Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tweets of the day

  • 13:38 Money Is Not Real bit.ly/9JEUj8 #
  • 13:43 Advice From The Pros: A historian's advice to Ta-Nehisi Coates bit.ly/a7q9Xm #
  • 21:05 Lara Logan, You Suck bit.ly/bpDVbS We need a lot more reporters like Matt Taibbi. #
  • 08:45 2007 CBC news: quebec police admit going undercover at montebello protests bit.ly/bdZBVd #
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tweets of the day

  • 21:53 New blog post: black slaveowners, white slaveowners, and the American myth bit.ly/9LdxsH #
  • 10:42 How Long is the Best Sex? Seven Minutes bit.ly/aS9xwh #
  • 11:12 Quitting the hominid fight club: The evidence is flimsy for innate chimpanzee--let alone human--warfare bit.ly/bBz3hf #
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Monday, June 28, 2010

black slaveowners, white slaveowners, and the American myth

transientandpermanent left the following comment on a recent post:
We discussed ownership of slaves by African-Americans. I dug up an old, but quite good, citation for you. Schwarz, Philip J. "Emancipators, Protectors, and Anomalies: Free Black Slaveowners in Virginia." The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 95, No. 3 (Jul., 1987), pp. 317-338.

I used to assume that knowledge of black ownership of slaves was not well-known because it was suppressed by politically correct and African-American interests. Nowadays, I'm not so sure. Much of the true pioneering work in this area has in fact been carried out by African-American scholars. So I think perhaps a more plausible explanation is that this history is not well-known at least in part because it was researched by African-American historians and concerns African-American history. If it had been done by whites and involved more whites, I think it would be better known, both inside and outside the academy. Just a theory, it's hard to prove or refute, of course.
I like the theory a lot, but I'll offer two more as additions, not alternatives:

1. Ivy League historians get the most attention in the US.

2. The Great Capitalist Myth has the sins of our history coming from racism and sexism, and there's much symbolic truth in the idea that US slavery consisted of white people enslaving black people. To people today who have accepted that mythic history, seeking a more nuanced understanding of power in the US can reek of attempting to deny that truth.

I couldn't find a free copy of "Emancipators, Protectors, and Anomalies: Free Black Slaveowners in Virginia" on the web, but googling it brought up Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences: Unspoken Reality: "Black Slaveholders Prior to the Civil War" by Yuliya Tikhomirova and Lucia Desir. It's filled with information that goes against the American Myth:
Koger (1995) argues that a great many freemen became slave masters themselves for the same reason as whites, to make use of slave labor for the sake of profits. He writes, "by and large, Negro slave owners were darker copies of their white counterparts." His research led him to conclude, "clearly the dominant pattern of the commercial use of slaves recorded in the documents indicates that black slaveholding was primarily an institution based on the exploitation of slaves rather than a benevolent system centered upon kinship or humanitarianism" (p. 101).

...Scholars including Woodson, point out that up to the 1860's, having economic interests in common with the white slaveholders, black owners enjoyed the same social standing: attended the same churches, same private schools, and places of amusement. They frequently lived on the same streets as white families.

....Despite changes in the law, blacks continued to hold slaves through the Civil War. Koger (1995) refers to the fact that "in 1860, some 3,000 blacks owned nearly 20,000 black slaves [in the southern states]. In South Carolina alone, more than 10,000 blacks were owned by black slaveholders."

...According to Salzman, Smith, & West (1996, p. 603), "eight of the wealthiest antebellum black entrepreneurs were slaveholders from Louisiana who owned large cotton and sugar plantations." The trajectory of Marie Metoyer, also known as Coincoin, from daughter of African-born slaves to wealthy slave owner is a case in point. After being granted freedom from her white master, she established an independent plantation in Louisiana, expanding her economic assets by purchasing slaves and additional acreage. Her offspring expanded on her holdings, making them the largest African-American slaveholding family in American history with holdings of 20,000 acres of land and 500 slaves. The widow C. Richards and her son P. C. Richards owned 152 slaves and a large sugar cane plantation. Another black slave magnate with over 100 slaves was Antoine Dubuclet, a sugar planter whose estate was valued at $264,000, when the mean wealth of southern white men for that year was $3,978 (Grooms, 1997).

Tweets of the day

  • 12:15 The Trouble with Arizona by Larry McMurtry bit.ly/9zPJ1U #
  • 16:03 Income Gaps Between Very Rich and Everyone Else More Than Tripled In Last Three Decades, New Data Show bit.ly/9IjtE3 #
  • 17:31 STEVE MARTIN'S TOUR RIDER LEAKED! bit.ly/9AMFkV #
  • 08:57 NPR: A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret bit.ly/boM4cH #
  • 09:32 Six intuitions you shouldn't trust bit.ly/bLNUuM Sorry, geeks, physical exercise, not cognitive exercise, makes you smarter. #
  • 09:38 For US healthcare, the only way is up bit.ly/cCoCIS Of 7 countries, Netherlands had best results at nearly half the price. #
  • 09:42 The roots of Israeli exceptionalism bit.ly/axxjXh It won't change minds, but it has good quotes. #
  • 09:47 X factor for Muslim preachers in Malaysia wows television audience bit.ly/ctJCzK #
  • 09:49 Catch-22 for unemployed: You might need a job to get a job bit.ly/9TYgWw #
  • 10:13< /em> Canadian cops' history of agents provocateurs and the G20 bit.ly/cH3TAR bit.ly/cH3TAR #
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how to criticize people in print

The Thing About Dave, Cont.:
Fallows offered some really wise words on how to criticize people in print, the gist of it being, 'Speak to those you would criticize as though they were standing right there.'

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tweets of the day

  • 19:52 How many black bloc tacticians are police in disguise? Remember Quebec 2007. #G20 #
  • 21:45 Another fine Sunday SinFest. bit.ly/bpSmmC #
  • 21:56 Resource Furniture: Italian-Designed Space Saving Furniture bit.ly/dzz8R9 #
  • 06:55 Wired: Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains bit.ly/cjajrP #
  • 07:29 In 2002, Italian police 'framed G8 protesters' bit.ly/dAp6Bs #G20 #
  • 07:30 In 2007, Quebec police admitted they disguised themselves as Black Bloc vandals at Montebello protest. bit.ly/9WYPy7 #G20 #
  • 10:20 Video of police provocateurs with rocks and sticks exposed. bit.ly/bxGaIR #G20 #
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tweets of the day

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Mike Resnick's "The 43 Antarean Dynasties" as seen by N. K. Jemisin and me

At Mike Resnick and Africa : Apex Book Company, Michael A. Burstein takes a look at Resnick's African stories. N. K. Jemisin enters the comments to disagree strongly. Some of her assumptions seemed immediately suspect, but I hadn't read "The 43 Antarean Dynasties," so I couldn't respond to what she said about it.

Last night, I read the story. This morning, I added my thoughts about it to the comment section.

The quick version about the story: The premise is slight if you know anything about tourists, but the conclusion is very nice.

The quick version about N. K. Jemisin: Her assumptions made her see "whiteness" that isn't in the text, and most strangely, made her assume the narrator was "inscrutable" even though the reason the story works is because the narrator is so very scrutable.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tweets of the day

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tweets of the day

  • 15:05 @innaj @dancinghorse The WGA held Hollywood agents to 10%. Writers need real unions. #agentpay #
  • 16:16 @Nnedi It's better for the truth to be told by a friend than an enemy. But some people think any truth-teller is an enemy. #
  • 18:40 If Barack Obama was really as much like Martin Luther King as people like to pretend. bit.ly/bEjDoB #
  • 08:02 Author Talk: Caroline Stevermer bit.ly/bFNKkx Two excellent pieces of writing advice. #
  • 08:20 Interior Living Uni t bit.ly/bmNs1m #
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tweets of the day

  • 15:04 Recent immigrants to USA learn English sooner than earlier European immigrants. bit.ly/9qXk3t #
  • 16:41 "The Obama Philosophy" at A Tiny Revolution bit.ly/dtODV3 #
  • 16:41 Scientific American: "One reason why humans are special and unique: We masturbate. A lot." bit.ly/cfAOe9 #
  • 21:32 New York, Meet Silicon Valley by Cory Doctorow bit.ly/9LL3Ex #
  • 21:45 Bravest protester I've seen in a while. bit.ly/aHe01N #
  • 00:39 "How I Became a Socialist" by Helen Keller bit.ly/bkPu98 #
  • 09:37 The Sonnenburg torture camp (1934) bit.ly/cFF8uQ The Nazis' first targets were communists. #
  • 09:38 Asia-Pacific millionaires are collectively worth more than their European counterparts bit.ly/d3J0PH #
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Monday, June 21, 2010

quote of the day

"Arguing with people who have lost all sense of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine

Sunday, June 20, 2010

quote of the day

"Samuel Butler defined genius as "a supreme capacity for getting its possessors into trouble of all kinds," and it is ironic that geniuses are likeliest to be misunderstood in classrooms. Studies at the University of Chicago and the University of Minnesota have found that teachers smile on children with high IQs and frown upon those with creative minds. Intelligent but uncreative students accept conformity, never rebel, and complete their assignments with dispatch and to perfection. The creative child, on the other hand, is manipulative, imaginative, and intuitive. He is likely to harass the teacher. He is regarded as wild, naughty, silly undependable, lacking in seriousness or even promise. His behavior is distracting; he doesn't seem to be trying; he gives unique answers to banal questions, touching off laughter among other children. E. Paul Torrance of Minnesota found that 70 percent of pupils rated high in creativity were rejected by teachers picking a special class for the intellectually gifted. The Goertzels concluded that a Stanford study of genius, under which teachers selected bright children, would have excluded Churchill, Edison, Picasso, and Mark Twain."
—William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill

breaking from vacation: Tim Wise versus Henry Louis Gates

How to End the Slavery Blame-Game by Henry Louis Gates - NYTimes.com: "President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin astonished an all-black congregation in Baltimore by falling to his knees and begging African-Americans’ forgiveness for the “shameful” and “abominable” role Africans played in the trade. Other African leaders, including Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, followed Mr. Kerekou’s bold example."

It's short. Read it. Then, if you want to despise Tim Wise, read Pardon You: Racism, Reparations and the Politics of Blame (as Explained by Henry Louis Gates Jr.) by Tim Wise | ZSpace

Tweets of the day

  • 10:07 Joe Haldeman's "War Is Smell" LJ post bit.ly/cHGeyz #
  • 10:09 Writing advice: More presentation, less explanation. #
  • 12:38 Carla's Final Video - Blog From Heaven bit.ly/b71suF #
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tweets of the day

  • 05:14 "Rich Benjamin set out to write about race‚ and wrote about class instead." bit.ly/cwnF3A #
  • 08:28 The 7 Dumbest Things BP Has Said About The Spill -- So Far bit.ly/9dLvgA My faves are 4 and 7. #
  • 11:25 That '30s Feeling by PAUL KRUGMAN bit.ly/dyESYF #
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

P.S.

For now, I'm still tweeting as willshetterly. If you need the occasional shared link or retweet, drop by!

Dear internet,

This blog is going on summer vacation. Catch you in September!

anonymity

danah boyd | apophenia | “for the lolz”: 4chan is hacking the attention economy


Christopher "moot" Poole: The case for anonymity online | Video on TED.com

After reading boyd and listening to moot, I've re-enabled anonymous commenting on my LJ and I may not ban anyone again. It just felt wrong.

If free speech at my blog makes you uncomfortable, sorry, but freedom is my culture.

Monday, June 14, 2010

fanfic policy

Fanfic is one of the two greatest forms of praise. The other is rereading a story.

an observation about fannish pseudonymity

I see three positions on pseudonymity on the internet::
• Don't out anyone who isn't doing anything illegal.

• Out people who really anger you.

• People who don't make a serious effort to be pseudonymous shouldn't complain if they're outed.
What follows is a lightly edited version of a comment on a LiveJournal post where I was having too much fun exploring the nature of pseudonymity by adopting the name several of my critics have called me, a name which I first heard in second or third grade and associate with the racists who harassed me when I spoke up in fourth and fifth grade for ending segregation, "shitterly":

Coffeeandink said of her pseudonymity once:
Please also explain how I was hiding my identity from you or the Nielsen Haydens in a LiveJournal pnh friended a few years ago*, with a user profile that lists my very identifiable first name, in a post that is signed with my very identifiable first name.
If she was pseudonymous under those very "out" circumstances--and I have come to believe she was and I was wrong to out her--then "shitterly" is pseudonymous even if I identify myself as Will Shetterly in a post. The "shitterly" who says he is me could be anyone.

If I use my public LJ identity of willshetterly to confirm in the comments that I'm shitterly, I'm still not out. The willshetterly leaving the message could be someone who hacked my account, so you would want to wait a day before assuming Will Shetterly was truly confirming that he was the pseudonymous shitterly.

But even that is not enough to conclude that shitterly is no longer pseudonymous. Coffeeandink put her full name in public posts on her LJ, but she claimed she was not out because she did not use her last name in her user profile. The "shitterly" LJ had neither first nor last name in the user profile.

So, by the standards of many people in our community, including Kynn and Coffeeandink, shitterly would still be pseudonymous, no matter how many times I claimed I had adopted the name, and no one should out him or her.

slowly going from depression to smug anger to compassion

When my B12 deficiency was recognized, much of my depression left me. It became easier for me to laugh and respond to people in the way they approached me. I was replacing depression with smug anger. I was misinterpreting, "As you sow, so shall you reap." A response is also sowing.

From now on, I'll try harder to answer insults with kindness and mockery with grace.

At the very least, I should've remembered "“Never wrestle with a pig—you get dirty and the pig likes it."

Better yet, the standard response attributed to H.L. Mencken (probably the source), Edward R. Murrow (who might've copied Mencken), and Mark Twain (because all clever things are attributed to Twain): "Dear Sir (or Madam): You may be right. Sincerely..."

Even better, a favorite Jesus quote:
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
To spare you from clicking and to preserve the record in case the shitterly LJ gets nuked, I just posted this at Dear Kynn, my work here is not done:
I'll be working on compassion all my life. When you mock people, you do it because you hurt, but your pride keeps you from admitting your pain. I know that because I've also surrendered to the euphoria of righteous anger. I can't do anything about your pain, and I'm sorry about that, but I will continue to do my imperfect best to respect your identity whenever I disagree with your beliefs. As for the things you've said in your pain about me, you're forgiven.

sincerely,

Will Shetterly

PS Yes, I wasn't serious about being pseudonymous. It just amused me that your first instinct was to out me. That's also something one does in anger, as I know too very well. You're forgiven for that, too. It was juvenile of me to be amused. I'll work on that.

PPS. I recommend Jay Lake's new post, On communicating with people you disagree with.
There are many reasons to forgive people. If you can't think of any better, Oscar Wilde's is good: "Always forgive your enemies—nothing annoys them so much."

If you want to forgive without taking a blow to your pride, there's Mahatma Gandhi's "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

But the best reason I know is this, by the source of many great quotes, Unknown: "Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die."

One of Kynn's friends immediately showed up at the post to say I had admitted I was lying about being pseudonymous, which gave me more insights into online pseudonymity, but if you wish to read those, go here.

And, yes, my first words to that reader show I'm still wrestling with compassion. I change slowly, but eventually, compassion will win.

ETA: I've deleted that LJ. Once I'd established that being called "shitterly" didn't bother me and I then forgave Kynn, it had served its purpose.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

is class a better measure than race?

“New affirmative action”—could we capture race through wealth? | The Reality-Based Community: "Richard Kahlenberg has a piece out in the Chronicle of Higher Education ... flagging new research by Anthony Carnevale and Jeff Strohl to the effect that class counts for far more than race in explaining predicted differences in test scores."

The money quote: "using a more robust measure of wealth (net worth) than they had available to them might in fact eliminate the predictive value of race per se altogether."

(Thanks, Larry Lennhoff!)

ETA: What excited me about this is the acknowledgment that it's not race and it's not income that matters. It's wealth. People hate to talk about wealth in this country. I really wish I could find some stats on how poor whites who had moved up in the last couple of decades are faring when compared with poor blacks, because neither of them have necessarily had the chance to build their wealth.

moderation policy

As a Unitarian-Universalist, I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. As a civil libertarian, I believe in free speech. This is my attempt to reconcile those beliefs on my blogs:

You have a right to disagree vehemently with anyone's ideas. You do not have a right to attack anyone's sense of identity. This means you do not have a right to call them names, feminize or masculinize or in any way misgender them, or mock their name, race, class, religion, ethnicity, or nationality. These are only examples of how I expect the principle to be applied; it is not a complete list.

If you behave in a way that does not respect someone's identity, I will ask you to read my moderation policy. If I fail to do the same, I hope you will ask the same of me.

ETA 1: I just don't like banning, so I won't. If I decide you're a troll, I won't feed you.

ETA 2: As I said elsewhere: "If free speech at my blog makes you uncomfortable, sorry, but freedom is my culture."

the airport dream

I dreamt I was at an airport desperately trying to find someone who had the keys to the car where my luggage and maybe my passport were. I knew it might already be too late to catch my flight. Three people might have the keys. I found the first, but she didn't have them. Then I woke.

When I woke, I wondered if the dream meant something. Then I thought, "I've moved on from my depression. I need to deal with my obsession and—" I went to sleep without writing down the third thing.

It's taken me hours to remember it, which is sad.

The third thing is compassion.

I need a key to free me from my current obsession and another to free my compassion. Then I can fly away.

quote of the day

“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” —Karl Marx

Saturday, June 12, 2010

when the FBI knocks on your door

YouTube - The FBI Knocked on My Door!:

From the comments at The FBI knocks at my door | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist: "The lady who filmed it was far more rational, calm, and intelligent than I think I would ever be in such a situation." Ditto.

Happy Loving Day!

Loving Day "is an annual celebration held on June 12, the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in 16 states citing 'There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause.'"

Friday, June 11, 2010

advice to writers

1. Blog less! Slow down or stop before real life forces you to by making your body hurt when you write. (Inspired by Farewell For Now | Justine Larbalestier.*

2. Buy, make, or improvise a standing desk. I modded my old, cheap ikea desk and brought in a high chair. Now I stand most of the time and sit when I get tired. Get a thick rug or pad to stand on.

*Yes, I am amused that I'm advising anyone to blog less.

Most Expensive Homes in the World - 2010

link.

Jay Lake on causes

"Any cause that requires mockery and abuse to advance itself isn't one I need to engage with, regardless of my basic beliefs or agreement with the underlying goals." —Jay Lake

Thursday, June 10, 2010

about failfen, failfans, facerailing, and facerailers

Failfen and failfans both mean "fans of fail." Fen is an old scifi fannish plural for "fan." Lately, so many people are fans of fail—there's even a failblog—that it just seems like time for the new words.

Brad R. Torgersen coined facerail:
The word rail when used as a verb means, “to utter bitter complaint or vehement denunciation (often followed by at or against.)” During RaceFail, such railing was the hallmark of the discussion, with the self-appointed guardians of SF community political propriety railing at length against various authors, editors, publishers, other fans, and so forth. The attitude was one of, “in your face!“
Facerailer is useful because there's not a single subject or community to identify the subset of the scifi community that rails in the many Fails. The core group once centered on LiveJournal and Wiscon, but many have migrated to Dreamwidth, and some have never been to Wiscon. They became most visible during Racefail 09, but they were involved in earlier and later fails that had nothing to do with race, so facerailers or failfans are convenient names for them.

I also like facerailers because so often when I hear what failfans have done, I want to facepalm.

Added 6/11/10:

The most objective place I know to see what failfans are excited about is Fan History Wiki. Unlike the failfan sites, Fan History lets all sides add to the record. They've covered:





But no one site can keep up with failfandom. If you don't mind one-sided histories, Anti-Oppression Linkspam Community is useful, though it's currently on hiatus.

Some especially amusing fails:

Amanda Palmer and Ableism: Failfans do not believe in writing about conjoined twins.

Amanda Palmer and the KKK: Failfans do not believe in joking about the Ku Klux Klan. Whether you can joke about Nazis has not been determined. Hogan's Heroes and The Producers were before the failfans' time.

Mammothfail: The premise of an alternate history novel: Humans never came to the Americas until a few centuries ago. Failfans think this is genocide, even though the descendants of the people who came to the Americas are alive and well in Asia in that history. Whether alternate histories like The Man in the High Castle in which the Nazis won are anti-Jewish has yet to be determined.

the racially paranoid worldview of ideological anti-racism

ETA: I was having a bad day when I wrote this. Where I said "ideological anti-racist", I meant "neoliberal anti-racist", the kind of person for whom anti-racism is not a general opposition to racism but a carefully constructed theory that rationalizes their class privilege.

Ideological anti-racists divide the world into people of color, white allies, and white people. The default assumption is that people of color are united, and white people oppose them. The exceptions among white people are indicated by the addition of "ally."

I saw this, as I often do, in reverse at first. I was wondering how offensive the idea of "dark allies" would be if you divided the world into people of pallor, dark allies, and dark people.

Either way, it's a division that only makes sense to people who don't look beyond skin when trying to understand power in the world.

In most dictionaries, an ally is an equal, but the anti-racist definition of an ally is like the USA's: someone who shuts up and does what they're told. Consider the ten points in The Do’s and Don’ts of Being a Good Ally. They boil down to:
  1. Don't question.
  2. Study the tracts.
  3. You don't matter.
  4. Seriously, study the tracts.
  5. Seriously, don't question.
  6. Seriously, you don't matter.
  7. Special snowflake, what part of "you don't matter" don't you understand?
  8. Scream "racist!" at anyone who suggests you've joined a cult.
  9. Special snowflake, seriously, what part of "you don't matter" don't you understand?
  10. Rinse and repeat.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

mobbing Jay Lake, a WisconFail

In 2010, in the comments to Madrobin's post about attending Wiscon, Jay Lake told a friend, “I probably won’t ever be at WisCon again, sadly, as it used to be one of my favorite cons, but RaceFail has made it very unwelcoming and unsafe for me.”

Someone read that and alerted the usual suspects, who immediately attacked him at the post, in their blogs, and on twitter to prove he was right. (The comments at the LJ are no longer viewable; when Madrobins saw the attack was underway, she shut down the post.)

After Jay was attacked, he wrote “[cancer] Updates, lessons and the nature of anger”, saying:
I know how satisfying it is to have a cause, to pounce on the wicked, the unrighteous and the foolish. I was once young and angry all the time, too. Now I’m middle aged and angry sometimes. But somewhere along the way I decided that justice tempered with peace was a lot more important to me that being completely, absolutely right all the time. (I’ve been down that road. I know people with permanent addresses on that road.)
In “Privilege hates, but doesn't know what hate is”, Yeloson declared Lake was enjoying his privilege and his “white man’s burden” and compared his response to “white women’s tears”.

Tempest Bradford wrote “Thoughts On Jay Lake’s Continued Ass Showing”. Her post is especially fascinating for showing how cultists think. She says early on:
...we have all had that friend who is well meaning and smart, but who says problematic things about race (or gender or religion or whatever) and because they are otherwise awesome you engage with them on a good faith basis and try to get them to understand where they’re mistaken, how their problematic words are hurtful, and how they can possibly do better. When a friend tells you that you’ve got your skirt stuck up in your pantyhoes, you might be embarassed for a bit but you’re grateful a friend was there to tell you, right? Right.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of cults is their inability to feel sympathy for those who reject the cult.  Though Bradford considers Lake “well meaning and smart”, she’s unable to consider the possibility that her approach might be mis-guided.

Warriors miss what matters when they attack artists: the work. Is Lake’s writing racist? If so, damn him. If not, whether he accepts the Warriors' non-dictionary definitions is irrelevant.

mobbing Jay Lake, a WisconFail

This post is now here.

Teach For America: A False Promise

from Education and the Public Interest Center: "Alternative teacher training program yields costly turnover while doing little to improve student achievement"

(Thanks, DSD!)

video

Jews for Helen Thomas:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

links of the day

Sweet land of... conformity? - The Boston Globe: "Surprising as it may sound, Americans are much more likely than Europeans to say that employees should follow a boss’s orders even if the boss is wrong; to say that children “must” love their parents; and to believe that parents have a duty to sacrifice themselves for their children. We are more likely to defer to church leaders and to insist on abiding by the law. Though Americans do score high on a couple of aspects of individualism, especially where it concerns government intervening in the market, in general we are likelier than Europeans to believe that individuals should go along and get along."

Texas textbooks and the truth about the Confederacy - Texas - Salon.com: "Once it became clear that the only way to save slavery and anti-statism in the South was to abolish slavery and adopt statism, the malfunctioning Confederate Mind short-circuited completely." I disagree with that sentence—there was not a single "Confederate Mind," because the CSA was a confederacy, not a union, that included the most racist people imaginable like Vice-Prez Stephens and anti-slavery people like Robert E. Lee, but that's a quibble. Read it.

Gary Leupp: The Ambush of Helen Thomas

Obama the far-left radical - This Modern World - Salon.com

Anyone have any idea how much money Tim Wise makes?

He's on the lecture circuit and he sells books promoting his simplistic form of opposing racism. I'm curious about how well that pays. I understand why expensive schools hire him; he's basically teaching a polite form of neoliberalism, as any number of critics have observed.

Monday, June 7, 2010

a heart-breaking letter

On the Sanctity of Marriage - Ta-Nehisi Coates

wealth fact of the day

A Tiny Revolution: There's A Feeling Of Boredom/Of The Big Whoredom: "From 1950 to 1970, for example, for every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162, according to the Times analysis. From 1990 to 2002, for every extra dollar earned by those in the bottom 90 percent, each taxpayer at the top brought in an extra $18,000."

I've coined a new word: failfen

"Failfen" means "fans of fail." "Fen" is a long-time fannish plural for "fans." And nowadays, so very many people seem to be fans of fail—there's even a failblog—that it just seems like time for "failfen." Though "failfans" might be clearer, so I may stick with that from now on. Too often, what I think is clever is opaque.

things of the day

Awards only go to boring books, says Martin Amis. While it's true that many writers do their best work in their thirties, generalizations do not necessarily apply to individuals.

The Myths and Politics of Grandpa Munster - WFMU's Beware of the Blog. Al Lewis clearly suffered from Reagan's Disease. This may be an occupational hazard of theatre: your life is just another role. (Thanks, RAB!)

Schneier on Security: How to Spot a CIA Officer

On Poverty, Policy, and Real People | Working-Class Perspectives: "According to a 2007 report from the U.S. Census, only 21.5 percent of people in poverty don’t work. Today, the percentage may be higher, but given the unemployment rate, that’s not surprising, and we can’t read it as evidence of laziness. Indeed, the New York Times has been running a terrific series on “The New Poor,” presenting stories and analysis of how a complex mix of accident and policies are driving people from the middle and working classes into poverty. For a good example, read a recent report in theNew York Times about how state cuts to child care subsidies are making it impossible for some low-income women to hold on to their jobs."

Fred Branfman: A Warning From Noam Chomsky on the Threat of Elites - Truthdig: "Clinton is to be praised for being the first U.S. president to take personal responsibility for impoverishing an entire nation rather than ignoring his misdeeds or falsely blaming local U.S.-imposed regimes. But his confession also means that his embrace of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and NAFTA “neo-liberalization” destroyed the lives of many more millions well beyond Haiti, as U.S. support for heavily subsidized U.S. agribusiness damaged local agricultural economies throughout Latin America and beyond."

Funniest comment in a thread where one of the Wiscon anti-racists was going "OMG! Anyone who uses "lynch" as a metaphor is a racist!": "1990 called. It wants its political correctness back."

YouTube - Stornoway - 'Zorbing' Official Video:


via The Drawing Board (blog): Tunes for a Monday morning

Sunday, June 6, 2010

PSA

Chris Rock - How not to get your ass kicked by the police!:

the US's longest war

Worse Than Vietnam?:

best article on race in the USA that I've read in a long time

How do they get to be that way? - Roger Ebert's Journal

via dancinghorse

update

Prescott Mural on Diversity, Jeff Lane & Kevin Kapp Apologize:



"On June 5th, 2010 in Prescott, AZ, Miller Valley Elementary School principal Jeff Lane and Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Kapp admit they made a mistake and apologize for their decision to lighten children's faces on the "Go Green" mural painted on the side of the school."

(via bethmeacham)

Me and Ta-Nahesi on Wyatt Earp and Dances With Wolves

Ulysses Grant, Trouble Man - National - The Atlantic. Okay, I left a comment, and he replied. But it's so cool to find another Costner fan who sees Costner's flaws and still appreciates his strengths. I do hope he'll write a post about Dances With Wolves. I should see it again, too. As far as I'm concerned, there's something good in any race traitor story and in any movie with Graham Greene.

Hmm. Should see Thunderheart again, too.

Trotsky on state power

“The rich say: don’t touch state power; it is the sacred hereditary privilege of the educated classes. The Anarchists say: don’t touch it, it is an infernal invention, a diabolical device, don’t have anything to do with it. Both say: don’t touch it. But we say: don’t just touch it, take it in your hands, and set it to work in your own interests, for the emancipation of the working class.” —Trotsky

via Praxis Makes Perfect

Saturday, June 5, 2010

creepiest song I've heard in weeks

YouTube - Max Raabe sings "Das Nachtgespenst":


To add to the creepiness, there's this, from the youtube comments: "This one always makes me sad. I know that Max Raabe recorded it as a reverence to Kurt Gerron, the great German cabaret artist of the 1920's who died in a Nazi concentration camp... I'm sure that all those elderly people in the audience remembered him, too."

I have written a Shadow Unit story

Always Crashing In The Same Car by Will Shetterly.

No spoilers in what follows, just rambling about the writing:

If you haven't read Shadow Unit, this might work without the other episodes. The telling is atypical, and it's shorter than usual, a short story instead of a novella or, dear God help us, a short novel.

I'm rather proud of it. The main part of the story is maybe 98% me; the remaining 2% comes from Shadow Unit's great show runners, Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear. The final scene is maybe 99% Emma, with suggestions from Bear and me. It was entirely Emma's idea, which I resisted at first for silly artistic reasons, but now I think it's great because it puts perspective on what went before. It's obviously helpful for regular readers of Shadow Unit, but I suspect new readers will see at least one incident in a new light with the new information.

Shadow Unit has a tradition of buried "DVD extras." For those who haven't played before, here's the link, which for spoilery reasons you should only follow after reading the main story: a place to heal. We usually don't say who wrote DVD extras, but I think it's cool to acknowledge the storytelling flow this week: "Casserole" is by a third writer who gave me the greatest compliment ever: "You inspired me to write fanfic." Then, for extra fun (but probably more baffling to new readers), there's "Confessions" by a fourth SU writer. For us, the coolest thing about Shadow Unit is the way each person builds on what went before.

Richard Thompson will play anything

YouTube - Oops!... Idid it again


(Thanks, rab62!)

Prescott, AZ responds to racists who hate their school mural


YouTube - PrescottDiversity's Channel

ETA: Booman Tribune ~ A Progressive Community

(via dancinghorse)

Why do anti-racists claim Malcolm X as one of their own? & misc.

Okay, I know the answer: Because he was great.

But when he was Malcolm X, he would've looked at profit-making whites like Tim Wise and well-off whites like Peggy McIntosh and said the movement is too white. When he became El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, he would've seen there was no concern for Islam or socialism and said the movement is too capitalist.

He would've said it better, of course. His thoughts were more complex when he became El-Hajj Maik El-Shabazz, so I hesitate to guess what his words might've been. But when he was Malcolm X, he had no use for integrationists. He might've looked at all the rich and upper-class people driving neoliberal anti-racism, and noticed how very racially diverse George Bush's cabinet was, and concluded it's an alliance of white masters and house niggers.

If you think that's harsh, have some quotes:
"And if you came to the house Negro and said, "Let's run away, let's escape, let's separate," the house Negro would look at you and say, "Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?" That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a "house nigger." And that's what we call them today, because we've still got some house niggers running around here."
"You're nothing but a house Negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, "Let's separate," you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. "What you mean, separate? From America, this good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?" I mean, this is what you say. "I ain't left nothing in Africa," that's what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa."
"On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negroes — those were the masses. There were always more Negroes in the field than there were Negroes in the house. The Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn't get anything but what was left of the insides of the hog."
Malik El-Shabazz had a broader vision than Malcolm X. Here's what he said two days before he was killed: "It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That's the only thing that can save this country."

misc:

Something I found when wondering what Malcolm X might've said: "I was gone on debating": Malcolm X's prison debates and public confrontations | Argumentation and Advocacy | Find Articles at BNET: "Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of Malcolm X's participation in prison debate is that such a program existed at all. Malcolm X's prison debating experience occurred during a relatively brief period in the history of American penology in which rehabilitation was widely accepted as the goal of imprisonment, prisoner education was viewed as the best means by which to promote rehabilitation, and training in speech and debate was understood to be fundamental to prisoner education."

YouTube - Oops!... I Did It Again ('30s Style):

via Doselle Young

Boosting the signal: [books] A bit more on The Specific Gravity of Grief, and where I’d like see it go | jlake.com

IDF Releases Apparently Doctored Flotilla Audio; Press Reports As Fact: "The IDF’s propaganda is increasingly unbelievable, yet the media is enthusiastically playing along. This audio, which purports to show flotilla passengers telling the IDF to “go back to Auschwitz,” appears to have been doctored by the IDF General Press Office or someone connected to it."

Who’s at the door, hovercat?

Jews, DNA, Khazars...complicated!

In DNA, New Clues to Jewish Roots - NYTimes.com:
The new study, by Dr. David Goldstein, Dr. Mark Thomas and Dr. Neil Bradman of University College in London and other colleagues, appears in The American Journal of Human Genetics this month. Dr. Goldstein said it was up to historians to interpret the genetic evidence. His own speculation, he said, is that most Jewish communities were formed by unions between Jewish men and local women, though he notes that the women's origins cannot be genetically determined.

...The Druze, Bedouins, and Palestinians were closest to the Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian Jews. That is evidence of “a shared genetic history of related Middle Eastern and non-Semitic Mediterranean ancestors who chose different religious and tribal affiliations.”
What We Can Learn From the Jewish Genome - Newsweek:
During that period Jews proselytized with an effectiveness that would put today’s Mormons to shame: at the height of the Roman Empire, as the Roman historian Josephus chronicled, mass conversions produced 6 million practicing Jews, or 10 percent of the population of the Roman Empire. The conversions brought in DNA that had not been part of the original gene pool in the land of Abraham.

Friday, June 4, 2010

if you're curious about Israel's latest atrocity

Meldungen aus dem Exil | The Tacitus Principle: How Israel and its Apologists Defend the Indefensible is worth reading just for the Tacitus quote at the beginning. But I'll just quote its simple summary of what some readers may not know: "In order to enforce a blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israeli special forces carried out a late-night raid on an unarmed, civilian humanitarian relief convoy in international waters that sought free passage to territory Israel occupies. It is alleged that those on board the Turkish Mavi Marmara resisted this armed attack using whatever materials were available (most of which can be found in any proper kitchen, tool shed, or garage in the world). Approximately sixteen passengers were killed by the Israeli attackers (though current press reports have reduced the figure – without explanation or comment – to nine), and the remainder were taken, by force, to Israeli territory and held there incommunicado."

via Powerful debunking of Israeli talking points | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

The Internationale - Soul Flower Mononoke



Soul Flower Union - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Thanks, ritaxis!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Alan Moore on walking away

"When you realize you're standing in shit, you don't jump up and down to punish it. You just walk away." - Alan Moore

via James Veitch

zoo pic, Orwell understood cults, plus links


via Black and WTF

List of Newspeak words - Wikipedia

Eat less, live longer? - health - 03 June 2010 - New Scientist: "The explanation for this anomaly may lie in a new theory about how diet affects ageing. This says that it may not only be the drop in calories that is responsible for lifespan extension - in some species at least, perhaps it is also the accompanying drop in dietary protein."

links of the day and an observation on "correct" fiction

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story | Video on TED.com. Amusingly to me, this gets cited by the anti-racists who want people of color to tell a single story, even though the point of not telling a single story is to tell many, many, many different stories. Indeed, I tentatively propose that if your story is ideologically perfect, it is awful fiction. I'm curious about why Nnedi Okorafor took down her post about Avatar, but her latest one reinforces an ancient observation: academics and ideologues often have expectations of what stories should be that are completely in opposition to what stories are.

What Not to Say When Your Company Is Ruining the World - Newsweek

Encourage Walking with Urban Planning: Scientific American Podcast

Eat less meat to save the planet - UN - Telegraph

Because this is my favorite superhero of all time, even though I haven't read comics for ages: First Images of Captain America Costume

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

what Afghanistan looked like before our help

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan... | Foreign Policy: "Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts -- when Kabul had rock 'n' roll, not rockets."

What happened after those pictures were taken: Soviet war in Afghanistan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The Soviet War in Afghanistan was a ten-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan at their own request against the Islamist Mujahideen Resistance. The mujahideen found other support from a variety of sources including the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and other Muslim nations through the context of the Cold War."

Wiscon anti-racists, have you no shame?

In January of 2009, Jay Lake wrote a post about writing characters who aren't white and male. It had the misfortune of launching Racefail '09 when Coffeeandink objected to him being a white man who does not buy into neoliberal anti-racism.

Last week, in the comments to Madrobin's post about attending Wiscon, a science fiction convention that traditionally focuses on feminist issues, Jay told a friend, “I probably won’t ever be at WisCon again, sadly, as it used to be one of my favorite cons, but RaceFail has made it very unwelcoming and unsafe for me.” Someone read that and alerted the usual suspects, who immediately began attacking him at the post, in their blogs, and on twitter to prove he was right. (The comments at the LJ are no longer viewable; when Madrobins saw the attack was underway, she shut down the post.)

After Jay was attacked, he wrote [cancer] Updates, lessons and the nature of anger, Yeloson wrote Privilege hates, but doesn't know what hate is, and now Tempest Bradford has written Thoughts On Jay Lake’s Continued Ass Showing.

Tempest's post is especially fascinating for showing how cultists think. She says early on, "...we have all had that friend who is well meaning and smart, but who says problematic things about race (or gender or religion or whatever) and because they are otherwise awesome you engage with them on a good faith basis and try to get them to understand where they’re mistaken, how their problematic words are hurtful, and how they can possibly do better. When a friend tells you that you’ve got your skirt stuck up in your pantyhoes, you might be embarassed for a bit but you’re grateful a friend was there to tell you, right? Right."

This cartoon shows the problem with her approach far better than I could.

Here's what matters: The work. Is Jay's writing racist? If so, damn him. If not, whether he believes in the antiracists' non-dictionary definitions is irrelevant.

I've been thinking a lot lately about cults and mobbing. One of the most frightening aspects of cults is their inability to feel sympathy for those who reject the cult.

--

Will Shetterly is the author of the semi-autobiographical Dogland, which Ellen Kushner called "A masterwork. A particularly American magic realism that touches the heart of race and childhood in our country; it's 100 Years of Solitude for an entire generation of American Baby Boomers, and deserves the widest possible audience." The feministsf wiki says of him, "His work features strong women characters and people of color." He thinks neoliberal antiracism is wack.

on the god of fanatics and the god of politics

From the comments at it's all one thing: sleep-deprived thoughts while finishing a story: fanatics, first drafts, wiscon, etc.:

william.colsher said...
Of course there's a goddess of fanatics! Two of 'em:

Juvenal uses fanaticus in Satire 4 with reference to Bellona and in the 2nd (along with Livy) with regards to the priests of Cybele. The word is actually pretty rare - Perseus should only 18 instances, mostly in Livy and those mostly refer to the galli.

Bellona was a peculiarly Roman goddess of war. The sister (or wife or daughter) of Mars, her temple is where the senate would convene to meet with persons who could not enter the city, e.g. commanders still holding imperium. Her priests, in a Spring festival, would dance and stab themselves in the arms and shoulders with knives.

The galli, priests of Cybele, as is well known, would castrate themselves (presumably only once) in an ecstatic celebration on March 24th. Roman citizens were prohibited from joining this cult until the time of Claudius.

There is no classical deity of "politics" in the modern sense of the word(s). However... The personification Harmonia (which means just what it looks like it means) did something like that for the Athenians. She originally hung out with Aphrodite and the verb form of her name meant "to become engaged" and in the middle voice "to marry". By the 6th C BCE, she's mixed up with "eunomia" and pertains to stability in the polis.

At Rome there were several temples of Concordia who personified orderly relations between the plebeian and patrician classes. The largest (set against the base of the Capitoline hill at the NW end of the Forum) wes built by Camillus in the mid-4th C. BCE and restored several times over the centuries. Ultimately Tiberius re-dedicated it to "Concordia Augusta".

william.colsher said...
In re-reading that post you could say the classical definition of a fanatic is someone who:
1) runs around in circles while
2) gesticulating wildly and
4) shouting nonsense and then
4) falls down and hurts himself

DairyStateDad said...
@william.colsher:

Stealing!!!
I don't know if the two no. 4s was a typo or not. But I hope it was intentional, because it's perfect that way.

sleep-deprived thoughts while finishing a story: fanatics, first drafts, wiscon, etc.

1. I was just going to post this link: Cronan's Shit List. Then I thought I would include an example:
Fanatics of any variety: They come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, but one fact makes them all similar: they care about what you think only when you think what they think.
When I read that in my sleep-deprived state, I thought for an instant that "fanatics" was Cronan's coinage of "fans" plus "lunatics." I laughed, and then my brain kicked in. I remembered something about "fan" being derived from "fanatic", so I looked it up:
Etymology: Latin fanaticus inspired by a deity, frenzied, from fanum temple
That made me think of anti-racists busily denouncing everyone for being racists, which made me think all politics is religion, which made me google "god of politics." One site says Odin has the title; another offers Apollo. In either case, the god of politics is a sky god and a jerk.

Whether there's a god of fanatics, I don't know. Eris should be a contender.

2. I've been sleep-deprived since Friday because I've been in full avoidance mode over a short story that only today has a decent beginning, middle, and end. I hate writing first drafts. Based on how often I see this quoted on the web, the wisest thing I have ever written is "It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all."

It's the observation that I most often need to be reminded of. I hate writing badly, but that's just the nature of first drafts.

3. I'm prouder of another bit that gets quoted now and then: "There are no scientific tests for race... blood is blood, and bone is bone. Race is a con game. Don't play."

It does annoy me that given the current state of genetic science, people may be able to test for whether someone had light or dark skin. But even if someone comes up with a scientific test for something that could be called race, the rest of that statement stays true.

4. WisCon 34 GOH Speech - Mary Anne Mohanraj is well worth reading. I like Mary Anne, so I feel a little guilty for quibbling with one bit, but I'm a quibbler from way, way back, so:

She says, "In the SF/F community in the past few years, there have been a series of incidents around social justice -- feminist issues, race issues, more. I think more are coming. I expect that along with RaceFail, we're going to see TransFail, AgeismFail, DisabilityFail. And that's scary, but it's also good. We're at a critical moment, a shifting of the social norms, and we are the ones defining what the new norms will be, what is and is not okay in our community."

She does not mention ClassFail. Indeed, the word "class" does not appear in her speech. Class has been called the last taboo; maybe the field will have to work through all those other Fails before it's ready to tackle class.

Like Mary Anne, when I was in my thirties, I focused on race and gender. Class was always among my concerns—I hate stories about the restoration of princes or plutocrats—but writing about class is hard. The stock sign of success, becoming rich, is a tragedy in a story about class: it means the characters have joined the oppressors and exploiters, even if they become nicer exploiters than the ones they opposed.

Well. I suspect I'll be thinking about this for the rest of my life. I hope I do it more coherently next time. G'night!