Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Alegra's Endorsements

Barack Obama OR Ralph Nader*
*Though I have been campaigning for Barack Obama, Ralph Nader has my heart. Biden comes in a close second, though. The tough part is deciding if I should vote conservatively with my safe and close second choice, or vote with my truest ideals. I'm still undecided.

50th DISTRICT Nick Leibham
51st DISTRICT Bob Filner
53rd DISTRICT Susan Davis

39th DISTRICT Christine Kehoe

66th DISTRICT Grey Frandsen
76th DISTRICT Lori Saldana
77th DISTRICT Raymond Lutz
78th DISTRICT Marty Block
80th DISTRICT Manuel Perez

Mike Aguirre*
*Both candidates have some... shall we say discrepencies. Aguirre at least shares my value in the ends he is striving for (just not the means).

1st DISTRICT Sheri Lightner
3rd DISTRICT Steven Whitburn
7th DISTRICT Marti Emerald

City Council - Tom Arnold and Keith Blackburn

City Council - Steve Castaneda

City Council - Maggie Houlihan, Rachelle Collier, and Robert Nanninga

City Council - Olga Diaz

City Council - George Gastil

City Council - Mona Rios and Alejandra Sotelo-Solis

Mayor - Jim Wood
City Council - Esther Sanchez and Charles Lowery

Ballot Measures**

State of California

Proposition 1A - High Speed Rail Bonds - YES
Proposition 2 - Sustainable Farming Practices - YES
Proposition 3 - $2 Billion Children's Hospital Bond - NO
Proposition 4 - Parental Notification - NO
Proposition 5 - Nonviolent Offenders Sentencing and Rehabilitation - Yes
Proposition 6 - Anti-Gang Penalties (Runner initiative) - No
Proposition 7 - "Renewable" Energy Generation - NO
Proposition 8 - Constitutional Amendment Limiting the Rights of Gay Citizens - NO
Proposition 9 - Victims' Rights, Reduction of Parole Hearings - No
Proposition 10 - "Alternative" Fuel Vehicles - NO
Proposition 11 - Redistricting - No
Proposition 12 - Veterans' Bond - {Not Enough Information}

San Diego County

Proposition B - San Diego Unified Port District - Cities of Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego
- Marine Freight Preservation - NO

Proposition C - City of San Diego - Mission Bay lease revenue - YES

Proposition O - City of San Marcos - General Plan Amendments - YES

Proposition S - San Diego Unified School District - $2.1 Billion Bonds for improvements - NO

**These endorsements are primarily based on a matrix I created that compiles a number of endorsements from organizations with which I share similar values and also which, in my opinion, have a strong track record of thorough and unbiased endorsements, initiatives, and missions.

These include and are weighted towards, but are not limited to:
Sierra Club & Sierra Club of San Diego (I love the Sierra Club)
Green Party of California & San Diego (I'm not a Democrat, you know)
City Beat (collective sigh of relief for a truly liberal news source in SD County)

News Sources which inform my own opinions (not a complete list):
Sierra Magazine, and Hi Sierra Magazine (I also love Sierra Magazines)
NPR/KPBS (most balanced source of news in town, and thorough coverage)
Salon.com (great articles on politics, from funny to whistleblowing)

No on Prop 8

Erin says:

I feel very strongly about voting No on Prop 8.

I am writing this not only to reach out to everyone and urge you to vote No on Prop 8, but also hopefully to provide some talking points and facts for speaking with friends and family about this proposition, and please DO speak to friends and family abut this.

If you don't have the money to donate for TV ads, use the voice that you do have. Talk to everyone you know, give them facts and dis-spell myths, then ask them to talk to everyone THEY know. I know that most of us don't have the millions of dollars it takes to bombard the public with television commercials(the mormon church alone has donated over half of the more than 40 million that has gone into the yes on 8 ads), but what we do have is the grassroots power to talk to each other.

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage back in May, I was proud... proud to live in this progressive state, a state that values and protects an individual's right to life, liberty and most importantly their right to pursue happiness.

What is going on now is disheartening, the yes on 8 campaign has launched a well funded and faith based smear campaign that diverts attention from the actual proposition and misleads viewers to believe that prop 8 will educate kids about homosexuality in public schools, and that churches will lose their non-profit standing. Both of these points are completely false, but I suppose it is pretty hard to run a campaign that is asking people to vote FOR discrimination. No matter how you feel personally about gay marriage writing discrimination into our California constitution is wrong.

Just in case you, or anyone you speak with is grappling over whether this is really the right thing to do, I would like to reference miscegenation laws. Miscegenation laws banned the marriage of interracial couples until the case of Loving V. Virginia overturned those laws in 1967. Almost 20 years before that- in 1948- California was the first and only state to throw out statewide miscegenation laws.

In 1948 the California Supreme Court held that "marriage is ... something more than a civil contract subject to regulation by the state; it is a fundamental right of free men ... Legislation infringing such rights must be based upon more than prejudice and must be free from oppressive discrimination to comply with the constitutional requirements of due process and equal protection of the laws". The California Supreme Court further explained that "the right to marry is the right to join in marriage with the person of one's choice". That quote is so powerful that I have to give it it's own separate line, I want to scream it from a California mountain top.


Just as 1967 seems quite late in our history to have waited to finally, and legally state that interracial marriage could not legally be denied to two willing parties. Similarly, 2008 seems like it has been a long time coming to finally say that the constitution protects everyone's right to marry, and does not discriminate based on sexual orientation.

In case you have come across some people who have dragged religion into this, here is a fun quote from the sitting judge for the Lovings, years before their case was finally taken to the supreme court.

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

Sounds oddly similar to 'God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman'.

The reason that Loving V. Virginia was able to overturn miscegenation laws in this country was not because it was a popular idea, but because it was found that no matter what a popular vote decided, it was unconstitutional to deny two persons the right to marry because it infringed on their due process as well as equal protection under the law.

The constitution is not the bible, nor should it be treated as such, and vice versa. Religious arguments that cite the bible are completely out of context with the issue at hand. The issue is discrimination, and we have a long history in this country. The bible should not be used as justification for personal discrimination, and furthermore has no place as a justification for writing discrimination into the constitution.

Please- I urge you, aside from taking your voice to the polls on Nov 4th, please take it to everyone you know. Talk to friends and family, write an e-mail(or just copy and paste this one, you have my full permission), and volunteer at your local No on 8 phone banks.

Do every little thing you can to stand up strong in this fight against discrimination, and protect ALL families by voting NO on 8.

Further Reading:

(Thank you, Erin, for the eloquently written email.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

History of Biology

We will begin with the definition of "biology," the study of life. "Bio" means "life," and "-ology" is "the study of," both taken from the Greek. This is an appropriate place to start, as the formal study of life is typically traced back to the Greek academy.

Of course the study of life must go well beyond the Greeks as part of human history. It is hard to imagine that humans have not studied life since they came into existence. For example, the first archaeological record of agricultural endeavors dates back 10,000 years. It seems that agriculture would not have been possible without studying life. Yet we have no record of how that knowledge was passed on, and so biology as we know it can not be credited to that point in history. And of course most myths and creation stories are metaphors for observations of the natural world, but again it is not parallel to biology as we know it, instead it was more of a pre-cursor.

The structured approach to the study of life that we know as biology was started in ancient Greece, approximately 500 BC. This was the when the first medical school was created, and where Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote their treatises on anatomy and medicine. Other cultures at this time (like the Egyptians, Chinese, Arabs, and Persians, among others) also had sophisticated approaches to medicine, with vast knowledge of herbs and remedies, but they did not create the system to transmit this knowledge as the Greeks did, and hence lost their chance to define biology.

During the European Renaissance (approximately the 1600s) there was a surge of interest in the natural sciences, biology included with alchemy (the pre-cursor to chemistry), herbalism and medicine, and naturalism, which persists to this day as a subsidiary of biology based on observation of the natural world instead of testing.

During the 1700s and 1800s the world of biology became smaller and therefore larger. That is to say microscopes were invented and microbiology became a new field. Science was continually becoming more sophisticated and chemistry and botany became more important fields, as well as taxonomy.

In the 1900s experimental biology was beginning to emerge, defining fields such as organic chemistry, experimental physiology, cell theory, embryology, germ theory, evolution, and biogeography. These fields became stronger and even more specialized in the 21st century; the focusing in became more sophisticated in fields like molecular biology, biotechnology, and genetics, but there was also a broadening back in the spirit of the naturalists, and fields evolved such has ecology and conservation biology that focus on the bigger picture.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Seeking Co-Working in San Diego

I recently discovered the Hat Factory in San Francisco. Well, I didn't really discover so much as hear about it. Err, read about it. None-the-less, it left me yearning for a space to write my own. Affordable, communal, functional, inspiring.

I had recently read about a latchkey office in Sorrento Valley, which I thought was a more corporate version, but actually they are more of just an address and phone service. Either way, it doesn't really have the same inspired feel.

And then, in my hard earned google searching (okay, about 3 clicks in), I discovered Jelly!

It's a little far for me, coming from my new home in suburbia, but Jelly is one day at a time... so I'm going for it! Maybe I'll even host the next one!

In the mean time, if you are interested in forming a cool co-working space in the Sorrento Valley area, please email or post a comment!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Waterboarding/Repetitive Drowning/American Water Torture

David Said:

I think it was Jon Stewart who said that "waterboarding" sounds like something you did for vacation.

Obviously, I haven't been alone in my concern: NPR ran a story about the naming of this torture practice being deceiving a few months back. "Drowning Simulation" was the best candidate but was thrown out because waterboarding IS technically drowning as the lungs fill up with water. Since then I've been thinking and apparently so has NPR. Today I heard them use "Controlled Drowning," but it still didn't sound right. It sounds too safe, too benign. So I now suggest: "Repetitive Drowning." It's concise and descriptive.

If you agree with me that America doesn't torture, i.e. in that idealistic parallel universe you learned about in 8th grade history, let's start calling it like we see it.

Alegra Said:

Wow... I didn't realized that's what water boarding was. All this time and I thought it was more along the lines of Chinese Water Torture with the drops on your head. Both are terrible, but one is so much more actively violent. I have a suggestion: How about "American Water Torture"? Not as descriptive, and probably sort of inaccurate becuase other countries probably do it, too. I'd settle for either.

Have you seen "V for Vendetta?" I highly recommend it. I had an interesting conversation about rendition, torture, and other somber and disgusting subjects last night, fueled in part by a discussion of V for Vendetta. I normally can't bear to watch violent films, but V for Vendetta is beautiful (though violent), political, thoughtful, disturbing, inspiring, and just downright excellent. It contains some Repetitive Drowning scenes.

All in the name of Extraordinary Rendition... Let's call it Outsourcing Torture.