It was cold and raw and raining and I had slept three hours; it has been an exhausting week. I made it to the Boston March for Science and I am very glad I did. My father and I took the train from Alewife; walking back and forth in front of the fare machines we met a small child carrying "Less Invasions, More Equations!" (my brain yelled, "Fewer!" and I said, "Nice sign," because people who pedantically correct the protest signs of six-year-olds are not the kind of change I want to see in the world) and at Porter a contingent from the grad student employeee union of UMass got on with "Ignorance = √All Evil." Across the car from us a father was trying to explain Tom Lehrer to his daughter, resulting in a spontaneous chorus of "Pollution." When we got off at Park Street, it was a quarter to two and Boston Common was full of protesters and stalls and food trucks and kids' music from the bandstand and then we came up over the crest of the hill by the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and it was nerds with signs as far as the eye could see.|
Eventually we worked our way down the mudslide to a point where we could hear the speakers from the main stage without getting blasted by the amplification. My father took pictures. Meeting up with Dean and Lily, I gave directions by the papier-mâché 45-on-a-stick with a separate sign for its speech bubble ("Believe me, climate change is a Chinese hoax! Sad!" while standing in a pants-on-fire flaming barrel of Exxon-Mobil) and held my blue butterfly-patterned umbrella aloft like a torch. I saw gaudior and nineweaving and B. for about fifteen seconds before they disappeared with Fox, whose baby sling was pinned this time with a "Test Tube Baby" flag. We never did find choco_frosh and Peter. We had planned to stay the entire duration of the rally, but around a quarter to four the weather became just too cold to stand around in and we set off down Boylston Street in search of hot drinks, ending up at Patisserie on Newbury and then Trident Booksellers & Café. A great deal of walking later we met my mother in Porter Square.
The signs were great. Lots of variants on "Make America Think Again." Lots of "There Is No Planet B." Several pro-vaccination and medicine, of which my favorite was "Got Plague? Yeah, me neither. Thank a Scientist!" A woman in a Spock sweatshirt carried "The needs of the planet outweigh the greed of the lewd." I have no idea what the relevant research was, but I swear I saw "Plankton Don't Want None Unless You Got Funds, Hon!" On general principle I was rather fond of "The Oceans Are Rising and So Are We," "Think Like a Proton—Always Positive," and the several variations on "I'm with Her," pointing in all cases to Gaia. "The Climate Is Changing—Why Aren't We?" "Science Is Inoculation Against Charlatans." I did not expect to see so many shout-outs to Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, from paired signs to a person in a full-body Beaker costume whose small plain sign read simply "MEEP!" I saw signs for Alan Turing. I saw signs for Millie Dresselhaus. One of the speakers was a deaf scientist; several were women of color. My father said it reminded him of the be-ins in New York in the 1960's, only with more porto-potties and lab coats. It was definitely a compliment.
And now, as always, not to lose this energy. What next?
Current Music: Johnny Flynn, "In the Deepest"
By checking the dates of successive Strange Horizon counts, I see the trend is for the release date to be later than the one before. I was hoping for April but mid-May may be more reasonable.
[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]
BERKELEY, Calif. – The American far right – alt-right figures, antigovernment movement leaders, and a conglomeration of conspiracists and extremists ranging from anti-feminists to nativists, all angrily voicing their support for Donald Trump – came here Saturday itching for a fight. They found it.
On social media, the organizers and supporters called it “the Next Battle of Berkeley,” a chance to gain revenge for an earlier event on the University of California campus that they believed had infringed on conservatives’ free speech rights: In February, a scheduled appearance by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was shut down by rock-throwing “antifascist” protesters.
So when several hundred of them gathered at a downtown park for a “Free Speech” event Saturday – most from out of town, many from all around the country – they came prepared to do battle with the same black-clad protesters, many of them wearing helmets, pads, and face masks of their own. The result was an inevitable free-for-all, with organized phalanxes on both sides lining up, occasionally erupting into fistfights, and then breaking down in a series of running melees that ran up Center Street into the heart of downtown.
By the day’s end, 11 people were injured and six hospitalized. Police arrested 21 people on a variety of charges.
The rally had drawn wide attention among various right-wing factions leading up to the event. Perhaps the most noteworthy of them were the Oath Keepers, the antigovernment “Patriot” movement group closely associated with the Bundy standoff and various far-right conspiracist activities.
“We’re going [to Berkeley] because people are having their rights violated,” Oath Keepers president Steward Rhodes told a North Carolina gathering the week before. “So it could be argued that with the full support of the local politicians, thugs in the streets are beating people up and suppressing their rights to free speech and assembly. It could be argued that California is in a state of insurrection.”
|Stewart Rhodes speaks at the rally.|
Various alt-right figures also became involved. Kyle Chapman, an Alameda County man who has gained recent notoriety as “Based Stickman,” the stick-and-shield-wielding defender of right-wing speech, came and was reportedly arrested. Canadian Lauren Southern, an alt-right pundit who came to notoriety by denying the existence of rape culture and by demonizing minorities, arrived wearing a helmet boasting a “MAGA” (Make America Great Again) sticker.
Nathan Damigo, one of the key figures in the student-oriented white-nationalist “Identity Evropa” organization, was not only present, but acted as a provocateur throughout much of the day, egging on protesters and leading a group of young white men with “fascy” haircuts in confrontations on the street. Damigo was videotaped sucker-punching a young woman in black who was embroiled in the street brawls.
|Nathan Damigo taunts protesters|
The rally was scheduled to begin at noon, but by 11 a.m. both sides were out in force, and the right-wing speakers, including Southern and Rhodes, began addressing the crowd from a tree-covered portion of the park. Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered, separated from the “Patriots” by orange police cordons, enforced by some 250 officers. By around noon, the protesters began to march around the park.
Groups of right-wing activists formed lines to prevent black-clad antifascists from entering their space, even as the protest moved around the east end of the park and then congealed on Center Street, on its west side. It was there that the police cordons finally started breaking down, the two sides were milling as a mob, and fights began to break out. Objects ranging from plastic bottles to large rock to bagels were flying through the air. A trash bin was rolled down the street, and several bins of garbage were set afire.
Banners came out, including some featuring Pepe the Frog, the notorious alt-right mascot. One sign featured the anti-Semitic meme, “Goyim Know.” Eventually, the mass of people moved a half-block to the intersection of Center and Milvia streets, where the two sides again faced off for the better part of an hour.
|The Pepe banners come out|
Insults were shouted and chanted, threats were made, skirmishes erupted. Both sides appeared to be evenly matched. That mob broke up when someone lit a large smoke bomb that obscured everyone’s vision for several minutes. In the fog, melees began breaking out, several of them running east up Center. Eventually the mob moved up the block to the intersection of Center with Shattuck, the main downtown boulevard.
The right-wing militants appeared to be attempting to head toward the Cal-Berkeley campus a few blocks further east, but the protesters stiffened their resistance and prevented them from getting much further beyond Shattuck. As participants began drifting away, the combatants remained mostly within a small half-block on Shattuck. Eventually, an organized phalanx of police moved in and broke up the crowd, and most participants went home.
Afterward, the alt-right was exultant, claiming “victory”: Chapman claimed that “Berkeley got sacked,” while the rally’s original organizers, a far-right group called the Proud Boys, boasted: “Today was an enormous victory! I could not be more proud or grateful for every one who attended the event! This was the turning point!”
Post-election pro-Trump rallies in late February held around the country similarly provoked scenes of mob violence.
More photos from the rally below.
|A Trump supporter is arrested by police.|
|Anti-Semitic and racist themes were common.|
|Protesters traded insults with the rallygoers.|
|Another Pepe sign.|
|Oath Keepers leader Gerald DeLemus, a Bundy Ranch figure.|
|When this rallygoer wasn't wearing his Spartan helmet, he was showing off|
his 'white pride' tattoos.
|There were a number of injuries on both sides.|
|A Trump supporter screams at the protesters.|
|The 'Identity Evropa' crowd in action.|
|Nathan Damigo, center, and his pals threaten protesters.|
|A couple of rallygoers recover from the effects of pepper spray.|
|Canadian alt-right pundit Lauren Southern was there with a contingent.|
So yeah, I don't imagine we are headed for anything except a Tory victory (yes, we could theoretically get another freaky none-of-the-polls-predicted-this result, but that would be too damn nice of the universe). |
But anything we can do to limit their power and make it hard for them to claim an absolute mandate will help limit the damage. And we can also try to stomp on UKIP's attempts to creep in around the margins.
Google Docs: How To Vote To Stop The Tories (see the FAQ for notes explaining how and why particular choices were made)
Note: Wikipedia gives details of past election results in your constituency, so you can verify and also look at exact details.
Local elections are on May 4, and are important in themselves as well as an indicator of which ways the political winds are blowing. And fewer people vote in them.
Hope Not Hate have a fresh new website and an election fund to fight far-right candidates in any constituency they might have a chance of winning. They are really good at this and have pissed off UKIP no end.
Vote. Make your friends vote. Make everyone you know vote. If nothing else, it's good practice. One day it may matter.
Yum: roasted rhubarb wine compote. Time to buy some rhubarb...|
This is a super creative (and surprisingly bloody) animated short.
Community planning needs more people like this, looking at diverse and under-represented communities.
A long profile on Alec Baldwin as Trump.
These posters are awesome.
Word of the day: Abydocomist -- One who brags about their lies. Other fab Old English insults can be found here.
Holy crap, this is too awesome for words: an automated conlang generator. . (I'm sure it's not up to the standards of something created by an actual linguist, but for many purposes, it would be great.)
Also holy crap awesome: Carmen Cusack doing "You'll Be Back". So great. Oh, and check it out: LMM and Raul Esparza singing Anita & Maria in West Side Story. . That's really lovely, actually.
I have the feeling we're at Peak Television. And that soon there will be a bubble. Which is my justification for not really watching much tv right now: I figure there will be enough for years to come.
Tonight I'm catching up on Homefires, which is a drama set in an English village at the beginning of WWII. It's not really surprising or creative, but there's some great cast members and heart-warming bits. Also, for Code Name Verity fans, it looks like the one lesbian character might decide to go for pilot's training...
I need to get back to The 100 and Underground. One of these days...
Does anyone remember an old movie about an out of control rocket (or maybe plane -- I have not seen the film since I was a kid) that incinerates everything it passes over? I remember one scene in particular, where a family making a snowman gets evaporated. Any idea what movie it was?
I absolutely loved this new animated short by Felix Colgrave, “Double King”:
“Double King” on YouTube
It’s well worth the nine minutes to watch. Just stunning animation (and sound). It’s crafted with a level of precision, but also whimsy, that mesh in surprising and fascinating ways.
BONUS LINK: Felix Colgrave has an entire YouTube channel of prior work for ADDITIONAL HOURS OF ENJOYMENT
I made this mixtape for kore as an antidote to the whole history-overwriting shenanigans of Marvel's Secret Empire, now with an extra side of this mishegos. It's not especially subtle, but with any luck it sounds good. Contributors include British Sea Power, Jawbox, Odetta, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, Arcade Fire, PJ Harvey, and Marc Blitzstein.|
( If I could tell you anything. )
I've had a headache on the right side of my face since about two in the afternoon, so I am going to bed.
Current Music: Johnny Flynn, "Fol-de-rol"
So since my LAST post:|
- I caught a cold on vacation
- which turned into a sinus infection when we got home
- just as I felt better, husband caught a cold
- just as husband started to feel better, Hypatia caught a cold with fever
- right about this time I started having mysterious joint pain
- which was explained today when Hypatia's cold turns out to be FIFTH DISEASE and apparently I managed not to get it as a kid HA HA AWESOME
APART from the endless courses of disease I have also:
- (mostly) coded a webcam-based Python wand recognizer so we can use our Harry Potter Wizarding World wands at home to trigger IFTTT events
- ripped the bezel off a spare monitor and taken it to framing store so I can turn it into a wizarding family portrait
(NO REALLY IT'S GOING TO BE AWESOME LOOK:
- obtained (and now thrown out) a printer with invisible ink which instead of printing things in invisible ink just leaked invisible ink all over our lovely built-in office counter (fortunately, the ink is in fact invisible, so no one will ever know unless they tote along a blacklight for inspection)
PS if you think this is so I can print an invisible ink marauders map that will only appear in response to someone using their wand and solemnly swearing they are up to no good HOW DID YOU GUESS
(as I described all this in chat, elynross said, "I'm starting to get the feeling you have a deadline" HA HA HA it's like she knows me)
So yeah, I only just finished rewriting a script treatment a month and a half past when I said I would and have not touched my novel in a month. On the bright side when I finally reopened it today and re-read it, a quarter of the way through the first chapter I knew what was going to happen in the rest of the book, which I have been wondering for some time now, so that was nice.
Oh and I imported over sga_flashfic so if you have old links, update them! Also I banged in http://ao3.org/collections/sga_flashfic so please upload your stories to the AO3 and pop them into the collection! If you happen to be able to throw a few bucks at the AO3 for the fundraising drive that would be pretty cool too. I mention there is an AO3 HAT among the goodies and it says "You have already left kudos here" on it! <3 <3 <3
What I have NOT done: seen Fate of the Furious! So DO NOT SPOIL I!
I know it's been a lot of pictures around here lately and not so much text, but I could not let today pass without this promotional photo for Anthony Mann's The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), because the poses and arrangement of the cast make it look—now—like the teaser for a season of TV that never was.|
I dreamed last night of watching a movie from the late 1950's or early 1960's adapted from a beloved British memoir, the young adult narrator looking back on her wartime childhood. Her father had been commander of a T-class submarine, which I hadn't realized I remembered anything about until I woke and verified they were not an invention of my dreaming brain, unlike the film or in fact all of the actors in it. It was black and white, with kitchen sink cinematography that did not match the accents. I got the book out afterward from the children's room in the Cambridge Public Library that hasn't existed since the renovation in 2009. Curiously, that did not tell me I was asleep, although some of the battlefield humor made me impressed no overprotective adult had tried to get it pulled from the children's shelves.
Current Music: Peter Bellamy, "The Roman Centurion's Song"
Apr. 20th, 2017 @ 01:34 pm
I wonder if there's some sort of thing where you plug in your DW name, it goes through your list of mutuals, and it suggests users based on overlapping similarities.|
Like, I'm a mutual with dw_sample_bot and dw_bot_sample. I'm not connected to dw_butts_lol, but both dw_sample_bot and dw_bot_sample are, so the service says "two of your mutuals follow dw_butts_lol... maybe check them out?". Where "mutuals" I mean "access", though there could be a separate column for reading-mutuals as well.
It's a thought.
[eta] ( Noodling. )
If you are in the middle of your life, maybe some of your dreams of God have died hard under the weight of your experience. You have knocked on doors that have not opened. You have asked for bread and been given a stone. The job that once defined you has lost its meaning; the relationships that once sustained you have changed or come to their natural ends. It is time to reinvent everything from your work life to your love life to your life with God -- only how are you supposed to do that exactly, and where will the wisdom come from? Not from a weekend workshop. It may be time for a walk in the dark.
-- Barbara Brown Taylor
When we were in Tuscaloosa, my friend and colleague Reverend Rick Spalding mentioned to me that he was reading Barbara Brown Taylor's Learning to Walk in the Dark. "That sounds like a book I need to read," I said. Not long thereafter, I found his copy in my mailbox, waiting for me to read it.
And oh, wow, did I need to read this book. The copy I was reading wasn't mine, so I didn't give in to the temptation to underline and highlight -- but if I had, it would be marked up everywhere, because so much of what Barbara Brown Taylor writes here resonates with me. Like this:
Even when you cannot see where you are going and no one answers when you call, this is not sufficient proof that you are alone. There is a divine presence that transcends all your ideas about it, along with your language for calling it to your aid... but darkness is not dark to God; the night is as bright as the day.
Sometimes we feel that God is agonizingly absent from our lives, but this is a matter of epistemology, not ontology -- a matter of how we experience the world around us, not a genuine indicator of how that world actually is. This is a core tenet of my theology. I felt a happy spark of recognition, reading it in Brown Taylor's words.
Reading her words about cherishing darkness, I found myself thinking about the wisdom of my seven year old son. As I rejoice that the days are getting longer, he gets sad: "but Mom, that means I won't be able to see the constellations anymore, or the Evening Planet!" He means Venus, which he resolutely refuses to call the evening star because, he notes, it is not a star. His bedtime is 8pm, which means that in summer he doesn't see the stars most nights at all. I am grateful to him for reminding me that there is beauty in the dark... and grateful to Brown Taylor for exploring the valances of darkness so deeply.
Barbara Brown Taylor is clear that in our antipathy to darkness, we also manifest a discomfort with everything that isn't simple and solar and bright... but a full human life contains both light and darkness, both literally and metaphorically, and that's as it should be. She writes:
The way most people talk about darkness, you would think that it came from a whole different deity, but no. To be human is to live by sunlight and moonlight, with anxiety and delight, admitting limits and transcending them, falling down and rising up. To want a life with only half of these things in it is to want half a life, shutting the other half away where it will not interfere with one's bright fantasies of the way things ought to be.
[W]hen we run from darkness, how much do we really know about what we are running from? If we turn away from darkness on principle, doing everything we can to avoid it because there is simply no telling what it contains, isn't there a chance that what we are running from is God?
Isn't there a chance that what we are running from is God? As a spiritual director, I adore that question. I want to return to it often.
On waking in the night, she writes:
What if I could learn to trust my feelings instead of asking to be delivered from them? What if I could follow one of my great fears all the way to the edge of the abyss, take a breath, and keep going? Isn't there a chance of being surprised by what happens next? Better than that, what if I could learn how to stay in the present instead of letting my anxieties run on fast-forward?
What if I could learn to stay in the present: yes, that's it exactly.
She writes at some length about Miriam Greenspan's Healing Through the Dark Emotions. In this passage, she's describing Greenspan's story of her first child dying two months after he was born:
Like any parent struck down by such loss, she woke up every morning in the salt sea of grief and went to bed in it every night, doing her best to keep her head above water in between. This went on for weeks, then months, during which time she could not help but notice how uncomfortable her grief was making those around her, especially when it did not dry up on schedule...
[She explored] the idea that emotions such as grief, fear, and despair have gained a reputation as "the dark emotions" not because they are noxious or abnormal but because Western culture keeps them shuttered in the dark[.]
It is easy to imagine (or to hope) that grief has a schedule and will go away on a set timetable. It does not, and it will not. But that doesn't make grief or sadness a bad thing: sometimes they are the only reasonable reaction to the realities in front of us. And I believe wholly that the only way through them is through them -- not pretending them away.
This puts me in mind of Jay Michaelson's writings about sadness. (I posted about that a while back -- see my review of his book The Gate of Tears.) We get ourselves into trouble when we resist our sadness and our grief, or when we imagine that we are supposed to be able to sidestep them, or when we imagine that they will go away on schedule.
Brown Taylor cites Greenspan here also on spiritual bypassing -- "using religion to dodge the dark emotions instead of letting it lead us to embrace those dark angels as the best, most demanding spiritual teachers we may ever know....It is the inability to bear dark emotions that causes many of our most significant problems, in other words, and not the emotions themselves." Yes, yes, and yes. (A lot of my reactions to this book boil down to yes!)
For those of us who cherish religious practice, there is real risk of spiritual bypassing -- using our religious rituals or practices to distract us from what we're feeling, or to paper over what we're feeling. But authentic spiritual life calls us to do something different: to bring what we're feeling into our religious practice, even when what we're feeling hurts. (I've written about this before: see Sitting with sadness in the sukkah, 2015.)
There's so much else in this book that speaks to me. Like this brief passage on Jacob's night-time wrestle with the angel that earned him the new name Yisrael, God-wrestler:
Who would stick around to wrestle a dark angel all night long if there were any chance of escape? The only answer I can think of is this: someone in deep need of blessing; someone willing to limp forever for the blessing that follows the wound.
"Since becoming blind, I have paid more attention to a thousand things," Lusseyran wrote. One of his greatest discoveries was how the light he saw changed with his inner condition. When he was sad or afraid, the light decreased at once. Sometimes it went out altogether, leaving him deeply and truly blind. When he was joyful and attentive, it returned as strong as ever. He learned very quickly that the best way to see the inner light and remain in its presence was to love.
The best way to see the inner light and remain in its presence was to love: yes, that feels right to me. I know that in my own darkest times, my own times when God's presence has felt so occluded as to seem absent altogether, my best way to open myself again to that presence is to cultivate love.
I don't want to minimize the dark night of the soul, and neither does she:
[T]he reality that troubles the soul most is the apparent absence of God. If God is light, then God is gone. There is no soft glowing space of safety in this dark night. There is no comforting sound coming out of it, reassuring the soul that all will be well. Even if comforting friends come around to see how you are doing, they are about as much help as the friends who visited Job on his ash heap. There is an impenetrability to the darkness that isolates the soul inside it. For good or ill, no one can do your work for you while you are in this dark place. It has your name all over it, and the only way out is through.
(She immediately distinguishes between the dark night of the soul as a spiritual condition, and depression as a medical condition, and I'm grateful that she does. Having experienced both, I can attest to the fact that they are qualitatively entirely different, even though some of their outward markers -- grief and tears chief among them -- are the same.)
In the end, what the darkness asks of us -- she says -- is simple presence:
When we can no longer see the path we are on, when we can no longer read the maps we have brought with us or sense anything in the dark that might tell us where we are, then and only then are we vulnerable to God's protection. This remains true even when we cannot discern God's presence. The only thing the dark night requires of us is to remain conscious. If we can stay with the moment in which God seems most absent, the night will do the rest.
I would argue that that's what life asks of us in general: our "dark" times, and our "light" ones alike.
Toward the end of the book, she writes about the moon -- which is a quintessential part of the Jewish religious calendar (and even more so the Muslim one), though not the Christian one, most of the time. The moon is a great teacher about the ebbs and flows of spiritual life. She writes:
Sometimes the light is coming, and sometimes it is going. Sometimes the moon is full, and sometimes it is nowhere to be found. There is nothing capricious about this variety since it happens on a regular basis. Is it dark out tonight? Fear not; it will not be dark forever. Is it bright out tonight; enjoy it; it will not be bright forever.
Is it dark out tonight? Fear not: it will not be dark forever. And even though darkness will inevitably return, so will its end. For me, right now, that is a profound theological statement about the return of hope and the hope for a future that is better than what we have known in the past. May it be so.
Disclaimer: I have (once) met the Honourable Member for Aberdeen North, who may or may not be bigger than a seagull. |
Nonetheless, I feel I am not too biased in my admiration that she managed to legitimately ask this question in Parliament. Good work.