Saving Mario

When your little girl wants to be the one saving Mario, what’s a hacker dad to do?

Oblivious to the kind of attention it started to get, I turned my attention to the reason behind all of this in the first place: My daughter. Just like clockwork, she woke up and sat on my lap asking to play Donkey Kong. Only this time, she could play as Pauline. She was excited! But for all she knew, I just figured out how to get Pauline to work. And that was fine. I wasn’t expecting it to change her life. We played for a bit. And some more. And again later. You know what? She really did seem to enjoy the game more. For whatever reason, she was more motivated to play as Pauline than as Mario. I can’t read into that too much, because it does feel a bit like a new game to her still. So we’ll see how she does after a week with it.

Meanwhile, a couple of my friends decided to tweet about it and post some of the work-in-progress to Reddit. By the time I started to catch up with all my social feeds, something insane had happened. This little mod exploded. I didn’t follow the whole Tropes vs. Women thing, but I saw a lot of references to it. In my wildest dreams, I just expected a bunch of fellow coders to chat about the merits of the mod. I never expected it to ignite a gender-role debate.

The comments under the YouTube video can, at times, be just as horrific as they are encouraging. While some of the things people have said about my daughter are almost comically inappropriate, they are still downright disturbing. One person wished her “dead” because “it would do the world a favor and be one less feminist in our future.”

WTF is the matter with some men? Seriously — you wish a little girl dead because she wanted to be the hero in a video game? For the sake of your daughters, sisters and wives, it’s about time men started talking to other men about that kind of misogynist bullshit, because when women do it, we’re apparently trying to neuter them.

Yet another reason why I love charter schools

They offer upward mobility to the strangest people!

When Camden’s LEAP Academy University Charter School compelled its new food-service management company to retain the school’s executive chef and give him a $24,000 raise, LEAP also had to pay a $151,428 penalty to its previous vendor, documents show.

Including Michele Pastorello’s new $95,000 salary, LEAP has spent nearly $250,000 this school year to keep him employed as executive chef. The position typically pays about $40,000, according to industry experts.

Pastorello is the live-in boyfriend of LEAP founder and board chairwoman Gloria Bonilla-Santiago. His raise, as well as the fee paid to the previous management company, Aramark, now are under review by the school’s board of trustees.

On Friday, Aramark issued a pointed response to suggestions by LEAP that it was replaced because it was not meeting the school’s nutritional goals.

Bonilla-Santiago has recused herself from votes dealing with the food-service contracts. Through a spokesman, she has declined to be interviewed.

Life + Debt

I’ve tried to explain to people how the IMF and World Bank policies led to all those earthquake deaths in Haiti, but it’s probably easier to understand if you watch this documentary. Basically, we enslaved the nation with debt, destroyed their agrarian culture (which was working just fine) with targeted taxes and then pushed them into the cities, where we promised multinational corps they’d have a workforce for pennies a day. That’s why all those people were living in tin shacks when the earthquake struck:

Getting rich off school reform

It’s really infuriating, how the corporate media has bought into the marketing of the for-profit schools that are destroying public education. From Salon:

You know how it goes: the pervasive media mythology tells us that the fight over the schoolhouse is supposedly a battle between greedy self-interested teachers who don’t care about children and benevolent billionaire “reformers” whose political activism is solely focused on the welfare of kids. Epitomizing the media narrative, the Wall Street Journal casts the latter in sanitized terms, re-imagining the billionaires as philanthropic altruists “pushing for big changes they say will improve public schools.”

The first reason to scoff at this mythology should be obvious: it simply strains credulity to insist that pedagogues who get paid middling wages but nonetheless devote their lives to educating kids care less about those kids than do the Wall Street hedge funders and billionaire CEOs who finance the so-called “reform” movement. Indeed, to state that pervasive assumption out loud is to reveal how utterly idiotic it really is – and yet it is baked into almost all of today’s coverage of education politics.

That, of course, is not all that shocking – after all, plenty of inane narratives are regularly depicted as assumed fact in the political press. What’s shocking is that the other reason to scoff at the Greedy Teachers versus Altruistic Billionaire tale is also ignored. It is ignored even though it involves the most hard-to-ignore facts of all – the ones involving vested financial interests.

Yes, though it is rarely mentioned, the truth is that the largest funders of the “reform” movement are the opposite of disinterested altruists. They are cutthroat businesspeople making shrewd financial investments in a movement that is less about educating children than about helping “reform” funders hit paydirt. In that sense, they are the equivalent of any industry leaders funding a front group in hopes of achieving profitable political ends (think: defense contractors funding a front group that advocates for a bigger defense budget). The only difference is that when it comes to education “reform,” most of the political press doesn’t mention the potential financial motives of the funders in question.

Stupid girl

Guys don’t realize all the social pressures on even the youngest girls to be pretty, to be sexy, to be thin, etc. (And some of it is the moms trying to live through their daughters.) That’s why I flip out about the whole Disney princess thing, because it’s hard to say where a child’s imagination stops and the sales indoctrination begins. And that’s why I’m glad we have Pink, because little girls need to hear it’s okay to be yourself:

Drone strikes

From Mother Jones:

Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) 13-hour filibusterover whether or not the White House believes it has the authority to assassinate terrorism suspects within the United States raised the weary spirits of critics of the Obama administration’s targeted killing program. But, advocates say that the focus on something that may never come to pass—drone strikes at home— should not distract from the problems with targeted killing as it is actually used.

“We ought to be more focused on the current program as it is today rather than what I see as a very hypothetical and not very likely use of force within the United States,” says Raha Wala, an attorney with Human Rights First. “We have hundreds of drone strikes, thousands of people dead in a half a dozen or so countries around the world, with very little explanation from the administration as to the legal, ethical and operational basis for the program.”

While the administration says it does not have the authority to use drones within the United States to kill a suspected terrorist who is not “engaged in combat,” between 3000 and 5000 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Many have been civilians. Many of the strikes themselves have not been targeted at specific individuals, but in so-called “signature strikes” against anonymous targets who are singled out and believed to be militants based on a “pattern of behavior.” While the administration has publicly defended the use of targeted killing against suspected terrorists, it has said little publicly about signature strikes. Civil liberties and human rights advocates hope that Paul’s filibuster—which did at times touch on drone strikes abroad—will help draw attention to the targeted killing program as it actually exists.

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