Tuesday, May 8, 2007

U.S. Postal Service Plan to Impair Dissemination of Alternate Media

I heard about this about a month or two ago and wrote a letter to the U.S.P.S. in objection. But I feel it's important to inform my fellow students and citizens since we have been discussing the conglomeration of the media and how it affects our access to the news.

Prior to now, only small publications were opposed to the Postal Services proposed rate plan increase -- because they will be most adversely affected by it. However, now the NY Times has come out in opposition of it so hopefully there will be more news and discussion about it.

The plan that the U.S.P.S. is considering adopting for media mail was proposed by Time-Warner and benefits them the most.

Also see:
Jonathan Stein's blog at MotherJones


The Political Action opportunity at FreePress.net.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bush AIDS Abstinence Appointee Quits State Dept. in Hooker Scandal

I find this so terribly amusing, yet at the same time... it's terribly sad. We are the leaders of the free world and those in power in America cannot even hold themselves to the same standards they hold for those less fortunate than themselves.

If the richest people in the world are not capable of behaving ethically, how can we expect others -- who live in states much closer to Hobbes' state of nature -- to behave ethically? How can Americans expect others in the world to view us with respect when we are unwilling to afford them the same? When we are the cause of so much suffering, death and violence throughout the world, how do we dare to be shocked when violence, suffering and death arrive at our own doorstep?

America, we must set the example. I hear Christians harp on this concept endlessly, yet I have met few who actually live their faith. Our leaders use this rhetoric in the policies and laws, yet our national actions do not match our words. Yet everywhere, everyday, little-known acts of goodwill and kindness take place amongst those who are less fortunate and tread upon by those in power. When will our society cease to hold those who hurt as our leaders, rather than those who help?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Today we're watching Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism and discussing propaganda. This movie is incredible and hilarious. I've heard a lot of this before but it's still so unbelievable that Fox News presents themselves as serious news. Bill O'Reilly's interview with Jeremy Glick was a prime example of Fox's unwillingness to accept any information that contradicts their preconceived notions of what should be, not what is.

I have had my own experience with Fox News. In 2003, I wrote a letter to John Moody, who according to his Fox News Bio
"... serves as the Senior Vice President, News Editorial for FOX News. He is responsible for both the design and editorial direction of FOX News Channel and oversees all story content for FOX News." My letter asked Moody and Fox News to accurately report casualties and injuries suffered by our American troops in Iraq.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ruairaidh*
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2003 10:33 AM
To: Moody, John
Subject: Tell Us the Full Story About American Casualties

Dear John Moody,

I am writing to urge Fox News to join other major media to regularly
report the full toll of the occupation in Iraq including both the total numbers
of U.S. military deaths and those wounded in Iraq.

Most embedded reporters quickly took leave of Iraq after the fall of
Baghdad. But now we know that the war is far from over and the serious
consequences of the resulting quagmire concern many Americans. Although
Fox nightly news mentions a few individual attacks, it rarely refers to the
total of those killed in Iraq. It is impossible to know the reality of
what is happening on the ground without being informed of the total number of
deaths and injuries suffered by the U.S. military on a regular basis.

Newspapers like USA Today, the New York Times and Washington Post have
recently made major changes in reporting Iraq deaths. They have revised
their reports to include all military deaths, not just those who die by
combat, which doubles the count. They have also started to report the
thousands who have been wounded.

Please join these newspapers in regularly reporting the complete story
about U.S. military casualties and wounded in Iraq.

Please let me know how you intend to proceed on this issue.



I actually received a personal response from Mr. Moody, but he did not seem open to my suggestion.

From : Moody, John
Sent : Thursday, November 20, 2003 3:34 PM
To : "'ruairaidh@hotmail.com'"
Subject : RE: Tell Us the Full Story About American Casualties

MIME-Version: 1.0
Received: from vscan-out.FOXNEWS.COM ([]) by mc11-f4.hotmail.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(5.0.2195.6713); Thu, 20 Nov 2003 07:35:38 -0800
Received: from by vscan-out.FOXNEWS.COM (InterScan E-Mail VirusWall NT); Thu, 20 Nov 2003 10:35:23 -0500
Received: by ROMEO with Internet Mail Service (5.5.2657.72)id ; Thu, 20 Nov 2003 10:33:08 -0500
X-Message-Info: JGTYoYF78jFxM3DAWprz5Bu03gKGOOVF
X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2657.72)
Return-Path: john.moody@foxnews.com
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 20 Nov 2003 15:35:38.0465 (UTC) FILETIME=[F2BA7510:01C3AF7B]

the full story? ok, you're full of it.

* Editor's note -- I have removed my personal name and email information to protect that email address from spammers. John Moody's email address is available on the Fox News Website.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Attorney General scandal and porn

According to this story at Salon.com, some of the U.S. Attorney's were fired for failure to prosecute adult pornography cases.

According to the story, the Department of Justice has been targeting obscenity and pornography since the Reagan Administration. Now, it apparently was such an important issue to the Bush Administration that they decided that those in charge of eliminating obscenity from America were not doing a sufficiently good job.

It's comforting to know that our tax dollars are hard at work protecting us from that which could really harm us. I wouldn't want to turn on the news tomorrow and find out that terrorists infiltrated and bombed Los Angeles Port because the security there remains so terribly lax.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stanford Students Hold Hunger Strike for a Living Wage

I came across this and it reminded me of the CSU's recent negotiations and struggles with attaining commensurate compensation for our faculty.

Stanford Students Hold Hunger Strike for a Living Wage

Monday, April 2, 2007

Reporters behind bars

Blogger Josh Wolf has been jailed for refusing to submit to subpoenas of his videos of a protest. He holds the dubious honor of being the longest-incarcerated journalist for failure to comply with requests for information in order to carry out prosecutions. Some argue that Wolf isn't truly a journalist because he's a blogger.

Mother Jones interviewed Wolf in February: Reporters Behind Bars

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hate Speech and Compassion -- Dovetailing HCOM Classes

In addition to taking HCOM 310 this semester, I am also enrolled in HCOM 304 -- Relational Ethics. We are currently working with compassion -- for ourselves and others. In short, we are exploring how to incorporate greater compassion in our relationships and therefore heal ourselves.

While reading "
On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes," it occurred to me that not only can these issues of free speech be addressed with additional speech (as we discussed with pornography), but also with compassion. Yes, I realize that, like the concepts we studied in 312, it seems rather idealistic. Yet remember what we've been learning -- that we can only start with ourselves. If we begin to practice compassion in our lives and conversations, that's at least one small improvement in the dialogue.

When we become angry over some injustice or some experience we have had with hate speech, if we simply start with being compassionate with ourselves and exploring why this makes us angry and what the root of that anger is, we are closer to resolving the problem. Did we have the urge to respond to that hate speech with hate in return? If so, we are not so different from the perceived offender.

Many of us will chafe at such an idea and deny it, but if we are truthful with ourselves, we will find that there are many things about our ownselves that we don't care for either. Perhaps we can even find it in ourselves to be grateful for the offense, which gave us the opportunity to explore these thoughts and feelings.

I am probably not conveying the concepts of compassionate communication and relationships as well as I would like, but I hope I have at least sparked a little kernel of interest. Holding compassion for myself and others certainly hasn't been easy thus far, but I believe that if I can continue to work with it, I will be well-served by these teachings.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Birth Control Costs On Campus Double Thanks to Medicaid

Reproductive rights are something that about which I feel very strongly. Those of you who were in 312 with me know this. I think that so many issues in America could be resolved through better sex education and increased access to birth control.

Other countries of similar economic status and values already know this and have implemented programs to reduce unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Yet the response of the American Federal Government is to keep its collective head in the sand and refuse to listen to reason on this issue. Our president and a large number of Republican leaders have ignored the data which shows that abstinence-only sex education does not work. Furthermore, they also have ignored numerous polls which show that American citizens support more comprehensive sex education.

What boggles my mind the most is that when people cut programs to prevent unplanned pregnancies, they fail to recognize that it is cheaper to prevent a pregnancy than to deal with the consequences of it after conception. And by that I don't mean simply abortion -- I mean that abortion, adoption, raising the child or even simply leaving it at a Fire Station -- all cost taxpayers more than the cost of providing birth control.

I know that some legislators and activists believe that paying for birth control is tantamount to condoning out-of-wedlock sex. Yet this position ignores the fact that even married people cannot afford birth control sometimes. Furthermore, there are individuals in society who simply should not have children, regardless of their marital status. I happen to be one of those people. For health reasons, I should not have children as I could possibly pass on the same congenital birth defect to them which was discovered in me. And for those same health reasons, although I could conceive and bear children, it would be a tremendous strain on my health and well-being. My being married would not change these facts.

But all of this is simply a lengthy intro to my main concern today. Thanks to our federal government, obtaining birth control at the CSUMB Health Center could now cost you more. The reasons why costs are increasing is a little complicated. Basically, drug companies sold pharmaceuticals to universities at deep discounts in order to get rebates from those states when it came time to pay to participate in Medicaid. Now, pharmaceutical companies who give discounts to universities are required to pay more to participate in Medicaid. (Please click on the title of this blog for more information.)

Now, I believe that pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to put America in a stranglehold and they need to be reigned in. However, this legislation feels distinctly as if it is punishing university students along with the drug companies. Not only will students have to pay more for birth control, but any other prescription drugs we obtain at the health center. If you contract pneumonia, antibiotics will cost you more. If you suffer from depression (and reports of depression in college students are on the rise), then your anti-depressants will cost more. Frankly, I don't understand how our government can see fit to punish students in this manner.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Musings on Motherhood -- an art critique

Given our upcoming discussion about art, I thought I would publish something I wrote last year in response to a piece of art that provoked me to think. This entry isn't about free speech as it relates to our discussions in class. However the artist, protesters and myself have all exercised free speech around the concepts put forth by this piece of art.

Musings on Motherhood

In March 2006 New York's Capla Kesting Art gallery announced that they would be displaying a sculpture called "Monument To Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston" by artist Daniel Edwards. The sculpture sparked a great deal of controversy amongst both pro- and anti-choice activists because it depicted a nude Britney Spears giving birth to son Sean Preston, on all fours, on a bearskin rug.

The obstetric inaccuracy of this sculpture aside, I was not concerned about the abortion issue so much as the use of Spears as a model in support of motherhood. Following is the response I wrote to this sculpture.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Monument To Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston" by Daniel Edwards could have been a thought-provoking work of art about the beauty of a mother's labor and the pain and sacrifice she endures to bring a child into the world – had it only been based on someone who truly embraced motherhood and devoted themselves to their children, as so many mothers have throughout history. Regardless of whether a woman is a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a work-at-home-so-she-can-stay-at-home mom, the average mother devotes more of her life to her children than ANY celebrity mother ever will.

My mother made sacrifices for myself and my siblings, the likes of which Britney Spears and her fellow prima donnas will never have to make, just to ensure that we were well-fed and well-cared for. My mother, and so many others, went hungry just to make sure that the last food in the refrigerator fed the children. While my dad worked during the day, my mother worked at night to help make ends meet – but she made sure that she tucked us into bed before she left for work and she made sure she was home to make us breakfast before we left for school.

My parents don't struggle anymore and they have made sure that I can achieve a life better than they had at my age, but I learned the lessons of their struggle and they are lessons Spears and most of her generation haven't learned or, worse, have chosen to ignore.

Parenthood isn't something you engage in simply because it's fun or "everyone else is doing it". Children are not dolls. Children are human beings and caring for them is an incredible responsibility. One of the most important jobs we have in life is to give everything we have to guiding them to becoming the best human beings they can be.

I don't say this from a religious point of view or even a pro-life point of view – I say this from the point of view of a person who is tired of watching children be born to those who choose to have them for the wrong reasons. I'm tired of watching celebrities have children as accessories. I'm tired of seeing the young girl whose parents didn't give her enough love choose to have a baby because she believes it'll be the one person in the world who will love her unconditionally. I'm tired of the woman who wants to get married so desperately, she'll get pregnant just to keep a man. I'm tired of the couples in failing marriages who choose to have a baby, mistakenly believing it will bring them closer together. I'm tired of self-destructive people procreating to solve their problems instead of simply holding themselves accountable for their own behavior. The children born of these individuals will simply perpetuate this cycle of self-destructive behavior.

Britney Spears is no model for motherhood. Furthermore, given her life-choices, I question whether her mother is either.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(For the full story of the sculpture and surrounding controversy, go to CBS News:Clash Over Nude Britney Spears Statue. Photos retrieved from Shamis.de .)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Religion ala Eddie Izzard

Since my group's Dialogue Project proposal is on Freedom of Religion, I thought I'd share this bit from my favorite comedian, Eddie Izzard. And thanks to freedom of speech, he is able to express himself as an "executive transvestite" and not get burned at the stake for his fashion preferences!

(FYI -- He explains a transvestite as a "male lesbian" -- it's a straight man who likes to wear women's clothing and/or make-up.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tired rambling

I apologize -- my brain is mush and I haven't had the brainpower to post anything prescient. Birthday celebrations, getting sick, ending a relationship -- all in addition to school, homework and work. It's been a busy week.

Lent began February 20. Although I am not Christian, I decided to participate this year in support of my Catholic (newly ex-)boyfriend and also, hopefully, to benefit myself. I chose to give up MySpace. Obviously, if I have elected to give up MySpace for Lent, it is likely something on which I spend far too much time and energy. So we shall see if I can handle 40 days without it. Although I am Pagan (yes, that's right, Pagan), I see nothing wrong with participating in the religious observance of another faith tradition if it can serve to make me a better person and perhaps advance me in my spiritual path.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mistrial Declared in Watada Court-Martial

Thursday, February 8, the Court-Martial of First Lt. Ehren Watada (see previous blog for details) ended in a mistrial. The judge, Lt. Col. John Head, declared the mistrial after confusion arose regarding pre-trial "stipulation of facts," signed by both the prosecution and Lt. Watada.

Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, believes that the officer cannot be re-tried due to the Constitution's protection against double jeopardy. However, a new trial has been scheduled for March 19.

Following are articles presenting various perspectives on the verdict:

The Honolulu Advertiser article

The Washington Times article

The Eat the State article

The Nichi Bei Times

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Trial Starts for Officer Who Refused to Go to Iraq

This article in The New York Times came up on the Google news page yesterday when I logged on and I decided to read further. The story is about the court-martial of First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada, an Army Officer who has refused to go to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal. I think it's an interesting issue.

On the one hand, as American citizens, we pride ourselves on our First Amendment right to protest our government's actions. On the other hand, to what extent do members of the military retain that right? By refusing to go to Iraq, is he exercising Free Speech responsibly or is he breaking a
commitment he made voluntarily?

I have not yet been able to take a position either way. My realm of experience includes those who joined the U.S. Armed Forces before 9/11 and after and therefore have different views and experiences. I also have my own personal views on the war, some of which coincide with Watada's. However, I also have strong opinions on making informed decisions and abiding by the consequences of those decisions. Yes, we are all allowed to change our minds, but if there are ramifications to our actions, should we not be willing to accept them? Perhaps it is easier for me to theorize, given that my life is not endangered by this issue.

For more information on First Lt. Watada's court-martial, see here.

Following is an interesting movie presenting views on this issue:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


"What the...?"

That's the most common response people have when they first read my name.

"Are you ... air raid? Is that what that says?"

No. It is the Scotch-Gaelic spelling of the name Rory. Yes, Gaelic. It's a very unusual language from Scotland and Ireland which has absolutely no connection with any Latin-based language. Furthermore, Rory means "red" in that old Scotch language. Anyone who knows me, will know why my name means "red."

But given that Gaelic is so unusual, I've titled this blog with the English spelling for clarity.