supergee: (nebula)
([personal profile] supergee Sep. 19th, 2017 07:09 am)
The first time I encountered Farah Mendlesohn was when NYRSF published some idiot saying that Robert Heinlein was a fascist, and Farah, a leftist pacifist, told him in clearly reasoned detail wherein he was full of shit. Since then, I have had the pleasure of hanging out with her at the ICFA and online and reading a number of her excellent critical books. Now she has returned to Heinlein with a book that the cold equations of the book biz tell us is too large to be published by a commercial or university press. So it is being crowdfunded, and I encourage you to join in.
semyaza: (Demon)
([personal profile] semyaza Sep. 18th, 2017 10:18 pm)
I'm not sure that I want to hear about Hitler's stool samples while I'm eating supper. I don't know what the background music is but thankfully it's not Enya.

ETA: This is a terrible documentary. I'm done.
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settiai: (Space -- roxicons)
([personal profile] settiai Sep. 18th, 2017 07:58 pm)
Out of curiosity, is anyone interested in a Kindle Paperwhite. It's the previous edition, so it's not the latest one, but it still works perfectly fine. Pretty much the only time that I use it nowadays is when I'm traveling via plane, which I don't see happening any time soon since I don't plan on going back to Tennessee for the holidays this year. So since my checking account is still somewhat lighter than I'd like, I thought that I'd at least see if anyone might want one.

I also still have quite a few things available in the virtual garage sale post that I put up several weeks ago. And I'm very much willing to haggle when it comes to listed prices, if you're interested in anything.

(Oh, and for those of you who donated to my Ko-fi page and requested fic, it's coming! The last few weeks have been absolutely hell, which deserves its own post, but things are calming down and I actually have time to breathe again.)
supergee: (mourning)
([personal profile] supergee Sep. 18th, 2017 04:12 pm)
We are still here because of Stanislav Petrov, but now he isn’t.
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semyaza: (Demon)
([personal profile] semyaza Sep. 17th, 2017 09:05 pm)
Enya is an odd choice of background music for footage of Eva Braun doing gymnastics.
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([personal profile] saraqael Sep. 17th, 2017 07:30 pm)
Oh, gosh. Once again I've let months go by without posting anything here. My own personal life has been reasonably quiet, marred mainly by the rather horrible death of my dog Missy. I won't go into the details but she did not go gently into that good night. I'm glad I was home when it happened, but I also never want to go through that again with a pet.

Two of my best friends, who happen to be roommates, were both diagnosed with cancer one month apart from each other. Both had surgery, and both are now recovering and getting on with their lives. One will have to undergo quarterly followup exams for the next five years. Life. What can you say? Some times it sucks, but it beats the alternative.

For the last few months, I have been utterly obsessed with 'Twin Peaks: the Return,' on Showtime. I had a love/hate relationship with the original series, which I watched with equally fervent obsession each week back in 1990-91. My friends and I were the kind of original series fans you hear about now: holding weekly viewing parties replete with coffee, donuts, and pie, dressing up like the characters (I wrapped myself in plastic wrap one week and made up my face with Laura Palmer's dead white skin and bluish lips, and naturally was also the Log Lady one week,too), and then spending the week chatting about all the weird clues while we waited for the next episode to air. I LOVED the first season of the show. My love for the show crashed and burned halfway through season two. After the network forced the producers to solve the Laura Palmer murder, the show went to complete and utter hell IMO, and only returned to its previous bizarre glory when David Lynch stepped back in for the last couple of episodes. Then I was like, Glory Days! The show is back! But no, the show was cancelled and it ended on the worst of all possible cliffhangers. I was so furious that I couldn't think clearly about the show at all, no kidding. Normally, I don't mind cliffhangers because most tv writing is so predictable that I almost know what's going to happen next. Not so with a David Lynch cliffhanger. Ugh. 25+ years later, David Lynch picked up the story where it left off and delivered an 18 hour S3 sequel that was so gloriously good that just thinking about it makes me want to skip around the room. I give it a 99/100 (taking off 1 point for the Audrey Horne scenes with annoyed the living bejesus out of me). Don't know if there will ever be a Season 4 but that's okay because the godawful cliffhanger ending of Season 2 was finally resolved.

Right now, all out of the blue I find myself quite enthusiastic about Harry Potter fandom again and it's all because I finally saw the movie, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'. I missed the theatrical release because it hit theaters at a point when my life was just too upside down for me to go out and see movies. I really loved the original Harry Potter books (and to a lesser degree the films), but always, always was more interested in the adult characters than the kids - which is awkward when dealing with a story series about kids. This movie series (I understand there will be five) not only features adult characters, it is set in one of my favorite historical eras, the 1920s-1940s. So, a parallel magical world, cool creatures, the ramp up to WWII, and a much more interesting villain (Grindelwald is vastly more complex and interesting to me than Voldemort ever was, IMO), and it all adds up to great fun. I'm looking forward to the sequel next year.

Speaking of grown-up versions of kids' stories, I enthusiastically recommend Ysabeau Wilce's short story collection, "Prophecies Libels & Dreams: Stories of Califa." The writing is electric, lush, and sparklingly witty. Califa is a sort of steampunk, magical AU version of California where Western magic and native American and Aztec-inspired magic coexist with history and technology that is similar to the real world. I'd heard great things about Wilce's YA series set in the same world (the Flora Segunda series), but for the longest time, the Harry Potter series (of all things) burned me out on reading YA stories for years. "Prophecies Libels & Dreams" was such a delight to read that I plan to get the Flora series now and read them too.
semyaza: (Veidt)
([personal profile] semyaza Sep. 16th, 2017 11:28 pm)
Oh crap. I was looking forward to Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003) with much scenery-chewing by Robert Carlyle but 25 minutes into this 3 hour epic and I'm done. It's astonishing how many inaccuracies they've managed to cram into it thus far and it's only 1919. Just imagine how inaccurate it will be by 1933. Besides, whoever that is, it's not Hitler.

Heigh-ho, there goes my evening. In the absence of Adolf, I need chocolate.
semyaza: (Demon)
([personal profile] semyaza Sep. 16th, 2017 05:33 pm)
GeoHumanities Vol 1, 2015 Issue 2

Abstract

This article examines the symbolic whiteness associated with pumpkins in the contemporary United States. Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte, a widely circulated essay in McSweeney’s on “Decorative Gourd Season,” pumpkins in aspirational lifestyle magazines, and the reality television show Punkin Chunkin provide entry points into whiteness–pumpkin connections. Such analysis illuminates how class, gender, place, and especially race are employed in popular media and marketing of food and flavor; it suggests complicated interplay among food, leisure, labor, nostalgia, and race. Pumpkins in popular culture also reveal contemporary racial and class coding of rural versus urban places. Accumulation of critical, relational, and contextual analyses, including things seemingly as innocuous as pumpkins, points the way to a food studies of humanities and geography. When considered vis-à-vis violence and activism that incorporated pumpkins, these analyses point toward the perils of equating pumpkins and whiteness.
semyaza: (Discontented Lobster)
([personal profile] semyaza Sep. 16th, 2017 05:12 pm)
Fwah! Wildfire smoke from Washington state. The visibility is better than it was in early August when we were getting smoke from the interior but the smell is much stronger. Build a wall!
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semyaza: (Gay Johnny)
([personal profile] semyaza Sep. 16th, 2017 02:35 pm)
Are cats liquid or solid?

"That’s the kind of question that could win a scientist an Ig Nobel Prize, a parody of the Nobel Prize that honors research that “makes people laugh, then think.” But it wasn’t with this in mind that Marc-Antoine Fardin, a physicist at Paris Diderot University, set out to find out whether house cats flow.

Fardin noticed that these furry pets can adapt to the shape of the container they sit in — think of a cat in a vase — similarly to what fluids such as water do. So he used the principles of rheology, the branch of physics that deals with the deformation of matter, to calculate cats’ relaxation time, or the time it takes for them to take up the space of a vase or bathroom sink.

The conclusion? Cats can be either liquid or solid, depending on the circumstances, Fardin reported in the Rheology Bulletin in 2014.... A cat in a small box will behave like a fluid, filling up all the space, but a cat in a bathtub full of water will try to minimize its contact with it and behave very much like a solid. For this achievement, Fardin was awarded this year’s Ig Nobel Physics Prize before an audience of more than 1000 people, including genuine Nobel laureates, during a ceremony here at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre."
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supergee: (coy1)
([personal profile] supergee Sep. 16th, 2017 09:12 am)
Jimmy Carter wants to take the fun out our dealings with North Korea.
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shirebound: (Default)
([personal profile] shirebound Sep. 16th, 2017 08:46 am)
Happy Birthday, [personal profile] dawn_felagund! I hope it's a wonderful day!

Party!

Next-Childrens-Birthday-Party

Hardy!

vermonttough



The Tudor dynasty fascinates me. Perhaps mostly because it culminated in one of England's most remarkable monarchs, Elizabeth I. Perhaps because of its role in history, as the beginning of England's emergence as one of the great powers of Europe in its own right. Perhaps because of the great religious turmoil surrounding the Anglicisation of the English church. And perhaps because of its beginnings in illicit love affairs - one between a widowed Valois princess and a minor Welsh lord, the other between a son of a king and the widow of a simple knight. I'm certainly not alone; the great figures of the Tudor era - Henry VIII, his two most notable wives, the faithful Katherine of Aragon and the enigmatic Anne Boleyn, and his daughters, Queens Mary and Elizabeth - are probably among the most written-about figures of English history.

And so, no matter how many interpretations, fact or fiction, I encounter of these towering figures, it seems I'm always ready for 'just one more.'

Having recently read Alison Weir's novel of Anne Boleyn, it seemed only proper that I read the first in her series about the queens of Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen. Weir's research and scholarship gives the novel a richness of detail, and I think in this novel she succeeds in giving us a fully humanised portrait of her subject, something that I found lacking in her book about Anne Boleyn. Katherine's journey from naive princess to a queen who has seen too many betrayals, her love for Henry and growing sorrow over her failure to bear a male heir, her steadfast insistence on the legitimacy of her marriage and her one living child, the loneliness, isolation, and pain of separation from her daughter as the divorce proceedings advanced - all these are written with a ring of emotional truth.

Weir writes in an Author's Note: "I have tried in these pages to evoke the sights, textures, sounds, and smells of an age, a lost world of splendor and brutality, and a court in which love, or the game of it, held sway, but dynastic pressures overrode any romantic considerations. It was a world dominated by faith and by momentous religious change—and a world in which there were few saints. This was Katherine’s world, and we can only understand her properly within its context."

In my view, she has succeeded in her goal.

I recently got an inexpensive computer microphone to do audio crowdwork jobs with, and I've used it to cobble together a short documentary about how I typically make my images!  I marked it unlisted so it won't show up on YouTube searches, but I've embedded it below.  I hope it's not too boring!  :D 

While searching for free background music for my video, I encountered an awesome site called Bensound.com.  This person has posted loads of first-rate original music under a Creative Commons - Attribution type of license.  Check this out if you need some excellent free music!  :)  






 
baranduin: (pink heart by shalowater)
([personal profile] baranduin Sep. 15th, 2017 11:14 am)
♥ London
is now OH JESUS FUCK BUTTERCUP'S GOING TO SAY SOMETHING ISN'T HE.

Today:

Trump claimed on Twitter that the terrorist attack involved “sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard”, despite no such information having been released publicly by police. He also blamed it on “loser terrorists”, promoted his travel ban and advocated a “proactive and nasty” policy against Islamic State.

Note: since no information's been released publicly about whether the police even have suspects, let alone ones known to Scotland Yard, Buttercup is either a) violating the conventions on intelligence sharing (again), or b) completely making shit up.

Also note: almost all our terrorists recently have been home-grown, so a travel ban would do exactly fuck-all.

Also pre-emptively and doubtless ineffectively: DON'T EVEN THINK OF COMING AT OUR MAYOR YOU FUCKER.
baranduin: (Default)
([personal profile] baranduin Sep. 15th, 2017 09:42 am)
Click on thumbnail to expand my mindfulness minutes chart.



Still in fifth position overall, 59 60 minutes out of first. Can I catch him up? Doubt it! Might try though that's probably not "skillful" behavior. Still human apparently lol.

Happy Friday. Man am I glad to get there. Going to make my reservations for the Sandpiper today. Sadly my friend can't join me but we'll try another time. So now I have to decide what room to get balanced with having to pay for the whole thing myself (translation -- probably won't put myself on the top floor like we usually do :-)
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baranduin: (Harry spotted tummy)
([personal profile] baranduin Sep. 15th, 2017 06:12 am)
How can I tell autumn is arriving? Harry starts demanding lap time.

Happy birthday, [personal profile] lindahoyland! I hope your boys are treating you with the delicate care you so richly deserve. Or at least refraining from knocking over cups and bowls and glasses and anything else that catches their eye. Well, Reuben's eye :-)
shirebound: (Default)
([personal profile] shirebound Sep. 15th, 2017 07:28 am)
Happy Birthday to [personal profile] lindahoyland! I hope the lads brought you breakfast in bed (or at least extra snuggles), and that you enjoy your special day. You have so many friends who love you and your fur-family!

7decb22ff0e9422672c44f46c1026986--birthday-greetings-birthday-wishes
supergee: (coy3)
([personal profile] supergee Sep. 15th, 2017 05:57 am)
The Rude Pundit gets medical treatment in the First World.
baranduin: (Bahubali elephant)
([personal profile] baranduin Sep. 14th, 2017 10:52 am)
Hello. Here's a random list of good stuff. Life right now is incredibly stressful on a bunch of different axes so good to remember the good stuff.

- I'm fifth on the leaderboard out of 1,130 for the mindfulness challenge. I appear to be 58 minutes behind the leader if I'm reading it right. Probably can't catch him but I'm chasing his tail lol.
- Going to the beach next weekend, just for two nights but I need to get away. Fingers crossed a friend can join me but I'll go either way.
- Project Runway tonight!
- [personal profile] hanarobi sent me a wee cloisonne elephant and I clipped it to my work lanyard, which now has a number of things clipped to it in addition to my badge: elephant, steampunky magnifying glass, Star of David pendant, a wee ornamental flower.
- It's sausage and potato soup today for lunch! Yum!
supergee: (mourning)
([personal profile] supergee Sep. 14th, 2017 05:54 am)
J. P. Donleavy was a one-hit wonder. The Ginger Man, a bawdy picaresque, had to be published by Olympia Press in the 50s, then in America with the naughty bits excised a few years later, and finally unexpurgated in the Sinful Sixties. These days it looks somewhat tame. Later books were less successful.

The Good Ship Venus, John de St. Jorre’s delightful history of Olympia, reveals that The Ginger Man was a chaotic farrago that had to be cut and pasted into shape (when that had to be done literally) by a woman named Muffy (the wife of translator Austryn Wainhouse). And the Times obit revealed a detail that could have come from one of his novels:
Mr. Donleavy found himself in the news in 2011 when his second wife, Mary Wilson Price, an actress, revealed that the two grown children she had given birth to during their 19-year marriage, which ended in divorce in 1989, were not Mr. Donleavy’s. DNA tests performed after the couple had separated established that Rebecca Donleavy was the daughter of Kieran Guinness, of the brewing dynasty, and Rory Donleavy was the son of Finn Guinness, Kieran’s brother, whom Ms. Price later married.


ETA: Giving birth to grown children sounds uncomfortable. Newspaper of record, my shiny metal ass!
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supergee: (fat goddess)
([personal profile] supergee Sep. 14th, 2017 05:15 am)
Plus-size teen fails to shop at plus-size store, thus looking gigantically gross or diabolically sexy, I forget which. Gaze upon her at your own risk.
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Keeanga-Yamahtta ​Taylor, African American scholar, socialist and academic - she is assistant professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University - offers a profoundly incisive and extensively researched study of US politics American racism and Black resistance in recent decades in her book From ​#BlackLivesMatter ​to ​Black ​Liberation.

Taylor's viewpoint is grounded in both socialist and anti-racist theory - and her analysis looks at both economic and cultural forces. Taylor's focus here is on the era from the civil rights movement to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the similarities and differences between the two movements, and ultimately on "the potential for a much broader anticapitalist movement that looks to transform not only the police but the entire United States." However, she begins her analysis with an examination of America's history as a racist state, from the earliest foundation of a slave-based economy to the exclusion of Black Americans from the benefits of the New Deal. In particular, Taylor points to the effects that the cultural myth of "American exceptionalism" has had, particularly in the Cold War period, in suppressing any consideration of institutional and systemic injustice in American society, and the subsequent evolution of the idea of the "culture of poverty" as the reason for the existence of economic and social inequity in the supposedly freest and most economically mobile country in the world.

"The government and its proponents in the financial world were making a global claim that the United States was good to its Black population, and at the same time they were promoting capitalism and private enterprise as the highest expressions of freedom. American boosters sustained the fiction of the “culture of poverty” as the pretext for the persisting inequality between Blacks and the rest of the country. In some ways, this was even more important as the United States continued its quest to project itself as an economic and political empire. Cold War liberalism was a political framework that viewed American racial problems as existing outside of or unrelated to its political economy and, more importantly, as problems that could be fixed within the system itself by changing the laws and creating 'equal opportunity.' "

Taylor notes the beginnings of a wider understanding of racial inequity as a systemic issue - and one with material as well as cultural elements -during the civil rights movement of the early 1960s, the extension of the welfare state under Johnson, and most significantly, in the multiple Black Liberation movements, and particularly The Black Panthers - that followed in the latter half of the 1960s.

"Hundreds of thousands of Black Americans drew even more radical conclusions about the nature of Black oppression in the United States as they were drawn directly into the radicalizing movement; hundreds of thousands more sympathized with the rebellions. The struggle broke through the isolation and confinement of life in segregated Black ghettos and upended the prevailing explanation that Blacks were responsible for the conditions in their neighborhoods. Mass struggle led to a political understanding of poverty in Black communities across the country. Black media captured stories of injustice as well as the various struggles to organize against it, feeding this process and knitting together a common Black view of Black oppression while simultaneously providing an alternative understanding for white people. A Harris poll taken in the summer of 1967, after major riots in Detroit and Newark, found 40 percent of whites believed that “the way Negroes have been treated in the slums and ghettos of big cities” and “the failure of white society to keep its promises to Negroes” were the leading causes of the rebellion. Many, including Martin Luther King Jr., began to connect Black oppression to a broader critique of capitalism."

Unfortunately, as Taylor demonstrates, this early materialist critique of the philosophies and methods of institutionalised racism faded in the 1970s as more conservative, 'personal responsibility' narratives take the central place in the debate on both racism and poverty, and the doctrine of 'colourblindness' emerged as a means of appearing non-racist while continuing to engage in administrative and economic practices that were inherently unjust to people of colour.

"Nixon’s turn to focusing on crime fit snugly with his broader use of colorblindness to champion his domestic policies. There was no need to invoke race in this campaign for law and order, but the consequences of the policies could not have been clearer. Crime was committed by bad people who made bad choices—it was not the product of an unequal social order that left Blacks and Puerto Ricans, in particular, isolated in urban enclaves with little access to good jobs, housing, or schools in a worsening economy. Instead, inequality left poor and working-class people of color to their own devices to advance in a society that had made next to no provisions for them to do so through legal or normative means. These kinds of constrained “choices” were made in white enclaves as well, but those were less surveilled and less likely to be criminalized by the police and the criminal justice system as a whole."

As the political climate in America became increasingly conservative in the years following Nixon - even among Democrats, but alarmingly so among Republicans - the twin narratives of colourblindness and the 'culture of poverty' became fixed as the foundations of public policy. Even among the middle class Blacks who increasingly gained access to positions of political and economic power, these narratives went unchallenged, while social and economic conditions worsened for poor blacks (and other people of colour). By the time that conditions were ripe for the emergence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, as Taylor notes in comparing the situation in 2014 immediately prior to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson to that preceding the emergence if the civil rights movement, "The main difference is that today, when poor or working-class Black people experience hardship, that hardship is likely being overseen by an African American in some position of authority. The development of the Black political establishment has not been a benign process. Many of these officials use their perches to articulate the worst stereotypes of Blacks in order to shift blame away from their own incompetence."

Taylor sees the betrayal of black communities by black politicians and elites as the inevitable outgrowth of a switch from grassroots resistance and critique of the political and economic power structure structures to a strategy based on electoral politics - one which, due to the nature of the political process in America left black politicians financially beholden to corporate money and conservative voting bloc brokers.

After examining political viewpoints surrounding the oppression of Black Americans, Taylor turns to an examination of racism and violence toward Blacks in criminal justice institutions.

At the turn of the twentieth century, African Americans began their long transition from living largely in rural areas to living predominantly in urban ones. In that time, there have been many changes in Black life, politics, and culture, but the threat and reality of police surveillance, scrutiny, violence, and even murder has remained remarkably consistent. The daily harm caused by the mere presence of police in Black communities has been a consistent feature of Black urban history and, increasingly, Black suburban history. Police brutality has been a consistent badge of inferiority and second-class citizenship. When the police enforce the law inconsistently and become the agents of lawlessness and disorder, it serves as a tangible reminder of the incompleteness of formal equality. You cannot truly be free when the police are able to set upon you at will, for no particular reason at all. It is a constant reminder of the space between freedom and “unfreedom,” where the contested citizenship of African Americans is held."

She opens with a discussion of laws restricting black movement, employment and home rental/ownership after the Civil War, laws whose violation was punished by enforced labour on municipal projects - thus beginning the carceral-based slavery system that has replaced the plantation-based slavery system.

"The desperate need for labor seemed insatiable; it turned all Black people into potential suspects and justified surveillance and scrutiny. Convict leasing was lucrative for employers compared to slavery, since it involved lower overhead expenses. As one observer put it, “Before the war we owned the Negroes. If a man had a good nigger, he could afford to take care of him; if he was sick get a doctor. He might even put gold plugs in his teeth. But these convicts: we don’t own ’em. One dies, get another.” The police were the linchpin to this new arrangement."

Having set the scene, as it were, by delineating the history of the conditions - institutional racism and its consequences for the average black person, police brutality, the narrative of a 'culture of poverty' and the co-opting of the black elite - which could, given the necessary spark, bring about a new Black liberation movement, Taylor takes a close look at the Obama regime and its influence on perceptions of racism. She recalls the initial optimism of blacks and progressive whites at the election of a black man to the office of President:

"The excitement about Obama turned into postelection euphoria. That was certainly the feeling in Chicago on election night, when a cross-section of the city converged in Grant Park to hear the country’s first Black president-elect address the nation. It was a rare, almost strange scene to see a multiracial crowd gathered in Chicago, one of the most segregated cities in the United States. That was the power of Obama’s calls for hope and change. On the eve of President Obama’s inauguration, 69 percent of Black respondents told CNN pollsters that Martin Luther King’s vision had been 'fulfilled.' In early 2011, asked whether they expected their children’s standard of living to be better or worse than their own, 60 percent of Blacks chose “better,” compared with only 36 percent of whites. This was not just blind hope: it was the expectation that things would, in fact, be better. One researcher described the broader context: 'Certainly, the Obama presidency has fueled euphoria in black circles. But even before Obama came on the scene, optimism was building—most notably among a new generation of black achievers who refused to believe they would be stymied by the bigotry that bedeviled their parents. Obama’s election was, in effect, the final revelation—the long awaited sign that a new American age had arrived.' "Now we have a sense of future,' said Yale sociologist Elijah Anderson. 'All of a sudden you have a stake. That stake is extremely important. If you have a stake, now there’s risk—you realize the consequences of compromising an unknowable future.' Almost 75 percent of African Americans in the South said that Obama would help America rid itself of racial prejudice. Forbes ran an enthusiastic editorial opinion in December 2008 titled 'Racism in America Is Over.' "

Disillusionment with Obama's reticence on racial issues and acceptance of the 'culture of poverty narrative among Blacks helped to build a loose coalition between social justice activists and the economic justice activists of the fledgling Occupy Wall Street movement.

"...Black Occupy activists organized “Occupy the Hood,” whose goal was to raise the profile of the Occupy movement in communities of color across the country and widen the range of people involved. Some “Occupy the Hood” organizers had also been involved in organizing against “stop-and-frisk.” Thus, not only did Occupy popularize economic and class inequality in the United States by demonstrating against corporate greed, fraud, and corruption throughout the finance industry, it also helped to make connections between those issues and racism. The public discussion over economic inequality rendered incoherent both Democratic and Republican politicians’ insistence on locating Black poverty in Black culture. While it obviously did not bury the arguments for culture and “personal responsibility,” Occupy helped to create the space for alternative explanations within mainstream politics, including seeing Black poverty and inequality as products of the system. The vicious attack and crackdown on the unarmed and peaceful Occupy encampments over the winter and into 2012 also provided a lesson about policing in the United States: the police were servants of the political establishment and the ruling elite. Not only were they racist, they were also shock troops for the status quo and bodyguards for the 1 percent."

Taylor pinpoints the killing of Trayvon Martin as the turning point that led to the coalescence of the BlackLivesMatter movement. Despite protests, demonstrations and attempts by Black and anti-racist activists to challenge the narrative, Martin was characterised as a dangerous criminal and his killer, George Zimmerman, as a victim.

"Out of despair over the verdict, community organizer Alicia Garza posted a simple hashtag on Facebook: “#blacklivesmatter.” It was a powerful rejoinder that spoke directly to the dehumanization and criminalization that made Martin seem suspicious in the first place and allowed the police to make no effort to find out to whom this boy belonged. It was a response to the oppression, inequality, and discrimination that devalue Black life every day. It was everything, in three simple words. Garza would go on, with fellow activists Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, to transform the slogan into an organization with the same name: #BlackLivesMatter. In a widely read essay on the meaning of the slogan and the hopes for their new organization, Garza described #BlackLivesMatter as 'an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.' "

While the death of Martin ad the acquittal of his killer marked the beginning of the BlackLivesMatter movement, Taylor identifies the crucial moment when that ignited mass resistance in the killing of Michael Brown:

"For reasons that may never be clear, Brown’s death was a breaking point for the African Americans of Ferguson—but also for hundreds of thousands of Black people across the United States. Perhaps it was the inhumanity of the police leaving Brown’s body to fester in the hot summer sun for four and a half hours after killing him, keeping his parents away at gunpoint and with dogs. “We was treated like we wasn’t parents, you know?” Mike Brown Sr., said. “That’s what I didn’t understand. They sicced dogs on us. They wouldn’t let us identify his body. They pulled guns on us.” Maybe it was the military hardware the police brandished when protests against Brown’s death arose. With tanks and machine guns and a never-ending supply of tear gas, rubber bullets, and swinging batons, the Ferguson police department declared war on Black residents and anyone who stood in solidarity with them."

As she recounts the growing response to the deaths of Brown and other black boys and men at the hands of police across the country, Taylor draws clear distinctions between the positions of the black 'older statesmen' such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who sought to defuse tensions and re-establish the legitimacy of the government in dealing with police violence and racism, and the younger generations of activists who sought immediate and direct action.

"The young people of Ferguson had great reverence and respect for the memory of the civil rights movement, but the reality is that its legacy meant little in their everyday lives. “I feel in my heart that they failed us,” Dontey Carter said of contemporary civil rights leaders. “They’re the reason things are like this now. They don’t represent us. That’s why we’re here for a new movement. And we have some warriors out here.” When Jesse Jackson Sr. arrived in Ferguson, he was confronted by a local activist, who said, “When you going to stop selling us out, Jesse? We don’t want you here in St. Louis!” Other activists did not go that far, but they did note that young Black people had been thrust into leadership on the ground in Ferguson because they were the ones under attack."

Taylor notes other differences between the BLM movement and the more established Black civil rights organisations - the prominence of women and LGBT people, its decentralised structure and use of social media, the flexibility of its tactics, its work in coalition building with labour and other movements, and the development of a "systemic analysis of policing.... that situated policing within a matrix of racism and inequality in the United States and beyond."

In the book's final chapter, Taylor discusses the ways in which radicalisation on political and economic issues - an analysis that links capitalism to the material conditions that Black and other marginalised people are faced - with is a necessary part of the struggle for Black liberation. She reminds us of the socialist perspectives adopted by 60s activists such as the Combahee River Collective and the Black Panthers, and traces the roots of black radicalism in the United States from the early days of the Communist Party in that country. Beginning with the words of Karl Marx on the relation between colonial exploitation, slavery, and capitalism, she outlines a radical understanding of the relation between the capitalist system and the oppression of black people, leading to the conclusion that only a restructuring of society which embraces economic as well as social justice can bring about the goal of black liberation.

"Racism in the United States has never been just about abusing Black and Brown people just for the sake of doing so. It has always been a means by which the most powerful white men in the country have justified their rule, made their money, and kept the rest of us at bay. To that end, racism, capitalism, and class rule have always been tangled together in such a way that it is impossible to imagine one without the other. Can there be Black liberation in the United States as the country is currently constituted? No. Capitalism is contingent on the absence of freedom and liberation for Black people and anyone else who does not directly benefit from its economic disorder. That, of course, does not mean there is nothing to do and no struggle worth waging. Building the struggles against racism, police violence, poverty, hunger, and all of the ways in which oppression and exploitation express themselves is critical to people’s basic survival in this society. But it is also within those struggles for the basic rights of existence that people learn how to struggle, how to strategize, and build movements and organizations. It is also how our confidence develops to counter the insistence that this society, as it is currently constructed, is the best that we can hope to achieve. People engaged in struggle learn to fight for more by fighting for and winning something. But the day-to-day struggles in which many people are engaged today must be connected to a much larger vision of what a different world could look like."

This was a great week for reading, even if not everything I read was that great. But a lot of it was!

What I Just Finished Reading

The Immortal Descendants, Books 1-3 by April White. I feel bad giving only two stars, since this series did provide hours of entertainment, but, yeah, two stars.

Time's Child, by Rebecca Ore. Oh, this could have been so good. The premise was a killer - hearty peasant stock (with a few broad-minded intellectuals thrown in) brought through via time travel to rebuild society following a devastating worldwide plague. The political and social worldbuilding - city states, warring future factions sneakily making the time-travel possible - was really thought provoking. Alas, the narrative was absolutely flat, and the characterization of the time travelers was ridiculous. The whole read more like a clean first-draft of a novel, rather than a finished work. So disappointing.

Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett. Hilarious, and a perfect palate-cleanser after the two previous!

Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey, the sequel to River of Teeth, which I LOVED. At first I thought, "Where are the feral hippos? This is reading like a soap opera." But eventually the hippos showed, and YES. (Also, I never expected to see a case of mastitis as a significant plot detail, so yay for that! Also, ouch. I really felt for Adelia. )

What I Am Currently Reading

Golden Age and Other Stories, by Naomi Novik. This is a very slender book - 177 pages - and illustrated with assorted bits of fanart, some of which inspired the stories herein. They are Temeraire-verse stories ("Now that I'm writing other stuff, let's clear all this dragon stuff off the hard drive. I'm sure somebody will buy it.") but so far, I'm not delighted. *sad*

Dreaming Death, by J. Kathleen Cheney. Secondary-world sort of police-procedural fantasy, very engaging, intriguing characters!

What I Am Reading Next

Not sure! I bought a copy of Good Omens, and won a copy of Reincarnation Blues at our local bookstore, and have a load of things on hold at the library, so I am pretty spoiled for choices right now.

Question of the Day: Weather, weather, weather - how's yours today?
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supergee: (monopoly)
([personal profile] supergee Sep. 13th, 2017 07:07 am)
I was all set to believe bitcoin is a fraud, but here’s contrary evidence.
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supergee: (nebula)
([personal profile] supergee Sep. 13th, 2017 05:55 am)
Robert Heinlein: SJW

Thanx to File 770

ETA: And an editor told Joe Haldeman, “Sci-fi does not mix with women.”
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