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branchandroot: one tree in an open field (calm solitary tree)

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© Jürgen Heckel

This pine forest picture reminded me.

Back when I was in 7th grade, I went to a week-long camp, having spent a month or two stumping around the neighborhood with my grade-mates selling overpriced cheese and meat products to raise the money. It was a standard summer type camp, for the most part, but with odd “educational” things pasted on here and there.

One of those things was an extremely peculiar exercise that involved having the whole camp draw cards to see what “animal” we were, and then being turned loose in the patch of forest behind the camp to run around (without maps) variously “mating with” or “preying on/being preyed on” by each other. At the end of the game, we would be scored based on how often we’d “mated,” “fed,” or “died.”

Yeah, looking back I kind of wonder what the organizers were smoking, too.

But that wasn’t the most peculiar part. No, the strangest part was that, after clattering around the deciduous area, rubbing our animal-name cards against each other (our rather embarrassed consensus gesture for mating) or else gingerly negotiating to reveal what animal we were preparatory to either running like fuck or chasing like mad, a lot of us came out into a small pine forest. Like the one pictured above, it was old and established, with straight trunks going up quite a ways before branches reached for the sun, and several inches of old needles turning the ground soft and silent underfoot.

And in that area, we all just… stopped. Stopped “mating” and “preying” and just wandered around in the quiet green and gold light, nodding silently at each other now and then, “rabbits” leaning against old trunks next to “wolves” just… being.

It was a suspended moment, in that bizarre “naturalistic” scenario, when we all just dropped aside our assigned hierarchy, ignored the prompts of the teachers, and sat together.

And today, today when I’ve been crying at my desk on and off all day, when I’ve seen, not the normal one or two, but six emergency vehicles run past the window with sirens on, all of them ambulances, when views of my stories have skyrocketed and all I can do is be glad I can, in some small way, be there for someone… Today, I’m glad I remember this.

A bunch of kids, given permission, even directions, to be their rawest selves to each other, shrugging it all off, sitting together under the shelter of old evergreens, just being.

from Tumblr http://branch-and-root.tumblr.com/post/152969233569
branchandroot: Ed giving a thumbs up (Ed thumbs up)
Happy new government, Canada!
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
For the benefit of my fellow Ohioans, as I research to fill out my lovely absentee-because-I-want-to-vote-by-mail ballot:

Straight Democratic ticket is looking like a pretty safe bet, this year.

For the judicial races, Judgepedia has turned out to be a very nice source. Cupp and O'Donnell were implicated in the funding scandal a few years ago and are still taking ridiculous amounts of campaign money from the Chamber of Commerce, so I'd say No on them and Yes to Skindell and O'Neill instead. Brown is listed as "highly recommended" by the bar association while Kennedy is listed as "not recommended", so I'm going Yes on Brown. And while the white, male, Republican Welbaum running for Second District Appeals is highly recommended and Ingram is merely "recommended", Carley Ingram is a black woman; so a) I suspect some bias in the ratings and b) I'd go for her anyway. Be sure to check your own district races.

I'm inclined toward Book for the state board of education. He's younger and talks about how we need to prevent the privatization of schools for private profit and make sure everyone has equal access and quality. Hiden talks about how he's done so well so far and wants to bring in a CEO to be Superintendent.

Issue One is an automatic function of our constitution. Every so many years, this must appear on the ballot, so that we can have a constitutional convention if we want one. No one seems to be set to take advantage of this, one way or the other, so I'm inclined to No.

Issue Two is a measure to stop jerry-mandering which was proposed by a bunch of people with their heads on straight but /written/ by the incumbent Republicans who engaged in jerry-mandering this election. So, that bit at the start about taking away power from elected representatives and giving it to appointed officials? Yeah, ignore that, it's typical scare tactics. There are provisions for balancing the appointees among the two majority parties and the independents, to keep the commission out of any one party's hands and agenda. Give that a Yes if you want to stop the shoddy election shenanigans that were indulged in this election.

Twenty-five is a tax levy to support services for those with developmental disabilities. Vote Yes, duh.

This has been your pre-election service announcement, we now return to our usual programming.
branchandroot: hand balancing a dagger (dagger hand)
A lot of things about these two acts alarm and disgust me, but they are also part of a larger, and in many cases far more subtle, narrative in which necessary and even beneficial changes in media industry and distribution models are targets of scare-mongering, labeled piracy, and legislated against.

I think [personal profile] foxinthestars put it most cogently, so go read her.

Indeed, "piracy" is a scare-label I think we need to question. How many of you have heard that that Western fansubbers/scanlators and their viewers/readers are what's destroying the anime/manga industry? That's a load of BS, and sites like Crunchyroll are busy proving it. If the US anime/manga industry cannot, in its current model, provide products that enough people wish to watch/read, at a price they are willing to pay, then that model needs to change. It does not need to be legislatively mandated.

A lot more models need to change, too. Indeed, many are changing already. But, as in other industries, like energy production, the companies that have made a lot of money off the old way don't want to give it up, and are happy to throw some of that money at legislators who haven't the tiniest clue about how the internet actually works--but do have a lot of sympathy for rich people.

Contact your representatives to give them an earful of what the rest of their constituents think.
branchandroot: white chrysanthemum on black (chrysanthemum-stark)
While we're talking about raising consciousness, [personal profile] bell has a point/post/discussion going on on her journal about the Russian-hating that is so carelessly and copiously flung about, whenever LJ fails again.*

Ever since the SUP buyout I, and I'm sure everyone else who has ever followed the news posts on LJ, have seen a lot of extremely bigoted, ignorant and, frankly, McCarthy-esque things said. One common theme is "In Soviet Russia" remarks; another is to call LJ personnel "commie pinkos". I wish I could even say this were done ironically, which would be offensive enough, but in most cases it appears to be straight-up earnest bigotry in all its brainless glory. I find these especially brainless given that a) Soviet Russia no longer exists as such and b) the fail in question is so often driven by bare-faced market capitalism just like it was under 6A.

Were 6A ever called capitalist pigs? Multiple times in every heated post? Were they referred to at every turn as Americans or San Franciscans as though that somehow explained why they were bad? If you guessed "no" you would be right, which makes the explicitly Russian-nation-hate behind this pervasive name calling nastily clear.

And I could lecture until I'm blue in the face about the fact that the people of Russia have always had minds of their own, or the difference between communism as an economic and political theory of activism and State Communism, or the extremely distinct difference between democracy and capitalism, or the beauty of Mikhail Bakhtin's writing, but all of that is beside the actual point. In fact, my or your opinion of communism or of Russia or of LJ is beside the point.

Because the actual point is: national slurs are just as ugly and inexcusable as any other kind of slur (racial, gender, sexual, religious, physical, whathaveyou). They represent the triumph of parochial ignorance and fear over actual knowledge and thought, and thinking people need to do two things. One, they need to not engage in this themselves. Two, they need to speak up when they see other people doing it.

The capsule version: national, political and ethnic slurs are Not Okay. Don't do it.

* Note that I in no way accuse Syn of this, though her initial phrasing was not as aware of this dynamic as would have been ideal.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
I find it typical that the racist bigot who professes a desire to 'protect our women!' from the racial Other is the same person as the sexist bigot who, if 'his woman' is raped, is the first to tell her it was her own fault.

The implicit contradiction highlights the fact that neither the racial-other nor the gender-other is the real point of the bigot's complaints. The bigot himself is; he is the center of his universe and the only real points that he can imagine being made are ones about him.

This is why he is often the same person who, in any discussion centering on the perceptions, problems and possible solutions of women, will stand up and proclaim that the discussion is "exclusionary" or "reverse sexism" because it is not about him. Or he may be the one who insists on telling everyone, and calling on everyone to witness and agree, that he is distressed and injured by the hostility of the discussion, because he is most certainly not one of the bad men the women in question are angry at. This is a slightly more subtle attention-grab, but it results in the discussion being hijacked and recentered on him just as surely as the first example.

The one thing that this kind of person fears most is finding out that he is not the center and turning point of the world.

branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Apropos of reviewing news highlights from the past few years, and being hideously reminded of 1984...

I have no doubt at all that George Bush Jr. believes it's possible to fly.

branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
The statement that "there must be limits on freedom" is one I find worthy of consideration in the mouth of a philosopher.

In the mouth of a national president and head of state, someone whose own freedom will not be curtailed by any limits he enacts, it is wholly untrustworthy.

If Plato's philosopher king had ever actually sat on a throne the whole concern would have gone the way of Blithedale.

branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
I was going to stay quiet about this, but since when have I ever been able to stay quiet about a hot political topic?

So. Someone on lj posted a rather black joke recently, in the form of a mock-prayer that Bush expire in as personally and politically embarassing a way as possible. I say mock-prayer, since the opening sentiments note that, despite currently addressing God, she does not belive in Him.

This post was reported as a threat against the Executive, thus setting in motion an investigation.

In accordance with the policy established for over fifty years, now, I believe, the Secret Service paid the poster a very brief visit, ascertained that she was in no way a threat, and dropped the matter.

Because of the fact of report and investigation, she now has an open FBI file.

Because of the current particularly high degree of paranoia exercised by the Dept. of Homeland Security and all its members, she may or may not be additionally subject to restrictions on her travel, search and seizure of private property without warrant or permission, or surveillance of her personal communications without her knowledge.

The parts about the investigation taking place neither surprise nor particularly outrage me; I, too, have a file, purely because my step-father once worked for a company that took DOD contracts that required he have security clearances. It's never impeded me. One of my uncles had a file from his wild young college days of burning busses that he had to apply to have closed/cleared/inactivated when his job started requiring that he travel overseas, before he could get his passport; this was done without any particular fuss, though I suspect the fuss might be greater today. I think the paranoia of the policies in question is stupid, and that the policies could do with being reviewed and re-written. I'm all for a referendum for this purpose; but this part of what happened is nothing new or surprising.

I am rather disgusted that the post in question could be given credence as a "threat", since the poster expressed a wish and not an intention. Unless, as has been pointed out elsewhere, one takes the very Bush point of view that prayer constitutes action. The thought that this idea might re-enter US law, after considerable time and effort has been spent to get rid of it, does disturb me. Again, however, this is a fairly long established response. I believe it is unjustified, and needs to be addressed and reviewed, but it's nothing new.

The two things that utterly outrage me are 1) that this was reported with malicious intent and 2) that serious threat-containment action could be invoked against the poster.

Actually, it infuriates me that some those policies could be invoked against anyone. As currently written, they are unreasonable and of questionable legality. They expand the definition of "threat" to utter absurdity, and use it to curtail civil liberties in a manner deeply reminiscent of McCarthy. The fact that any citizen of this country could possibly accept "Homeland Security" as a necessary or useful measure makes me want to scream with horror. There were already judicial and law-enforcement proceedures laid down before 9-11 that made provision for investigating possible threats to any of the people of this country, including the Executive. To suspend the limitations on those is reprehensible, and serves no purpose other than making it easier to persecute anyone the current administration (and next administration, and next, and next...) does not favor and vice versa. The fact that the provisions for curtailing civil liberties may yet be invoked against this woman highlights precisely the irrationality encoded in thir current incarnation that I find objectionable.

It's possible, though, that the report itself disturbs me even more. The poster indicates that she has some idea of who may have done it, and that her differences with that person are fandom-based.

The unthinking viciousness involved makes me cringe. This is taking the concept of a Denial-of-Service attack to the absolute extreme. One reports the victim for a spurious breach of law. In this case, though, the concequenses reach so far beyond, say, having one's email account deactivated, that I'm at a loss for words to describe the blind cruelty and malice involved. I earnestly hope that this will, in some way, rebound on the attacker, and he or she will be penalized for a false report. In the political climate that allowed "Homeland Security" to be instituted, I have little genuine trust that any such thing will happen, but I still hope.

What are we, that this kind of character assasination and careless vandalism directed at another person's liberty for the sake of a fandom disagreement is even concievable? Are we really going to emulate Salem, and allow petty grievances to reach such a level of destructiveness? I find the person who reported this utterly contemptible.

I think it was rather incautious of the poster to post her distaste for the Bush administration in quite those terms on a public forum such as lj. The public expression of such sentiments has, for some time, been likely, if noticed, to result in a cautionary visit from the Boys in Black.

I think it was ridiculous that established policy required two members of the Secret Service to waste their time checking up on her in person.

I think it is laughable that her "prayer" could be construed as a threat.

I think it is appalling that measures designed to contain serious threats may be invoked against her, particularly any limit on her ability to fly. The implication that one will be considered a dangerous criminal for really despising the current office-holders terrifies me. Especially because I despise a solid majority of them. The day it is criminalized to hate the government is the day I give up on attempting to improve this arrogant, brainless, apathetic excuse for a nation and move to New Zealand.

But if the poster's suspicions are correct, then the fact of the report, made over different opinions of a damned story, is what makes me feel like I've just seen someone point a gun at another person and pull the trigger for a joke.

September 2017

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