Culture

Thumbnail image for ‘Internet Safety Software’ Handed Out by San Diego County DA’s Office Might Not Be So Safe

‘Internet Safety Software’ Handed Out by San Diego County DA’s Office Might Not Be So Safe

by Doug Porter 10.01.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

San Diego’s County District Attorney has been distributing internet monitoring software that exposes users to the very predators, identity thieves, and bullies they claim the program protects children against, according to a story by Dave Maass posted at the Electronic Frontier Foundation Deeplinks Blog.

The free Computer Cop program featuring a photo of DA Bonnie Dumanis on the CD cover, “is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies,”according to Maass. His investigation found the program, usually branded with a department’s name,  is handed out by hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the country with the promise that using it constitutes a “first step” in protecting children online.

In addition to advocating for parents protect their children by using the software via the county website, DA Bonnie Dumanis also appears in promotional videos for the company. The EFF story also includes allegations that false endorsements from the ACLU and the Treasury Department were used in marketing materials for Computer Cop.

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Thumbnail image for Trouble in Kingdom City: “If You Try to Repress Something, It’s Going to Come Out Somewhere Else…”

Trouble in Kingdom City: “If You Try to Repress Something, It’s Going to Come Out Somewhere Else…”

by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán 10.01.2014 Culture

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

Playwright Sheri Wilner was intrigued by a 2006 article she read in The New York Times about a controversial high school theatre department in a small Missouri town. She explained her impressions of the article during an interview with San Diego Free Press, how it triggered her play “Kingdom City” which opened with a world premier at The La Jolla Playhouse on September 4th.

“The article talked about how ‘Grease’ created some controversy in the school. And the next play that was being done was ‘The Crucible'; the principal was worried that that might cause controversy too, so he preemptively cancelled the play. I consider ‘The Crucible’ a masterpiece, I think it is one of the most important plays ever written. But if it where my 14 year old niece in the play, it becomes a different story. That was the fear I could understand.”

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Thumbnail image for Will Hot, Hot, Hot Mean Burn, Baby, Burn? Heat Wave, High Winds Forecast for Weekend

Will Hot, Hot, Hot Mean Burn, Baby, Burn? Heat Wave, High Winds Forecast for Weekend

by Doug Porter 09.30.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

It’s fall in San Diego, and while outsiders may not realize it, we can see some of the highest temperatures of the year while trees are turning colors in more temperate parts of the country.

The National Weather Service is forecasting the development of a Santa Ana pattern starting on Thursday. Temperatures will peak on Saturday, the humidity is expected to drop into the single digits and winds up 50 miles per hour are expected in the eastern part of the county.

Given that temperatures have already been above normal for the year and most of California is starved for water, conditions are favorable for wildfires throughout Southern California.  So it seems like today is as good as any to write about the changing of our climate in San Diego and the responses (or lack thereof) to these changes.

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Thumbnail image for ‘Harlem, Harlem’ Revival Show Is a Groovin’ Tribute

‘Harlem, Harlem’ Revival Show Is a Groovin’ Tribute

by Ernie McCray 09.30.2014 Film & Theater

By Ernie McCray

I knew when I stepped into the theater for Harlem, Harlem that I would be shaking my booty in my seat.  I could feel it in the energy of those in the building with me.

The Ira Aldridge Repertory Players’ evening of music and dance was hosted at the Educational Cultural Complex in National City, but it was like a scene in Harlem — people smiling and flashing “What’s happening, y’all?” kind of greetings throughout the room.

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Thumbnail image for Student Loan Debt: The Only Debt You Can’t Discharge in Bankruptcy

Student Loan Debt: The Only Debt You Can’t Discharge in Bankruptcy

by John Lawrence 09.30.2014 Business

John Lawrence

Today’s students are being crushed with John Bunyan’s proverbial burden on their backs – student loan debt. Until relatively recently this debt could have been discharged in bankruptcy.

Then all that changed when Sallie Mae, the Student Loan Marketing Association, was privatized in 2004. Albert Lord, the new CEO, and his lobbyists went to work to change the laws so that student loans could not be discharged in bankruptcy. Today the cumulative student loan debt is more than $1 trillion.

While a generation ago a high school diploma was considered sufficient for a decent middle class entry level job, today it’s a college diploma even if the job itself could be easily accomplished by a person with just a high school education.

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Thumbnail image for DIY Resistance: Resistance is Sexy

DIY Resistance: Resistance is Sexy

by Will Falk 09.29.2014 Activism

By Will Falk

I suffer from a profound sense of loneliness. I always have. I do not know why. And, I suspect I always will. Sometimes, I wonder if I cling to some strange addiction to loneliness. There are too many decisions I’ve made in my life knowing full well the alienation that would follow.

I chose to study English in college knowing the strange looks I’d get from my coaches and teammates. These strange looks were only matched by the incredulity some of my professors viewed me with as I walked into a Shakespeare class, a classical tragedy class, or a women’s literature class in a Dayton football sweat suit hustling my way back from practice. I chose to go to law school knowing the student loan debt that would pile upon me stressing out my family and any potential romantic partners that might choose to build a life with me. I chose to pursue a career as a public defender representing people most of society despises for a salary forcing me to live paycheck to paycheck. I chose to foster the voice in my heart that demands I act in the face of the suffering in the world baring my breast to the vulnerabilities that accompany embracing the empathy we were all born with.

Finally – and most importantly – I chose the ultimate alienation, twice, when I drank down full bottles of pills in an effort to leave forever. Having survived suicide, I also feel the weight of worried gazes from loved ones who think I’m not aware. I’ve made myself a person that friends and family cannot fully trust to answer truthfully when they ask, “How are you, Will?” I’m marked in only the ways someone who has traveled to the nether regions of spiritual darkness can be.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego City Works Press, Sunshine/Noir II: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana

San Diego City Works Press, Sunshine/Noir II: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana

by Jim Miller 09.29.2014 Books & Poetry

November 1st Deadline Approaching

By Jim Miller

San Diego City Works Press is still accepting submissions for Sunshine/Noir II until November 1st. In particular we are looking for creative non-fiction pieces about underrepresented communities in San Diego and generally uncovered topics with regard to life in our region. We are also looking for good fiction, poetry, and artwork that runs against the grain of San Diego’s official story.

SDCWP is run by a 100% non-profit collective and is the only small literary press in San Diego that focuses primarily on the publication of local writers with an emphasis on our region that moves beyond the postcard version of our reality. In an era where commercial forces and hegemonic instrumentality are drowning out what remains of literary culture, we have persisted against the odds. We invite all interested parties to be a part of our beautifully useless endeavor.

To celebrate our tenth anniversary, we are putting together a second edition of our first anthology, Sunshine/Noir II. All local writers are encouraged to submit work for consideration.

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Thumbnail image for Midwestern Steam Thresher’s Reunion Reminisces Past With Charm

Midwestern Steam Thresher’s Reunion Reminisces Past With Charm

by Judi Curry 09.28.2014 Culture

By Judi Curry

I have become fascinated with the lifestyle of my friend Cowboy in North Dakota. I find that I am flying there once a month for a few days at a time to do things like go to horse, goat and pony auctions. Just recently we went to the Building Steam Western Minnesota Steam Thresher’s Reunion (WMSTR) in the town of Rollag. Cowboy had never been to this exhibit and since he has so many of the machines on his farm he thought it would be fun to go. We drove the 110 miles to attend one day of the two and a half day show.

I keep taking notes of these activities, with the thought of writing articles about life in the Midwest, but for some reason have never put pen to paper — or fingers to keyboard as the case may be. At the risk of being too verbose – I want to say a few words about the Steam Thresher’s unnamedReunion, but in order to make my point I need to explain a few things about it. The reunion first began in 1940 when a Garr-Scott engine was fired up to thresh grain with steam again for the sake of reminiscing. It has continued to this day.

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Thumbnail image for Just Do It, Roger!

Just Do It, Roger!

by Junco Canché 09.28.2014 Junco's Jabs
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Thumbnail image for I’m Not the Least Bit Grateful for Being Smacked on My Behind

I’m Not the Least Bit Grateful for Being Smacked on My Behind

by Ernie McCray 09.27.2014 Culture

By Ernie McCray

It seems the NFL, of all institutions, is drawing our attention to social situations in our society that we’ve generally overlooked for far too long: domestic violence and corporal punishment when it comes to disciplining our children.

Regarding the latter of these matters, I’ve been in several conversations lately where someone expressed how “grateful” they were for their parents taking the belt to their behind. It did them no harm, they say, and it made them the person they are today – and I’m thinking the human being they have become is someone who sees nothing wrong with hitting a five year old because of who knows what, talking back, lying, stealing from the piggy bank, hitting their little sister, getting in trouble at school…?

Well, I was hit about three times when I was a kid and what I remember most about it is how utterly fearful I was and how pissed I was at my mother. If I could have, I would have strangled her and I’m not the least bit “grateful” for entertaining such violent thoughts or the ass whuppings.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Not-So-Great Depression and WW II Come to Logan Heights – Part I

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Not-So-Great Depression and WW II Come to Logan Heights – Part I

by Maria E. Garcia 09.27.2014 Culture

The Mexican Repatriation and hard times

By Maria E. Garcia

The 1930s and the Depression brought many changes to the families living in Logan Heights. The Great Depression started in 1929 and ended around 1941 when World War II brought jobs to the country as a whole and to places like San Diego in particular. In the late 1930s the economy improved. The war had created a lot of jobs and had a great influence in ending the Depression. In San Diego, the aircraft industry which included Consolidated-Vultee (which eventually became Convair), flourished and provided employment.

The similarities between the political climate of the Great Depression era and today are frightening. Like today, there was a call to deport Mexicans and Mexican-Americans and return them to Mexico. Like today, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were perceived as taking jobs that belonged to “real” Americans, and like today, it was also believed that deportation would reduce the number of people on the relief rolls.

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Thumbnail image for Living on the Edge in San Diego, the Nation’s Most Biologically Diverse County

Living on the Edge in San Diego, the Nation’s Most Biologically Diverse County

by At Large 09.26.2014 Culture

By Elliott Kennerson

Let’s play a game. Name an endangered species from San Diego.

Anyone say vernal pool fairy shrimp? Doubtful, because when you think of San Diego, you don’t usually think of a one-inch long crustacean that you can’t even eat.

You said panda, right?

Though San Diego is the most biologically diverse county in the nation, according to the Nature Conservancy, with 200 or so threatened or endangered species, (the fairy shrimp among them), this town is much more famous for its beloved Zoo and our lately less beloved Sea World, animal parks that host tons of diversity, of course, most of it exotic.

The county’s numerous native species of toads, fish, insects, small birds, and plants on the endangered or threatened list are pretty missable compared to Bai Yun getting her tooth fixed.

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Arts District Shines with Multiple Cultural Events in Barrio Logan

Barrio Arts District Shines with Multiple Cultural Events in Barrio Logan

by Brent E. Beltrán 09.25.2014 Arts

Barrio Art Jam, Barrio Art Crawl and Concerts in the Barrio Take Place this Weekend

By Brent E. Beltrán

Barrio Logan is becoming well known for its thriving, grassroots arts scene. This weekend’s activities are proof of that. From Friday through Sunday numerous cultural events will take place within San Diego’s most historic Chicano community.

The events include the 2nd annual Barrio Art Jam at La Bodega on Friday night, Barrio Art Crawl throughout the Barrio Arts District on Saturday afternoon/evening and the Barrio Logan Association’s Concerts in the Barrio at the Mercado del Barrio plaza on Sunday afternoon.

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Thumbnail image for Legalization Here We Come: California Campaign Underway for 2016 Pot Proposition

Legalization Here We Come: California Campaign Underway for 2016 Pot Proposition

by Doug Porter 09.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

More than four decades ago (1972) California’s Proposition 19, which would have decriminalized marijuana possession, was resoundingly defeated by a 2 to 1 margin.

In the years since then, hodgepodge of voter approved propositions, legislative initiatives and executive orders have sought to lessen or eliminate criminal penalties for use and possession of pot. They haven’t worked as intended. Overzealous prosecutors and law enforcers have continued to put the hammer down, even as juries have increasingly refused to play along.

The beginning of end for pot prohibition in California came yesterday, as the Marijuana Policy Project filed paperwork registering a a campaign committee to start accepting and spending contributions for a pot legalization initiative on the November 2016 state ballot.

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Thumbnail image for Good Neighbors

Good Neighbors

by Eric J. Garcia 09.25.2014 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Why I Regret My Elite Education

Why I Regret My Elite Education

by At Large 09.24.2014 Culture

By Anna Prouty

I entered the elite at age five.

From kindergarten to sixth grade, I attended The Rhoades School, a prestigious, private elementary school. In seventh grade, I started at The Bishop’s School, a prestigious, private middle and high school. In 2010, I began college at Barnard College of Columbia University, a prestigious, private college with the double bonus of being both a Seven Sisters and a de-facto college of an Ivy League university. This past winter, I graduated from college with an offer of admission to the London School of Economics (LSE), one of the “most elite” universities in the world.

On the ladder of prestige, I’ve climbed about as far as a 21-year-old can. My classmates have gone on to medical schools and law schools, finance jobs and consulting jobs at the most influential companies in the country. The more globally minded are Fulbright Scholars, the more socially minded are Teaching for America.

Me? I’m living in a trailer on my uncle’s farm in Washington. But like my classmates who WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and backpack through Chile and work in Sierra Leone, I’m only doing it temporarily. This is a gap year, a brief stint of regular life bookended by glittering prestige.

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Thumbnail image for Librotraficantes: Smuggling Banned Books back into Public Schools and Communities

Librotraficantes: Smuggling Banned Books back into Public Schools and Communities

by Anna Daniels 09.24.2014 Activism

“Arizona banned our history. We decided to make more.”

By Anna Daniels

If you can ban one book, why not ban a whole bunch of them? Back in 2012 the Tucson Arizona public school system embraced the more is better approach when it eliminated the Mexican American Studies Program from the K-12 curriculum.

The LA Times reported that “The Tucson school board voted to end the program after Arizona’s education chief had ruled the district in violation of a controversial state law banning classes designed for a particular ethnic group or that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.” The Tuscon school district stood to lose $14 million in state education funds, which no doubt squelched a more robust debate on the topic of intellectual freedom and education.

The grassroots Librotraficante (book trafficker) movement arose as a full-throated denunciation of Arizona Law HB 2281, which banned Mexican American Studies in the state. It didn’t matter to the lawmakers that Mexican American students account for more than 40% of the enrollment in Arizona schools, or that this curriculum was popular, or that it was successful in promoting literacy and critical thought–you know, educating students. It did matter to the people affected by the decision.

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Thumbnail image for DIY Resistance: Post-Modern Robin Hoods

DIY Resistance: Post-Modern Robin Hoods

by Will Falk 09.23.2014 Activism

By Will Falk

For the last year, it goes like this: My phone rings precisely at 6:30 AM. I groan in bed and reach towards the shelf holding my phone. By the time I locate my phone, I’ve missed the call. It’s from an area code I don’t recognize. They’ve left a message, so I curse, roll over, cuddle a pillow to my chest, and fall back asleep. When I wake up there are three more calls from three different area codes with three more messages. I listen to the messages.

They are all the same. The prerecording plays, “Hello, this is Heather from Sallie Mae Department of Education Loan Services with a message for” and there’s a short pause, a hiss, and a mechanized voice saying “William Fawk.”

I chuckle to myself. The machines never know how to pronounce my last name. Falk, like talk with an F. And poor Heather-from-Sallie-Mae-Department-of-Education-Loan-Services will never track me down, though she has been getting rather sly lately. She calls from an area code where I have friends or family like 414 (Milwaukee) or 317 (Indianapolis) forcing me to check my messages just to make sure I do not miss a call from someone who matters.

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Thumbnail image for Getting Past Facebook’s “Like” Button

Getting Past Facebook’s “Like” Button

by Lori Saldaña 09.23.2014 Culture

By Lori Saldaña

“You like me! You really LIKE me!”
(paraphrasing Sally Field, winning an Academy Award for her lead performance in “Norma Rae” in 1979, pre-Facebook)

I recently posted on my Facebook page about taking a sabbatical from clicking “Like.” I encouraged people to share it, not just like it, and had only a few results.

I suspect, as far as Facebook is concerned, I’m dead. I haven’t “liked” anything in weeks — but my human friends know otherwise.

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Thumbnail image for America’s First Banned Book and the Battle for the Soul of the Country

America’s First Banned Book and the Battle for the Soul of the Country

by Jim Miller 09.22.2014 Books & Poetry

By Jim Miller

It’s Banned Books Week and what better way to kick it off than with a salute to America’s first banned book: Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan published in 1637? New English Canaan is a three-volume affair containing Morton’s sympathetic observations about Native Americans along with a celebration of the beauty of the natural world and a fierce satire of the Puritans.

While some scholars point to other books such as John Eliot’s The Christian Commonwealth (written in the late 1640s) or William Pynchon’s The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption (1650) as the first books to be banned by the Puritans for theological or historical reasons, Morton’s New English Canaan precedes both of these texts and the conflict surrounding it is far more important and illustrative with regard to the political and cultural history of the United States.

Indeed, Morton’s book was banned because it told his side in one of the pivotal battles for the cultural soul of the New World. Morton, a perpetual thorn in the side of the great Puritan patriarch William Bradford, represented the untamable “other” of colonial America. When Morton set up his rival colony of Merry Mount in close proximity to Bradford’s Plymouth Plantation and invited the Indians and escaped indentured servants to join him, all hell broke loose.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Johnny Rubalcava

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Johnny Rubalcava

by Maria E. Garcia 09.20.2014 Culture

By Maria E. Garcia

Johnny Rubalcava is a very young 90-year-old man. He has been married five times, his last marriage lasting 30 years. He has been a widower for the last two years. When you look at Mr. Rubalcava you think you’re speaking to a man of 70, not only because of his wonderful memory, but because he carries himself like a much younger man.

He started going to the Neighborhood House at the age of six, during the 1930’s. Like so many of the other people I interviewed, Mr. Rubalcava remembers Neighborhood House as the place where kids in Logan Heights learned to dance, play on sports teams and enjoy occasional trips to camp.

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Thumbnail image for What are We Feeding Fido, and Why?

What are We Feeding Fido, and Why?

by At Large 09.20.2014 Business

Food for Thought

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko / Boogie Green

My journey into the world of dog food ingredients began when my two-year-old mutts, Olive and Dexi, embarked on a hunger strike of sorts. They’d circle around their food bowls a foot away, sniffing all the while, only to walk away in protest before getting close enough to really get a good look. It felt as though they thought I might be trying to poison them, or at least pull a fast one of some sort.

I served what I thought were top-tier kibble and wet foods, never skimping on price and offering plenty of variety to avert boredom. I changed commercial foods numerous times, trying every ilk of so-called natural lines marketed as organic, grain-free and the like, yet still my offerings were snubbed. I’ll never know if they actually conspired to get my attention, but get my attention they did when they’d go two days without eating a bite, ostensibly giving in only when hunger forced them to.

I became convinced Olive and Dexi were rejecting the meals based on odor, inspiring my 3-part investigation into dog foods: first, to understand the canine sense of smell; second, to master commercial dog food labeling; and third, to discern what canine diet might really be best. I’ve concluded that the answer to the latter might not be as simple as one would wish.

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Thumbnail image for As Study Shows Poverty Rising in San Diego, Campaign to Shame Restaurant Industry Over Wages Emerges

As Study Shows Poverty Rising in San Diego, Campaign to Shame Restaurant Industry Over Wages Emerges

by Doug Porter 09.18.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The poverty rate in San Diego has risen over the past year according to data released by U.S. Census Bureau this week. A total of 209,045 San Diegans (15.8%)  lived below the federal poverty level last year, including more than 64,000 children (21.9%) of all children in the city.  

The release of this report comes two days after the San Diego Chamber of Commerce claimed success in a referendum campaign effectively halting implementation of a local minimum wage increase. Much of the money for that campaign reportedly came via the California Restaurant Association.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Really Has It All

San Diego Really Has It All

by Junco Canché 09.18.2014 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for DIY Resistance: Find Rock Bottom

DIY Resistance: Find Rock Bottom

by Will Falk 09.18.2014 Activism

By Will Falk

The August San Diego sun was hot. I spread a white blanket on the white concrete floor of a patio behind another mental health hospital, opened the book I asked my mother to bring me – Derrick Jensen’s Dreams, and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible.

The sun beat down and the sweat pooled on my palms. I closed the book not wanting my sweat to blur Jensen’s exploration of the role of the supernatural in resisting this culture of death. I couldn’t focus anyway. I couldn’t forget why I was there.

It was my second suicide attempt in four months.

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