Showing Posts From: Current Events

23 Jan, 2017

Women’s March Knoxville

/ posted in: Current EventsFeminismSigns and Wonders

I was in Knoxville TN over the weekend and decided to hit up the Women’s March there. I’m so glad I did.

I made a little video from my pictures and video

I loved the Indian girl at the end of the video. She was so excited because the crowd behind us had started chanting “Love Trumps Hate”. I told her it was because of her sign. She was walking beside me for a while chanting “Love Trumps Hate” in this little tiny voice. She was adorable!

It was raining so eventually my signs melted.  But lots of people came up to me to take pictures of them.  A physics professor from the University of Tennessee hugged me and got his son to take pictures of us together.

East Tennessee is a very conservative area so it was great to see this turnout.  Part of me just wanted to yell though, “We wouldn’t be here if some of ya’ll hadn’t voted for him in the first place.” but I held my tongue.

Did anyone else march anywhere?

 

19 Dec, 2016

Maybe the Problem is White Thinking

/ posted in: Current Events

I was sitting around most of the day today in the hospital with the husband with nothing much to do except read Twitter.  Now I have thoughts.

Most of my bookish timeline was taken up with discussions on diversity.  A lot of the discussion was about white writers not explicitly pointing out that characters are a certain race.  Another line of discussion was about People of Color wanting to have their race acknowledged in discussion.  Seeing those two discussions side by side made me realize what part of the problem may be.

White people are taught to never, ever describe anyone by their race.

For example, if you are trying to point out a person across a room to someone else, a white person will go through all kinds of verbal gymnastics.  “The lady with the hat and the red shirt.  Over there.  Next to the man with the green tie.”  If that fails and there is no other recourse, the white person will then whisper, “The Korean woman.”

Here’s why.  It isn’t because we don’t see race.  It isn’t because we are trying to dismiss the person’s race from their life experience.  It is because we have been taught that simplifying a person to a description of their race is what racists do.  Nice people don’t do what racists do.

I don’t know who made up this rule for white people.  I don’t know if any People of Color were consulted about how they feel about that.  But I promise you, if you started the above scenario by telling another liberal white person, “See the Korean woman over there?” you are going to get hissed at.  “You can’t say that!”

Now, take a person with that life training.  Have them write a description of a crowd.  Even if the crowd they visualize is multiracial, they are not going to write that down unless the race of characters is an essential part of the plot.  I tried that exercise myself one day.  I looked over a food court in a mall and imagined how I would describe what I see in a book.  I would have to talk about the Chinese couple holding hands on a bench and the Indian woman riffling through her shopping bags.  I felt a little bit icky as I thought that.  There is that remnant of Never Describe a Person Just By Their Race making me feel like putting in the detail of their races makes me a racist.  I’m not saying that’s right.  I’m saying I bet it is how a lot of white writers think.  (I’m not talking about main characters.  Obviously they have other characteristics that need to be discussed.  I’m talking about background characters only right now.  Characters that will never be seen again and have no influence on the story.)

Contrast that to how some other writers handle that type of a scene.  This is the first paragraph of Central Station by Lavie Tidhar.

IMG_0660 2

Daniel Jose Older is wonderful at this.  He can set scenes in urban areas that describe the people unapologetically.

After listening to what many people are saying, I see that not acknowledging race in this manner is not what most people want.  I think more white people are going to have to hear that message before they feel comfortable talking and writing openly and honestly about multiracial communities.

Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about and all these white writers aren’t imagining multiracial groups and they are all just racist.  I don’t know.  Thoughts?

15 Nov, 2016

November is Knocking Me Down

/ posted in: Current EventsReading

I knew that November was going to be a slow reading month.  A lot of my reading time is taken up with doing NaNoWriMo.  So far that is going well.  I’m writing a book that I wrote part of previously but then lost it.  This week I’ll run into the part that I haven’t written before and don’t have a great plan for.  I mentioned this to the husband.  I told him that they are about to leave England and go to America in 1790.  He immediately suggested that the crew should throw a pregnant woman overboard so she drowns while in labor.  He’s a cheery fellow.  He said it was my fault for setting the thing in 1790.  He doesn’t understand the appeal of Regency books.

Then the election knocked me for a loop.  All I did for days was read things on Twitter.  With all that, so far this month I’ve only finished two books.  Two books?  Who am I?

November is usually one of my favorite reading months with Nonfiction November going on.  Luckily those weekly prompts have been keeping me in things to blog about.  I do have quite a few books on the go.  Maybe this will be one of those months where I suddenly finish a stack of books all in the course of a few days because I only have a few chapters left in each of them.

I’m currently reading an amazing book.  It was so amazing that when my library wanted it back and I wasn’t completely finished, I ordered a copy for my own self instead of pushing to finish it.  I wanted to be able to take notes and keep it for reference.  It is called Pit Bull by Bronwyn Dickey.  More on that when I finally finish and decide how to review it.  I’ve been posting all kinds of quotes on Litsy.

I have an audiobook about a piano store in Paris almost finished.  I just picked up an interlibrary loan about a prison in Bolivia where tourists could go and stay for months.  That is nonfiction in case you were wondering.  I’m halfway through a book about Mexican drug cartels but it is confusing.  Once I get a handle on who the people are and who is in charge, someone gets killed and I have to figure out the organizational chart all over again.  I guess I sympathize with the investigators in that respect.  I picked up a book on medical diagnosis that I’m partway through.

It is totally short bookish attention span time around here.  I think I’m going to go read a graphic novel I got.  That will count as a finish and maybe spur me on to finishing everything else.

How is your November reading going so far?

11 Nov, 2016

Evangelicals’ Persecution Complex

/ posted in: Current Events

“Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”  1 Peter 3:16


People are rightfully wondering why white liberals haven’t done a more effective job of calling out their friends and families who are on the other side when it comes to social issues.  I think a lot of the problem comes from evangelical Christian thinking.

It goes like this:

  1. I have an opinion that I think is right.
  2. I can find support for my opinion in the Bible or in church therefore it is Godly.
  3. If people disagree with me on this, then they are disagreeing with God.
  4. Jesus told me that people will disagree with me and I need to stand strong in my beliefs.
  5. Therefore, if people call me out on my beliefs, I must be right.

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  John 15:9

 


If you’ve never lived in that world it is hard to get your head around that warped mindset.  Logical arguments about equality or fairness or ANYTHING bounce right off that kind of thinking.

 

“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”  2 Corinthians 11:14-15


“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10


The Christian persecution complex is real and powerful.  But where the writers of the New Testament were talking about being killed for their faith, western Christians today take that to mean any disagreement.  So call them out on not separating church and state?  Persecution.  Don’t say Merry Christmas?  Persecution.  Say that gay people deserve to live happy lives?  Persecution.  And they know what to do when they are being persecuted.  Dig in and defend their position to the death if need be.

How do you get through to people who believe that?  It is hard.  I don’t know if it can be done by outside forces alone.  People who have left tend to get there mostly by having one breaking moment like a crack in an iceberg.  Something happens that doesn’t fit nicely with how they were told the world was going to be and suddenly the whole thing crumbles.

What I found really interesting is that while I was leaving Christianity, I was experiencing exactly what I had been told would happen.  I was told that it would look like I had come across some great new wisdom.  It would seem to make more sense than Christianity.  I was told that these were signs that I was being deceived.  Luckily I was able to push past those voices in my head and laugh at the church’s foresight in programing that one last thought into escaping people’s heads.

My hope is that things like having gay marriage and the sky not falling might be that crack that starts the iceberg tumbling.  It is slow and it is hard but it is working.  I have a lot of hope for people younger than me.  They are seeing through this.  They live in a world where this Christian mindset is not the only way they see.  I think supporting them is the best way forwards.

10 Nov, 2016

Echo Chamber vs Safe Space

/ posted in: Current Events

Because of what I like to call my wayward youth that I wrote about yesterday, my Facebook page had gotten particularly nasty.  When I say that I’m talking about people who felt safe to post memes actively encouraging violence to Black Lives Matter members and Native American protestors at Standing Rock along with the common memes of the “Don’t like it here, go live in (insert country here).”

Twitter was my safe place which always makes me giggle since the typical conversation about Twitter make it seem like everyone on there is getting constant abuse.

I had been avoiding Facebook for weeks.  I don’t feel like I was free to be myself on there.  So many people knew a person that I used to be.  I didn’t want to get into the conversations that would ensue if I let that world know the real me.  Part of it comes from being a very private person.  I don’t like to let people I know in my brain to know what I am actually thinking or feeling.  It is much easier to talk to strangers about it.  Part of it is being very non-confrontational.

But, I’m also the first to criticize people for setting themselves up in an echo chamber where they only hear their own thoughts reflected back to them.

I’m not sure how to find a balance.

Yesterday I realized that I wasn’t going to go on Facebook anymore the way it was.  I do get a lot of news from several sources through my timeline there and I wasn’t getting it.  I wasn’t getting updates from groups I participate in.  I either needed to walk away entirely or fix it.

I ended up cutting out half of my friends.  It was a sad and strange process reading down my friend list and thinking, “Are you a racist?”  I consider the people I have left to be on a probationary period.  Two have already been kicked out.  In case you feel I am being too harsh here’s what they posted last night that made that decision for me.

One posted a picture of a man snuggling multiple assault rifles and was captioned, “It’s alright.  You’re safe now.” I spent yesterday watching friends on Twitter expressing real fears for their safety and their family’s safety.  That picture was callous at best.

The other posted a cartoon of multiple women crying.  This included some caricatures meant to demean people.  It was labeled SJW (Social Justice Warrior) Tears.  Again, the pain right now is real and people who don’t get it are reveling in it.  (As an aside, why do people think SJW is an insult?  That’s an awesome title to have!)

How are other people handling this?  Is this just a retreat?  I feel like it is but I also know the reality is that if you call people out you just end up reinforcing their rightness in their minds. And that will be tomorrow’s rant…

 

09 Nov, 2016

I’m Horrified but Not Surprised

/ posted in: Current Events

I’m numb this morning.  I’m horrified.  I wish I was surprised.

White, college-educated people voted majority Trump.  That’s my demographic.  Those are a lot of the people I know.

I grew up in western Pennsylvania in a rural area outside of a city.  For most of the time when I was in school there was one non-white person.  I don’t mean in my class or in my school.  There was ONE non-white student in the entire school district.  She had been adopted by a white family.

My extended family on both sides was very racist.  Recently I found out that my great-grandmother was a Klan member.  Which great-grandmother? Oh, the one who was a teacher.  Yes, the most educated great-grandmother was KKK.

I was raised as an evangelical Christian.  That was a lily white world.

My classes for my major in college were all white.

I went to vet school in Tennessee.  There were 2 POC students in my class.  I didn’t know one of them was Latina until the last semester of our fourth year when she was talking about how people always speak Spanish in front of her because they think she can’t understand them.  She was born in Columbia.  I met my first openly gay person during my second year of vet school.  (Turns out that I was raised with a gay man but I didn’t know that until much later.)

I didn’t have any African American friends until I moved to a rural county in Ohio that was 97% white.  We made friends there with some neighbors and the father of some kids in my 4-H group.  But guess who was the most vocally concerned about us moving to a very racially diverse city?  “Are you sure you want to move there?  There are so many black people.”

“Um, we live by you now and you are black.”

“It’s different.  Make sure you find a white neighborhood.”

Are you getting the idea of how segregated the United States is and how easy it is for white people to be completely isolated from any engagement with people of color?  It is so easy to think in terms of “those people” when you don’t know any people who don’t look like you.

And let’s be honest, white people, if people of minority races are terrified of what white people say and do in public, I don’t even want to let them know the things white people say when they think they are among like-minded white folk.

That brings me to Facebook.  Dear god.  Consider my past life.  With that background you know my Facebook page is white-white.   By contrast my Twitter feed of primarily book people and social justice people is diverse.  I think there were four consistently pro-Democratic people on my Facebook page.  I’m sure there were a few other quiet ones but my Facebook page is meme after meme of pro-police brutality, pro-DAPL, and anti-Kaepernick rhetoric.  I countered with pro-sanity links which probably only got read by the people who already agreed.

I’m sure that any social justice awareness I have was started though reading.  I can name the books that started to open my eyes to life experiences that were different from my own.  That’s why continuing to read books written from a variety of viewpoints is so immensely important.

I don’t know what to do going forward.  Obviously call out what I see but it feels so futile. I want to scream at them for their blindness to what they are doing to other people but I know that they don’t see it.  I don’t know if they can see it.  Fellow white people, what is your plan?

In the mean time, I’m clinging to my Twitter feed.    Book people are the best.  I think it is because we’ve all read this novel over and over that we can see where the plot is going next….

07 Oct, 2016

I Hit My Breaking Point Tonight

/ posted in: Current Events

I’ve been a Trump hater since the beginning but today was the first day he made me cry.

I’ve been frustrated almost to the point of tears before while trying to explain why as a woman I could never support him to people who didn’t want to hear but I’ve never totally lost it before.  So why, after all the bullshit he’s said about women and Muslims and Mexicans and LGBT people and everyone other than U.S. born white men did today’s release of the recording of him bragging about grabbing women and kissing them and grabbing the pussy finally break me?

It’s because we’ve all been there.

We all have the stories.  The grabbing, the groping, the men who won’t back off, the ones who feel like they are entitled to any woman’s time and body.  Ask any woman.  Don’t be surprised if she asks you which time you want to know about.

I was living in an apartment complex with a popular bike trail that connected to the parking lot.  I walked out there after classes all the time.   There were always people around.  One day a guy came up behind me and grabbed me.  He kissed me.  When he let me go I did a quick scan.  We were completely alone.  That was really unusual.  He told me that he had been watching me.  I had never seen him before.  I never have the snappy comeback or the instinctive right jab that I should in these situations but I instinctively knew to turn and start walking back to the parking lot.  It wasn’t far.  He walked beside me calmly and asked if I wanted to go out.  I agreed in order to keep things peaceful and friendly since we were still alone.  Then he matter of factly told me that he was married and his wife was pregnant.  He was looking for someone to have sex with until his wife gave birth.  I remember his next words.  “Is that a problem for you?”

I turned and looked at him like he was the biggest idiot ever.  “Yes, that’s a problem!”  That’s when I got huffy.  I was offended on his wife’s behalf.  By then we were in the parking lot.  He let me walk away.  I think he was shocked that I had back talked him about his plan.

But here’s the thing.  Turns out they lived in the apartment above me.  He would stare at me in the parking lot or in the stairways.  He watched me get my mail.  I changed grocery stores because he worked at the one I had been going to.  I rearranged my life to avoid him but it never occurred to me to say anything about it to anyone.  Thinking about it now I really wish I would have gone up there and told his wife what was going on but I don’t think I’d change anything else I did.  What’s the point?  No one would have done anything.  He wasn’t doing anything illegal.

And that’s the point.  We rearrange our lives all the time to avoid these jerks and don’t think anything of it.  It’s just the way it is.

You know how you can always tell if a movie or TV shows was written by a man?  There’s a scene where a woman goes alone to her car in a dark parking lot.  While she walks there, she is fumbling in her oversized bag for her keys.  No, sir!  Never happened.  Ask any woman.  We know if we are going to have to walk into that situation.  We got our keys out when we were in the last secure and well lighted area.  We are holding them tightly in our hands in case we need to use them as a weapon.  If we are able, we remotely unlock the car when we are about 10 steps away.  Not so early that someone could get to it before us but in time for us not have to slow down much to get safely in the car.

We all know that because we are all taught to protect ourselves from men who feel entitled to us.  We are universally taught how to protect ourselves because men aren’t universally taught that we aren’t their property.

So to hear a man bragging about how he grabs women against their will broke me.

And don’t even “Not all men” me.  I know the majority of men are fine.  But let a woman go walking somewhere alone and she’ll be able to tell you the location of every man under the age of 65 within 100 yards of her.  I’ve had a man get within an inch of my face and roar at me.  I’ve been yelled at by a guy in a car while I was in the dog park who wanted to me to watch him masturbate.  These were in the last few years.  Don’t try telling me that it’s a compliment.  I’m in my 40s and believe me, I don’t dress up all pretty to go to the dog park.  I was just the closest female human at the time.

I had my hot bath with a candle and small cry.  Now, I’m more pissed off than anything.  This isn’t locker room talk.  This is bragging about participating in terrorizing an entire gender for our whole lives.   It’s time to call out the supporters of this toxic masculinity.

 

08 Aug, 2016

Books for Olympic Equestrian Event Lovers

/ posted in: Current EventsReading

My favorite Olympic sports are the equestrian events.  These are the only Olympic events were males and female compete against other.  They are the only events where you can reasonable expect have competitors over 60.

The three Olympic equestrian events are:

Dressage

Horse and rider teams perform a set pattern of maneuvers emphasizing grace, athletic ability, and teamwork. They also perform a ride of their own choreography set to music.

WC07b

WCLV07f

Show Jumping

Horse and rider jump a course of obstacles in an arena. The fastest time with the least number of rails knocked down wins. (This photo is actually from the Modern Pentathlon which includes show jumping.)

Eli Bremer in 2008 Summer Olympics modern pentathlon show jumping event 2

Three Day Eventing

Teams compete in dressage, a cross country jumping course, and show jumping

Badminton horse trials open ditch jump

Want to read more about them?

Dressage

White Stallion of LipizzaWhite Stallion of Lipizza by Marguerite Henry

“A young boy named Hans dreams of one day working with the famed stallions of Lipizza. But coming from a family of bakers, Hans is discouraged from ever becoming a rider. That is, until the day he is invited to watch the extraordinary Ballet of Lipizzaners — from the Imperial Box! — and his life is changed forever.”

I am highly skeptical of fiction about horses because so many authors just don’t get it right. But, Marguerite Henry was amazing. She wrote historical horse fiction for kids. I grew up on all her books.

The Perfect Horse: The Daring American Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the NazisThe Perfect Horse: The Daring American Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts

“As the Russians closed in on Hitler from the east and the Allies attacked from the west, American soldiers discovered a secret Nazi effort to engineer a master race of the finest purebred horses. With the support of U.S. general George S. Patton, a passionate equestrian, the Americans planned an audacious mission to kidnap these beautiful animals and smuggle them into safe territory—assisted by a daring Austrian colonel who was both a former Olympian and a trainer of the famous Lipizzaner stallions.”

I just found out about this one and preordered it. The Lipizzans of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna are national treasures. The mares and foals live on a stud farm in the countryside. The Allies went in and rescued the horses from the Nazis. This was the subject of a Disney movie too.

Show Jumping

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a NationThe Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts

“November 1958: the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Into the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and tradition comes the most unlikely of horses—a drab white former plow horse named Snowman—and his rider, Harry de Leyer. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.”

This is going to be a movie too.

Unrelenting: The Real Story: Horses, Bright Lights and My Pursuit of ExcellenceUnrelenting: The Real Story: Horses, Bright Lights and My Pursuit of Excellence by George H. Morris

“A horse lover, rider, carouser, competitor, taskmaster, dreamer, teacher, and visionary, George Morris has been ever-present on the rarified stage of the international riding elite for most of the 70 years he’s been in the saddle. He has represented our country as an athlete and a coach and, at one time or another, instructed many of our nation’s best horsemen and women. His carefully chosen, perfectly enunciated words are notoriously powerful. They can raise you up or cut you to the quick. His approval can be a rainmaker; his derision can end a career.”

Ooooh, this could be good. He’s been chef d’equipe (coach) of the U.S. international teams for a long time. He’s got all the stories.

Unbridled Passion: Show Jumping's Greatest Horses and RidersUnbridled Passion: Show Jumping’s Greatest Horses and Riders by Jeff Papows

“A thrilling look at the Olympic sport of show jumping and its superstar horse and rider pairings, including McLain Ward and Sapphire, Ian Millar and Big Ben, Beezie Madden and Authentic, and many more. Utilizing his own experience as an amateur show jumper, Papows brings together personal interviews with the biggest stars, owners, support staff, and caregivers, to give readers an inside look at the personalities behind show jumping. With a foreword by Olympic team coach George Morris, each chapter features a different internationally celebrated horse and rider and their intimate stories of success, struggle, and sacrifice.”

I got to see Millar and Big Ben compete in Canada at the height of their fame. It was absolutely magical. If you aren’t a horse person, trust me. They were HUGE. They have statues of them in Canada. Big Ben got his own stamp.  How many human athletes get their own stamp?

Three Day Eventing

Second Chance: The AutobiographySecond Chance: The Autobiography by Mark Todd

“Mark Todd’s eventing career is the stuff of legend and encompasses one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time. When he ‘retired’ from competing in eventing in 2000, he had already been named ‘Rider of the Century’ for his natural empathy with a horse and his extraordinary success, which included back-to-back Olympic gold medals, five Burghley wins and three Badminton victories. The story of his progress from dairy farmer to world renowned sportsman is told with typically laid-back humor, but it reveals the fierce determination, discipline, and personal sacrifice that lies behind Todd’s calm exterior.”

You have to be flat out insane to be an eventer.  Injuries, up to and including death, are common.

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25 Jul, 2016

When The Old Folks Play Pokemon

/ posted in: Current Events

When Pokemon came out in 1995 I didn’t notice. I was in the middle of vet school. I missed it completely. My only contact with it was a long time patient named Pokemon who was a gigantic Chow who never once tried to eat me. (That’s a truly rare and mythical beast.)

So when Pokemon Go started showing up on my news feeds, I decided to try it out to see what it was all about because people seemed excited. I didn’t understand it at all. I couldn’t make it do anything. I had to Google lots of stuff to even have the first clue of what to do.

I was excited to go to the Washington D.C. area because I figured that there would be lots more stuff to collect there. On our first night we took a boat ride on the Potomac. Some kids on the boat were playing. I turned my phone on to see if there was anything exciting to catch. Partway through the trip the husband started to wax philosophical about people looking at their phones instead of the scenery. I explained that they were playing Pokemon Go. He looked unimpressed.

It turned out that the street we were staying on was lined with Pokestops. I was sneakily playing on my phone as we walked so he didn’t notice. But one day we passed a group on the sidewalk all playing. He wondered aloud about them. I said they were playing and he asked, “All we all five years old?”

I handed him my phone with the app running and said, “Yes.”

The group caught up with us at an intersection. He asked the leader if they were playing Pokemon. She said yes. He said, “So is she.” Turns out that they were a Pokemon Go Facebook group on a group hunt. We got an invitation to join but I declined because we weren’t locals.

My vacation photos

I still have no idea what I’m doing. I find stuff. I turn in all but one of each species in order to get points to evolve the one of that species that I’m keeping. I think that’s right. Someone let me know if it isn’t.

I don’t understand the fighting at all. Julianne promises me that it is ok to have pacifist Pokemon.

I don’t know who is tougher than who or anything. I only know who is rare from this graphic. This made me really excited that I already had a wild Dratini. That’s the first one on the epic list.

I’m a proud parent too. I hatched this the other day after carrying it for 10 km.

I actually cooed over it when I saw it for the first time. “Aren’t you a sweet wittle killer bug? Yes, you are!”

13 Jun, 2016

Can Books Help Overcome Hate?

/ posted in: Current EventsReading

I had already planned to write a post recommending books for Pride month to post today before I heard the news yesterday about the shooting in Orlando.  Unfortunately, this is even more topical now.

Mish wrote a great post recently about why LGBT representation is important from the perspective of someone from Southeast Asia. Her point is that the culture in Sri Lanka is hostile to LGBT people so learning about it from a young age can help overcome that hatred.

We have the same issue in the U.S.  I grew up before a lot of the openness of the movement in the last 10-15 years.  I was a teenager when AIDS became prominent.  It was a very different time.  I don’t remember ever learning anything about homosexuality or ever having it discussed.  The closest thing was the sex ed teacher saying, “Don’t ever let anyone touch you there” when discussing anal sex.  That was the whole discussion.  I don’t remember anyone ever being taunted for being perceived to be homosexual.  It was like it didn’t exist at all.

I was also raised as a conservative Christian.  Again, I don’t ever remember homosexuality being discussed but I know somewhere along the way I learned that it was wrong.

I was in my early 20s before I met my first openly gay person and she had just come out.  It was a different world and it wasn’t that long ago.

I’m not sure what led me to get this book from the library but somewhere in 1997-1998 I read:

Serving in SilenceServing in Silence by Margarethe Cammermeyer

“The distinguished nurse, mother, war hero–and highest ranking officer to challenge the military’s anti-gay policy–speaks out about her life in the armed forces and her search for self. Colonel Cammermeyer’s dismissal from the U.S. Army has stirred debate all the way to the Presidency; now she writes of her decision to challenge official policy on homosexuality.”

This is the book that I credit for opening my mind.

Another influential book was:

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS EpidemicAnd the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“By the time Rock Hudson’s death in 1985 alerted all America to the danger of the AIDS epidemic, the disease had spread across the nation, killing thousands of people and emerging as the greatest health crisis of the 20th century. America faced a troubling question: What happened? How was this epidemic allowed to spread so far before it was taken seriously? In answering these questions, Shilts weaves weaves the disparate threads into a coherent story, pinning down every evasion and contradiction at the highest levels of the medical, political, and media establishments.”

I read this after seeing the miniseries, which you can watch on HBO To Go, that tells the story of discovering HIV and the public health disaster of AIDS in the U.S.

Both of these books are old now but still so relevant.

What books would you want people who are anti-LGBT to read now?

 

 

03 May, 2016

Am I the Only Person Who Doesn’t Care About Signings?

/ posted in: Current EventsReading

In one week I’ll be heading out to Book Expo America.  I’ve been working on having a plan for what I’m going to do there.  It is sort of overwhelming.  You get a list on the website of the author and the book name.  I plugged each one into Goodreads to see if this was a book I might be interested in.  After doing that for hundreds of books over a few weeks I found myself with a list of 34.  This is the first time I started to think that I might be a bit picky.

I used the BEA website and app to highlight the ones I might be interested in regardless of the schedule.  Today I set about trying to sort that all out into a reasonable plan because of course I had highlighted several that all happened at the same time with long gaps where I had nothing planned.

Am I the Only Person Who Doesn’t Care about Signings?

I would love to get able to get books without having to have them signed.  I’m not really looking forward to standing in line to get a signature I don’t want in a book I do want.  I feel like it is wasting everyone’s time.

I’ve seen other people with detailed spreadsheets of times and what signings they want to be at and I’m over here like….”La la la, Yeah Poland!” (More on that later).  I’m not sure if this is really, really smart or spectacularly dumb.  It could go either way.


Here’s my sort-of plan:

Wednesday – Blogger Conference

From 8-9:50 there is breakfast and a keynote but I may sleep in.

10:00 – 10:50 – Social Media

11:00 – 11:50 – Creative Content

12:00 – 12:50 – Lunch

1:00 – 2:50 – Table Talks  This is me!  I’m helping with the Negative Reviews discussion.

Only book I’m interested in that is being signed is at 3:30 – Tetris by Box Brown.  I plan on doing a few walk arounds to see what is available in the booths.


Thursday

8:00 – 9:30 I’m going to the Adult Author’s Breakfast but bringing my own food so the tickets are cheaper.

Morning books that are possibilities for me include some historical fiction, some food books (and future Foodies Read prizes!), and a few crime books.

1:30 – 2:20 – There is a talk about Paderewski.  Ok, here’s the thing that has me really excited.  Poland is the special guest this year.  Poland!  I have this thing about wanting to find good books set in Poland that aren’t about World War II.  I plan on totally haunting the special Polish booth and looking sad until they take pity on me and point me towards some good books.  So back to Paderewski – This is a session about the Polish musician in California and a book about it.  I plan to use the time to eat some lunch.

Afternoon books – More crime and nonfiction.  Here’s my big decision of the afternoon.  There is a ticketed signing by Kareem Abdul-Jabar.  I wouldn’t mind reading his new book and having a picture with Kareem to oh so casually post on my Facebook page because it would make my brother jealous.  (Siblings never grow up.)  I just don’t know that that is enough motivation for me to go stand in line to get a ticket to be able to stand in line to get the book and picture.

Friday

Morning books – There’s one about finding humor when your spouse is diagnosed with cancer.  I think I just lived that one.  Otherwise we have zombie sideshow performers and WWII psychic corp fantasies and maybe some romance.

12:30 – 1:20  A lecture on getting started with Polish literature – Yes, Please!  This is exactly what I’m looking for.

The afternoon has an inner city horse and kid book and a steampunk Mars story to consider.

 

 

09 Feb, 2016

Dear White Folks Who Are Mad About Beyoncé

/ posted in: Current Events

Twitter is my happy place. That’s not something you hear much but my Twitter feed is purposely kept small and curated. It is great collection of book people, authors, and people with liberal viewpoints. Sometimes one person is all three. It is multiracial and multicultural and runs the gamut of most other “multi”s that you can think of. I read my Twitter feed and feel like the world is one big happy place where everyone agrees that the world should and could be better. Just before everyone holds hands for a heartfelt version of Kumbaya

…I flip over to my Facebook feed.

 

Oh dear god. I get smacked in the face with the real world again. Here’s how that played out this weekend.

Saturday – I see on Twitter that Beyoncé has a new song. My feed is ecstatic. I’m not immediately interested because I’m not a big music fan but the joy overwhelms me. I watch the video. I get confused because I can’t understand the words. I’m over 40. I haven’t understood the words to a new song in 20 years. So, I go to this very obscure website called GOOGLE and ask. I get an answer. I even get some commentary. I go about my day happy that other people I like are happy.

Sunday – I watch the Super Bowl because Peyton and I were at university together. (He doesn’t actually know that but we were.) I watch halftime. I’m impressed by the marketing mind that had the song released the day before performing it on the biggest stage around. I wish I could dance like that. I wish I had dancers’ legs. I wonder who thought Coldplay was a good idea. Later I laugh appreciatively as I read through the happiness overwhelming my Twitter account. I go to bed and all is good in the world.

Monday – I get up and the first thing on my Facebook is a post wondering why Beyoncé looked so mad. Can’t she make happy music anymore? (Did she ever?) When someone mentions that the post writer isn’t the target demographic for the song, the response is that this person didn’t listen to the lyrics at all. By nighttime when I look again my feed is overwhelmingly angry about it.

To the People on my Facebook Feed

 

Seriously, ya’ll are making me embarrassed to be white right now. Stop talking.

  • If at any point you are going to type “I didn’t understand the words” and that isn’t immediately followed by “until I googled them”, stop typing. You aren’t even trying. If you work “but I heard that they were about..” into the discussion you are having your internet privileges taken away for a time out.
  • I’m not even going to try to explain the difference between the message of the song and the message of the video because life is too short and you aren’t listening anyway.

Let me try to explain how this got through my head.  I intellectually understood what people were saying but that didn’t mean that I really got it.

I am a middle aged white woman. When I imagine interacting with police I imagine either being annoyed because I got pulled over in a speed trap or grateful because they are helping me. I don’t imagine them viewing me as a potential suspect. I know I’m not a lawbreaker and I implicitly assume that they will see me as non threatening. Other people do not have that luxury.

This hit home to me when I once heard a father explaining to his white child how to interact with the police. His very first point was, “The police are not your friends.” I was taken aback. In white world that is something unthinkable to tell your children. The message is generally “If you need help, find a policeman.” A moment’s thought made me realize that he was correct though.

This was a nonneurotypical child with violent tendencies. The odds are very good that if he is in a situation involving the police, it is going to be because someone has called them on him.  The message for this child has to be, “Be respectful, do what they say, and shut up.” In other words, do what every other minority has to do to try to stay safe in a world where you aren’t automatically assumed to be harmless.

White folks – can you imagine teaching that to your children? Can you imagine having to? If you can’t then shut up, sit down, and listen for once.

12 Jul, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up

/ posted in: Current EventsReading

Posts This Week

A GIVEAWAY to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland

Books I’ll Probably Never Read

Review of QUEEN SUGAR

Review of THE UNNATURALISTS

A Day Trip from Bath to Cardiff – A must for all Doctor Who Fans!


Around The Internet

Tonyalee asks if your giveaways are legal.

I don’t understand bookish Instagram.  I can never take interesting book pictures (or food pictures).  My Instagram is all travel photos and nature.  Now I don’t feel so alone.  Book Lovers on Instagram vs Real Life.

Roxane Gay writes the best movie review of ALL TIME of Magic Mike.


What I’m Reading

Artisan Vegan CheeseArtisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner

I heard about this book today and I bought it (Ebooks be praised!) and now I want to make EVERY.SINGLE.THING.EVER. in this book. I’m visualizing melty nacho cheese sauce and mozzerella on pizza. I’m ignoring the voice in my head that keeps bringing up the fact that I’ve never successfully made any fermented product. I’m a great mold grower but not so great with yeast. If this works I will be raving. I may even try fancy food Instagram pictures.

The Star Side of Bird HillThe Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson

 

“This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.”

LagoonLagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

I don’t even care what this one is about. It is Nnedi Okorafor. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

 

Rebel Mechanics (Rebel Mechanics, #1)Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

 

“A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.”

13 May, 2015

Just Take My Money Then

/ posted in: Current EventsReading Just Take My Money Then A Path Appears by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
on September 23rd 2014
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 400
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Goodreads

Narrator: Olivia Wilde

An essential, galvanizing narrative about making a difference here and abroad--a road map to becoming the most effective global citizens we can be. In their number one New York Times best seller Half the Sky, husband-and-wife team Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn brought to light struggles faced by women and girls around the globe, and showcased individuals and institu­tions working to address oppression and expand opportunity. A Path Appears is even more ambi­tious in scale: nothing less than a sweeping tap­estry of people who are making the world a better place and a guide to the ways that we can do the same--whether with a donation of $5 or $5 mil­lion, with our time, by capitalizing on our skills as individuals, or by using the resources of our businesses. With scrupulous research and on-the-ground reporting, the authors assay the art and science of giving, identify successful local and global initia­tives, and share astonishing stories from the front lines of social progress. We see the compelling, in­spiring truth of how real people have changed the world, upending the idea that one person can't make a difference. We meet people like Dr. Gary Slutkin, who devel­oped his landmark Cure Violence program to combat inner-city conflicts in the United States by applying principles of epidemiology; Lester Strong, who left a career as a high-powered television anchor to run an organization bringing in older Americans to tu­tor students in public schools across the country; MIT development economist Esther Duflo, whose pioneering studies of aid effectiveness have revealed new truths about, among other things, the power of hope; and Jessica Posner and Kennedy Odede, who are transforming Kenya's most notorious slum by ex­panding educational opportunities for girls. A Path Appears offers practical, results-driven advice on how best each of us can give and reveals the lasting benefits we gain in return. Kristof and WuDunn know better than most how many urgent challenges communities around the world face to­day. Here they offer a timely beacon of hope for our collective future.

Don’t read this book if you don’t want to spend money.

The book takes a hard look at aid organizations around the world to see if they are doing what they set out to do.  Then they look at the reasons for the successes and the failures.

I had not heard of most the organizations that are profiled here.  I was looking for a new organization to support and I found one.  Shining Hope for Communities uses their girls’ schools in Kenya as a hub for community services.  It shows that the school for girls is an important place.

“From the school, SHOFCO extends holistic community services beyond the families of students to the entire community. We identify the services people value most, like clean water, quality health care, and economic empowerment opportunities.

SHOFCO raises the overall health of the community by providing access to free health care, clean water, sanitation education and toilet facilities. We empower the community through valuable public resources including computer and library access, adult education, and group savings and loans. We foster community fellowship though soccer teams, youth programs, and women’s empowerment groups. Today, these integrated services transform urban communities.”

from the website

The book also looks at why people give to charities and uses that research as a way to entice people to give more.  It looks at the issue of whether charities should be run like businesses and whether charities that are run like that are punished.  There was a 3 part PBS documentary featuring several of the organizations featured in the book that is available online.

take my money

 

 

 

About Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Sheryl WuDunn

Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, is a business executive, lecturer, and best-selling author. Currently, she is a senior managing director with Mid-Market Securities, an investment banking boutique, helping growth companies, including those operating in the emerging markets. She also worked at The New York Times as both an executive and journalist: in management roles in both the Strategic Planning and Circulation Sales departments at The Times; as editor for international markets, energy and industry; as The Times’ first anchor of an evening news headline program for a digital cable TV channel, the Discovery-Times; and as a foreign correspondent for The Times in Tokyo and Beijing, where she wrote about economic, financial, political, and social issues. She is co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times since November 2001, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who writes op-ed columns that appear twice a week. In 1990, Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, previously a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China’s Tiananmen Square movement. Kristof won a second Pulitzer in 2006 for what the judges called “his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur.”

30 Apr, 2015

Missoula

/ posted in: Current EventsReading Missoula Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
on 2015
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads

Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team the Grizzlies with a rabid fan base.

The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.

A DOJ report released in December of 2014 estimates 110,000 women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are raped each year. Krakauer’s devastating narrative of what happened in Missoula makes clear why rape is so prevalent on American campuses, and why rape victims are so reluctant to report assault.

“Rape is a much more common crime than most people realize, and women of college age are most frequently the victims.” 

That is the opening line of the author’s note at the beginning of the book and symbolic of what disturbed me about this book.

“(After hearing a friend’s rape story), I was angry with myself for being so uninformed – not only about her ordeal but about non-stranger rape in general.  So I resolved to learn what I could about it.  I did a lot of reading, and I sought out rape survivors who were willing to share their stories.  Writing this book was an outgrowth of that quest.

As the scope of my research expanded, I was stunned to discover that many of my acquaintances, and even several women in my own family, had been sexually assaulted by men they trusted.  The more I listened to these women’s accounts, the more disturbed I became.  I’d had no idea that rape was so prevalent, or could cause such deep and intractable pain.  My ignorance was inexcusable, and it made me ashamed.”  page 348

How?  How do you not know this?

As horrible as the events described in this book are, I was never surprised and that’s sad.  I kept thinking, “Yeah, and?” waiting for something to happen that was supposed to be a revelation.  Sadly, it was just same old same old.  Women aren’t believed.  People think women make up rape stories for attention and to ruin nice men’s lives.  Rapes aren’t prosecuted.  (I admit to being slightly surprised that it was a female assistant DA who was the biggest impediment to bringing rape cases to trial.)

The author does a good job detailing what happened to women in Missoula who reported rapes.  I guess if you don’t know about this issue this book would be an eye-opener. I guess if you’ve never had to give a thought to your safety when alone with a person bigger and stronger than you then it might be surprising.

Does still it take a book by a prominent male writer to shed light on an issue that women have been living with forever?  He writes about the work of Gwen Florio, a female journalist in Missoula who was covering this as it happened.  I would have like to see her interviewed in this book instead of just using her research as a source.  Here’s her statement on the book.

(Spoiler) If you have the stomach for it, check out this article.  It is about how hard it is for one of the accused rapists discussed in the book.  The publication of this book brings up all kinds of stuff he’d rather not remember.  Notice there isn’t a word in the article about the woman involved.

 

 

About Jon Krakauer

“Jon Krakauer is an American writer and mountaineer, well-known for outdoor and mountain-climbing writing.” from Goodreads

11 Apr, 2015

Muslims : a rebuttal

/ posted in: Current Events

I unfriended someone on Facebook.

Part of the problem with having undergone radical mindshifts in your life is that you are friends with people who still believe what you used to. In my case I have a few redneck, so-called Christians who like to put Jesus stuff on my wall. I tolerate them but tend to block anything that is the Gospel according to Fox News. This particular person has posted some anti-immigrant stuff before and I couldn’t figure out why she was so angry. When she posted this I put a brief response and then unfriended. Now I wish I hadn’t.

This is the response I wish I would have left on her message before I unfriended.

Muslims My Ass…
I want to shake the guy’s hand that wrote this…
Have you ever seen a Muslim hospital?

The whole concept of hospitals started in Egypt. Arabic physicians were doing amazing medicine long before European physicians stopped accusing people of witchcraft. Are there any Muslim-run hospitals in the U.S.? No, but there are plenty of Muslim doctors.

Have you heard a Muslim orchestra?
Have you seen a Muslim band march in a parade?

Marching bands are based on location usually. Does your church have a marching band? Why does this even matter anyway?

Have you witnessed a Muslim charity?

Islamic Relief USA? Also check out this article that says that Muslims give more to charity than Christians.

Have you shaken hands with a Muslim Girl Scout?

Nope but to the best of my knowledge I’ve never shaken hands with any Girl Scout. Mostly I run away when they try to sell me cookies. There are these girls though.

Have you seen a Muslim Candy Stripper?

I don’t generally check out strippers. In case you were referring to Candy Stripers, when was the last time you saw one of those? I’ve spent a good bit of time around hospitals and never seen one.

The answer is no, you have not. Just ask yourself WHY ???

Actually, I just proved you are wrong and I’m asking myself WHY ??? you are so willfully ignorant.

Barack Obama, during his Cairo speech, said: “I know, too, that
Islam has always been a part of America ‘s history.”

AN AMERICAN CITIZEN’S RESPONSE
Dear Mr. Obama:
Were those Muslims that were in America when the Pilgrims first landed? Funny, I thought they were Native American Indians.
Were those Muslims that celebrated the first Thanksgiving day? Sorry again, those were Pilgrims and Native American Indians.

Um, Muslims didn’t beat the early British colonists here so they don’t count? Ok, sorry Irish folks and Italians, you are out too.  Does this mean that the Spanish get to keep Florida now because they beat the British there?

Can you show me one Muslim signature on the: United States Constitution?
Declaration of Independence ? Bill of Rights? Didn’t think so.
Did Muslims fight for this country’s freedom from England ? No.

“From 1774–1783 there were at least six people with Islamic names who fought in the Revolutionary War as colonial soldiers. One of them was Yusuf Ben Ali, also known as Joseph (Benenhali) Benhaley, who fought with General Sumter in South Carolina. After the war, General Sumter took Joseph Benhaley with him inland to Stateburg where they settled down. Joseph Benhaley’s name appeared in the 1790 census of Sumter County. Revolutionary records also show that there was a Bampett Muhamed who was a Corporal in the Revolutionary Army, from 1775-1783 in Virginia. Francis Saba was listed as a sergeant with the Continental Troops in roll 132, 1775-1783, and Joseph Saba was listed as a Fifer in the Continental Troops roll 132, 1775-1783.” from here.

Also remember that many of the Muslims in the U.S. at the time were from Africa and were enslaved. That’s a minor impediment to political action.

Did Muslims fight during the Civil War to free the slaves in America ?
No, they did not. In fact, Muslims to this day are still the largest traffickers in human slavery. Your own half-brother, a devout Muslim, still advocates slavery himself, even though Muslims of Arabic descent refer to black Muslims as “pug nosed slaves.” Says a lot of what the Muslim world really thinks of your family’s “rich Islamic heritage,” doesn’t it Mr. Obama?

Hum, in about 2 seconds of Googling I found this – “In 1860, Muhammad Ali ibn Said (1833 – 1882), known as (Nicholas Said) arrived in America as a free man. Muhammad was born in the Kingdom of Bornoo, West Africa near Lake Chad to a well-educated merchant family. Said was kidnaped and enslaved when he was 16. His first slave master was an Arab named Abdel Kader who took him to Tripoli and Fezzan. Muhammad was then sold to Alexander Menshikov, an aide to the Russian Czar, then to Nicholas Trubetzkoy with whom he traveled to many places during his years of slavery from Russia, Rome, Persia to France. In 1860 he left Liverpool, England with a man from Holland to travel to Boston, New York, Kingston, New Providence, Toronto, Quebec, and other places in North America as a freed man.

In 1861 he arrived in Detroit. Shortly afterward he found a teaching job and in 1863 Muhammad enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts colored regiment and became a Civil War hero. He served faithfully and bravely with his regiment as Corporal and then Sergeant in the South. Near the close of the war he was assigned, at his own request, to the hospital department, to learn some knowledge of medicine. His Army records show that he died in Brownsville, Tennessee in 1882.”  Uh oh, Muslims in the hospitals again!

Where were Muslims during the Civil Rights era of this country?
Not present.
There are no pictures or media accounts of Muslims walking side by side with Martin Luther King, Jr. or helping to advance the cause of Civil Rights.

Ah, Hell NO! This is where I lost it. For everything else you need a few seconds with a search engine to find the answer. It takes the tiny bit of effort. But this? Seriously?  There have even been movies in case you don’t read.

From this website

I slapped this picture up as my response and left. I can’t decide if it is worse if people are just this woefully ignorant or if they think African-Americans aren’t “real” Muslims or if they are just assholes.

Where were Muslims during this country’s Woman’s Suffrage era?
Again, not present. In fact, devout Muslims demand that women are subservient to men in the Islamic culture. So much so, that often they are beaten for not wearing the ‘hijab’ or for talking to a man who is not a direct family member or their husband. Yep, the Muslims are all for women’s rights, aren’t they?

I want to go on a tirade about intersectionality of race and sex and voting rights and how the run up to the Amendment was mostly well-off white women fighting white men because no one of color was encouraged to vote even if they were technically allowed, but the writer missed Malcolm X in history class so I’ve lost hope.

Where were Muslims during World War II?
They were aligned with Adolf Hitler. The Muslim grand mufti himself met with Adolf Hitler, reviewed the troops and accepted support from the Nazi’s in killing Jews.

The Pope was a fan of Hitler’s too. 

Over 15,000 Arab Americans fought in WWII.

Finally, Mr. Obama, where were Muslims on Sept. 11th, 2001?
If they weren’t flying planes into the World Trade Center , the Pentagon or a field in Pennsylvania killing nearly 3,000 people on our own soil, they were rejoicing in the Middle East . No one can dispute the pictures shown from all parts of the Muslim world celebrating on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other cable news network’s that day. Strangely, the very “moderate” Muslims who’s asses you bent over backwards to kiss in Cairo , Egypt on June 4th were stone cold silent post 9-11. To many Americans, their silence has meant approval for the acts of that day.

Where were the Muslims? Some of them were dying. Here’s a list of the Muslims who died that day. There were Muslim first responders too.

And THAT, Mr. Obama, is the “rich heritage” Muslims have here in America ….
Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to mention the Barbary Pirates. They were Muslims.
And now we can add November 5, 2009 – the slaughter of American soldiers at Fort Hood by a Muslim major who is a doctor and a psychiatrist who was supposed to be counseling soldiers returning from battle in Iraq and Afghanistan .

Also, don’t forget the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15.2013 was done by 2 Muslim Brothers. That, Mr. Obama is the “Muslim heritage” in America

EVERY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MUST READ THIS !!
Be sure to SEND IT TO ALL.
Muslim Heritage, my ass.
And if you don’t share this message,you are part of the problem!

I hope sharing this doesn’t mean that I’m no longer part of the problem.  I’d love to SEND IT TO ALL especially those who obviously haven’t paid attention to history.

08 Apr, 2015

Books For The End of the World

/ posted in: Current EventsReading

I read an article about people complying a library of books that can be used to rebuild civilization. There were a lot of suggestions for books that taught about philosophy and history. That’s not necessarily what I’d want to see in the library. Here’s my list.

A Short History of Nearly EverythingA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

“In Bryson’s biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand — and, if possible, answer — the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds.”

That seems like it would be a good start.

Wind Power for DummiesWind Power for Dummies by Ian Woofenden

 

“The” consumer guide to small-scale wind electricity production!Maybe you’re not T. Boone Pickens, but you can build your own home-sized wind-power empire right in your back yard. “Wind Power For Dummies” supplies all the guidance you need to install and maintain a sustainable, cost-effective wind generator to power your home for decades to come.”

I’m the practical sort. I’d like a copy of the entire For Dummies series. That would be a help.

Cooking with Fire: Techniques and Recipes for the Firepit, Smoker, Fireplace, Tandoor, or Wood-Fired OvenCooking with Fire: Techniques and Recipes for the Firepit, Smoker, Fireplace, Tandoor, or Wood-Fired Oven by Paula Marcoux

 

“Cooking with live fire goes way beyond the barbecue grill. Rediscover the pleasures of a variety of unconventional techniques, from roasting pork on a spit to baking bread in ashes, searing fish on a griddle, smoking turkey, roasting vegetables in a fireplace, making soup in a cast-iron pot, baking pizza in a wood-fired oven, cooking bacon on a stick, and much, much more. Includes 100 recipes for everything from roasted rabbit to fish chowder and baguettes.”

Somebody better know how to do this before we all starve.

Silent SpringSilent Spring by Rachel Carson

 

“Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.”

So we don’t go around killing off all the animals again.

The Fifth Sacred Thing (Maya Greenwood, #1)The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

“Imagine a world without poverty, hunger, or hatred, where a rich culture honors its diverse mix of races, religions, and heritages, and the Four Sacred Things that sustain all life – earth, air, fire, and water – are valued unconditionally. Now imagine the opposite: a nightmare world in which an authoritarian regime polices an apartheid state, access to food and water is restricted to those who obey the corrupt official religion, women are property of their husbands or the state, and children are bred for prostitution and war. The best and worst of our possible futures are poised to clash in twenty-first-century California, and the outcome rests on the wisdom and courage of one clan caught in the conflict. “

I’d love to have the new civilization set up like the ideal city in this book.

–All descriptions from Goodreads

 

What books do you think should be on the list?

18 Mar, 2015

Standing Up For Women’s Rights in Africa

/ posted in: Current EventsFeminism

It has been a while since I’ve gone off on a rant here but they pushed me over the edge.

My particular form of masochism involves reading some anti-feminist websites once a week. This week I followed a link to an article by R.C.Sproul Jr. You can read the whole thing here. The site doesn’t allow comments so I have to vent here.

A woman named Rachel Marie Stone wrote an article on Christianity Today that talked about a woman who works in a hospital in Malawi who praised Margaret Sanger. The article then goes on to discuss how the author felt uncomfortable with that because of Sanger’s association with eugenics. However, in this hospital in Africa there was overwhelming evidence that birth control is needed. Read the article here.

My first thought was, “You go girl!” for writing a pro-contraception piece on Christianity Today. That was not the overwhelming feeling.

Sproul:

“Rose Marie Stone stepped in it recently when she, a blogger carried by Christianity Today, wrote a brief piece in praise of contraception. That, of course, won’t get you in much trouble with many audiences. The deeper problem was that in making her case, she held up Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, as something of a hero, however wrong she might have been in eugenics. This was, in a manner of speaking, a social faux pas, a rhetorical fail, on par with observing that while Hitler had his issues, at least he got the trains to run on time.”

Wow. That’s not exactly an equal comparison.

“Ms. Stone highlighted a long list of hardships that could have been avoided had some children been avoided – mothers dying in childbirth, children laboring in difficult conditions and for long hours, sundry illnesses suffered by children and mothers in third world contexts. How wonderful, the argument goes, it would have been if the blessing of contraception could have kept these hardships at bay. Trouble is, contraception wipes out the hardships by wiping out the babies. It’s as if terrible weather came together with terrible car designs, in conjunction with terrible road design, and government subsidies for driving drunk to create a perfect storm that leads to a 100 car pile up with dozens dead and scores injured. And our solution would be to get rid of the people. If only they had never been born. That would have solved this problem.”

I have reread that analogy so many times and I can’t make it work. I read it to other people in case I was missing something. No one found it enlightening.

Here’s what she actually said about “hardships” after listing off numbers about the number of deaths that may be prevented from spacing births and from women not having babies until fully mature.

As I walked the halls of Zomba Central Hospital, I saw hugely pregnant girls of 12 or 13 years of age. I saw women with untreated tuberculosis and HIV pregnant for the fifth, sixth, or seventh time. I saw babies born too soon due to their mothers’ overwork and malnutrition; babies going blind from their mothers’ untreated venereal disease. I saw hungry children in rural villages; five-year old girls carrying water jugs on their heads and baby siblings on their backs while their heavily pregnant mothers gathered firewood or hoed the maize.

I’d maybe go more for “tragedies” instead of “hardships.” Notice who aren’t being inconvenienced in this list.

Now it is time for my all time favorite line from the Sproul piece.

“But I can’t help but notice that it is always the living who wish others had never been born.”

As my coworker said, “Yep, zombies don’t care one bit!

He finishes by saying that he wants “a good life.”

I think that is probably the goal for the women and children helped by this African hospital too.

Go to the article on Christianity Today and add some comments if you support her ideas.  The comments are overwhelming anti-woman and anti-science.

23 Feb, 2015

Freedom’s Daughters by Lynne Olson

/ posted in: Current EventsFeminismReading Freedom’s Daughters by Lynne Olson Freedom's Daughters by Lynne Olson
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2001
Genres: 20th Century, Civil Rights, History, Nonfiction, Political Science, Social Science, United States, Women's Studies
Pages: 460
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Goodreads

The first comprehensive history of the role of women in the civil rights movement, Freedom's Daughters fills a startling gap in both the literature of civil rights and of women's history. Stokely Carmichael, Andrew Young, John Lewis, and other well-known leaders of the civil rights movement have admitted that women often had the ideas for which men took credit. In this groundbreaking book, credit finally goes where credit is due -- to the bold women who were crucial to the movement's success and who refused to give up the fight.

I found this book because I wanted to find out more about Diane Nash, who was featured in the movie Selma.

The book starts with Ida B. Wells who was a journalist in the 1800s reporting on lynching.

After the Civil War, black women were able to apply their educations in jobs such as teaching more readily than black men were allowed.  These educated women organized social services and groups to fight against injustice.  The backlash came swiftly.  Black pastors accused them of being too powerful and taking on roles that should be filled by men.  The sexism grew.

“Once male slaves were freed, they sought to claim what they saw as those rights of ownership, particularly control over black women to which white men had previously laid claim.” pg 44

It was women who kept pressing for more rights during the early 1900s. Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt were featured among others.

A recurring theme is that women would start a project and then when it was getting successful, men would come in and take over.

“News coverage, which the leaders sought, was, as Murray pointed out, a matter of men reporting on men.  Stories on the movement often read like accounts of sports contests or wars, keeping score of who was up and who was down, who won an dwho lost.  Conflict was always emphasized, whether between civil rights organizations or between local white aurthorities and activitis.  The behind-the-scenes activity that women specialized in – organizing, building consensus, sustaining a  sense of community – did not make good television, nor did it lend itself to dramatic newspaper or magazine headlines. page 235

During the 1960s black and white women worked together in most of the major campaigns. Opposition to Civil Rights was often because of fears of black men sleeping with white women. For this reason, white women were often kept in the office and not allowed to go out into the field with black men. They started to chafe under the restrictions of their “women’s work.” Black women often did not see their point about sexism because they didn’t have the same prohibitions. This led to splits in organizations and several of the white women who had been very involved in the Civil Rights movement started working with feminist organizations. This disconnect between black and white women over sexism can still be seen in discussions today around race and feminism.

I learned about women that I didn’t know anything about previously, including Diane Nash. She was incredible!

This book was a good compliment to the Rosa Parks biography I read. I’d recommend this for anyone interested in women’s history that they may not have heard before.

12 Feb, 2015

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

/ posted in: Current EventsReading The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
Genres: History, Nonfiction
Pages: 266
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Goodreads

 

The author takes pains to point out that this is not going to be a traditional history.  It is a series of essays about Indian (his preferred term) and White relations in the U.S. and Canada.

It is pretty depressing.  He lightens it up some but it is more along the lines of laughing so you don’t cry.

There are chapters on cultural appropriation by Whites.  Hear the stories of Indian actors who didn’t look Indian enough to get Indian roles and White actors who made a career of playing Indians.

Learn about the history of Indian boarding schools designed to make children lose touch with their culture.  So many children died in these institutions and no one in authority cared.

He has chapters on government programs designed to steal land on the excuse that the Indians weren’t using it correctly.  In case you think this is all in the past, he talks about relations since 1985.

One example that got my attention was the story of the Kinzua Dam.  I grew up near there but didn’t know anything about it.  When the dam was built it flooded 10,000 acres of the Seneca reservation.  The Seneca were never told that the dam was going to happen.  (The image above is Kinzua Lake.)

I looked up Kinzua online to find out more and found this statement on Wikipedia.

“In addition, the Seneca lost a 1964 appeal over the related relocation of a four-lane highway through the remaining portion of the reservation.[8] This caused them to lose more land to the interstate (but, in turn, the reservation was able to reclaim the land around the old highway the interstate had replaced; that land sits abandoned and unused as of 2014).

Oh, look, Indians still aren’t using the land correctly in the opinion of this Wikipedia writer.

Don’t worry though. In exchange for submerging 10,000 acres and several towns the Seneca were given 305 acres to relocate the towns.  That’s good math.

This is a difficult and uncomfortable book to read but I think it is a necessary one.

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