Monday, May 31, 2010

European Jews were white in the US

I was a kid in Florida in the early '60s. The Supreme Court had ruled for integration and against school prayer, but Southern schools resisted. When I, a fourth-grade atheist and junior civil rights activist, spoke up in class to protest the daily prayer and Bible reading, my teacher pointed to one of my classmates, a blond friend, and said, "John's Jewish, and he doesn't object. Why do you?" But when I spoke against segregation, there were no blacks for her to point to.

In the South, white Jews were white. There was a very simple test for race then. Could you use toilets and drinking fountains and schools for whites? White Jews could and did. Most people then assumed "Jew" implied "white." In 1960, when Sammy Davis Jr., a popular black entertainer, converted, Time magazine ran Religion: Jewish Negro. (There were some obscure exceptions to the "all North American Jews are white" assumption, of course. Two fascinating examples I just learned about: The Black Jews of Harlem and Wentworth Arthur Matthew.)

When people talk about Jews in the US, I always bring up one of my favorite historical figures, Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of State of the Confederacy, "the first Jewish Cabinet-member in a North American government, and the first Jew seriously considered for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court (he declined an offer of nomination twice)." And I like to note that prejudice declined as people went west. The Goldwaters thrived in Arizona.

Prejudice against Jews has nothing to do with race. Mormons faced prejudice, too, including death at the hands of angry mobs.

Some people who argue that Jews are "of color" will point to the Bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple. What they don't mention is that the temple was targeted, like many churches, because its congregation was involved in the civil rights struggle.

Some people will cite the lynching of Leo Frank. What they don't mention is that lynching in the US has never been reserved for people who are not white; the Tuskegee Institute recorded 1,293 lynchings of whites between 1882 and 1968. (See Lynching Statistics for 1882-1968 for its  Table of State and Race Lynchings, Table of Causes of Lynchings, and  Table of Years and Race Lynchings.)

Neoliberal anti-racists cite Karen Brodkin's How Jews Became White Folks: And What That Says About Race in America. But the book was poorly received by objective readers. PW said, "She repeats her overall thesis—that racism and the construction of racial identity is the foundational principle of American identity and American capitalism—over and over, but her argument is no more convincing for all the repetition. " And Kirkus said, "Unfortunately, Brodkin's perspective, which draws heavily on ``African American, neo-Marxist and critical race theory,'' neglects entirely or scants a number of key factors in the growing acceptance of Jews as full-fledged whites, such as the post-Holocaust rejection of the concept of a ``Jewish race.'' Brodkin also errs in other ways, such as romanticizing the degree of ``reciprocity'' (ethnic cohesion and mutual aid) found among Lower East Side immigrant Jews. While containing a great deal of interesting material from several disciplines, including popular culture, Brodkin's book ultimately is unsatisfying because it rests on too narrow a theoretical base and contains too many unwarranted generalizations. Thus, the author fails to sustain the view that the story of the Jews' successful assimilation into ``white culture,'' during an era of persistent discrimination against those who are now known as ``people of color,'' reflects something important about the role of race in American life. "

ETA: The Ku Klux Klan hated Jews and Catholics for the same reason: they weren't Protestant. White Jews and Catholics still enjoyed all the privileges of whiteness in the Jim Crow South.

The Derailment Machine

Someone called me a "derailment machine" recently. I love that too much. It's true: I don't take the party line. So now I finally have a unique name for my LJ. (My main blog will probably stay "it's all one thing." Which, now that I think about it, is another way of describing a derailment machine.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

link of the day

[cancer] Pain, discomfort and the discontents of the insulted body | What impressed me most was that he could describe this and still be funny. Hmm. But if you're very squeamish, the line that made me laugh at how well he described it might not make you laugh at all.

actually, Yahweh was worshipped as a bull....


Pagan Burial Altar Found at Israeli Construction Site: "The 24-inch-high (60-centimeter-high) granite structure—adorned with carvings of three bull heads, ribbons, and laurel wreaths—was found May 17 during salvage excavations for a new hospital emergency room in the southern city of Ashqelon"

The article suggests this might've been for worshipping Zeus. But in that land, a god known as Yahweh or Yahu was worshipped as a bull. That's probably the origin of the Bible's golden calf story. When the Persians conquered Israel, the upper class Jews realized that the cool people were monotheists who worshipped an invisible sky god, so they began saying, "Oh, yeah, we bad. We're monotheists, too. Always been. What, elohim is plural? Nah, bro. It's, uh, it's a sign of respect. Yeah. Who's Yahu? Oh, uh, that's Elohim's other name. Yeah. We're cool. We'll rule Israel for you." And they did for several hundred years.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sunday funny

Pearls Before Swine

via ...there are squirrels in my head... - singing my life with his words redux

mad world news

College Students Are Less Empathic Than Generations Past: Scientific American Podcast: "a study of 14,000 college students found that today’s young people are 40 percent less empathetic than college kids from 30 years ago."

Observations: People with Asperger's less likely to see purpose behind the events in their lives

a gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad

That's from the first line of Rafael Sabatini's Scaramouche: "He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." I like the novel a lot, but I love the line. Last night, reading the attacks of brave Wiscon anti-racists on a kind, gentle, thoughtful man who is undergoing chemotherapy, that gift and that sense were restored to me. It is astonishingly liberating.

Adolph Reed Jr. on Katrina

I came across another great article by Adolph Reed Jr., who has been called "the smartest person of any race, class, or gender writing on race, class, and gender" (Katha Pollitt, Mother Jones): New Orleans - Undone by Neoliberalism by Adolph Reed, Jr.:
A critique that focuses just on race misses how the deeper structures of neoliberal practice and ideology underlie the travesty in New Orleans, as well as in the other devastated areas of the Gulf Coast. (Adjacent to the Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard Parish, nearly 90 percent white, working class and reliably Republican, was virtually wiped off the face of the earth. Most of the parish's housing was destroyed. No hospitals or public libraries have reopened, and only 20 percent of its schools are operating.)
I linked to his The limits of anti-racism earlier. I need to read his books.

Blond and brunette Iranians

Nick Mamatas was surprised that Prince of Persia had a character who looked like Aryan Jesus, so I gathered some Persian/Iranian references for him. In case anyone else thought all Iranians looked like stereotypical Arabs, here are some Iranians:

YouTube - Blonde Persian Girls:

bloneIran.jpg image by Sunshineenfred


Afshak Afagh Doing Masters In Literature

And here, Merlkir offers some art showing members of the Persian Empire:

And a Roman representation of the Three Wise Men, who were believed to be Persians because "magi" is the Persian word for a Zoroastrian priest. (History geek Will notes that we're actually talking about the Parthian Empire at this time, not the Persian, but ignore the nerd here.)

Friday, May 28, 2010


The reluctant cannibal by Flanders & Swann, circa 1956.

Shelley - The Mask of Anarchy:
'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.'
mayakda: LA congressman breaks down during oil spill testimony

Daily Kos: French health insurance redux

Malcolm X: Legacy of a revolutionary:
Just days before his death, Malcolm told a group of Columbia University students that it was 'incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of Black against white, or as purely an American problem. Rather, we are seeing today a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.'

...In one of his last speeches, he described how imperialism had changed its methods, with the old colonial powers in Asia replaced by the U.S. "They switched from the old, open colonial, imperialistic approach to the benevolent approach," he said. "They came up with some benevolent colonialism, philanthropic colonialism, humanitarianism, or dollarism."

..."So I had to do a lot of thinking and reappraising of my definition of Black nationalism," he said in an interview with Young Socialist magazine. Malcolm stopped using this term to describe himself. He also spoke out in favor of "women's freedom," a break from the Nation of Islam's conservative views.
A bit more of that speech shortly before he was killed, via Plasticity: "I, for one, will join in with anyone—I don’t care what color you are—as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth."

International Socialist Review has a nice history of the invention of race: "As the Trinidadian historian of slavery Eric Williams put it: “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.” And, one should add, the consequence of modern slavery at the dawn of capitalism. While slavery existed as an economic system for thousands of years before the conquest of America, racism as we understand it today did not exist."

Sharon Smith: Arizona's Rancid History:
The statistics below show the shift in public opinion between the late 1950s and the 1960s, as the Civil Rights Movement grew:

In 1958, fully 94 percent of respondents to a Gallup Poll opposed interracial marriages.
In 1959, 53 percent said that the Brown decision “caused more trouble than it was worth.”
By 1964, 62 percent supported a law to guarantee blacks 'the right to be served in any retail store, restaurant, hotel or public accommodation,' according to a Harris survey.
Only one in five said they sided with Alabama authorities when police broke up a protest march in Selma in 1965.
By 1964, a majority of the U.S. population said they supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act and opposed segregation laws.
By 2003, 73 percent said they approved of interracial marriage and 90 percent said they would be willing to vote for a Black presidential candidate.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

not racebending: Prince of Persia

Casting an aryan actor to play an aryan is not racebending. Historical fact: In 1935, the Shah changed the international name of his country from Persia to Iran to stress the fact that Persians are aryans. Google "Hitler Iran" for more facts and mad theories.

However, boycotting a movie because it's directed by Jerry Bruckheimer does make sense to me.

But I'm tempted to see this one, because I love middle-eastern fantasies and the writers apparently take a few pokes at Bush and Cheney.


Racist Microwave Buyer by E-mails from an Asshole(via greyorm)

Dissent Magazine: Symposium by Jackson Lears: "What was left of the left intelligentsia retreated into the academy, where the tragedy of 1960s cultural politics was replayed as farce. Partly this involved the dominance of identity politics. Its sources were compelling and wholly understandable—the desires of women and minorities to vindicate and explore a separate sense of self, independent of the hegemonic standard established by white males. But one unintended consequence of the quest for alternative identities was that it created a new kind of fragmented, interest-group politics, unmoored from any larger vision of the good society. Cut off from engagement with actual policy debates (the province of “wonks”), the left intelligentsia retreated into academic politics—micromanaging curricular reform with ferocious intensity, debating the finer points of “cultural theory” with scholastic precision."


"Vaguely disappointed to learn that BP's "top kill procedure" will leave its entire executive strata alive." —Neil Gaiman

Rescuing Hostages: How a Crack Commando Team Works | Magazine

Racist Microwave Buyer by E-mails from an Asshole(via greyorm)

Dissent Magazine: Symposium by Jackson Lears: "What was left of the left intelligentsia retreated into the academy, where the tragedy of 1960s cultural politics was replayed as farce. Partly this involved the dominance of identity politics. Its sources were compelling and wholly understandable—the desires of women and minorities to vindicate and explore a separate sense of self, independent of the hegemonic standard established by white males. But one unintended consequence of the quest for alternative identities was that it created a new kind of fragmented, interest-group politics, unmoored from any larger vision of the good society. Cut off from engagement with actual policy debates (the province of “wonks”), the left intelligentsia retreated into academic politics—micromanaging curricular reform with ferocious intensity, debating the finer points of “cultural theory” with scholastic precision."

ETA: American Citizen Faced Deportation | NBC Chicago: "Despite ID and birth certificate, Chicago man detained for three days"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

something my mom forwarded


From her email:
A seagull in Galveston,TX has developed the habit of stealing Doritos from a neighborhood convenience store.  The seagull waits until the Manager isn't looking, and then walks into the store and grabs a snack-size bag of cheese Doritos. 
Once outside, the bag gets ripped open and shared by other birds..

The seagull's shoplifting started early this summer when he first swooped into the store in Galveston, and helped himself to a bag of Doritos.  Since then, he's become a regular.  He always takes the same type of chips.

The Manager thinks it's great because people are coming to watch the feathered thief make the daily grab and run, and that's good for business, and especially since customers have begun paying for the seagull's stolen bags of Doritos because they think it's so funny.

However, the Manager did say, "This is Texas , and if that seagull starts to grab a 6-pack of beer to go along with the Doritos, I may have to put a stop to it."

can we expropriate BP now?

Shocking BP Memo, and The Oil Spill in the Gulf - The Daily Beast: "A document obtained by The Daily Beast shows that BP, in a previous fatal disaster, increased worker risk to save money. Are there parallels with the Gulf explosion?"
Three Little Pigs - Outzen

"rich flight" is not "white flight" + "libertarian" is dead to me + links


There's something in humans that thinks what rhymes must be true. Salon's Death of the "open Web": Greatly exaggerated reminded me of that. The writer caught something I missed in the New York Times' The Death of the Open Web: "In the migration of dissenters from the "open" Web to pricey and secluded apps, we're witnessing urban decentralization, suburbanization and the online equivalent of white flight."

I left this comment at Salon:
Apple is only for white people? That's almost as funny as the idea that the suburban exodus was driven exclusively by racism. That exodus included middle and upper class people of color who could afford to live in the suburbs. Oddly enough, much like ipad buyers.
Yes, racism was a factor in the original "white flight", but it was only a factor for some people. Everyone who headed for the suburbs had more money than the average American and wanted the comfort that money could buy.

We need a new phrase for the class equivalent of "white flight." Or maybe there's an old phrase that needs to be revived. "Rich flight" began when cities started to create neighborhoods that divided rich and poor. Surprisingly, that division isn't as old as you might think, at least not in England. Engels talks about it in The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844.


I hate what the libertarian party has done to the world "libertarian." For decades, I've done the nerd thang of arguing that people should capitalize it when they mean batshit right-libertarianism. But Rand Paul has got a lot of people using the small-l version to talk about his craziness, so I'm surrendering. From now on, I'm just a democratic socialist, and if necessary, I'll let my nerdness insist on the older meaning of "liberal" to qualify me further. It's no great loss. "Libertarian" has too many syllables.

3. Links:

Private pay shrinks to historic lows as gov't payouts rise -
Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.

At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.
Feeling Anxious, Having Panic Attacks, Living With Phobias? You’re Not Alone - AARP Bulletin: "A new study reveals that anxiety disorders—such as panic attacks, irrational fears and exaggerated worry and tension—are twice as common as depression among middle-age and older people. Depression in older people tends to get more attention than anxiety, which is ignored in part because it can be tricky to spot." 

Monday, May 24, 2010

George Orwell, Animal Farm, and Down and Out in Paris and London

Long before 1984, I read Nineteen Eighty-four, but I wasn't impressed. I was a teenager. I wanted larger-than-life heroes and happy endings. I'm not sure how I avoided Animal Farm then. I didn't like talking animal stories, and I thought I knew the  basic riff: It was about how communism was stupid.

Recently, I decided I should read Down and Out in Paris and London. I thought it was great. It's the George Orwell book I would assign to every teenager.

So I decided to read Animal Farm. I'm amazed that any capitalist can stand it. It's damning of totalitarianism, not communism: the farm is a great success until Napoleon takes over. The last paragraph should be very telling: Napoleon's crew are horrors because they've become effectively indistinguishable from humans, who are the book's capitalists.

Incidentally, the use of pigs isn't as simplistic as some people think: the heroic Snowball is a pig, as are four pigs who oppose Napoleon.

Orwell's advice to writers In "Politics and the English Language" is among the best I know:
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Did any of them read Elsewhere?

Teen wolves descend upon San Antonio high schools | | San Antonio News, Weather, Sports, Traffic, Entertainment, Video and Photos

1910 issue of Too Much Weekly

The May 24, 1910 Special is fun for the historically minded. There are bits about Mark Twain, James Jay Hill, Andrew Carnegie, and others.

1910 wealth concentration


The fate of a generation of workers: Foxconn undercover fully translated (update: videos added) -- Engadget: "One group consists of university students like myself, who live in ivory towers and kept company by libraries and lake views. The other group works alongside steel machineries and large containers, all inside a factory of high-precision manufacturing environment. These guys always address their seniors as 'laoban' (boss), and call their own colleagues -- regardless of familiarity -- the rude 'diaomao' (pubic hair) in loud."

Pandigital's new $200 Novel color e-reader powered by Android, Barnes & Noble | Crave - CNET

Claims about sunscreen's effectiveness come under scrutiny

One apartheid nation wanted to sell nukes to another: Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons | World news | The Guardian

The Atlantic :: Business :: The Net Worth of the U.S. Presidents: Washington to Obama

Rep. Alan Grayson Introduces the "War Is Making You Poor" Act | | AlterNet: "The bill would cut the DoD's budget and use that money to make the first $35,000 each American earns tax-free."

Saturday, May 22, 2010


This column will change your life: Are you an Asker or a Guesser? | Life and style | The Guardian (based on What's the middle ground between "F.U!" and "Welcome!"? | Ask MetaFilter: "This is a classic case of Ask Culture meets Guess Culture.")

Two-wheel triumph | International development journalism competition | The Guardian


Two pictures of Anna May Wong from Golden Age Comic Book Stories: Masters of Starlight:

1925_edsheriffcurtis_annamaywong.jpg (1046�1449):

1929_ruthharrietlouise_annamaywong.jpg (1046�1352):

CarrollBlog: CarrollBlog 5.22: THINGS YOU'D LOVE TO SAY OUT LOUD AT WORK. (I may adopt 11: "I like you. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid.")

Inspirations and Creative Thoughts: How a Taoist Master sends his student to be a Sufi

Sign the petition at
The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are making us poor. Right now, America spends $159 billion on contingency operations for the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.  That’s enough money to eliminate taxes for everyone who makes under $35,000 a year, while cutting the deficit.

Friday, May 21, 2010

ACLU plug

YouTube - Show Us Your Papers!: ""

best post on Rand Paul that I've seen

from Alexander Cockburn: The Rand and Rachel Show: "That Maddow-Paul set-to on MSNBC was tragic-comic. As CounterPunch co-editor Jeffrey St Clair remarked, “Maddow and Paul agree on probably 90 per cent of the BIG issues confronting us, from ending the drug and Afghan war, to ending bail outs & aid to Israel. But because of their own peculiar prejudices, his doctrinaire libertarian, hers PC progressive, neither of them can talk about anything other than a non-issue such as the Civil Rights Act of 19 -- SIXTY-FOUR. It's like a Dadaist play.”"

another Rand Paul stupidity: The Americans With Disabilities Act

Rand Paul's civil-rights defense distorts provisions of disabilities law:
Paul's "understanding" about the ADA is wrong. The legislation specifically exempts the vast majority of buildings three stories and under from any requirement to install elevators. In other words, if you are a small business owner and you have a two-story office and one of your workers is handicapped, no one can force you to build an elevator. It's true that the exemption doesn't apply to health care facilities or shopping malls or buildings four stories and up—and Paul, who has an ophthalmology practice, may have been thinking of those provisions when he insisted that businesses are "often forced to put in elevators."

Trouble is, we searched far and wide for a single instance in which a private employer was successfully sued under the ADA for failing to provide an elevator, or was compelled by a lawsuit to do so, and we came up empty.

what's ignored by focusing on Rand Paul's "racism", & antelope sex
The governors of California, New York and dozens of other US states have submitted drastic budget-cutting proposals, which will gut education, health care and other services for children, seniors and low-income families.

Rand Paul supports these kinds of cuts, which will affect far more whites than blacks or Hispanics. In that, he's no different than conventional Democrats and Republicans, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the mainstream media is only interested in what would happen if he had a time machine.

Though I'm defending him from the racism charge, I'm not a fan. He wants British Petroleum to pay the full cost of what they've done, but he also thinks Obama should talk nicer about them. Huh? I think Paul simply wants more respect for capitalists. (Via Michael Moore: What's a libertarian? Let Rand Paul explain--he says it's "un-American" for Obama to go after BRITISH Petroleum,

Regarding the war that Paul opposes and the MSM ignores: No More Victims.

Bonus link: Male Antelope Scare Females Into Staying for Sex

Thursday, May 20, 2010

what right and left libertarians understand, plus Martin and Malcolm

In a free society, we all have to be free to think, say, and do things that other people oppose, so long as those things do not hurt others. That means you can't expect to solve all of a society's problems by passing laws against them. Opposing a law does not mean you support its target. It means you've asked a question that indiscriminate lovers of laws rarely do: Will this law make society a better place?

When I was a kid, civil libertarians said, "Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of another person's nose." But now, the political correctness crowd says, "Don't swing your fist because some people who swung fists hit noses."

The line between a polite society and a repressed society does not exist.

Rand Paul is learning about the culture shock between libertarians and restrictionists now. Since I'm a left-libertarian (anarcho-commie-christian-sufi-etc.), I don't agree with his conclusion: it seems to me that if a private individual wants to operate a public business, the individual has obligations to the public: You should serve everyone, or you should expect the government to open a competing business right next door that serves everyone with better products and prices than yours.

But I sympathize with Paul. His position is intellectually consistant with his belief in smaller, less-intrusive, more-capitalistic government. Even if he could magically repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which he's not going to do given that he supports 9/10s of it and that it's not on his agenda, we live in a different world now. A racist business would find few customers today.

The mainstream media is attacking Paul's disagreement with neoliberal antiracism for a simple reason: it lets them avoid his relevant positions, his opposition to the war and his support for legalizing marijuana.

Still, in general, I agree with Ta-Nahesi Coates: The Proud Ignorance of Rand Paul. Paul should've been ready for the question.

Malcolm and Martin, closer than we ever thought doesn't have anything new for folks who know a little about either, but it's nice, just for the picture, and it may be relevant: they met when they came to listen to the debate over the civil rights bill.

Malcolm X had his doubts about the bill:

This especially resonated for me: "I don’t see how passage of the bill will affect job opportunities for black people, when there’s no law now that can create opportunities in employment even for white people. The whole system in this country, the economic system, is such that jobs are scarce. Automation is limiting jobs, it’s decreasing jobs, and if, as automation eliminates the job opportunities, legislation will not create job opportunities. All it will do is bring about friction and hostility between the two races."

ETA: Rand Paul has learned his lesson:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

video time!

Purpose over profit:

RSA Animate - Drive

Apple evil of the day: "Give a sister a break!"

Apple won't take iPad buyer's cash

Strange Fruit by Kenan Malik, a book I should read

“Strange Fruit” by Kenan Malik: A polemic against racism and identity politics. Don't skip the quote in the end notes from Darwin. (via Steve Brust)

From on strange fruit, an essay by Kenan Malik: "For 20 years I have been exploring the idea of race as a biologist, a historian and an antiracist activist. But two development over the past decade made me realise that I needed to rethink my attitudes to human differences." And "Liberal antiracism has not only helped resurrect racial thinking. It has also become increasingly hostile to traditional notions of science, knowledge and freedom of thought - as the Watson row revealed. And this is perhaps the most paradoxical aspect of the new race debate - that in challenging the irrationality of racial science, liberal antiracists have become so irrational themselves."

Monday, May 17, 2010


Meet the sloths from Amphibian Avenger on Vimeo.

Thanks, Stu!


Excellent restaurant in Mesa, AZ: Blue Adobe Grill.

Easily check your privacy settings on Facebook: Reclaim Privacy. Thanks, Lisa! To delete your account rather than deactivate it: here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

has capitalism finally doomed us?

I'm trusting it hasn't, because what's the alternative? But don't google worst case scenarios for the Gulf of Mexico if you're afraid to contemplate hard times ahead. Some of the answers are just plain crazy, but some facts are agreed on: That well is under a lot of pressure, and it was not designed to handle oil mixed with sand.

Some reading from conservative sources:

Green Inc. column - Gap in Rules on Oil Spills From Wells -
One technology that could have been useful in the Deepwater case is an acoustic valve to shut off the well by remote control in an emergency. Such devices are required by Brazil and Norway, but not by the United States, where the oil industry successfully resisted a proposal years ago to require its use, according to Oystein Noreng, who heads the petroleum studies unit at the Norwegian School of Management.

“In Norway, for more than 40 years, we have had a fairly harmonious coexistence between a large offshore oil industry and some of the world’s largest fishing industries,” Mr. Noreng said in an e-mail message. “Nobody can say that a disaster like the one in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico could not happen in Norway, but we have invested in the additional line of defense, thanks to political wisdom.”
Less Toxic Dispersants Lose Out in BP Oil Spill Cleanup -
BP PLC continues to stockpile and deploy oil-dispersing chemicals manufactured by a company with which it shares close ties, even though other U.S. EPA-approved alternatives have been shown to be far less toxic and, in some cases, nearly twice as effective.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Closet Politics: Is Kagan Gay or Just Looks as Though She Might Be? Obama's Awful Pick By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Ruby Anniversary. Jackson State gets less attention than Kent State. Maybe because there were fewer dead, though there were plenty wounded. Maybe because the dead were black. But ultimately, I think, because Kent State got a song. In any case, it's wrong to remember one without the other.

Kentucky Log Cabin for Sale

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

update on UUs boycotting Arizona

From “Please come to Phoenix,” but we said, “No.”:
...apparently Unitarian Universalist ministers in Arizona and Las Vegas voted unanimously to oppose this move. They would like us all to come to Arizona and engage in public demonstrations against the law instead. As an extra added incentive to listen to the Arizona ministers, I would point out that the cancelation fees alone would cost the UUA something like $650,000 (to say nothing of the added expense of finding another venue at this point).
People have noted that the cancellations fees may just be gravy to bookers if they find people to take those rooms instead of UUs, and if hotels suffer from a boycott, their workers will suffer also. I was initially on the side of boycotting, but I think coming and protesting makes more sense for people who have already booked conventions here.

That said, I applaud the Republicans for choosing to have their convention in Florida instead.


Caldonia / Louis Jordan (via Doselle Young)

Spira Foam Car Saves Pedestrians From Searing Pain

Apple, grow up! iPad's Nipple Ban Arouses Ire of German Publishers

Asking hard questions:

Mordor question

How Peter Singer destroyed me in a couple of paragraphs

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


How Robin Hood became a socialist. It's not perfect—it doesn't mention that Robin Hood only became a noble in the 19th century when classist assholes retconned his history. But it has a great bit about my favorite TV show when I was a kid. The first 45 I bought was the Robin Hood TV theme song.

Robin Hood taught me the simplest principle of moral politics: take from the rich, give to the poor. Jesus agreed with him, but Robin Hood looked a lot cooler, and he had a babe. Hmm. Someone should do a comparison of Maid Marion and Mary Magdalene.

who wants inequality that "looks like America"?

Two favorite bits from Walter Benn Michael's IDENTITY POLITICS: A Zero-Sum Game:
About three quarters of the job losers in the current recession have been men, which means that the numbers of men and women in the workforce are now roughly equal. So, from the standpoint of gender equity, the recession has actually been a good thing. It's as if, unable to create more jobs for women, we'd hit upon the strategy of eliminating lots of the jobs for men—another victory for feminism and for anti-discrimination since, from the standpoint of anti-discrimination, the question of how many people are unemployed is completely irrelevant. What matters is only that, however many there are, their unemployment is properly proportioned.

This is, in part, a logical point: there's no contradiction between inequality of class and equality of race and gender. It is also, however, a political point.
although real progress in the direction of greater economic equality would be more beneficial to poor blacks and Hispanics than would complete economic parity with white people, the goal of economic parity with whites works a lot better for black and Hispanic elites. Indeed it works pretty well for white elites too: which would you rather do—welcome some women and minorities to your board of directors, or not have a board of directors at all?
It's short, and I'm in danger of quoting half of it, so go read it now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

boosting the signal: benefit auctions

SpinAThon: A fiber arts endurance event to benefit Reesa Brown, who recently had surgery for breast cancer.

 [info]debsliverlovers is for Deb Mensinger, wife of the fantasy writer Laurie J. Marks, who needs a liver transplant.

farewell, Lena Horne

Lena Horne - Stormy Weather (1943)

writing update and blogging break

Good news: I'll have a Wolfboy story in next year's Bordertown anthology.

In other news: I have to finish the first draft of a Shadow Unit story by Wednesday night, so I won't be blogging for a few days.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

capitalism 101: when you'll lose money, walk away

There's no morality in capitalism. There's only legality. The rich have never hesitated to go bankrupt or walk away from a contractual obligation if that'll benefit them. The middle class is finally learning that lesson.

Mortgages: Walking Away


I agree with Obama administration: Holder: AZ Immigration Law Not Racist: "I don't think it's racist in its motivation. But I think the concern I have is how it will be perceived and how it perhaps could be enacted, how it could be carried out. I think we could potentially get on a slippery slope where people will be picked on because of how they look as opposed to what they have done, and that is I think something that we have to try to avoid at all costs."

How queen gets last word on UK election

The little pill that could cure alcoholism and other addictions.

Annie Sprinkle: MY CONVERSATION WITH AN ANTI-PORN FEMINIST. I am amazed by how proud the anti-porn woman is that she doesn't know any men well. I forget the internet term for people like her, people who profess great care for something and show great ignorance of it.

Brain Pirates From The Inner Moon-World!

Wonder Woman in Brain Pirates From The Inner Moon-World!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Moni, Bangladeshi Mother: Poor wages and harassment in the workplace

France Andrews Zeve left a link to Moni, Bangladeshi Mother: Poor wages and harassment in the workplace after I posted "the needle-women of London". France said, "The more things change. . . I met this woman recently and I will never shop the same way again."

As I read The Condition of the Working Class in 1844, I was constantly thinking that the practice of capitalism has not altered fundamentally in a century and a half, and where it has changed, it's changed because of actions by workers. It's true that some capitalists don't feel obliged to take every possible penny. But there are none who don't feel obliged to take the lion's share of the dollars.

Tom Russell-Who's Gonna Build Your Wall

Tom Russell-Who's Gonna Build Your Wall

Friday, May 7, 2010

the needle-women of London

From Friedrich Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844:

With the same cruelty, though somewhat more indirectly, the rest of the needle-women of London are exploited. The girls employed in stay-making have a hard, wearing occupation, trying to the eyes. And what wages do they get? I do not know; but this I know, that the middleman who has to give security for the material delivered, and who distributes the work among the needle-women, receives 1 1/2d. per piece. From this he deducts his own pay, at least 1/2d., so that 1d. at most reaches the pocket of the girl. The girls who sew neckties must bind themselves to work sixteen hours a day, and receive 4 1/2s. a week. But the shirt- makers' lot is the worst. They receive for an ordinary shirt 1 1/2d., formerly 2d.-3d.; but since the workhouse of St. Pancras, which is administered by a Radical board of guardians, began to undertake work at 1 1/2d., the poor women outside have been compelled to do the same. For fine, fancy shirts, which can be made in one day of eighteen hours, 6d. is paid. The weekly wage of these sewing- women according to this and according to testimony from many sides, including both needle-women and employers, is 2s. 6d. to 3s. for most strained work continued far into the night. And what crowns this shameful barbarism is the fact that the women must give a money deposit for a part of the materials entrusted to them, which they naturally cannot do unless they pawn a part of them (as the employers very well know), redeeming them at a loss; or if they cannot redeem the materials, they must appear before a Justice of the Peace, as happened to a sewing-woman in November, 1843. A poor girl who got into this strait and did not know what to do next, drowned herself in a canal in 1844. These women usually live in little garret rooms in the utmost distress, where as many crowd together as the space can possibly admit, and where, in winter, the animal warmth of the workers is the only heat obtainable. Here they sit bent over their work, sewing from four or five in the morning until midnight, destroying their health in a year or two and ending in an early grave; without being able to obtain the poorest necessities of life meanwhile. [2] And below them roll the brilliant equipages of the upper bourgeoisie, and perhaps ten steps away some pitiable dandy loses more money in one evening at faro than they can earn in a year.


2. Thomas Hood, the most talented of all the English humorists now living, and, like all humorists, full of human feeling, but wanting in mental energy, published at the beginning of 1844 a beautiful poem, The Song of the Shirt, which drew sympathetic but unavailing tears from the eyes of the daughters of the bourgeoisie. Originally published in Punch, it made the round of all the papers. As discussions of the condition of the sewing-women filled all the papers at the time, special extracts are needless.-- Note by Engels.

From Wikipedia:
The Song of the Shirt is a poem written by Thomas Hood in 1843.
It was written in honour of a Mrs. Biddell, a Lambeth widow and seamstress living in wretched conditions. In what was, at that time, common practice, Mrs. Biddell sewed pants and shirts in her home using materials given to her by her employer for which she was forced to give a £2 deposit. In a desperate attempt to feed her starving infants, Mrs. Biddell pawned the clothing she had made, thus accruing a debt she could not pay. Mrs. Biddell, whose first name has not been recorded, was sent to a workhouse, and her ultimate fate is unknown; however, her story became a catalyst for those who actively opposed the wretched conditions of England’s working poor, who often spent seven days a week labouring under inhuman conditions, barely managing to survive and with no prospect for relief.
The poem was published anonymously in the Christmas edition of Punch in 1843 and quickly became a phenomenon, centering people’s attention not only on Mrs. Biddell's case, but on the conditions of workers in general. Though Hood was not politically radical, his work, like that of Charles Dickens, contributed to the general awareness of the condition of the working class which fed the popularity of trade unionism and the push for stricter labour laws.
Following is the first stanza of the poem; for the complete text, see the external link below.
With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread –
Stitch! Stitch! Stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang ‘The Song of the Shirt!’
External links

anti-racist excess: T-shirt edition

Students Kicked Off Campus for Wearing American Flag Tees on Cinco de Mayo.

Yeah, the kids were probably being assholes, but freedom of speech has to include the freedom to be a jingoistic jerk.

Unitarian Universalists cancel AZ convention over idiot new law

Canceling will cost about $615,000 in penalties.

I love UUs.

update: The vote to cancel the convention will take place next month. But it's hard to imagine that the resolution will not pass.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

anti-foodie funny

Anti-Foodie: The Case Of The Cupcake Queen And The Camera : Scout Magazine via Sharyn November


Ernst Fehr: How I found what's wrong with economics - opinion - 04 May 2010 - New Scientist: "Austrian economist Ernst Fehr tells Mark Buchanan why global economics could benefit from a touch of compassion"

A little secret about Obama's transparency - Los Angeles Times: "The current administration, challenged by the president to be the most open, is now denying more Freedom of Information Act requests than Bush did."

Two Weeks Notice: A Latin American Politics Blog: Arizona immigration and polls: "In short, support for the Arizona law tells us very little about the overall views of the general public. Maybe they are hardcore restrictionists, but maybe they just want the federal government to do something rational that eliminates--or at least greatly reduces--the need for anyone to be in the country illegally in the first place."

Monday, May 3, 2010

racists in Tea Party update

Joan Walsh -
It's true that white Tea Party skeptics are more likely than white Tea Party supporters to say black people are trustworthy (57 percent to 41 percent), Young acknowledges. But then she compares the two groups' opinions of white trustworthiness, and finds that while only 49 percent of Tea Partiers say whites are trustworthy, 72 percent of Tea Party skeptics do. So when you compare white Tea Party skeptics' views of black and white trustworthiness, you find that more (72 percent) think whites are trustworthy than think blacks are (57 percent). Young's right, that is a little weird, and depressing. But it's also noteworthy that Tea Partiers don't seem to have a lot of trust in black or white people.
According to Project Implicit, 75 to 80% of whites have a bias toward whites*, so that may mean Tea Party whites are more aware of their bias than their skeptics are.

I do wish I knew what percentage of blacks think whites are untrustworthy.

And I've long known that a lot of conservatives just don't trust people, no matter what color they are.

Anyway, I find it quite plausible that 72 percent of the Tea Party is a bit racist. Though racism doesn't seem to be the reason for any Tea Party policies, the result of several would be racist, starting with Arizona's idiot new law.

* Unlike me, according to my test there, I am inordinately proud to say because I'd always figured I must have a little pro-white racist streak from my childhood in the segregated South. Now I'm wondering if my bias for black folks will screw me up someday. All things considered, I would prefer to have no bias at all.

(Thanks, DairyStateDad!)


Too Much weekly:
Quote of the Week

Millions of Americans have awakened to a sobering reality: they live in a plutocracy, where they are disposable.”
Bill Moyers, from his final PBS Bill Moyers Journal telecast, April 30, 2010

Stat of the Week

Say it loud, “I’m rich and I’m proud.” Wealthy Americans, says a new national poll of affluents averaging $512,000 a year in income, feel less guilty purchasing luxury goods than they did a year ago. The poll — by American Express and the Harrison Group — found that 42 percent of the rich like how they feel when others see them as wealthy, up from only 30 percent last year.
Challenges in Replicating Charter School Success -
Charters have also become a pet cause of what one education historian calls a billionaires’ club of philanthropists, including Mr. Gates, Eli Broad of Los Angeles and the Walton family of Wal-Mart.

But for all their support and cultural cachet, the majority of the 5,000 or so charter schools nationwide appear to be no better, and in many cases worse, than local public schools when measured by achievement on standardized tests, according to experts citing years of research. Last year one of the most comprehensive studies, by researchers from Stanford University, found that fewer than one-fifth of charter schools nationally offered a better education than comparable local schools, almost half offered an equivalent education and more than a third, 37 percent, were “significantly worse.”

AZ immigration links

5 Myths about immigration (via Robert N Lee)

For conservatives: Arizona’s immigration law is constitutionally troubling | The Barr Code.

Posted earlier: Violence is not up on Arizona border

ETA: American is focus in Krentz killing: "The killing of a Southern Arizona rancher that sparked an outcry to secure the border was not random, and investigators are focusing on an American suspect"

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Inequality’s Hidden Price Tag

Working Group on Extreme Inequality : The Insecurity State: Inequality’s Hidden Price Tag: "Since 2007, Starbucks has shelled out $1.6 billion to protect CEO Howard Schultz. In 2009 alone, the Las Vegas Sands gaming giant paid $2.45 million to secure the person and property of CEO Sheldon Adelson. And Oracle software has shoveled $4.6 million, over the past three years, into a “residential security program” for billionaire CEO Larry Ellison."

Obama, escucha!

Estamos en la lucha!

Emma and I marched with thousands of Tucsonans for immigration reform. There was a very small group of supporters of Arizona idiocy across the park from us, maybe thirty when we got there. (Emma and I were at the end of the march, so some might've left before the march was over.) A point for people who think this is exclusively about racism: at least two of the supporters were Hispanic. One of them had a loudspeaker and was announcing that carrying ID was nothing unusual; he had his.

At that point, I started to cross toward him. Emma stopped me. I really wasn't going to do anything except smile and ask whether he had his passport or his birth certificate, because in the US, those are the only proofs of citizenship. A driver's license only says you have a mailing address.

Emma was probably right to stop me.

I wish I could remember all the signs and slogans. Most were in Spanish, which I thought was a tactical error: the supporters of this stupid law will sometimes mention the Chinese and Middle Easterners who come across the Mexican border, and if the law isn't stopped, Asian and Middle-Eastern people will be harassed, along with folks who look white but have an accent. But it was understandable; the law's greatest effect will be on Arizona's Hispanic citizens who have every conceivable right to be here, because, as some of them will say, they did not cross the border; the border crossed them.

I was amused by the signs about "Brewer for Fuehrer" and "Don't arrest me, I'm white!" I was a little saddened by the signs that spelled "Arizona" with a swastika instead of a Z. The swastika is a sacred Navajo symbol. Arizonans should know that.

After the march, we went to the Tucson Tamale Factory for fancy tamales, and then went to the Tucson Folk Festival, where we ran into Larry Hammer and Janni Simner, who we had missed at the march. All in all, it's been a mighty nice day.

rethinking Paul, who also made Blanc and Marx's argument

I'm rethinking my opinion of Paul. I always thought he was irrelevant to true Christianity—it's not Paulinity, right? Almost every Christian quote I hate is credited to Paul, so I figured he could be scrapped. But when I learned that scholars think the letters of Paul come from three sources, the original Paul and two or more later writers, I began to like the original a little better, but I still had problems with some of his arguments.

Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan's The First Paul has answered my immediate objections. Like many readers, I had read Paul's statements about faith through the lens of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants over fifteen hundred years later. I didn't see the first century struggle between conservative and liberal Jewish Christians over the God-lovers, the gentiles who participated in Jewish worship but had not committed fully to Judaism by becoming circumcised.

I like the first Paul a lot better now. I'm especially fond of his idea of equality, or a "fair balance."

Here's the New Revised Standard Version of 2 Corinthians 8:12-15:
For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, ‘The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.’
Many translations of that passage follow the King James Version, which uses "equality":
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
Wycliffe's version is nice, too; instead of "equality" or "fair balance," he uses "evenness." His translation suggests that we want to be even with everyone.

At the end, Paul is referring to Exodus 16:18. Here's the New International Version: "And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed."

Paul says to seek the fair balance. His argument is the same as Louis Blanc's: From each according to ability, to each according to need.