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[personal profile] bibliogramma
​Revealing ​Ancestral ​Central ​America, edited by Rosemary ​Joyce, is one of those museum books intended for slow grazing, on both images and text. As are many such books, it was prepared for publication to accompany an exhibition - the Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America ́s Past Revealed, a joint project of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and the Smithsonian Latino Center.

The images are primarily of artefacts found in the Central American collection of the NMAI. The texts were written by diverse experts and scholars and have the stated intention of revealing "the lives of the ancestors of the indigenous, mestizo, and afromestizo peoples of Central America." In a Foreword penned by NMAI Director Kevin Cover, of the Pawnee nation, and Eduardo Diaz, Executive Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, say that:

"Herein we honor the enduring, economically and politically stable cultural traditions of pre-Hispanic Central America through their exceptional material culture. Sharing this cultural patrimony and acknowledging its value is both our challenge and our responsibility, and we gladly take up the charge."

I've long been interested in both the art and the way of life of cultures not my own, past snd present. The artefacts presented for display in this volume give us (a modern, Western museum-going audience) a look at these aspects of Central American peoples, and the accompanying articles an overview of what is known or theorised about them. These contain fascinating discussions of art, government, trade, industry, everyday life, religious life, and other elements of the various Central American cultures. The artefacts chosen for presentation in this volume range from household items to decorative pieces and ritual objects, and represent a number of different cultures and time periods. There is much to engage the eye as well as the mind here.

Some of the articles are also valuable for discussions of how scientists and scholars do their work - the practices and paradigms of archeology and anthropology - and how artefacts such as these are collected and curated. The articles that discuss acquisition do not shy away from acknowledging a past of looting, theft, reckless excavation and other issues, but give only cursory consideration the the question of who has the right to collect, display (and benefit from) the cultural artefacts of indigenous peoples.

Unanswered questions: how many of these artefacts were in essence stolen? How many have sacred or culturally significant importance that would, if respected, mean they should not be publicly displayed? Are there people who can be considered as legitimate inheritors of the cultures represented, and if so, have they asked for the return of any of these artefacts to their native environment? Has anyone approached those inheritors and asked permission to retain these artefacts on display?

Memorial

Sep. 23rd, 2017 06:59 am
[syndicated profile] futilitycloset_feed

Posted by Greg Ross

Balloonist Andy Collett was floating over South Gloucestershire in July 2012 when he spotted something striking: a heart-shaped meadow in the center of a stand of oaks. “This was the most amazing sight I have ever seen from the sky,” he told the Telegraph. “It was a perfect heart hidden away from view — you would not know it was there.”

It turned out that 70-year-old Winston Howes had planted the wood to commemorate his 33-year marriage to his wife, Janet, who had died 17 years earlier of heart disease. In the months after her death he filled a six-acre field with thousands of oak saplings but left a heart-shaped clearing in the center, its point aimed at her childhood home.

“I came up with the idea of creating a heart in the clearing of the field after Janet died,” Howes said. “Once it was completed we put a seat in the field, overlooking the hill near where she used to live. I sometimes go down there, just to sit and think about things. It is a lovely and lasting tribute to her which will be here for years.”

The clearing was not visible from the road and remained a family secret until Collett spotted it. “You can just imagine the love story,” he said.

fandom nostalgia

Sep. 23rd, 2017 04:56 pm
thawrecka: (desired constellation)
[personal profile] thawrecka
  • Sometimes I get nostalgic for metafandom. Not the way it was before people stopped updating - basically having trended in the way of being totally about social justice, just like Tumblr, just like the blogosphere, and not really about fandom in particular - but the way it used to link to talk about the whys and hows of how fandom was done, in the beginning.

    I am often nostalgic for earlier versions of how fandom was done, lately. Not necessarily because of the actual things that happened to and around me but because of the way it made me feel. The kinds of discussions and sense of community and etc etc cannot be replicated in the Tumblr-based successors to media fandom which have their own norms and which I'm sure someone will be nostalgic about in 15 years when they've long been replaced by something else. I even get nostalgic for mailing lists and I was on very few for a hot second before I largely switched to message boards for about six months in 2002 and then after that to LJ.

    I lurked a lot on people's websites - especially the 'elite' archives full of the best fic from mailing lists - and then slowly circled closer and closer in to actual community. And then the grand era of LJ where I didn't ever feel like one of the cool kids but followed and was followed by hundreds of people and posted hundreds of comments a week. Ah, the vigour of youth.

  • Speaking of fannish nostalgia, I've been occasionally randomly looking up fans of various size of name on Fanlore, to see who was a Big enough Big Name Fan to end up with a page about them. I totally ran with a lot of BNFs back in the day! And never gained any fame or notoriety of my own hahaha which is probably both a good and a bad thing. (Good: getting featured on fandomwank never looked fun. Bad: the people who got super popular and notorious now have book deals and huge followings and have made it and I'm still cooling my heels.)

    Bizarrely, Fanlore has a page about my fanfic site, as though it ran from 2003-2005, when:
    (A) It still exists (and this reminds me to update it); and
    (B) I don't think enough people were actually looking at my fic site from 03-05 for it to warrant having a page about it on Fanlore. That's just bizarre.

  • And in my nostalgia I ended up looking at old fic sites from 00-02 on the wayback machine, feeling nostalgic about websites with frames, old arguments about darkfic (Buffy fandom was a great place for gen, seriously), web rings and fanfic awards, all the different places fandom has happened for me. I know all the very valid reasons frames stopped being valid HTML and why it's a bad idea to do site layouts in tables; nonetheless, I did both. I had so many websites. It was so fun.

    I feel like we talk about fandom, or at least fanart fandom and fanficdom, as if it all happens in one or two places, or in one way. Even now that's not true. Even beyond the almighty AO3, people still post fic to FF dot net, and there's all that celebrity RPF on Wattpad, and people post fic on Tumblr (terrible platform for it, jfc), and DW, and LJ. There are still fandom-specific archives, including those that are still (somewhat) active - I've read plenty of fic on the Kirk/Spock archive this year. There are still fanauthor websites, and I read fic on those, and not just The Sentinel fic I'm nostalgic about. (Seriously, note to self: update the damn website).

    And fannish discussion happens in lots of different places, with many different community norms: forums (still), and Tumblr, and here, and communities that still live on LJ, and Wordpress, and the book bloggers on goodreads, and . . .

    A lot of fandoms in the 80s and 90s and very early 00s flourished as their own discrete entities, building their own community norms, creating their own fan languages, many of which were then combined into the fannish soup when LJ started to be the big thing and pan-fandom communities started to organise. And some of those terms have fallen by the wayside: noromo, altfic, lemon. But I think the re-splintering of fandom en masse as LJ disintegrated into an increasingly unusable platform and people have fled to multiple different places has put the lie to the idea that there really is one big fannish community.

    But I'm still nostalgic for some of the things that worked when fandom on LJ flourished, some of the people I knew, some of the fic and art and discussion - a lot of which has been lost to time.
[syndicated profile] juancole_feed

Posted by Juan Cole

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

President Trump, notoriously, tweeted that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

Some 70,000 US citizens in Puerto Rico living along the Guajataca River are in danger as a dam in the vicinity is failing. Built in the 1920s, the earthen dam faces a drainage problem in the midst of the downpours visited on the island, which have abruptly filled it up and put unbearable pressure on the walls.

The failure of this dam underlines that climate change science is absolutely central to good public policy and planning.

As humans put heat trapping gases into the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide, through driving their cars, providing their homes with electricity, and heating or cooling their houses, more of the sun’s heat is trapped on earth rather than radiating off into space. That trapped heat has caused the average temperature of the earth’s surface to rise.

Trapping heat so that it causes the Caribbean to heat up is highly destructive. Warm water powers hurricanes. Hotter water makes them more violent and destructive now.

Warmer water also has more water vapor floating above it. That water turbocharges the rain storms once the hurricane makes landfall.

In Puerto Rico’s case, so much rain fell so heavily and so quickly that it overwhelmed the old earthen dam, which began to fail. It so happens that nearly 70,000 people live down river and are in danger.

People in charge of dams throughout the US need to be made aware of this situation. What is an ordinary load on a dam is about to change, and human-caused climate change will just attribute them to someone else. If you don’t believe in climate change, you cannot justify the expenditure of public funds to reinforce the dam.

If you deny climate change, you will not anticipate heavier rainfall. Your dams will then fail, creating tens of thousands of climate refugees.

Global heating doesn’t cause hurricanes. It simply amplifies them and makes them stronger and makes the rainfall associated with them much heavier.

When you vote for denialist politicians, you are selecting people who make policy. The policy they make will be clueless and will actively endanger the public. Climate change is real. We are causing it by our emissions. If you don’t believe that, you are not a responsible steward of our infrastructure and of our lives.

——

Related video added by Juan Cole:

The Young Turks: “Puerto Rico Braces As Dam Fails”

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Carrie S

B

Alex + Ada: The Complete Collection

by Jonathan Luna
November 16, 2016 · Image
Comic

Alex + Ada is a series of three graphic novels by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn. The series is a love story between a man named Alex and an android named Ada. Over the course of the story, there are many parallels with past and current civil rights movements, as well as explorations of how, specifically, a rights movement for sapient androids might play out. It’s a tender, sweet story with moments of horror and tragedy but also with a truly enduring and endearing romance.

Alex is mooning over his ex-fiancée when his grandmother decides to get him an android companion. Alex’s grandmother, who is a constant source of comic relief, expresses great and uncomfortably explicit delight with regard to the success of her own android, Daniel. One day Alex comes home and finds a surprise from Grandma – an android named Ada.

Alex is quite creeped out by Ada’s complete lack of agency or interest in anything other than whatever he orders her to seem interested in. He is polite to her but can’t figure out how to interact with her (and no, he doesn’t have sex with her). Alex finds an online forum about android rights and learns that androids were built with the ability to be sentient, but have had that ability locked away. Unlocking an android is a difficult and illegal task but a person in the forum offers to unlock Ada. Ada would be a fully conscious person albeit still in an android body.

From this point on, Ada has agency and more of the story is told from her point of view. Unfortunately, unlocking a sentient is extremely illegal, as is simply being a sentient robot. Alex and Ada try being friends and try being lovers, while they also figure out what their lives can be like as a couple and individually given that Ada’s sentient state has to remain a secret.

Ada and Alex almost kissing

The art in Alex + Ada is very simple, but I thought it fit the story. There’s no panel tricks here – everything is drawn inside uniform rectangles and the color palette is subdued. This allows the focus to remain on faces. Even when Ada is standing still and not speaking, it’s easy to tell when she is sentient and when she is not.

The focus of the story is very much on Alex and Ada, but I loved the side characters as well. The only problem is that the more villainous characters are too one-sided whereas the more sympathetic characters are either allowed more complexity or are simply more pleasant to be around. There are multiple examples of healthy, happy relationships that involve a variety of races, ages, gender preferences, and human or non-human statuses. I’m especially fond of a character with a prosthetic leg who wants to upgrade and hang his older prosthetic leg on the wall. His wife is generally supportive, but in an aside to Ada whispers, “That’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.”

robot love. The older model robot lacks certain parts but, says his lover, is very good with his hands. The robot says I can vibrate.
Tee hee hee

This isn’t a very complex story and it doesn’t say anything we haven’t heard before about what makes a person a person. It’s also pretty brief and could use more elaboration about the world and other characters.

However, its very simplicity makes it emotionally focused. While everyone in the story is worried about society and the place of sentient robots and whether sentient robots will kill people and how to catch them, Alex and Ada just want to live their lives together. The story is affecting because of the relationship between Alex and Ada, and between their friends. There’s tough going at the end of the story but it ends on an optimistic note, with Alex and Ada poised to be the slightly boring suburban couple they always wanted to be.

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[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Maurice was in some puzzlement as to how, having courteously regretted he could not receive Lady Trembourne back into his establishment, he might bring her back without having to humble himself and ask her. The solution to the problem was, fortunately, put into his hands by her sister-in-law.

The Countess of Pockinford was a long-cherished patron: still a pretty little dumpling after a fruitful marriage bearing a fine thriving family. Alas, she still posed the problem of how to dress her in the crack of style without offending the Earl’s Evangelical strictures upon the necessity for womanly modesty in dress – that meant that she was more modestly dressed even than her sister, a clergyman’s wife: but the Reverend Mr Lucas did not think that a low-cut neckline in keeping with the dictates of fashion was the debauchery that led to the fall of the Roman Empire. But Maurice contrived, and no-one considered the Countess a dowd.

Maurice was busy about checking that her measurements were still the same when she said, nervously, O, Maurice, I know you must have a deal on hand, so many clients and coming up so near to the Season, but Lady Trembourne has been in a most exceeding taking over the shocking business with Madame Francine.

Oh?

Could you fit her – o, and Lady Sarah – I should be most exceeding grateful.

Well – Maurice began, and saw the famed trembling of the Countess’s lower lip and the air of impending tearfulness, that could cause the most disagreeable of ladies in the philanthropic set – if not her sister-in-law – to fall in with her wishes. Do you ask it, Lady Pockinford, I will see can I make a little time when I might undertake the two of 'em. I daresay I shall be able to find enough hands - sure the seamstresses at Madame Francine’s found themselves cast out and, I hear, wages unpaid.

O, 'tis quite shocking! cried Lady Pockinford. Is not the lot of a seamstress hard enough already? Lady Bexbury and I were discussing the matter only lately. I am sure you treat your needlewomen well, but I daresay that you are obliged to turn the majority of them off for a good part of the year?

Indeed 'tis so – worked to rags during the Season, alas, and then having to make do on piece-work at home –

Or indeed, said Lady Pockinford, falling into vice.

So 'tis given out. If you would just turn around a little and raise your arms?

So we are thinking about a plan, for there is a matter about making clothes for the orphans, and ladies say, would it not be a fine thing to have a working-party? but then there is ever some reason why they may not come work, and Lady Bexbury said, sure there are women that need such employment, did we get up a fund for a work-room, where they might come and be in good conditions and be paid, and mayhap get a meal, and their moral character would be preserved –

Why, 'tis a most excellent plan, and I daresay Lady Bexbury is already about writing some pamphlet upon the matter, I will certainly take a few to lay about the receiving-room so that the ladies that come here may learn of this enterprize.

O, cried Lady Pockinford with her pretty dimpling smile, O, that is so very kind.

He smiled and shook his head after she had left. One would say she deserved better than a husband with such narrow views, but 'twas entirely known within Society that they doated upon one another.

He made the final notes for her gowns, including the need to make some alterations to her mannequin, tidied everything away, looked about the room, put on his hat and coat and picked up his cane, and with a slight sigh departed for Basil’s studio.

For Basil had been most pressing among their set for a party to come see the unveiling of his latest large painting – the Theban Band at the Battle of Chaeronea – and seemed in a somewhat touchy mood at present. Mayhap – if there was no re-opening of this foolish suggestion that he should come act as Basil’s factotum – he might even remain behind when the company had departed.

Or maybe he would not, he thought, when he observed Basil making up to Tom Tressillian, even if 'twas only so that Tom would commission a painting of himself in some telling character. And – good heavens – was that young Orlando Richardson? Sure he bore a considerable resemblance to his late great-uncle Elias Winch. Had his doting mama not complained to Maurice at her fittings that in spite of being educated up a gentleman by her doting all-but-husband Danvers Dalrymple, nothing would do for her son but to go on stage? – in the tones of one that felt she should make some complaint but was rather pleased than otherwise.

Maurice went over to desire an introduction and discovered that the person obscured behind an easel with a half-finished canvas upon it was MacDonald. They exchanged civil nods. Do you know Mr Richardson? Permit me to introduce you.

O, indeed I have heard of you! said the young man. Mama will ever sing your praises.

I see, said MacDonald, that our host neglects his duties. Let me get you a glass of wine.

Maurice took the wine and wondered, could it be that Basil was deliberately snubbing him, rather than merely momentarily dazzled by the handsome young actor?

Indeed, Basil’s manner to him seemed unwonted brusque, compared to his attentions to the rest of the company. If he was going to behave thus, Maurice was not going to linger. He took his outer garments from Basil’s man, and went out into an evening that had turned to pelting sleety rain.

Here – a hand grabbed his arm – I have just managed to wave down a hansom, get in before you are drenched.

Maurice allowed himself to be thrust into the cab and sat down. He relished the prospect of getting thoroughly soaked even less than sharing the narrow space with MacDonald.

MacDonald remarked that he now apprehended why Lady Bexbury called Linsleigh that great bore - while he will never rival Mr Nixon of the Home Office, he is still a very tedious fellow. But, he went on, I fancy he is a friend of yours – perchance he may show better in different company?

Instead of saying in waspish tones that doubtless Basil was not up to Mr MacDonald’s most exceeding exacting standards, Maurice replied that indeed, Basil was wont to run on without noting whether his listeners were interested or not.

(Damn. He did not want to find himself agreeing with MacDonald over such a matter.)

Where should you like to be dropped?

Maurice gave the direction for his lodgings – I hope 'tis not out of your way?

Not in the least. But – since we are met thus – I mind that there was a matter I have been commissioned to investigate, that you may have some intelligence concerning. He looked about for a moment and said, I do not suppose the cab-driver goes spy, but yet I had rather it were a little more private. Is there some time we might –

Maurice, who was already feeling those sensations that he had become accustomed to experience in close proximity to MacDonald, bit his lip and then said, why do you not step up to my lodgings, have you no engagement to be at –

Why, should only take a moment or so, but is very gracious of you.

Of course he was only going to ask whatever question it was, and then go away again. He would not stay.

They ascended the stairs in silence, and Maurice unlocked the door. Latching it behind him, he turned to where MacDonald was looking about him with interest, entirely intending – no, only that – to ask what his investigation was, and found himself going lean up against him.

A hand stroked down his back and then MacDonald said thoughtfully, we are both standing here with our hats still on in rain-splashed coats that we should take off. That is, if you have any desire for me to linger beyond the five minutes I think my question like to take.

You must know I do. Do you wish to stay?

In answer, MacDonald began to remove his coat.

Maurice swallowed. I will just go and light the fire, he said.

He was still kneeling by the hearth when MacDonald came in. He stood up and said, I only have gin, would you care for anything to drink.

Not in particular, but do you do as you would like.

Maurice went and poured himself a glass of gin. So, he said, what did you wish to ask me?

Firstly, do you dress Lady Sarah Channery?

Maurice turned around. I used to, she then followed Lady Trembourne to Madame Francine’s, and I have been beguiled into saying I will go dress the two of 'em again. Why?

Did she ever make use of your discreet chamber?

Maurice snorted. Lady Sarah? Why do you ask? – O, I apprehend what this is about. Sir Stockwell thinks she has took a lover: if she has, must be very recent.

Oh, she has, I have it on the very best authority. But I thought it possibly material to discover whether she was in the habit.

I confide not. But has she admitted to you - ?

Not she; the gentleman that has been enjoying her favours.

There is some fellow going around boasting upon the matter?

Not in the least, I am sure he is entire discreet and would not at all desire to have a crim. con action brought against him: but is a good friend of mine, and disclosed it to me because the lady had received a note demanding recompense for silence. The danger is probably passed, now Mrs Fanny has disappeared, but I wonder if ‘twas an accustomed practice with Lady Sarah to enter upon such liaisons; also whether any ladies that have returned to you have said aught of similar demands?

Not so far. But – at least, as he has given it out – Sir Stockwell is not in any jealous passion in the matter, merely wishes ascertain whether there will be any scandal –

But does Lady Sarah apprehend that?

Perchance not! I fancy 'tis not such a case as the Zellens, where they have come to a mutual understanding.

He gulped down the last of the gin and walked across the room to where MacDonald was sitting. I should say that now these questions are asked and answered, you should go.

Yes, of course you should. And do you ask me to, I will.

Maurice straddled the outstretched legs and stooped to kiss that mouth that was so very lovely when it smiled as it was doing now.

Off To Thought Bubble…

Sep. 23rd, 2017 06:17 am
[syndicated profile] andrew_hickey_feed

Posted by Andrew Hickey

I’ll be with some of the other Mindless Ones at Table 79 in the Cookridge St Marquee at Thought Bubble this year. Unfortunately, this year I didn’t think I’d be able to go until a few weeks ago, so had no time to pull together another book on comics (or on geek media stuff like Doctor Who), and having a big pile of unsold books always depresses me, so I’ll be bringing only two copies of each of three of my books — An Incomprehensible Condition, Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!, and Fifty Stories for Fifty Years — because I happen to have a few copies left over from previous years’ conventions. You’ll have to ask for them specially if you want them, though, because I’m not wasting table display space on them as they’re unlikely to sell.

Feel free to stop by and have a chat, though, and to buy the great comics that we’ll be selling by the other Mindless Ones.


Temple pain

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:29 pm
fayanora: Steph angry (Steph angry)
[personal profile] fayanora
Sometimes the muscles in my temple get hard and painful after chewing. Usually it passes after an hour or two. But it's now been doing it since around 8 am today and won't go away. It's not as bad as it was; earlier, it was bad enough I had to take pain relievers to get to sleep. But they're still not back to normal, and they still hurt.

It's especially vexing because I don't think I ate anything especially chewy yesterday.
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[personal profile] wyld_dandelyon
Usually, when I do ritual, creating sacred space is easy. I hold my intent softly and gently in my mind, and I am there. Day or night, private or public space, the presence of candles, incense, or other sacred tools--it doesn't matter.

Except when it does.

Being able to do it so casually most of the time can make it harder to notice when it isn't just happening, much less to figure out why. Especially since life is usually unusually hard at that point--and isn't that when we need our sacred spaces the most?.

This is complicated by the fact that I find that living my life with the awareness and intent that each moment is sacred to be more important than formal ritual, which so often can be empty, or filled with a sense of bored obligation rather than an awareness and celebration of the divine within and without. Yeah, there's boredom and drudgery in any path--it's impossible to convince myself that washing dishes is sacred on an experiential level, no matter how much I agree it's sacred on a logical level, for instance--so it's a challenge to try to stay in that mental space, even when evil is not on the rise, even when there's no clear and present danger that in the near future I won't have the money and healthcare I need, and even when there's no urgent worries about the health or well-being of people I care about.

Add those things in, and that sense of wonder, of the sacred, can slip away like a well drying up in a drought. It's there, and it's there, and it's there (though you have to work harder and be more patient to drink your fill), until, one day, it's not there, or at least is not enough.

And for all my belief that we can defeat this evil and all my determination that we will (because we must), it's taking its toll. I don't want to have to spend time on politics, not day in and day out. I don't want to be looking at my dwindling income and the threats to Obamacare and the threats of violence to queer people and worrying about the future. My health issues affect my sleep on my best nights. Worries don't help at all, and exhaustion mimics depression remarkably well. It's no wonder I've been feeling worn, overwhelmed, uninspired, and distracted.

But my good friend Susan Urban and her husband were playing at Pagan Pride (as a group, they call themselves February Sky), and though I overslept and we got there late, I was determined to get there. And we did get there, and I was walking around listening to the music, looking at things and talking quietly to the vendors, and the sweet old lady doing readings talked me into a discounted reading. She assured me her cards could give me insight into what I most need to know, and that's why I was at her table. Then she asked about my question. Half of my focus was on the music and the other half, the part thinking about my life, was just kind of overwhelmed. I stuck with that question: "What do I most need to know?".

She does readings using three decks. She had me shuffle the first deck, fan them out, and draw cards one at a time, three from the first deck and one each from the other two. First, I drew Armadillo, which she said was all about setting boundaries appropriately, but also a warning to face my troubles and not try to hide in my shell. Armadillo was flanked by cards for the mental and practical, lizard, for dreams, and snake, for rebirth. A lot of reptiles--maybe signifying that I'm naturally more affected by the metaphysical weather than I thought? I don't know. But the boundaries thing, that rang true in lots of ways, from keeping the boundaries on my food intake I need to stay healthy to limiting my exposure to all the upsetting news happening today. I've also had a task to organize my writing and arting better that I set into my Google calendar. It's been recurring as instructed for a few weeks now, whether or not I had the time and energy to do it, and that is also essentially an issue of boundaries, of carving out time and focus so I get more done. Not that I saw all that in the moment, but I felt at least some of it, on a deep, wordless level.

And then she had me draw a card from the second deck, the deck she said was Spirit Guides. I've never felt a particular affinity to Panda, but the advice that I need to create a sacred space in my home and place of work, that certainly rang true, and continues to ring true. There are plenty of things that have been making me crazy about my work and living spaces. There's reasons for all of that, of course; I've been focused on accomplishing urgent things. But that doesn't leave much space or time for thinking about making sacred space and sacred time where and when I most need it. That dovetails right into the need to tend boundaries, really, in my mind. I've started to act on that part. Since the reading, I've prioritized putting at least a little time every day into finishing the plaster work on our currently deconstructed dry goods closet (I pulled it apart when I didn't have time because the detritus made it clear it had become a mouse haven, and wouldn't be a safe haven for our food and oven parchment and so forth until the holes were fixed), and cleaning my office (I'd kept enough space for writing, barely, but had started sorting old papers and cluttered things up quite a bit. Mind you sorting those papers is a legitimate business activity, but having them clutter up my creative space was far from inspirational. I will just have to refuse to pull more stuff out to sort than I can finish in one sitting, not to have my office look like it belongs in some yuppy magazine, but because I need the space to feel inspired.) There's work yet to do on both of those things, and other stuff to do after, but at least I have started. Some of this was clear to me when she turned Panda over for me to see, but it reflects into other things too, into my goal of giving away or throwing away stuff I don't need and even into remembering to go out and pick up the trash that blows into (and gets stuck in) my rose bushes.

Finally, from a deck that's all wolves, I received the advice that I'm at a crossroads, with an emphasis that I am not at a dead end, I am free to choose my new direction. Additionally, the card advised me to plan and to keep focused on what's practical. I'm not sure what to make of that yet, but I'm still working on the boundaries and the sacred space. I expect that once I get those things in order, I'll start to see what paths are available and what choices I have to choose between. And certainly, with the danger of having less resources in the future, keeping practicality in mind matters.

I suppose that now I should go check on that drying plaster. It would be nice to paint the closet tomorrow, or at least very soon. Once it's dry, I can put stuff away that's currently hard to find and underfoot in the library.

And then I'll remember a lesson learned in my divorce, and do some formal ritual to help things along. Candles, incense, statues and so on are only symbols to help me focus (I learned, long ago, that if I tried to rely on an object for my magic, it would break or disappear all too soon)--but when I'm having trouble focusing, they are powerful symbols. And the tools I use are all, in and of themselves, beautiful and in alignment with my higher self, or I wouldn't use them in the first place.

They'll still be in a space that's imperfectly cleaned and sorted, but I can celebrate the progress I've made and plan for what I need to do to move forward, in whatever directions I will choose along the way.

Blessed Be to all of you, my friends. May you have the sacred space you need, and may your boundaries be wisely set and wholesome. May your dreams be strong, and if you need to shed a skin or two, I hope it won't itch too much as you shed the old and grow into the new. And when you face a crossroads, may you be aware that very few choices are between a good path and a bad one. May you see clearly the risks and benefits of your choices, and may you find inspiring and practical ways to work to achieve your dreams, and kindness along the way.

Crowdfunding Creative Jam

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:07 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam is now open with a theme of "black swans."


What I Have Written


From My Prompts

Colorado Energy Freedom Tour

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:32 pm
flwyd: (1895 Colorado map)
[personal profile] flwyd
Last November I was really disappointed with the election. Not so much the results, but the way the whole year and a half had gone. People weren't listening to each other. They were shouting to their friends and painting folks they didn't know as terrible people. I managed to mostly avoid the commercial media, but the ads I did see were almost universally against an opponent rather than in support of a good idea.

So I decided that after I got healthy, I was going to be the change in political discourse I wanted to see in the world. As a left-leaning Boulderite who rides in technolibertarian cirlces, I wanted to come to a better understanding of conservative points of view and then find some conservatives to have some non-confrontational conversations with.

Since I was still moving slow from my year of illness, I realized that I shouldn't put the bulk of my energy in an imminent fight like health care or immigration. So I turned my attention to climate change, a systemic problem that doesn't require action tomorrow, but definitely requires action soon. It's also a problem that's not rooted in liberal or conservative values: every human has a stake in the outcome.

I connected with Citizens' Climate Lobby a non-partisan group focused on both national climate change legislation and cooperation across party lines. I realized that waiting for Democrats to take all three houses of power wasn't an effective strategy for addressing climate change. Not only would it delay action until the 2020s, it would be an easy target for repeal when the winds of change shift in Washington. CCL's carbon fee and dividend proposal is structured to be attractive to members of both major parties and therefore stands a chance of remaining on the books as people come and go from Capitol Hill. Plus, with the revenue generated from pricing carbon going to households, it could become a widely popular program, meaning constituents will speak up to keep it in place.

For the last few months I've been working with several other CCL volunteers to organize the Colorado Energy Freedom Tour. Following an outreach model that CCL has used from the Gulf Coast to Kentucky to Alaska, we're visiting a handful of towns in eastern Colorado. We'll be giving presentations in Erie, Fort Morgan, Greeley, Parker, and Sterling (and hopefully more to come). But more important than the information we're sharing, we'll be having conversations with folks about climate change, energy policy, and engaging with our elected representatives to ensure that Coloradans voices, whether urban or rural, are heard.

If you know anyone who lives near these towns and is interested in energy, climate, or market solutions, we'd love to see them at one of the presentations. We're also hoping to meet with organizations like city councils, newspaper editorial boards, chambers of commerce, and growers associations. Tell folks to check out Colorado Energy Freedom Tour on Facebook or on our website.
[syndicated profile] juancole_feed

Posted by Juan Cole

By John Feffer | ( Foreign Policy in Focus ) | – –

If only Muslims reach out to help the Rohingya, the international community will suffer another blow to its reputation.

They were Muslims, and they were leaving the country in droves.

Their homeland, a remote corner of a multiethnic country, had become a warzone. Militants had taken up arms to fight for their rights, and the central government retaliated in force.

Human rights abuses, mostly by the government, were rampant. Caught in the gunfire, hundreds of thousands of people became refugees. The central government wasn’t unhappy to see them leave, since it believed that the refugees belonged with their ethnic and confessional brethren across the border.

The story of the Rohingya of Burma/Myanmar is a familiar one. But it also sounds an awful lot like what happened to the Kosovars in the late 1990s.

At the time, the Clinton administration declared the situation a humanitarian crisis, a genocide in the making, and intervened militarily on the Kosovars’ behalf against the Yugoslav government. Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic eventually agreed to a settlement — the Kumanovo agreement — that replaced Yugoslav forces with international peacekeepers. Most Kosovar refugees returned home, where they constitute more than 90 percent of the population. Kosovo subsequently declared its independence, but Serbia has yet to recognize it.

The Rohingyas face even longer odds. First of all, they’re a minority in Rakhine province. Second, their armed resistance is slight and poses little real threat to the government in Naypyidaw. Third, the conflict is taking place far from Europe, and the refugees are flooding into Bangladesh, not the wealthy countries of the West.

Finally, the Trump administration has no intention to intervene on anyone’s behalf for humanitarian reasons. Human rights figure rather low on the administration’s priorities. Without a strong push from Washington, the West will shy away from a forceful intervention on humanitarian grounds.

The UN, too, is hamstrung. Even though UN High Commission for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has declared the plight of the Rohingya “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” the UN body has not invoked the “responsibility to protect.” Yes, the body will discuss the topic, but countries like India have agreed to do so on the grounds that no resolution will be introduced.

That doesn’t mean that the Rohingya lack supporters. The Muslim world is outraged at their treatment, with countries from Turkey to Nigeria to Indonesia up in arms.

The stark contrast between the outrage of the Muslim world and the lack of action from the international community does not bode well for the responsibility-to-protect doctrine. Nor, frankly, does it bode well for the future of the international community either.

Religion Plus Nationalism

A common ploy of Islamophobes is to claim that some religions are inherently violent while others are inherently peaceful. Sometimes they put Christianity in that latter category, though it’s a rather heavy lift given the Crusades, the Inquisition, the clerical fascism of Mussolini, and so on. Desperately backpedaling, the Islamophobe will then say, “Ah, but what about Buddhism? That is indisputably a peaceful religion.”

The Rohingya would beg to differ.

Around a million Rohingya live in in Rakhine province. The Myanmar government, claiming that they’re just Bangladeshis who crossed the border after the 1972 war of independence, refuse to consider the Rohingya to be citizens. The Rohingya themselves argue that they’re descendants of Arab traders dating back to the 8th century. Historians can trace evidence that some Rohingya have lived in Rakhine since the 18th century.

What isn’t under dispute is the discrimination they’ve suffered at the hands of the Buddhist majority. Ironically, or perhaps not, that discrimination has increased during the democratization process, as nationalism and its handmaiden of Buddhist chauvinism have intensified. As Adam Taylor writes in The Washington Post:

A growing Buddhist nationalism in Burma, where 90 percent of the population identify with Buddhism, has led to a number of laws on religion, including restrictions on interfaith marriage. There has also been major ethnic violence in Rakhine; most notably in 2012, when sectarian riots after the rape of a woman in the state led to large-scale displacement of Muslims, with many moving into squalid camps for internally displaced people.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh during this period, a country ill-prepared to handle a flood of refugees. In October 2016, militants with a shadowy outfit — the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claimed responsibility for attacks on border posts that left nine Myanmar soldiers dead. The central state proceeded to crack down against Rohingya in general, and ethnic cleansing began in earnest.

When ARSA again attacked border posts at the end of August, killing a dozen soldiers, the war intensified. The military used the attacks to go on a genocidal rampage. Writes Robert Rotberg:

Nearly 400,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar’s military attacks since July, crossing under desperate conditions into already densely populated Bangladesh. Hundreds of Rohingya settlements in Rakhine State have been torched. At least 3,000 Rohingya have been killed, thousands raped, and more than 140,000 forced into concentration camps thanks to Myanmar’s security actions.

Particularly disappointing has been Aung San Suu Kyi’s response to the crisis. The Nobel Prize laureate gave her first speech on the situation in Rakhine province this week in Yangon in which she labeled ARSA a bunch of terrorists and insisted that the government needed more time to figure out what the rest of the world already knows: hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are fleeing violence and discrimination.

Essentially Suu Kyi claimed that her country needed to focus first on national cohesion before it could focus on such particularist claims. In other words, as in virtually every nation-building exercise in history, certain people(s) are sacrificed for the purported good of the whole.

Granted, Aung San Suu Kyi is in a difficult position. She’s not an elected leader — the constitution prevents her from becoming president — and the military still controls much of the country’s political life. The generals could step in at any moment and declare martial law, extinguishing the so-far-brief experiment with democracy.

The question remains: Is Aung San Suu Kyi looking for ways to reduce the military’s influence, or has she decided to strengthen her own position with the military and Burmese nationalists at the expense of the Rohingya?

International Response

Donald Trump made no mention of the Rohingya crisis in his speech at the UN. He barely mentioned human rights at all.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has said, “We urge all in Burma to avoid actions that exacerbate tensions there,” and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy is heading over to Myanmar. Neither Trump nor Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has addressed the crisis directly (in marked contrast to statements by both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry). And forget about Trump easing his immigration policy to take in Rohingya refugees.

It’s hard to imagine that another wave of Muslim refugees is going to elicit any action from the Trump administration. But Muslim-majority countries are rallying behind the Rohingya.

Turkey moved quickly to supply humanitarian assistance to Rakhine province. As the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has helped to mobilize global Islamic public opinion.

Erdogan has a larger agenda. He wants to advance his conception of “civilizational politics” that emphasizes Turkey’s Ottoman legacy and the central role it can play in a volatile region. Turkey’s Islamist political tradition also offers something distinct from the United States and China, neither of which care much about human rights at the moment, particularly the rights of Muslims.

Some Muslim-majority states have gone even further than Erdogan in calling for military intervention on behalf of the Rohingya, comparable to what NATO did for the Kosovars.

“Why aren’t we Muslims thinking about forming a NATO-like joint military force that can intervene in such situations?” Ali Motahari, deputy head of the Iranian parliament, said in early September. “The crimes of the government of Myanmar will not be halted without using military force.”

That’s not likely to happen. But Muslim-majority states are concerned that, as James Dorsey argues in LobeLog, “militants will gain an upper hand in projecting themselves as the true defenders of the faith compared to Muslim governments who do little more than pay lip service and at best provide humanitarian relief.”

It’s telling that Motahari appealed to a “NATO-like” force rather than invoking the “responsibility to protect” doctrine. When it comes to international doctrines, the only thing worse than being reviled is to be ignored.

The Future of R2P

In 2011, which seems like a golden age for the international community at this point, writer David Rieff declared that Responsibility to Protect, or R2P, had reached its “high water mark.” Or, as The New York Times titled the essay, “R2P, RIP.”

Rieff was writing in the aftermath of the military intervention in Libya, which was intended to prevent the government of Muammar Qaddafi from murdering large numbers of his own citizens. That, Rieff concluded, required not a limited operation but a full effort to back regime change:

War, even when it is waged for a just cause and with scrupulous respect for international humanitarian law, always involves a descent into barbarism (think of the way Qaddafi died). This is why even when R2P is applied well, it carries moral risks. And when it is distorted, as it was by NATO in Libya, R2P is not a needed reform to the international system, but a threat to its legitimacy.

Given the even further descent into barbarism in Libya since 2011, Rieff’s words are prophetic. True, R2P could claim certain successes: Kenya in 2008-2009, Ivory Coast in 2011, and to a lesser extent in Mali in 2013. But the ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen suggest that, despite continued invocations of R2P, the international system is incapable of implementing the principle on the ground.

For critics of R2P, that’s fine. Who needs yet another set of high-minded words to disguise the reality of strong powers disregarding the sovereignty of weaker powers? Sovereignty, whether defended by Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang or Donald Trump at the UN or Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, remains a core principle of international relations.

But sovereignty doesn’t help the stateless.

If the international community doesn’t lift a finger to help the Rohingya — by intervening diplomatically, economically, and in a humanitarian manner — then they can at best hope for assistance from Muslim states. They’re fortunate to have some advocates, regardless of the motivations of those actors.

But the test of a robust international community is its capacity to act on behalf of everyone, not simply support a segmented response whereby only Christians help Christians, only Han Chinese help Han Chinese, only women help women, and so on. If only Muslims reach out to help the Rohingya, the international community will suffer another blow to its reputation.

With R2P becoming even more moribund than before, states will continue to use the shield of sovereignty to flout international law, disregard the rights of minorities, and ultimately make Rohingyas of us all.

 

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus and the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus

———-

Aljazeera English: “Thousands orphaned by Myanmar violence against Rohingya”

staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
I just went through a new Elizabeth Wein book in 24 hours flat. *glows* The Pearl Thief is set in 1938 and features a fifteen-year-old, bisexual-as-fuck Julie Beaufort-Stuart.

Crowdfunding Creative Jam

Sep. 23rd, 2017 12:47 am
ysabetwordsmith: (Crowdfunding butterfly ship)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith posting in [community profile] crowdfunding
Welcome to the sixty-fifth Crowdfunding Creative Jam! This session will run Saturday, September 23-Sunday, September 24. The theme is "Black Swans."


Crowdfunding Creative Jam

Everyone is eligible to post prompts, which may be words or phrases, titles, images, etc. Prompters may request a specific creator, but everyone else may still use that prompt if they wish. Prompts may specify a particular character/world/etc. but creators may use the prompt for something else anyway and post the results. Prompters are still encouraged to post mostly prompts that anyone could use anywhere, as this maximizes the chance of having creators make something based on your prompt. Please title your comment "Prompt" or "Prompts" when providing inspiration so these are easy to find.

Prompt responses may also be treated as prompts and used for further inspiration. For example, a prompt may lead to a sketch which leads to a story, and so on. This kind of cascading inspiration is one of the most fun things about a collective jam session.

Everyone is eligible to use prompts, and everyone who wants to use a given prompt may do so, for maximum flexibility of creator choice in inspiration. You do not have to post a "Claim" reply when you decide to use a prompt, but this does help indicate what is going on so that other prompters can spread out their choice of prompts if they wish.

Creators are encouraged, but not required, to post at least one item free. Likewise, sharing a private copy of material with the prompter is encouraged but not required. Creative material resulting from prompts should be indicated in a reply to the prompt, with a link to the full content elsewhere on the creator's site (if desired); a brief excerpt and/or description of the material may be included in the reply (if desired). It helps to title your comment "Prompt Filled" or something like that so these are easy to identify. There is no time limit on responding to prompts. However, creators are encouraged to post replies sooner rather than later, as the attention of prompters will be highest during and shortly after the session.

Some items created from prompts may become available for sponsorship. Some creators may offer perks for donations, linkbacks, or other activity relating to this project. Check creator comments and links for their respective offerings.

Prompters, creators, and bystanders are expected to behave in a responsible and civil manner. If the moderators have to drag someone out of the sandbox for improper behavior, we will not be amused. Please respect other people's territory and intellectual property rights, and only play with someone else's characters/setting/etc. if you have permission. (Fanfic/fanart freebies are okay.) If you want to invite folks to play with something of yours, title the comment something like "Open Playground" so it's easy to spot. This can be a good way to attract new people to a shared world or open-source project, or just have some good non-canon fun.

Boost the signal! The more people who participate, the more fun this will be. Hopefully we'll see activity from a lot of folks who regularly mention their projects in this community, but new people are always welcome. You can link to this session post or to individual items created from prompts, whatever you think is awesome enough to recommend to your friends.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars S1

Sep. 23rd, 2017 12:15 am
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
Actually took me a bit to watch this because in between, first the Dragon inhaled Voltron: Legendary Defender, and then Joe (who had apparently seen the original Voltron?) watched out of curiosity and got sucked in and inhaled Voltron: Legendary Defender, and he WOULD NOT SHUT UP ABOUT IT until I watched it, and then I got sucked in and inhaled it in like four days and NOW I WANT MORE. But that's another post for another night.

cut for spoilers )
[syndicated profile] juancole_feed

Posted by contributors

TeleSur | – –

Speaking last month of reducing restrictions on drone usage, President Trump resorted to biblical language, saying “retribution will be fast and powerful.”

The United States is preparing to eliminate several major restrictions and regulations on the use of drones, making it easier to use the controversial form of warfare more frequently, and in more situations, a New York Times report revealed Saturday citing internal officials.

Advisers within the administration of President Donald Trump are proposing to remove a rule that limits the use of drone strikes to attacks against “high-level” enemies, and would allow for their use against the vaguely defined category of “jihadist foot soldiers.”

The vetting process to approve proposed strikes would also be significantly reduced and removed in some instances.

The C.I.A. is also seeking to gain approval to carry out its own covert drone strikes in active war-zones. C.I.A. strikes, unlike their Pentagon counterparts, are completely covert and do not need to be acknowledged.

According to the New York Times report, a Cabinet-level committee has already approved the proposed rules, and they have been sent to the White House for the President’s signature.

Last month in a speech Trump praised the liberalization of the already heavy use of drones by the United States, saying that “the killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms.”

Via TeleSur

———

Related video added by Juan Cole:

New China TV from last Feb.: “Drone strike kills Taliban shadow governor in Kunduz”

August 2017

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