The bulk of my day has been spent sitting with my laptop, working away, watching various shows on Animal Planet involving cute baby animals. Not a terrible way to spend the day, even with the occasional interruption from someone who wants to know why a brand spanking new domain isn’t visible everywhere on the web, or someone who wants to know why we’re still charging her for a hosting account (that’s still active on the servers) instead of magically knowing that she allowed her domain to lapse so it’s no longer visible. Yes, lady, we always know which of the bazillion domains in the network are active or not at any given moment.
Last night at the GOP debate (part eleventy-two), the audience booed birth control. I suggest they all be given a delightful parting gift of a child to adopt.
Not to vote Republican. Seriously.
Something that serves no purpose whatsoever, designed merely to humiliate women and further degrade their control over their own bodies. Ironic that people who constantly harp about “too much government” have no problem with things like this, having the government step right in and dictate medical procedures. This ranks right up there in this war against women with the nutty debate over contraception (hint: YOU’RE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THIS ISSUE), and the supremely odious implication that there isn’t such a thing as “too much rape” in the armed forces, or by extension, that apparently all male members of the armed forces are rapists. Luckily, Jon Stewart had a field day with that latter piece of nonsense, so there’s no need for me to point out the obvious, other than to wonder just why Republicans seem to hate women so much.
It’s nice that you’re now coming out and flat out admitting that this, like abortion, is simply another means of trying to to preempt womens’ control over their own bodies. A bunch of old white guys get to decide not just access to birth control for women in Catholic/religious organizations – something a vast majority of people, including Catholics, agree should not be restricted – but all women, period, regardless of where they work. And our dumbass senator, Marco Rubio, is trying to join in on the fun. At this rate, in a week you’ll be debating whether women should be allowed to drive or work outside the house.
Let me tell you something: once you people begin to care just as much as life once it leaves the womb as you pretend to care when it hasn’t, then you can posture all you want. Until then – and I’m talking to you, members of the Catholic Church, who ignored kiddie-diddlers for (literally) decades, and to you, other right wing nutters who think all social assistance programs should be shut down – get bent.
The Susan G Komen Foundaton continues its Hindenburg-esque disaster campaign.
Today, they’ve issued this press release. I’ve inserted some translations.
“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.”
Translation: We’re sorry we didn’t realize that the vast majority of people are not beholden to far right wing ideology.
“The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.”
Translation: We hoped that no one would notice that our changes to our funding criteria initially only affected a single organization out of all of those who receive monies. The additional of the prohibition against distributing monies to researchers who use stem cells was just a bonus we tossed in later to appease our most shrill ideologues. And now we’re scared shitless that the money we usually get from individuals and corporations will no longer be coming in.
“Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.”
Translation: We’re sorry we got caught trying to cut off funding to an organization undergoing a political witch hunt led by antiabortion people who think Planned Parenthood is some kind of baby killing factory instead of an organization that primarily provides other services. We’re still not defunding Penn State, who is under an actual criminal investigation, though.
“Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”
Translation: Just like we said, the existing grants will be honored. Planned Parenthood is welcome to try and wring money from our greedy hands next time around, but we guarantee those requests will be denied for publicly stated reasons other than the real one: we’re cravenly desirous of the support from the right wing horde, and our VP Karen Handel has voiced her intent to defund Planned Parenthood.
“It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics.”
Translation: Our decision was wholly a political one, but if you say so, it’s you that has the problem.
“Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.”
Translation: We’re hoping the upper echelon will continue to be able to collect their gigantic paychecks.
“We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.”
Translation: We’re still deleting negative comments from our Facebook page as quickly as we possibly can.
Nothing has changed. This wishy-washy release doesn’t actually address anything that was not already in place: the existing grants will still be given. Future grants will be nonexistent. The SGKF will continue to play politics and cater to their far right wing. That’s the way of it, and the brand has been damaged beyond repair at this point, since the antiabortion people who have no reading comprehension skills are just as mad now as the people who lambasted SGKF for the decision in the first place. The latest release makes them look even more spineless than before.
I came across the financials for the SGKF and they are underwhelming in terms of the ratio of dollars spent on research, screening, and prevention versus overhead. It’s an abysmal ratio, in fact, and simply one more reason (among many, now that more and more is becoming known about them) to bypass the SGKF and donate to organizations who put the money to better use.
I posted previously about the asinine decision by the Susan G Komen (SGK) foundation to drop grants for Planned Parenthood. I’ve posted previously about the Dervaes and how they managed to destroy their goodwill and reputation in the span of about 24 hours. It seems that some people, so intent as they are of bending everyone else to their will – even when it’s clear that such moves are deeply unpopular and (to put it plainly) just damn stupid – cannot seem to learn a simple lesson: your business and brand are important things, and screwing around with them in a fashion that is destined to fail whatever core values you claim to hold can take the business or brand down so low that it likely will never recover. This is not the olden days when most things simply were not newsworthy enough on a national scale to warrant mention on Cronkite’s newscast. This is the Internet age. It’s difficult to keep anything a secret, and virtually impossible to not people talk about major actions you are taking. SGK, in a furtherance of its insane decision to lead where the whackjobs lead, under its new policy will no longer fund any cancer research that involves the use of embryonic stem cells.
So, just how is caving in to the rabid right wing working out for SGK? Not. Very. Well. At. All. Directors are resigning. The organization’s own top public health official resigned in protest. Various affiliates are ignoring this directive and will continue funding Planned Parenthood. The corporate partners are going to be figuring out just how much they want to be involved in this.
What is highly ironic about this is just days before SGK decided that the poor and uninsured shouldn’t be permitted to use Planned Parenthood to get cancer screenings and referrals for mammograms, they posted this to their Facebook page:
“The CDC released a new study today that marks improvement in some minority cancer screening rates, but big gaps remain for the poor and uninsured.”
So, obviously, the proper response to this sort of study is to pull grants a couple of days later from an organization that bridges the gap in cancer screening for the poor and uninsured.
SGK, you may be in full damage control mode now, but you have irrevocably damaged your brand. Trying out a new line, like this one
“Our Board of Directors approved new grants standards to improve direct services to women, says Komen Founder and CEO Amb. Nancy G. Brinker. Money is not being “withdrawn” from Planned Parenthood – will be invested in programs to serve low-income, uninsured and underinsured women.”
is disingenuous at best, and at worst, is completely dishonest. Planned Parenthood already has the infrastructure in place to service the poor and uninsured. It is WHY THEY ARE FUNDED. In fact, it’s why someone at SGK presumably approved this text as recently as last year.
”And while Komen Affiliates provide funds to pay for screening, education and treatment programs in dozens of communities, in some areas, the only place that poor, uninsured or under-insured women can receive these services are through programs run by Planned Parenthood.”
Because of your craven need to adhere to strict right wing ideology, where it will never be enough until everything about a woman’s control over her own body is restricted, you are now finding out just how misguided that vision is. People in general are much more moderate than that. They, unlike the people supporting this decision, do not quote discredited “studies” like those linking abortion to breast cancer, or the “not intended to be a factual statement” that what Planned Parenthood does is “97% abortions”. The fact that your most shrill supporters are using these sorts of things to applaud your actions speaks volumes to those of us with more brain cells than that and more compassion for those less fortunate.
I’ve been through cancer. Twice. Once without insurance. Once with. It’s much, much better with insurance, but I’d be dead today if I hadn’t been able to afford the initial steps that caught the first cancer – only to be tossed out on my own with a “Yep, you’ve got cancer.” by the doctor who did the original biopsy, because I had no insurance. I was fortunate enough to find other medical professionals who worried less about how I was going to pay for something, what I looked like, what I did for a living, or anything else, and more about how to get me to the other side. That is exactly how I view Planned Parenthood and their cancer screenings, and why, no matter what SGK does from here out, I will never contribute in any way to that organization. I will encourage anyone I know who donates to likewise give to an organization less concerned with the appeasing the right wing and more concerned with actual caring.
You’ve burned your bridges with me and a lot of other people. Maybe now someone will look at why your actual outlay of funds for research (low) to your overhead (high) is as it is. That would be something: maybe your corporate sponsors will decide not to fund you because you’re under investigation.
And by “all” I mean the incredible stupidity some people possess, someone comes along and says something even dumber. It’s astonishing – especially given the blogger’s own obvious heritage – that they could possibly say such racist, bigoted things, but I suppose it’s a case of “MY multiculturalism being better than YOURS” (click on the About link to see why this is so ironic). It’s also richly ironic that she’s whining about the works of classical composer, who by far are foreign. How fortunate for her that the composers or their governments didn’t decree that non-natives were forbidden to perform their works. Or, in the case of Handel specifically, that the British government did not deem him too “ethnic” and deny him citizenship. That someone took the time to count – and calculate – the percentage of “asians” in an orchestra, and then posit that perhaps certain instruments are “too physically demanding” for them is just astonishing says great number of things indeed. About the person doing so.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been following along on the Dervaes family’s/Dervaes Institute’s bullying of the urban homestead movement by claiming trademark status over the commonly-used, generic terms “urban homesteader” and “urban homestead”. You’ll note I categorically refuse to link to them (except as necessary, see below) and refuse to place any symbol next to those terms, period. They are, as always, welcome to come on along and try to send me a cease and desist letter in addition to those they’ve already sent out.
Last night, someone on the Facebook page devoted to collecting and disseminating information about this issue posted a rather amusing – and, for the Dervaes, illustrative of their hypocrisy – link to a post by Michael Nolan on his “My Earth Garden” blog.
Let’s backtrack a moment, and review the series of whiny posts the Dervaes made to their blog after things took off when they started this nonsense. One of those posts was entitled “What is Plagiarism?” (we’ll leave aside, for the moment, the fact that it doesn’t appear that any copying of the Dervaes’ lack of instructional content is particularly rampant, or that they don’t seem to understand the difference between trademark infringement and copyright infringement). Now, this sanctimonious post was no doubt intended to try to further their indefensible position. What it did was simply serve to be confusing to those of us who were wondering why on earth they’d be posting about an unrelated issue. Be that as it may, it was just as pompous as everything else they’ve posted. And, in another delicious dose of irony, that post itself was copied, in full, from the link given at the bottom of the post, where the Dervaes invited people to “read more”. It’s pretty redundant to invite people to read more at a link you’ve just copied verbatim without correctly attributing it, isn’t it (learn some MLA or APA styling, please)? Irony, like any other rich dessert, should be consumed in moderation.
If you are going to post things like this, rattling your chains at the world and reveling in your victim mentality….perhaps you should not be lifting other peoples’ content word for word from their blogs – i.e., perhaps you should not be engaging in that very plagiarism you’re railing about in your haughty manner.
Perhaps, in fact, you should not be doing this. Because when you anger people and they start taking a very close look at you, they’re going to spot it when you steal content from other people. They’re going to spread the word about your hypocrisy far and wide via whatever means are available. And for the record, I took screenshots last night of the original and of the content thievery by the Dervaes, in the event they aim for some revisionist history denying that it occurred.
In short, they’re going to call you out over it, as well they should. Shame on you, for both the trademark fiasco and now this.
The past week has been quite the ride for anyone interested in sub/urban or rural homesteading. The previous two posts here sum up quite a bit of it, and one of the side effects of this brouhaha has been to get people interested in the Dervaes’ own history (and in particular, that of Jules). It got me interested, anyway, and I’m doing some research to put something together.
Another side effect has been to bring people together, as evidenced by the outpouring of solidarity posts Monday, with people weighing in on what it means to them to be able to call themselves urban homesteaders engaged in urban homesteading, no trademark or service marks required – and why should there be? The movement has been around far longer than Jules Dervaes’ massive ego and will continue to exist long after all of us are gone. This is as it should be: a movement like this belongs to no one person, but collectively to the people who choose to spend their time doing the things that need to be done to keep their little piece of the world out of the hands of giant corporations, keep themselves free of GMO/GE seed and livestock, and keep themselves in good, healthy food.
In my travels collecting posts for the big blog roundup, I found several instances of people saying their interactions with the Dervaes have been, shall we say, less than friendly – people who went to the Dervaes’ house to be met with attitudes less than friendly, people who have indicated the Dervaes were loathe to be included in media where other urban homesteaders would also be included, and people who saw the “You’re Cut Off” show on VH1 where the Dervaes were part of the setup and who were not particularly impressed. I also found a couple of people who said they were happy this debacle came falling down on the family’s head, simply because of the attitude they presented.
This last bit is one that creates a puzzler: is it wrong to actively cheer for a company – and have no doubt here, the Dervaes are a company – to fail or sink in stature? If this were, say, Monsanto, I doubt anyone other than shareholders in the stock of the company would be bothered by the Schadenfreude exhibited by some people. In this case, I’ve found very few supporters of the Dervaes after the actions they’ve taken, although I have found some rather baffling items from people simply reposting one of the Dervaes’ blog posts saying the cease and desist letters are a hoax and not from them (when they clearly are, and when the Dervaes have reposted the latter on their own site) and that they are “waiting to hear both sides of the story”. What side is not presented here? The Dervaes family managed to get a trademark on two common, generic phrases, and flat out lied on the application, claiming that they, and they alone, had used the terms so exclusively that they deserved to be awarded control of them. Hogwash. They then proceeded to send out cease and desist letters to various people, and when the furor began, claimed to be doing so because the recipients of those letters were “direct rivals” of theirs. Also hogwash: a blogger who received one of those letters is apparently engaged in no business activities relating to urban homesteading at all.
Let’s review that letter, shall we? The Dervaes sent a DMCA takedown notice to Google over a search return that linked to an Amazon listing of a book published two years before the Dervaes were awarded their mark. The Dervaes, in their attempts to justify this, posted a lengthy post on their blog regarding plagiarism, as if there is some rampant wholesale use of their material on sites all over the internet – something that is very hard to confirm, as it simply does not seem to be the case, and that still has no bearing on their constant defending their trademarks on these two generic terms. For those unaware, a DMCA complaint is something to be used for copyright infringement complaints, not trademark complaints. Sending one to Google over a search result is not only ridiculous, it is a misuse of the DMCA process – something that can (and should) result in penalties against the Dervaes for that misuse, although it probably will not.
There is currently a petition at change.org to revert the granted trademark, and the EFF has taken up the fight in response to the Dervaes’ insane posturing against the authors of the book linked above, as if they can somehow backdate their mark grant. The EFF gave the Dervaes until Friday, February 25, to respond. We’ll see what happens on that front.
In the meantime, people have been weighing in on the “what now?” part of this episode. For us, based on something someone posted to the Facebook protest page, that meant hastily putting up some forums, divided into regions, to enable people to find one another more easily, and beginning work on a collection of links, also divided into regions, so people would know who their neighbors are. It meant explaining some concepts of the DMCA and how some providers choose to deal with those notices. It meant other people doing their own aftermath posts about the whole issue:
It meant the Dervaes going to complete silence on the issue itself, going silent on their blog and Twitter account for days, and then, when finally posting on their blog once more, acting as if nothing had ever happened. A curious note on the latter activity: when they began to post once more (one with a sanctimonious quote from Desiderata, to lead, no less, as if they were victims rather than instigators), the first post was open to comments, yet no comments appeared. I mentioned to people that they very likely had their comments under heavy moderation. Comments on the post after that one were immediately closed – I suspect the moderated queue on the first rapidly filled with comments that were not as supportive as they would have liked.
As for the people who decided to not support any of the Dervaes’ activities in a financial sense once this fiasco occurred: that seems to be working. In the course of research, I’ve had to return to their site from time to time, and on the ever-present donation block, which constantly lists their money goal ($25K at the moment), their total collected since this dam broke has not changed from the $525 mark.
It can be rather ironic sometimes – in the true sense of the word, and not the Alanis Morissette sense – that people who advocate for a certain change get change. It just isn’t quite the one they thought they would be getting.
For a case in point, we need look back no further than the antics of the Dervaes family and the rather disastrous public relations/business debacle they’ve created. For those not familiar with the subject, just read the post linked above, and then come back to this one.
From what I have been able to glean, the first notices sent out by Dervaes were on or about February 13. This flew under the radar for a few days and then really exploded on February 18-19. In that span, word spread, someone created a new Facebook page (over 4000 people now) in support of the pages that Facebook had pulled down, and, most importantly, an “Urban Homesteaders Day of Action” was organized to take place today, all via the Internet. In a broader sense, this, to me, is one of the most useful aspects of the ability to share information in the times in which we live. Despite protestation from the Dervaes that they were not “suing bloggers” and not “sending out cease and desist” notices, this is exactly what they were in effect doing, semantics aside. Because they love to talk about themselves, and because people had posted the very notices they had sent out, it was very easy to confirm all of this, and point to their own Tweets as less than truthful.
Reading through some of the backhistory of the Dervaes’ various enterprises, it is clear that they – or at least the patriarch of the clan – believe that what they are doing is some kind of revolutionary act, even though people have been doing exactly the same thing for hundreds of years. It’s rather self-aggrandizing to claim that you are the “founder” of urban homesteading or that what you are doing is so distinct and unique that you are deserving to be the sole holder of claims to phrases that have been in use for generations before you came along.
Still, there is and never has been a doubt in my mind that people will often work against their best interests. For people whose first exposure to urban homesteading was the Dervaes’ rather flashy, photo-laden (but practical information poor) site, the family may hold a higher rung on the ladder than other people who simply blog or write about what’s going on in their back yards or on their properties without constantly patting themselves on the back as if they’d invented the very concept and without constantly shilling for donations to continue their “outreach” (which apparently includes trips overseas). In this case, the Dervaes have certainly worked against any goodwill they have built and worked on for the past ten years. It takes a stunning amount of arrogance to believe that you are the center of any universe, whether it is in politics, sports, or urban homesteading. While the Dervaes may get a lot of press and a lot of coverage through their efforts to obtain same, much of that serves whatever other purpose lies behind the facade of their greater plan to – again, ironically, given the furor over the trademarks in question – get away from the urban and form a commune in the middle of nowhere. The question has to be asked: if that is your intent, what is the point of claiming these specific phrases as your own? The other thought that comes to my mind is that the stated goal, plus the other various writings from Dervaes, reminds me much more of Jim Jones than it does The Beatles.
Today, various people around the globe – because yes, the Internet is a global sort of thing – are declaring themselves urban homesteaders, in defiance of trademark claims that cannot possibly stand any legal test. Why the USPTO approved these, after denying the Dervaes back in 2008, is a complete mystery, and someone was clearly asleep at the wheel on that one. While the Dervaes point to other common terms that people have trademarked, that does not excuse their actions in this case, either by gaining the trademarks or by foolishly attempting to enforce them.
With that said, here’s the beginning of the roundup of posts people have made today in support of a movement that began long ago and, luckily for us all, remains fluid and growing today.
- Krista and Jess
- The Urban Homestead Experiment – one of the sites that received a c&d
- Root Simple – the authors of The Urban Homestead, affected by the c&d through removal of Facebook pages and promotion via same
- Mother Nature Network
- Dragonfly Hill
- Heather’s Homemaking
- Under the Willow Tree
- Countdown to a Simpler Life
- Twitter: here and here
- Northwest Edible Life
- Grow and Resist
- Some Call it Natural
- Dog Island Farm
- Home [in]Stead
- Grown in the City (interview with Gustavo Arellano from OCWeekly)
- One Mom’s Balancing Act
- The Itty Bitty Farm in the City
- Crunchy Chicken (with another list of links -we overlap on some)
- Chile Chews
- Urban Homestead Diaries
- Farm Desk
- Casaubon’s Book
- Spain in Iowa
- Eat Where U Live
- Simple Living in Singapore
- Roast Garlic and Other Yummy Things
- In the Garden Online
- Retro Housewife Goes Green
- Simple Green Living
- Homegrown Goodness
- Annie’s Kitchen Garden
- Crowhill Chronicles
- Simply Living
- The American Society of Permaculture
- The Garden Life and Times of Justin Husher
- Yips and Howls
- Growing with Stark Bro’s
- Bees in our Bonnets
- The EFF Weighs In – please read this if you read nothing else, including the PDF of the letter sent to the Dervaes (and from your friendly neighborhood web host, please update your Acrobat Reader on a regular basis)
- Humble Garden
- The Noodle Book
- Ten Apple Farm/Living with Goats
- Gaea’s Box of Rocks
- Greening the Rose
- White Pines Whisper
- My Path to Freedom
- Farmer’s Daughter
- Como Homestead
- Kaleidoscope of Days
- Known by Name
- Girl on Bike
- Gazelles on Crack
- Bear and Raven
- Mother Earth News – from 1980
- The Homemade Life – Urban Homesteadgate
- Garden Goose
- Able-bodied Girl
- Homemade Serenity
- Where the Wind Blows Me
- K Ruby Blume, on UrbanHomesteadGate (via Facebook)
- Real Food Mama
- A Year of Earth Days
- Adventures of a Thrifty Mama
- Half Acre Homestead
- Peaceful Valley Farm
- The Green Phone Booth
- Stacy Six
- Backyard Farms
- Meat and Potatoes
- Raw Habit
- The Fraudulent Farmgirl
- Rachel’s Tiny Farm
- Moo Said the Mama
- Have We Met?
- Fleecenik Farm
- My Skinny Life
- Stone Cottage Farm
- Fits and Starts
- Fotos by Meg
- Sisyphean Obscurity
- The Midnight Gardener in LA
- Harmonic Mama
- Celtic Gypsy Trail
- Slate Hill Farm
- The Romantic Seamstress
- Country in the Burbs
- Uncle Dutch Farms
- Urban Adaptation
- Agrariana – great writeup: Part 1 and Part 2
- Backyard Ecosystem
There will be more to come as folks pop up with their posts, and of course the various sites above, plus the Facebook page, will have links.
One very real result of the Dervaes’ actions is one they likely never anticipated: they have managed, in the span of one week, to create an even more integrated, more associative urban homesteading community than they could have created otherwise. Unintended consequences, I’m sure, but it has worked out in the best sense of the word “community” for everyone else.