Bettie Lunchbox

A very sad day for Livejournal users

Russian-Owned LiveJournal Bans Political Talk, Adds Risk of Spying
Written by Beth Elderkinfor

LiveJournal, a blog community that’s hosted a lot of science fiction authors and fans (including George RR Martin), has officially banned “political solicitation”— which can mean anything that criticizes the Russian government, as well as pro-LGBTQ discussions. There are also concerns users can be subject to Russian spying.

The service grew in popularity as a social network in the early 2000s, especially among former members of SFF Net. LiveJournal’s popularity shrank with the rise of social networks like Facebook and Snapchat, and it was bought by a Russian company in 2007. However, since the servers were based in the United States, users weren’t subject to Russian censorship. Until now.

In December, the servers were relocated to Russia, and earlier this week the user agreements were changed to prohibit “post[ing] advertising and/or political solicitation materials unless otherwise directly specified in a separate agreement between User and the Administration,” or “perform[ing] any other actions contradictory to the laws of the Russian Federation.” In addition, any blogs that get over 3,000 visitors per days are now classified as media outlets, so they can no longer publish anonymously, use obscene language or share “extremist materials.” The new agreement is designed to put the site in compliance with Russia’s internet laws, which are subject to extreme censorship under the guise of protecting children.

The term “political solicitation” can be open to interpretation, as some have argued it’s not an exact term in Russian federal law. In the past, similar phrases have been used to condemn conversations about LGBTQ issues as “gay propaganda,” as well as prevent people from sharing the image of Putin as a clown in makeup. Specifically, in this case, the Washington Times mentioned how the Russian government censored five websites that were calling for a mass protest, including a LiveJournal posting. This happened two days before the updated rules were put in place.

There’s also a big concern about data and privacy. Critics have claimed the user agreement puts users at risk of having their data accessible to Russian intelligence, in accordance with anti-terrorism legislation. The agreement does say it’s not subject to federal laws requiring companies to store personal data on their users, but plenty of other information can be subject to observation and scrutiny... and that’s not even going into Russian cyber espionage.

It’s unclear whether users in Russia can face prosecution from the government for violating the terms of the agreement (although it looks like they can), but anyone outside of the country isn’t subject to the Russian legal bindings. However, they can be kicked off LiveJournal at any time for not complying with the new agreement.
Bettie Lunchbox

Romancing the Droid: Why I Married R2-D2

Sometimes a girl just has to follow her heart no matter where it may lead. After suffering through too many broken hearts thanks to dating boys who never quite appreciated my geek girl ways, I made a vow never to give my heart to anyone ever again who rolled their eyes when I attempted a Wookiee roar. I guess you could say I was looking for love in Alderaan places.

There's nothing wrong with humans. I just find them to be a bit boring. They rarely have a screwdriver handy when you need it. They never seem interested in listening about your day. They always get lost on trips. They refuse to go out dancing. They hate relaying complicated messages to your friends. They're so insecure with who they are; they never know what they want or how to express their true feelings.

R2-D2 puts all you human boys to shame. He's got a built-in GPS (so says Uncle George) so he never gets lost. Plus you should see Artoo's dance moves! And yes, he's got more gadgets and charm than James Bond himself.
I've always had a secret crush on Artoo ever since I first saw him in A New Hope. Granted, I was just a kid then. What did I know about astromech love? But I kept a special place in my heart for him, fully knowing I may never meet him face to dome. It wasn't until many years later when I landed a job as Lucasfilm that I took my chance and made the first move.

We first officially met and hung out when he was dressed as Mr. T to meet Conan O'Brien on his visit to ILM. Not a lot of people realize this (unless you speak droid), but Artoo has a wicked sense of humor. Of course, I'm a sucker for robot puns so we were smitten from the start.

Our busy schedules made it almost impossible to have that first date we kept promising each other. It also didn't help that C-3PO was always getting in the way of a love connection. So I waited patiently to make my move which came in the form of Star Wars Celebration V.

I signed us up for speed dating so we could at least have a few quick moments together. I learned that we have a lot in common. We both enjoy nachos and burgers. We both stopped smoking ages ago. We both hate getting sick. And we love to hang out at the skate park.

Thanks to speed dating I learned new things about my short, shiny and charming Artoo. He loves long strolls on the beach (it reminds him of Tatooine), oil baths by candle light, beeping along to Kraftwerk songs, drinking his favorite cocktail the Flameout and when C-3PO isn't looking he has an extension that gives him rabbit ears.

Before I knew it, speed dating was over and I asked him if he wanted to get cocktails at the G4 Hoth Ice Bar. He agreed and we happily rolled over to the bar. Two drinks in, Artoo popped the question if I'd make him the luckiest droid in the galaxy and be his wife! Of course, I'm not too fluent in astromech, so I hope he wasn't just asking for another drink.

Friday the 13, August 2010, was a good day for a droid wedding! He met me over at the Star Wars Celebration V Commitment Chapel where my flower droid R2-KT, my Maid of Honor Adrianne Curry and Artoo's Best Man Darth Vader were waiting. Luckily, C-3PO got his wires crossed and didn't make it in time to protest. (whew)

Lucasfilm Director of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet gave me away, and before I knew it Darth Maul was reading our vows:

"Do you, Bonnie Burton, promise to take unnatural pride in your relationship in times of full battery charges, as well as times of loose wires and astromech malfunctions?"

"I do!"

"Do you, R2-D2, promise to always think dark thoughts even as you cherish and respect her, love and embrace her in times of Death Star implosions and in times of Echo Base destructions?"


Artoo gave me a lovely ring, and I gave him a shiny, new restraining bolt to signify our love. Even though Elvis Trooper tried to stop the wedding by yelling "It's a trap!" our Best Man Darth Vader Force-choked him into submission. Thanks Ani!

As I gazed into Artoo's radar eye, I knew this romance would last. With a kiss we sealed the deal and rolled down the isle to thunderous applause and the exit song "Mr. Roboto" by Styx.

Even though Artoo's colorful past as a ladies' droid may have scared off some former girlfriends, I'm in for the long haul. I'm a modern kind of girl. We have an Open Source Marriage, meaning he can be with other droids, and I can still flirt with Sith Lords, bounty hunters, Jedi, and Time Lords.

I realize marrying a droid won't be accepted by everyone, especially the Galactic Senate and most of Arizona, but I know deep in my heart I made the right choice.

I found the droid I was looking for; then I married him.
Bettie Lunchbox


When I first started watching “Absolutely Fabulous” during the ‘90s – a British sitcom about the hilarious misadventures of two self-absorbed, mid-aged (or in Patsy’s case Yoda aged), boozy, unapologetic career women who happened to be best friends – I was instantly addicted.

At the time, I had just started college and I wasn’t sure what adulthood had in store for me. I was a budding journalist and music VJ with a Denver TV show called Teletunes. I also worked at my college radio station as a DJ during a time when dancing till dawn at raves was the norm.

But it was also a time when I realized that life is way too short to get caught up in the seriousness of adulthood. Yes, growing up is required, but no one said you had to do it gracefully, and “Absolutely Fabulous” was something of a guide for me on how to live life to the fullest one witty comment and glass of champagne at a time.

The main characters of “Absolutely Fabulous” – Edina and Patsy – played expertly by Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley – looked adulthood in the face and laughed at it.

Sure, they had grown-up responsibilities like Edina heading up a celebrity PR agency and Patsy editing a fashion magazine, but they both understand the vapid nature of their industry – fashion and fame – and treated it accordingly. In other words, they had a staff to do all the real work, Sweetie Darling.

In fact, Edina’s bird-brained assistant Bubbles (played by Jane Horrocks) was often left to her own devices way too many times to fix one misunderstanding after another in pure sitcom plot fashion.

The only other adulting Edina had left – being a parent to her super-serious daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) and taking care of her elderly mum (June Whitfield) – seemed to always be shelved when a fashion or PR crisis was at hand.

At the time the TV series was at its most popular in the ‘90s – which aired in the States on Comedy Central – I was Bubbles’ age at around 21. So much of the middle-aged humor about Edina trying and failing to be happy with her weight and lack of male companionship went over my head.

I was much more fascinated with Patsy’s constant champagne and ciggies intake. I loved Patsy’s distain towards anything mundane. She was like a murderess version of Auntie Mame.

But it wasn’t until I reached my 40s that I finally identified with Edina, and it took seeing the latest installment in the AbFab saga – “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” – for me to finally understand all of Edina’s insecurities about growing older and wider.

Without giving too much away, “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” follows Edina and Patsy on their latest adventure as they go on the lam after possibly, accidentally pushing ‘90s icon and supermodel Kate Moss off a yacht during a celebrity-infested party.

While the movie still has that same feminist bravado of the TV series, it also has quite a few touching moments. Edina’s career as a PR exec has taken a nose-dive after losing almost all her noteworthy celebs over the years, and no one seems to be interested in her memoir. Her daughter is now grown with a daughter of her own. And even her own mum doesn’t seem to have time for her.

But that doesn’t mean Edina must wallow in self-pity about ageism and diet woes. Patsy is ready and waiting to show her BFF that there’s nothing a glass of bubbly can’t put in better perspective.
Their unwavering bond as best friends over the decades makes me aspire to find gal pals that will tell me I look fabulous when I need to hear it most.

I highly recommend seeing “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” this weekend to give yourself something to giggle about in a world gone mad, but also to remind you that life is too short to worry about getting too old, fat or forgettable.

Sure the movie is jam-packed with celebrity cameos and shout outs to the original TV series, but it’s the friendship between Edina and Patsy that shines the brightest in this movie.

(This post is made possible by support from Fox Searchlight Pictures. All opinions are my own.)