Author: Kenan

An emeritus member of ACT NOW's Board of Directors, kenan continues to help out with tech and communications (specifically, this site, which he built and helps edit). He updates his ongoing print/web comic, Last Train to Old Town, weekly-ish.

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Nice Work if You Can Get It

Don’t spread this around, but I’ve always wanted to be a stay-at-home Dad. I imagine myself orchestrating craft projects, engineering Guinness-caliber lego cities, trading blog comments with trendy Mormon moms about our flippin’ awesome lives. I manage our overbooked family band, and apologize for the long waitlist to get into my plein-air fingerpainting class (“If only we had a bigger backyard,” I lament to the parents of kids who are jerks). I explain why we avoid split infinitives, and that “quote” is a verb, and astound even myself with how much basic algebra I remember. My cooking becomes first-rate, my baking, edible. I run with the kids to hug Cate and as she stumbles through the front door, home at last from a long day of sticking it to the man.

I’m not a father, but have enough siblings (the youngest is 23 years my junior) to know that the proportion of rubber cement to vomit in these daydreams is somewhat skewed. Raising kids, to quote captain obvious, is hard work. I don’t know anyone who denies this fact, and if such people exist, let’s all agree to think they’re assholes.

But while it may be hard work, parenthood is not wage work. It’s not work you do for fear of starving or losing your home. (The primary consequence of turning down the job of raising kids is the ire of the would-be grandparents that raised you.) It’s (hopefully) not a job you take because no better jobs were available to you. It’s a job you take solely because you want it. Read More


PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

ACT NOW is participating in a widespread protest of the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate corollary (Protect IP), and our site will be unavailable throughout Wednesday, January 18th. The bills, written largely by self-interested juggernauts like the Motion Picture Association of America (whose revolving door to Washington recently let in scandal-plagued former Senator Chris Dodd, who quickly assumed the chairmanship) and GoDaddy, represent the most brazen and corrupt forms of lobbying and influence-peddling. It abrogates our government’s responsibility to enforce its own laws, handing the policing of online activity to corporate copyright holders, who would be authorized to shut down sites they suspected of infringement. No due process, no innocent until proven guilty, no impartial judiciary. Read More

Occupy Wall Street Evicted

By the time I got the call, it was too late. The city had shut down most means of ingress from Brooklyn (or anyplace else) to lower Manhattan, including the Brooklyn Bridge and the 2, 3, 4, 5, and E trains. Police had formed a wide perimeter around the park, and supporters could not get within a block of it in any direction. Doormen were told to lock residents into their own buildings. Reporters were penned off in an apparent attempted media blackout:

A CBS News helicopter was ordered out of the sky by the police, who said they needed the airspace, according to Anthony DeRosa of Reuters.

Read More

Comic: Can We?

Continued at ACT NOW. Read More

Lunchbreak Link-A-Thon
Remember, Remembers
(Over Mimosas)

You’ve likely heard that today is Bank Transfer Day.

As my own bank account will attest, I understand very little about finance and even less about industry, and if I’m honest, I have to admit that deep down, in a place preceding logic, I actually believe the phrase “monetary instruments” was devised by a shadowy cabal of Frank Luntzes whose sole mission is to piss me off. (Oh Frank, you had me at “death tax.”) But since TARP, it’s become increasingly clear that very few of the people who understand the financial industry very well are looking out for me. Perhaps you’ve come to a similar conclusion.

And so I’ve gotten up early to bring you a special Saturday Brunch edition of the Lunchbreak Link-a-thon, wherein I’ve compiled, from sources more knowledgeable than I and more trustworthy than Timothy Geithner, all the information you’ll need to understand and participate in this unprecedented people’s holiday: Read More

The Play’s The Thing

Okay, but here’s what you don’t understand about Occupy Wall Street. Whether the coverage you’ve encountered has skewed positive or negative, the Occupiers portrayed as unruly hippies or hard-working middle class Americans who can’t get their fair shake, their aims disparaged as vague and impracticable or dangerous and subversively anti-capitalist, there is a central aspect, an organizing principle, a unifying theme that hasn’t been explained to you, about which, unless you’ve witnessed it in person, you are probably unaware:

it’s adorable. Read More

Why Can’t I Get Gay Married?

On a warm Friday evening in June, I was finishing dinner among friends, all of us huddled around a laptop, eyes glued to a live stream of the New York State Senate proceedings. I’m not normally such a party animal, and this was, I assure you, a good deal more raucous a diversion than my median weekend night. But there were extenuating circumstances leading me to override my usual prohibitions on other people and leaving the house: our legislature was about to vote on gay marriage. And it actually looked like we were going to win.

Our host had until recently been the chief of staff for a progressive State Senator, and was explaining Albany’s byzantine mechanics as we watched them, as well as the personal foibles and constituent pressures shaping each Senator’s incoherent ramblings (because, you guys, we have a shockingly inarticulate body of elected officials up in this state). He expected a narrow victory of 33 votes to 29. 32 of the yeas he was able to name, “and one person will surprise us,” he predicted. Read More

Stay Awhile
( OR It’s Probably Time for Weiner to Stay. )

Despite what you may hear about our nation’s failing public schools, my classmates and I learned well at least one invaluable skill during our high school years: how to avoid work. There are innumerable strategies in which we all became proficient, but the easiest, and most effective, was to simply distract whoever was making you do the work with something shiny.

In practice, this usually meant asking teachers about their kids. If they took the bait, you could often bank 10 solid minutes of blissful, frivolous, undemanding chit-chat.

And this is why I’m not ready to show Representative Weiner the door just yet. Read More

How to Help Japanese Relief Efforts

[ above: “Japan Relief” by maximbark. ] I’ve been feeling helpless watching events unfold in Japan. It’s frustrating to witness such an upsetting situation and feel there’s very little I can do. The good news is that a number of groups on the ground in Japan can coral the very littles of which vast numbers of us are capable into effective, powerful relief operations. Below are a few small ways to contribute to big things.

They’re Playing Their Song

Over at TPM, Josh Marshall is puzzling over what he calls “The Chorus for War,” that most familiar of refrains ringing out from the singing heads on cable news. After correctly appraising their policy prescriptions as utterly batty, he attempts to make sense of the widespread excitement for military engagement in Libya, eventually boiling it down to a standby metaphor that, in this case, doesn’t seem actually to describe anything in particular.