politics, pop culture, social justice

Save the Net! Hug a Laptop!

So the thing about Net Neutrality is, it’s the kind of phrase that’s really easy to ignore when you’re scrolling through Twitter at 2AM trying to convince yourself to put the phone down.

Which, it turns out, is a bit of a problem, because Net Neutrality is what’s going to allow you to keep accessing random pictures of puppies hosted on the blog of that girl you used to go to high school with who was always kind of weird, but now she has this really frickin’ cute puppy… Net Neutrality is also what makes it possible for all seven of you to notice that my little blog exists when there are other blogs out there that seventy thousand people are reading. Blogs that people get paid to write. Blogs that are actually websites, and websites that (if Net Neutrality is murdered) could afford to “fast track” their exposure online in a way that I personally would probably never be able to do.

Lucky for you, I’ve been in Texas for two days and I’m already bored of job hunting! So I’m taking a little time away from Witches of East End to explain in simple terms what Net Neutrality is, why we need to keep it, and what you can do about it.

Also lucky for you, I learned almost everything I know about this from John Oliver on “Tonight with John Oliver” so here’s him, being funnier and smarter than me:

I sincerely recommend you watch that video, but if you didn’t, here’s a very simple recap:

1) There are only a few companies that provide internet, and they are evil

2) The guy now in charge of the FCC (aka Federal government Craps on online Communication) is the guy who used to be one of the top lobbyists for cable companies

3) Right now on the internet, all data is equal

4) The FCC wants to introduce a class system into the internet that will require companies to pay extra for faster speeds, better service, etc. Meaning, some data will be privileged over other data

5) There is very little we can do about this, because they are regulating themselves

6) What we can do is go online to fcc.gov/comments and tell the FCC how we feel about this potential change

Now here’s where it gets (more) irritating, because if you go to that website, you’ll notice that it looks like this:

FCC comment page 1And if you click on the numbers to the right of one of the many titles (title for what, the website does not make abundantly clear) you are directed to a list of comments that looks like this:

FCC comment page 2


Not exactly inviting or easy to navigate. Lucky for you, I have lots of time on my hands. And I used that time to create step-by-step instructions for where to go and what to say to make it clear that you want the internet to remain an equal opportunity circlejerk. So if you do nothing else today, do this:

1) Go to fcc.gov/comments and select one (or all) of the many numbers to the left of the titles on the screen.

2) If you select the first one (“proceeding 14-57”) you can file a comment on the pending merger of Time Warner and Comcast–which will create an even larger and more harmful cable company monopoly, so I highly recommend you do! Here are a few links to some excellent examples of individual criticisms of the merger!

3) If you select the third one, (“proceeding 14-28”) or the twelfth one (“proceeding 9-191”) or both, you can file a comment specifically on the issue of net neutrality. Here are myriad links to excellent examples of individual pleas for the legal preservation of net neutrality.

3b) A lot of people are also demanding that internet providers be classified as “common carriers” which would solve a whole bunch of our problems, too!

4) No matter which proceeding you want to comment on, you will be directed to a page that looks like this:

FCC comment page 3

4b) Fill in your personal information at the top, then add your comments! If, after the million examples I linked, you still don’t know what to write,  you all have my permission to copy this:

I urge the FCC to implement strong and unambiguous legal protections of Net Neutrality. A “tiered” system will only lead to discrimination online, and can do nothing to support the innovation and growth for which the free and neutral internet has been, thus far, a fertile breeding ground.

The greatest power of the internet has always been its role as a level field for communication and commerce. Allowing cable companies to take monetary incentives to privilege one user over another goes against the nature of the internet as it has come to be used. Companies like Time Warner and Comcast, which possess near-monopolies on the market as it stands, do not prioritize the interests of the consumer, and cannot be trusted with free rein to control the internet.

It is the responsibility of the FCC to protect the consumer, and ensure equal access to online resources for all Americans. Therefore, I strongly support the legal re-classification of the internet as a “telecommunication service,” to be regulated under a title II “common carrier” framework.

5) Once you have entered this basic information, you will be redirected to another page, where you will be asked to confirm what you have just written. Click “confirm!” Then you’re done.

There you go, internet weirdos! copy and paste my words. It will take you three minutes. Just go! Do it! Help prevent cable company fuckery!

This puppy believes in you.



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Service Industry

Some Final Advice from Your Waitress

I’ve been meaning to post something new here for ages. I’ve been meaning for that thing I post to be an incisive and intelligent blah blah blah article about one of the many things in the world that is currently terrible, like this, and this, and this (just kidding, the last one was a puppy. Go ahead. click it.)

But I’m in a transitional phase right now, and will soon be relocating to a new state–Texas! I’m sure that my time in the Lone Star state will spur a whole new set of incisive/angry articles about a whole new set of terrible/upsetting things, but meanwhile, I’m just plain too exhausted to be articulate about these things. Moving is hard work. Also, moving comes with quitting my jobs.

That’s right, your waitress will no longer be a waitress–at least for a little while.

So in honor of that, I have decided to devote one more article to a little helpful hint for all you bar and restaurant goers out there. Here goes:

Your waitress is not interested in you.

Shock! The thing is, I think that most people know that when your server is being friendly, it is because it is their job to do so. However, there are still plenty of people who seem to have not gotten the memo about this, and this article is for them.

I recently had an interaction at work that went like this:

Dude: wow, are you the only server working tonight?

Me: yep!

Dude: so you must be really busy. I guess I shouldn’t hit on you right now?

Me: You should never hit on me.

Dude: *confused pause* I should never…?

Me: Can I get you another drink?!

Dude: Mumble mumble no thanks mumble.

Now I could have been nicer to that guy. But I don’t really think he deserved it. There was a time when that kind of interaction would have sent me into a tizzy of embarrassment and uncertainty: did I somehow provoke this? Did I offend him? Should I just have flirted to preserve a tip? (hint: no.) And then I would have avoided the table for the rest of the night.

But I’m a grown-up now, and I don’t get embarrassed anymore, because I understand that 1) it’s not my fault some people are inconsiderate, and 2) it’s not my responsibility to make sure that those inconsiderate people feel good about themselves. The kind of person who is going to try to be smooth with me while I am working is also the kind of person who doesn’t respect that I am working. He doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that regardless of the niceness of our interaction, it must intrinsically be disingenuous because I am working. He is not prepared to face rejection, and doesn’t care that I am almost certainly not interested. I feel bad for this kind of person, because he does not know what is going on. The world is, apparently, a vast mystery that he has yet to crack.

Lucky for him (I’m sure he’s thinking right now) I am here to help.

So honey, a message for you: your hat is stupid, your line is unoriginal, your presumptuousness is a turn-off. I don’t appreciate your lack of respect for me and I’m not going to pretend like I do. Next time you hit on a girl at a bar, make sure it’s a customer. You might do better with someone who’s drunk.

Articles I love, pop culture

You Say “Pink is for Girls,” I Say “Screw you”

A great article was recently published by the NY Times about the growing market for “aggressive” girls’ toys in the wake of female action heroes like Merida from Brave and Katniss from Hunger Games taking the box office by storm. I’m glad that these kinds of toys are taking off, but what I’m not so happy about is the fact that all of these toys are pink, purple, and “feminine.”

Apparently, bow and arrow sets, nerf guns, and sling shots are only for girls if they have names like “Rebelle Heartbreaker” and “Pink Crush,” and come in all the same colors as cotton candy.  Why is a plastic sword only supposed to be appealing to a girl if it has glitter on it? Why is a girl supposed to still be pretty while she’s taking down evil sorcerers and scary monsters? I truly do not understand why the toys that parents’ buy their little boys will not suit their heroic little girls equally well. If these toys weren’t marketed exclusively for boys, parents might not see the problem, either.

It reminds me of the whole Easy Bake Oven debacle. Apparently boys can only cook if their cooking toys can double as the bomb in their next James Bond-themed game, and girls can only do it if the oven is the color of unicorn poop.

I think stores (and consumers) ought to be taking a page out of Marks & Spencer’s book and stop dividing all the toys between what is “for girls” and “for boys.” Absolutely some girls will still gravitate to pretty pink dress up clothes (and some boys will, too) but we don’t need to tell them that This Toy is Only For Girls.

Toy Companies: Please Stop.


Also, there’s this:


Service Industry

Don’t Call Me Honey

We’re back to lists of rules. People love rules. I’m not sure if they love following them, or just knowing what they are so they can laugh in your face and then break them, but they love them.

During my time working in the service industry, I have had an incredible number and variety of experiences in which the people I am bringing food to manage to be ignorant and condescending at the same time. Now I truly don’t believe that you all are in a vast conspiracy to try and make your servers’ lives worse. What I think is, mostly you’re confused or uncomfortable with having someone serve you stuff–particularly when some of that stuff is stuff you don’t really recognize, like that fancy cocktail you dismally failed at pronouncing the name of. That’s ok. I will try not to be condescending back. Unless my blood-sugar is low, then no promises.

Anyway, here are a few easy things you can do that will make my (and therefore, unequivocally, your) experience a better one.

1. If You Don’t Understand Something, Ask

If I don’t know the answer to your question, I can get it in a matter of minutes. But you’re only going to make the whole situation worse if I say, “do you want the regular manhattan or the featured single barrel [read: high-end] manhattan?” and you say, “yeah.” and then I say, “sorry, which one?” and you say, “I’ll just have that regular barrel manhattan.”

I’m sorry, what? Your words did not form coherent ideas. After an interaction like that, I say, “sure, ok,” and walk away, and get you the cheap one because I don’t want to risk you yelling at me later for getting you something expensive. It’s clear to me that you’re embarrassed that you don’t know the difference between these two drinks in front of your (clearly first) date, but I promise that if you just ask the question, with confidence, I will answer, pleasantly, and we can all just go on with our lives.

2. If You Don’t Like Something, Tell Me

I know you don’t like it when it sits on your table for an hour and the level of the liquid in the glass doesn’t go down. If I ask you about it and you say it’s fine, I have to take you at your word–but if you had just told me the truth, chances are we could have replaced it with something you loved, instead. Now you’re miserable, and I feel bad for you. Just tell the damn truth!

3. Don’t Be Sarcastic. Don’t Try to Be Funny.

This place sucks, haha! I hate these drinks, haha!

You’re ugly. Ha. Ha.

Look, I understand that you’re a funny guy, and you have a better time out when you have a good rapport with your server. I have a better time when that happens, too! But the fact is, we’re not friends. I just met you seven and a half minutes ago. I don’t understand your sense of humor, and I’m currently at work–I’m trying to focus on doing a good job. If you say something is bad, or I’ve been rude, or you’re having a bad time, my first reaction is not ever going to be–“oh, that guy must be joking around with me!” It’s going to be, “Oh no, I’m so sorry you’re having a bad time, what can I do to help you have a better time?” And then you’re going to feel bad that you made me feel bad.

A better way to try to create a rapport with your server is to be friendly and conversational. Once we’ve talked for a few minutes, it will be much easier for me to gauge if you’re joking, and we’ll all have a nicer time.

4. Speak Clearly

Bars are loud! SO LOUD. And you don’t really want to talk to me. I get that. You want to talk to your cute date. But waving your hand in my face while staring at the table to get me to leave is not going to be effective. Whispering is also not–I will just lean in and ask you to repeat yourself until I get your order right. The other thing that doesn’t really work, is saying random, vague words.

For instance, “we’re all set.” This phrase can mean any number of things, but in general, servers take it to mean two things: 1) at the beginning of the night when you’ve just sat down and looked at your menus, it means that you are ready to order, and 2) at the end of the night when I’ve been back to your table three or four times to see if you want anything else, it means you are now done drinking and would like the bill. What it does NOT mean at the end of the night is that you’re fine for now but may order more things later. Nor does it mean that you are done with one of your food items but would like to keep the other. You are confusing me; just tell me what you want!

The other commonly used vague phrase is “for now.” I don’t understand this at all, but customers seem to like to attach the phrase, “for now” to the ends of sentences liberally, throughout the night, for no reason. What I generally interpret “we’re good for now” to mean is  that you would not like anything further at the moment, however you will be ordering more at some point today. However, the number of people who have been annoyed at me for not bringing the bill after this statement is about equal to the number of people who have been annoyed at me for bringing the bill after this statement. WHAT DO YOU WANT? If you want the bill, ask for it. If you are going to drink more, say “I am going to get more in a while.”

Basically, speak complete sentences in an audible tone to me while looking at me and I will be yours forever.

5. Don’t Call Me Honey

I’m not your sister, your daughter, or your girlfriend. I am not even your potential girlfriend. I am not even a girl who is going to become your friend. If we are not good friends, pet names are condescending. Period. I call you sir, ma’am, or miss, because that is respectful. I have a name–you can ask that, and call me by it, or you can return the favor of being polite and call me miss right back.

Service Industry

First Date? I Totally Couldn’t Tell

Yes, I could.

This topic tickles my funny bone because I have only ever been on a first date with one person, and that person is still my partner (going on 4 years, shout out to my lost “wild and free” twenties!). Despite this, I feel like I know a few things about first dates, due to my charmed* and magical* and inspiring* time in the service industry, watching you all go on them over and over and over again. It’s cute, I promise.

The bar I work at is a very popular first-date and blind-date spot on weeknights. These seem to be prime date-nights for first-timers. We can tell right away that it’s a first date because of a few simple factors:

1) You shake hands or hug before sitting down and say “hi!” in the cheeriest voice you’ve used all week.

2) You have “already eaten.” If the date goes well I know you’ll probably end up getting snacks later.


Plus, blind date bonus, 4) you may wander around the bar looking for someone before standing awkwardly in the corner texting, and when you find them, you have to say their name in a nervous high pitched voice to be sure that this is the person you’re actually meeting, and not some other guy who is also on a blind date.**

A first date on a Tuesday at my bar is designed to tell 3 things to the lucky date-ee:

1) Look how classy I am, we’re at a cocktail bar. Did you notice these seats are leather?

2) I am a generous person–can’t you tell? I brought you to a place where drinks cost more than your whole outfit!

and either:

3) I respect you, so I took you out for our first date on a weeknight so you can tell that I’m not trying to just get laid, because we both have work in the morning.


3) You’re not getting laid tonight, buddy, because I have work in the morning.

These unspoken signals seem to work pretty well, most of the time. Ladies get buttered up by the nice atmosphere, and guys feel manly when they can order an Old Fashioned and suggest something for their date, too. Of course, there are a few things that first-daters do that can easily spin the first day of the rest of your life into the last day of this budding relationship. Here are a few things I’ve noticed while watching y’all do the mating dance:

1) Dudes: Do not be overly friendly to your waitress.  Pleasant, sure. Polite, yes. But don’t make unnecessary small talk with me. When you’re polite but distant to your waitress your date thinks, “wow, he’s such a gentleman!” When you’re actually friendly, she thinks, “OMG is he flirting with the waitress? Am I boring him? Is he an asshole? How to interpret this smiling and chatting?!” and she’ll spend the rest of the night monitoring our interactions. I mean, look, hopefully she’s not nuts and she’ll understand that you’re just being nice, but you’re on a first date. You’re both feeling nervous and vulnerable. It’s better to play it safe and distant with the waitress so your date knows that your attention is on her.***

2) RELAX. I see it over and over again. You guys and gals walk in here, all nervous. You sit down and I can see from way over here that you’re having a terrible time: you’re stiff and uptight, and you’re throwing back vodka sodas like they’re actually the dirty water that they taste like. Then, Bam! Five drinks in, you’re so relaxed that you’ve wilted, and it might be embarrassing for you if you realized how drunk you are, but you kids are finally having a real conversation! It only took two hours and no dinner plus 10 ounces of vodka to get you there.

3) This may seem obvious to you, but don’t get wasted. You’ve finally gotten comfortable on this date, you’re having a good time, and now what? Whoops, you realized you had seven drinks in 3 hours and you’re making out right there in the booth at 8:30 on a Wednesday**** and you may or may not be able to call this guy tomorrow. It’s going to depend if you make it home alive. And if you can live down the embarrassment.

That’s all I got. I’m no dating expert, so I’m sticking with the things I can see happen on your date while your drinking in my bar.

Come back soon, now, you hear?

*These are creative terms

**This has actually happened. Once, a guy walked in and approached two different girls waiting at two different parts of the bar, both of whom were waiting for other dates. He sat down (far away from those girls) and his actual date arrived a few minutes later. It was hilarious.

***Plus I’m super hot, so who wouldn’t worry that her boyfriend is in love with me?

****This has also actually happened.

art, media, pop culture, social justice

A Letter to the Strasburg School Board

Hey team. It’s been a while. I know, I’ve missed you, too!

So in the time that I’ve been away, I got a twitter! And I started following John Green, whom some of you may know as one half of the Vlog Brothers, and others of you may know as the talented YA author of books like An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in Our Stars, and Looking for Alaska.

Well, through the magical twitter machine, it has come to my attention that some of Mr. Green’s books, along with several other fantastic YA books by authors like Scott Westerfeld, C.S. Lewis (seriously), Mark Haddon, and M. T. Anderson, are being offered in an elective YA literature course being taught in Strasburg, Colorado. And these books are also being challenged by some parents for poisoning their kids’ impressionable little horny minds with “excessive profanity, explicit sexual scenes, and illegal acts,” which the parents believe will, “degrade their minds–and in some cases may lead them to committing such acts themselves.”

First off, I want to say that, if reading Uglies causes some kid to hop on a hoverboard and overthrow a totalitarian society, I am very, very down with that. Secondly, I want to say that the books on that list are the kinds of books that can be a bright spot in the dark and confusing world of being a teenager. The people who need them most are the children of the parents trying to get them banned.

So Mr. Green tweeted, and I got angry, because if there is one thing I hate more than censorship, it’s people who don’t read well, and this issue seems to combine both of those things. In his tumblr, Mr. Green gave out the necessary information for how to contact the school board and voice your support. I decided to. And since I know that writing letters like that is annoying and time-consuming, I decided to also post the full letter here for you to re-use if you want, like me, to email the school board and voice your support. Just send your letter to StrasburgYALiteratureCourse@gmail.com. Tell them how great those books are. Write your own letter, or you can use my words (and John Green’s. I borrowed a line from him. Thanks, John!). Change them however you want. Here. You have my permission:

To The School Board:

It has come to my attention recently that a group of Strasburg parents have challenged the curriculum of a planned elective YA literature course. Although I am not a resident of the Strasburg, CO area, I wished to voice my support of the curriculum proposed by the course’s teacher. I believe that it is imperative that modern teens have access to literature that is both of high quality and pertinent to their own experiences, and the books planned for the course fit perfectly with this model of what a YA literature course ought ideally to embody.

During my teenage years I personally read more than half of the curriculum proposed by the teacher of the course, and I found these books engrossing and edifying. I wish to offer the course instructor my complete support in her choice to teach these books, and my approbation for her decision to stand by her selections in front of the school board. I wish also to urge the school board to remember the importance of reading books critically and thoughtfully as a whole, rather than focusing on individual scenes ripped from their context.

I do not believe that these books could in any way be damaging to a High School-aged reader, however I understand that the course is an elective. Therefore, for parents who believe that their children may not be mature enough to handle the books’ content, it is fortunate that their children can easily be spared from having to try. I hope that this factor alone will be enough to sway the school board’s decision in favor of maintaining the already-approved curriculum.



media, politics

A Drinking Game for Tonight’s State of the Union!

Wow, guys! I haven’t talked to you since last year! Crazy!

So tonight is the State of the Union, and there are not 1, not 2, but 3 exciting Republican rebuttals to watch afterward, so you can bet I’m excited for that representation of our politically diverse voting public.

But tonight is a night designated for fun and booze, so I’m going to keep it short. Here are a few simple rules for how not to remember anything Obama said:

1. Drink when someone says “America” and “Freedom” in the same sentence.

2. Drink when the person sitting behind Obama does anything except stare at Obama.

3. Drink when (and be honest now) a politician says something you don’t understand.

4. Watch the hands of the speaking politician. When you can’t remember the last thing he or she said, finish your drink.

5. Finish your drink if anyone says any variation of the name “Edward Snowden.”

6. Finish your drink if anyone calls Obama a “socialist” or a “communist.”

BONUS: Finish whatever you’re drinking right now if you’re a hipster and this is the first time you’ve watched cable since the 2012 election.

OH! I ALMOST FORGOT. JUST FOR FUNZIES. Here is the version the real menz will be playing. Just three rules, so it’s easy to remember:

1. Drink when anyone says something you agree with.

2. Drink when anyone says something you don’t agree with.

3. Finish your drink when your Mom calls to tell you to stop re-posting your profane tweets on Facebook.