Sunday, August 24, 2014

Roll up

Man, that convention took more out of me than I expected. They have a big truck full of mobility scooters waiting for people to find out just how far you have to walk in the ExCeL merely to get a glass of water or go to the loo. And then you find out they charge £25 a day for them and by god they can get it, too, even though it is extortionate. I can't spend money that fast, I just sat down a lot. It's been so long since I've seen some people that we almost didn't recognize each other - and after the first day, I realized that if I didn't wear my hair down, no one would recognize me, so I took it down and people started finding me after that. Evidence that you never quite grow up even when you've been around for quite a while is that it still hadn't crossed my mind that my plucky little insurgent pals would someday grow up to be WorldCon Guests of Honor. Wait, aren't you still a teenaged trouble-maker doing funny little fanzines on twiltone? Gosh! (And yet, somehow, deep down, we still are.)

Last week' panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays were Avedon Carol and Cliff Schecter, talking about militarized police, Ferguson, the war at home, and also the attacks on Rick Perlstein. And here are some relevant links:
"Militarized Policing: One Nation Under SWAT"
Meanwhile, there seems to be a new example of what's wrong with the police every day.
I don't think it's a coincidence that the three (weapons the cops in Ferguson claim to have confiscated from the crowd are three identical, rare (and brand-new-looking) guns made exclusively for law enforcement.
"In Ferguson, Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery gives account of his arrest."
"Missouri Police Cite Threats in Deciding Not to Name Officer Who Shot Teenager."
"Dallas PD leaders speak out on police shootings, militarization and protest."
Justin Raimondo, "Ferguson: Ten Days That Shook the Country [...] When one of the provinces rebel - be it in Donetsk or Nevada - the Empire's response is identical. The MRAPs assemble in military formation, the Long Range Acoustic Devices are set off, and the helmeted camie-wearing troops advance toward the crowd, guns pointed at the rebel rabble."
Veterans on Ferguson

Criminalizing Motherhood: "Nightmarish stories about the criminalizing of motherhood have been making headlines of late. There was Shanesha Taylor, arrested on child abuse charges for leaving her kids in a car to go to a job interview; Debra Harrell, locked up for child abuse for letting her 9-year-old play at a nearby park while she worked her shift at McDonald's; Mallory Loyola, the first woman to be charged under a new Tennessee law that makes it a crime to take drugs while pregnant; and Eileen Dinino, who died serving a jail sentence because she was too poor to pay legal fees from her kids' truancy cases. Other countries provide social programs and income supports for poor single mothers; in the United States, we arrest them."

Radley Balko has Good news from Mississippi - Steven Hayne, a "controversial medical examiner who has testified in thousands of cases, and whose testimony, professionalism and credibility have been under fire for years," finally has his credentials challenged in court in such a way that it might make a real difference, and the court found his testimony to lack credibility. This could actually turn out to be a pretty big deal - although not, alas, for victims whose lawyers realized too late that this "expert witness" was a bit of a fabulist.

"Priceless: How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession: The Federal Reserve, through its extensive network of consultants, visiting scholars, alumni and staff economists, so thoroughly dominates the field of economics that real criticism of the central bank has become a career liability for members of the profession, an investigation by the Huffington Post has found. This dominance helps explain how, even after the Fed failed to foresee the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, the central bank has largely escaped criticism from academic economists. In the Fed's thrall, the economists missed it, too." (Is it just me, or does anyone else have problems with the way HuffPo loads? I really hate going there.)

Thomas Frank on "Jon Stewart is not enough: The curse of centrism, and why the Tea Party keeps rolling Daily Show Democrats [...] Let me explain what I mean by reminding you of one of the most disturbing news stories to come across the wires in the last month. In a much-reported study, the Russell Sage Foundation discovered that median household wealth in this country fell by 36 percent in the 10-year period ending last year. Wealth for people at the top, as other news stories remind us, has continued to soar. These things are a consequence of the Great Recession, of course, but they are also a reminder of the grand narrative of our time: The lot of average Americans constantly seems to be growing worse. The Great Depression of the 1930s was awful, but it set America on the path toward a period of shared prosperity. Our bout of hard times has had the opposite effect. It has accelerated the unraveling of the middle class itself. Now, you can blame the risible, Ayn Rand-reading Tea Party types for this if you like, and you can also blame the George W. Bush Administration. They both deserve it. But sooner or later you will also have to acknowledge that there are two parties in this country, not just one; that the Democrats held significant power during the period in question, including (for much of it) the presidency itself; and that even when they are not in the White House, these Democrats nevertheless retain the capacity to persuade and to organize. For a party of the left, dreadful news like this should be rocket fuel. For the Dems, however, it hasn't been. Why is that? Well, for one thing, because a good number of those Democrats have not really objected to the economic policies that have worked these awful changes over the years. They may believe in the theory of evolution - hell, they may savor the same Jon Stewart jokes that you do - but a lot of them also believe in the conventional economic wisdom of the day. They don't really care that union power has evaporated and that Wall Street got itself de-supervised and that oligopolies now dominate the economy. But they do care - ever so much! - about deficits and being fiscally responsible. Bring up this obvious point, however, and you will quickly discover what a dose of chloroform the partisan style can be. There's a political war on, you will be told; one side is markedly better than the other; and no criticism of the leadership can be tolerated. Instead, let's get back to laughing along with our favorite politicized comedians, and to smacking that Rick Santorum punching bag." .

Unbelievably, George F. Will explains that Nixon was a criminal. Not that everyone didn't know that already, but it's fascinating to me that conservatives have thrown Nixon under the bus even though they still seem to think he was "hounded out of office" by evil liberals.

Good on the Public Editor at The New York Times for answering the question, "Was an Accusation of Plagiarism Really a Political Attack?" regarding their article promoting the flimsy charges from right-wing operatives against Rick Perlstein's latest book: "So I'm with the critics. The Times article amplified a damaging accusation of plagiarism without establishing its validity and doing so in a way that is transparent to the reader. The standard has to be higher."

The Zero Hour

How can you live without these socks?

When Gregory Benford met Philip K. Dick

Worldcon - Seacon, Brighton, 1979

Flowers I didn't expect to see

"Holy crap, these bionic arms look just like Doc Ock's"

Photo: The Beatles on Plymouth Hoe in 1967, taking a break during the filming of Magical Mystery Tour

"Magical Mystery Tour"

7 comments:

  1. I keep saying that one of the reasons the Great Depression led to shared prosperity is that more people (namely many of the 1%) were affected and that therefore there was more openness to solutions that raised all boats. (Also the phobia about socialism. You've heard that rant already.)

    Probably the willingness to throw Mr. Nixon under the bus relates to 1) he's dead, 2) too liberal for current "conservative" taste, and 3) the current "conservative" project of rewriting history so they look less bad.

    I'm sorry I couldn't make it to Worldcon now.

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  2. Re "Flowers I didn't expect to see" - gorgeous - I passed the link to flower photography keen husband - he asked me, "Did you read the text?"
    Nope. LOL! Text I didn't expect to see.

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    1. Yep, people send me links from all over. ;)

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  3. Argg!! I've spent 40 years regretting that I didn't go to MidAmericon in 1976. I don't think I can stand going another 40 years regretting that I missed the 2nd one. It's not like I'd have to travel since it's about 10 miles from my house.....

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  4. I was struggling with Worldcon. The ExCeL is not a place for people who want to talk: The acoustics were terrible with the echo from that tin-box roof, and one of the common effects of age is a reduced ability to pick out particular voices from background noise. I was getting on better with Twitter from my hotel room.

    One things was clear. London is still London. The skin colours had shifted but the people were the same, and I could be very rude about many of the residents of Her Majesty's Retirement Home for Feeble Minded Rogues, up-river at Westminster. when they rabbit on about the threat from immigrants.

    And it wan't just the ExCeL staff, being professional about their jobs. What almost overwhelmed me at times was the simple kindness of ordinary people. That's what being British is, and that's the sort of British Values that the Bullingdon Mob will never see.

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  5. Be the first to fund my Indiegogo campaign for my upcoming novel, Tatterdemalion. I've got an agent lined up, I've got the voiceover artist for the trailer on standby and I know where to publicize it. All I need is the funding. Look, I know I didn't shoot an unarmed black teen or fake cancer or getting stiffed on a tip but this great novel deserves some funding.

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  6. PS (I guess it is a PS now): The link to the purchase of the economics profession by the Fed goes to Second Life Maps. HuffPo doesn't want anyone to find the serious articles, does it?

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