Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Free Advice

Hello gentle readers. I read the article down below and it's inspired me to write a little post. Hope you take the time to read it. As always, rudeness will be deleted.

Today I would like to talk about “the other side” for a second. I don’t care what side of what issue we are talking about. Here is what I want to say in unequivocal terms: regardless of whether or not you agree with someone, that someone is *still* a human. A human with thoughts, desires, fears, hopes, dreams, loves and longings. It is NEVER EVER ok to harm the property and especially a living being that belongs to someone you disagree with. Ever. Evereverevereverever. Period. Dot. End of story.

Free word of advice, particularity as this long election cycle gets started. Please don't make death threats or post memes calling for the death to any candidate or their family. It does *nothing* to increase dialogue and discussion. It can only incite anger. And really, would you like to receive death threats for doing your job?

I think a (slightly modified) golden rule here applies: If you wouldn’t want it happening to you – don’t do it. If you wouldn’t want it happening to the candidate your support – don’t do it. If you wouldn’t want it happening to you friends and family – don’t do it.

Think. Think hard. Think before you speak. And most importantly, think before you act.

The more polarized we become as a country, the more we forget that the other side is full of humans. Individual humans. And they are not stupid. They believe the things they do because of their own life experiences, just as you believe the things you do because of your own life experiences. It is fine to have conversations, even heated ones, about what you believe. It is not fine to believe that an entire group of people is stupid because they don’t share your beliefs. It is not fine to do damage to physical property because they don’t believe what you do.

Be kind. Be considerate. Or, at the very least, do no harm. Have empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of those you don’t agree with and really ask yourself – how would I feel if someone did this to me? And then do unto others what you would have unto to you. There is a reason that this is the golden rule for most major religions. (Don’t believe me, links below!)

Also, gentle readers - a gentle reminder. Esp during this crazy political cycle. Try looking for the whole speech, or a transcript of it, instead of a single sentence meme. As it turns out, context is everything. It's important to know what was actually being said before embracing or rejecting a single sentence. This is true for both sides about either side. You will be much better informed and won't have nearly so much egg on your face when someone points out the context is you. Use Professor Google to do your own research first. Thank you.

Alsoalso, just don’t poison animals. That is just wrong on so many levels. Animals don’t have political beliefs. And you prove nothing other than you are a horrible person.

Mutterings about Life and Time

I had a conversation with a dear friend the other night that has me thinking about life in general, but specifically mistakes I made in my youth (or at least my younger days) and why I made them. (Make no mistake, I don't actually believe anything I have ever done in my life is a "mistake" bc i have learned something from everything - and part of those lessons are learning what I want and don't want to do again :) )

Anyway, all of this has led me, in typical Reesa tradition, to thinking about time. I can pretty much count on one finger the amount of times in my life that broke my heart in ways that I wasn't expecting, that hit me from left field. Anyway, when I was with him, I never bothered to step up and try to change our relationship. There was always time for that to happen, and I knew it would. And so life kept going and I was happy.

And that led me to think about the nature of time.

Here's what I decided, at least for today, let me know what you think.

Life has a tendency to feel longer than it is. 

When life is good, and I am happy, I have all the time in the world. Time feels like a warm friend, forming itself around me like an invisible hand, there to support and guide - it is gentle and wonderful. 

And when life is bad, time stretches out before me - each second pausing, turning holding the pain before finally releasing to the next. 

The part of life that seems to move the quickest - it's the everyday part of life. The going to work, the coming home, the riding the subway and walking (or driving), the grocery store... the dal segno of life, if you will, the time between. 

And maybe that's one of the secrets of life, to live each moment *not* in the in between - to let time seep into my pores and stretch out into eternity, with plenty of time to feel and believe and experience, and live and love and laugh and cry and share and connect and... 

Maybe then, life wouldn't be too short, but just right.

Equality, Sexism, Violence, Misogyny, and You

I read an article, several really, about Anita Sarkeesian canceling a speaking engagement at Utah State because someone has issued threats that she felt are creditable for a mass shooting if the event occurred.  Let me be clear on this.  If she believes, as I assume she does from her actions, that the threat was real, then her action are completely rational, understandable, and right.        

I've been trying to think of a way to phrase this nicely.  But I can't.  Here it goes.  I spent the last few weeks working on a project about girls speaking out.  We heard real life stories about girls from around the world.  Stories of girls being forced into marriage.  Stories of girls who were raped and had nowhere to go. I remember hearing the story of a daughter of the Taliban being beaten to death by her father for talking with a man in the market place.  I hear these stories, and I am horrified.  We hear them, and are horrified.  And here's where the gloves come off.  We complain about what is happening on an international stage, and yet...  

Let me just say, as clearly as simply as possible.  When threats of violence are being used to silence women's voices simply because you don't like what she is saying...  This is *not* equality.  This is not progress on women's rights, on human rights.  This is a regression.  

I don't know how else or how clearly to say that silencing voices through violence, or the threat of violence, is a humans right issue.  And when the voices that are being silenced are female ones, that is misogyny - not even hidden misogyny, rather overt misogyny.  

I have heard the excuses: If you can't take the heat, stay off the internet.  And I think to myself - so what you're saying is that the internet is only for people who think and act just like you?  The internet is only safe for those you deem it safe for?  If this is not an act of silencing, I'm not sure what is.  Especially because this act seems to be levelled first, foremost, and most often on women. Anita Sarkeesian. Zoe Quinn. Felicia Day. Leslie Jones.  Randi Lee Harper. Candace Owens. Daisy Ridley. One in four women under 30. The list is too long to name all of them.

This has to stop.  One of the delegates at the UN said that "This was the work of our generation."  And she isn't wrong.  

So, here's the call.  What practical steps can we take, can you take, to end this culture of misogyny?  To create a world in which everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - to feel safe to speak - that is the work of my generation.  Let us leave this world better than we found it.  Let us leave this world better for those behind us.  Let us work together to create that world.

A Quick Civics Lesson on the Court System

In the wake of Ferguson, there seems to be some confusion on our legal system. Let me take a moment and explain some things.  If I am wrong, please feel free to (politely) point it out and explain the truth.

Our legal system works in two parallel tracks, a state level court system and a federal level court system.  Which one you go through depends on which laws you broke - break a state law, go to state court - break a federal law, go to federal court.  (For the record, Darren Wilson was going through the state level court system because all of the things he was charged with are state level crimes and not federal.)

The first step in the court system is the grand jury.  The grand jury is NOT responsible for finding anyone guilty or not guilty.  They're only job is to decide if there is enough information to declare that the case should go onto further inquest for a trial - that is called an indictment.  Basically, their job is to decide if the case should be moved up to the next step.  The indictment is nothing more that saying, "oh, maybe this should be further looked at."  Grand juries, as they do NOT find guilt or innocence, are not hindered by the double jeopardy clause - meaning you can go through more than one grand jury for the same crime.  Grand juries (which are assigned cases randomly) typically hear multiple cases over multiple days - as in they easily here 10-20 cases in a day and decide yes to send to trial or no do not send to trial.  Generally, the grand jury hears only the information that makes the defendant look guilty as the prosecutor is the only person who talks at the grand jury and if it has gotten to a grand jury than his/her job is to try to take it trial.  The defendant is not required to speak at grand juries, in fact, the defense attorney is not even allowed to present evidence that his/her client might be innocent - that level of inquest is for the trial.  (For the record, 99.9% of the time, it's yes.  "Federal prosecutors pursued over 160,000 cases against defendants in 2009-2010 (the last period for which there is data), and grand juries only voted not to return an indictment in 11."    from  Also, the grand jury is a private preceding.  This means that only those involved are allowed in the room.

Once the prosecutor has an indictment, the next step in the court system is the trial court.  At the trial court, if it is a jury trial, the juror go through voir dire or the process by which both the prosecuting attorney and the defending attorney vet the jury.  This is part of the constitutional right to a jury of your peers. Notice that in this step, the jury is chosen instead of just assigned.  In this step, the jury will likely only be chosen for one case, as opposed the grand jury in which you serve several days and hear multiple cases.  The trial courts are open to the public (unless there is a reason to close the preceding like age). If the defendant is found innocent in this step, THEN double jeopardy applies and they cannot be charged again with the same crime ever.  If they are found guilty, however...

The next step in the court system is the Appellate court.  Federally, this is called the circuit courts.  The appeals process is complicated as it is mostly about process and legal precedent in the first trial.  Lawyers can argue that the process wasn't correct for some legal reason, and the upper level courts should look at that again.  If the appellate court takes the case, then it has three options.  1) Overturn the conviction.  This means that the case decision has been changed.  Depending on why the case was overturned, double jeopardy may come into play, in which case the defendant cannot be re-tried for the same offense.  2) Remand the case.  This kicks the case back down to the lower courts to look at again.  3) De novo.  This means the appellate courts look at the case with fresh eyes as if the first trial never happened.  This is the most rare of the three.

After appeals are exhausted, the case can, in rare instances, go to the supreme court. Remember that we are still talking about two court systems.  There are two supreme courts.  The supreme court of the state and the supreme court of the country.  After appeals at the state level are exhausted, the next appeal is to the state supreme court.  The federal supreme court will only hear cases in which there is a conflict of law or it is deemed of national importance.  However, and here's the important part, in order to get to the supreme court (in either the state or the federal track) the case MUST have made it's way through the grand jury, the trial court, and all of the appellate courts.  The supremer court CANNOT pick up a case that has never been tried.  It cannot even pick up a case that has been tried but has not yet gone through all of its appeals.

So, let me run through that with less words:

State level ->
Grand Jury (no guilt or innocence determined) -> Trial court (determines guilt or innocence) -> Appellate (or circuit) Court -> State Supreme Court -> Federal Supreme Court (super rare)

Federal Level ->
Grand Jury -> Trail Court -> Appellate Court -> Federal Supreme Court

Hope this helps.  

#StandWithPP or How Planned Parenthood Saved Me

I've debated several times about making this post, but I think it's time. This is a highly personal post for me.

When I was 20, I was sexually assaulted by a friend's then boyfriend. Several months after the incident, I found out that he was HIV+. I was still a virgin and and so very afraid. I never reported the crime.

On Jan 22, 6 months after the assault, I went to the Planned Parenthood in downtown Houston. I was terrified, uninsured, and alone.

Unbeknownst to me, Jan 22 is the nationally recognized anniversary of Roe v Wade. In the one block walk from the parking lot to the clinic, I was yelled at by a group of anti-abortion protesters. I made it safely inside, where the desk woman saw me, shaken, got me a small glass of water and a walk-in appointment.

The nurse who took my blood for the test walked me through the test and the steps, and held my hand while I cried and told the full story for the first time to anyone. She told me that it wasn't my fault. I wasn't stupid. And that I was safe. She made me feel safe. She gave me a list of counselors who could help me, and would see me with no insurance and very little money. Then she told me that she would follow up with me in a few days when the test result came in.

The same nurse did call me. My results were negative. I will never forget how cared for I felt that a woman who had taken my blood had made a point of making sure *she* was the one who called me, and not someone else. She made a point of asking if I was ok, if I had called a counselor, if there was anything else she could help with.

Many years later, in another state, as another person, I don't even remember her name. But I will never forget her kindness to me when I needed it. Thank you Planned Parenthood, for caring, and helping.

I stand with Planned Parenthood.

#ImWithHer or Why I Am Whole Heartedly Voting for Hillary Clinton

To start with, let me restate my rules: Be nice or I will delete you.

This is a very personal post for me, that someone in a group I am in asked me to write because they didn't know anyone who actually supported Clinton. (You do know them, by the way. But this election is wrought with abuse and a lot of us aren't talking. For me, that ends today.) This was my response as to why I do.

To start with, I am a Clinton supporter. I have been since 2008. I support her so much, that I was visibly upset when Obama won the nom. That isn't to say I didn't vote for him (I did, twice). That isn't to say he hasn't done an amazing job (he has). This is to say I know what it's like to not get the person you wanted.

Having said that, the question has come up as to why I like her. So here we go.

Before I even go into this, I need to state some things. I do my best to be politically active. I vote in EVERYTHING! I am best friends with the League of Women Voters website bc of their ongoing push towards the issues. I write my congressmen (even though he and I agree on nothing... red state). I volunteer at the UN, I went to Rwanda to work with Rwandan students as a teaching artist, I work with population to create empathy and dialogue. I work in a field of activism, and politics are part of that.

Why do I mention all that? Bc it matters to why I like Clinton.

I like Clinton, first and for most, bc she works well with others to get shit done. And make no mistake, she gets shit done. (The quick pity list is here: )

I would urge all of you who haven't to read her platform . I think you'll be amazed and what it is.

You can also read this primer that is slightly easier to read:

She first got my attention when I was in high school, when Bill was president. She took on universal healthcare as her first lady platform. She eventually had to back down from it, and narrow it to kids (more on that in a moment) but the fact she even said it was revolutionary.

And she continued to be revolutionary. The world then wasn't the world now. In 1995 she uttered the now famous line "Women's rights are human rights speech at the fourth ever Conference of the Status on Women than the UN hosted in Beijing. In a time in which that wasn't a thing that was said.

Speaking of more on that later, I actually love that she listens and learns and grows. I *want* that in a president. I want a person who understands they are human and don't know everything and can and have been wrong, and will be again. Honestly, the "Politics of Purity" that is happening right now is how we got a government shut down, no new Supreme Court Justice and Donald Trump. I don't care that you've made mistakes, I want to know if you own them and try again. And she does. All the time.

I love that she has taken Disability rights, and Autism rights and put it as part of her platform. I love that she has a box of papers of problems she still needs to work on. And she looks for people who can educate her on those issues. She doesn't assume she knows everything, she asks for help.

Speaking of asking for help, I think it's important to look at the people who have endorsed her. (full wiki list here:…/List_of_Hillary_Clinton_presiden… ) But let me point out a few meaninful ones to me: Human Right's Campign, Sierra Club, the Black Caucus of multiple states, so many labor unions, so many sentors, so many heads of state. Why is this important? Because these are the people she has either worked with, or will work with. These are the people with front row seats to what is happening in the political system. And they all see her as an asset. That means something huge.

Also, I like that she is so detail oriented. So detailed oriented sometimes you just want to slap her and say ENOUGH - tell me big picture. Except you don't. Bc the mere fact she knows all those facts means she cares enough to do *that* much thinking about it.

Alsoalso, I adore that she is clearly progressive, clearly interested in heading the country in a progressive manner. But is also clearly looking at where we are and how to accomplish that. Clinton is playing a long game. Some thing that politics gave up on years ago, and they shouldn't have. As much as I would like for everything to be fixed at one, it won't be. My friend Jef Rouner(a SJW writer for multiple things, but the Houston Press in particular. You should know him if you don't) said it best like this:

"Donald Trump is not a good enough reason to vote for Clinton."

The problem is not Trump. He's a single man, and even as president he can only mess up so much. However, at least a third of the country totally or partially agrees with him. The center of this country is NOT where some of my fellow liberals think it is. The social backlash we're in is not some vestigial bigoted organ that only needs a few more evolutionary mutations to be finally gone. It is strong, it is numerous, and it is dedicated to crushing what little we have managed to build. This is not a war between two wings of liberals. This is a war about shaking the country back into sense.""

That's my point. Trump didn't happen by accident. I believe that the arc of history is long and bends toward justice. I also believe that there is a difference between changes that can be implemented and a literal revolution. Clinton's plans can be implemented in the country we live in in 2016.

Also, she is fucking steel. She has taken more mudsling and character assassination than pretty much any candidate ever and is not only still surviving, but thriving.

There is more. There is so much more. But i've already written a book. So.. I'll stop now I guess. Feel free to ask my anything. I'm pretty open.  Also, more links below.

Please ignore the inflammatory headlines on some of these, the info is good.

I mean, I have more. But I'll stop bc I've probably overwhelmed people by this point.

I'm not going to lie, feminism is a HUGE deal for me, and something I strive for everyday. And yes, I work on other problems as well. But if you are asking for a bottom line? I'm with her because she has done more for the international feminist movement than anyone else I can think of. She's actually pretty awe inspiring about it.

I know she isn't perfect, but no one is. She *is* the candidate who most aligns with my beliefs - from the beginning of the race until today - still true. I'm with her. #ImWithHer

How We Elect Presidents: aka the Electoral College Primer

Quick Primer on how we elect presidents (spoilers, our vote doesn’t do it... exactly)*

As always, rude comments will be deleted. Honest discussion and debate are encouraged.

When people refuse to vote because their vote doesn’t matter - they are partially correct and also 300% wrong. The current incarnation of voting for president, as set forth in the the Constitution itself, and then expanded in 12th amendment of the Constitution (ratified in 1804), consists of the Electoral College (hereafter EC).

The short form: We vote for EC delegates. The EC votes for, and elects, the president.

There are 538 EC votes, and the magic number for presidency is 270 (or one more than half). The number of EC votes per state is based on the population of the state, and changes slightly after every census. The 538 and 270 numbers remain the same.

If a candidate does not reach the magic number of 270, then the vote is kicked to the House of Representatives (currently Republican), and the House votes on who becomes president.
In this election, CA has the most votes at 55, followed by TX at 38, NY and FL at 29, PN and IL at 20, OH at 18…

The least number are the 8 states with 3 votes each: Alaska, Delaware, DC, MT, ND, SD, VT WY.

48 of the 50 states are winner take all states. Which means, a simple majority of the popular vote within the state gives ALL of the electoral votes to the winner.

Maine and Nebraska are the weirdos here.

Maine’s four EC votes are split with 2 going to the winner and 1 going to each of the winner of Maine’s two congressional district.

Nebraska’s 5 votes are split with 2 going to the winner, and one each going to the winner of Nebraska's three congressional districts.

Why have I told you all of this? I am telling all of this so you’ll understand what I mean when I say that voting for a third party, or even wanting a third party in presidential elections, can mathematically NOT happen until we lost the EC.

Let me say this more again for those in the back: a third party candidate CANNOT win a presidential election. In fact, the last time a third party even got a single EC vote was in 1968 - George Wallace (who, if you don’t know who that is, you should take a few moments and google - he was a hot mess). Wallace managed to get four Southern States to vote for him. (Quick primer on history - the Civil Rights Act was pushed through by LBJ in 1964. Herbert Humphrey was the Dem party official candidate in 1968 - it was the year that the Dem party officially flipped to the left and became what we now know as the Dem=Liberal Repubs=Conservative. Point being, the passage of the Civil Rights Act is the primary reason Wallace was able to take 4 Southern States.)

Why am I writing this?* I have seen several false assumptions come out of this race, and I wanted to point them out.

If a third party can get a single EC vote then the Presidency will be tied.

  • No. Just no. First off, unless you are in Maine or Nebraska, it is literally impossible to win a single EC vote. It’s a proportional system based on population. The votes are given (again, except for the weirdos) as winner take all.

The system should be changed! Vote third party to get three parties to choose from!

  • Not quite: There is some truth in this. I, personally, would love to see more parties to choose from. However, and here’s the rub, we do that not by running third parties in a presidential election, but by working between elections to get rid of the EC. Because, I will say it again, as long as the EC exist, we are forced into a two party system to elect someone at all. The President is elected when the EC vote is at 270 - period. The president is not the person who has the most votes (popular or EC). They *must* make that 270.

If enough people vote third party, the big political parties will pay attention.

  • No they won’t. As long as there is an EC to stand behind, there is no reason to pay attention. In 1992, Ross Perot managed to get almost 19% of the vote. He also received not a single EC vote. Also note, we are still voting between just the Dem/Repubs 24 years later. Americans have a super short memory. No one will remember your third party candidate after January 20th, when either Clinton or Trump is inaugurated.

Related: If I vote third party as a protest vote, then <insert the major party you are protesting against here> will listen.

  • See above.

42% identify as independents, 29% as Democrats, 26% as Republicans means that a 3rd party has a real shot.

  • There is major false assumption here - the 42% indies are all the same kind of indies. That’s just not true. Within that 42% you will have people on the extremes of both ends of the spectrum, as well as people who are more moderate than either party. That 42% does NOTHING to tell us where on the political spectrum they lie.
  • Beyond that, you are talking about splitting the vote between two indies. Assuming that there is an even split in the votes, that’s 21% per candidate. That means both indies get 21%, Dems get 29% Repubs get 21%. Congrats - you just handed the vote to the House of Reps. Alternatively, in winner take all state, Dems win by 8% and the state goes blue.**
But it’s happened before! It’s how we got the Republicans!

  • <sigh> Ok, yes, it did. The Republican Party was a third party (actually a merging of two third parties) that replaced the Whig party… in 1854. The Whigs collapsed into themselves mostly because of a split about slavery. However, it is a very different world now. Among other things, see above about ideological splits and the fact there are two independents running this year.
There are others, feel free to shoot them my way, and I’ll tell you what I think about them, butt those are the big ones.

A couple of notes on this crazy election cycle. Don’t be so sure the state you live in is going to do it’s normal thing, and therefore your vote won’t matter. There is a lot of talk right now about how a lot of states that are normally easy to call are actually in play this year.

Also, and this is important, do your research. Please, please, please do your research. I have also seen a lot of 3rd party things this season saying a thing THE CANDIDATE isn’t saying.
To that end, I leave you with the links to all the platforms of the two majors and two major 3rd parties. Read them. Learn more. Make educated choices.

*A note, dear reader. I am not telling you how to use your vote, that is genuinely on you. I am going to tell you point blank that voting for a third party is absolutely a vote for a person who has no literal chance of winning, and is also vote that was not for what ever major party candidate you believe would most help your morals and those of the US

** There are so very many things wrong with the way I just did that. I know. My point was to break out some of the numbers to see what happens in the extreme version.

Long Time No Write

Hello all!

I've been doing some things with my life - like graduating with a Master Degree in Applied Theatre!  (What?)  More on Applied Theatre lately.

This is a quick post to say I am back to wanting to blog, but this blog is going to shift focus and purpose.  I'll still be posting about what I see occasionally (Hamilton is as good as they say it is), but I'm going to use this blog to post more about what I do, projects past and present, and how I see the world as a whole.

Today, I'm going to post a bunch of facebook status I created over the last little while - people who know me know I mean the long ones, with links, and research.

I'll be back later this week with new writing.

Welcome back everyone!