Category Archives: Randomness

Apple & Accessibility & FCPX – Forgotten Again

Today Apple have released some amazing videos about the great work they do with accessibility. And it is great work, don’t get me wrong. The fact that these abilities are built into the systems of Mac and iOS is perhaps the best sign that Apple is interested in more than just profits, they truly do see their goal of a strong bottom line as being enhanced by being a good corporate citizen. For that I applaud them.

I own a small business, and in that business I made videos for my clients. From commercials to industrials to little fun weird projects, I get to let my creativity flow and madness revel in ideas and explorations. It’s amazing fun, and I really do enjoy it.

Until I have to deliver a final project to a client.

Not because I’m unhappy with the work I’ve done, or because I think it could be better – it could always be better, but then it would never be done – or because I don’t want to leave the project. It’s because I have to deal with Closed Captions.

Actually, I don’t have to, I want to. I have several friends who are deaf or hearing impaired in some way, and while those who can use hearing aids in some format don’t need captions to understand what I’ve created, the deaf do. Badly.

Final Cut Pro is where I produce my video work. I’ve been using FCP since 2003, and FCPX since it was released in 2011. I made the switch to FCPX completely in 2013, and I love it. Except for captions, but  then, no version of FCP has been good with captions at all. Now that we’re in 2017 it’s disheartening to say the least. Way back in 2010 I wrote about how I create and manage captions and not much has changed, except I don’t ever produce a DVD and instead just deliver the .scc file with the MP4 and let the broadcast station deal with the mess on their ingest cycle. It’s pathetic and gross. And in many cases, it means that local production doesn’t get captioned because while I think it’s important, the FCC gives companies at my level and out, and most use it.

Captions can be just text at timecode, which is simple. In their most complex, they are styled, located text at timecode. That’s it. Nothing more. I work in text and titles and timecode every day in every video I do, so there is no reason that this simple function isn’t baked in at this point. Words at timecode. That’s all it is.

That Apple is making their systems and products accessible is great. Xcode grants programmers the ability to build accessible apps, and has from the beginning, which is even better as it makes a massive part of the ecosystem accessible.

That Final Cut Pro hasn’t ever and still doesn’t create closed captions is a smudge on that image.

Updating the phones

Because Ubiquiti can’t put these someplace easy to find:

SipService.apk

UnifiPhone.apk

The ridiculous thing is that I had to type this in because the page it’s on, the links they built, and the dumb involved in that has caused me to lose my mind. But whatever, the links go to their static servers, so it’s not like you’re downloading from me if you come here.

 

 

Things You’ve Said

It seems that with the beginning of school we’ve been given the task of educating a sniveling little trash fire named Robert Saunders who wants really badly to be a member of the Montana House of Representatives. His desire is so strong that he’s given up driving his Mercedes out of the garage of his McMansion and instead has taken to driving a rusted out old truck because he needs to appear authentic – which he obviously struggles with, immensely.

While claiming to be for a woman’s right to choose her healthcare, claiming to be for public education, claiming to be for expanding Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, when he stops at the door of an obvious Democrat, he clearly is not. If you display anything GOP he’ll gladly rail against them all, just as he rails against over-reaching government and regulations that are strangling small businesses. And don’t get him started on taxes, you don’t have that kind of time. No one has that kind of time.

But what’s the worst of it? The worst is Mr. Saunders’ outlook on people he thinks are beneath him, and that’s everyone else.

You see, his mommy and daddy raised him and pay him well, and have enough money to have kept him from ever attending public schools. That’s right, he was home-schooled, so just imagine all the good and wondrous things that have been crammed into his skull, like birtherism and Ark History, along with a sense of entitlement and ego that are bigger than our skies, and comes attached to a set of wits duller than a David Spade movie.

saundersrobert-3But wait, there’s more! Mr. Saunder’s ego is so unbelievable that when his opponent rightfully pointed out his own words, self-written online, well, sad, weak-minded little Robert Saunders had to throw a temper tantrum and call up his daddy’s lawyer to get a very mean letter written and sent to the very mean woman who pointed out the exceedingly shitty things that Robert Saunders has said. When he was asked “Is it a desirable condition that between 40-50% of the members of the US Congress have more than $1 million dollars in assets, when less than 1% of the population of the USA has that level of wealth?” he answered, and I quote:

The Founding Fathers thought so. Our form of government was designed so that only people with a stake in the country’s future could vote.

In the early days, this meant that only people who owned property could vote – just like today, in business, only shareholders in the company can vote.

Likewise, only people who owned property could run for public office. Know why?

Because the Founders (rightly) believed that the people with the most to lose would be the least likely to screw up. People with money have the time and opportunity to educate themselves and a vested interest in doing so. Transients, college kids, and others without a dollar to their name have nothing to lose and are thus extremely unsafe custodians of power, being more likely to “experiment”, often with catastrophic results.

He goes on, you can follow the link here to see it.

This really isn’t that out of range for the GOP as some very strict originalists have taken to calling the GOP home, but this is slightly more to the right than Scalia ever was, and that’s saying something.

screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-2-44-30-pmMore to the point, it’s very easy to point out that he did say this. Here’s an image of the profile of the person on Quora and it matches his bio. This is him, and he thinks that only the wealthy should have a say in the governing of the country because, somehow, in his head, he thinks that they are the only ones with something to lose.

And when his opponent pointed this out to a person while out knocking doors, this person reported it back to Robert Saunders the Crybaby of Billings. Then Robert Saunders, the Silver-spoon-fed man-child, cried to his mommy and daddy and they hired a lawyer by the name of Emily Jones, who appears to understand several areas of the law but must have missed the days they covered the concept of Defamation, at least as it applies to public figures.

Let’s remember that because the dimwitted Robert Saunders is running for public office, he has voluntarily made himself a public figure. You’ve noticed, no doubt, that I’ve been using some very fun, colorful descriptions along with his name, and that’s because it’s my legal right to do so. But since it appears his lawyer has slightly less legal insight than I do in this matter, let’s go to the wonderful folks at FindLaw and see how they summarize it:

When an official is criticized in a false and injurious way for something that relates to their behavior in office, the official must prove all of the above elements associated with normal defamation, and must also show that the statement was made with “actual malice.”

You see, it’s that “actual malice” part that’s going to be really hard to prove. In court or even the court of public opinion.

But here’s the best part: Ms. Jones included in her rather nasty letter crying about how mean and unconscionable it was to say these things about the untrustworthy snotbucket Robert Saunders, included a link to the very page on Quora where the maniac said exactly what was quoted above.

Look, you can dislike your opponent, you can want to win at all costs, and you can go hire a lawyer and one of them may write for you what has to be the stupidest letter outside of the idiocy written by the Bundy boy in Oregon. I’ve included that PDF here, so you can read it, and see the legal brilliance shining through.

To the odious Robert Saunders, you can cry and scream and shout and whine all you want, but at the end of the day you have two things against you: 1) you wrote the answer on Quora and will have to stand by what you wrote and how ugly those statements really are; and 2) nothing I’ve written here rises to the level of slander or defamation, as the descriptives are my opinion of you, and the rest are demonstrably things you’ve said, I’m just illuminating them. If you can’t stand having people know what you think, you’d do well to shut up.

And Ms. Jones, to you I say, I hope you reconsider working as the legal equivalent of a mercenary. This letter is atrocious.

These are my thoughts, and this I freely share with you all: I firmly believe you should stand by what you say. And I do.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

slack_rgbIf you don’t know what Slack is, well, let’s see if I can explain it:

  • It’s a communication tool, allowing for group communications (rooms) and private communications (direct messages) and everything in-between.
  • Communication can be text, emoji, gifs, urls, and files.
  • Everything is searchable and, if you’re on a  paid account, that means EVERYTHING from ANYTIME for FOREVER. This has come in handy a few times, which I’ll detail in a minute.
  • It works on computers, both Mac & Windows, as well iOS, Android and the various phones and tablets they power.
  • Notifications are customizable and easily turned off.
  • It’s easy to use, and does some pretty amazing things.

At TSI&T we’ve been using it basically since the beginning of the company. We tried other solutions but they just didn’t work for us. Nothing was simpler, nothing was liked more, and in the end, nothing worked better. And while that seem damning with faint praise, the truth is we put everything through the ringer of dealing with us, and nothing else even survived, while Slack shone like a beacon of happiness in the darkest of nights.

But lately, we’ve evolved and found a new way to use Slack that doesn’t require one of many Slack Apps, this is built in from the get-go, and it’s just two parts

  1. Custom name a room: something like #install-new-client
  2. Add a single-channel guest.

That’s it. Now, when we are doing a massive installation that involves our SuperFi™ internet service, VoIP Phone Service, Security Cameras, and internal networking with public access, well, we like to have the customer contact involved every step of the way. This is important because in many cases we’re installing service to buildings that have been around for decades, have intricate or interesting access issues, have multiple issues with construction that might have been up to code at some point in the past but is surely not that way now, and could just have unexpected surprises or timing issues. By having a client inside our Slack we can discuss all of this, in real-time, and get answers to questions, adjust scheduling, buy materials, etc., and we don’t have to chase down clients via phone, or email or actually stopping by their desk because they’re at least as busy as we are and haven’t gotten to the 40 bazillion emails sitting in their inbox yet and why isn’t there hot coffee who the hell drank it all and where did my pen go andwhyisthisthefontwe’reusingonthisaddidsomeonegoblind?!

*ahem*

Anyway, we’ve started this practice and already it’s sped us up on projects. If you’re still using email and phone and text and smoke signals and postcards and ponies to communicate, it might be time to cut yourself some Slack.

And if you like what we’re doing at TSI&T, you might consider investing.

Better Connections

tsiandtblockAs most of you know I joined the team at TSI&T about a year ago as the Chief Marketing Officer and I’m also one of the owners of the company now. I’m super excited about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it, and, after this rather short post, I’m hoping you will be, too.

You see, internet in Montana has gotten bad. We’re a very rural state, and in many cases, the rural is so rural is considered untouched by mankind. The saying that Montana is one city with really long roads is kinda true, and being the 4th largest state in the Union by landmass, while having a population that just barely scratched 1Million this decade, and there’s not a ton of businesses who see building infrastructure here as a good plan.

And I get that. I totally understand. When you’re looking at where to put your business a huge part of it is “where are my customers?” and that, my friend, is rarely a condensed group in Montana.

But we still need roads and highways. We still need water and electricity. We still need  internet. The growth of these needs is not the same. More roads are needed as more people are here, same with water and electricity. Internet needs, tho, go up based on what you do with the internet, and these days, there’s not much we don’t do online. Shop. Share. Watch. Communicate. Celebrate. It’s all online.

But holy buckets of chum does the internet suck a lot. Which brings me back to TSI&T, and what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I was kind of being glib when I said:

“Here’s the thing about Internet: It’s miserable around here,” Kevin Hamm, chief marketing officer for Treasure State Internet, said. He added that Montana is “like a third world country” in terms of Internet speed, which the small business is trying to change block by block.

but then again, I’m not wrong. Have you tried to get internet in Montana City? Century Link will tell you that they’re not signing up new customers, and even if you did their DSL service, it’d be 4Mbps down and 750kbps up, if you’re lucky. Just to be clear, Montana City is so close to Helena that my rather chunky bum could walk there if I had, too. And Charter doesn’t even offer anything in Montana City, and most of the homes are surrounded by towering trees and majestic rolling mountains and hills, and so wireless internet can’t happen either, and let’s just pretend that satellite wasn’t even mentioned as its speeds are still beaten by the dial-up modems of the early 90s. And again, this is within 10 miles of our state capitol. It’s pathetic.

How much worse is it in Winnett, population 182? There’s no incentive to go there for companies the size of Century Link, and much less Charter now that they’ve gobbled up Time/Warner Cable.

Enter TSI&T. And yes, we’re a bit different. We believe that

  1. Everyone deserves internet, no matter where they live;
  2. Slow internet is worse than no internet (after all, look where we live!);
  3. Caps are for heads, not for internet;
  4. Fiber to every home and office in Montana is doable.

We’ve been in business now for just over three years, with two years of active customers and construction. We’ve built a wISP system and realized its shortcomings are too egregious to continue that path much longer. We’ve built fiber out and the customers we’ve connected have been overwhelmed with how awesome that service is. We can’t wait to reach more people with our SuperFi™ network, because, yes, it’s that good. We have over 100 customers now, and if you talk to any of them, they’ll tell you how good we really are. Are we perfect? Nope. We’re just very good, and we’re here, responsive, and growing, and our service is really fast.

In fact, the only thing slow about our company is our growth, which takes money and time. Now it’s time for everyone who has complained about their internet to step up and invest in us. You don’t have to invest much – in fact, if you’re a Montana resident, you can invest as little as $100 – and you do have to make sure you understand the risks involved with investing,  but you’re all smart people. You can handle this.

And when enough of you invest, just wait and see what we can do!

But it warrants further exploration.

Yes, it does. After laying out the basic tenet that the movement toward equality has been hijacked by the current batch of SJW’s, Aristotelis Orginos believes he has found the problem, and the problem is …feminism? Or perhaps just those who call themselves feminist? His article isn’t quite clear, but it starts out unpromising and then falls into logical fallacies that leave one aghast that he’s a self-proclaimed “future teacher”.

First up, the confusion between ‘hate’ and ‘anger’. His supposition is that “…in attempting to solve pressing and important social issues, millennial social justice advocates are violently sabotaging genuine opportunities for progress by infecting a liberal political narrative with, ironically, hate.” No, they are angry. I don’t know of anyone who is truly fighting for justice and equality that is lining up a list of all the idiots they hate.

I’ll quote him extensively for a moment:

“Many will understand this term I used — millennial social justice advocates — as a synonym to the pejorative “social justice warriors.” It’s a term driven to weakness through overuse, but it illustrates a key issue here: that, sword drawn and bloodthirsty, millennial social justice advocates have taken to verbal, emotional — and sometimes physical — violence.

In a dazzlingly archetypical display of horseshoe theory, this particular brand of millennial social justice advocates have warped an admirable cause for social, economic, and political equality into a socially authoritarian movement that has divided and dehumanized individuals on the basis of an insular ideology guised as academic theory. The modern social justice movement launched on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Jezebel, Slate, Huffington Post, et al. is far more reminiscent of a Red Scare (pick one) than the Civil Rights Movement.”

Really? Has he read anything of Malcolm X? What about the riots of the miners and other unions who fought for the 8-hour workday and child labor laws and everything else we currently enjoy? Does he realize that those were actual battles, not just verbal engagements fueled by tacky, fruity, fake martinis? People fought and people died for those social justices to come about. They were angry at being abused and they picked up weapons and fought. That’s not hate, that’s exhaustion and self-preservation. And it’s nothing new. And the words that are currently being used to battle are far more civil than the knives and guns used in the past. Which would you really want us to use?

That asked, I don’t see the current crop of names most associated as “SJW’s” picking up swords or guns or anything other than cameras or code to fight currently. They are being pretty civil, and haven’t chosen to join the darkside just yet. I get that you, a straight-white-cisgendered-male don’t like being a target, but I’m pretty sure that no one does. I’m a gay-white-cisgendered-male, and I’ve been a target for anti-LGBTQ bigots my entire life, and I despise that. It makes me angry. However, I don’t hate the people who target me, nor will I let them get away with their vile attacks simply because they don’t like being challenged on their bigotry. You don’t like being attacked, stop attacking people.

Oh, but he can’t help himself. He then attempts to draw a parallel between the book 1984 and the current landscape of the equality movement’s millennial contingent. And he misses, but only because he’s completely wrong.

In 1984, as in any authoritarian system, the authority has the power, as one might expect, and can and does shut down dissent by exerting that power. Pretty simple concept.

When a dissident moving is trying to change the situation, and authority rises up against it, some go sideways, yes, and some go violent, yes, but it’s very rare that the dissident movement completely replaces the current hegemony. As we’ve yet to elect a woman as president, over 90% of leading companies are run by cis-straight-white-men and current statistics[1] estimate that 1-in-6 women in the United States will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, you cannot reasonably say to anyone that the feminist movement has won. It’s not even close. To say, therefore, that the movement has gone overboard and is now using its power, which is relatively small, to endanger and demean all of society is ridiculous. Well, it would be if so many cis-straight-white-dudes didn’t believe it.

And now we dive into ‘Rape Culture: Does It Even?’ which is a nice way to dismiss statistics and research as lies because they make you uncomfortable. Yes, rape culture exists. Done. End of story.

No you don’t get to claim it’s not real because you don’t see it. You don’t see my sex life, either, but it’s real. That sort of idiotic thinking is what got us here in the first place. The concept that “He’s a nice boy!” and “What did she expect dressing like that?” aren’t just imagined, their in police reports. While I don’t agree with the basic premise that all rape reports must be treated as if they are true, I know for a fact that questioning a person who reports a sexual assault is still, in 2015, riddled with questions like “Are you sure you didn’t mean to have sex?” and “Why did you put yourself in that situation?”

None of those question is uncommon, and all are accusatory to the person reporting the crime. When you report your car is stolen you won’t ever hear “Why did you buy that model?” or “Why did you get that sexy red paintjob?” because they are immaterial to the case.[3] Same goes for the aforementioned questions to the person reporting a sexual assault. Asking questions the put the blame for the sexual assault on the person reporting it is the core of rape culture, and it’s a part of the current patriarchy. It’s very real, and it’s not right.

Some people get mad at that. Hell, I get mad at that. The fact that I have two sisters and a niece and countless female friends, and knowing that some of them have dealt with sexual assault makes me angry on a molecular level. How can you not think that’s a fucking problem that needs to be tackled, head on? And sometimes to fix a problem you have to really fight. It’s not pretty, but it’s necessary.

Now, I don’t agree with the statement that all accused rapists should be treated as guilty, but I do agree that all who accuse should be treated as if they are telling the truth. Ask what happened, don’t put the accuser into the role of a liar, and then do your investigation. That’s fair and right, and sadly, that isn’t what happens today. If it were what happened today, there wouldn’t be nearly a half million untested rape evidence kits rotting on shelves.

Back to Orginos tome. That he pulls the Blackstone Axiom out is not novel, yet it doesn’t really apply. With the research stating that nearly 60% of rapes are not even reported, and only 3% go to jail. That axiom is out of balance in the cases of sexual assault, so some corrective must be applied to the course.

Now, here’s where I agree with Orginos, “Due process, or the idea that a governing body must respect all legal rights of an individual, is granted to Americans by the 5th and 14th Amendments. To suggest that there is no recourse for the accused — and to ask for it is actually rape apology — is absurd…” and he’s right, it is absurd.

However, it’s no more absurd than the continued thinking that prompts questions like “What were you wearing?” and “Why didn’t you just leave?” which are both victim-blaming and dangerous to justice as a whole.

The idea that men are incapable of seeing a woman dressed a certain way and not immediately raping her is asinine, and yet it’s pervasive in our culture. From High Schools attempts to ban leggings all the way up to legislative representatives trying to tell women how they should dress, the sad fact is, it’s men pushing for these policies and inherently admitting they are incapable of acting in a civil manner because: TITS-AND-ASS. That’s not just disgusting, it’s shameful.

Orginos continues:

“…and to ask for it is actually rape apology — is absurd, reactionary, and further highlights the black-and-white nature of this certain brand of millennial social justice advocates. Why, after all, would someone ask for due process when a woman is accusing a man of rape? The millennial social justice advocate views this as an insidious question that results from sexism against women and is corroborated, they feel, by a statistically insignificant rate of false rape accusations.”

Some vocal people do view it this way, because our system has pushed them to this view. Just like the miners who, when pushed too far, fought back with weapons we, today, hope to never see in use, these people are using weapons that Orginos finds distasteful and wrong, and, honestly, neither him nor I know if they’ll be effective or not. We’re in the middle of the fight, so it’s not like the outcome is guaranteed either way.

That’s not to say that the weapons aren’t valid – they absolutely are. All’s fair in love and war, and the current fight for social justice for women against rape culture is a perverted mix of both. The sad fact is, 1 in 3 men would commit rape if it weren’t called rape. (But what’s in a name, right?).

Then Orginos opines the greatest love-letter to mankind, ever:

“To the social justice advocate of our time, conclusions are not contingent on facts; rather, facts are contingent on conclusions. In a global example of confirmation bias, the truth is malleable. The malleable truth is molded around the theoretical viewpoints of social justice. In order to uphold the sanctity of this viewpoint, adherents ostracize dissension. It’s nothing new — it’s a tactic as old as religion itself. Instead of holy texts, though, the millennial social justice advocate bows at the altar of the currently-in-vogue ideological Trinity: Marxism, Feminism, and Post-Colonialism.”

The only quibble I have with this is that his entire thesis is predicated on his firmly held belief that rape culture doesn’t exists, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. When you start out from a viewpoint and then go collect facts and write evidence to support that viewpoint, he’s saying you’re doing it wrong. It’s also exactly what he’s doing.[2]

But just because Orginos hasn’t stirred up enough shit, he decides to take on the racism, a social ill that, honestly, this country was founded upon. Only, instead of fighting against racism, which is what anyone with a brain will do, he decides to use the condensed format of twitter to try to prove that SJW’s just don’t get it.

The quote he pulls is “You cannot be racist to white people just like you can’t fire your boss because you don’t have that power” and he manages to miss the part about power. In fact, he missed it so much he puts forth the idea that “[t]he mantra of the movement is thus: It is impossible to be racist against white people because racism is the equivalent of prejudice and power. Since white people have social and economic institutional power and privilege (in America), those who are racially oppressed cannot be racist toward whites since those who are racially oppressed do not have power.”

That’s not how I view racism. That’s not how anyone I know views racism. That’s how people who want to claim they are being attacked for being a part of patriarchy deflect criticism. You most certainly can be racist towards whites, but if you’re a minority and you try to exert that racism in any way, what does it do? Depending on how high up on the social ladder you are you might be able to get away with some sort of racism towards white people in this country, but given the power that whites have in this country, it’s not going to be much or for long. And those fighting for social justice intrinsically understand that fact. The condensed format of Twitter doesn’t allow for a long explanation, but the tweet wasn’t wrong – if you don’t have the power, your racism doesn’t mean anything.

That he then tries to prove that sexism towards men is a problem is laughable. Men have power over women, physically by nature, and socially by the constructs that we’ve forced on society through the application of our nature. That’s not a bad thing in an of itself, so long as we don’t abuse the power. It’s really too bad that we have.

“Instead of the discussion being focused on how advocating to “kill all white people” as a political statement or how the hashtag #KillAllMen are prejudicial and hateful sentiments, the millennial social justice advocate excuses and legitimizes these phrases and behaviors by suggesting that they are not racist or sexist but are legitimate expressions against their oppressors. The discussion of how legitimately hateful and anti-liberal these statements are does not ever surface because, as the script goes, this is “derailing” discussions of legitimate problems of oppressed people to focus on the non-problems of oppressors.”

I don’t know anyone who is advocating to “kill all white people” but any idiot can see that it’s racist statement. It’s also called genocide, but whatever you call it, it’s evil and wrong. And the hashtag #killallmen is just the same level of stupid, and yes, it’s sexist.

What he never proves is that this the chosen tool of those fighting for social justice. The lack of proof is easy to understand, tho, as it’s almost impossible to come by. Of the prominent people who proudly fight for social justice, not one is this way, and all of them have advocated for calm to return to the discussion. So I ask you, Aristotelis, who are the people who have said this, and what power do they actually wield?

In searching Twitter for the hashtag #KillAllMen I can find a lot of people complaining about SJW’s saying it, but not any SJW saying it. I can see a lot of writing from sites like Breitbart, but that’s about the same level of thinking as buying stuff from Acme. And as soon as the  #gamergate hashtag is invoked, I can and do find a hate mob. And don’t forget the doxxing, swatting and threats to rape and kill female SJWs.

But even though that’s publicly searchable information, that can’t be right. It’s an outlier. Nope, it’s just a statistic, and as we know, it’s all about lies, damned lies, and statistics. If you’re going to claim that all research and statistics about the pay gap and rape culture are flawed because you can manipulate data in such a way as to exclude them, you’re fighting against research and the scientific method. And you’re doing so to fit the narrative that you want to be true, which…

“But here’s the thing — who I am does not (or should not) have any bearing on facts.”

It shouldn’t but it often does, on both sides of any debate. You don’t like being lumped in with rapists, but then you tacitly defend them. You don’t like being a bigot, but then complain when someone like you is called a bigot, so much so that you’re now upset at the whole movement. You have, right in your writing, done exactly what you claim that SJW’s are doing – you’ve discounted the arguments of a group of people because you are feeling attacked (oppressed) by them.

Why are you feeling attacked? Why are you, a white male with a comely beard, feeling like you’ve done something wrong? Have you? Is guilt, that you refuse to acknowledge, eating you? While you write in antiseptic language, and try to keep it as devoid of your personal angst and defensiveness, it’s still coming through loud and clear.

You even go so far as to define ‘ad hominem‘, lacking the self-awareness that, right off the bat in the title of your essay, you’ve leveled an ad hominem attack. “Bullies”? You don’t like being told not to rape and that you have to treat women equally, and you’re calling those that do so ‘bullies’? Ad hominem, indeed.

As for your conclusion, let’s be quick about this in the hopes that, like removing a bandaid, it’s less painful:

  • Identity Politics is only a problem for you if you lack an identity. That’s on you. And your supposition that identity politics is somehow new is ludicrous. Identity politics is the base of human history, as we define ourselves and define ‘the other’ which we are not. That the definitions are less about tribes and classes and more about attributes is an interesting wrinkle for our time, but even that isn’t particularly new.
  • Safe Spaces are separate because the powers-that-be only left us those spaces. You aren’t welcome because, in many cases, it’s all we have. Get over it. Believe me, we’d like nothing more than to not have to retreat to them – and easily seen proof is the reduction in gay bars in cities. We used to need them as a safe space because we were separate but not equal, and now, as we’re becoming more and more part of the mainstream, the bars are fading away. Amazing how that works.
  • You don’t like that we’re fighting using the tools available to us in Academia. Tough shit. You shouldn’t have been dickbags to begin with, so we wouldn’t need to fight back. You don’t like the tactics, so sad for you, but the only way to end the battle is for us to win it, because we won’t go back to being in the closet, being slaves, or being servants with no rights. Is that hostile to say? I don’t think so, but you might be feeling my anger at the system that attacked me, and that you are admitting to being a part of, and you might mistranslate that to hate. It’s not. I don’t hate you. I will fight against you, tho.

“The world is more than one viewpoint. The ostricization of those who hold alternate viewpoints is not any way conducive to social progress. The opposite of hatred is not hatred in the opposite direction. There is no excuse — none — for being a bad person toward another on the basis of their identity.”

I whole-heartedly agree. Why you are doing exactly that?

You’re theorizing that the way we are fighting is wrong. Really? Have you tried fighting for what we believe to be right? You claim to be a liberal, but everything you’ve written is libertarian, not progressive. You don’t want to be dragged into the fight, you just want everyone to be equal and get along. That’s not liberal. That’s libertarian, and it’s a nice ideal. I’d love to see it happen at some point. We have yet to achieve the equality that you are saying we should have – and we won’t achieve it without a fight. I’m sorry that you are going to have to suffer through the fight; I’d rather we didn’t have to fight, but we’ve exhausted all other options.

The fact that you can’t see the inequality that surrounds you, and try to defend your blindness by saying “I expect these responses — partially because I am so used to having seen this script play out over the last four years at NYU.” only proves how misguided and out of touch you really are.

You need to zip up; your privilege is showing.

Benefits Corp – A Status for Our Future

Benefits-corp status: necessary - Treasure State InternetToday I had the opportunity to give testimony in support of Benefit Corporations at the Montana Legislature’s House Committee on Business & Industry. HB 258 is the bill, and the amazing Representative Kathleen Williams is the primary sponsor for this legislation, which was attempted in the 2013 session but didn’t pass as time ran short in the session. Happens, as we only have the legislature in session for 90 days every two years, but it sucks that this didn’t get through last time. Repeating work drives me batty, but Rep. Williams was cool, collected and on target with her opening and closing statements. (Quick shout out to Rep. Zach Brown, who we reached out to first to help us, and who has been super supportive from the get-go.)

The formality of giving testimony on a bill is interesting, but the best part of today was the overwhelming support of the bill. From the state Chamber of Commerce to several businesses, including mine, there were plenty of people there to show their support.

There were no opponents.

At all.

That’s a big deal.

The one issue is that even the committee members were a tad confused about the exact details. After all, the bill is 10 pages of very dense legalese, and many of them were just getting to see this for the first time. Lots to take in.

If you haven’t read the bill, don’t worry, here’s the basic gist of it:

A standard C-corp has one goal, and one goal only, by law and judicial ruling: make the shareholder’s money. That’s it. Nothing else can come above that goal. Nothing. If the board or the executive team do something that negatively impacts shareholder value, they can be sued, and by law, they will lose and it will suck.

A Benefits-corp has a goal that comes before making money.

That’s it. Generally, the goal that the company chooses needs to be a social or environmental good, and the activity done in support of that goal must be documented and audited by a third party organization, but that’s really the only difference.

Tax-wise, we’re still a c-corp, we still pay taxes, we still have the obligation to be profitable enough to remain in business, and we can sell stock and have investors so we can continue our business. We just have a higher goal that making money hand-over-fist.

What does this mean in the real world? Well, good question, and I’m going to speak a bit early about something that I’m involved in, but it won’t hurt to go public with a bit of this now, since I essentially did it this morning anyway.

Treasure State Internet, provided the Benefits-Corp bill becomes law, will have a stated goal of “Providing fiber-optic internet service connections, or, should the technology evolve to be faster in some other media then that newer faster media, to every home and office in the State of Montana”. Ugh, what a mouthful, and frankly, there’s a good chance that will be rewritten a thousand times before we lock it down. I generally say “The fastest fucking internet to every fucking home and office in fucking Montana.”

Because we fucking want to.

See, if a C-corp tried to lay fiber to Roundup, MT (to pull a place out of my hat) they’d have to get grants from the feds to lay that connection. Why? Because if they used their profits to do so, the shareholders would have every right to sue the living daylights out of the board and the executives for it. The ROI would be so low, and so far out, as to be considered zero by the market and, therefore, by the court. This is why true broadband internet service is slow to get to rural America. There’s very little in grants, and the big companies don’t want to deal with the headache.

But when we, a B-corp, decide to take some profit from our current income and re-invest it in laying a pure fiber-optic connection to Roundup, Two Dot, and Radersburg, we not only have the option, we have the responsibility to do so.

During questioning by the committee it became apparent that a few members were confusing “donating to a charity” with being a Benefits-corp. They aren’t the same thing at all. The donations are a great way for the company to support local arts, community events, and directly help their local communities, but those are generally “marketing” in a very real sense. They aren’t core to what the business actually does. A Benefits-corp, again, has the responsibility to use it’s profits not to line the pockets of shareholders, but to improve the world around it, in a very real, tangible way, in the course of it’s every day business. There’s a massive difference in those things, and I’m not sure how the confusion arose, I just hope that clears it.

We need this bill to pass. Sorry, it’s 10 pages of updates, and I know the fine folks over in the Secretary of State’s office that compile and control the Montana Code Annotated and the ARM, and I despise having to create more work for them. It’s not like anyone really enjoys mucking up the MCA. It’s a massive, complex, tedious expanse of text that most thinking individuals actively avoid touching in any way at all. However, this is needed. It gives us more freedom to do good for the state.

In fact, it’s the single easiest way to make the Last Best Place an even better place to live.