Thursday, February 27, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Nerf War, Take Two

(Look World, RantWoman knows there are supposed to be some trademark signs in here. There aren't. Cope.)

And what is RantWoman doing for the cause of peace and centered attention to questions of those involved in wars:

--Trying to offer centered presence for the likes of the Coffee Strong GI Coffeehouse or in other words welcoming home people from wars RantWoman did not want people sent to in the first place? Umm, EARTH TO RANTWOMAN... Calm down. These people need you to be centered WAY more than you need to have a spell of the vapors.

--Eldering weighty elders for offering spoken ministry about attending an event at the University of WA about the life of local resister to WWII Japanese internment Gorden Hirabayashi and not getting news of the event into the bulletin in time for such as  RantWoman to think of adding the event to her already overloaded schedule?
Mental Note: Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, and of course Kenzo Nakamura, World War II fighter pilot and war hero: names to sort out and remember even if one is not terribly well-versed in this history.

--Getting updates on the bus about The Nerf War, Take Two. Ding! Ding! Ding!
Irrepressible Nephew has come in SECOND PLACE, with a unique strategy about which more in a moment.

Bring on the nerf war?

The Nerf War? The annual battle to what, the undeath, between middle school boys and zombies in Irrepressible Nephew's faith community?

Oh Holy Jesus, yeah. That Nerf War.

For weeks RantWoman has been receiving updates about topics of which she would not necessarily prefer to speak. In particular, updates about "modding Nerf blasters."  "Modding Nerf blasters" means doing something to enable these plastic machine gun-like monstrosities to become semiautomatic, to fire without having to cock between rounds. Irrepressible Nephew is good at modding Nerf blasters. In fact, Irrepressible Nephew is highly esteemed among his peers for exactly this skill.

Please note: O Quaker Auntie would just like to crawl under the floor in the presence of this entire issue. On one hand, RantWoman has ranted previously about brown children getting shot for being out in public carrying things that look bad to someone and turn out definitely not to be viable weapons. On the other hand, RantWoman notes the incredible unexamined privilege inherent in chattering openly, in Irrepressible Nephew's innocent, middle school way, all over the bus on Sunday mornings about this. RantWoman could just suffer a severe spell of the vapors.

RantWoman IS glad Irrepressible Nephew is highly esteemed among his peers. RantWoman, though, definitely would not mind for Irrepressible Nephew to be esteemed for something other than "modding Nerf blasters" or semiautomatic anything.

Fear not! God is great and wise and sometimes simply splashes O Quaker auntie in puddles of divine humor.

The middle school nerf war involved a Friday night sleepover but Irrepressible Nephew was still dragging on the bus to Sunday church. He beamed proudly when telling RantWoman about his achievement, but RantWoman asked for more details. RantWoman did not absorb the full details of the point system for staying alive as a human and avoiding getting grabbed and turned into a zombie. RantWoman though is deeply amused to learn that Irrepressible Nephew's strategy for a good bit of the event was simply to stay in a corner out of the main fray with  two Nerf blasters pointed opposite directions away from him and to fire as little as absolutely necessary.
Phew! RantWoman is SO intrigued. RantWoman will manage to put off having a spell of the vapors at least for a little while!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mother Jones on evangelical roots of Russia Anti-gay laws

Mother Jones article about the World Congress of Families and antigay sentiments in Russia.

RantWoman DOES note that sex trafficking of various forms and complications associated with, excuse RantWoman, the adoption business ARE serious issues; RantWoman has NO indication that the anti-gay laws do anything to address other powerful dynamics of these problems.

RantWoman apologizes also: one of the common words in Russian, literally "homosexualist," just cracks RantWoman up and fills her head withall sorts of irreverent images IN SPITE of a very serious situation. Please hold that problem in the Light.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Nick Hanauer TED Talk on Taxation, Demand, Investment

RantWoman is dumping the detritus of the debate about Nick Hanauer's TED talk here for reflection. RantWoman is unclear what else she is called to do with the discussion, except file it for now.

HuffPo on Nick Hanauer TED talk

Conversation from the TED site

Forbes on Nick  Hanauer's TED talk shoddy-and-dumb/

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Margaret (Meg) Appleton

RantWoman posts this testimonial almost unedited in memory of Margaret  "Meg" Appleton. RantWoman never met Meg but has been hearing of her case for a long time from a friend who offers the following remembrance.

RantWoman posts this with particular prayers for Meg's grandmother "Nonny," and Meg's son, with hope that posting this will be meaningful for them and others who loved Meg.

One small note for RantWoman's lexicography-minded readers: in prison argot, the "Jenny Seg" diet plan refers to the fact that women in segregation / solitary tend to lose about a pound a week while they are in segregation because of the inadequate diet.

Dear Friends

A very dear friend of mine passed away last week in prison.  Her name was Margaret ("Meg") Appleton, and her name was much maligned in the media.  I want to tell you a little about the Meg I knew.

Here is what I know of the case.  Meg's family, parents and brother, were killed 20 years ago.  Meg was considered a prime suspect, perhaps because she was always considered strange in that town, too smart and too liberal.  She had recently left Columbia, KY to go to college in Lexington.  Ten years after the murders, she was arrested, on the basis of hearsay.  There was never, that I knew of, hard evidence tying her to the murders, but her co-defendent took a plea bargain that implicated her, so she pled guilty, under threat of the death penalty.

Here's what I know of the things Meg did while in prison.  At the first prison, near Louisville, she got involved with Paws with a Purpose, a program to train dogs to help people with handicaps, particularly people in wheelchairs.  I think she trained two dogs, and she contributed a lot of her time to helping out with others' dogs, to making things for the dogs (dog beds and vests).  She made many items for an annual dog program fundraising sale, including quilts, and she taught others in the prison various crafts skills.

Meg was working on an undergraduate degree in sign language interpretation, and she provided interpretation for deaf inmates when the state did not provide.  I remember her talking about a deaf inmate who did not read lips, who had come back from a parole hearing with no idea what the response had been.  Meg accompanied that woman to her next hearing and interpreted.

Meg loved to read, and she worked, informally, as a tutor for women who were trying to get their GEDs.   Because she had not finished her own bachelor's degree, she could not be hired for this job.  (Understand that a high-paying job there was $1.25/day;  from this money, inmates buy "hygienes" like shampoo or soap, toothpaste, etc., and any supplementary food.  Unlike in the movies, they can't buy cigarettes in KY.   When the prison system went nonsmoking, Meg quit, then taught some of the quit-smoking classes.)

Inmates are not allowed to touch networked computers, but Meg worked with the librarian there, coaching her through computer glitches and problems.
When Meg was transferred out, she was in the process of learning Braille, to work in the Braille shop.   Apparently, she learned very quickly.  The Braille shop leader was very pleased to learn that Meg could read music, and could therefore learn to Braille it. 

Next, Meg was transferred to a privately-run prison in Eastern KY.  I think it was there that she tried to start some sort of organization to raise money for women who had no one on the outside to send in money.  There is so much that inmates need or want to buy, from soap that doesn't leave their hands cracked in winter, to extra layers of clothing for cold weather or nicer, better-fitting shoes.   At that prison, she worked in the library.  It brought her real pleasure to "book shop" for the other women. 

She read voraciously, and they would come to her and ask, "What do I want to read?"  She talked about starting a book club, and a literacy program.  She continued teaching.  She also worked with the librarian to clear out duplicate books to make room for new ones, and organized donations of picture books to a nearby program that cared for orphans and for the children of many of the incarcerated women.  This made the mothers feel like they had something to give to their children.   She organized a crafts club there as well.  They made baby gifts, Christmas gifts, and other things for inmates to send to their loved ones.

Finally, Meg was transferred to Western Kentucky, where she got on the wrong side of the administration.  After almost 8 years of exemplary incarceration, she found herself repeatedly in "seg," what the movies call "solitary".  Even there, where inmates communicate by yelling into air ducts and under doors, she served --- as a dictionary and general reference for the word games the inmates played, to pass the activityless time.  And of course she read, and did her best to share her books with others there.  She sang Christmas carols there, teaching people the words, two of the three Christmases she was there.  (This past Christmas, they held a special disciplinary hearing, just for her, to make sure she was in seg for the holiday.   Meg helped many people write grievances, and wrote many herself, bringing the attention of the State to employee misconduct and inmate rights' violations.  The staff at Western resented this.)

While at Western, Meg was treated by a doctor who was apparently particularly aggrieved by Meg's grievances, and her habit of reading the few medical books available there.  The prison medical staff routinely ignored the prescriptions of those outside doctors she was allowed (usually by grievance) to see.  She was taken to the local ER three times this winter, once with sepsis.  She believed, at the time of her death, that she had irreversible medical damage.

Western has an interesting dog program, much less elaborate and more self-sustaining than Paws with Purpose.  The nearby pound offers a deal to people who want to adopt a dog that was turned in to the pound because of behavioral issues.  They can pay a fee, and the dog goes to trainers in the prison, who teach the dog to behave well.  It is, for the inmates, much less of a bonding experience with the dogs, and much less challenging.  No one at Western teaches the dog to set the brakes on a wheelchair, or turn light switches on or off on command, or to pull the covers up on a bed.  However, they do get to teach the dogs the basics of sit/stay/heel, and to socialize the dogs.  Meg helped with that program as well, sharing what she knew of training techniques.

Throughout her incarceration, Meg advocated for religious tolerance and expression.  She was a devout Episcopalian, and often found herself in systems where "Christian" was considered synonymous with "Baptist," albeit there was an acknowledgement of Catholicism.  She also dabbled in paganism.  She helped found groups for both religions, and made sure that there were services available, particularly (with help from her friend Martha, on the outside) at Western.  The Episcopal bishop who has brought communion to Western has written movingly about that experience.  But she also helped members of other faiths to be allowed to practice their own faiths.   Her own spiritual  practices brought her comfort, and she was proud to help others find their own comfort.

Meg was transferred back to the Louisville area prison about a month ago, while in seg, and died in a cell there.

She will be greatly missed by her friends and family on the outside, and by many inmates in the KY system.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Excuses, Excuses and "We Sang a Fun Song in a Church"

Rats. Okay. So RantWoman should have read the FLGBTQC program in time MAYBE to reconsider her lack of leading to attend Midwinter Gathering. COPE. (Sigh!)

RantWoman realizes there is no comparison between FLGBTQC and Stephen Colbert hosting that "what they said" Russian women punk band. Tough. Everyone needs some Colbert clips.

February 4, 2014 - ***** Riot: Black History & Children's Dental Health, New Jersey Bridge Scandal & David Wildstein Allegations, Chris Christie vs. David Wildstein, ***** Riot

"We sang a fun song in a church"

"We have had two years of practice hiding things."

"We wanted our English-speaking fans to enjoy themselves (about the band's name)."

"There are LOTS of words in Russian."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Things Not to say?

RantWoman apologizes if it seems incongruous, unseemly, extremely uncomfortable to anyone to dump all three of these blog as filing cabinet items in the same blog entry.

Now imagine trying to hold threads from each piece and organize linear thought out loud, on demand, with time pressure in a meeting. Oh wait, RantWoman will save Light and a much-needed tantrum for another blog post.

21 things not to say to a sexual assault survivor

Woody Allen Is Not a Monster

John Howard Yoder

Oh and woman-centric theological transformation just for a bonus.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

GI Coffeehouse West Coast Tour

RantWoman is not sure a ringing RantWoman endorsement is exactly what this tour needs, but RantWoman urges her readers to check out the link for themselves.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Queer, from Russia, with and without love

RantWoman attempts to warm up to Olympics fever and considers:

Reflections from women of Russian descent on mixed feelings, family, queerness

Really disturbing stuff from Human Rights Watch

The Mayor of Sochi"Sochi has no gay people"

and finally:
The Canadian Institute for Diversity and Inclusion on the Luge

By way of reminiscence on similar topics:
RantWoman thanks Ferrener Husband again for long ago recognizing that RantWoman would probably  try to have a truthful conversation with people Ferrener Husband must have known would not be safe to have such a conversation around. RantWoman also sincerely thanks the lovely couple she is still in touch with for being really gracious alternative lodging when Plan A proved untenable.

Well, RantWoman can almost forgive one of the host couple for wanting to fire a teacher at the school the host was principal of. The reason: the teacher was too flamboyantly gay. So last century?

Terrorist Toothpaste? Terrorized?

RantWoman offers the above item in light of numerous items in multiple media outlets about the possibility of people flying into Sochi in conenction with the Olympics and making bombs  in toothpaste tubes.

RantWoman is not prepared to dispute the possibility of wily terrorists managing to make explosives inside whatever containers are permitted in aircraft cabins.

HOWEVER, RantWoman finds herself A LITTLE BIT wondering whether the NSA has been reading the right email or tapping the right phones. Perhaps RantWoman is just being easily led astray, but Rantwoman is trying to figure out why people from the US would be particular targets, why if one were determined to commit heinous acts inconnection with the Sochi Olympics, one would try to do it from airports overseen byt the TSA.

RantWoman offers the reflections above along with solemn prayers that good feelings and human connections will flourish in spite of all the corruption and international chicanery and environmental depradation and parading hither and thither about homosexuality.. Pray and Pray again!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Quakerism: Nourishment for the Soul

Great introduction to Quakerism; consider letting Youtube point you to Zach's visits to other faiths!

Really, really, really fun for anyone who has ever met Joe Franko to remember him.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Philadelphia's Quaker DNA

Blog as filing cabinet item about Philadelphia's Quaker history and modern communications.

RantWoman notes with great interest that in PA marrying couples can jointly marry without any clergyperson to officiate by both signing the marriage certificate with two witnesses.

RantWoman admits to a certain allergy to too much fixation on Famous Quaker Pleaces like Philadelphia. RantWoman admits to this allergy and then tends, promptly, to get reminded that well, actually that history really is kinda important. In other words, RantWoman's Light splutters about as much as usual.