The right to shut things down

The Tea Party<rant>The Tea-Party. Think about the people who make up the Tea-Party.  And consider that right is right and what they believe from their point of view exists as a moral imperative …. a person believes in something, some dearly held truth that means everything. So the the loyal honest Tea-Party member, wouldn’t he or she ‘stand their ground’ so everything in Washington comes to a halt?  It’s that important. Right is right. I get that.

Here’s what I don’t get: On the one hand, for all they resent what they term government entitlements and what I call trusts e.g. social security, medicare – they actually fear the loss of their own entitlements as white males with European heritage. They are losing what they felt they were entitled to now shared with women, people who have skin color, people from other-than European heritage, people who used to be their slaves.

And at the same time, they represent what those entitlements were to bring them. Power, the power of a Plutocracy – the power of wealth and control over all these women and people who have skin color. What they believe in is their lost entitlements manifested in the billionaire wealth of the Koch Brothers. The Koch Bros will show them the way, make their entitlements graspable. They will work to extend the amassing wealth of billionaires.

They don’t pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America … made up of all Americans … they pledge allegiance to an America that let the Koch Brothers amass wealth and power.   For example, they refuse to consider ENDA because it represents  their  loss of entitlement, they refuse to back Health Care, ElderCare, Social Security, because it is a distribution entitlement, a trust people paid into all their lives …. and makes ‘the people’ more powerful. ‘The people’ don’t deserve that because they, the Plutocrats should be controlling what the people receive. Again their entitlements are threatened. Their power.

From their point of view, anyone who works for the government, and anyone who receives from the government – are considered to be despicable welfare recipients not wage earners, not people who paid into a trust established with the government. Even though the government is made up by and for the people and the trusts paid into are paid by and for the people .. they feel that money should be paid to corporations to help amass corporate wealth.

I read an article today about the thousands of people Google employs and thought about countries defined by corporate weight: the country of MicroSoft, the country of General Electric, the country of Google. Then there’s the country of the Koch Bros. Wealth establishes boundaries, value, power control. People should be working for them helping them amass more wealth.

So the Tea Party shuts the country down. They won’t consider ENDA. They want to destroy Obama’s presidency. That is their moral imperative. They want to subvert women, the general population, democracy to their wealth amassing mission-accomplished entitlements.

Do they ever discuss Health Care in a way that doesn’t protect business or in a way that demonstrates a need for all people to have access to health care? Of course not. They want to control who lives and who dies. They are terrorists really. They haven’t pledged allegiance to our Democracy nor to the people who make up that Democracy. They pledged allegiance to our economic system which has become our plutocracy.  They pledge allegiance to their vanishing entitlements.

I fail not to see sedition and terrorism in everything they do, betrayal, punishment, collective greed. How in the name of anything – can such people be seen otherwise? Yet we allow gerrymandering, we demand compromise to their excesses, and we don’t stand up to them. And some, like the more stable conservatives sell out to them.

Why is that? Why aren’t we, the rest of us, as a moral imperative, just as ready to shut them down?</rant>


Ideas Over Things

The truth is – hardened thought that raises an Idea above the Value of a human being will always be threatening.   Ideas have interchangeable vocabulary …. ‘White Supremacy’, the ‘True Believer’, ‘Radical Islam’ …. Ironically, ideas can also sound like ‘Human Rights’, ‘ProLife’, ‘Women’s Rights’, ‘My Constitutional Rights’ or  ‘Christianity’. It’s a wise mind that can weigh the Idea against the Human, the Mind against the Heart, Righteousness against Forgiveness …. Above all there is life.  Someone once said – ‘in the war between the mind and the heart, I side with the heart’.




The “value” of a liberal education

The “value” of a liberal education can’t be measured in money earned over a lifetime. It isn’t about jobs or the state of the state. It IS about critical thinking, moral and ethical decision making, the worth of a human being beyond what the human being “consumes” or manufactures. The possibilities of independent thought and decision making could, in fact, lead to the downfall of corporate thinking and the aims of the STATE.


Read Liberal Arts Provide Firm Foundation


The only significant event on the internet is the one that happens in consequence (Part 5 of 5)

"Eternity by Barb McMillen"There is a story about a man who faked his own death on the internet.  One might ask ‘why’ but the internet in some ways is also a stage whereupon many of life’s dramas can be acted out. A sociopath, for example, would be yet another step removed from the people for whom he already holds no ties. Such a scheme would be the ultimate in manipulation provoking a sense of being loved (on some level) and power over the domain and those who dwell therein. As we cry, he laughs.

The internet is something of a mental platform or stage where-upon we are all actors. Did someone once say that about life … all the world’s a stage or something akin? But the internet can become a stage of our own making, a place to play out what we want to be and from which we can garner what we need. Without reality everything up there is nothing except a pattern of hieroglyphs. It matters only in consequence.

Back in June of 2009 I posted an article entitled “#iranelection and the search for truth”  wherein I discussed how we know what actually is true on the internet and what is made up or, if not made up, true because we desire it to be so.

But I had also posted another query In “Learning the Twitter Rules of Engagement”  that discussed responding to what we hear on the web and the consequential dangers. The Iran elections focused both the use of the internet as a revolutionary device interweaving the issues of divergent realities, life, death, control, with the consequences which burst through into the real world. What was exciting to read had potential disastrous life and death consequences in reality.

Whatever web “Rules of Engagement” I developed depended upon the consequences. Ultimately, my use of the term “Engagement” was meant to be engagement between the social media user and the words on the page as much as engagement can be about a soldier in combat.

In the same light, our literal web presence can have consequences, whether we are aware of them or not. The issue is to and for whom. After we die our  web ‘stuff’ remains in someone elses box with or without change,  with or without context, undefended forever with the web archives acting as backup. We may die and take our shadow with us. But what of that box? For whom may it have consequence?

Control it. Before hand. While you can. Decide what to do with that box and leave clearly written instructions including passwords. Control whether your online life shuts down gracefully or remains. Think of the consequence.

The only significant event on the internet is the one that happens in consequence (Part 4 of 5)

Eternity Photograph by Barb McMillenIn 1994 I created my first web page entitled “Barb McMillen’s Site for Sore Eyes”. In those days the coding was hand milled on notepad and the graphics were culled, manipulated and compressed over hours of dedicated work.

The web was fresh and new and as such had not become solid in its commercial function nor drag and drop in its creation. For me it was located “up there” and some nights I thought about my page while it was raining. On the one hand, the web was a kind of heaven. On the other, the web existed unprotected in the rain.

And the web’s life? Even the web has a heaven. If you want a sense of web eternity, you can make contact with the past on the web by looking through the doors of the internet archives via the wayback machine ( I found my beloved puppy, Pico’s page (created in 2001) after he passed away this year and I keep a link to it on my desktop. I like seeing his face and knowing he’s still ‘there.’ (

Back in 1994 I recall running across a page that read like a prayer entitled “Sur la mort de ma mere.” The webpage owner simply placed a single page “up there” documenting her mother’s death for the world. She wanted the world to remember the reality and strength of both love and grief and the poignancy of that moment. “Sur la mort de ma mere” existed as a kind of prayer. I can’t find the page any longer (not even in the wayback machine). Nevertheless, the page influenced my thinking about the imaginary web for years.

However, life makes fools of us all and the unsimple application of an FTP program taught me the location of that box “up there” was on my ISP’s server. And if you want to stick to reality, you might consider who owns the part of you that is up there: you or your family or the web? And if you want to control your own identity and destiny you must take control over the web’s reality.

There are examples like “Sur la mort de ma mere” of websites with the purpose of existing forever. I’d like to reference “The Adventures of ALS Boy” (http://alsboy) as an example as well. The Adventures of ALS Boy maintains the presence of a beautiful consciousness, stunning in its honesty, precise in its prose. There is hope and love on the web. And long after passing, Jason Picetti lives on.

The web as a kind of perpetuity-engine can be for some who live there an aspiration and for others who find them an inspiration. But maintaining websites in perpetuity is, well, its own issue. You must remember someone is paying for the server you live-on on.

You don’t want to rent the suit you’re buried in.

The only significant event on the internet is the one that happens in consequence (Part 3 of 5)

Eternity by Barb McMillenThe New York Times article “Cyberspace When You’re Dead”  describes the personal lives of several talented folks who spent much time adored by others online but whose families felt infringed upon. The families wanted to control whatever legacy the person who died had achieved. It’s not unlike the children of a movie star who want to control the family legacy and any subsequent income.

But what of death then? Should your family and friends erase your virtual life upon your death? Ask yourself if you really want your family to take charge and erase that other life you achieved online. On the other hand, do you even want them to know of it?

Christina Hernandez Sherwood’s “Death and the Internet: How your online identity can live on after death” ( describes a program called Legacy Locker. ‘Legacy Locker is a safe, secure repository for your vital digital property that lets you grant access to online assets for friends and loved ones in the event of loss, death, or disability.’ (

It claims “around 10,000” people have signed up for its digital-estate-management service. Wikipedia says its program competitors include DataInherit, a service of DSwiss, “the Swiss bank for information assets” (you can even update your digital-legacy data via its iPhone app), and Entrustet, of Madison, Wisconsin. Last May these three firms sponsored Digital Death Day, an event tacked on to an annual online-identity conference near San Francisco.

Sherwood also discusses the website Deathswitch that allows users to store encrypted emails to be sent out at the time of their death. This is determined by the user entering a password at preset intervals. If the password is not entered after several prompts, the emails are sent out to the indicated email recipients. (

There’s an app or a web company for everything. But internet companies also have a way of coming and going. Sherwood references ‘My Web Will’ as a resource but when I took a trip to I heard a voice from beyond the grave

“Dear visitor.

We are sorry to announce that the service My Web Will has been permanently closed as of November 2nd 2011.

Wishing you all the best and a happy digital life!

//The My Web Will Team.”

Ah. A 404 with an attitude.

So you can choose 1) to end your online presence by  euthanizing your accounts followed by a final post saying  good-bye, 2) to forever separate your online life from your relatives and live forever in the life you chose, or 3) to tell your family how to access your accounts and shut down your internet life.


The only significant event on the internet is the one that happens in consequence (Part 2 of 5)

Eternity by Barb McMillenWhen my sister-in-law passed away in February I noticed folks continued to post to her Facebook page and her family was keeping her computer turned on so they didn’t lose access to her online accounts. Posters announced her death on her page before any family members had a chance to return from the hospital let alone thought of accessing her page.

But even while in the hospital they were aware of some of the drama queen/king antics of folks they nearly knew claiming prayers and all-night cryings. They wondered who really owned their experience at the moment. And wondered, eventually, what to do.

Her webpage made me curious. There had to be a history of this sort of thing. Since I now have a blog, I asked Dr. Google what happens to a blog after one dies and Dr. Google replied with some interesting information about social networks as well as death and the internet in general.

I found several articles referring to families attempting to access their dead family member’s accounts: Wendy M Grossman’s excellent ’net.wars: Death doth make hackers of us all’ ( and ‘Death, where is thy password?’ (

and Tyler Colfax’s – ‘Server Graveyards: What Happens to Profiles When People Die?’ ( and ‘What Happens To Your Facebook Account After You Die?’ (

The stories are not pretty and in some ways devastating. Of course, a person may actually want their pages to survive them but the bottom line is, take control now of your online identity. Whichever fate you long for, end it or live it, take control now.

After all is said and done, the family has passed from anguish to angst, the most important result in all cases is to keep your passwords together for easy access by your family and leave directions for what and how they should handle your accounts.

The only significant event on the internet is the one that happens in consequence (Part 1 of 5)

Eternity by Barb McMillen


Years back a writer was deemed knighted with eternity because his or her words went on after he or she died. In fact, all artists were memorialized by their works. In all cases their words, pictures, dances, music lived on after death.

But in these years of techno-life we are all writers and artists .. we take photos, make music, make videos and films, make comments, keep daily journals, and, in a sense, we take on cyber immortality. Not because our works are great, of course, but merely because they are.

Some of our works are actually not meant to be nor ever were thought of as what should be the focus of who we are for eternity. But that is the reality of web life. Web life has its own time and space. You reach into it as if it is a box and you place who you are in the body of words, music, photographs, you place those elements of yourself into that box.

But you live out side the box. As though you lived in a parallel universe which is not actually all that incorrect a simile. And you will die without that box. Because that box is not, on the other hand, your shadow.


Update: Link to:

“Google: Tell Us What to Do With Your Account After You Die”

A Closer Look: Your (online) life after death

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Review "The Best Exotic Marigold hotel"

Took a gander we couldn’t pass up – Judi Dench, Maggi Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Dev Tatel and Celia Imrie in one film. Could have been about NOTHING and we would have enjoyed watching these actors move about. And enjoyable it was.

But the most interesting thing about The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for us was the audience. At 65, we had to have been the youngest couple there. The audience was peeked and quietly chatted before the film started. And the room was packed.

Why not, actually,  since we as a generation are represented in so few films any more. Other than a snide joke or a hit at memory loss, we, the elderly actually have little existence in films. And to think about it, how odd. The films used to be all about us.

Sigh. Not so these days. And that fact seemed to instill the film with less than the hearty laughs we expected. But we found quiet chuckles, giggles of recognition and moments of honesty. Discussing the film after, my husband and I suspected there were ropes to be walked by director John Madden … the ropes being the tightropes of respect.

This isn’t a film about colonialism but it isn’t a film about Bollywood either. And India is seen as a country that includes its elderly in its daily life. Nor does the film take cracks at the elderly though it does amuse itself by the ironies of aging. The film does not make fun of anything. Instead,

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel examines the culture of the elderly which is portrayed not as a separate culture but a continuation of life; in and of itself an exotic addition to life. Until death. Transitioning is not easy but earned change can be embraced.

Must mention that many of us stayed through to the very last frame waiting for the outtakes. There weren’t any. So we all took ourselves out. (side, that is) Oh well ….

Tweet because you can ….

At 66, I wonder why I tweet. As it turns out, the answer lies somewhere in the old joke – because I can. Twitter is self-defining. I don’t select ego-paths or material promoters as my followers or as the source of my tweets. I select causes and issues that concern me and hope I select a broad enough swath of followers and people to follow to impact for good.

The thing about social media for me, that is, is I can be a voice and not in the wilderness. A constant song among voices singing for release from poverty and illness and war … planetary voices to some extent recorded somewhere. In the end, after the big bang, there’ll be a hard-drive surviving on which our voices will be recorded informing those beings who find it

of the culture of our concerns for each other. A cacophony rising jazz-like of dreams and wishes and ambitions. Write for the tweet not for the hate. And tweet because you can.

'Reality is an activity of the most august imagination' -Stevens