Thursday, November 23, 2017

If you use it, they will come.

It's time to give Twitter a run for its money.

Facebook isn’t going anywhere, because most everyone you know is on it. What makes all the hipsters want to flee it, is exactly why you need to stay on it: Visibility. For now, at least. But because many people are sick of all the ads and object to being told stage names are not allowed on Facebook, nor any other type of pseudonym (drag queens simply make easy targets), many artists, performers, and activists are staking their claim in a new territory, a new social network that welcomes “secret identities” and promises not to advertise or sell your information: Ello.

It’s clean. It’s hip. It’s interface is simple. It takes the best of Facebook, the best of Twitter, and combines them with the Tumblr-ish-ness of gif support, even for your banner picture, which can be scrolled elegantly up or down like a roller window shade. Also hipper: Round profile pics. As an homage to the new look of social media I have been posting only round pictures to my ello page and crafting only round memes to share. (Follow me @bluelustreak)

So is Ello the savior of our privacy? Probably not. But does it give people a chance to break the monopolistic triumvirate of Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr? Yes. Competition is excellent for innovation, and Pirates despise monopoly.

Part of its current appeal may also be that it is invite only for now, and if you’ve requested an invite directly from Ello, you are probably still waiting. You have to *know* someone who is already in and willing to part with one of their 5 precious invitations for you. How precious? There’s a report of Ello invitations selling on Ebay.

So we have struck our claim in this new territory, and if you have too, or do so in the future, we invite you to follow us there.

Shake things up, make Zuckerberg and the rest *work* for it (always) and join us on this new, hip, and for now fairly quiet frontier known as Ello.

Cheers, mate!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Resist GMOs

(This is a repost from a blog I'm no longer affiliated with. It was written before the DARK Act passed, making the state level legislation it was referencing irrelevant. The points of "Why label?" remain as relevant as ever, though.)

We here at MPP would like to invite you all to join us at a public hearing this coming September 22 before the House Agriculture Committee about Massachusetts’ GMO labeling bill, H. 3242. Support GMO labelling? Great! Come on out!
But if you are one of the people who is on the fence about GMO regulation, or if you are outright pro-GMO, this article is directed toward you.
There is a lot of talk in the media of folks who are anti-GMO being anti-science. The commercial media, which remember, gets millions from Monsanto, DuPont, and Bayer, focuses on the issue of safety concerns as being “backward.” No debate. The scientists who question the safety of GMOs get little airtime, if any. The Pirate argument doesn’t even touch on the matter of food safety. So let’s set that matter aside for now. There are many reasons to label GMOs aside from a safety concern, if any.
Before we get into any points of why label, please remember the stink food producers made when the law required them to merely list ingredients. Remember the stink the meat packing industry made against laws regulating safety of meat production, demands that intensified greatly after the publishing of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”. Power cedes nothing without a demand. With this in mind:
We oppose the privatization of the commons
For the Pirates the issue of GMOs is about privatization. We oppose the privatization of the commons: The water that has been on this planet since before humans existed that falls from the sky, the seeds that invented themselves and therefore should not be able to be patented by any person, human or corporation. The usefulness of information that humans collect depends upon all that has been learned before for context and therefore needs to be free to be used by all humanity.
What makes a seed useful? What is the essence of any seed? Food? Material? Poison? Weed? What makes a seed of use to humanity, THAT has already been produced, by nature. What percentage of an original genome is changed in a GMO? .0099%? Not bits that changes the seed’s essential usefulness, either, the reason we cultivate that seed to begin with, but a bit that ostensibly makes the seed “more useful.” For that infinitesimal change to what nature invented, a patent is granted. Patents are significant because they confer control. They allow companies to sue. People whose crops are contaminated by GMO pollen have two choices: Pay the licensing rights to the contaminator or go to court. Court costs money. Small farmers can’t afford to fight.
The seed companies demand that seeds not be reused. This is a waste. Farmers abhor this practice and will avoid the GMOs for this reason alone. But instead of leaving farmers to choose to use what seeds they want the biotech companies to send “emissaries” out to the farmland to strong arm and threaten the people there with financial ruin, even physical violence.
Known toxins
There is little debate about whether glyphosate is dangerous for human consumption. And it is used in conjunction with GMOs 100% of the time.
Effects on the Environment
Monoculture, a practice employed by many GMO farmers, depletes the soil. Weeds will evolve resistance to Glyphosate when it is used often, necessitating the use of even stronger, more toxic herbicides. The herbicides also wind up in our watersheds, which plenty of people object to, and do not want to support by buying GMO products.
For people who are nodding their heads and looking to avoid GMOs just on these few principles of fair business dealing and environmental protection: The people haven’t the power to ban GMOs outright. Congress is too corrupt, gets too much money from big biotech. We are often told, though, that we always have the right to vote with our pocketbook. We have a right to know if a product we are looking to buy was produced with what we consider unfair business practices. But without consumer labelling we don’t even have this.
This is the Pirate argument: Safe or not to eat is beside our point. It’s a Massachusetts tradition to resist empire, to resist unfair taxes, mark ups, labor practices. The Tea Party tea was perfectly safe to drink yet into the harbor it went. ON PRINCIPLE. On principle we have a right to make a choice to buy locally made pop or Coca Cola, to shop at Market Basket or Walmart, to support politically resistant farmers or corporate compliant farmers. This is reason enough for us to need labels: To make informed choices.
But are GMOs safe to consume?
If they aren’t safe to consume, good luck getting any commercial media to report such findings. The media’s stated goal is profits and not the public interest. We used to have laws enforced about airwave use and public interest, but most of our news comes to us through cables now. And even regarding the airwaves, in the 90’s a Florida Fox affiliate shut down a story on Monsanto, a TRUE story about cancer risk and rBGH, and fired the reporters for refusing to drop the matter. The appeals court sided with the Fox affiliate, and this is where that famous edict “Fox won the right to lie to you, in court!”came from: From Monsanto silencing a news studio. How many news editors and reporters do you think want to risk their livelihoods investigating a company who has already succeeded in shutting down a negative story, costing a Fox affiliate hefty legal fees and two reporters their jobs? Consider that.
Once you do consider the role of the media in these matters, you may consider employing the Precautionary Principle when you shop, which is your right to do. But how difficult is this to do if foods are not labeled? This point touches on the strongly held Pirate belief of a right to transparency for the people from large operators, like governments and corporations.
These are the Pirate Party’s points for being pro-labelling: We oppose GMOs because we oppose patents and the privatization of the commons. We support transparency for governments AND corporations. There is good reason to suspect the press is biased in favor of business over the public interest, and therefore safety has NOT been conclusively established.
But safe or not to eat, you have the right as a concerned consumer to know in what manner your food was produced. And this is why your Massachusetts legislators should vote for labelling. And you need to let them know you want this, because armies of lobbyists have already descended upon the bay state to quash this bill dead. This is why we want to see YOU at this hearing
For more information visit MA Right to Know GMOs.
Lucia Fiero is the former Secretary of the Massachusetts Pirate Party and the former Secretary of the United States Pirate Party. She was forced to resign the party over her feminist views. Tweet her at @Bananaluloop

Friday, May 19, 2017

I dare you to try!

Try to post this link to Facebook, in a status or in a comment:

Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media studies at New York University, pointed out that on Facebook, he could not post directly to this book on Amazon. I Googled the titled and found I had the same problem.

Maybe the problem in the whole Amazon site? I checked. I had no trouble posting a link to this "uncontroversial" book:

or this one:

Go ahead and try it yourself, I'll wait.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Important message from Act-Ma for New England activists

"Act-MA is up to almost 950 subscribers, an increase of 200 since the election.
We have had some complaints that not enough people are listing their events on Act-MA. You can reach these people with your event announcement by simply sending an email to:

As an added bonus several local radio shows monitor Act-MA and broadcast a number of event announcements.
We would especially like to thank Linda Pinkow for regularly promoting Act-MA on her show on "What's Left Radio" Fridays from 6 to 7 PM on WMBR 88.1 FM
For information on her show and others check out.
We would also like to thank Dan "Bagelman" Kontoff for his extraordinary efforts to distribute Act-MA flyers at many recent demonstrations."

-Charlie Welch

Monday, June 27, 2016

Thank You For Your Thoughtful Comment

Thank you for taking some of your immensely valuable time to post a comment on my social media. Rest assured that I read at least some of it, and I’m certain the remainder was logical, factual, well written, free of grammatical or spelling errors, and did not at all resemble a word salad.

The reason you received this link is because there appears to be some disagreement between what I posted and what you believe to be true. And so, you bravely took it upon yourself to chastise the bad person on the internet for having an opinion different from yours. I expect your mother is most proud of such a laudable accomplishment. Tell her I said "Hi!"

If it gives you solace, you may consider me properly castigated by your impeccable logic, your intelligent use of facts and your cutting wit.

I do understand your desire is to have me reply directly to your comment, but I’m afraid I’m not the master of time management you are. As a result, I find I’m often behind in my work and cannot afford the specific care and attention such thoughtful prose deserves so that we may spend hours going back and forth in an ultimate quest to prove who is the greater master of the caps lock key.

If you believe you have been directed to this link in error, please send me $100 US for every 100 words you would like me to type in reply.

Have an amazing day.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Picky, picky Lulu finally picks a smart watch

I have been wanting a rechargeable watch ever since I reached my 40s and the time that an average watch battery lasts started to fly past me. Well, no, what I really liked was the idea of changing the watch faces easily. Um... no I think I craved a way to know whether fishing my phone out of my purse was worth it to talk to the caller I was getting. I was also feeling the peer pressure to get a fitness tracker. (Peers like my mother. And my doctor.)

I have been *thinking* about getting a smart watch for a long time. And reading reviews. And being stingy.

I also wanted to see what Apple would finally offer.

Apple is so annoying. They steal your music. Their products are too pricey. And they are the last to offer an option. Still I waited because clearly there is something wrong with me.

I settled on a Pebble, which as you know was one of the earliest smart watch offerings. I use a 4s because my Samsung Galaxy failed me, and my son had moved on to a 5s, leaving his old phone up for grabs. Yeah, it only has 8 GB. I use very few apps, and I sync all my photos to Flickr, and all my contacts to Google. This works fine for me.

The Pebble Time (Round) is compatible with up to the 6 (s?) and as far back as the 4s. This gives me space to upgrade to a newer phone at some point. And Target had one on clearance this week for $99.99. I had found my smart watch at last!

It holds a charge. It doesn't have a touch screen but this is good for my fumbly, middle aged fingers. It's fairly intuitive and easy to navigate. It has lots of free faces. (Shiny!) It syncs with Apple Health on my iPhone. It's lightweight, and very sexy.

I like to change my faces often, and show off my faces to friends. There's a quick launch for that! I like to review my notifications! There's a quick launch for that, too! It doesn't make a noise, it only vibrates. This is all I want and need.

But my 50 year old eyes need a thing it doesn't do. In the daytime, in order to read it without getting out the reading glasses, I need the backlight intensity set to "blinding" (yes, this is what they call it!). At night, in the dark, I need it set to "medium". There is no quick way to do this. "Display" is low on the scrolling menu, that doesn't loop, and "Intensity" is low on *that* menu... that doesn't loop. Quick lunch cannot be set for Intensity.

I looked on Pebble Reddit and saw that, so far at least, there is no app that can compensate for this.

So, though I know 50-somethings are probably not your target demographic, know that this 50-something appreciates the simplicity of the Pebble Time Round, but could really use an app for intensity toggling to set a quick launch to.

FYI, the Pebble Time Round is currently available at Best Buy for $150. The $100. one I got at Target? I think I snagged the last one. :-D

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Elves and Gnomes for the holidays

If you love wine and hate waste as I do, you have a cork collection, as I do. I also happened to have some 1 inch wooden beads and a hot glue gun. Putting the two together make a perfectly serviceable doll peg. "Gmones" for Waldorf education, like "Math Gnomes" can be found all over the web. They are doll pegs dressed in felt costumes. Similarly are embroidered gnomes, also dressed in felt. I have plenty of wool and acrylic felt, and I may just use it for peg dolls at some point, but what I find most soothing is crochet, both simple and complicated. This project required you to know how to single crochet, something many crafters can easily do.

Ain't she a cutie?


I could have chosen to use felt for the non-crochet bits of this project, too, but I don't like the "hand" of felt as much in such a small doll as I like t-shirt fabric. In a small project, the t-shirt fabric has a more realistic/nicer drape. As I recycled my son's t-shirts into a quilt this year, I have many colors of t-shirt scraps left over. But you can use felt, if you prefer. Felt is very Christmassy, too.

Gnome blog

Start by cutting a circle of your chosen fabric. For an elf, I wanted to use red as a contrast, but you can match your crochet thread, if you like. I also cut a strip for the hat headband and scarf. Use the photo for scale, I just eyeballed it.

Elf blog

Next with a fine needle and regular matching thread, blanket stitch around the circle. The stitches should be small, about the size of a single crochet stitch.

Elf blog

(Wonders if Margaret Atwood crochets?)

I chose size 3 crochet thread for this. This is as large as you should go, IMO. Anything larger will give you something too bulky and out of scale. It will look less like her mama crocheted her a sweater and more like some fumbling hooman accosted her with a crochet hook.

Gnome blog

Pull a loop of your crochet thread through any single blanket stitch, then single crochet all around the circle. Be careful not to pull your stitches too tight!

Elf blog

For the second round, single crochet into back loops only. Then check to make sure the proto-sweater fits snugly but not tightly around the bottom of your cork doll.

Elf blog

For all the remaining rounds, just single crochet. I crocheted with the sweater in place, but you don't have to. Just check the fit every few rounds to make sure your stitches aren't too tight.

Elf blog

You can either stitch the "neckline" with the sweater on the doll, which I chose to do, or you can use a yarn needle use a running stitch to snug things up at her neck.

Elf blog

Next is the hatband. You will want this to be able to fold up, so make it twice as wide as the space you want covered. Measure around the head with a little overlap, and cut. Here also, you blanket stitch, but unlike in this photo, I found it works better to sew closed the loop with a seam up the back first, then sew around the loop.

Elf blog

Again, pull a loop of crochet thread through and single crochet all around. I prefer to crochet the second row back loops only, but this isn't critical. Every row above that, drop one stitch, over the seam in the hatband. This will be the back of the hat. It gets a little tricky as you reach the top. at the very top, chain two to finish. Leave a good few inches of crochet thread for the beads.

Elf blog

Fold the rest of the fabric strip in half lengthwise and artfully tie it around the doll's neck. Using the matching sewing thread stitch in place a "knot"

Elf blog

Fold hatband in half, or "up" over the bottom row of crochet. Glue hat into place. I used hot glue, but had bad results on another peg doll with hot glue. So, I recommend NOT using hot glue. You want to use a glue that stays wet long enough for you to move the hat to exactly where on her head you want the hat to sit. Hot glue locks the hat in the first place you set it, like it or not, "cute" or not. Of course, if you use slow set/slow dry glue for better results, you will need to let the glue dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Elf blog

Next you will need a tiny buckle. Or, you will need some wire and some tools. I *think* this is 16 gauge. Not sure. I like silver for elves and Santas and such.

Elf blog

Using flatnose pliers, bend an end of wire 90 degrees, then wrap the wire all the way around.

Elf blog

You will wind up with something like this. Use dykes to snip it off the wire. There is your buckle. Cut a strip of fabric the width of your buckle and the distance around your cork. I used grey. Threat the "belt" through the "buckle". Hot glue is prefered for gluing this into place, or you can stitch it.

Elf blog

Thread a piece of that same wire through the chain at the top of the hat, then use round nose pliers to work it into a swirly "s" hook. On that left over crochet thread at the top of the hat, thread some glass and silver beads, then a crimp bead. Use flatnose pliers the crimp the bead flat.


Leave the face blank if you like. That is the Waldorf style. If you like a face like the one on mine, I made two dots with a Sharpie, and make her cheeks rosy with a some blush and an eyeshadow brush.

Make many in different colors, and give as gifts. Or tie to gift wrapping. Or just keep for your own tree. For our Jewish friends and family, I also made a "Hanukkah gnome". See how her hat is crooked/rumpled? This illustrates the problem with using hot glue for the hat. Don't!


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and all that!