Friday Read! “Remembrance Is Something Like a House” by Will Ludwigsen

Remembrance Is Something Like a House” by Will Ludwigsen:

Cheniere_Caminada,_Louisiana_Ruined_House

Every day for three decades, the abandoned house strains against its galling anchors, hoping to pull free. It has waited thirty years for its pipes and pilings to finally decay so it can leave for Florida to find the Macek family.

Nobody in its Milford neighborhood will likely miss the house or even notice its absence; it has hidden for decades behind overgrown bushes, weeds, and legends. When they talk about the house at all, the neighbors whisper about the child killer who lived there long ago with his family: a wife and five children who never knew their father kept his rotting playmate in the crawlspace until the police came.

The house, however, knows the truth and wants to confess it, even if it has to crawl eight hundred miles.

Read here, or find an audio version here.

Posted in Recommended Reading | Leave a comment  

Bigots Attack Melania Trump With Misogynistic, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Sex-Worker Comments

anger

I’m all for laughing at Melania Trump (or her speechwriters) plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s speech, but of course, there are a lot of awful people who have to ruin the fun with disgusting bigotry. Aaaargh.

GET OFF MY SIDE MISOGYNISTIC ASSHOLES!

Even if you don’t like Melania Trump, that’s no excuse. Attacks like these don’t just hurt the target; they hurt women, and immigrants, and sex workers. And mail order brides, for that matter. These people don’t deserve bigotry and free-floating contempt just because people don’t like Donald Trump.

I checked out a few of these accounts – some of these people have thousands of followers.

Most of these images I got from this Tumblr post compiling them. This tumblr user comments specifically on how many of the comments are insulting to sex workers.1 And Funereal-Disease comments:

“Leaving everything you know and marrying a foreigner you’ve never met out of economic desperation is hilarious and you should be punished for it.” Jesus, this is gross.

CW, obviously.

  1. I originally used the word “whores,” following the practice of many sex workers I’ve read – which was not smart thinking on my part, since I am not a sex worker. After responses in the comments, and after reading this post, I’ve edited the post to use “sex workers” instead. []
Posted in Elections and politics, Feminism, sexism, etc | 9 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Aged Typewriter Edition

typewriter-aged

  1. For My Son, In The Event That The Police Leave You Fatherless
  2. Confidential Informants – CBS News
    Police unfairly pressure kids in their late teens or early twenties to wear a wire, in some cases leading to the informant being murdered.
  3. Mortality inequality: The good news from a county-level approach
    “… the health of the next generation in the poorest areas of the US has improved significantly and the race gap has declined significantly. Underlying explanations include declines in the prevalence of smoking and improved nutrition, and a major cause is social policies that target the most disadvantaged.” I’m not sure how they established that last bit.
  4. Travesties in Criminal Justice That Are Mostly Ignored – The Atlantic
    “The criminal justice system is the part of society least affected by the Civil Rights Movement. 95 percent of all elected prosecutors in this country are white.”
  5. New study proves fetal tissue needed for research | Dr. Jen Gunter
    The title is a stretch, but she still makes some good points.
  6. Clarence Thomas Has His Own Constitution – The New Yorker
    “He is so convinced of the wisdom of his approach to the law that he rejects practically the whole canon of constitutional law. It’s an act of startling self-confidence, but a deeply isolating one as well.”
  7. New Jersey declares a state of emergency over its crummy roads – The Washington Post
    “…responsibility lies with the majority of people of New Jersey who don’t want to pay for one of the most basic amenities of modern society. In a democracy you get the roads you deserve.”
  8. Here’s How To Do Free Trade Right | Mother Jones
  9. The Typical College Student Is Not Who You Think It Is – The Atlantic
    Our cultural image of the typical college student is wildly unrepresentative.
  10. Abigail Fisher Isn’t an Asian American | Reappropriate
    “Justice Alito mentions white people only ten times in his fifty-one page dissent, and not once does he use the word in reference to Fisher herself. Yet the words ‘Asian American’ appear sixty-two times in his dissent. […] Asian Americans have become a proxy group for white Americans.”
  11. The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Fetal Imaginings
    Images of third-trimester fetuses, or even born babies, are used to discuss the vast majority of abortions – even though most happen in the first eight weeks.
  12. There are too many lawyers in politics. Here’s what to do about it. – Vox
  13. Military Ends Transgender Ban
    Hell yeah!
  14. Sexual harassment and public shaming in the academy | The Incidental Economist
    A case where public shaming might be an appropriate response.
  15. Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your Home Computer | Electronic Frontier Foundation
  16. The Most Liable Place On Earth: Disney Faces Strong Tort Claim In Child’s Death | JONATHAN TURLEY
  17. Textbooks and the Civil Rights Movement – Lawyers, Guns & Money
    “We should replace this limited narrative, these scholars argue, with one of ‘The Long Civil Rights Movement,’ a national Black freedom struggle rooted in struggles of the 1930s and extended through the 1970s…”
  18. Massachusetts School Sued Over The Use of “Commonwealth” In Its Name | JONATHAN TURLEY
    For your rage-reading needs.
  19. Unfree Labor in American Seafood – Lawyers, Guns & Money
  20. The interesting thing that happened when Kansas cut taxes and California hiked them – The Washington Post
  21. Deriving evil, with reason
    “…if you wake up every morning to listen to right-wing talk radio, or Fox News, or to read Stormfront or white nationalist literature, the inputs to your mind are all skewed. Those outlets are committed to presenting a terrifying picture of the world, in which you, your family, your tribe, your race, your whole damn species is in peril.”
  22. This congresswoman wants the rich to take drug tests to get their tax breaks – Vox
  23. A Very Brief Timeline of the Bathroom Wars | Mother Jones
    “The culture war is one of our grandest achievements of the past half century.”
  24. New Obamacare Rule Prohibits Discrimination Against Transgender Patients
  25. Zootopia – A Physical Accessibility Near-Utopia – Scrappy Deviation
  26. Ex-Fox News Host Gretchen Carlson Sues Roger Ailes For Sexual Harassment
    Striking example of how even great career success and prestige aren’t proof against sexual harassment. UPDATE: Six More Women Allege Ailes Sexual Harassment — NYMag
  27. Hillary Clinton just borrowed Bernie Sanders’s big idea on college costs – Vox
    Another example of why it’s good for there to be a left-wing challenger in Democratic primaries.
  28. This dude freaking out over a chicken sandwich is a Men’s Rights Reddit thread come to life :: We Hunted The Mammoth
    Often when I read the ruder MRAs and cringe I think “well, I’m sure he wouldn’t act that way off the net.” Then I see a video like this… And you know, I hope he’s embarrassed by this video. I think his behavior deserves mockery. But I hope nobody doxxes him and then spends years harassing him.

whoisagoodboy

Posted in Link farms | 34 Comments  

Friday Read! “Useless Things” by Maureen McHugh

Useless Things” by Maureen McHugh:

Sleeping_baby_doll,_Musée_du_jouet_de_Colmar

I wake at night sometimes now, thinking someone is in my house. Abby sleeps on the other side of the bed, and Hudson sleeps on the floor. Where I live it is brutally dark at night, unless there’s a moon—no one wastes power on lights at night. My house is small, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a family room. I lean over and shake Hudson on the floor, wake him up. “Who’s here?” I whisper. Abby sits up, but neither of them hears anything. They pad down the hall with me into the dark front room, and I peer through the window into the shadowy back lot. I wait for them to bark.

Many a night, I don’t go back to sleep.

But the man at my door this morning weeds my garden and accepts my bowl of soup and some flour tortillas. He thanks me gravely. He picks up his phone, charging off my system, and shows me a photo of a woman and a child. “My wife and baby,” he says. I nod. I don’t particularly want to know about his wife and baby, but I can’t be rude.

I finish assembling the doll I am working on. I’ve painted her, assembled all the parts, and hand rooted all her hair. She is rather cuter than I like. Customers can mix and match parts off of my website—this face with the eye color of their choice, hands curled one way or another. A mix-and-match doll costs about what the migrant will make in two weeks. A few customers want custom dolls and send images to match. Add a zero to the cost.

I am dressing the doll when Abby leaps up, happily roo-rooing. I start, standing, and drop the doll dangling in my hand by one unshod foot.

It hits the floor head first with a thump, and the man gasps in horror.

“It’s a doll,” I say.

Read here.

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From “Am I Alive Today Because I’m White?”—An essay in progress

I am at work on an essay about white privilege that I am tentatively calling “Am I Alive Today Because I Am White?” It’s actually something I started trying to write about a year ago, after Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri by Darren Wilson, a white police officer and Eric Garner was essentially strangled by Officer Daniel Pantaleo and his colleagues. One of the things I am trying to write about is a troubling (to me at least) aspect of how some well-meaning white people talk about white privilege. These paragraphs-in-progress start to deal with that. They reference the now-moribund #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag that started in response to the killings of Brown and Garner, Tamir Rice and others, because part of the essay talks about why I ended up not writing what I was trying to write back then. Here are the paragraphs:

….I did not want to be one more voice in what was beginning to seem like a chorus of white voices expressing outrage without actually taking responsibility, without somehow holding myself accountable—though for what precisely was something I had a hard time putting my finger on. Better, I thought, to listen, learn, and wait to see if a moment presented itself when it would make sense for me to speak.

#CrimingWhileWhite at first seemed to be that opportunity. Here were white people telling our stories, albeit in much abbreviated form, in a conscious attempt to make visible, from our perspective, what it’s like to be on our side of this country’s racial dynamic. Still, the more I read through the Twitter stream, the more skeptical I became as to what the hashtag was actually accomplishing. I do not want in any way to diminish the importance of white people taking responsibility for how differently we are treated–or, and the difference is subtle but important, how we are treated differently–not just by the police, but by almost any sector of society through which we choose to move. Reading the #CrimingWhileWhite tweets made clear to me, however, in a way I had not understood before, the limitations of stopping there. It wasn’t just the way the Twitter stream devolved, as Twitter streams are wont to do, into self-indulgent irony, name calling, attempted hijackings, tit-for-tat argument, accusation and more; it was rather the way that even those tweets which had very obviously been posted in the original spirit of the hashtag seemed neither to connect to anything larger than themselves nor to cohere into the collective truth-speaking I think the hashtag was intended to facilitate.

I don’t want to make the mistake of expecting tweets to be more than they can be. Twitter’s 140-character limit will put a serious crimp in anyone’s attempt to be more subtle and nuanced than a soundbite. Indeed, that limitation is very likely why the overwheling majority of the tweets I read focused attention not on the interior experience of being white, of what it feels like to have your life shaped by your own whiteness, but rather on the experience the white people who wrote the tweets had of being treated more professionally, politely, leniently, casually by the police because they were white. How, in other words, the police officers in question responded to the surface of whiteness. It was as if the authors of those tweets were trying to hold up these manifestations of white privilege as a mirror in which they hoped other white people would see ourselves, recognize the privilege we all shared, and be motivated by the obvious unfairness of having such privilege in the first place to begin the work of substantive change.

Ironically, though—or so it seemed to me—the #CrimingWhileWhite focus on the outward manifestations of white privilege, important as it was (and is), had precisely the opposite effect. The more I read, the more the hashtag seemed to function not so differently from white privilege itself, or at least its more liberal version, deflecting attention away from what is at stake for white people in being white and pointing instead towards a definition of fairness in which white privilege–though of course we wouldn’t call it “white” anymore–would be extended to everyone. To put it another way, to the extent that white people’s call to end white privilege remains merely a call to end the unfairness of that privilege, then all we are really calling for is the now-discredited ideal of the “color blind society,” one in which citizens somehow “do not see” skin color when dealing with people of other races or ethnicities.

Posted in Race, racism and related issues | Leave a comment  

Wall Street and Political Corruption

wall-st-water-1100

Transcript:

Two white people, both dressed in business wear, are talking. We’ll call the man on the left “Senator” and the woman on the right “WS.” WS is carrying a huge industrial hose, out of which water is pouring.

Panel 1
WS: Hi, Senator! I’m from Wall Street, and I’d like to give your campaign some water!
Senator: Forget it! I don’t sell my votes.

Panel 2
A close up of WS, smiling reassuringly.
WS: Don’t worry. We only want to give you water and talk to you about our point of view.

Panel 3
WS: Over time, we’ll keep providing water and you’ll keep listening to our views.

Panel 4
WS: At first because you need the water, but then because we’re just so smart and sensible.

Panel 5
WS: And when complex economic bills come up, we’ll be glad to offer advice. We are the experts, after all!

Panel 6
We back away from the close-ups and see a full body view of both people. They are now completely submerged in the water that’s been coming out of WS’s hose.
Senator: I guess there’s nothing corrupt about that…
WS: Nothing at all!

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 21 Comments  

I don’t think Nick Spencer’s Captain America story is anti-semitic

cap-america-kill-self

So far, Nick Spencer’s Captain American run is not my favorite work of his – I don’t think it’s nearly as interesting as Superior Foes of Spider-Man. But I don’t see it as antisemitic.

(A quick recap for those of you who don’t follow comics controversies: Nick Spencer is the current writer of the Captain America comic book. He’s writing a story in which Captain America has had his memories altered by villain The Red Skull so that Cap now believes that he’s a loyal sleeper agent of a terrorist organization called Hydra. Hydra is not technically the same as the Nazis, but it’s often been associated with or allied with Nazis in the comics. Since Captain America was created by two Jewish cartoonists, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, who showed Captain America punching out Hitler months before the US joined WW2, many readers have argued that to have Captain America become a Nazi is disrespectful to the creators, and some have argued that the plotline is anti-semitic. Longer summary here.)

To me, the first issue of Spencer’s CA is about how many heroic qualities – like making sacrifices for the greater good, making the tough calls, being steadfast, and idealism – can also be a part of evil. Given a different set of memories, the same qualities that make Steve Rogers so heroic can also make him a convincing villain.

The first issue’s compassionate depiction of the suicide bomber’s backstory also fits with this theme. (Nick Spencer certainly isn’t the first person to explore this theme, but that’s okay.)

I know other Jewish readers have found the story hurtful and even antisemitic. Speaking for myself, I didn’t have that reaction.

Pop culture has always explored fascism and evil. I can understand why this can be seen as trivializing historic monsters like the Nazis. But I see it as one of the major ways our culture talks to itself about the problem of evil. Spencer’s CA is part of that dialog. (At least, so far it is. It remains to be seen where the story is going).

Because Cap is the most idealistic major character in the Marvel universe, it makes sense to use him as a vehicle to explore issues of idealism and evil.

I do have criticisms of the story – perhaps not deliberately, it comes off as saying poverty causes terrorism. But it’s my understanding that research has shown that poverty and becoming a terrorist aren’t nearly as connected as many liberals believe.

I also have concerns about where the story is going – will the murder Cap committed at the end of issue one just be brushed off?

(And I know that many people have criticisms, not so much of the story itself, as of how the editors and writer have talked about the story, and reactions to the story, in public. It’s legitimate to criticize that, of course, but my interest is in the comic itself, which at least for me is separable from how Spencer and others have talked about it.)

Returning to Jewish fans who are offended by the story, if they say they’re offended, then they are offended. But I have concerns.

I’m not comfortable with the argument that this Cap plot is “spitting in the face” of Cap’s Jewish creators. Kirby himself did a story in which Cap was hypnotized and saluted Hitler (in the end, of course, Cap recovered). Kirby was a lifelong fan of melodrama and stories that painted with big strokes; saying that Kirby would have found this plot repugnant seems to be to be projection.

More importantly, I don’t accept Captain America as an emblem or representation of Judaism in comics. Because Cap is not Jewish. And Cap couldn’t have been Jewish, because antisemitism in publishing at the time Cap was created never would have permitted that. And if a Jewish Captain America had somehow been published, the public wouldn’t have embraced the character.

To me, that Captain America is a creation of an antisemitic system – one that never would have let Simon and Kirby create a Jewish hero – seriously undercuts his value as a symbol of anti-antisemitism.

I’m not saying only Jewish characters can be anti-antisemitic. I am saying that the fact that no major superheroes of Cap’s era were Jewish isn’t a strange coincidence. It’s a result of an anti-Semitic culture in which mainstream comics publishers didn’t publish Jewish heroes. (The Spirit was Jewish, but – like Dumbledore being gay – we only know that because Eisner mentioned it years later.)

Exploring the nature of evil – including of Nazism, or of pop culture stand-ins for Nazism – is a legitimate thing for popular art to do. That’s what this story (so far) is doing. It’s completely fair to criticize the story if you don’t like how it came out. But I think that some of the criticisms, in this case, have been over-the-top – i.e., suggesting that Nick Spencer is himself an antisemite, or telling people that no one should buy any Spencer comic, or even telling Spencer to kill himself. In some cases, a line has been crossed between criticizing the story, and trying to punish Nick Spencer.

Again, everyone’s got a right to their own interpretation. For me, I don’t see the story as an insult to Jewish readers or creators.

Posted in Anti-Semitism, Comics other than Hereville! | 12 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Mini Moon Edition

Marianne_Breslauer1

Beautiful Tomboys of the 1930s

  1. What it’s like to be that fat person sitting next to you on the plane. — Medium
    It’s not like this for me, happily, but I’ve heard several fat friends express similar feelings about flying.
  2. Why the CDC still isn’t researching gun violence, despite the ban being lifted two years ago – The Washington Post
  3. Are Left-Populists Wrong About Political Campaigns? – Lawyers, Guns & Money
    Eric Loomis considers the lessons lefties can learn from Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
  4. Radical feminism: hermeneutically sealed – Sweet Talk
    Although this critique of radical feminism doesn’t mention trans women’s rights, it’s interesting to consider that conflict – which, for me, is the biggest exhibit in the case against (much of) modern radical feminism – in the light of the view of radical feminism as “hermeneutically sealed.”
  5. Chattanooga Mayor Says City’s Gigabit Network (Which Comcast Tried To Kill) To Thank For City’s Revival
    “… letting AT&T and Comcast lawyers literally writing bad state telecom law has resulted in Tennessee being one of the least connected states in the nation.”
  6. The Complete Calendar Plug-In of the World’s Fictional Holidays | Atlas Obscura
  7. Court Says Free Speech Rights For Prisoners Not ‘Clearly Established,’ Gives Pass To Retaliatory Actions By Officials
    “… appeals court decision finding a federal prisoner’s rights weren’t violated when he was removed from a halfway house and placed in solitary confinement in retaliation for publishing an article about his prison experience.”
  8. Scottish people insulting Donald Trump
  9. “Ashley Carol I will not have drugs in my house! Come home right now!”
  10. To Keep The Blood Supply Safe, Screening Blood Is More Important Than Banning Donors
  11. U.S. citizen sues feds over border body cavity search | Arizona Capitol Times
    There was no warrant, and no apparent probable cause. They didn’t find any drugs, but they did send the teenager’s parents a bill for $575 for the search. Isn’t this essentially rape?
  12. Citigroup trademarks “THANKYOU” and sues AT&T for thanking clients | Ars Technica
  13. A professor at the United States Naval War College illustrates the merits of US strategy against ISIS by imagining a meeting of the Islamic State National Security Council. (Thanks to Nobody.)
  14. Quotes From Feminists That Will Make You Rethink Trusting Men’s Rights Activists
    Ozy contextualizes many of the “horrible things feminists have said!” quotes that MRAs pass around.
  15. Fantastic short documentary on movie sound effect artists / Boing Boing
    Somehow this nearly wordless short film, showing two foley artists creating everyday sounds for a film about fishermen, is fascinating. They’re concentrating so hard.
  16. Donald Trump Will Be Buried in an Electoral Avalanche | New Republic
    Jeet Heer argues for the optimistic view. I hope he’s right.
  17. Thinking About Hillary — A Plea for Reason — Medium
    “…the public view of Hillary Clinton does not seem to be correlated to “scandals” or issues of character or whether she murdered Vince Foster. No, the one thing that seems to most negatively and consistently affect public perception of Hillary is any attempt by her to seek power.”
  18. Brock Turner sentence: Why sex offender registries don’t work — Quartz
  19. The ultimate trolley problem.
  20. BERNIE SANDERS: 7,000 supporters signed up to run for office – Business Insider
    Probably this will fizzle out – I say that because let’s face it, most things do – but if it doesn’t fizzle, this has the potential to matter.
  21. When the Bank Robs You: Wells Fargo Contractors Allegedly Stole Family Heirlooms Rescued From Nazis
  22. Congresswoman Who Used To Receive Welfare Wants To Drug Test Rich People Who Get Tax Breaks | ThinkProgress
  23. Gun control’s racist reality: The liberal argument against giving police more power – Salon.com
  24. Rape culture, a new definition for a contentious idea – Sweet Talk
  25. The Party Left Me And Other Complaints of the Voter-As-Atomistic-Consumer – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
  26. USDA ERS – Recent Evidence on the Effects of Food Store Access on Food Choice and Diet Quality
    This USDA study shows that the “food desert” theory doesn’t actually seem to have much impact on how people eat. The best way to convince poor people to eat more veggies seems to be to subsidize veggies.
  27. Donald Trump’s invisible campaign.
  28. That time the Devil returned to Georgia and got in a Tuba duel….
  29. Sonia Sotomayor dissent in Utah v. Strieff takes on police misconduct.
  30. New Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines Have a Chilling Effect on Star Trek Fans | Tor.com
  31. Vine: “When they charge you 25 cents for some extra sauce”
    If this isn’t fake, then these people are stunningly assholish. And committing a felony, as Grace pointed out to me.
  32. Policy Approaches to Decreasing Unemployment that neither the Democrats or Republicans seem willing to consider. (Pdf)
  33. The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems.
    What’s wrong with westerners focusing on improving the developing world. Interesting responses in the comments, too.
  34. A case study of Playpumps International.
    Another failed “magic bullet” approach to solving developing world problems. (Pdf)
  35. Embattled whiteness gave us Brexit. It won’t give us President Trump.
  36. Low-cut dresses boost women’s job application chances, says researcher
  37. Model legislation for improving campus rape investigations.
    This is coming from an MRA group, which makes me automatically skeptical of it, and I’d really like to see some skeptical lawyers reading it. But at first glance it seems reasonable and balanced. (Pdf).
  38. People Actually Live In These Beautifully Insane Houses – ALLDAY Via Mandolin.
  39. Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion – YouTube
    You’ve probably already seen this wonderfully mind-twisting illusion, but if you haven’t, take 60 seconds and look at it; it’s stunning.
  40. NRA Complaint Takes Down 38,000 Websites | Motherboard
    Once again, intellectual property law is a useful tool of censorship. I guess defending the 2nd amendment means acting with contempt towards the first?
  41. Judge Orders Macy’s to Quit Fining, Detaining Suspected Shoplifters in In-Store Jail
    Basically, they’d lock people up and not let them go until they paid cash and signed a “confession.” I don’t know why I was shocked that Macy’s does this. I’m glad the judge ordered Macy’s too stop, but in a better world some Macy’s folks would be arrested.
  42. Don’t Look At Us, We Didn’t Do It! – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
    Trump’s rise is the logical outcome of where the Republicans have been heading for years.
  43. The Story Behind the Most Bizarre Strike Photo Ever Taken | Atlas Obscura
  44. Watch Anna Kendrick and James Corden Nail Adele in “Soundtrack to a Love Story” Performance | InStyle.com
    A super fun mini-musical from Corden’s show.
  45. NASA Just Confirmed That Earth Has A New “Mini-Moon”

This character is named Sailor Mini Moon.

Posted in Link farms | 24 Comments  

Should We Regret The American Revolution?

Happy 4th of July!

Dylan Matthews brings us 3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake. In a nutshell (although click through for the longer arguments):

1) The Southern States would have had much less power as part of the British Empire than as half the USA, making it likely that American slavery would have ended sooner. (It’s notable that many slaves wanted the British to win.)

2) As horrible as the British were, they wouldn’t have been as horrible to Native Americans as the US government was. (It’s notable that many Native Americans wanted the British to win.)

3) It would have made it more likely that the US (whatever it would have eventually been called) would have wound up with a parliamentary democracy, which is more stable and less subject to paralyzing gridlock, rather than a system which was designed, to a significant degree, to give outsized power to slaveholding states.

Over at the Daily Kos, there are a number of people in this comments thread who do a fairly persuasive job refuting Matthews, especially on his second point. If the United States hadn’t formed and committed genocide on American Indians, it seems all too likely that one of the European powers would have. (Trying to forecast European history without the American revolution is difficult; would there have been a French Revolution at all, for example, if the French hadn’t taken on so much debt to support the American revolution?)

To the first point – slavery – I’ve seen many people point out that if the British were profiting from Southern cotton, grown by slaves, that might have meant that rather than slavery ending sooner in America, slavery ended later in the British empire. That seems possible – but on the whole, it seems unlikely that the British upper-class, even if they were getting part of their fortunes from slavery, could have been as virulently pro-slavery as wealthy Southerners, whose wealth was virtually all wrapped up in slavery.

Because Southern leaders were so passionately pro-slavery, if the British had outlawed American slavery in 1833, the result might have been Southern secession and civil war, about three decades earlier than the Civil War in reality. But the South would have had less of a chance of winning if they were facing the northern states and Britain; perhaps the war would have been shorter and less bloody. And all else held equal, it would be better to have a civil war, and an end to slavery, a generation earlier.

It would be really great to have parallel universes in which the course of history went along different channels, so that we could resolve questions like this (and also, so we could import and binge their better TV shows).

Friends are coming over to our house today; we will barbecue meat and set off fireworks (well, fountains, anyhow) in the street. I hope you folks all have a great day, stuck in the history that we actually have.

Posted in International issues, Mind-blowing Miscellania and other Neat Stuff | 20 Comments  

Friday Read! Eugie Foster’s “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”

Before Eugie Foster was taken from us last year, she gave the world hundreds of short stories. We are lucky that she was so prolific, and it’s our loss she died so young when she could have written so many more.

I’ll take the opportunity while I’m linking this story to link to a few others. “Beautiful Winter,” a retelling that appeared in last year’s IGMS sampler, has the very beautiful imagery I associate with her writing. Retellings were often her ouvre. “The Tanuki-Kettle,” a folk-tale-style story set in Japan, was one of my first acquisitions for PodCastle for its warmth and humor. Finally, for those who didn’t see it last year, one of her stories was posthumously nominated for the Nebula Award, and particularly wrenching in context — “When It Ends, He Catches Her.”

Eugie and I were part of the same “Nebula class” (which is only something I call it in my mind, it’s not a real thing). We were both nominated for the first time in the same year and in the same category, and we got to know each other and a bunch of the other first time nominees at the convention that year.

“Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest” won that Nebula Award. Its mix of high concept and colorful images that disarmed readers.

Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster:

Lightning mask

Each morning is a decision. Should I put on the brown mask or the blue? Should I be a tradesman or an assassin today?

Whatever the queen demands, of course, I am. But so often she ignores me, and I am left to figure out for myself who to be.

Dozens upon dozens of faces to choose from.

1. Marigold is for murder.

The yellow mask draws me, the one made from the pelt of a mute animal with neither fangs nor claws—better for the workers to collect its skin. It can only glare at its keepers through the wires of its cage, and when the knives cut and the harvesters rip away its skin, no one is troubled by its screams.

I tie the tawny ribbons under my chin. The mask is so light, almost weightless. But when I inhale, a charnel stench redolent of outhouses, opened intestines, and dried blood floods my nose.

Read here.

Posted in Recommended Reading | Leave a comment