Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Legend of Red Ghost

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

more about folic acid and B12

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

stealth opulence: how the upper class recognize each other

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

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

Anti-racism: brown bag lunches are racist?

Monday, November 28, 2011

get great stuff and support editor extraordinaire Terri Windling!

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

the visual devolution of Red Sonja

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

The 1% is Political Poetry: excellent explanation of class

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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

USA: at war for 209 years (and counting)

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

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

Saturday, November 26, 2011

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do the poor suffer from financial PTSD?

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

Antiracism Theory can't explain US slavery

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

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

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

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

back on Twitter

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

the problem with academics — and people who grew up rich

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the capitalist outhouse

via Eric Orchard: Toronto Christmas Train show



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

socialist bible verses: Deuteronomy 6:10-12

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

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

Fritz Willis has good advice for all artists

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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

class in the USA: police at public and private universities

From here:
This is what Columbia University police look like when arresting students:

This is what the police at Davis, a public university, looked like yesterday:

quote: Potter Stewart on censorship

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

Racially, the ‘Near Poor’ look like the poor

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

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

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

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

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

Emma Bull's advice of the day

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

Thursday, November 17, 2011

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

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

There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap?

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

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

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

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

class expectations and literary criticism

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

do not piss off book-lovers!

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

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

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

Two points:

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

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

Herb Jeffries, the Bronze Buckaroo

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

class and fantasy: Snow White

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Disney plunders the Public Domain again: Once Upon A Time

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

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

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

Saturday, November 12, 2011

please stop talking about the US "health care system"

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

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

Friday, November 11, 2011

Schrodinger's President

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

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

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

Happy 11/11/11!

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

calories count: Twinkie diet works

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

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

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

Sunday, November 6, 2011

tax the rich and no one else! said Thomas Jefferson

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

Emphasis mine.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Classism 400 years later

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

a story everyone should know about Obama

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Julio Siete nails the cognitive dissonance of antiracism theory

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

appropriation alert: no one owns the metaphor of slavery

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

A few things the Metaphor Police do not understand:

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amanda Palmer - Science Fiction/Double Feature

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

about Islamic, Arabian, and Middle Eastern fantasy

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

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

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

Our Liavek stories were mentioned favorably, which was sweet.

antiracist excess: history is racist!

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

ETA:The trailer for "Hell on Wheels":