starlady: the cover from Shaun Tan's The Arrival, showing an aquanaut in suburbia (i'm a stranger here myself)
[personal profile] starlady
I have nothing to add to what so many people have already said on Twitter and tumblr and elsewhere about the murder of Mike Brown, and I wish I could be out there with everyone at the protests. I will be at the Tokyo march next Friday. Black lives matter. No peace without justice.

It is Thanksgiving, and I did want to take the time to express my profound gratitude and appreciation, this year in particular, for all my friends around the world. I flew the better part of 100,000 miles this year and didn't find it stressful at all, because no matter where I went, there were people there to hang out, grab a meal, let me crash on their couch, and generally make me feel much more welcome than I would have otherwise. Some of you I've known for years and some of you I'd just met for the first time, or hadn't seen for aeons, or whatever--none of it mattered. The hospitality and kindness people showed me, from the biggest ways to the smallest, was profoundly touching, and I'm very grateful to have all of you in my life. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who's celebrating, and I hope it's far fewer years until we all can meet again. ♥

Two very quick things

Nov. 27th, 2014 01:31 am
umadoshi: (kittens - Jinksy - looking up)
[personal profile] umadoshi
There are a few new photos of Claudia and Jinksy (taken by Kas) on their Tumblr, [ profile] jinksyandthebrain.

And [community profile] fandom_stocking is open for business. (I don't currently have a stocking, and probably won't? But you never know, I suppose.)

Post-protest looking-back.

Nov. 26th, 2014 11:41 pm
sailorptah: Books (books)
[personal profile] sailorptah
Was at the Black Lives Matter: Boston protest march last night. @BLM_Boston has lots of photos & video. (Donation info.)

This long compilation video has a good cross-section of what was happening, up through police blockade #1. (From around around 2:43 to 2:59 you can see a big white banner with an upside-down American flag taped to it -- I was a little to the right of them.)

Here's a rough outline of the route:



All the protestors were peaceful in Boston. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case everywhere, as you can see by these photos of fires being started and cars getting flipped over oh wait those are photos of white people rioting after sporting events.

(I'm not going to sit here and say all white people are intrinsically violent. I'm just saying, there is a history of meaningless violence in white culture, and it's troubling. Doesn't help that 83% of the murders of white people in the US are committed by white people, and there don't seem to be any leaders in the community willing to speak out about this epidemic of white-on-white violence.)

Donation links for Ferguson itself:

Smartphone app from the ACLU of NJ will upload video from your device to the ACLU server, to keep police from confiscating it and deleting evidence.

Masterpost of "how to counter various racist arguments" posts, articles, and video.

Gonna finish this off with the quote everyone is sharing (or should be) in response to the "what would MLK say?" argument.

"But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity."
--Martin Luther King Jr., "The Other America", March 14, 1968
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Girl Genius Comic goes here

We're running behind a bit, and then we needed Cheyenne to color this other thing Phil the colors for this page will be a bit late. I'll update it when we've got it!--Kaja

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[syndicated profile] loweringthebar_feed

Posted by Kevin

With remarkable timing, someone sent me this item just as I was publishing a post about what to do and not do when encountering officers at internal checkpoints. I did mention that you should "not do anything crazy," and just to clarify, that includes pointing anything—anything at all—at a police officer.

Because they plainly could mistake anything at all for a weapon.

According to FOX31 in Colorado, 27-year-old Nathen Channing was arrested Sunday night "for pointing a banana at a pair of Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies, both of whom initially believed the piece of fruit was a handgun." The deputies were driving (in separate cars) and the man was walking on the sidewalk. This is what happened next—

—I'm sorry, I just noticed the first officer's name is "Bunch" so I had to contemplate that for a second.

Okay, here's what happened next:

Eventually, [Deputy] Bunch wrote, Channing "reached into the left side of his coat and pulled out a yellow object, pointing it into the air then in my direction as I approached him."

"Fearing it was a weapon," Bunch wrote that he sped off. And knowing [Deputy] Love was traveling behind him, Bunch said he radioed his fellow deputy to warn him. As he returned to the area, Bunch wrote he witnessed Channing point the same object at Love.

As Love got out of his vehicle and approached Channing, Bunch wrote, his fellow deputy said he "observed what appeared to be a yellow tube with a black center" and also stated he "thought it was a gun."

"Deputy Love stated he was in fear for his life at this point and was in the process of pulling out his handgun when Nathen yelled, 'It's a banana!'" Bunch wrote.

Where to start?

Let's start with Channing, who admitted he did this as a "trial run" for a YouTube video somewhat similar to the kind I just mentioned (at the link above). As Deputy Bunch wrote in his arrest affidavit, Channing's "only explanation for pointing the banana at law enforcement was [that] it was a joke. He thought it would 'lighten the holiday spirit.'" It would have, and I guess it has anyway, for different reasons. But it could also have lightened the officers' guns by several grams. That's the problem.

Then of course there are the deputies who claim to have mistaken a banana for a gun. I actually think it's hard to criticize them too much here, given that somebody pointed something at them while they were driving by and couldn't observe too closely. At the very least, they'd have been justified in stopping to read this guy the riot act if only to deter him from pointing anything at police officers. But it does seem a little ridiculous to actually arrest a man and charge him with "felony menacing" because he pointed a banana at you.

According to Bunch, at least, a banana could resemble a handgun. "Based on training and experience," he wrote, "I have seen handguns in many shapes and colors and perceived this [yellow tube with a black center] to be a handgun." Are there curved yellow handguns? Maybe so. I defer on that. Bunch continued, describing the Banana Incident in typical police-report manner: the suspect, "by physical action, knowingly placed Deputy Love and I in imminent fear by use of an article fashioned in the manner to cause us to reasonably believe it was a deadly weapon." Well, he didn't fashion it that way himself, as Deputy Bunch of all people should know, but he did take it out and point it at police officers. Don't do that. With anything.

Monty Python explained this decades ago, but it's worth a refresher.

Never Too Much

Nov. 26th, 2014 07:00 pm
[syndicated profile] thehairpin_feed

Posted by Meredith Graves

by Meredith Graves

We're leaving Barcelona, heading towards Bilbao to catch an overnight ferry to England. Outside the city lies a near-desert marked by occasional stone foundations, once buildings, trees of some sort, olives or fruit—the Spanish countryside, orchard-studded and cloudy overhead, is a blur at eighty miles an hour, lovely as anywhere. After last night's show my throat hurts in a way that is hard to put into words. Just breathing, abiding, it burns. I can't really speak, my voice, a rasp. I'm an overdramatic child on the verge of tears. I'm homesick. I twist in my earbuds and put on Luther Vandross, because I need to hear someone who can still sing. I close my eyes as the opening bass line dances and swells, it's become so familiar, and I'm back in Brooklyn tripping on the sidewalk between my apartment and the grocery store. I open my eyes; in the side mirror I can see my face is flushed. It's incredible how certain songs can carry you in and out of tangible memory. I'm barely in the van any more. I feel tracks rushing under my feet, I close my eyes tight, Luther's voice carrying me away, my heart swells, I'm on the A train and I'm going to see a boy.

I've been on tour since the fall of 2013, when my band became moderately popular overnight, seemingly by accident. We had to make a spontaneous decision—whether or not to leave our jobs, sign a recording contract, write an album, and take to the road. It's the most exciting and stupidest decision I've ever made. We tour four to six weeks at a time; take three or four days off; then leave again as soon as possible. We spend up to ten hours a day in the van to play for about 25 minutes, then we pack up, sleep somewhere for a few hours, and do it again the next day, seven days a week.

The first time I spit up blood, I figured it was a fluke. A cold, playing too hard, too many cigarettes. But after that first time, it seemed like my body began breaking down at an unparalleled pace. Speaking became uncomfortable. At a level above quiet conversation, it's actually painful. I try to sing along with the radio and no notes come out, no matter how hard I try. For half an hour every day, I scream until I burst blood vessels around my eyes and nose. It's my job now. As a result, my vocal chords are destroyed. The first time in my life that people have paid attention to what I have to say and it's threatening to take my voice away for good.

* * *

I've sung in bands for twelve years. I grew up doing musical theater and sang opera competitively through high school. I had tremendous range and power. And now it's just…gone. Turns out, I was rehearsing for twenty-six years for one year of travel, meeting people I never dreamed I'd meet, playing for thousands of people all over the world, living the dream. I would not trade it for anything, but sometimes when I lay down at night, I think about the practical repercussions of my choices and I cry.

By the time we finally got a real break—one whole month off, from the second week of September up until two weeks ago—I felt so destroyed and so helpless, I had no idea what to do with myself. So in a flailing, desperate gesture, I moved to Brooklyn with only the contents of my tour suitcase. I might have been in pain and worried about my future, but being in New York made me unbelievably happy. I'm from the Adirondacks—I've never lived in a city. Everything was so new, it was a clean break from ten hours in the van, day in and day out. I fell in love. I quickly realized I could put my headphones in and learn the city by walking and looking, not speaking. There was so much to see.

My first love affair was the subway. Everyone's there. I eavesdrop on groups of kids at the end of the school day, I try not to stare at old couples holding hands. I snoop relentlessly on what people are reading. With that slack-jawed starry-dipshit look in my eyes, perpetual tourist, babe, pig in the city, giddy and full of gratitude. Like, hi, I'm new here.

I leave early when I have to go somewhere because I like waiting underground in that inconsistent lighting. I stare down the tracks into the dark and wish on rats like shooting stars. And while I wait, I listen to music in my headphones, because everyone, everywhere in New York, is wearing earbuds, or those headphones that aren't totally noise-canceling, so everyone within blast range is treated to whatever they're listening to. I like fitting in.

A few days into living in Brooklyn, I start thinking that the miracle of New York is too good to be true and that it might all be a movie—the headphones thing is just because everyone living it has their own soundtrack—my lizard brain's unshakeable assumption is that cameras are following us all the time, the great head movie and you're the star, it's everywhere. Show up and you'll notice it, too—where scenes start and end, the moment when a new plot point begins to unfold. It's magic here. The train features prominently—these are the parts of the film where the main character is removed from whatever scene they've just left and is thrust into an unpredictable situation, surrounded by strangers. One stop, a full mariachi band enters your car; the next, a woman crying. Get lost in a book and stay on one stop too far and you run into someone you've been dying to see. Choose your own adventure, and with your omnipresent earbuds, choose your own soundtrack.

My second love affair in New York, after the subway, is someone I met my second week here. He has disconnected the line between my brain and mouth. He is smart and funny and makes me extremely nervous. Up until this point, it seems as if it is physically impossible for me to tell him how I feel. I couldn't possibly have anticipated my character meeting the male romantic lead this early on in the script, which worries me, but I realized he was a key plot point when the soundtrack started to change. Suddenly funny romantic music was everywhere.

I'd get on the train to go meet him somewhere and I'd listen to that Luther Vandross song, turned up until it made my eardrums bounce. It's a song about how good it feels when you grow a set and reveal your scary secret feelings to someone you really, really like, and they return them. It's a song about diving in with a person who makes you completely fucking freak out every time you look at them.

* * *
Scene: You hear a train pulling up so you start to walk faster. There are thirty elementary-aged kids running to meet the train. It feels like swimming in a school of fish. You slouch at a safe distance from the accordionist who plays at that platform in the afternoon, because you don't want to let on that you're getting a free show. You leave your headphones in but turn the music off and pretend you aren't paying attention. You're reading Graham Greene but you can't focus because you're thinking about the man again. It's hot and you sweat through your shirt. The tunnel is dark and the train coming on the opposite track exhales forceful breath onto the wrong side of your face. The accordion player makes eye contact with you and starts in on 'La Valse d'Amelie,' the theme from your favorite film. You furrow your brow as you assume he's making fun of you. You duck behind your book where you look around, shocked and agape. The world is not real, someone set this up, you're being filmed. The train pulls up.

You swear people can see your heart through your shirt. You stand and lean your head against the sliding doors, drying your bangs under the air vent. You put on that Luther Vandross song and turn it up. It's a song about the other side of the line you cross when you finally tell someone you're falling for them. Once you say it once, you can say it over and over again, you can scream it, but first, you have to say it once—"a thousand kisses from you is never too much"—but you're not there yet. After all, you can barely speak.

There's something about having your voice physically taken away from you that makes you think much more before you talk. When it hurts to have a conversation, you're more careful with what you say. When you take a risk and speak your truth, but lose your voice, you start thinking more about what else you have to lose. And every time you're with him, when your toes are on that line, when you're about to jump, you either come up with an excuse or physically put your hand over your mouth to stop yourself from saying what you're thinking. For some reason, it's really scary. If you tell him how you feel, the stars will fall from the sky. Clouds will turn to ash as hell itself rains down and an epoch of darkness as yet unparalleled will visit our species. You can't tell him, because the second you do, you become vulnerable. It all goes to shit and garbage. You can believe anything you want if it's just you, over there in your weird happy place, but the second you need someone else to validate your truth, the second you open yourself up to the idea that your crush isn't mutual, prepare to be, well, crushed.

Scene: the people on the train and all those kids are staring at you because you didn't even realize you were dancing. You frown at the feeling of something like love, but more frightening—the love before love, when everything still feels like a colossal secret you can barely keep to yourself, that you'll tell everyone about except the person for whom your feelings are intended. Your friends know, your boss or your mother or someone else who half-listens and says—go for it, it sounds like he likes you, too—they know. Your iTunes knows because the play count on that Luther Vandross song has increased by one hundred over the course of a long weekend.

The warmest points on the insides of your wrists and behind your ears smell like vanilla, like violets, you brush your teeth more often, the space where your thighs meet is a few degrees hotter all the time and the place in your chest where you think your heart might be feels like a bottle of champagne. It seems like the cashiers at the coffee shop can sense it, strangers stare and smile in a curious way, dogs pull at their leashes just to be pet by you. Your clothes fit better, the wings of your eyeliner are more even than usual, the flowers you buy at the market stay alive a day longer than expected and the baker who always runs out of donuts early totally still has donuts. Your tea is the perfect temperature, even the hold music at Planned Parenthood is lovely. Songs you listen to over and over don't get old, only more beautiful. The train is never more than a few minutes late. You wake easily in the morning excited to go about your day. Sunlight and the breeze are served up bottomless, New York is incredible, the universe is your set designer, the cameras are rolling. Even the fact that your voice is gone, shredded, stops feeling like a death knell for a little while. After all, you haven't ruined anything yet. You don't know where the next scene will take you. There's still hope. Never too much.

Scene: you arrive in Bilbao after nine hours driving from Barcelona and you board the ferry where you'll be spending the next 24 hours. You check into your cabin. After nine days of shows, you cough blood into the bathroom sink. You slip and let yourself wonder how he's doing, as you haven't let yourself contact him much since you arrived. You want to give him some space. There's an awful storm and the boat is rocking all night. You vomit repeatedly for an hour into a plastic garbage can, acrid yellow slurry of bile and water and yogurt and ginger biscuits, and it singes your already raw throat until your eyes well up with tears. You pass out without brushing your teeth. You sleep for twenty of the next 24 hours and dream about kissing him. The next morning you steel yourself and email him two sentences: "You were in my dream last night, and I woke up missing you. It was strange."

Scene: flashback, montage—for a week before you leave, every time you look into each other's eyes like you're daring the other person to say something brave first, you laugh and say, "I'll deal with this when I get back from Europe." You suppose it will be easier to tell him then. You'll find your voice by then, the words will come to you while you're over there. You'll tell him somehow. You'll find a way.

In addition to being a writer and photographer, Meredith Graves is the frontperson of Perfect Pussy. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic they sent a cookie bouquet. So awesome.

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[syndicated profile] loweringthebar_feed

Posted by Kevin

Needless to say (I hope), don't just drive through them, don't do anything crazy, and for God's sake, don't turn into a mindless demon and charge through a hail of gunfire in a hopeless attempt to kill an armed police officer who has the drop on you. But as Boing Boing reminds us today, you are not required to answer questions or consent to a search at these checkpoints. Just politely but firmly say no, and if possible, suck down some helium before responding and get it on video.

Be right with you, officer

That's what Robert Trudell does.

These are internal checkpoints we're talking about here, and unfortunately TSA checkpoints don't count. If you are crossing the border or passing through a TSA "security zone," they are allowed to stop you and search you and your stuff without a warrant or probable cause. (More complete info from Flex Your Rights and the ACLU.) They probably need at least a good reason to rummage through a laptop or cell phone, so have a passcode set and don't tell them what it is. But generally speaking, the Fourth Amendment is weak at the border or in the mind of a TSA agent.

Not content with that, though, DHS agents (and police) also set up internal checkpoints far from the border (and also interpret the "border" as being 100 miles wide—seriously). There, they can stop you briefly (think DUI checkpoint), but cannot search you or your car or your stuff without probable cause or consent. And you aren't required to consent, even though they will often imply or say otherwise (as I think they are allowed to do).

But if you don't consent, or don't answer their questions, won't they just search you anyway? Well, often the answer is no, as Trudell and others have been demonstrating by recording the interaction and posting it on YouTube. And if at all possible, please do it the way Trudell does:

Trudell is the clown prince of checkpoint refusers. He wears funny wigs, he sings, he refuses to talk, he sucks on helium balloons before talking, and once, he got spectacularly roughed up, all while being recorded by an astonishing array of cameras in his car.

Well, you do have to be willing to be roughed up, potentially, but such is the cost of freedom. That, and whatever helium balloons cost these days, I don't know.

Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu

Nov. 26th, 2014 11:09 am
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
An odd, beautifully written re-telling of "The Snow Queen" as a children's book.

Hazel is a little girl who's peculiar and alienated in the way that a lot of people who grow up to be writers were: engrossed in unpopular books and interests, pre-emptively disdaining most people her age so she won't be as hurt when they reject her. She was adopted from India by a white family, and is not only the only Indian girl in her school, but knows nearly nothing about India; this isn't a huge part of the story, but certainly adds to her feeling of being different.

Her one friend is Jack, a boy whose father is gone and mother is depressed. Everyone tells them they shouldn't be friends, because boys and girls aren't at that age (eleven) and because Hazel is weird. Then one day, Jack suddenly dumps Hazel and starts hanging out with the popular boys. Everyone tells Hazel that this is natural and she needs to find girl friends. Her mother warns her that you can't make someone love you again when they've stopped; she knows because Hazel's father left her. And then Jack disappears - moved away, supposedly.

But Hazel is certain that Jack didn't just naturally stop loving her. She thinks he was enchanted and kidnapped by the Snow Queen. So Hazel follows the rules of fairy-tales... and finds herself in a creepy fairyland, questing to bring back her best friend.

This a well-written, melancholy book with striking images and a strange subtext. Though the fairyland is real, and Jack's enchantment is real, everyone in the real world but Hazel believes that the enchantment is a metaphor. They tell her that childhood friendships often break up naturally, that people often fall out of love, and that no amount of wanting and persistence can make someone love you when they don't. This creates an odd tension to Hazel's quest: is it real? Even if fairyland is real, is the enchantment really imposed from outside, or just the externalization of the truth that Jack no longer loves her. If he really doesn't love her, is it heroic or self-destructive and stalkery for her to keep trying to get him back?

Then again, he really did disappear. And the Snow Queen really does have him. There is no metaphor supplied for that scenario: that is reality. But it's a reality that sits oddly with the "he really doesn't love you" metaphor.

This is a book where I really did wonder what the author's intent was. Were readers meant to take the "You can't make anyone love you" admonitions as the truth, and believe that while she saves Jack's life, he will never love her again? Or were those statements merely obstacles Hazel faces, and she really did see through them to the truth that he did love her, that his enchantment was metaphoric for depression and peer pressure, and that if she kept standing by him, eventually he'd remember that he cared for her all along? I may be taking all sorts of unintended subtext from this book, but it's very metafictional to begin with.

Hazel's quest is like an illusion-picture that flashes back and forth between being a young woman and an old woman every time you blink. Heroic affirmation of persistence and friendship. Blink. Unsettling story of an emotionally immature girl desperately pursuing a boy who naturally grew apart from her.

[syndicated profile] tanehisicoates_feed

Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In a recent dispatch from Ferguson, Missouri, Jelani Cobb noted that President Obama's responses to "unpunished racial injustices" constitute "a genre unto themselves." Monday night, when Barack Obama stood before the nation to interpret the non-indictment of Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, he offered a particularly tame specimen. The elements of "the genre" were all on display—an unmitigated optimism, an urge for calm, a fantastic faith in American institutions, an even-handedness exercised to a fault. But if all the limbs of the construct were accounted for, the soul of the thing was not.

There was none of the spontaneous annoyance at the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, and little of the sheer pain exhibited in the line, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." The deft hand Obama employed in explaining to Americans why the acquittal of George Zimmerman so rankled had gone arthritic. This was a perfunctory execution of "the genre," offered with all the energy of a man ticking items off a to-do list.

Barack Obama is an earnest moderate. His instincts seem to lead him to the middle ground. For instance, he genuinely believes that there is more overlap between liberals and conservatives then generally admitted. On Monday he nodded toward the "deep distrust" that divides black and brown people from the police, and then pointed out that this was tragic because these are the communities most in need of "good policing." Whatever one makes of this pat framing, it is not a cynical centrism—he believes in the old wisdom of traditional America. This is his strength. This is his weakness. But Obama's moderation is as sincere and real as his blackness, and the latter almost certainly has granted him more knowledge of his country than he generally chooses to share.

In the case of Michael Brown, this is more disappointing than enraging. The genre of Obama race speeches have always been bounded by the job he was hired to do. Specifically, Barack Obama is the president of the United States of America. More specifically, Barack Obama is the president of a congenitally racist country, erected upon the plunder of life, liberty, labor, and land. This plunder has not been exclusive to black people. But black people, the community to which both Michael Brown and Barack Obama belong, have the distinct fortune of having survived in significant numbers. For a creedal country like America, this poses a problem—in nearly every major American city one can find a population of people whose very existence, whose very history, whose very traditions, are an assault upon this country's nationalist instincts. Black people are the chastener of their own country. Their experience says to America, "You wear the mask."

In 2007, Barack Obama's task was to capture the presidency of a country which historically has despised the community from which he hails. This was no mean feat. But more importantly, it was not unprecedented. And just as Léon Blum's prime ministership did not lead to a post-anti-Semitic France, Barack Obama's presidency should never have been expected to lead to a post-racist America. As it happens, there is nothing about a congenitally racist country that necessarily prevents an individual leader hailing from the pariah class. The office does not care where the leader originates, so long as the leader ultimately speaks for the state. On Monday night, watching Obama both be black and speak for the state was torturous. One got the sense of man fatigued by people demanding he say something both eminently profound and only partially true. This must be tiring.

Black people know what cannot be said. What clearly cannot be said is that the events of Ferguson do not begin with Michael Brown lying dead in the street, but with policies set forth by government at every level. What clearly cannot be said is that the people of Ferguson are regularly plundered, as their grandparents were plundered, and generally regarded as a slush-fund for the government that has pledged to protect them. What clearly cannot be said is the idea of superhuman black men who "bulk up" to run through bullets is not an invention of Darren Wilson, but a staple of American racism.

What clearly cannot be said is that American society's affection for nonviolence is notional. What can not be said is that American society's admiration for Martin Luther King Jr. increases with distance, that the movement he led was bugged, smeared, harassed, and attacked by the same country that now celebrates him. King had the courage to condemn not merely the violence of blacks, nor the violence of the Klan, but the violence of the American state itself.

What clearly cannot be said is that violence and nonviolence are tools, and that violence—like nonviolence—sometimes works. "Property damage and looting impede social progress," Jonathan Chait wrote Tuesday. He delivered this sentence with unearned authority. "Property damage and looting" has been the most effective tool of social progress for white people in America. It describes everything from enslavement to Jim Crow laws to lynching to red-lining.

"Property damage and looting"—perhaps more than nonviolence—has also been a significant tool in black "social progress." In 1851, when Shadrach Minkins was snatched off the streets Boston under the authority of the Fugitive Slave Law, abolitionists "stormed the courtroom" and "overpowered the federal guards" to set Minkins free. That same year, when slaveholders came to Christiana, Pennsylvania, to reclaim their property under the same law, they were not greeted with prayer and hymnals but with gunfire.

"Property damage and looting" is a fairly accurate description of the emancipation of black people in 1865, who only five years earlier constituted some $4 billion in property. The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 is inseparable from the threat of riots. The housing bill of 1968—the most proactive civil-rights legislation on the books—is a direct response to the riots that swept American cities after King was killed. Violence, lingering on the outside, often backed nonviolence during the civil-rights movement. "We could go into meetings and say, 'Well, either deal with us or you will have Malcolm X coming into here,'" said SNCC organizer Gloria Richardson. "They would get just hysterical. The police chief would say, 'Oh no!'"

What cannot be said is that America does not really believe in nonviolence—Barack Obama has said as much—so much as it believes in order. What cannot be said is that there are very convincing reasons for black people in Ferguson to be nonviolent. But those reasons do not emanate from an intelligent fear of the law, not a benevolent respect for the law.

The fact is that when the president came to the podium on Monday night there actually was very little he could say. His mildest admonitions of racism had only earned him trouble. If the American public cannot stomach the idea that arresting a Harvard professor for breaking into his own home is "stupid," then there is virtually nothing worthwhile that Barack Obama can say about Michael Brown.

And that is because the death of all of our Michael Browns at the hands of people who are supposed to protect them originates in a force more powerful than any president: American society itself. This is the world our collective American ancestors wanted. This is the world our collective grandparents made. And this is the country that we, the people, now preserve in our fantastic dream. What can never be said is that the Fergusons of America can be changed—but, right now, we lack the will to do it.

Perhaps one day we won't, and maybe that is reason to hope. Hope is what Barack Obama promised to bring, but he was promising something he could never bring. Hope is not the naiveté that would change the face on a racist system and then wash its hands of its heritage. Hope is not feel-goodism built on the belief in unicorns. Martin Luther King had hope, but it was rooted in years of study and struggle, not in looking the other way. Hope is not magical. Hope is earned.

This article was originally published at

(no subject)

Nov. 26th, 2014 01:19 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Yesterday morning, I saw my psychiatrist. We decided to lower my dose of Geodon again, this time to 20 mg twice a day (it was 40 twice a day and before that was 40/80). I'm not having any withdrawal symptoms, and I'm not noticing increased anxiety. My doctor is kind of disappointed by that last because it means that very likely the Geodon wasn't doing anything to help me. To be honest, I never really thought that it was, but it's hard to tell. I've contracted my life down to what I can manage without setting myself off too badly. At any rate, I keep seeing this doctor because I need to keep my disability status with the insurance from my old job and because, eventually, Social Security is going to review my status and want medical information.

I had lunch at a diner about a block from the doctor's office, right near the bus station. I thought about going to Totoro, but I banged up my left leg getting into the shower Monday night, and walking hurt. I had a cheeseburger and fries and a drink. They have a deal for that for $6.99 (which comes to about $7.50 with tax and $9.50 with tip).

On the bus home, I saw a woman who might have been my cleaning lady. The coat and purse were, I think, right, but I never saw her face. She had her head buried in her arms when I boarded the bus, and I sat behind her. I didn't even get a glimpse of her as I got off the bus. I kind of hope it wasn't my cleaning lady-- Whoever it was looked exhausted when I came past.

I made Chex mix when I got home. Scott loves Chex mix but limits himself to having it in the month before Christmas and (sometimes) the month after Christmas. The almonds I used appear to have gone off, though. The couple that I had were nasty, and even Scott could taste that they weren't quite right. So we're picking out almonds and throwing them in the trash.

I also tried making Christmas porridge with our rice cooker. It has a setting for porridge, and Scott thought it might save me some time if we could use that. Unfortunately, very little of the milk actually absorbed into the rice while it was in the cooker. I had to finish it on the stove and spent about half an hour standing there and stirring. Without the rice cooker, it would have taken me about forty five minutes to cook in the milk, so I don't see that the rice cooker really saved me much time. I may try again, this time using the standard rice setting, but I'm not optimistic. Fortunately, Scott and Cordelia really like rice porridge, so the experiments won't be wasted. Cordelia was really hoping the experiment would work so that she could have porridge more often. When it takes an hour in front of the stove, I'm a lot less likely to make it than if it takes fifteen minutes.

Scott had to go in to work early this morning. I'm hoping that that will mean he gets out earlier on Friday, but I'm not holding my breath. He called me a little after noon to ask if there were any particular days or weeks I wanted him to try to get for vacation in the upcoming year. The only day I really wanted him to take was my birthday-- I need to renew my driver's license then, and I can't get to the Secretary of State's office without someone's help.

Two-Day Roundup / Open Thread

Nov. 26th, 2014 05:30 pm
[syndicated profile] thehairpin_feed

Posted by Jazmine Hughes

by Jazmine Hughes


Hey buds— we are ending this week early due to American Thanksgiving, which I don't know if Haley has ever experienced in real life, but if she asks, tell her it looks like the above.

Please don't forget about Ferguson and Mike Brown during the holiday. Here are two more places to send your cash: Ferguson food banks and local classrooms in need of donations.

WE STILL HAD SOME GREAT STUFF IN THIS LIL' BABY WEEK. Gabby Noone gave chain restaurants astrological signs. Erica Lies interviewed the founders of the first annual Appalachian queer film festival. Alan Hanson and Hallie Bateman gave us an NYC-based DSM, Baba Yaga gave us advice on our exes, and Anna Fitzpatrick gave us some reality, real or otherwise. We've got one more real good post coming for you at 2pm, so stay tuned.

This will be my first time home since starting my Big New Job (this). How am I gonna explain The Hairpin to my family??????????? LOL. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Wish me luck.

Image via Flickr Commons.

[syndicated profile] thehairpin_feed

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Posted by Anna Fitzpatrick

by Anna Fitzpatrick

First Date
Expectation: You are witty and charming beyond belief. Your hair has never looked better. You end the evening with a passionate kiss, and neither of you have bad breath.
Reality: It's obvious that both of you are trying really hard. Half of your jokes fall flat, but to be fair, so do theirs. You exchange a friendly hug at the end of the evening.
Alternate Reality: You are a scorpion. They are a shapeless ball of light. The world has ended, but it wasn't really there to begin with. The sex is awkward but adequate.

Job Interview
Expectation: You land all the questions with aplomb, You are so perfectly suited to this job, it's almost offensive that you didn't already have it. You are hired on the spot.
Reality: They ask you what your weaknesses are. You reply, "I'm a bit of a perfectionist." Both of you know this answer is bullshit.
Alternate reality: Your prospective employer opens his mouth. Out comes a low creaking noise, sounding like nothing else that you've ever heard come out of a human. Slowly, you stand up and walk out of the room, never breaking eye contact. You didn't really want to work in sales anyway.

High School Reunion
Expectation: All the people you hated now have crappy jobs. Your tenth grade lab partner who you were secretly in love with has only gotten hotter over the years, and confesses that they have been harbouring feelings for you this whole time, and would you maybe like to get coffee with them sometime? Yes, you answer, you would.
Reality: The only people you talk to are the friends with whom you were already keeping in touch. You all decide to duck out early and go get drunk at a nearby bar.
Alternate Reality: It's dark, as if somebody had turned off all the lights in a windowless room. Slowly, your vision starts to adjust, and you can begin to make out figures surrounding you. A bonsai tree. A caribou. A young child with an eye patch and a cowboy hat. You smile knowingly to yourself. Everything that the mysterious old woman foretold in her prophecy is coming true. You know what comes next, and you are anything but worried. You let the darkness wash over you.

Visiting Your Family For the Holidays
Expectation: Your parents finally understand what it is you do for a living. You find your old Beanie Baby collection in the basement, and look up its value online: you're rich. You treat your family to a ski trip in Aspen over New Years.
Reality: At first, it's nice having somebody else cook for you, but then you get into a fight with your sister over something dumb, and storm out of the house to go read your old Sylvia Plath books at the local Denny's, just like you did every weekend when you were seventeen.
Alternate Reality: Pretty much like the regular reality, but now everything is on fire.

Anna Fitzpatrick (@bananafitz) is a writer. Her parents are worried about her.

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Posted by Taisia Kitaiskaia

by Taisia Kitaiskaia

bear cub

Transcript after the jump.

Dear Baba Yaga,

My ex and I were together 4.5 years before I broke up with him. Even though he loved me and was good to me, I have never been happier about myself and my life until we split up. So why did I get so angry when I found out that he's been dating someone new? And how can I stop feeling this way and be happy for him?


You feel he is the cub you helped raise, & his fur you love even as you don't wish it near you. ; So when he goes out yonder to eat his fill you anger that he can wander so easily & find what he seeks without you. ) Stare into the black puddle where he left his paw print, stare & mourn a little, let yr grieving mix with that abandoned water & drink it all down, the loss of him & the loss of you, too, a little, for he raised you also.

Previously: How Can I Create Stability?

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. She's taking questions on behalf of Baba Yaga at


Daily Happiness

Nov. 25th, 2014 11:54 pm
torachan: aradia from homestuck (aradia)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I'm trying to cut back on soda again and I didn't have one tonight with dinner when I really wanted one, so go me! (I did have some earlier, but at least I had less than I have been drinking recently.)

2. I had some chocolate candy cane pretzels tonight and they were so good! (Chocolate dipped pretzels coated in crushed candy cane bits.)

3. I got a lot done at work today. And today wasn't just an anomaly. Generally I've been feeling a little more on top of things. Part of that is that the new stockers are starting to get the hang of things, but also the department I took over was in such bad shape and it's finally getting to the point where it's not.

By the way, I'm still taking suggestions for the December meme.

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