Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Legend of Red Ghost

The Legend of Red Ghost - True West Historical Society: "One of the enduring, outrageous legends in Arizona is that a demonic, rogue camel with a skeleton on its back, killed and terrorized the country side for a decade in the 1880s. The "Red Ghost" was allegedly finally killed in a rancher's garden in eastern Arizona."

more about folic acid and B12

Not just important for the elderly. It affects vegan and near-vegan vegetarians, too. Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can Cause Symptoms That Mimic Aging - NYTimes.com: "Large doses of folic acid can mask a B12 deficiency and cause permanent neurological damage if normal levels of B12 are not maintained."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

stealth opulence: how the upper class recognize each other

There's a false assumption in The rise of quiet luxury: Understated chic that is very, very expensive. - Slate Magazine: " In a last-ditch attempt to escape the guillotine, the top 1 percent are resorting to ever more devious tactics. First and foremost, they have adopted a bizarrely nondescript way of dressing: It’s spare simplicity with foncy labels; it’s a white gold Rolex that resembles a plain old tin Timex; it’s L.L.Bean-style basics with haute-couture prices. Simply put: The 1 percent are occupying Hermès (the luxury retailer most synonymous with understated extravagance)."

Stealth opulence is old in the US. The upper class have long been trained to instantly see the difference between Brooks Brothers and Sears. I read a YA novel (title forgotten, alas) in which a poor kid was taught how to pass among the rich: don't spend your money on a lot of slightly expensive clothes: use it to buy instead one very expensive thing, a watch or a belt or shoes that say, "I'm one of you; the rest of my clothes are just slumming."

Anti-racism: brown bag lunches are racist?

I missed an anti-racist brouhaha in the Unitarian-Universalist blogosphere in 2007: Melissa Mummert reported:
My seminary, Starr King School for the Ministry, had a program called "Educating to Counter Oppressions." The faculty and students took the work to destroy racism and all of the "isms" that plague us quite seriously. At an all-school meeting one afternoon, a faculty member announced, "Because of the racist connotations of the phrase brown bag lunch, we will now be using the term BYOL, 'bring your own lunch'."
Brown bags have a place in the history of US racism. From Discrimination based on skin color: "The "brown paper bag test" was a ritual once practiced by certain African-American and Creole fraternities and sororities who discriminated against people who were "too dark." That is, these groups would not let anyone into the sorority or fraternity whose skin tone was darker than that of a paper lunch bag, in order to maintain a perception of standards. Spike Lee's film School Daze satirized this practice at historically black colleges and universities."

But if "brown bag lunch" has any connotation, it's classist: brown paper bags are the cheapest lunch bags. Claiming "brown bag lunch" is racist is like arguing cotton T-shirts celebrate slavery.

The Left Coast Unitarian defended the announcement:
For me the actual matter of dispute is fairly simple. If a person of color, especially an elder, suggests that a particular term is not the most inviting way to title or describe a gathering, I will take them at their word absent a good deal of evidence.
I suspect the LCU didn't think that through: I've never met an anti-racist who accepts the opinion of Rev. Thandeka or Adolph Reed Jr. or any person of color who disagrees with anti-racism theory—that's doubly true in the case of conservative critics like Winkfield F. Twyman, Jr.

Tom Schade replies to LCU in a post I highly recommend:
In order to raise these questions, which could conceivably require more research and reflection, one has to be able to hold as a possible answer: this fact about brown bags is interesting, but essentially unimportant. But in an intellectual environment where the value of information is determined by who provides it, such criticism is not welcome. The only question really allowed, is "Please, I don't understand and it troubles me, explain some more, so I can be reunited with you."
CK commented:
I think that if I were a guest speaker at a school in, say, the Netherlands, and I wanted them to rename their local dike because I was offended by the term, they'd have every right to say that they wouldn't, that they were sorry I had been hurt by homophobia, but that "dike" isn't a hurtful term in that context, and never had been.
the Socinian wrote:
...perhaps most significant, is the supposition that “anti-oppression” is a valid religious principle to which all sincere UUs should commit both private devotional practice and public prophetic advocacy. I deny the premise on its face. Justice, equity, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, karma, dharma, atonement, salvation – these are all legitimate religious concepts worthy of devotion that can stand on their own merits. Negative principles, however, are by nature antitheses that cannot exist without a thesis against which they are defined. Valid religious principles therefore cannot be negative, but must be affirmative.

Oppression is objectionable and worth resisting, yes; though not because “anti-oppression” is a valid principle, but rather because justice, equity, and compassion are valid principles, and oppression corrupts them. Oppression is overcome not by promoting “anti-oppression”, but by promoting forgiveness and reconciliation. “Anti-oppression”, just like the nemesis against which it necessarily defines itself, falsely divides the world into the worthy “us” and the unworthy “them”. But in reality, it’s all a broken world, we’re all them, and the most valuable lessons of any religion help us come to terms first with the element of that reality that abides within ourselves before we can even attempt to cure it in those other evildoers over there.
In the comments on that post, the Socinian added:
I don't like the way AR/AO has been promoted recently as a core collective value within the UUA, or as a necessary part of our collective identity. I don't like the way it divides the world into the self-righteous "us" and the contemptible "them". I don't like the way it replaces a soteriology of grace with a soteriology of victimhood and conflict. I don't like the way it sanctifies victims for things they had no choice over and demonizes even unwitting "oppressors" for harm they may never have intended (or even have participated in), or the way it eagerly and gullibly finds oppression and victimization even in the most unlikely and dubious of instances. (Like a "brown bag lunch", for instance.) I don't like the fact that too often its response to oppression, whether real or imaginary, fails to include any meaningful physical, emotional or spiritual ministry or healing to the actual victim -- other than perhaps nurturing and encouraging the victim's sense of anger and injustice. I don't like the overemphasis of faultfinding, and underemphasis of our historic Universalist gospel of love and forgiveness even (or especially) when it has not been earned. And I especially don't like it when the extraordinary attention and resources that are devoted to AR/AO in some corners of UU-dom seem to crowd out nearly any other avenue or approach to faith formation.

There are many effective ways to combat racism and oppression, and it is a worthy undertaking, but standing like the Pharisee in the Temple court and piously proclaiming the purity of one's observance of the AR/AO mitzvot is not a particularly good way to do it.
Philocrites offers a useful term for this sort of thing in Brown bag landmines, culling the affiliates, and more.: "terminal earnestness"

There's A Collection of all the Brown Bag Posts (and a side note) at Elizabeth’s Little Blog.

Incidentally, though the brown bag test has become a historical footnote, colorism is not dead: From Columns: The paper bag test:
The most recent case making news in the black press involves two employees of an Applebee's restaurant in Jonesboro, Ga., near Atlanta. There, Dwight Burch, a dark-skinned waiter, who has left the restaurant, filed a lawsuit against Applebee's and his light-skinned African-American manager.

In the suit, Burch alleged that during his three-month stint, the manager repeatedly referred to him as a "black monkey" and a "tar baby." The manager also told Burch to bleach his skin, and Burch was fired after he refused to do so, the suit states.
Related: Nalo Hopkinson and "Killa Wog"

Monday, November 28, 2011

get great stuff and support editor extraordinaire Terri Windling!

Emma has details: Dark Roast - It's MAGICK MONDAY!

the visual devolution of Red Sonja

Via The Pictorial Arts: Flavorful, Frank Thorne's drawing of three versions of Red Sonja. I always liked the Barry Smith costume, even though the panties are silly, but Krenkel's is best.

The 1% is Political Poetry: excellent explanation of class

thelivelytradition: The 1% is Political Poetry: "Class is not about income. Class is not about whether you have an income, a profession, a job or a benefit. Class is not about culture. Class is not about wealth. A "Class" is a historically formed group of people who have a particular relationship to economic order."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

USA: at war for 209 years (and counting)

Also illustrates the fact that "wars" which were conducted by the Department of War are now "operations" conducted by the Department of Defense.


ETA: This makes me wonder if the Department of War Defense's next name will be the Department of Freedom.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Boots Riley on black bloc tactics

Boots Riley on black bloc tactics « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist: "If we are in the middle of one of the biggest, most overtly class conscious acts of the last 65 years- one that has the unity of action of 50,000 ppl-one that caused millions in damage through an action that teaches class analysis and builds an apparatus for future action-why would u think breaking a window at whole foods is taking it to another level? Its not. The message it gives to most is one of futile frustration."

He makes another point that I like a lot: "...when a group of masked white kids break windows in a city that’s many ppl of color, it feels like the white kids are claiming ownership, not saying that this city is all of ours. It makes it harder to build a viable mass movement. I’m saying this knowing the truth, many masked blac bloc folks are NOT white. But, if everyone perceives u as white cuz u have a mask on-then it has the same effect."

He reminds me that the only defenders of Black Bloc tactics I've encountered are white guys like Nick Mamatas. Me, I figure any tactic that makes revolutionaries look like thugs is a stupid tactic.

Do follow the link for more good arguments against Blackblockheads. His point about vanguarding is as strong as any of the rest.

Re Wikileaks and Julian Assange: Is Israel Shamir a Holocaust-denier?

In the smear campaign against Julian Assange, the phrase "Holocaust-denier" keeps coming up because of one writer who worked briefly with Wikileaks, Israel Shamir. Here is his answer from Mother of All Smears:
As for the accusation of “Holocaust denial”, my family lost too many of its sons and daughters for me to deny the facts of Jewish tragedy, but I do deny its religious salvific significance implied in the very term ‘Holocaust’; I do deny its metaphysical uniqueness, I do deny the morbid cult of Holocaust and I think every God-fearing man, a Jew, a Christian or a Muslim should reject it as Abraham rejected and smashed idols. I deny that it is good to remember or immortalise such traumatic events, and I wrote many articles against modern obsession with massacres, be it Jewish holocaust of 1940s, Armenian massacre of 1915, Ukrainian “holodomor”, Polish Katyn, Khmer Rouge etc. Poles, Armenians, Ukrainians understood me, so did Jews – otherwise I would be charged with the crime of factual denial which is known to the Israeli law.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

every ideology ever and confirmation bias

I could write a long post about confirmation bias and antiracism theory or feminism or any identitarian issue. But any elaboration would be gratuitous; all you need to know is that confirmation bias is the tendency to trust what you believe and doubt what you don't.

To be fair to identitarians, suffering from confirmation bias is just part of being human.

I was reminded of this by CultureLab: Bias rules the way we judge the world.

Sojourner Truth on Hell

"The newspapers of my childhood used to have pictures of hell. I bought one once in New York, and there was one whole side covered with such a picture. On one side there was a narrow stair leading to heaven and the rest of the picture was a terrible abyss, with smoke rising up out of it, and numberless human beings swimming around in the flames. Then there was the old Evil One, with a long snout and a tail, stirring the others up with a pitchfork and I gazed upon that picture, I said, "My God, that is hell, sure 'nuff." There are probably persons here who can remember these things. As I got older I found out that there wasn't no such thing as hell, and that the narrow stairs only showed the narrowness of the mind that conceived the picture. I have found out and know that God's brightness and goodness and glory is hot enough to scorch all the sinners in the world." —Sojourner Truth

What should we call the US version of Thanksgiving?

"I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land." —Jon Stewart

This is the day Americans celebrate the Wampanoags saving their ass. Given what our leaders did afterward, Ethnic Cleansing Day, Racism Day, and Imperialism Day all cover US policy toward the continent's First Peoples. Or, given Jesus's comments about people who make a show of their goodness, Hypocrisy Day works just fine.

If you want to imagine what was lost, I'll repeat an old recommendation: read 1491.

The saddest thing about Thanksgiving Day is it's a celebration of what rich people stole. The best that poor folks of any hue can hope for is a free meal from a civic group—not exactly a fair trade.

Which reminds me of what David Stemple would tell his kids when they complained about fairness: "In a fair world, you would be starving in a hut in Africa."

Though there is plenty of food in the world for everyone, today, in the US, millions of people are malnourished and hungry, and in the world, every 3.6 seconds, someone will die from hunger.

Well, that's enough reality for 24 hours. Our Thanksgiving will consist of eating too much great food with good folks. I wish everyone's would.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ETA: I should've just posted this:


ETA 2: It's not Shopping Day, but it might be Shopping Eve.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do the poor suffer from financial PTSD?

Poor Concentration: How Poverty Changes the Way You Think - The Curious Capitalist: "The results: shoppers with above-average incomes did just as well on the tests whether they were faced with the $150 or $1,500 repairs, but those with below-average incomes did significantly worse when the repairs were going to cost $1,500 (as opposed to just $150). Even imaginary financial strain diminished the low-income group's ability to think straight."

Antiracism Theory can't explain US slavery

Nnedi Okorafor posted a short bit from her unpublished autobiographical novel in Born Naijamerican, which included this:
But, well, she wasn’t a direct descendant of slaves, not the slaves brought to America. She wasn’t trying to be arrogant. Hell, she thought, my ancestors may have been the sellers of the slaves! Ugh, that’s even worse. But she didn’t like Carre’s assumptions. Here she was in a class full of blacks and never had she felt so alone.
There's an assumption in the US that all black folks are the descendants of slaves, which fits the antiracist narrative the power is primarily racial, but the reality is more complex.

From Unit 2: Early Industrialization: "3,800 black slave owners were registered in the 1840 Census"

Frederick Douglass noted, “The savage chiefs of the western coasts of Africa, who for ages have been accustomed to selling their captives into bondage and pocketing the ready cash for them, will not more readily accept our moral and economical ideas than the slave traders of Maryland and Virginia. We are, therefore, less inclined to go to Africa to work against the slave trade than to stay here to work against it.”

President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin, Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, and others have apologized for their ancestor's part in African slavery.

back on Twitter

I'm back on Twitter as WillShetterly. Mostly it's autolinks to posts here and some retweets of the few Twits I follow, but occasionally I'll tweet a link that I don't post here or get in a short conversation with someone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

the problem with academics — and people who grew up rich

When I was fourteen, my Dad, who had entered the University of Florida as a freshman at the age of forty thanks to the GI Bill, told me, "Take everything you hear from academics with a big grain of salt. These are people who have been institutionalized all their lives."

I always remember that when I hear academics trying to explain a world they rarely visit.

This post was inspired by Susannah Breslin's comment in Men's strip club confessions:
My main problem with feminism and sex work is that the majority of feminists talking about sex work are in the academy. They took women’s studies classes and 99 percent of what they learned about sex work is, like, on the Internet or from one porn star they met once. If you have something to say about it, you should go into that world and study it and get to know those people and spend time there. Instead, feminism is just manufacturing abstractions about what sex work is, and they’re too chicken to go in and really explore the industry. So for the most part, feminism can’t tell me anything about sex work because they’re too busy posturing as feminists to find out what that world is really like.
A few years after Dad's comment, after I'd spent some time among people who grew up rich, I realized they've also been institutionalized all their lives, though they haven't a clue, because the upper class are in an institution with branches anywhere it might occur to them to go. There's a reason why the biggest difference in luxury hotels around the world is the accent of the cleaning staff.

Though I think I'm fairly cynical about the ignorance of the rich, they still surprise me. When Emma and I went to New Orleans for a friend's birthday party last year, we took a riverboat ride with a New Yorker who could not believe Americans still lived in shacks along a river. When I was younger, I would've cringed as I saw the tour guide's sidewise glance at her, and then I would've taken her aside to talk about the kinds of people I've known most of my life. But I just made the mental note and let it pass. The woman in question is very sweet. It's not her fault that her economic comfort makes her simultaneously a woman of the world and one of the most provincial people I've ever known.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Emma Bull's essay on the Weird West

Home on the Strange by Emma Bull | Fantasy Magazine

on blackface and actors playing other races

Inspired by talk about whether Florence + The Machine's "No Light, No Light" is racist:

This is a classic image of blackface, a white person wearing makeup to mock black people:



Note the exaggerated lips and the unnaturally dark skin—blackface was done with black shoe polish or a very dark skin dye to make a white person look like a black version of a whiteface clown.

Some people think any attempt to portray someone of another race is racist. They say this white model portraying a black woman is racist:



And Beyonce Knowles betrayed all black and Asian Women by modeling as a white woman:


Beyonce was also accused of doing blackface when she darkened her skin:



If you accept the logic that portraying someone of another race is always racist, John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me is a racist book; when segregation was legal in the US, he darkened his skin and hair to have a first-hand experience of being black:


Whites who play Othello get accused of doing blackface:



But people rarely accuse Orson Welles of blackface because he plays the character with respect:



While Lawrence Olivier's makeup and eye-rolling crosses into parody:



The question of respect for the character is crucial. Harry Connick was caught up having to judge a bad parody of the Jacksons in Australia:



These people aren't parodying the individual Jacksons; they've made themselves up to look like golliwoggs, and the humor comes from the idea of, as Connick puts it, portraying black folks as buffoons.

That's the simple rule for deciding whether someone is indulging in blackface: If they're mocking a race by pretending to be of that race, they're being racist. If they're not, they should be prepared for identitarians to misunderstand. But ultimately, we're all human. If you want to look like your race or sex or age or class is different, that's your right as part of the human race.

Which applies to non-human races, too. Here's a cultural artifact from the 1960s:



See also: racism at Racialicious, or Florence + The Machine and Bali

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the capitalist outhouse


via Eric Orchard: Toronto Christmas Train show

recommended site of the day: HOW THE LEFT GOT TRAPPED INSIDE THEIR OWN HEADS

BBC - Adam Curtis Blog: DREAM ON: HOW THE LEFT GOT TRAPPED INSIDE THEIR OWN HEADS - AND HOW FAIRIES CAN OPEN THE DOOR TO THE FUTURE.

Anyone interested in the Pre-Raphaelites should play the clip with Oliver Reed.

socialist bible verses: Deuteronomy 6:10-12

When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (New International Version) 

Brother Will says: If giving people things they didn't make is good enough for God, it should be good enough for the rest of us, too.

Fritz Willis has good advice for all artists

“Everybody’s a critic. Some criticism is based on personal taste, some on knowledge, some on ignorance. Some is constructive, some destructive. Welcome it all, accept what you wish, reject what you wish. After all, it’s your painting. Never be disheartened by adverse criticism. The worst thing you can say about an artist’s work is, ‘His paintings wouldn’t offend anyone.’” —Fritz Willis

Saturday, November 19, 2011

class in the USA: police at public and private universities

From here:
This is what Columbia University police look like when arresting students:
2011-11-19-Columbia.jpg

This is what the police at Davis, a public university, looked like yesterday:
2011-11-19-Davis.jpg

quote: Potter Stewart on censorship

"Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime." —Potter Stewart

racist? awesome? both? Florence + The Machine - No Light, No Light

Florence + The Machine - No Light, No Light - YouTube

ETA 2: racism at Racialicious, or Florence + The Machine and Bali

Racially, the ‘Near Poor’ look like the poor

‘Near Poor’ - Not Quite in Poverty, but Still Struggling - NYTimes.com: "Demographically, they look more like “The Brady Bunch” than “The Wire.” Half live in households headed by a married couple; 49 percent live in the suburbs. Nearly half are non-Hispanic white, 18 percent are black and 26 percent are Latino."

Racially, that's very close to what official poverty looks like in the US, though the percentage that's black is a bit higher and the percentage that's Latino is a bit lower.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Barack Obama, OWS is your Egypt: shame on you!

"I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters. The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere." —Barack Obama

There are so many pictures and videos that I could post to go with this. The following is simply the most convenient:

Emma Bull's advice of the day

"Just because they hate you, you don't have to hate them." —Emma Bull

scifi antiracist silliness: Nalo Hopkinson and "Killa Wog"

This tweet appeared today:
 Nalo Hopkinson Watching Green Lantern. Michael Clarke Duncan's character is named...Killa Wog? WTF?#ohnotheydidnt #racefail
It's being retweeted by folks who see racism everywhere they look. But they're demonstrating a great deal of cultural imperialism. To wit:

1. Kilowog is a character created by Steve Engelhart, a US writer. In the US, few people know that "wog" is an insult; it's not part of this country's racist vocabulary. As Wikipedia notes, "In the United States, "Wog" is simply short for Pollywog, the navy term for sailors who have yet to cross the equator in the line-crossing ceremony, and has no racial associations."

2. While the inspiration for Kilowog's name doesn't seem to be on the web, DC Comics' offices are in New York, so the name may've been inspired by the town of Killawog, NY. Which, by the way, was not named because they "killed a wog" there, but don't let me stop anyone from accusing a town of having a racist name.

3. The character was previously voiced by Henry Rollins, who is white.

I like Nalo. She's a fine writer. But in this case, the racefail is all in her philosophy.

ETA: I just bolded and italicized "has no racial associations" for the sake of folks like Ithiliana who seem to have trouble reading. In The Heart of the Maze - The OED entry on "wog" n1 and n2, she uses the Oxford English Dictionary to establish that "wog" is racist in UK countries, which I hadn't noticed anyone disputing.

I think the problem is that devout anti-racists believe English-speakers are the same everywhere. Perhaps they don't grasp that there are many dialects—when a Brit wants to "light up a fag", do they accuse her of wanting to burn homosexuals alive, or do they understand that she wants to smoke a cigarette?

I also wonder if Ithiliana thinks "niggardly" is racist, and whether she accepts the OED's verdict there. Ah, well. Everyone's entitled to a foolish belief or two.

ETA 2: I just realized that Ithiliana's reference to "white male" illustrates something at the heart of racism and sexism in disagreements: the ad hominem argument. It's characteristic of identitarians: they don't have to answer points made by a heretic or an outlaw or a barbarian simply because they're not "one of us."

ETA 3: Ithiliana's brought up another bit of handwaving. Sure, golliwogg is problematic, but it ain't the same word as polliwog. The crucial question: are there any examples of US racists using "wog" as an insult where average Americans would be expected to recognize it as a racist insult? Among the many things anti-racists don't understand: context matters.

ETA 4: Constance Ash, aka al_zorra, has chipped in with the observation that some members of the US ruling class who had a fetish for all things British used "wog." It's true, but hardly relevant; I sometimes use the Ojibwe word "mia" for "good enough," but that hardly means "mia" is now a US term. And, yes, those Americans who read a lot of British literature know that "wog" is a racial insult in countries ruled by Britain after the US Revolution. Readers know a lot of things that are irrelevant when talking about common use. The real question stays very simple: is "Kilowog" a racist name for a scifi character created by Americans and voiced by a black American actor?

ETA 5: This just occurred to me: Kilowog's name is a false cognate, a concept that ideological antiracists may not recognize.

ETA 6: I'm beginning to wonder how reading works for antiracists. In the comments, gryphonsegg wrote, "How and why did he go from "This character's name has phonetic similarities to a slur which the original creator might not have been aware of at the time" to "This slur isn't really a slur or at least isn't used as a slur anymore even if it was ever a slur to begin with, which it wasn't because REASONS"? I mean, what is even the point of that? I understand why some people get defensive about the possibility of a beloved canon perpetuating racism, even if I recognize that the defensive reactions are usually wrong. But this looks like he's decided to get defensive about the possibility of anybody or anything ever having been racist."

Where have I said it's not a slur anywhere or never was? It's a slur in the UK and its former colonies. Hmm. Maybe this is related to their trouble understanding that things are different in different places.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gene Burnett - Jump You F*#kers (A Song For Wall Street)

Gene Burnett - Jump You F*#kers (A Song For Wall Street) - YouTube

There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap?

Speaking as a guy who has had female bosses since his first "real" job in the 1970s, this seems true:


I confess, I haven't looked for rebuttals, so don't hesitate to offer any.

PS. The writer's a conservative and I'm not, so separate her rhetoric from her statistics.

ETA: Pamela Dean provides a couple of interesting links: No Gender Gap in Wages? So Carrie Lukas Argues. Part 1. and No Gender Gap in Wages? So Carrie Lukas Argues. Part 2.

class expectations and literary criticism

Just read Jonathan Lethem: The literary world is like high school. It inspired this comment:

Class assumptions are at the heart of the relationship between critic and artist: upper class artists are supposed to be above responding to their critics; working class artists are supposed to be incapable of it.

ETA: That's the old-school model, anyway. Maybe there's an improved version now.

ETA 2: Still teasing at this notion. Added this comment at the site: "Uh, that's "incapable" in the intellectual sense--working class artists aren't supposed to be analytical; their powers of creation are supposed to be pure, unsullied by academia. They're the "mumbling, dungaree-and-scuffed-workboot guys.""

class and f&sf: identitarianism, granfalloons, OWS, and Racefail '09

Part of what makes Kurt Vonnegut's Cats Cradle great is the religion of Bokononism, which claims that people have a true group, called a karass, but they're subject to false groups called granfalloons, "a proud and meaningless association of human beings" such as "the Communist Party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company —and any nation, anytime, anywhere."

Identitarianism could be called granfalloonism. By accepting the identities imposed by the powerful to divide us, identitarians fight among themselves, leaving the powerful untroubled.

from European History: Class and the Right to Vote
The issue of class was thus closely connected to the question of women's suffrage. Many European countries continued to restrict voting by socioeconomic status as well as by gender. Yet some proponents of women's suffrage argued that extending the vote to middle- and upper-class women would, in fact, strengthen the subordinate position of the lower classes. Some opponents of women's suffrage, by contrast, argued that any broadening of the vote would begin a process of democratization that would undermine the system of class differences. Finally, political radicals believed that enfranchising women would bring about meaningful change, since women were considered more sympathetic to the idea of incorporating other subordinate groups into the political system. The debate surrounding whether women should vote thus revolved around questions of class.
Identitarians confuse cause and effect.

Identitarians confuse tribalism and racism and miss what matters: KFC commercial in Australia.

Identitarians prefer the echo chamber to the agora.

I generally agree with Thomas Jefferson's call in the Jefferson Bible: you can discard Paul if you want to appreciate Jesus. But I'm awfully fond of Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one..." What matters isn't tribe or privilege or sex: we're all one.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

do not piss off book-lovers!

You'll find a list of some good folks upset that the attack on Occupy Wall Street included destroying its library: Making Light: Who destroys libraries?

I look at the picture of the damaged Bible and wonder about OWS' copy of the Bill of Rights. But then, you don't always need a body to establish a killing.

whose fantasy? "A Jig In The Jungle" - Dorothy Dandridge

Two points:

1. I don't know if the writers were white or black. I just know the performances are great.

2. If the writers were black, would this be a case of African-Americans "appropriating" African imagery?

Herb Jeffries, the Bronze Buckaroo

Note for antiracists: This ain't appropriation; it's just early black Hollywood. During the heyday of the US cowboy, it's estimated that as many as 25% were black—and perhaps as many were Mexican, 'cause the vaqueros created cowboy culture.





Appropriation or awesome? The Dandridge Sisters & The Cats & The Fiddle - "Harlem Yodel"

The Dandridge Sisters & The Cats & The Fiddle - Harlem Yodel

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

a black Snow White? plus Black Orpheus

Some antiracists are saying Snow White and the Huntsman looks too white. Now, I would think that identitarians would think making that story anything other than European in setting and cast would be "appropriation". I personally love cultural mashups, but I gotta say that complaining that a European tale is told too Euro is just too silly for me.

However, this reminded there's a black Snow White which you can find on online: Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs. I don't think that's quite what the antiracists want. Wikipedia has a good piece about it: Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs.

Three notes about the cartoon:

1. I don't think its handling of Snow White is racist, but its handling of Prince Charming is—at that time, white folks were more comfortable with sexually attractive black women than black men.

2. People who complain about the dialect may be revealing their class prejudice.

3. The music's great. Makes me want to find more songs sung by Dorothy Dandridge's sister and mom.

The issue of non-Euro casting in Euro tales makes me want to see Black Orpheus again; I have no idea how well it holds up, but I'm guessing it's still great.

class and fantasy: Snow White

Just came across this, from Snow White, which might be fun to research: "There is another Brothers Grimm tale called Snow White and Rose Red which also includes a character called Snow White. However, this Snow White is a completely separate character from the one found in this tale. The original German names are also different: Schneewittchen and Schneeweißchen. There is actually no difference in the meaning (both mean "snow white"), but the first name is more influenced by the dialects of Low Saxon while the second one is the standard German version, demonstrating a class difference between the two Snow Whites."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Disney plunders the Public Domain again: Once Upon A Time

Emma has a short review of the first episode of Once Upon a Time. She focuses on the creative side, so I'll add two general observations:

1. Once again, Disney is plundering the public domain. Which would be perfectly fine if Disney wasn't actively restricting the public domain to keep their copyright on Mickey Mouse.

2. While I think it's extremely likely that Fables inspired Once Upon a Time, the idea of updating fairy tale characters is ancient. Objecting to the updating of fairy tales misses the point: old songs and tales are constantly updated to keep them relevant. (Frex, the differences between British and American versions of ballads are fascinating. Well, if you're the sort of person who's fascinated by things like the removal of supernatural elements from ballads.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

please stop talking about the US "health care system"

It's not a system. It's just a business. Sure, you could call it a system, but when you compare it to countries that have deliberately crafted systems, like most prosperous nations, we don't have a system; we have a muddle.

And while I'm on the subject: "First, do no harm" is a wonderful principle—and it's incompatible with "First, make people worry about whether they can afford health care."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Schrodinger's President

Eric Holder Should Release the Awlaki Memo - NYTimes.com: "Mr. Holder responded: “I will not address—cannot address—whether or not there is an opinion in this area.”"

John Lennon and Yoko Ono with George Maciunas's "genocide flag"


I don't know if the statistics are perfectly accurate, but quibbling about the exact numbers misses the point.

Happy 11/11/11!

Somewhere, Emma and I picked up the notion that if you notice the time is 11:11 and you're with someone you love, you may say, "11:11" and get a kiss. We don't usually go out of our way to note "11:11", but today, I may have to find an internet clock that'll let me know when it's 11:11:11 on 11/11/11.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

calories count: Twinkie diet works

Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds - CNN.com:
For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too.

His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most -- not the nutritional value of the food.

The premise held up: On his "convenience store diet," he shed 27 pounds in two months.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

the realm of the ridiculous: two articles on Tintin, racism, and censorship

Belgian court’s adviser says Tintin book not racist:
Intention is a key criteria in substantiating a charge of racism. The court is expected to deliver a judgement early next year rejecting or accepting Mondondo’s argument that the book’s depiction of Africans is racist. 
“We see in particular that Tintin in the Congo does not put Tintin in a situation where there is competition or confrontation between the young reporter and any black or group of blacks, but pits Tintin against a group of gangsters ... who are white,” de Theux de Meylandt also wrote in the statement.
Banning 'racist' Tintin comic from children's shelves lunacy, says Vatican: "...an editorial in L'Osservatore Romano said: "It is essential to take into account the historical context to avoid entering the realm of the ridiculous."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

tax the rich and no one else! said Thomas Jefferson

"The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied... Our revenues liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, &tc., the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone - without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings." ~Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1811

Emphasis mine.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Passing "Go" in Monopoly is like Guaranteed Basic Income



I hadn't realized that Monopoly includes a form of Basic Income until I read this, in The Pictorial Arts: The Color of Money:
My favorite part of the game was passing GO, just to always receive that stipend of $200. We should have that in real life. Everytime we pass GO, um, let's say every January 1, every man woman and child should receive a stipend, and with cost of living increases, that should be oh I dunno, $7500? Wouldn't that be a lovely way to begin each year? Or to spread it out, it could be on each of our birthdays. Wouldn't that make older people appreciate their birthdays more?
ETA: At G+, Dan Harper left this comment: "According to the online Inflation Calculator (reference: http://westegg.com/inflation/ ), $200 in 1934, when the game was created, would be worth $3221.87 in 2010 dollars."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Classism 400 years later

Classism 400 years later focuses on the notion that Shakespeare, who didn't have the advantages of nobility, couldn't have written his plays. I especially like this general point:
The belief that the achievement gap between rich and poor (where it exists) has to do with inherent differences rather than the socially constructed inequities of opportunity and privilege is alive and well. We are looking for talent at Harvard, where the biggest affirmative action program is legacy admissions (that is, you get into Harvard because your dad went to Harvard), when it is just as likely to be found in places the aristocrats don’t hang out. As Gould wrote elsewhere, “I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.”

Dear internet, please up your insult game

One concern that I share with identitarians: insults based on race, religion, or gender suck. When I get dismissed for being a white man, I can shrug. It just means an identitarian has realized all they have are insults.

But women who get insulted online for being women get to wonder if an online attacker would try to beat or rape them offline. They get to wonder if the commenter is a stalker who could seek them out. They know that insults based on group identity cross the line between insults and threats.

The people who make those insults also know their goal is fear. That's why they're anonymous or pseudonymous.

Inspired by New Statesman - "You should have your tongue ripped out": the reality of sexist abuse online

a story everyone should know about Obama

From Confidence Men by Ron Suskind, quoted at A Tiny Revolution: A Massive Bluggy Failure, a description of Obama's March 27, 2009 meeting with the heads of thirteen major banks:
The discussion moved swiftly across topics, such as the general soundness of the overall system and how to jump-start lending, before it came around to what was on everyone's mind: compensation.
The CEOs went into their traditional stance: "It's almost impossible to set caps; it's never worked, and you lose your best people," said one. "We're competing for talent on an international market," said another. Obama cut them off.
"Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn't buying that," he said. "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."
It was an attention grabber, no doubt, especially that carefully chosen last word.
But then Obama's flat tone turned to one of support, even sympathy. "You guys have an acute public relations problem that's turning into a political problem," he said. "And I want to help. But you need to show that you get that this is a crisis and that everyone has to make some sacrifices."
According to one of the participants, he then said, "I'm not out there to go after you. I'm protecting you. But if I'm going to shield you from public and congressional anger, you have to give me something to work with on these issues of compensation."
No suggestions were forthcoming from the bankers on what they might offer, and the president didn't seem to be championing any specific proposals. He had none; neither Geithner nor Summers believed compensation controls had any merit.
After a moment, the tension in the room seemed to lift: the bankers realized he was talking about voluntary limits on compensation until the storm of public anger passed. It would be for show.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Julio Siete nails the cognitive dissonance of antiracism theory

"It's racist to write anything about any other culture whatsoever. That is "appropriating". It is also racist to not write anything about any other culture. That is "erasing"." —Julio Siete

appropriation alert: no one owns the metaphor of slavery

There's a lot I like about Black Agenda Report, but the ignorance in articles like Occupy These…! Slavery and Abuse by Metaphor by Jared Ball just make me roll my eyes.

A few things the Metaphor Police do not understand:

1. Metaphors are supposed to be different in degree than the inspiration for the metaphor. When you say your head is killing you, you are not being disrespectful of people who have died from brain tumors.

2. Every race and culture has slavery in its history, and the history of slavery in the Americas includes both black slaveowners and white slaves. If you must be of the race of former slaves to use slavery as metaphor, your race only needs to be human.

3. If "slave" belongs to anyone, it belongs to the Slavs whose forced service created the word.

4. We use metaphors to create relationships between ideas. If your circumstances force you to serve others to survive, you are in a condition of slavery.

  • A house slave's life was generally better than a field slave's, which was generally better than a galley slave's, which was generally better than a mine slave's, but only a fool would claim any slave's life was good. Their lives were different in degree, not kind.
  • Indentured servitude was not a life sentence (unless you died during that time), but the conditions for indentured servants and slaves were substantially the same up until Bacon's Rebellion: "Bacon's Rebellion demonstrated that poor whites and poor blacks could be united in a cause. This was a great fear of the ruling class -- what would prevent the poor from uniting to fight them? This fear hastened the transition to racial slavery."
  • Migrant workers were not technically slaves, but even the people who hired them knew the metaphorical truth. As one farmer said, "We used to own our slaves; now we just rent them."

white anti-racists, get over your white selves

An anonymous commenter left this link to James Bliss's neo, marx. marx, neo. whoa….

I was with Bliss until I got to this:
and while i’m ragging on the white left (this is such a long post and i didn’t intend for it to be…) i went to a gender/sexuality studies discussion group thing that a woman from my cohort was trying to get started (and it was very good to meet her), and there was a white male marxist there (there were 8 people around the table) who wanted an introduction to feminist theory, and he half-jokingly said ‘well who hasn’t been enslaved?’ to someone who identified as a descendent of slaves… and i was so taken aback that somebody said that out loud… to a Black woman…. (it’s shocking, if not at all surprising)… and the woman he said it to is somebody i haven’t spoken to before and she was acting in such a way that suggested that, although she did have and articulated an institutional critique of racism on the campus, she was also trying not to alienate herself from the people at the table, so i lobbed a general critique to the white marxist who made the comment. something to the effect of ‘well, that’s not an atypical thing for a marxist to say… rather, it’s a common thing for any white person to say, and it’s just reprehensible to hear it from a marxist…’ but i said it in a smiling sort of way because if you return to him the (unacknowledged, everyday, takenforgranted, hegemonic and therefore acceptable) violence he just directed at another person at the table, then you’re a lunatic…

that’s the thing about white people. we tell jokes that murder people. our benign amusements are genocide. we play at enslavement.
That's when I stopped and thought, “James Bliss, get over your white self.”

Because the fact is that most of us are descendants of slaves. A privileged black woman’s connection to slavery may be a few generations more recent than a dirt poor white man’s, but when you’re dealing with 2011, deal with now: A black man moved from a million dollar house into the White House, another black man is fighting to stay the frontrunner for the Republicans, and a black woman is making heaps of money from her memoirs about being the Secretary of State. The racial mix of the 1% is disproportionate, but there’s nothing to suggest that making the 1% proportionate will improve life for anyone in the 99%. Since Bliss is wrought up in whiteness, I suggest he read some black thinkers who have a more sophisticated understanding of economic injustice, like Rev. Thandeka, Adolph Reed Jr., or Preston H. Smith.

I have great respect for Bliss’s understanding of his personal reasons to oppose capitalism, but he gets things ass-backwards when he says, “black freedom does mean the liberation of the white working class.” Obama, Cain, and Condi Rice all show with their lives that what Preston Smith calls racial democracy does not lead to social democracy, and racial democracy sure won’t help most poor blacks any more than it helps most poor whites. All it does is increase racial proportionality in an unjust system.

Bliss continues down the wrong path when he says,
...the root of capitalist oppression is, as i follow a lot of people in arguing, the commodification of African-derived peoples, then that ought to be the foundation of anti-capitalist politics.
The root of capitalist oppression is the commodification of people, period. If we’re going to end that oppression, we have to do it for everyone’s sake.

Or, as ideological antiracists like to say, stop playing oppression olympics.

Or perhaps they should remember that these words of Martin Luther King are still true: “In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amanda Palmer - Science Fiction/Double Feature

Amanda Palmer - Science Fiction/Double Feature on Craig Ferguson 10-31-11 - YouTube

about Islamic, Arabian, and Middle Eastern fantasy

Deborah J. Ross wrote about the "Lands of Islam" panel at Islamic fantasy panel at World Fantasy Convention. She has an earlier post about prepping for it: Groupmind help on Islamic Fantasy.

Perhaps the most important point: Islamic Fantasy, Arabian Fantasy, and Middle Eastern Fantasy are not the same.

I liked the panel a lot. It inspired a question I'd like to explore someday: What is the writer's obligation to accuracy when dealing with folk tales? (My quick answer: know enough to avoid stereotypes, if only because stereotypes will bore or offend your readers.)

Our Liavek stories were mentioned favorably, which was sweet.

antiracist excess: history is racist!

And now, the antiracist community is upset because a TV show is focusing on history they don't know about rather than history they already know about: racebending: I'm like, 'Where are the Chinese?'. All communities like having their preconceptions validated.

ETA:The trailer for "Hell on Wheels":