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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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.