Blog Archive

Tuesday, June 30

Disparate Impact At Work And On The Highways

What a lousy day for hoping to reduce disparate negative impact on not-privileged communities of people.

  1. First we've got the Supreme Court saying that you can only magically predict, by squinting your eyes really hard and concentrating, during the "test design" phase of employee promotion test design whether or not that test will have disparate impact. If the results of actually trying it out on your employees show that you designed it wrong, no starting over! You have to keep using it!

  2. Then there's bad news I got on getting disparate impact considered in transportation offices around here.

    • It's easy to figure out the racial & income composition of houses & businesses that're sitting on the ground, standing still in a neighborhood. And it's precedented, when thinking about building a brand new highway through a previously unbroken neighborhood, to presume that people moving on that highway's general occupancy lanes will have roughly average racial & income composition.

      It's both easy and precedented to calculate what income & racial composition a highway (presumed average-composition) would take quality of life away from in this situation.

    • But it's harder to get the racial & income composition of people moving on an existing highway's bus-only lane. And it sounds like you'd have to convince a lot of engineers and geographers and managers and other functionaries that it could be good enough math (good enough to at least run the calculations once and see what you get, anyway) to make the presumption of "roughly average" racial & income composition in an existing highway's general occupancy lanes. For some reason, for this comparison, you might have to talk them out of the idea that they'd have to first measure such things to see if it actually works out to "roughly average."

      Which means that it's neither easy nor precedented to calculate what income & racial composition it would take quality of life away from to convert bus-only lanes to general occupancy lanes.


    Not to mention, as I've heard is usual, people considered about disparate negative impact (in this case, me) are waaaaaaaaaaaay behind the bureaucratic process.

    I finally got a phone number and had this conversation today--about a year after I heard that the process might be influenceable. And now it's not really. The only factors they're considering (TOTAL number of bodies getting down the highway, safety in number of crashes vs. where to go when you crash, etc.) are so far "considered" that they're in final report stage.

I'm not sure whether to push to get what I consider important considered by the departments in charge of this highway segment.

And what I REALLY am at a loss for, not having much activist experience, is who to reach out to for advice. Super-experienced transportation justice advocates from all over the country? Local bus riders who don't have any more lick of experience than me, one at a time, on my bus?

(Would love advice if you have any. Thank you!)

Thursday, June 25

Good Strawberries

If I die a slow, miserable death of cancer because I gorged myself on pesticide-covered, most-strawberry-flavored-that-a-strawberry-can-get strawberries each June, I might just have to call it a wash. Or even a win.

Because damn, do these strawberries taste good. I thought they might when I saw them at the market. I suspect they might've even been picked at the crack of dawn this morning. Maybe that's why they taste so good.

I go HUNTING each June for a vendor selling strawberries this good. I hit it today.

I don't think strawberries taste as good once they're covered in water...and I didn't have the heart to ask the farmer if her strawberries had been sprayed at any point. We didn't have much to share, so I wanted to share my joy about buying strawberries, not my worrying questions.

So here I go, eating a quart and a half of unwashed strawberries in an hour. (All right, I might puke for non-pesticide-related reasons.)

But they're the best flavor strawberries can ever have.

So I'll just love life right this moment and have someone dig up this journal and remind me of every June's strawberry season in my life if bad times come later.

I love everything.

Monday, June 22

Call To Action: Demand Mississippi Reunite Mother & Baby Daughter!

BFP broke the story into my sphere.
BA sliced my heart, which helped me act:

Poor women shouldn't have anything rich people want.

including children.

Request for Action from the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA):

Cirila Baltazar Cruz gave birth to her baby girl in November of 2008 at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, MS. She speaks very little Spanish and no English, as her native language is Chatino, an Indigenous language from Oaxaca, Mexico that is spoken by some 50,000 people.

The hospital provided her with an “interpreter” who is from Puerto Rico and does not speak Chatino, the language of the mother. Because of the language barrier and the misunderstanding by the hospital’s interpreter who only spoke Spanish and English, a social worker was called in.

The hospital’s social worker reported “evidence” of abuse and neglect based on the following:

* The “baby was born to an illegal [sic] immigrant;”
* The “mother had not purchased a crib, clothes, food or formula.” (Most Latina mothers breast feed their babies).
* “She does not speak English which puts baby in danger.”

Ms. Baltazar Cruz’s baby was snatched from her after birth at the hospital and given to an affluent attorney couple from the posh Ocean Springs who cannot have children.

The authorities made no effort to locate an interpreter in her native tongue. MIRA located an interpreter who is fluent in Chatino in Los Angeles CA and has interviewed the mother extensively with the interpreters help. The mother has been accused of being poor and not being able to provide for this child. No one has asked the mother to provide evidence of support. She owns a home in Mexico and a store which provides both secure shelter and financial support, not counting the nurturing of a loving family of two other siblings, a grandmother, aunts, uncles and other extended family.

Meanwhile, there is word in the Gulf Coast community that the “parents to be,” have already had a baby shower celebrating the “blessed arrival” of this STOLEN child!


If you believe this is unjust and outrageous and goes against all moral and religious beliefs and values, please call or write to the presiding Judge and the MS Department of Human Services to STOP this ILLEGAL ADOPTION! Stealing US born babies from immigrant parents is a growing epidemic in the United States. Many Latino parents have lost their children this way!

Honorable Judge Sharon Sigalas
Youth Justice Court of Jackson County
4903 Telephone Rd.
Pascagoula, MS 39567

Children’s Justice Act Program
MS Dept. of Human Services
750 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202
Call (601)359-4499 and ask for Barbara Proctor

For more information please call MIRA at: (601) 968-5182

MIRA Organizing Coordinator
Victoria Cintra at (228) 234-1697 or Organizer Socorro Leos at(228) 731-0831

What I ran into and what I was able to do:

I got forwarded to a voicemail (note--the names on that machine aren't Honorable Judge Sigalas's name--but I was told it's the correct machine) at 228-762-7370 and left a message, rambling as it was, stating reasons I didn't think Ms. Baltazar Cruz's case was abuse or neglect and thought she must be allowed to raise her baby.

Someone asked who was calling for Ms. Proctor at 601-359-4499, and I gave my name but said she wasn't expecting a call. Then I was asked what I was calling about, and I said I wanted to weigh in on the issue of Ms. Baltazar Cruz's baby. She said they'd "already received calls" on that and were "working on" it. At that I asked if I could simply leave a message--that I thought Ms. Baltazar Cruz's baby should be returned to her--and asked if I could have that message taken down. She said okay to that.

Sunday, June 21

Laundry Will Be Done!

The good news is, I wrote this post 30 minutes ago, so w/ the energy I now have from being back up, I'm going to get off the computer & go put away at least some of the laundry. I hope I'll do all of it. Go!

Journal On A Warm Night

It's hot. Dusk. Body says sleep--sun says not quite yet. Plus it's hot. I haven't turned on the fan--though I have gotten my clothes off.

It's not that hot. It'd be easy to sleep outside, and I'll probably fall asleep once I get the fan on.

I had a thought about my pale, squishy flesh and lifestyle and "adapted to" vs. "perfectly capable of" vs. "a result of." And, like, close-to-nudity outside, daytime vs. nighttime, or something. It's why I grabbed paper & pencil to start writing thoughts. But I forgot it.

Now I've gotten up to get a scrunchie for bed & turn on the fan & lie back down, even though I really should've put away laundry while I was up. I'm on an overworked person's side of the bed. I should be clearing off mine.

Punch Him

I was trying to sleep, but now I'm awake, so I'll type some blog stuff up.

I got really angry at the man who raped my friend and is now showing up again in our social circle and want to punch him REALLY HARD next time I see him. (Even though I can't punch hard. I just want to throw the punch and for it to happen.)

I got up off the bed and punched it.

I didn't punch it very hard--what'd I say?

But I decided to punch until my arms felt as if I'd punched something hard just once.

And that worked. I felt a lot less stressed in my chest.

I don't know why he's been eating away at me lately. I guess it's mostly that he's been showing up. But geez, I've known him for years, and known what he did for years now...why am I getting so obsessed?

I hope it's the increased exposure to him, not some unhealthy going-into-my-head-about-stuff-I-can't-do-anything-about-at-the-moment.

Thursday, June 18

What To Do With Surplus Money/Object Accumulation

I'm torn about what to do w/ money and valuable objects that I don't need, but can get my hands on w/o being labeled by mainstream culture as a criminal.

Take them and hoard them away for kids I might have one day? I always thought I'd do that. It's what my family does. As a teenager, I was already proudly telling my parents I was going to start setting away money for my kids, in addition to (hopefully) earlier expenses like housing & such, the moment I started making it.

And recently, one of my friends just told me that this probably isn't just my family--it probably has a lot to do w/ half my family being Jewish. She said it's pretty common for one generation to pay for 100% of the next generation's expenses, and for that younger generation to save the extra income they don't have to spend on themselves for their dependents.

That makes doing it feel kind of special. It gives hoarding surplus away a positive emotional meaning, knowing that there's a whole world of people doing that, too.

But kids cost a lot, so to really give future kids the childhood I was given by my predecessors would mean accumulating a lot of money & valuable stuff beyond what I need to accumulate to live the adulthood I crave.

That's a lot of money I could be either:
A) choosing not to get my hands on ("earn") in the first place
B) choosing to get my hands on, but then redistributing.

I realized yesterday that I'm "behind" on my "saving for my kids" plan, and that I need to kick my saving into high gear to achieve that goal. But am I going to do it?

If I do have kids, they can live a childhood less economically privileged than the one I lived. And I don't really plan to have them, anyway. So why get my hands on, and then hoard, as much money as I've always presumed I would?

Other than the fact that I've always presumed I would--and that that's upsetting to think about changing?

It's probably obvious from my blog that I didn't grow up poor, and that I'm not currently struggling mentally or physically due to a lack of money.

The privileged concerns I've written about in this post are on my mind, so I'm spewing them out, but I understand if no one I try to network with in the blogosphere really has any responses.

Thursday, June 11

Getting Up & At 'Em

Okay, I think I'm a little depressed & lonely tonight. Making the last post's "I should do this!" reeeally halting.

But maybe some dinner I don't think I want the flavor of...yet can't stop thinking about...will help. :-P


I have lots of justice-related thoughts overwhelming my brain.

I need to get away from the computer/bed, though, and do the housework on my to-do list.

I have to start by acting out justice.
And it's always at the smallest scale that you have to act your principles to avoid being a hypocrite.
So off. Off this computer. Off that bed.

Swine Flu Among First Nations Populations North Of Me

:-( & & &

the disease seems to be spreading more rapidly and with more severe consequences for First Nation people. The health care providers believe that this is happening because of the dire third world conditions of many First Nations


Price of Pad Thai

I made 4-5 large / 6 moderate servings of "pad thai" at home last night.

I think it cost $13.45, or $2.24 per moderate / $3 per large serving.

So it's not "shoestring," but I think I can do it cheaper in the future. I got a tiny (7 oz.), expensive ($3.50) bottle of "Thai Kitchen" fish sauce because my huge "Viet Huang Three Crabs" had gone bad. But then my recipe turned out to need 3 oz of fish sauce, and I doubled it, so I could've maybe bought the smallest a cheaper brand comes in, instead, and just promised myself I'd make food w/ fish sauce one more time within the year. (Save maybe $1-$1.50/recipe this size?)

Here's the breakdown:

  • A pound of noodles, $2
  • 4 eggs, $1
  • About half a pack of dried mushrooms, $1
  • 2 largeish onions, $1
  • 7 green onions*, $1.70
  • 2 cloves garlic, 10¢
  • 1 finger of ginger, <40¢
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, 10¢
  • 3 limes, 50¢
  • cilantro, $1
  • a few peanuts, 50¢
  • 6 oz. fish/soy sauce, $3
  • 12 oz. tofu, $1
  • 1/4 c. sugar, 15¢
Tonight: lasagna! (Note: the cheese is pricey.)

And as always, thank you to the amazing BFP for the idea to share stories of attempting to eat cheaply.

Tuesday, June 9

Pakistan's Population

I didn't understand how there could be 3 million displaced people from one little area (Swat, Pakistan), yet see reports that the actions of the people who displaced them (the military offensive against armed Taliban-aligned people in the area) were "widely popular."

So I looked up the population of Pakistan.

There are 189 million people.

I guess I can see how those numbers work out now.

Monday, June 8

Healthcare Costs - Lucky Me

Lucky me! A healthcare provider I went to for a while isn't going to charge me anything to send all the info they have on me to my new general practitioner. Coulda cost me almost $1 per page.

Friday, June 5

I Get To See All My Relatives - I Want Her To Be Able To, Too

I found out a few minutes ago that I might have to help pass bad news onto a young (probably undocumented) immigrant.

Maybe she loves lots of members of her family, too.

I hope she gets to see them all.

I won't ask this question to Grandpa because he might be in his last days and I love him a lot and just want to spend happy time with him. The law, however, lets me see him (and would let me see his mother if she were still alive) all I can afford.

I want this young woman to be able to travel and roam and see and hug and come back and go again and hug again and cherish moments again and come back again all she wants.

My Great-Grandmother Could Have Been An Undocumented Immigrant

My grandpa and his nuclear family fled Europe during the Holocaust.

Everyone but his mother got immigrant visas--the consulate claimed to be out of them by the time she was ready.

His mother sweet-talking her way past an administrative assistant to see the consul in person and ask him for a different type of visa, and walking out w/ an immigrant visa, is a family legend.

My grandpa condemns immigration "the wrong way." But I'll bet he's never really asked himself if his mother would've seriously left her family and gone back to Europe upon the expiration of her visa had the consul given her the non-immigrant visa she claimed to seek rather than an immigrant visa.

My bet is that she wouldn't have shared his strong condemnation of immigration "the wrong way" if she'd had to decide whether or not to do it herself. And that he might not feel that way today, either.

Grandpa's too old to pick that fight with, and I love him a lot, so it's nice to get it off my chest here.

Detainee Rape Photos

I got caught up in my anger about the kind of country I live in when I posted this and forgot to mention that although I don't want any "Detainee Photos Protection Act of 2009" passed, I also don't want the photos themselves released w/o consulting the victims...and...I'm willing to have them not released if the victims can't be found.

I know that enables the government to lie about why they're not releasing them...

...but if they lie on a premise of what I truly consider decent (protecting victims) rather than lying on a premise of what I don't consider a good enough reason to withhold the photos (protecting perpetrators and those who've been put in a position by the government to continue to perpetrate if they so choose)...I'd settle for that world.

Thanks for reminding me, BA, Joan, & Cara.

Flowers For BA

These flowers are for BA!
(Important post here.)

Wednesday, June 3

Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act of 2009

By Chris Floyd today, from "Death of the Republic, Part CLXVIII," Empire Burlesque:

Glenn Greenwald, among others, is enraged at Barack Obama's eager embrace of the latest disgorgement of third-rate juntaism to belch forth from the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress: the "Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act of 2009," sponsored by those ever-stalwart champions of liberty, Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. As Greenwald describes it:
[The bill] literally has no purpose other than to allow the government to suppress any "photograph taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States." As long as the Defense Secretary certifies -- with no review possible -- that disclosure would "endanger" American citizens or our troops, then the photographs can be suppressed even if [the Freedom of Information Act] requires disclosure...What kind of a country passes a law that has no purpose other than to empower its leader to suppress evidence of the torture it inflicted on people? Read the language of the bill; it doesn't even hide the fact that its only objective is to empower the President to conceal evidence of war crimes.
What kind of country passes such a law? Why, a cheap, corrupt, third-rate junta state, which has elevated war and militarism into its supreme value, its "ultimate concern," its divinity -- that's what kind of country. What other kind of country did you think was skulking there between Mexico and Canada these days?

(Pssst. Call/write/e-mail everyone--your policymakers and your public arenas--to stop this. Maybe it can be done.)

Wedding Ring Alternatives

Can anyone think of alternatives to a wedding ring that make sense for a white American woman?

If I commit for life to someone, I do want to have it visible, but I don't like rings (wearing them AND what goes into getting the materials to us).

I could do ring on a chain, but eh. It still means dealing w/ jewelry and consuming ring materials.

I'm a little afraid of getting a tattoo around my ring finger, even though it seems to be the most logical option.

I can't imagine a hennaed ring would last more than 4 days at a time on something I work with and scrub regularly.

A dot on the forehead doesn't seem right, since they're just...something from someone else's culture, laden w/ meaning I don't even understand.


Monday, June 1

Ukranians, Americans

Ukranians look so much like so many white Americans.
I've felt that way about other "other" parts of Europe, too.

How many of us white Americans are mostly Southern/Eastern European, genetically, but don't come from families that acknowledged it?

(Okay, back to trying to find healthy, vitamin-filled Ukranian foods that I can actually make. No way am I gonna try my hand at borscht for the first time on a quick cooking night, and I'm not sure a woman in the hospital is really going to feel like chewing meat-and-rice-filled cabbages. Any other ideas? What else do Ukranians do w/ all their produce? To give nutrition to the sick? (Okay, okay, duh...the Ukranians can make borscht on a moment's notice because they've practiced. Dammit.) Hmmm. I think my neighbor's gonna get ordinary Midwest-cookbook chicken noodle soup.)

Recent headlines from the blog "Black and Missing but Not Forgotten:"