jesse_the_k: those words in red on white sign (be aware of invisibility)
What We Lost: Undoing The Fairy Tale Narrative Of Adoption by Liz Latty

Until reading this piece, I’d thoughtlessly hummed along to the stereotype that adoptions are about how wonderful the adoptive parents are.

read it now )

I’m Done Debating Racism With the Devil: White people playing devil’s advocate in conversations about race are completely counterproductive to actual progress. by Maya Rupert

“Devil’s advocate” arguments have always annoyed and angered me, but this essay explained why.

now you can too )

jesse_the_k: ACD Lucy stares hard at the closed front door, ready for anything (Lucy expectant)
Around a year ago, I remember reading a great round-table about using dialect in sf writing. One writer's work was turned down because dialect writing is "too hard" for default audiences.

It was linked around, as well.

Can you remember what site that was?
jesse_the_k: Flannery Lake is a mirror reflecting reds violets and blues at sunset (Rosy Rhinelander sunset)
We're finally into the vacation spirit, doing almost nothing and feeling the bliss.

Sunday I rolled to the Gulf Coast YMCA branch. The water was deliciously warm at 85°. I neglected to bring my flippers, so only swam 8 lengths in my allotted time, but that's why I exercise to time, not distance.

The pool may be filled with filtered sea water: it's certainly soft enough.

I streamed the first half hour of the final Sherlock to my massive disappointment. As always, [ profile] plaidadder nails it

begin quote
I think that I may fairly make two postulata:
  • 1) Whatever about series 5, this episode was designed to be the last episode of Sherlock that Moffat and Gatiss would make.
  • 2) It should be.
end quote

We walked over Mississippi Sound on the 2 mile bridge connecting Biloxi and Ocean Springs. The view, the sun, the breeze, were exhilarating. My traditional direct attention to the water photo memorializes one stop:

Sitting on the walkway, framed by intense blue sky, woman in powerchair points to Mississippi Sound )

Home to nap, and finish The Final Problem. Wow, that was terrible. (As with most Sherlock canon, there were a handful of wonderful moments, but...thank god for fanfic. I heartily recommend all of [ profile] plaidadder's.)

We then drove back to Biloxi to assess what was where. The beachside road is furnished with a wide array of architecture: brick Waffle Houses; massive casinos; 1940s apartment buildings; humble 900 sq ft shotgun houses, Frank Gehry's typically bizarre Ohr-O'Keefe Museum, and the Biloxi Visitor's Center, a majestic three-story former mansion.

In my brief time here, I've seen scores of historical markers, displays, websites, pamphlets. Based solely on the ones I've seen, the only people on the Gulf Coast have been the immigrant waves of French, English, Spanish, and "Americans." Africans aren't mentioned anywhere. This is what it looks like to be written out of the narrative.

The third Monday in January has officially been "Robert E Lee's Birthday" in Mississippi, until this year. Twitter shaming played a part in the Biloxi City Council voting unanimously to bring the holiday in line with the Federal designation of Martin Luther King's Birthday.

We finished our day with a promising but ultimately dull meal at Mosaic. MyGuy liked his pulled-pork quesadilla. My ceviche & rice-stuffed portobello was tasty, but not enough to write home about, although I seem to have done so.

Time to swim!

jesse_the_k: Callum Keith Rennie shouts "Fuck no!"  (Fuck no sez CKR!)
Barbara Dawson is dead. Her life was deemed not that important, because she was sick, black, female, and fat. (CW: lots of anti-fat crap crawls into this story's discussion, including "blood clot caused by obesity.")

click for horrible details )
jesse_the_k: Extreme closeup of dark red blood cells (Blood makes noise)
I've been privileged to hear Mia Mingus speak three days in a row. Among other topics, she emphasized how important trust is in the relationship between organizer and community. earlier and later examples )

Here's an outstanding example of organizing through community service:
Tired of doing hair, don't know how, or don't have time? No Problem! We will do your baby's hair for free while they watch a movie and eat snacks.
Complete info:

Tell me about more effective service projects, which also increase community awareness of political issues.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
Every few months I'll see a call for "SFF with these sorts of characters." Kate Diamond is making it possible to generate those lists yourself, by creating and curating: All Our Worlds: Diverse Fantastic Fiction, a highly searchable database of SFF. Today there were 819 books. The more-than-twenty search criteria available now include characters of color, disability, transgender, agender, queer and many other qualities/attributes/identities. This All Our Worlds database includes older works as well as hot new titles, anthologies, and even webcomics! It just launched in December 2014, and your contributions are welcome. Kate's thoughts on motivation and goals )
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
Many smart writers are urging me to avoid BLACK & WHITE, a newish film with very old fashioned white family values. My favorite is Ijeoma Oluo in Seattle's alt weekly click to grin )

Almost every wheelchair user is admonished to "drink plenty of fluids." But as Cupholders break. Here's one that doesn't )
jesse_the_k: unicorn line drawing captioned "If by different you mean awesome" (different=awesome)
[personal profile] sonia publishes a monthly newsletter, which always opens my eyes and helps me breathe deeper. This month the topic was "Deflect the Tone Argument." I knew it would be good based on this one sentence:
begin quote There is no tone calm enough to express uncomfortable truths to someone with the power to refuse to hear. quote ends
It's the kind of direct discourse useful for any adult.
jesse_the_k: The Wire's Kima in a baseball cap squints with a serious grin (Kima squints meaningfully)
Mr Coates calmly and coherently lays out where the President and First Lady have failed in addressing African-American institutions (it's commencement address season)

How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America
"Convenient race-talk" from a president who ought to know better
at The Atlantic

begin quote  But I also think that some day historians will pore over his many speeches to black audiences. They will see a president who sought to hold black people accountable for their communities, but was disdainful of those who looked at him and sought the same. And then they will match that rhetoric of individual responsibility with the aggression the administration showed to bail out the banks, and the timidity they showed in addressing a foreclosure crisis which devastated black America (again.) And they will match the rhetoric with an administration whose efforts against housing segregation have been run of the mill. And they will match the talk of the importance of black fathers with the paradox of a president who smoked marijuana in his youth but continued a drug-war which daily wrecks the lives of black men. I think those historians will see a discomfiting pattern of convenient race-talk. quote ends
jesse_the_k: Extreme closeup of dark red blood cells (Blood makes noise)
This is an outstanding essay

The Need to Grieve by Leigh Patel

Patel points out how very difficult grieving is for humans, and how we latch on to other activities as substitutes. Some are harmless — exercise, making a table for friends — and some are vicious — blaming the nearest demonized group.

Patel points a way forward, but one needs the whole thesis (short) to understand. So, go read it

(and if you'd like to add Racialicious's curated daily essays to your DreamWidth reading, visit and subscribe.)
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
The worst things for sale

Very weird things + snark. For when your day job is getting you down and the room is sound-proofed.
begin quote [photo eliminated by JK to ensure WSity] It’s a plastic gun, shaped like a naked woman, but instead of a head she has an enormous erect penis, and it’s full of butane and you use it to light a cigarette.

I was hoping the customer reviews would say that if you flip it over, it vomits diarrhea and yells “TOUCH MY BUTT” through a little speaker, but no, it’s just two different guys who bought it and were surprised that it didn’t work. quote ends

The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things blog

Centuries of art exploring the monstrous human, respectful discussion, utter WTFery, and as [personal profile] kestrel says, fodder for a thousand SF stories.
begin quote In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the preserved skins of exotic animals from faraway lands were brought back to Europe by explorers. The hides would be handed over to taxidermists whose job it was to prepare them for display by stuffing the skins and giving them a life-like appearance. However, the taxidermists often just had to guess at the shape and appearance of these unfamiliar animals based on crude sketches and descriptions, resulting in grotesque physical distortions which would appear unsettling to the modern eye. (See this article on bad taxidermy on the fantastic Ravishing Beasts blog).

James Lomax’s Untitled [Me and My Friend] (2011) disturbs and captivates me in the same way that this kind of grotesque taxidermy does. Created as a haunting tribute to a close friend who passed away in tragic circumstances, the work is comprised of two latex casts of the artist’s body. The perpetually distorted figures inflate and deflate at random intervals, giving them an unpredictable life and death cycle accompanied by the menacing mechanical scream of the inflation device. Like the distorted animal skins, James’ deflated bodies are re-animated into bizarre caricatures of their former selves, reshaped into an uncomfortable state between living and dead. quote ends

I was about to research a third great link, but [personal profile] sasha_feather told me I don't need three so I'm posting now. (Also told me I didn't need a cut so I'm not editing to add one.) We have tons of fun on my couch when we're writing Serious Essays.

ETA: Here's that third great link because it's so good:

Frustrations of an Asian-American Whedonite by Michael Le at Racialicious. He got up at SDCC and asked Joss Whedon the question so many of us have wondered about:
begin quote One of the things I loved about Firefly was the exploration of the fusion of Asian and American cultures. Many Asian Americans go through a similar journey. I was wondering, if you were to explore that again in the future, if you would be willing to include Asian or Asian American performers? quote ends
jesse_the_k: Slings & Arrows' Anna sez: "I'll smack you so hard your cousin will fall down!" (Anna smacks hard)
You may have seen Google/YouTube announce the magic of auto-captioning last November.

Gee whiz, they even had a deaf programmer write the blog entry. Things are good, right?

Watch this Bill Moyers interview with David Simon on YouTube. It's got captions. They're automagically generated with voice recognition. Compare the audio tracks and the caption track and be stunned at the high level of errors. Notice that White speakers' words are around 80% correct and Black speakers' words more like 30% correct.

Yes, it takes time to make good on technology's promise. In the meantime, disabled people put up with sub-standard services—and often at premium prices. When they're perfected, they'll be generally available.

These bad captions are particularly frustrating because the original sources were already captioned! Since the 1980s all network PBS (US public television) has been captioned; the same has been true for all HBO (paid US cable network) productions since 1995.

jesse_the_k: Photo of baby wearing huge black glasses  (eyeglasses baby)
Just finished Joe Sacco's Palestine, graphic non-fiction about Intifada I. As with all his work, the narrative is honestly brutal and the drawings squirm with detail. I wholeheartedly recommend all his "comic books" (his preferred term). At Mother Jones, when he talks about his latest, Footnotes in Gaza, he explains why graphic non-fiction can sometimes tell a story better than words alone:
 begin quote  But one of the advantages of comics is that you're drawing frame after frame after frame, so almost in the background scenes you can create this atmosphere that's following the reader around, that doesn't necessarily relate to the foreground action but is somehow always present. For example, the way the buildings look—I can show that over and over again in the background, so in some ways I think you can really put the reader in that place, just with all these repeated images. If there's mud in the background, you can show that in every frame, so the mud is following the reader around. If you're a prose writer, really what you're doing is just mentioning it once, you're not going to keep mentioning it ever few lines—"and by the way, it was really muddy." So it's this constant reminder of what the place looks like. quote ends 
jesse_the_k: Elderly smiling white woman captioned "When I was your age I had to walk ten miles in the snow to get stoned & have sex" (old fogey)
Herding my various tech into workable shape. Details when it's all in the paddock.

In the meantime:

ToyViewer is free (as in napkins), and nimble Mac OS X (Snow Leopard compatible!) photo editor more capable than Preview and less intimidating than GraphicConverter.

Language Log, a delightful ongoing lesson in how snarky thoughtful linguists do meta, does a two-fer. It's a meditation on how quickly jargon words (like power and duration) lose their technical specificity and acquire their everyday meanings. Interesting in its own right, and we've all seen the parallel development of technical medical terms—moron, imbecile, schizophrenic—into casual epithets. PLUS the seed is a funny XCKD cartoon!

Wheelchair Dancer is an eloquent writer who makes art at the intersections of dance, disability, and race. She meditates here on a typically annoying New York Times piece:
 begin quote  Disability figures here in archetypal societally negative ways. We can't live actual physical lives, we live lives of the spirit and of the heart; our bodies are useless and broken. Disability is both a burden (sigh) and a passage to being a better human. No longer the rebel youth, Mr. Addison is now a societally useful person: a healer. And regardless of whether it is true that he lay on a slab in a morgue, does the story have to be one of rebirth -- rebirth into a crippled life that ultimately is his healing?

These are cliches. Broken. Useless. Spiritually barren cliches. How bad it is it? Well, what do people think? The NYT comments on this story are what you would expect -- of the "oh, this is so beautiful, so inspiring type." People know how to read this stuff. Ms. Jones even becomes an "angel" (Commenter #46). This is the danger of writing this story in the way that Ms. Jones does. It's an exoticized "chicken soup for the soul" memoir (my phrase). As a writer, Ms. Jones has a responsibility to do better. quote ends 

I first read Wheelchair Dancer as a guest poster in the fabulous Rethinking Walking at Flipflopping Joy. Where the most recent item is a thoughtful and necessary shout-back to the Ken Burns 8-hours-of-nature-porn series that's just concluded on PBS.

 begin quote And knowing [passing details of Native objections, exploitation of Japanese and Chinese workers] made it easier for me to deal with. Easier for me to just glory in the story telling and admire the nature porn.

But then last night, FOUR NIGHTS into the series, I find out that these little epicenters of light and DEMOCRACY—these pantheons of joy and DEMOCRACY, these schools of enlightened thinking and DEMOCRACY—were actually racially segregated until at least the late 1930s.

Overall—I am really glad that he made the series. I’ll even watch it again. He makes a compelling argument against unfettered capitalism that I think many mainstream liberals really desperately need to hear. …

He’s used his privilege and his power to put the environment and a different way to understand masculinity, public service and nationalism on the table.
 quote ends 
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Oh really?)
Remember that mess called Racefail 09? It's happening again, already. This time the Archivist of the Link Spam is [info]Naraht over on DreamWidth.

Teeniest of summaries: Patricia Wrede publishes YA novel imagining Europeans colonizing an empty America, because nobody ever crossed the northern land bridge so there aren't any indigenous people here. Jo Walton talks about it with her on Readers of color (and allies) voice their concerns. Fail begins. Then *sob* Lois McMaster Bujold drops her pants.

Anyway, in response, Yeloson issues a call for fans of color to speak their names on this thread on the Dead Bro Walking community. (While membership in that comm is closed, anyone can comment on the thread.) Five pages of folks chiming in, the last time I looked.
jesse_the_k: Slings & Arrows' Anna sez: "I'll smack you so hard your cousin will fall down!" (Anna smacks hard)
If I spent less time browsing Shakesville, I might have missed Paul Campos' excellent analysis of the offensive things men feel comfortable saying about women's bodies—even when those women are being seriously considered for the US Supreme Court.

Before you follow that link, take a gander at this picture of the current court members. Eight "white" guys, one African-American, and one tiny white woman. They all look well-nourished; Scalia and Thomas are broader than your average football player, and probably that's not due to 5 hours a day of physical training. It does seem that the current court plays havoc with one's hair--only the youngest, Chief Justice Roberts, has a full head.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
Thanks to [ profile] pantryslut's post, I've put my mind through the blender of this discussion on Taboo Topics in SF/F Literature.

Found more reason to read Margo Lanagan, was enthralled by Anna Tambour's mediations:
Another observation, this one garnered from my recent trip to the asteroid *. The *ians are voracious readers. With their one taste-organ orifice, they consume books with a sound that, if you're not born there, takes some getting used to -- and they consume so many books so fast, that *ian authors must imbibe inspiration in some way inhumanly possible as they work without rest, coffee or praise -- for on asteroid * there is an inverse of the Earth ratio of fiction writers to readers. With nothing else to eat on *, fiction production isn't an aspirational profession, just as cooking isn't for the majority of people who end up doing the cooking on Earth. The most popular theme in *ian sf/f today is visits to Earth and interactions with the dominants there, uh, here: iron atoms. The plots of *ish books are fast and nutritious; but unlike power drinks on our planet, *ish books are packed full of everything delicious --plot, emotion, character -- betwixt *lings and these iron atom earthlings (with a smattering of other species they imagine on our planet, but I think some sort of taboo against featuring other species from their asteroid). I'm no reviewer, so I'll just say simply: I love these books. But *ian sf/f has some guidelines that might be universal today. No cats, no puns, and certainly no fluffy kittens. They've had those guidelines since the Pure Fiction Act of 1.9908 eons ago -- which means that Lewis Carroll is still banned on *.

and amused by Hal Duncan's forthright:
This is where you get all those claims you see that it's "gone too far", that the Draconian decrees of a "PC thought-police" are forcing the poor writer to self-censor, or even exerting a pressure that's tantamount to censorship in its own right.

The argument is bollocks. It's a straw man argument belied by the reality. Paedophilia is abhorrent. Fascism is abhorrent. But if you tackle those subjects you're more likely to be lauded for it than reviled for breaching the taboo -- assuming you're approaching them as topics rather than just expressing some fucked-up personal freakery. If you do find it harder to get some Nazi kiddy porn story published, it's going to be because of the ethics of advocacy, not a taboo that simply prescribes representation. It's about how you address those subjects, not whether you address them at all. People berating you for writing Magic Negroes or Mandingos, Castrating Bitches or Depraved Faggots -- that's not censorship. Not being able to find a buyer for Nazi kiddy porn bullshit is not a free speech issue. The imperative being applied here is to treat the subject well, not to avoid it completely. It's not about taboos.

Mmmm, sf/lit-crit smoothie!

ETA: Can't resist adding Jo Walton's meditations on explicit swearing in SF.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (expectant)
I have nothing to contribute to the major ongoing pantslessness in progress.

My favorite four posts (today)

[ profile] asim's exploration of MLK's radical rhetoric and its relevance to the matters at hand.

[ profile] pats_quinade's side-splitting Onion News Network rundown (complete with Stargate Atlantis references):: You Can't Spell RaceFail without "I".

[ profile] sparkymonster's incisive summary RaceFail, Silence and Words demonstrates yet again her deft ability to make the reader think and then sprinkle them with an exquisite link assortment.

[ profile] miriam_heddy ponders where the tipping point is: if fans of color are disrespected, that may be too bad but a distant issue; when a white fan's privacy is threatened, then it becomes "real."

ETA: For anyone who doesn't understand the weariness many people feel re: these issues of privilege, power, and oppression in fandom, [ profile] rydra_wong's two years of link spam on these topics is enlightening.

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