Tag Archives: how we live now

Confederate

So, once again: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.1

HBO’s motives aside, the plea to wait supposes that a problem of conception can be fixed in execution. We do not need to wait to observe that this supposition is, at best, dicey. For over a century, Hollywood has churned out well-executed, slickly produced epics which advanced the Lost Cause myth of the Civil War. These are true “alternative histories,” built on “alternative facts,” assembled to depict the Confederacy as a wonderland of virtuous damsels and gallant knights, instead of the sprawling kleptocratic police state it actually was. From last century’s The Birth of a Nation to this century’s Gods and Generals, Hollywood has likely done more than any other American institution to obstruct a truthful apprehension of the Civil War, and thus modern America’s very origins. So one need not wait to observe that any foray by HBO into the Civil War must be met with a spirit of pointed inquiry and a withholding of all benefit of the doubt.”

Confederate

“After all, this show’s premise proposes to create a “fictionalized” plot about the continuation of slavery, as if thousands of American farmers and corporations didn’t continue to practice slavery well into the 1940s. The show acts as if the latter half of the twentieth century didn’t see America’s prison population swell with millions of Black bodies. It pretends that today’s prisons and venerable corporations don’t exploit the 13th amendment to profit from forced prison labor. HBO’s Confederate imagines that there aren’t more people under state control today than there were in chains at the peak of American slavery.”

Confederate

Confederate, the sci-fi, alt-history drama of what the United States would look like if the North had lost the Civil War, had been announced by HBO in late July. The brainchild of Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the series is a four-part collaboration between Weiss and Benioff, who are white, and Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman, a married writer and producer couple, who are black. The Spellmans are behind hit television shows The Good Wife and Empire.

The show, in early stages of development, has received major backlash. April Reign, creator of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, mobilized the Twittersphere on Sunday night with #NoConfederate, a joint effort between Reign and activists Rebecca Theodore, Jamie Broadnax, Shanelle Little, and Lauren Warren. And they were not alone in their concerns — earlier, critic Roxane Gay had condemned the series in the New York Times, calling it “slavery fan fiction.”

The message? Do not run this show.

Reign posits that the subject alone is reason enough to cancel the show, pointing out that the effects of slavery are still felt today. Responding to someone suggesting that the show might illustrate what living with racism is like, Reign tweeted: “You mean white people. People of color are well aware of this. We don’t need a TV show. We have, you know, our daily existence and stuff.”

Confederate

Show 1 footnote

  1. Or, if one is cynical enough, perhaps HBO knows exactly what its doing: broadening the blood thirsty audience brought in by GoT to include the drooling knuckle-dragging, paste-eating tRump supporters who would normally eschew HBO as being too “cosmopolitan.”

Fuck Steve Scalise

Rep. Steve Scalise was shot just a while ago; at this writing it is unclear how serious his injuries may be.

We extend our sincere sympathies toward his family.

Having said that, fuck Rep. Steve Scalise.

The Congressman, who is so dim as to have once “accidentally” attended a Klan rally, receives an A+ rating from the NRA. He most certainly will be [could have been] counted on to help pass the latest Congressional piece of shit, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017, which –despite your first and obvious thought– is NOT about hearing aids, but rather will relax restrictions on firearm silencers.

That’s right, Scalise has consistently enabled legislation making it easier for whatever asshole shot (and possibly killed 1) him today to go out and purchase whatever weapon tickled his fancy. We would say that Eiron is chortling even now, but the sad truth is that America has long ago moved past irony regarding its lunatic love affair with guns.

Again, we feel for Scalise’s family but can not help but wonder if his wife is having a Clytemnestra moment.

“By the sword you did your work, and by the sword you die.”

Yep – fuck Steve Scalise.

Fuck Steve Scalise

Show 1 footnote

  1. Even should the representative survive, his life –not to mention his family’s– will be forever altered in ways he can not yet imagine.

Way Worse Videos

This put me in mind of certain political considerations and how a largish cohort of individuals can not name check Archibald Cox, much less the still unraveling implications of Watergate. If we allow the continued dumbing down of America’s education system, it won’t be but another generation before the idea of democracy is but a wistful dream…

I mentioned Rodney King in an Intro to American Government class. I got the blank “Is that a thing we are supposed to know?” look that I have come to recognize when students hear about something that happened more than six months ago. “Rodney King?” More blinking. “Can someone tell why the name Rodney King is important?”

One student, god bless her, raised her hand. I paraphrase: “He was killed by the police and it caused the LA Riots.” I noted that, no, he did not die, but the second part of the statement was indirectly true. God bless technology in the classroom — I pulled up the grainy VHS-camcorder version of the video, as well as a transcript of the audio analysis presented at trial. We watched, and then talked a bit about the rioting following the acquittal of the LAPD officers at trial. They kept doing the blinking thing. I struggled to figure out what part of this relatively straightforward explanation had managed to confuse them.

“Are there questions? You guys look confused.”

Hand. “So he was OK?”

“He was beaten up pretty badly, but, ultimately he was. He died a few years ago from unrelated causes (note: in 2012).”

Hand. “It’s kind of weird that everybody rioted over that. I mean, there’s way worse videos.” General murmurs of agreement…

…This is a generation of kids so numb to seeing videos of police beating, tasering, shooting, and otherwise applying the power of the state to unarmed and almost inevitably black or Hispanic men that they legitimately could not understand why a video of cops beating up a black guy (who didn’t even die for pete’s sake!) was shocking enough to cause a widespread breakdown of public order…

…These kids have grown up in a world where this is background noise. It is part of the static of life in the United States. Whether these incidents outrage them or are met with the usual excuses (Comply faster, dress differently, be less Scary) the fact is that they happen so regularly that retaining even one of them in long term memory is unlikely. To think about Rodney King is to imagine a reality in which it was actually kind of shocking to see a video of four cops kicking and night-sticking an unarmed black man over the head repeatedly. Now videos of police violence are about as surprising and rare as weather reports, and forgotten almost as quickly once passed.

Way Worse Videos

A Screaming Comes Across the Sky

banana-pancakesI was making banana pancakes.

NPR was going on about Bannon’s OMP‘s budget proposal, a blueprint for a societal counterrevolution if I’ve ever seen one; massive increases in spending on both military operations and domestic repression, while pulling a Ripper on domestic social programs (some as much as 30 percent) while eliminating outright dozens of agencies and programs.

I dance into the dining room, a platter of pancakes at the ready, doing my best Vincent Price 1: “A screaming comes across the sky…”

Silence.

Asta finally shakes her head and mutters “Dad, you’re soooo weird.”

Ima gonna have speaks with that child’s school; this unconscionable. 2

A Screaming Comes Across the Sky

Show 2 footnotes

  1. An excellent imitation, if I say so myself. Had Michael ever heard it he would have had ME doing the voice-over for Thriller.
  2. Speaking of unconscionable, my March Madness bracket is all but bust. And if Kentucky doesn’t win the whole thang, I’m dead in the water. 36 points, people. 36! Freaking ouch.

Radioactive Boars Redux

Just when we thought the radioactive boars were confined to northern Japan, comes now the Czech Republic with uplifting news:

The Czech Republic has an unusual problem this winter with its wild boar meat, a local delicacy. The boars are radioactive.

Actually, it’s not the boars themselves, but what they’re eating. A cold and snowy winter is forcing them to feed on false truffles, an underground mushroom common in the Sumava mountain region shared by Czechs, Austrians, Germans – and wild boars.

The mushrooms can absorb high levels of the radioactive isotope Caesium 137. And three decades ago the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl released a fair amount of Caesium 137 that eventually drifted down on the Sumava mountains.

Now the boars are eating the mushrooms, and ingesting the Caesium 137 along with them. That’s making their meat radioactive, Jiri Drapal at the State Veterinary Administration told Reuters.

“It is more or less a seasonal issue,” Drapal said.

But it’s a long season. The half life of Caesium 137 is 30 years – that is, it takes 30 years for the radioactivity of the isotope to fall to half its original value. Then another 30 to fall to half again, and so on. The boars could be glowing for quite a while.
“We can expect to find (affected) food for a number of years from now,” Drapal said.

And that could cause some problems with the supply of boar meat, which is popular in the Czech Republic. It often shows up on restaurant menus in goulash, a thick stew of meat, sauce and dumplings.

If at this point you’re thinking “Hey, Missouri has a nuclear facility…as does Kansas. And oh! WTF! Illinois has a shit-pile of them, both Iowa and Nebraska have one, as well as Tennessee and Arkansas! Fuck! Wait a minute…the only question now is: Are there boars around!?” 1, you can’t rightly be blamed.

The more important question though is – where are the nuclear waste storage facilities? 2

It turns out there are more nuclear waste disposal sites in the above states than actual plants. So that stuff is everywhere.

Who knows what the boars in the Midwest are ingesting? Perhaps soon we’ll have our own radioactive boars. 3

Monica Redux

Show 3 footnotes

  1. The qualified answer is Yes! Missouri has a wild boar “issue.” And Arkansas has more than their share and, like those danged armadillos creeping up from Texas, the boars are no respecters of state lines, border walls or no.
  2. And, no, Yucca Mountain does NOT count.
  3. Which, again, is bad: being bitten by feral, radioactive animals is the leading cause of zombification.

Radioactive Boars

In the latest entry into the you can’t make this shit up sweepstakes, The Boston Globe reports on radioactive boars. Yes, you read that right: radioactive boars:

Hundreds of toxic wild boars have been roaming across northern Japan, where the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant six years ago forced thousands of residents to desert their homes, pets, and livestock. Some animals, like cattle, were left to rot in their pens. As Japan prepares to lift some evacuation orders on four towns within the more than 12-mile exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant this month, officials are struggling to clear out the contaminated boars. Wild boar meat is a delicacy in northern Japan, but animals slaughtered since the disaster are too contaminated to eat. According to tests conducted by the Japanese government, some of the boars have shown levels of radioactive element cesium-137 that are 300 times higher than safety standards…

Officials have also expressed concern that returning residents may be attacked by the animals, some of which have settled comfortably in abandoned homes and have reportedly lost their shyness to humans.

If this strikes you as not worth your time, you undoubtedly missed that great classic: The Horror of Party Beach. 1 2 3

Radioactive Boars

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Or, ya know…Die You Zombie Bastards!, The Children, Redneck Zombie, or heck, Re-Animator.
  2. Not a radioactive zombie sub-genre, true, but the following films are also well worth your time: Cemetery Man and Wild Zero.
  3. And if you’re still not clued in, here’s the scoop – being bitten by feral, radioactive animals is the leading cause of zombification. That’s right – now you can scream.

Surveillance Society

StasiLaw enforcement agencies around the country have been expanding their surveillance capabilities by recruiting private citizens and businesses to share their security camera footage and live feeds. The trend is alarming, since it allows government to spy on communities without the oversight, approval, or legal processes that are typically required for police.

EFF is opposing new legislation introduced in California by Assemblymember Marc Steinorth that would create a tax credit worth up to $500 for residents who purchase home security systems, including fences, alarms and cameras. In a letter, EFF has asked the lawmaker to strike the tax break for surveillance cameras, citing privacy concerns as well as the potential threat created by consumer cameras that can be exploited by botnets.

Surveillance Society

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And you only have 20 seconds to comply…

It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist.

The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.

Then Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.

Becker, the bill’s Republican sponsor, said he had to live with it.

“This is one I’m not in full agreement with. I wish it was any weapon,” he said at a hearing in March. “In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period.”

Even “less than lethal” weapons can kill though. At least 39 people have been killed by police Tasers in 2015 so far, according to The Guardian. Bean bags, rubber bullets, and flying tear gas canisters have also maimed, if not killed, in the U.S. and abroad.

…Money’s no problem for the the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department, though: A California manufacturer loaned them two drones. Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost said his department’s drones are only equipped with cameras and he doesn’t think he should need a warrant to go snooping.

…Rost said he needs to use drones for surveillance in order to obtain a warrant in the first place. “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” Becker remembered opponents like Rost saying.

What could possibly go wrong, n’est-ce pas?

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