Link for May 11 2016

* A 15-year-old just discovered a lost Maya city in the Mexican jungle

* Threadless interviews Kelly Sue DeConnick

* Into the Shadows:
In crime-ridden 1840s Boston, America’s first police detectives launched a radical new approach to cracking cases.

* n the 30 days he spent living at the Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada, Christopher Sebela had received in the mail a series of clown dolls, a clown mask, and a paperback book about the serial killer John Wayne Gacy, otherwise known as the Killer Clown.

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The room where it happens

Wiscon is coming up soon. I’m looking forward to it; it’s one of the conventions that matters to me, deeply.

But I am also pre-emptively pissy and resentful about Wiscon, here, two weeks ahead of time. Why?

Because, like Burr in the musical Hamilton, I want to be in the room where it happens.

In the musical this song is a sort of shorthand for the fact that Aaron Burr perpetually resents the fact that he is not closer to power. That major events in government and politics happen without him. He KNOWS they are going on, he can see all the people doing the things, but he is not there. He’s locked out. He’s not allowed in the room where it, whatever it is, happens.

I so often feel this way about Wiscon. It feel like the big things, the stuff everyone talks about later, are always taking place somewhere I am not. In some other panel, some other party, some other room. Never the room I am in.

But I gave this some serious thought and realized that I’ve actually been IN “the room” while “it” is happening at some points in the past. At Wiscon, or other events. I’ve been there. I’ve been, from time to time, the insider. It just never felt that way at the time.

And that made me think how utterly stupid I am being. I mean, way to proactively ruin a great convention, being upset about whether or not the “important” things are happening where I can see them. It’s my convention experience, dammit! I can and will enjoy it for my friends, the conversations I have, the sleep I’ll get, the people I’ll meet, the dinners I’ll have!

Worrying about whether some hypothetically better conversation is going on in the next room, well, that’s the kind of thinking that led to Hamilton’s death in a duel. It’s poisonous nonsense. And I’m no longer going to participate in this sort of thinking.

Wherever I am at the con, that’s the room where MY life is happening.

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My children’s opinion of housework:

Scrawled in suds, as it were.

Links for May 4 2016

* How the world’s leading authority on the English language used Google to write the most comprehensive treatment of English usage ever published

“Even the editors of the “Oxford English Dictionary” were having to guess based on the few citation slips in front of them. But now we can apply big data to English usage and find out what was predominant until what year.”

* Dearly Beloved; a Sermon on Shutting Up the Accuser

“Yes, I am familiar with that accusing voice. The one that tells me that I am what I’ve done. The voice that accuses me of already forgiven sins. The one that repeats harmful things said to me as a child. For some of us, those voices don’t ever really shut the hell up. That voice makes us eat less than we should or more than we should. Sometimes we try and shut that voice up with alcohol or dope. That voice can make us spend more hours at work than we should. It makes us go to ridiculous lengths to try and prove it wrong. Or try to prove it right.

But that accusing voice is not God’s voice. It’s not God’s voice.

There’s a reason that in parts of the Hebrew Bible, the devil is called ha satan….which translates The Accuser. The Accuser. It is the voice of The Accuser that tells us lies about ourselves and other people.”

* ‘Normal America’ Is Not A Small Town Of White People

“We all, of course, have our own notions of what real America looks like. Those notions might be based on our own nostalgia or our hopes for the future. If your image of the real America is a small town, you might be thinking of an America that no longer exists.”

* FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

“Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, commended the FBI and department for the collaboration but said, “The FBI’s three-decade use of microscopic hair analysis to incriminate defendants was a complete disaster.””

* Cults, conspiracies and the utterly bizarre history of Sleepytime tea

““After studying the teachings in The Urantia Book, I knew that it would feel selfish and wasteful to simply focus on material success,” he said. “So, as a young man, when I began thinking of what I could do to make a living, I immediately turned to the health food industry…The ideas [in The Urantia Book] were the inspiration for the uplifting quotes we print on the side of our tea boxes and on our teabag tags!””

* The Criminal Heroes Of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK And THE WARRIORS

“In the early 1970s, crime is blamed for the city’s woes. By the late 1970s, after people understood the full extent of Watergate, the realization set in that corruption within the system is at fault. In the universe of The Warriors and Escape from New York where criminals are heroes and villains are corrupt authority figures, heroes do not unite against villains — villains pit heroes against each other. The Warriors follows the traditional hero’s journey, it seeks to find what can be saved. This version of reality is a comic book, it presents gangs with the purity of children, and the city is a playground. Escape from New York is the story of an antihero, the city a literal prison, where survival is a heroic act and the world’s only hope is to destroy it and start anew.”

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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?

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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.

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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.”

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