Links for April 27 2016

* A generation of artists were wiped out by Aids and we barely talk about it

* Prince Spent His Life Elevating and Mentoring Women

* Credit Bureaus Were the NSA of the 19th Century

* The Criminal Heroes Of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK And THE WARRIORS: We got the streets, suckers. Can you dig it?



Purple Rain, Lemonade, Blackness

Prince died this weekend.

Beyonce released her new album, Lemonade, this weekend.

Like many people, I spent time this weekend watching video clips of Prince, listening to his music, reading the news reports discussing his work, his legacy, and his private philanthropy. Like many people, I watched and listened to Beyonce’s Lemonade, read think-pieces about it, followed some discussions on Twitter.

I am reminded that there is no one, true, way to be a fan.

I saw someone, Sady Doyle, I think, tweet that she was a fan of Beyonce in much the same way she was a fan of Prince — she knew the top hits, the most popular songs, saw the Superbowl performances, caught a few interviews here and there. This resonated for me. That is my experience as well. I’m not a die-hard fan of either. I think they are both magnificent artists and performers. World-changers. Makers of the future. I don’t know any of the deeper tracks on any albums, I can’t tell you much about their families, personal lives, struggles, or passions. If it’s not in a Billboard Top 40 song of theirs, or a movie, or a top-ranked music video, I’m sure I don’t know it.

Yet, I grieve for the loss of Prince.

Yet, I grin in a hot, angry, teeth-baring celebration of exuberant, terrible joy at Lemonade.

Watching Prince videos this weekend, I wonder — what would black masculinity look like today, if the AIDS crisis had not robbed us of a generation of queer men, especially queer men of color? I mourn that loss. Watching Beyonce, her smile and laugh as she destroys a street with a baseball bat, I wonder whether her anger will be lost the way we have forgotten Hurston’s anger and joy, Baker’s, or Smith’s.

I’m not black. My wondering is an outsider’s view, a glance at something that is not my experience yet is performed for all to witness. Witness, if not entirely comprehend. As a fan, as a witness, as an outsider, as one touched by art whether or not that art is made for me, I desperately hope that these moments become fully part of the cultural record.

Prince and Beyonce need to be a part of our collective history.

We have to remember a past in order to grow from it. We have to see a past if we are to build upon it.

When I look at Prince’s legacy, I hope we remember that this, too, is American blackness. When I see Beyonce putting her entire reputation, personal and professional, on the line for her values and politics and family, I hope we stop forgetting that this, too, is American blackness.

I’m glad that Lemonade came out this weekend. The music, the politics, the art, and the blackness continue on.



April 20 2016 Links

* How lions, leopards and livestock are affected by racism on Namibia’s farms

“What we discovered was there were farms where the managers were both racist and violent towards their workers, which demotivated employees to perform well at their jobs.”>

* UC Davis paid $175,000 or more to scrub police pepper spray incident from web searches

Well, I know I certainly will keep reblogging this, then. Yep.

* Anno Dominus

“Much like Lost, X-Files and other Calvinball-like texts, Evangelion’s narrative is powered by a vast conspiracy, the details of which only ever make sense retroactively. The most visible actor in this conspiracy is Gendo and what emerges from Evangelion: 1.11 and 2.22 is that he has spent years painstakingly micro-managing the emotional and psychological development of his Eva pilots.”

* We Can’t Trust a Major American Police Department. That’s a Problem.
Chicago is not an outlier. It’s an allegory.​

“At this point, there is no compelling reason to believe anything the CPD says about its own conduct, and there won’t be any reason to do so until the stables get thoroughly hosed down by someone from the outside. The Justice Department is said to be looking into the situation surrounding McDonald’s death. But with the city’s murder rate climbing, and these latest revelations, control of the CPD would be a political whipsaw even for a popular politician, which Emanuel is not. But there should be some sort of general consensus that you can protect innocent people without killing some of them. Otherwise, Chicago is nothing more than a deep-dish Mogadishu.”

* Creators for Creators

“The goal of the Creators for Creators grant is to help pave the way for the next generation of comics creators by supporting their work financially and through mentorship, as well as providing opportunities for their creations to reach a wide audience. We plan to give $30,000 to a single cartoonist or writer/artist duo in order to support the creation of a new and original work of a length between sixty-four and one hundred pages over the course of a single year. The recipient will be selected by committee according to rigorous criteria.”



On handling publishing rejection

A friend of mine was musing on Twitter how little they are looking forward to a manuscript being rejected. And I have a few thoughts, or words of advice, on that front.

Speaking from my work as a short fiction editor, I can 100% genuinely assure you — sometimes your story is fantastic, it’s just not what that venue needs at that time.

I hated writing those rejections. I knew that the writers would take them as a sign that the story wasn’t any good, no matter how much I tried to say “I swear to GOD it’s not you, it’s us! We just need something lighter/darker/fantasy/sf this month I SWEAR!!!”

Of course authors take that hard. Because — and here’s the secret — the generic blow-off letter is very similar to a genuine, personal rejection. That similarity is on PURPOSE. It permits everyone to save face. It allows everyone to walk away, dignity intact. But, then, if you get a personal rejection, you understandably might wonder if this is just the blow-off.

I know. It’s hard, and I know.

But here’s what I always wanted every author to do when they received a rejection, whether standard or personalized.

Wallow. Despair. Wail, gnash teeth. Sob incoherent rage. Develop your plans to become a goat farmer in Argentina.

Immediately submit that story to another venue.

And immediately start a new work.

If every rejection you receive is converted into a story submission and a new piece of fiction, you have a net win. You are working, you are practicing your craft. You are developing new ideas as well as refining the existing works. You are researching the markets and becoming more informed about the business. You are turning each rejection into a new building block of your writing career.

That’s always, always, what I wanted authors to do when I rejected their stories. That’s the way to respond.



Someone’s got to be the grown-up here

There’s a parenting thing I did not anticipate. One that is hard on my introvert soul. Namely, that having kids means living in a house with more people, and those people are not great at managing their feelings.

The emotional expression of kids and teenagers is volatile, it’s unpredictable, it is in both magnitude and type not what I am expecting as a response to events. And it’s my job to be the person in the interaction who recognizes the overreaction, who understands what the actual problem is, who addresses the actual problem, who listens with empathy, who sets clear boundaries, who models problem-solving behavior, who responds honestly and kindly at the same time.

And to then do it all over again six minutes later.

By the end of the day, I want to never speak to another human again. Especially ones that have any feelings whatsoever.

But it’s now Friday, the start of my work-week, and I get to leave the house and go talk to airplanes for the evening. Where at least we all pretend that no-one has any feelings about anything, and if a pilot gets pissy with me about the Chicago flow control, well, she can just slow down anyway whether she likes it or not.

There’s a relief in being a dictator at my job.

I tell my coworkers all the time that there’s no feelings in air traffic control.

Thank goodness.



Links for April 13 2016

* Tennessee lawmaker exiled over alleged risk to “unsuspecting women”

“House Speaker Beth Harwell announced Thursday that she is moving Rep. Jeremy Durham’s office to the ground floor of a building across the street and that his access to committee rooms and the House chamber will be limited to when meetings are taking place. The move comes amid a state attorney general’s investigation into the Franklin Republican’s “pattern of conduct” toward women.

Interviews with 34 current and former lawmakers, lobbyists, staffers and interns included allegations that Durham made sexual comments and inappropriate physical contact with women working at Legislative Plaza, according to Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s memorandum to Harwell.”

* ‘Don’t Be Mean’ Beer: 36 N.C. Breweries Sign Up To Sell Brew Aimed At HB2

“While it may seem like a symbolic gesture, the beer also signals resistance to the controversial legislation from within North Carolina’s burgeoning beer industry, which last year accounted for $1.2 billion in economic impact, according to the Brewers Association.

“We didn’t feel like HB2 represented us as businesses or as residents of North Carolina,” said Erik Lars Myers, the CEO and head brewer of Mystery Brewing Company in Hillsborough. He’s collaborating on Don’t Be Mean to People with Keil Jansen, the owner and brewmaster of Ponysaurus Brewing Company in Durham.”

* How ‘Maintainers,’ Not ‘Innovators,’ Make the World Turn

“One presentation looks at how many of history’s biggest, seemingly sudden disasters were the result of deferred infrastructure maintenance over long periods of time. Another talk will demonstrate the historical importance of cleanliness in industrial settings, with a paper titled “Discipline and Polish.” There is also a strong focus on gender: Vinsel appraises Mary Poppins as a rare “caregiving hero” of mainstream cinema, while the keynote speaker, Ruth Cowan Schwartz, connects her 1985 book More Work For Mother (which examined how 20th-century household inventions actually increased women’s chores) to the way Cuban society “re-valorized” domestic labor after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Vinsel stresses that it is not, in itself, an “innovation” to talk about maintenance in these ways. “Thinkers have been working on these issues for a long time,” he says. “The goal of the conference is to open space for a conversation.” He hopes to hold more forums like it, and to eventually invite policymakers to one in D.C.”

* Jon Bernthal Is the Punisher Marvel Deserves

“What was it about the Punisher that made you want to go up for this role?

I don’t think I would be ready to even begin to tackle this part if I wasn’t a husband and a father. Until you have that, you don’t really love something more than yourself, and know what it’s like to give your life for somebody else. The first step in trying to fill Frank Castle’s shoes is to try to understand what would happen if somebody tore that love away from you—tore those people away from you. And that’s something that just filled me with so much emotion and made me so scared, so angry. It’s always sort of been my philosophy in life. If something really scares you, if something really kinda sets you on fire inside, that’s exactly what you need to step towards.”

* The Possibly-True Story of the Super-Burglar Trained to Rip Off al Qaeda

“The group’s previously invisible monetary network was thus forced to materialize, taking on new physical form in the shape of unmarked bags of cash, gold bars, and truckloads of precious metal traveling backcountry roads through some of the most politically unstable parts of the world, many of them soon to become active war zones. Writing for The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg has shown that Osama bin Laden himself was something of a “gold bug,” urging al Qaeda operatives to invest ransom money in bullion, rather than U.S. dollars or real estate. And all of that gold had to be stored somewhere.

Al Qaeda, in other words, was setting itself up for the ultimate bank heist.”



Othering by Politeness

Yesterday I tweeted a bit of a rant about Othering by Politeness. You know, that thing where someone in a group swears, or says something uncouth, and then specifically singles *you* out to apologize to. Because you are the woman, or person of color, or queer, or Christian, or whatever.

It’s an infuriating microaggression, this form of politeness. The speaker is entirely acting as A Good Person. What they intend to say is “Oh, geez, I might have offended you, I should apologize!” But the cultural meta-text is “everyone else here is fine with what I just said, because we are all the same and we belong. But you, the outsider who is different from us, you might get mad at us, so I should apologize before I get in trouble.”

A few people mentioned that there’s no good way to respond to this sort of microaggression in a professional context. And I tweeted the one response I have. Metaphortunate was kind enough to Storify it. But here’s the gist —

So my coworker swore at work. “Fucking cocksucker,” he said. And he turns and apologizes to me by name. “Sorry, Sigrid,” he says.
I say, “stop apologizing.”
He laughs and says, “you means stop swearing.”
“No”, I say, “stop apologizing. You have to stop apologizing.”
He looks confused.
I say, ” — if you swear and you don’t apologize, you’re just a crude, uncouth dipshit.”
Everybody nearby laughs.
“If you apologize to everyone,” I say, “then you know you said something wrong and you made a mistake, and we all move on. If you apologize to *just me*, the only woman in the room, then you know that you are creating a hostile work environment. You know that your language has explicitly targeted me, the lesbian in the room, and you are knowingly violating federal law. So either stop apologizing for your language, or I *have* to report you for hostile workplace.”

He stopped apologizing. Still swears, but he stopped apologizing.




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