now.

Hey, guys - thanks for reminding me how little you think of women. Oh, and how much you're turned on by sexy, sexy corporations.

You slimy excuses for decent human beings.

kaffyr: (newsies sell papes)
 Freedom of Information. Big Data. 

These are things. These are important things. I've always known the FOI thing. Reporters do.

But Big Data? Whoah.

Yes, I'm actually at a day long workshop on Freedom of Information Act-related things, for both reporters and citizens, put on by the Chicago Headline Club. The biggest piece of interest for me, though, is the information I'm learning about a) the existence of Big Data and b) how it can be used, interpreted, contextualized and used to enlighten the public I'm serving.


But a little weird for a woman whose reporting career began in 1975, back with carbons between sheets of paper that you put into a manual typewriter ....I'm such a mix of things; I love the Internet, I love and understand a bunch of things about communicating on the net, and yet I am so un-tech savvy most of the time ... 

Also, I'm going to be giving a workshop on this back at work. To a lot of other reporters. On April 8. I have until then to figure out Power Point, I suppose. And figure out what needs to be said, how it needs to be said and why. 

Ah, well. Back to breakout sessions.  

kaffyr: The First Doctor isn't amused (Bullshit!)
When Special Snowflakes Aren't

Back a few years, when I had an office, and when each person in the office actually had their own office, one of my reportorial compatriots had an award-winning door of pro-labor editorial cartoons. At least I thought the cartoons she put up there were worthy of awards. One, in particular, has stayed with me.

A man sits in front of a large desk, behind which sits another man, whose appearance is typical cartoon "boss." The first man says something like "What do I want out of a job? I was thinking, a small, windowless office that has enough oxygen for me to breathe while I do my work."

The boss says, "Well, you're not asking for much, are you, Mr. Prima-Donna?"

Over the years, my enjoyment of that cartoon has evolved from its original wryly bitter appreciation to simply bitter. That's because too many of us have swallowed the lie of Privilege vs Right, of Luxury vs Necessity.

Warning. Rant. )
kaffyr: Animation of a Ghibli film scene, water rolling into shore. (Anoesis)
 Putting Their Mouths Where Their Hearts Are

I was once a Christian believer. I haven't been for decades. But I still have family, friends and acquaintances who are strong believers. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, they all seem to be pretty honorable types.

They may already know of The
NALT Christian Project, as many of y'all out there might already know. In case you don't, however, the Not All Like That project is worth taking a look at.

It's a project in which Christians who don't believe their God thinks homosexuality or non-heterosexuality are sins post videos testifying to that belief. It's their way of standing up against the publicly held perception — one nurtured by too many people — that all Christians do think non-hetersosexuality is a sin. It's done by people who, as Dan Savage says in his introductory video, believe they have to do more than whisper to their LBGTQ friends that "We're not all like that" in the face of religiously-branded bigotry and hatred.

It's a damned good idea and well worth the effort, at least I think so. If you fit the bill as a NALT Christian, and if you want to help boost the signal, this may be for you.

kaffyr: She's at a typewriter; is she legal? (Are Girls Legal?)
There's Nothing So True As This, Right Now

I know I'm going to be dealing with The Twelfth Doctor, (and glad I am that the bookies were right, because Peter Capaldi is excellent, and I just hope he decides to wear the dashing mustache and goatee I've seen in recent pictures of him) in another post, but that can wait.

Right now, this:

kaffyr, saving you bandwidth since 2006 )

Dept. of Catching Up

Wednesday, 3 July 2013 10:49 am
kaffyr: Close-up of manual typewriter (Typewriter)
I Aten't Dead, Part Deux

Wow. Only three entries in June. I've been snowed under with life and the inability to communicate with others (or perhaps the inability to want to communicate with others - a different thing entirely - or perhaps a bit of both) and thus, this span of empty days.

I've been alive, though. And not everything has been shit. Very probably not even a lot has been shit.

On the job front, we're still fighting the firing of our 28 photographers (which, I should point out, include those photographers from the company's non-union papers; we're fighting for everyone.)

Union leafleting stories )

My non-lawyerish thoughts on DOMA and Prop 8 SCOTUS decisions )
And finally - fanfic stuff! )

And now I have to get back to work, my friends. But at least you know.

I aten't dead.

kaffyr: The newsies contemplate striking (Stop the presses)
Fandom FT(Union)W!

We held a rally in support of our photographers, and we got a lot of support from other unions. More importantly, we got coverage from other outlets - radio, television and newspaper. (And one of the funny things was being interviewed by a professional Tribune photographer who was taking video ... you know, like my company's trying to make untrained reporters do.) I'm hoping it put just that much more pressure on the people who made the decision, who are sitting opposite us at the negotiating table.

I think one of the real lights of the rally was the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, John H. White; he is not only incredibly talented, but a kind and gentle man, a principled man of faith who truly is grace filled. He didn't speak during the Tribune piece, but if I could find a clip somewhere, I'd show it to you; there is no anger, as worthy of anger as the company's treatment of him and his colleagues is. There's disappointment, but a belief on his side that he still has much to do in his life, and that the Sun-Times firing won't stop him being a help to the world. I wish you could have seen more of how his professional colleagues react to him; photographers are a close group (all the photogs who covers our rally told us how much they missed working with our guys), but the love they have for Mr. White goes even beyond that.

As for me, I ended up doing about four interviews, and tried to be as articulate about our case as possible. I'm not going to be falsely modest - I have no doubt that I can do well in front of an audience. But this was really important, so I didn't want to come off as mush-mouthed or strident. I just wanted to be forceful, but relatable. (And how's that for marketing speak?) I think I did alright.

But do you want to know why everyone gravitated toward me? (Something I wasn't at all surprised about as soon as I realized it was happening, by the way.) Because of the sign I was carrying. It got me the interview, and it got my picture taken several times - in fact, Google my name, the words rally and Getty and you'll probably run across a bunch of open-mouthed, chanting me, complete with fedora and sign. It allowed me to get the word out.

And since I can't actually embed it successfully, here's the link. and here's a link to the picture that explains why they gravitated to me.
Under here )

Edited to fix the picture link.

kaffyr: The newsies contemplate striking (Stop the presses)
Getting the Picture
Three Things You Can Do If You Believe in Justice and Journalism

Folks, it's been a hell of a few days for me, ever since my bosses at Wrapports Inc./Sun-Times Media, the publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, and of my Pioneer Press newspapers, fired all 28 professional photographers, and announced it planned to replace their work with those of untrained reporters like me, using iPhones to take pictures and videos. A hell of a few days for me, but a nightmare for the 28 colleagues who were unceremoniously, unfairly and, we believe, illegally fired. 

It's also a nightmare for anyone who cares about getting, reading and viewing good journalism. I know the friends I have here online understand the importance of journalism to Democracy. There's a reason we're called the Fourth Estate, and even when we fall down on the job,  we're doing our best to perform a service for democracy, for this country, and for the world. I don't feel in the least hyperbolic or cheesy in saying that either.

You may not live in Chicago; you may not have to deal with the lowered value and degraded quality of Wrapports Inc./Sun-Times Media newspapers. But you understand the kind of horrific precedent this sets. So, if you'll pardon me taking the liberty, I'm going to ask you to consider helping us fight back. There are three ways you can do it:

1) Watch this interview with Pulitzer Prize winning former Sun-Times photographer John H. White. It'll give you an idea of the quality that these men have so cavalierly discarded, to our detriment, and their own.

2) Call and Email:  If you believe that a news gathering organization needs high quality, professional photojournalism in order to do its duty by its readers and advertisers, please make your concerns known to Wrapports LLC CEO Tim Knight (  312-321-3025  , and Wrapports LLC Chairman Michael Ferro (, and to Jim Kirk, who is Chief of Editorial Operations (,  312-321-2577  ). Asking them to bargain in good faith with the Guild couldn't hurt, either.

3) And finally, consider signing this petition, on behalf of the photographers by The Newspaper Guild.

The last two are pressure tactics, and pressure tactics are invaluable tools in our fight to regain the photographers' jobs, and to win a contract that will protect them, us and, by extension, the potential for good, solid local and regional journalism in the greater Chicago area. The three men I mention in 2) are extraordinarily conscious of publicity, of how they look to the public, to their shareholders and to potential investors. This is particularly true of Knight and Ferro. Please help us to put pressure on the two men who hold the potential of reversing the most disastrous decision to affect a newspaper chain in years.

Thank you for reading, and considering my plea.


kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Default)

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