Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and a merry 1/1/11!

Let's do it right this time.


two Winsor McKay cartoons about a path not taken

McKay wanted the US to stay out of the World War. The idea may seem heartless, but without US intervention, the Treaty of Versailles would have been more just and the Nazis would never have risen to power.

He was right about the wastefulness of war:

And he knew that refusing to intervene did not mean refusing to help:

Both images from Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

quote of the day: Doug Lain

"We are looking for our beliefs in all the wrong places. Our beliefs aren’t to be found in our private thoughts, but in our daily practices, and in the habits and rituals that fill our days."

From Ideology in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood « The Writings of Douglas Lain

America in Decline

Why Germans Think We're Insane | World | AlterNet: "Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

male feminists of the 1840s: Friederich Engels and Frederick Douglass

When Engels was in his early twenties, he wrote in The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844,
"If the rule of the wife over her husband—a natural consequence of the factory system—is unnatural, then the former rule of the husband over the wife must also have been unnatural."
From Wikipedia's entry on Frederick Douglass:
In 1848, Douglass attended the first women's rights convention, the Seneca Falls Convention, as the only African American.[12] Elizabeth Cady Stanton asked the assembly to pass a resolution asking for women's suffrage.[13] Many of those present opposed the idea, including influential Quakers James and Lucretia Mott.[14] Douglass stood and spoke eloquently in favor; he said that he could not accept the right to vote himself as a black man if woman could not also claim that right. Douglass projected that the world would be a better place if women were involved in the political sphere. "In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world."[14] Douglass's powerful words rang true with enough attendees that the resolution passed.[15]

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Emma Bull: "Madonna of the Midway" live

Lyrics by John M. Ford, tune by Emma. Continuing the GaFilk series. Another song that needs to be worked up for an album after Emma finishes the sequel to Territory.

YouTube - Emma Bull in Concert at GaFilk11 #02

Monday, December 27, 2010

Emma Bull: "Raven in the Storm" live

Cruising the web, I found this. If you haven't heard any of Emma's music, be warned: it's just someone's grab of a convention performance, probably with a phone that does video. (And I thank them for posting it!)

I would love to hear her work this up for an album someday. (Hint, Emma, hint! In your copious spare time....)

YouTube - Emma Bull in Concert at GaFilk11 #05

The song is by John Gorka. He's great.

Time to tweak Marx's class analysis?

I've got a commie pal who says it's wrong to begrudge sports stars their super salaries: they don't control the means of production, so they might as well take what they can from the bosses.

But as the economic income and wealth gap increases, I'm wondering if Marx's three main classes (bourgeoisie, petit bourgeoisie, proletarian) need a fourth: the gros proletariat, the workers with super-salaries.


Nah. Workers with super-salaries buy stocks, land, businesses... The logic of capitalism forces them to become petit-bourgeoisie. That's how the game is played.

So, uh, nevermind. Just thinking on my keyboard.

Here's what provoked it:

Income Inequality and the 'Superstar Effect' -
Ultimately, the question is this: How much inequality is necessary? It is true that the nation grew quite fast as inequality soared over the last three decades. Since 1980, the country’s gross domestic product per person has increased about 69 percent, even as the share of income accruing to the richest 1 percent of the population jumped to 36 percent from 22 percent. But the economy grew even faster — 83 percent per capita — from 1951 to 1980, when inequality declined when measured as the share of national income going to the very top of the population.

One study concluded that each percentage-point increase in the share of national income channeled to the top 10 percent of Americans since 1960 led to an increase of 0.12 percentage points in the annual rate of economic growth — hardly an enormous boost. The cost for this tonic seems to be a drastic decline in Americans’ economic mobility. Since 1980, the weekly wage of the average worker on the factory floor has increased little more than 3 percent, after inflation.

Frank Capra, rightwing jerk

It Wasn't Such a Wonderful Life - Biography; Review -

Whenever I think of Capra, I think of a famous Hollywood story: Capra had been interviewed about "the Capra touch" and never once mentioned his usual screenwriter, Robert Riskin. Riskin came in the next day, gave Capra a stack of blank pages, said, "Put the Capra touch on that, Frank," and left.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

commie article at CNN

Gap between rich and middle class grows - Dec. 23, 2010

a comics panel for Emma

Consumer lifestyle choice statement time.
via Comically Vintage

ETA: For folks who don't know Emma, I should add that this panel is not always appropriate. But on a day like today, when holiday items go on clearance....

retweet: corporate censorship, academic spine

tweeted by @kenanmalik:
The demand: & the smackdown: If only more academics had such spine (h/t @ & @)

"as American as Red Indians"

The Real American Pie | Feature | Chicago Reader: "Mince pie was once inextricable from our national identity. Blamed for bad health, murderous dreams, the downfall of Prohibition, and the decline of the white race, it nonetheless persisted as an American staple through the 1940s. So what happened?"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Speed review: True Grit

Loved it. 4 1/2 stars. Bits involving black and Indian characters and the mentions of Confederacy could lead to much discussion; I'll get into that in the comments if anyone wants

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Palestinian recognition

John V. Whitbeck: The Shape of Palestinian Statehood:
On December 17, Bolivia extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine within its full pre-1967 borders (all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem). Coming soon after the similar recognitions by Brazil and Argentina, Bolivia's recognition brought to 106 the number of UN member states recognizing the State of Palestine
That number is amazing. I don't remember any states recognizing the Confederacy, and I think Tibet was only formally recognized by one tiny neighbor, Mongolia. (Yes, Tibet and the Confederacy sent out ambassadors and did their best to act as if they were nations, but formal recognition eluded them.)

it's the taboo that manifests and propagates the misogyny

Notes From The Geek Show: Cunt

What Christmas Owes to Abolitionists

What Christmas Owes to Abolitionists

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Class Politics at Harvard

Class Politics Versus Identity Politics « Garibaldy Blog:
In Harvard, which I think takes 40% legacy students (other colleges take more and won’t even reveal the figures), 9% of students are black – but only 7% are poor. Michaels uses the outrage over the recent arrest of Professor Gates in Harvard as indicative of the fact that anti-racism and anti-discrimination enables the elite to feel better about the possession of its wealth – if discrimination against peple is removed, then their wealth is because of their talent, not structural inequality. And the poor deserve to be poor.
ETA: See Bill Colsher's comment below; there're problems with this claim. I dunno if the Garibaldy writer was sloppy or Michaels is wrong. I'm inclined to think the former; I know my blogging is sloppier than what I write to sell. I'll try to follow up on this sometime.

a little about Commie Santa

From The Santa Secret: Santa Plays Favorites:
I never remember believing in Santa, and even as a eight-year old, I remember it making me so angry that these kids were told that Santa brought toys based on who was “good,” knowing very well the kid who was going to get the most toys under the tree was the one kid in the class who deserved coal, and the sweet girl who appeared neglected might not get anything.
Another friend of mine, Tammy Nelson, reflected on her childhood to me, “I always loved Santa, but was baffled every year when the neighbor brats got a ton of cool stuff from Santa, and I got much less, and I was really, really good! …I always felt like somehow, I had done something wrong.”
It seems it still reflects in how we view the world as adults. We see rich people as more talented, intelligent, and generally deserving of their wealth, even if they acquired their wealth on the backs of people they mistreated. We’re grown-ups who still believe that those who are most deserving get the most toys, and if we don’t have everything we want, we must be at fault. And that is perhaps even more sad than an unanswered letter to Santa.
I'm of several minds on this. An argument can be made that it's good to tell kids Santa exists because that soon teaches them that adults lie now and then. And I love that Santa wears red and gives without expecting anything in return, like any commie. But there's no denying that under capitalism, Santa is forced to be extremely unfair. So far, Krampus is winning.

Haley Barbour and Racism

Haley Barbour’s Praise of Citizen Councils Stirs Debate About Racism - The Daily Beast
Rather than resorting to terrorism, the “town leaders” of the Citizens Councils used more genteel methods to punish African Americans who dared demand civil rights. When black parents in Yazoo filed petitions to desegregate county schools, the Citizens Council took out a full-page newspaper add with their names and addresses. The same information, Dittmer writes, was posted on placards in every store in town. All the signatories with white employers lost their jobs. The self-employed were subject to punishing boycotts: One grocer, for example, left the state after distributors destroyed his business by refusing to sell to him.
The last is the kind of thing that drove my family out of Levy County in the '60s. It may be why I tend to be suspicious of any attempt to silence anyone for their beliefs, no matter how much I disagree with them.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moonwalking Zombies of 1921

Louis Prima - Shake Hands with Santa Claus

YouTube - Louis Prima - Shake Hands with Santa Claus

via The Journey: Great Holiday Songs You May Not Know - Day 19

about the Thor movie's black Heimdall

Estoreal: Heimdall

Frederick Douglass on slave songs

"I have often been utterly astonished, since I came to the north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

three questions @jsmooth995 @sadydoyle

1. For all of my professional writing life, I've been writing about race and gender, and I've been praised for it. See Ellen Kushner's comment about Dogland or the feministsf wiki's claim that my "work features strong women characters and people of color." But since I added class to my concerns, people like you say I'm racist and sexist and someone who thinks we live in a post-racial America. Can you offer any quotes of mine to to support what you claim?

(If you're thinking of the selective quotes at Coffeeandink's site, my reply is here. The short version: In all of those cases, I was pointing out class to people who were ignoring it.)

2. You love to talk about other people's privilege, but you don't talk about your own class privilege. A quick google reveals that Jay Smooth attended some private schools, and Sady Doyle has articles published by mags that are, in your terms, institutionally classist, where the percentage of writers from expensive private schools is remarkably disproportionate. What private schools were you privileged to attend?

3. Can you provide any links to any of your work where you discuss class in any depth?



Nope, not embarrassing for Michael Moore

¡Viva WikiLeaks! SiCKO Was Not Banned in Cuba | "Sounds convincing, eh?! There's only one problem -- the entire nation of Cuba was shown the film on national television on April 25, 2008!"

Frederick Douglass on house niggers and politicians

"Few privileges were esteemed higher, by the slaves of the out-farms, than that of being selected to do errands at the Great House Farm. It was associated in their minds with greatness. A representative could not be prouder of his election to a seat in the American Congress, than a slave on one of the out-farms would be of his election to do errands at the Great House Farm. They regarded it as evidence of great confidence reposed in them by their overseers; and it was on this account, as well as a constant desire to be out of the field from under the driver's lash, that they esteemed it a high privilege, one worth careful living for. He was called the smartest and most trusty fellow, who had this honor conferred upon him the most frequently. The competitors for this office sought as diligently to please their overseers, as the office-seekers in the political parties seek to please and deceive the people."

Friday, December 17, 2010

things Andrea Dworkin has said

Andrea Dworkin is not on record as saying that all heterosexual sex is rape, but she has said:

"No woman needs intercourse; few women escape it."

"Seduction is often difficult to distinguish from rape. In seduction, the rapist often bothers to buy a bottle of wine."

"Men are sexually predatory in life; and women are sexually manipulative."

"A commitment to sexual equality with males is a commitment to becoming the rich instead of the poor, the rapist instead of the raped, the murderer instead of the murdered."

"Penetrative intercourse is, by its nature, violent."

"Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women."

"Violation is a synonym for intercourse."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

web site of the day

The Equality Trust.

Walt Kelly's Christmas is coming

via Whirled of Kelly: Christmas is Coming

Steampunk coolness

Steampunk Brass Synthesizer Blows My Mind - Technabob (Thanks, Bill Colsher!)

Time to leave Blogger? Plus, what's the true self?

Everyone Uses E-mail, But Blogging Is On the Decline [STUDY]

I'm thinking about shutting down this old blog and just doing Facebook and Twitter. I dunno if that would mean I would blog less, but I might blog differently. I'm not crazy about Facebook, but I like its commenting system better than Blogger's.

And I like one aspect of its culture a great deal: you're expected to use your legal name there. I think that makes commenters a litte more, well, human. There's a saying by Oscar Wilde that I dislike because it's incomplete: "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." Sometimes that's true. Other times, masked people take on personas that are less themselves. To use possibly outdated psychology terms, the masked self can be either id or superego. The true self is the gestalt self.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

China Miéville sees it clearly

rejectamentalist manifesto: The scene: a mass demonstration in Tehran/Harare/Rangoon/Pyongyang/&c.

fair world update: if we shared the wealth and income

I blogged the numbers on sharing the wealth earlier. From Working Group on Extreme Inequality » The Difference More Global Equality Could Make:
The world’s 4.4 billion adults, notes the new Credit Suisse research, now hold $194.5 trillion in wealth. That’s enough, if shared evenly across the globe, to guarantee every adult in the world a $43,800 net worth.
Lately, I've been thinking about sharing income. Wikipedia came through: World economy says every person in the world would get $10,500 (GDP/PPP).

Which means Emma and I would have a net worth of $87,600, and we would get $20,500 a year. Assume universal health care and good public transportation, and life would be sweet.

corporate censorship is not better than government censorship

The Layman Online: There’s (NOT) an app for that

I totally disagree with the Manhattan Declaration. But I disagree more with censoring them. Oh, Apple, please stop censoring folks or stop making toys that I want.

The Ramones - Merry Christmas ( I Don't Want To Fight Tonight )

The Ramones - Merry Christmas ( I Don't Want To Fight Tonight )

via The Journey: Great Holiday Songs You May Not Know - Day 15

College, Jobs and Inequality

College, Jobs and Inequality -

Hey, Wiscon! Is this censorship?

Museum of Contemporary Art commissions, then paints over, artwork -

I want to write worse

Why we love bad writing

Emma and I join the goggles set

Our signing at LosCon:
Emma Bull and Will Shetterly

Via LosCon 2010 « Book Signings and Events

Monday, December 13, 2010

Noam Chomsky is rich

Noam Chomsky has a bit about the very profitable business of criticizing capitalism.

I admire Chomsky, but he doesn't really interest me. I think academics and theorists are important, but they lose sight of one of Marx's most important observations: "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."

I can't blame Chomsky for being very careful about his wealth, but I wish he would live as if the future he wants has arrived. For most of us, that'd be a luxury. But Chomsky could afford to keep less and give more to organizations promoting a better future.

Well. We all have a little hypocrite in us. Just makes us human.

And I confess, if I was rich, I dunno who I would give my money to right now. I think I'd give it all to starting a US labor party.

via The Crow's Eye: The Noam.

Barenaked Ladies - "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings"

Barenaked Ladies - "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" [audio]

via David Emerson, who says, "merges into "We 3 Kings" with guest vocalist Sarah McLachlan."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

a commie quote from Shakespeare

"There is thy gold, worse poison to men’s souls,
Doing more murder in this loathsome world,
Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell." —Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

more cool Christmas songs

Both recommended by aspyre.

YouTube - Coil - Christmas Is Now Drawing Near

lyrics: Oi To The World Lyrics - No Doubt. This may be the best Christmas song ever.

Carolina Chocolate Drops "Cornbread and Butterbeans"

YouTube - Carolina Chocolate Drops "Cornbread and Butterbeans"


punk Christmas, surprisingly beautiful

YouTube - Siouxsie and the Banshees - Il Est Né le Divin Enfant

too scary not to share

I could resist sharing an anti-capitalism rant by the usual suspects, but I have to share this, by a respected capitalist at a respected capitalist site:

10 reasons to shun stocks till banks crash Paul B. Farrell - MarketWatch

I guess this means I'm not taking a blogging break. Well, I'll try to make posts more personal or more unusual or more amusing from now on.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I have permission to post on javalina days

It's been a javalina week. Soon after we returned from the big road trip, we walked to the mail box in the middle of the day and saw a javalina crossing the road a few hundred feet away. Then, on a late afternoon walk, I saw ten javalinas cross the road several hundred yards away. And then, going to the barn in mid-afternoon, I stopped about thirty feet from an adult javalina who was in the barn. I strongly suspect he was the one who's been chewing on the insulation around the pipes. Javalina smell water and don't appreciate human efforts to confine it.

Tonight, a little after dark, Emma and I went over to a neighbor's to pick up a package of theirs, 'cause they're away for a couple of days and couldn't change the delivery date. As we came toward it, Emma said, "Do you smell skunk?"

That should've been a major hint.

I smelled something, but it wasn't strong. I forget my boring answer. I shone the flashlight on the package and started for it.

Something barked.

Well, not exactly, but just as my brain had first said "skunk", it now said "wild dog."

I stepped back toward Emma, and a javalina walked out from the bushes, heading away from us. He may be a loner living in the area. I should check to see if young males live alone. He's probably the loner I've seen the last couple of times. Or maybe he was just away from the other ten when we saw him alone.

But since I saw a javalina, I'm posting. Here are a couple of Friday night videos from my kind of people:

YouTube - 15 year old Tells Establishment to Stick-it.

YouTube - An Irishman abroad tells it like it is !! :-)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

beloved reader, is this my last blog post of 2010?

Time to take a blogging break. We're not going anywhere, but Emma and I have a lot to do at home. Our road trip was nice for reminding me that the web is a tool, and when you don't pay attention to your tools, they may start using you.

Advice that I hope you don't need: Never hesitate to tell people you love that you love them.

Bonus advice: When people are near the ends of their lives, they regret things they didn't do more than things they didn't have.

Since I'm not sure how soon I'll blog again (in theory, Jan 1, 2011, but perhaps tomorrow or never), I want to say I love you all like family. In a few cases, very annoying family, but still, humanity is one family, and even its annoying members should be treated with respect and love.

Have some hippie wisdom: Sly & The Family Stone - Everyday People

Kenan Malik's essay on why workfare doesn't work

we used to want to change society. now we just want to coerce the poor.

yes, Julian Assange is a journalist

I've been listening to people argue that Assange is not a journalist because he presents information and does not spin it. The same people will then acknowledge that he has written editorials and commentary. They'll say he's a pubisher, not a journalist.

It's all quibbling. Journalists present information about the world. Some try blatantly to interpret it, some try subtly. Some interpret it with their choices of information. It's all journalism--it's all the news that the journaler thinks is fit to print. Assange deserves every consideration that any journalist deserves.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Assange: not a cad, but a rapist?

My last post on the subject sounded like I was more certain than I am about whether Assange committed rape, so here's an article Stephanie Zvan provided that has more info: Julian Assange refused bail over rape allegations | Media | The Guardian.

I'm completely on the side of "no means no." But I'm also on the side of believing not all wrongs can be addressed by the law.

just don't talk to me about Obama

I voted for the guy because I wanted to vote for a black person for President--which was much less satisfying than I'd imagined back when Shirley Chisholm and Jesse Jackson ran. Because I had no illusions about Obama, his Clintonesque dance never disappointed me, or rather, it only disappointed me because I wanted to be wrong about him.

But it's past time for anyone who pretends to be leftish to give up on him. Robert Reich is right: (The President's Last Stand Is No Stand At All: Why the Tax Deal is an Abomination).

A few cartoons from Mike Flugennock:

regarding claims of British college racism

Oxbridge isn’t racist – but it’s failing the working class | Liberal Conspiracy

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Assange: not a rapist, but a cad

Supporters dismissed rape accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange... but the two women involved tell a different story | Mail Online

link via Neil Gaiman

post title by me, because I never expected to have an excuse to use "cad".

I confess, when I thought about the future, I expected the news would be about airships and jetpacks, not blowjobs and condoms.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Uprooting the Bedouins of Israel

Neve Gordon: Uprooting the Bedouins of Israel:
The practice of planting forests in an attempt to Judaize more territory is by no means new. Right after Israel's establishment in 1948, the JNF planted millions of trees to cover up the remains of Palestinian villages that had been destroyed during or after the war. The objective was to help ensure that the 750,000 Palestinian residents who either fled or were expelled during the war would never return to their villages and to suppress the fact that they had been the rightful owners of the land before the State of Israel was created. Scores of Palestinian villages disappeared from the landscape in this way, and the grounds were converted into picnic parks, thus helping engender a national amnesia regarding the Palestinian Nakba.

a story from Terri Windling's child abuse anthology

Dream Catcher by Will Shetterly. Originally published in The Armless Maiden, edited by Terri Windling.

some ways to help address child abuse

Little Red becomes the Wolf. - What -You- Can Do To Help (In regards to recent FaceBook drama.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Neoliberalism: Diversity and Inequality

Neoliberalism: Diversity and Inequality by Walter Benn Michaels has several nice bits, including this:
Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panther movement in 1966, warned his comrades: “Those who want to obscure the struggle with ethnic differences are the ones who are aiding and maintaining the exploitation of the masses of the people: poor whites, poor blacks, browns, red Indians, poor Chinese and Japanese... We do not fight exploitative capitalism with black capitalism. We fight capitalism with basic socialism.” Now, with the rise of Obama, we still don’t fight capitalism with black capitalism, we try to save capitalism with black capitalism.

Not content with pretending that our real problem is cultural difference rather than economic difference, we have even begun to treat economic difference as though it were a form of cultural difference. What is expected of the upper middle class today is that we show ourselves to be more respectful of the poor, and that we stop acting as if things like our superior educations really make us superior.

And once we succeed in convincing ourselves that the poor are people who need our respect more than they need our money, our own attitude towards them becomes the problem to be solved, and not their poverty. We can now devote our reforms not to removing class but to eliminating what we Americans call “classism.” The trick is to analyse inequality as a consequence of our prejudices rather than of our social system, and thus replace the pain of giving up some of our money with the comparative pleasure of giving up (along with our classism) our racism, sexism, and homophobia.

about that Facebook meme

Making Child Abuse Facebook Famous | techyum ::
Facebook Activism isn’t just stupid; it’s dangerous. It convinces people that doing next to nothing is actually better than doing nothing at all.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

the white poor pay the price of diversity

Op-Ed Columnist - The Roots Of White Anxiety -
...which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.
White, Poor and Ignored? | Poverty in America |

If we assume that poor whites are more likely to populate these rural communities, statistics point to a disproportionately low amount of money being distributed to assist these areas. For example, The Ford Foundation, which purports to be active in rural development, made just $68 million in active grants and loans to rural areas in its fiscal 2006, out of $360 million overall in the U.S. Also, according to a study by the Foundation Center, North Dakota was awarded $3.3 million from foundations, South Dakota $3.2 million and Montana $10 million — compared with $3 billion for New York and $2 billion for California in 2005. While North Dakota may experience the lowest unemployment rates in the country, residents there still must deal with growing poverty and homelessness.

The poet Emma Lazarus once said, "Until we are all free, we are none of us free.

Ron Paul on free speech

One reason why socialists may have more in common with conservatives than liberals: Ron Paul stands up for Julian Assange - Andy Barr -
“In a free society we're supposed to know the truth,” Paul said. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.”

Friday, December 3, 2010

Damn. I *am* too old for this shit.

or, My body is revolting.

First, on the big road trip...TMI warning...I got an annoying hemorrhoid. Too much sitting, too little fiber in my food. I ate better and walked more, and that problem went away.

But on the last day of the trip, I decided to gut through a neck ache 'cause I wanted to get home ASAP. And now I'm hobbling around with a painfully stiff upper back.

This may mean less blogging. Though every time I say something may mean less blogging, I end up blogging more....

By the by. This doesn't really mean I'm too old for long road trips. But I'll eat more conscientiously and stretch more often on the next one.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Buddhism and violence #2

From Sightings:

Making Violence Buddhist
- Benjamin Schonthal

In a recent Sightings column Martin E. Marty drew attention to a feature of Buddhism that many Americans find startling: there are Buddhist texts that seem to legitimate war. Marty’s observation contravenes a commonly-held belief that Buddhism is exclusively a religion of peace, one whose tenets reject the use of violence. Yet, Buddhism hasn’t always enjoyed this reputation. Victorian-era Orientalists saw Buddhism as a religion of pessimism, self-denial, even life-abnegating rejection of the world. During World War II, Buddhism was identified by some as motivating Japanese kamikaze pilots. 

More recently, Buddhism’s pacific nature has been impugned by followers of events in Sri Lanka who observe that, over the course of the island’s thirty-year civil war, Buddhist terms and themes were invoked regularly by hawkish Sinhalese politicians to call for more aggressive military action against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). For example, in an interview on the BBC in March 2009, Keheliya Rambukwella, the spokesman for the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense described the government’s military campaign against the LTTE as follows: “Our exercise is noble because we need to eradicate the source of human suffering. When you are on a noble path there are certain sacrifices that we all do to uproot the cause of suffering.”

The quote is striking because it uses Buddhist idioms to describe military action. Rhetorically, the statement links the Sri Lankan army’s offensive to the core ethical doctrine taught by the Buddha in the Pali Tipitika, the four “noble truths” which Buddhists must follow to achieve enlightenment. Rambukwella’s statement equates the LTTE with dukkha, the phenomenon of worldly suffering which Buddhist practice aims to overcome. It links the course of military operations with steps along the noble eightfold path, the system of moral action and mental cultivation that the Buddha preached to his followers. In short, it describes the war with the LTTE as analogous or equivalent to the pursuit of Buddhist religious goals. 

Does Rambukwella’s statement represent a distortion of Buddhist doctrine or one, among many, possible interpretations? To answer either way seems unsatisfactory. By dismissing the spokesman’s statement as illegitimate (a cynical, instrumental use of Buddhism), one exempts Buddhist ideas of any complicity in rationalizing or moralizing violence. By treating the spokesman’s statement as a bona fide expression of Buddhist piety, one normalizes a rather idiosyncratic, not to mention non-traditional, use of Buddhist concepts.

One solution is to bring human actors and religious institutions back into the picture. After all, it is not religion that acts. Humans map religious concepts onto violent actions through discourse. As Mark Juergensmeyer and others have pointed out, there is an undeniable convenience to so doing: religious concepts are suitable justifications for violence because war provides a congenial metaphor for piety. Buddhism is no different. Self-cultivation in Buddhism as in other religious traditions is conceived as struggleBuddhist virtue is understood as defeating craving, desire, and ignorance. It only takes a short interpretive leap to homologize ethical struggle to physical conflict.

What distinguishes the Sri Lankan defense spokesman’s use of Buddhist ideas from, for example, that of the Dalai Lama is not the validity of his interpretation, but its relationship to authorized institutions through which Buddhist texts, practices and concepts are glossed, transmitted and (re)produced. We may thus say that Rambukwella’s translating of military action into Buddhist idioms may be interpretively valid, but it is not authorized by most Buddhist ecclesiastical institutions in Sri Lanka. Similarly, the September 11 hijackers mustered an interpretation of Islam which may have some valid scriptural referents, but which is not authorized by most of the world’s Muslim institutions.

Why then has Buddhism tended to be exculpated from links with violence in popular media while Islam has not? One difference lies in how Western media have depicted the two religions as institutions. Islam is routinely presented as a singular, unified, institutionally-coherent religion with the possible exception of the Sunni-Shi’a split. Buddhism, on the other hand, is presented as anti-institutional, a religion of individual, self-guided practitioners. Using these models, popular media interpret Muslims’ actions deductively, as reflecting the dictates of some monolithic Islam, while interpreting Buddhists’ actions inductively, as expressing the actors’ own, personal views about Buddhism. Media outlets thus allow Buddhists more interpretive diversity, making it more difficult for a single Buddhist to be seen to speak for Buddhism as a whole. Of course, this discursive binary is wildly inaccurate. But it has remarkable power and persistence in popular culture.

In thinking about religion and politics—and violence is politics continued by other means, as the saying goes—we must be cautious not to lose sight of the people who are acting, and to examine closely their relationship with complex and heterogeneous institutions of religious authority. We also must take seriously the speech act. Under what circumstance are actors permitted by audiences to speak for a religious tradition? To do so is to recognize that there are no predetermined links between Buddhism or Islam—or any religion—and violence.  It is people who link them.

Benjamin Schonthal is a PhD candidate in History of Religions and a Martin Marty Center Junior Fellow.

The downside of diversity

The downside of diversity - The Boston Globe. From 2007, but I missed it the first time around. It's still fascinating. Its big failure: no mention of class or wealth to put "diverse neighborhoods" in perspective. 'Cause if these are richer neighborhoods, it's no surprise that the results are what they are: rich people are statistically more self-obsessed and less generous. Or if they're poorer neighborhoods, it makes sense, too: People may be too busy scrambling to survive.

The problem with talking about "diversity" is it's meaningless without an acknowledgment of the c-word.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the Shirky Principle, and the Shetterly Addition

"Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution." -- Clay Shirky

To which I'll add: When the problem has been solved, institutions dedicated to solving it will find it where it does not exist.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Most Socialist States in America

Hari Kunzru on freedom of speech

from Hari Kunzru's "Address to European Writers Parliament 25th November 2010":
The third area of concern for us as writers is the use of language to produce identity. In the European context this is particularly crucial, as the economic crisis is immiserating large numbers of people, who are  - as always in European history - turning towards xenophobia and atavistic nationalism in the hope of identifying an enemy more tangible than global capital.

It seems to me that multiculturalism, once a useful and progressive kind of politics, is no longer functioning as well as it did. The limits of identity politics are becoming clear. Instead of a playful, creative blending of the best of host and migrant cultures, the terms of multiculturalism are increasingly used by cultural conservatives of all stripes to police cultural boundaries. A liberal politics of absolute inclusivity, while presenting itself as pragmatic, has the disadvantage of obscuring genuine differences and antagonisms. Identity politics, which privileges categories like race and religion, is wilfully silent about class. Culture is, self-evidently, at the heart of this, and so we as writers have a central role to play. It sickens me to watch European bigots puffing up their chests about the values of the Enlightenment, as a badge of their superiority against poor and marginalised immigrant populations. Again, I say that opposition to this Enlightenment fundamentalism, isn’t moral relativism, but an ethical imperative. At this point, respecting difference is important, but so is asserting our common life across borders of race, class and religion. The fake pageantry of respect is no substitute for a genuine internationalism.

There are many weapons in the culture war, but chief among the techniques of policing thought and writing is that of offence. We are familiar with the use of the notion of offense by religious and ethnic minorities to gain identity-political purchase – from the Rushdie fatwa to the Mohammed cartoons, the martialling of sentiments of shame and abused honor have generated a lot of heat and not much light.

I believe that the right to freedom of speech trumps any right to protection from offense, and that it underlies all the other issues I’ve been speaking about. Without freedom of speech, we, as writers, can have very little impact on culture. In saying this, I’m aware that this is a prime example of a concept which has been degraded by the war on terror – that many European muslims misidentify it as a tool of Anglo-Saxon interests, a license to insult them, rather than the sole guarantee of their right to be heard.

advice for convention panelists #1

If there's a list of your events on the back of your badge, compare it with the program to be sure nothing's been omitted.

Or, my apologies to anyone who attended "SF at the Freeway’s End" and expected me to be there. It wasn't on the list on my badge. Often smaller panels are livelier ones, so I hope that was for the best.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Emma and scary sign #2 (rest stop near Yucca, AZ)

Emma considers her apple

Cheetos inflate at altitude (Flagstaff, AZ)

my LosCon schedule

Friday 1:30 p.m. – New Orleans
Stimulating Your Muse
Where do great ideas come from and how can you nurse those creative genes without a hangover?
Will Shetterly (m), Kathy Porter, Valerie Estelle Frankel, Aaron Mason, Gary Philips

Friday 3:00 – Chicago
SF at the Freeway’s End
Heinlein’s “crooked house” was in LA, and so was the lanai apartment in Ellison’s “Shattered Like A Glass Goblin.” Bradbury’s Venus sounds like LA in February! How have local sf and fantasy writers mined the experience of living in Los Angeles for fictional purposes? Is this city a uniquely fertile source of ideas?
Tim Powers, Gary Westfahl, Gary Phillips, Will Shetterly, Ken Estes

Saturday 11:30 a.m. – Boston/Atlanta
SF Noir and Its Relationship to Crime Stories
Cody Goodfellow, Mel Gilden, Will Shetterly, James Kerwin, Bill Warren
Saturday 4:00 p.m. – Philadelphia
Fantasy and Monarchy
Many fantasy novels revolve around kings and queens, princes and princesses, tyrannical emperors and long-lost heirs to the throne. How much of fantasy’s appeal is grounded in a monarchic setting, and how can this long-standing tradition of genre be updated or refreshed, or abandoned entirely?
Sherwood Smith, Will Shetterly, Rhondi Vilott Salsitz, Lynn Maudlin, Karen Anderson
Saturday 5:30 p.m. – New Orleans
Beyond the first draft (editing, or what to expect of the second draft)
Okay, so you finished that big first draft. Is it done, or are you just getting started on the real work? Pros discuss the top tips on what to look for and how to turn that rough draft into a polished gem.
Tim Powers, Will Shetterly, Marv Wolfman, Laurel Anne Hill, Todd McCaffrey

Sunday 11:30 a.m. – Marquis 3
Shadow Unit
Find out more about Shadow Unit, the innovative, interactive, online science fiction project about a secret investigative unit at the FBI.
Emma Bull, Will Shetterly

They didn't take my suggestion for a "class and f&sf" panel, but I suspect I'll have some of the same fun on "Fantasy and Monarchy." Where it appears I'll be the token male. Which amuses me, 'cause it follows a couple of SF panels that are all-boy affairs.

We may draft some extra folks for the Shadow Unit panel.

Monday, November 22, 2010

still a driving fool

Just drove 600 miles. I need a T-shirt: "I am too old for this shit." But I'm not, really. The last 120 was under a nearly-full moon. I'll always love the road.

Also, it is good to be back in the Southwest. Tomorrow, the sky will be the right color.

Buddhism and violence

Martin E. Marty wrote in Sightings:
As an equal opportunity admirer and critic of the “faith communities” on this subject, I also have wondered how Buddhism gets its peaceful reputation. A review by Katherine Wharton of two books, Buddhist Warfare and The Six Perfections illuminates. Buddhist Warfare, says Wharton, “forms an accurate history of violence in the name of religion,” and cites sutras which shock, since they “justify killing with detailed reference to the Buddha’s central philosophical tenants. The book therefore presents a uniquely Buddhist ‘heart of darkness.’” Brian Victoria’s essay in The Six Perfections brings the issue to modern times: D. T. Suzuki (d. 1966), “the most influential proponent of Zen to the West in the twentieth century . . . gave his unqualified support to the ‘unity of Zen and the sword.’” Between ancient and modern times, as another contributor to these symposia finds and cites, was Chinese monk Yi-hiuan, who urged his hearers to “kill everything you encounter, internally as well as externally! Kill the Buddha! Kill your father and mother! Kill your closest friends!”
In the eyes of many apologists and observers, the Buddhist concept of “emptiness” is, from a distance, a guarantor of peace, over against the fullness of Warrior-God texts in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. But Wharton is convinced by these books that “emptiness” can and does also promote violence, and is not by itself the solution.
Yes, "kill" is metaphorical in Yi-huan's advice. But most religious violence comes from people misunderstanding metaphors.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

quote of the day

Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey: 'Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.'

Friday, November 19, 2010

pics of us and others in New Orleans

Ellen Datlow's first of three flicker sets of her time in New Orleans is here:

I'm quite fond of this pic, of Ellen and Delia and Emma (and also me):

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Orleans cemetery

Louisiana bridge

Louisiana swamp raccoon

angel behind bars in New Orleans

Emma, Klages, and Shawna's eye (Louisiana river boat)

Steve in a reflective mood

Emma & Rainey at Cafe du Monde

Emma is not going swimming in Louisiana

Emma in Louisiana

Emma at work in Texas

a good gunman

law west of the Pecos

Emma is skeptical (near AZ-NM border)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

classaliciousness, my political post for this week

I'm going to avoid "classism" from now on. That's just the word folks with academic pretensions use for "snobbery".


The Mississippi Pardons. When you think the US (in)justice system can't get worse....

The Cosmopolitan ‘Meritocracy’ and Class Stratification of Black Nationality. It's not about the rage of neoliberal antiracists, but it explains it:
This is a social layer that is insecure in its class position. It lacks the confidence exhibited by the bourgeoisie, even by the nouveau riche bourgeoisie. The propertied rulers—comprising only hundreds of families, not thousands—are a confident class (except during prerevolutionary crises or times of a rapidly accelerating breakdown of the capitalist order). Not only do they own, control, and hold the debt in perpetuity on the commanding heights of industry, banking, land, and trade. They also dominate the state and all aspects of social and political life, and finance the production of culture and the arts, including its “cutting edges.”

The meritocracy, to the contrary, is not confident. Dependent on cadging from the capitalists a portion of the wealth created by the exploited producers, these privileged aspirants to bourgeois affluence—a lifestyle they are convinced “society” owes them—nonetheless fear at some point being pushed back toward the conditions of the working classes. On the one hand, due to their very size as a stratum of society—it’s millions, if not tens of millions in the United States today—they recognize that the rulers find them useful to bolster illusions in the supposedly limitless “careers open to talent” under capitalism. At the same time, and despite their shameless self-promotion, many of them also sense that since they serve no essential economic or political functions in the production and reproduction of surplus value, they live at the forbearance of the bourgeoisie. In the end, large numbers of them are expendable, especially at times of deepening social crisis.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dresden Dolls and Jason Webley

I expected the Dolls to be great, and they were. The encore made me wish I'd seen Amanda Palmer in Cabaret.

I knew nothing about Jason Webley. More greatness.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

class rant of the day

Taking America Back to the Gilded Age. A snippet: "In Chicago, retail store magnate Marshall Field made $600 an hour and paid his clerks $3 to $5 a week, after they had put in three years of satisfactory service."

If you like Rumi

POETRY: “Me and Rumi’s Ghost” by Samer Rabadi :Apex Magazine

I'm looking forward to reading the fiction there, but I thought I'd call out this poem. I left this comment on it:

And because I just realized not everyone knows that’s high praise where I come from, this is the meaning I have in mind: “characterized by, showing, or requiring great accuracy, precision, skill, tact, care, or delicacy: nice workmanship; a nice shot; a nice handling of a crisis.”

Friday, November 5, 2010

a thought

You're not an adult until you forgive your parents.

Churchill joins Mao and Stalin in mass murder through starvation

The Most Powerful Scientist Ever: Winston Churchill's Personal Technocrat: Scientific American: "Winston Churchill remains perhaps the most admired statesman of modern times. Yet the politician who spearheaded the Allies' fight against the Nazis demonstrated a profound disdain for the well-being of denizens of Britain's largest colony, and his government's policy of neglect led directly to a famine in South Asia in the 1940s that killed millions."

Thursday, November 4, 2010


YouTube - ZAZ - Je veux: Embedding disabled, the bums, so you have to click through. But I love this. I'd call it fun French pop, and I love both her voice and her vocal styling.

Two versions of "Dans ma rue", one acoustic, one studio (with fan images):

YouTube - ZAZ - "Dans ma rue" acoustique


funny Mr. Lincoln and a race article

"If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?" —Abraham Lincoln

'They all look the same' race effect seen in the brain - life - 04 November 2010 - New Scientist

there shall be no poor among you: Deuteronomy vs. Jesus?

Rich people sometimes cite these bits of the Bible to justify their privilege:
"For the poor shall never cease out of the land" Deuteronomy 15:11
"For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always." Matthew 26:11
But they don't quote all of Deuteronomy 15:11:
"For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land." Deuteronomy 15:11
Or note the command a few sentences earlier:
"...there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it." Deuteronomy 15:4
As for Jesus, Matthew has a habit of making his teachings easier for rich folks. Mark gives the full version:
"For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always." Mark 14:7
Luke is the bluntest of the Gospelers. For those who do not wish to help the poor, he warns,
"But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation." Luke 6:24

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Snoburbia and a book about race and class that I should read

Via A Tiny Revolution: Sad Faces in Snoburbia:

Montgomery County mom takes a poke at her peeps is about snoburbia, the blog. I haven't made my mind up about the blog. The writer's observant, but I'm not sure she's insightful—she knows she's living in a mad society, but she's not about to start a commie stitch and bitch club. Still, I recommend snoburbia and race, and I quite liked her bit about Kung Fu classes.

Also: Book Review: Eugene Robinson's 'Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America'.

Tim Wise, time to cut the classist crap

Dear Tim,

In An Open Letter to the White Right, On the Occasion of Your Recent, Successful Temper Tantrum, you say:
And for y’all a bit lower on the economic scale, enjoy your Pabst Blue Ribbon, or whatever shitty ass beer you favor.
That should be "whatever shitty ass beer you can afford."

But you'd have to have some understanding of what life is like for hard-hit working-class folks to know that.

You're generally right that racists are falling on the dungheap of history. But you don't get that what we're facing now isn't about race. Look at who the Tea Party elected: Minorities ride GOP wave to groundbreaking wins - 2012 Elections -

It's about class now. So decide which side you want to be on.

all the best,


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

even bigots must be free to speak

Here's a quote that's generally credited to Martin Niemöller:
They came first for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
I'm a red, which explains why free speech matters so much to me. If capitalists don't respect free speech, I'm silenced.

But that quote isn't addressed to reds. It's addressed to people who oppose them. A modern equivalent for antiracism theorists would start, "They came first for the bigots, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a bigot."

Censors love a foothold, so they start with the things that the majority opposes, then use what they've gained to censor more. That's why I agree with the ACLU: lovers of free speech must speak up for a bigot's right to speak.

ETA: I wouldn't have thought of the quote if I hadn't seen it being used by one of the supporters of Wiscon's decision to cancel a speaker. The notion that Niemöller believed in silencing bad people before their ideas could spread just croggled me.

Yes, many notions croggle me.

ETA 2: This post follows from uninviting a speaker is censorship: Elizabeth Moon, Wiscon, ACLU, and more.

Chris Rock, classist creep

YouTube - Chris Rock-Niggas Vs. Black People Pt 1

He focuses on poor blacks for most of this, then gets to poor whites at the end.

Mind you, this is from 1996. But it's fascinating that he saw, in a raw, despise-the-poor way, the class divide that has 40% of black Americans saying there are now two black races.

I was reminded of his routine by David Mills: The 'Nigger' Top 10.

ETA: Note the venue. The only poor folks in there were either showing the people who could afford those tickets to their seats or waiting to clean up after the audience had left. Now, Rock is funny. But his humor here is all about class rage.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Malcolm X on the limits of Black Nationalism

From Excerpts from an interview printed in Malcolm X Talks to Young People given to Young Socialist Alliance leaders Jack Barnes and Barry Sheppard on January 18, 1965:

Young Socialist: How do you define Black nationalism, with which you have been identified?
Malcolm X: I used to define Black nationalism as the idea that the Black man should control the economy of his community, the politics of his community, and so forth.
But when I was in Africa in May, in Ghana, I was speaking with the Algerian ambassador who is extremely militant and is a revolutionary in the true sense of the word (and has his credentials as such for having carried on a successful revolution against oppression in his country). When I told him that my political, social, and economic philosophy was Black nationalism, he asked me very frankly: Well, where did that leave him? Because he was white. He was an African, but he was Algerian, and to all appearances, he was a white man. And he said if I define my objective as the victory of Black nationalism, where does that leave him? Where does that leave revolutionaries in Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania? So he showed me where I was alienating people who were true revolutionaries dedicated to overturning the system of exploitation that exists on this earth by any means necessary.
So I had to do a lot of thinking and reappraising of my definition of Black nationalism. Can we sum up the solution to the problems confronting our people as Black nationalism? And if you notice, I haven’t been using the expression for several months. But I still would be hard pressed to give a specific definition of the overall philosophy which I think is necessary for the liberation of the Black people in this country....