Tuesday, August 30, 2005

OK all you computer nerds

If you have never used Opera to browse the web, you owe it to yourself to download it *today*. Why today? It is their tenth anniversary as a company (Norwegian) and they are offering free downloads of the no-ad version just today. [note: if you didn't already do that, you are too late for the free no-ad version. But the free version is still worthwhile! I used it when I still used Windows, and honestly never noticed the tiny ad.]

See http://www.opera.com. If the code to register for free isn't there, it is here (scroll down): http://www.download.com/Opera/3000-2356_4-10421507.html?tag=excl

I last used this browser when I used Windows, and I liked it then. It is SO improved over then, it may beat out Firefox on my linux machine. Try it, you'll like it!

Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings. - Ralph Blum

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Freedom to Marry in Spain

Excerpts of speech by Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on the occasion of the historic vote legalizing both gay marriage and adoption of children by gay couples.
We are not legislating, honorable members, for people far away and not known by us. We are enlarging the opportunity for happiness to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and, our families: at the same time we are making a more decent society, because a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members.

In the poem 'The Family,' our [gay] poet Luis Cernuda was sorry because, How does man live in denial in vain/by giving rules that prohibit and condemn? Today, the Spanish society answers to a group of people who, during many years have, been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, their identity denied, and their liberty oppressed. Today the Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their liberty.

It is true that they are only a minority, but their triumph is everyone's triumph. It is also the triumph of those who oppose this law, even though they do not know this yet: because it is the triumph of Liberty. Their victory makes all of us (even those who oppose the law) better people, it makes our society better. Honorable members, There is no damage to marriage or to the concept of family in allowing two people of the same sex to get married. To the contrary, what happens is this class of Spanish citizens get the potential to organize their lives with the rights and privileges of marriage and family. There is no danger to the institution of marriage, but precisely the opposite: this law enhances and respects marriage.

Today, conscious that some people and institutions are in a profound disagreement with this change in our civil law, I wish to express that, like other reforms to the marriage code that preceded this one, this law will generate no evil, that its only consequence will be the avoiding of senseless suffering of decent human beings. A society that avoids senseless suffering of decent human beings is a better society.

With the approval of this Bill, our country takes another step in the path of liberty and tolerance that was begun by the democratic change of government. Our children will look at us incredulously if we tell them that many years ago, our mothers had less rights than our fathers, or if we tell them that people had to stay married against their will even though they were unable to share their lives. Today we can offer them a beautiful lesson: every right gained, each access to liberty has been the result of the struggle and sacrifice of many people that deserve our recognition and praise.

Today we demonstrate with this Bill that societies can better themselves and can cross barriers and create tolerance by putting a stop to the unhappiness and humiliation of some of our citizens. Today, for many of our countrymen, comes the day predicted by Kavafis [the great Greek gay poet] one century ago: Later 'twas said of the most perfect society/someone else, made like me/certainly will come out and act freely.
[Thanks to Rex Wockner for this translation.]

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. - Helen Keller

Thursday, August 18, 2005

US Women Win the Vote!

. . . .

from the Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, 18 August 1920,
page 1:

Maryland Woman in 1647 First to Demand Equal Rights with Men
(Associated Press)

Ratification of the suffrage amendment to the Constitution ends a struggle which began in this country before the Colonies declared their independence. It will eventually enfranchise 25,000,000.

Woman suffrage first raised its voice in America in Maryland in 1647, when Mistress Margaret Brent, heir of Lord Calvert, demanded a place in the Legislature of the colony as a property holder of wide extent. And in the days of the Revolution, Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John Adams, at the Continental Congress, which was framing the laws of the infant nation that, "if--in the new laws--particular care and attention are not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound to obey any laws in which we have no voice."

Organized work for woman suffrage began in the United States with the Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848, which was called by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, early leaders of Massachusetts and New York, in response to the indignation aroused by the refusal to permit women to take part in the anti-slavery convention of 1840. From the date of that convention the suffrage movement in the United States began the fight that lasted seventy years and ended with victory. Another convention followed in 1852, at Syracuse, N.Y., at which delegates from Canada were present, and it was there that Susan B. Anthony assumed leadership of the cause to which she devoted her life.

In 1869 the National Woman Suffrage Association, with Miss Anthony and Mrs. Stanton at its head, was formed in New York, and in the same year the American Woman Suffrage Association was organized in Cleveland, with Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe as its leaders. At first differing widely in policy, the National Association working to put a suffrage amendment through the Federal Congress and its sister organization bending its efforts to convert the country State by State, the two associations later united under the name of the National Woman Suffrage Association. The Association's drive for the vote was led in turn by Mrs. Stanton, Miss Anthony, Dr. Anna Howard Shaw and Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, the latter of whom is now its president.

The nineteenth amendment, which bears her name was drafted by Miss Anthony in 1875 and was first introduced in Congress in 1878 by Senator A.A. Sargeant of California; and it is in the same language that the new principle of the national law reads:

"Article--, Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

"Section 2. Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation, to enforce the provisions of this article."

The amendment holds the record of being there before the country longer than any other successful amendment to the constitution. It was introduced as the 16th amendment and has been successively the 17th, 18th and 19th and has been before every session of Congress since its initial appearance.

During the first 35 years after its introduction into Congress the amendment made practically no progress and until seven years ago, it had not been debated on the floor for 30 years. But the campaign for the movement was slowly but steadily gaining ground in the states.

Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, 18 August 1920, page 3:

. . . .
. . . .
Meanwhile Miss Anthony made a test of the right of women to cast the ballot by going to the polls and voting. She was arrested and convicted and, though she refused to pay her fine, was never jailed. She became, however, the forerunner of the "militants" who adopted the forceful tactics of the latter days of the campaign.

State after state gradually enfranchised its women citizens. Beginning with Wyoming in 1869, by 1919 sixteen states had given women the right to vote, and fourteen states had presidential suffrage previous to ratification of the amendment.

Militancy in the fight for suffrage in America made its appearance of the formation of the National Women's Party in 1913. On the eve of President Wilson's inauguration, [5,000] women led by Alice Paul, now the chairman of the party, attempted to march from the Capitol to the White House. They were harrassed by a hostile crowd which overran an unsympathetic police and the capital of the United States had its first experience with suffrage riots.

Continuing their demonstrations over a period of seven years, members of the Woman's Party picketed the White House with banners in their hands and served terms in jail for the disturbances of the peace which grew out of their parades and blockade of the executive mansion. During the last few months before the adoption of the amendment, the militants redoubled their exertions. Several demonstrations were held on the steps of the Capitol and on New Year's Day, 1919, watch fires were lighted in front of the White House in which every speech made by President Wilson in Europe on Democracy and self-government was burned. The acts, however were disavowed by the National Association.

Promptly with the passage of the amendment by the Congress the suffrage forces turned their attention to the ratification necessary two-thirds of the states. More special sessions of the State Legislatures were called to act upon the 19th than upon any other amendment. Wisconsin and Michigan on June 10 were the first states to ratify, quickly followed on June 16 by New York, Kansas and Ohio.

From its beginning in this country the suffrage movement met with determined opposition from women as well as from men. The first organized opposition on the part of women manifested itself in 1873, when a committee of prominent women presented a petition to Congress "protesting against the extension of suffrage to women." Mrs. W.T. Sherman, wife of the Civil War hero, headed the committee, of which Catherine Ward Beecher, sister of the famous divine, Henry Ward Beecher, was a member. Various anti-suffrage organizations came into being subsequently until the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage was formed in 1911, with Mrs. Arthur M. Dodge, of New York, as its first president. This body, step by step, fought the adoption and ratification of the amendment.

Full suffrage is enjoyed today by the women of 21 foreign countries, including the new states of Czechoslovakia and Poland and the ancient nations of England, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. Now that the women of the United States have won the right equally with the men to take part in the government of the republic the effect of the women's vote, on the political life of the country remains for some time to show. Many women are joining the old line parties with their men folk, but the National Woman's Party holds its own convention in June and will draw up its platform for the coming campaign. First efforts probably will be directed to the laws on inheritance, divorce, guardianship and other laws alleged to discriminate against women.

Thanks to the Ancestry Daily News for reprinting this wonderful article.

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Consumer Stuff

Consumer Reports is online: http://www.consumerreports.org/main/home.jsp but use it in the library. The subscription online is a bad deal. Also try Epinions.com: http://www.epinions.com/, reviews at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/, and Judy's Book.com: http://www.judysbook.com/

Computer equipment: http://www.pricewatch.com/, http://www.pcworld.com/

Other stuff: http://www.pricegrabber.com/

Digital Cameras: http://www.steves-digicams.com/
Camera, accessory and printer reviews, buyer's guide, links to manufacturers

Find an auto mechanic: http://www.cartalk.com/

Home repairs - Homeowners club: http://www.homeownersclub.org/
$45 a year; they will arrange for listed contractors to call you; contractor bids through the club and you accept through the club and pay through the club. Club deals with problems for you. Also Angie's List: http://www.angieslist.com/

Checkbook magazine, published by the Center for the Study of Services: http://www.checkbook.org/

Cosmetics - Make Up Alley: http://makeupalley.com/, Paula's Choice: http://www.paulaschoice.com/, Cosmedics Cop: http://www.cosmeticscop.com/

Environmentally sound products and services - Treehugger.com: http://treehugger.com/

Rate energy efficiency of household appliances, cars, lighting fixtures and other products - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy: http://aceee.org/Consumer/consumer.htm

Restaurants - bad! Dead to Us: http://www.deadtous.com/
Good, Zagats.com: http://www.zagats.com/, and http://www.citysearch.com/

Vacations, hotels - TripAdvisor.com: http://www.tripadvisor.com/

Problems? Consult the Attorney General's office (Washington State): http://www.atg.wa.gov/, and the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce: http://www.seattlechamber.com/

Surely there comes a time when counting the cost and paying the price aren't things to think about any more. All that matters is value - the ultimate value of what one does. - James Hilton