The End of “Here And Now”

Jul. 25th, 2017 03:27 pm
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Posted by Alexandra Samuel

I am in an empty classroom at my kids’ school in Vancouver, where I’ve commandeered a desk and set up my computer. I can hear the music class underway next door, and if I listen carefully, I can pick out the sweet voice of my 13-year-old daughter.

I am in a boardroom in Denver, Colorado, where I’m meeting with a half-dozen fellow board members, discussing the next stage of growth for a burgeoning non-profit.

In her biweekly column “The Digital Voyage,” Alexandra Samuel investigates the key psychological, social, and practical challenges of migrating to an online world.

I am in a swimming pool in Palm Springs, talking with a group of friends about the future of artificial intelligence.

I am in a clothing store in Manhattan, browsing the racks for professional-looking dresses in my size.

Actually, I’m in all these places at once—and usually a few more besides. Thanks to the miracle of contemporary connectivity, I can be in one place physically, another place or two mentally, still others visually or financially. (At least, that’s what my Visa card suggests, as it rings in charges from all across the internet while I sit quite still in Vancouver.) I’m everywhere I want to be — but here barely not on the list .

R.I.P., “here”, that quaint concept of being exclusively present in a single location. These days it’s far more common to be in at least a couple of places at once: at the dinner table, but also back at the office via Slack; in bed, but also visiting with your best friend on Facebook; at the gym, but also at a TEDx conference you’re watching on YouTube; in a tedious meeting, but also (thankfully!) at Nordstrom Rack.

Indeed, the only point of actually being here in a physical sense is to transmit the details on here to somebody else who’s there: checking in on Facebook or Foursquare so that you can pee your little virtual circle around the coffee shop you’ve just occupied, or Instagramming a picture of the awesome concert you’re at so that everybody who’s there wishes they were here—just as those of us who are here can peruse Instagram and wish we were somewhere else.

Maybe it’s time to ask whether here has jumped the shark.

Not only can we exist in multiple locations, but we’re frequently required to. For about five minutes, back in the early nineties, it seemed super awesome that the combination of high-speed internet access and mobile phones could liberate us from the torture of being therethere being the corporate landscape of fluorescent lighting and shabbily upholstered cubicles. But as Noonan and Glass observe in their article, “The Hard Truth About Telecommuting, “the ability of employees to work at home may actually allow employers to raise expectations for work availability during evenings and weekends and foster longer workdays and workweeks.” No sooner did we get here than we discovered that the price of being here is to also, always, be at least partially there.

But let’s not blame the death of here entirely on the office. Your horrible friends are to blame, too. Remember when your friends used to apologize for looking at their phones while you were out at lunch? People under 35, I know the answer is “no”—but believe me, people used to apologize for that.

They don’t anymore, because we’ve so completely abandoned the notion of being in just one physical place that it is now a matter of course that you’re, at most, only about 72% here. In his article on the nature of attention, David Roy quotes Catie Getches’ observation that

it’s easier than ever to be two places at once but nearly impossible to, as my mom says, just “be here now.” Yet being in two places at once has become strangely familiar: You don’t just go out to lunch with a friend anymore. You go out to lunch with the friend and the friend’s cell phone book.

Before you start donning black crepe and getting out your best sobbing hankie, however, it’s worth pausing to ask whether “here” was really all that and a bag of chips. I know “here” has had a great P.R. push from all these mindful Buddhist types—you know, the same folks who brought us “now.” Ralph L. Wahlstrom sums it up: “The Zen Buddhist concept of ‘Be Here Now’ tells us to live fully and consciously in the moment. As profound as it is, it often seems trite (Life is now; This is the first day of the rest of your life; etc.)” But when someone with a Ph.D. in rhetoric can yada yada the Buddhist notion of presence, maybe it’s time to ask whether here has jumped the shark.

After all, here is defined largely by where it isn’t. Philosopher Richard M. Gale must have given himself an enormous headache with his 1969 effort at distinguishing between here and now, observing that

An obvious difference between ‘here’ and ‘now’ is connected with the conceptual truth that an object cannot at the same time be both here and there but can at the same place be both now and then. This surface disanalogy is rebutted by the claim that at a given time an object can be both here and there, provided it fills here and there as well as the space between, just as analogously it can at a given place exist both now and then provided it exists both now and then as well as at the time between.

While Gale concluded that “space and time are radically different,” the internet has revealed that maybe they aren’t so different after all. By speeding up the pace of communication, the internet has made it possible for information to be in many places at once, and if our attention can’t travel at quite those speeds, well, we’re nonetheless giving it the good old college try.

Here was never there to begin with.

We avail ourselves of live Twitter streams and high-speed internet connections and 3G and 4G and then however many Gs they’re willing to give us next. It’s all in the hope that we can stay up-to-the minute on whatever is happening there, even if we have the misfortune of being physically here.

As we cram all these places and experiences into our screens and brains as densely as possible, we’re uncovering a longstanding truth: here was never there to begin with. We like to romanticize the idea of pure presence—moments when we have our friends’ full attention, or when we bring our full attention to whatever experience we are currently in—but a lot of the time, checking out of here is a semi-deliberate choice.

I seem to remember a pre-internet, pre-smartphone world in which here was often tedious—so tedious that we sometimes went to great lengths to avoid it. We carried paperbacks that could transport us to foreign lands or alternate lives (even if we didn’t yet have a Kindle). We spent hours dragging a long, curly telephone cord around the house while we talked with our best friends, racking up long-distance phone charges (remember those?) rather than settling for yet another dull conversation with our spouse. Yes, we actually sat through boring meetings (so many meetings, back in the pre-Slack, pre-Google Docs days!) without benefit of distraction—but I still remember the joy of figuring out that I could fake a startled response to an imaginary vibrating phone call whenever I needed an excuse to leave the room.

It’s easy to resent the internet for killing here; to blame our friends, our colleagues and our cell phones for the loss of pure presence. But unless you’re one of those mindful creatures who has succeeded in achieving an advanced state of enlightenment, there are plenty of situations in which pure presence is less than appealing. I, for one, will always opt out of being fully and perfectly present in a long airport security lineup, if the alternative is to be imperfectly present in a Facebook thread. So let’s just admit that a lot of the time, there really is better than here.

And the internet is as successful at delivering there as it is in eliminating here. Thanks to web conferencing, you can be at the there of your corporate meeting while still sitting at home in your pajamas. Thanks to YouTube, you can be at a performance or a lecture even if obstacles like money or distance would otherwise keep you away. Thanks to Facebook and SMS, you and your best friend can be in constant, daily (even hourly!) contact, even if you live in different cities or countries. Thanks to the internet, and thanks to smartphones, you are never stuck being here just because you can’t come up with a better option.

The internet didn’t invent the phenomena of having your head in the clouds or a faraway look on your face: it just made those idioms literally true. By speeding up the flow of information, the internet hasn’t just blurred now and then—it’s collapsed here and there. We can still choose to be fully present—but that presence is no longer limited to whatever room or place we happen to be in at the time.

Finally, delightfully, authentically, we can be here, there, and everywhere.

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Posted by Matthew Wills

The relationship between religiousness and authoritarianism has been a topic of study in the political, psychological, and social sciences at least as far back as the 1950s. Scholars Paul Wink, Michele Dillon and Adrienne Prettyman write that “a large body of research indicates that church involvement is predictive of an authoritarian attitude constellation, characterized by deference to ‘law and order,’ social conventionality, and intolerance of out-groups.” Gary K. Leak and Brandy A. Randall note that decades of study has shown “when religion is conceptualized in unitary terms, such as church attendance or affiliation, religion often goes hand in hand” with “intolerance, prejudice, authoritarians, and dogmatism.”

These authors agree, however, that the link between religion and authoritarianism isn’t inevitable. It really depends on the kind of religion.

The authoritarianism connection is particularly strong for fundamentalists, who by definition believe that there is only one “inerrant set of religious teachings.” Additionally, Wink et al. write that “religiousness, and religious fundamentalism in particular, are associated with rigidity in the processing of information, low cognitive complexity, and a lack of openness to new experiences.” However, “education merges as the strongest moderator of the religion-authoritarianism relation.”

Scholars theorize that the kind of religious faith that mixes belief and self-questioning is “negatively associated with right-wing authoritarianism.”

According to Wink et al.’s longitudinal study of an American cohort born in the 1920s, the religion-authoritarianism connection also “depends on the aspect of religion being considered: traditional church-centered religiousness versus noninstitutionalized spiritual seeking.” The number of spiritual seekers in America, descendants of the Transcendentalist challenge to Puritan tradition, has grown since the 1960s. Such seeking may be characterized by the “rejection of an uncritical submission to scripture as well as recognition of the validity of other, especially Eastern, faith traditions.” In addition, spiritual seekers “are characterized by an openness to new experiences and by creativity and experimentation, characteristics that are antithetical to the conventionality that adheres in authoritarianism.”

Wink et al. define “quest religion” as “the capacity for self-criticism, recognition of complexity, and tentativeness in the expression of religious beliefs.” Leak and Randall have another description: “religious maturity.” They characterize this as “devout religious commitment coexisting with a willingness to question one’s current beliefs.” According to their research, such “advanced faith development” is “negatively associated with right-wing authoritarianism.” Right-wing authoritarianism, however, “is positively associated with a religion that is conventional, unquestioned, and unreflective.”

Leak and Randall conclude with what they call a commonsensical notion: “being religious does not insulate one from authoritarianism, nor does it condemn one to those same tendencies.”

The post What Links Religion and Authoritarianism? appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

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Posted by Livia Gershon

Well-researched stories from around the web that bridge the gap between news and scholarship. Brought to you each Tuesday from the editors of JSTOR Daily.

Fake surgery gets results (FiveThirtyEight)
by Christie Aschwanden
Surgery can be a powerful remedy for lower back pain or wear and tear on the knees. So can fake surgery. Researchers say the rituals surrounding an operation may, in some cases, be where the real healing is.

The legacy of the modern age is piling up in our dumps (Pacific Standard)
by Kate Wheeling
We’re all vaguely aware of the growing amount of plastic we use and throw away. Now, a study has added up just how much plastic humans have made, and how much has ended up as garbage that’s still hanging around (spoiler: most of it).

The many faces of Jane Austen (The Atlantic)
by Nicholas Dames
Two centuries after her death, Jane Austen’s work remains astonishingly popular, partly because there seems to be an unending variety of ways to read it. What can critics tell us about what Austen was doing, and what she means to us today?

Why don’t Americans know what Confucius thought? (The Conversation)
by Bryan W. Van Norden
China is a major world power. Yet most Americans know very little about Chinese thought traditions. That’s because so few U.S. philosophy departments teach it.

The upside of ugly (The New Yorker)
by Alan Burdick
Many studies have found that attractive people have a leg up in many areas of life. But new evidence suggests that really ugly people do too.

Have you seen a story online that does a good job of bridging the gap between the news and scholarship? Or something that seems particularly well-researched? Let us know and we may include it in next week’s roundup. Email us at jstordaily_submissions (at) jstor (dot) org.

The post Suggested Readings: Fake surgery, unending plastic, and the enduring Jane Austen appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

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[personal profile] kayleearafinwiel
Title: Fishing for New Words (Net)
Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel
Characters/Pairing: Elu Thingol, Olwe, Cirdan. Mention of Finwë.
Rating:G
Warnings:
Book/Source: Silm/possibly HoME. Wherever Cirdan is called "Nowë" - I forget.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Tolkien, I just play in his sandbox. Sometimes by Cuivienen.



Read more... )
A/N: "Natse" is Qenya for "web, net". In 'modern' Quenya it's natsë.

The Blind Banker, Continued

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:36 pm
[personal profile] marta_bee
Apparently I'm not done yet with this episode. Let's talk about one of the cuter moments in the episode.

Sherlock: I need to get some air. We're going out.
John: Actually, I've got a date.
Sherlock: What?
John: It's where two people who like each other go out and have fun.
Sherlock: That's what I was suggesting.
John: No it wasn't. At least, I hope it wasn't.

(With thanks to Ariane.)

My inner Socratic always wants to jump up and dance around at that exchange, because it's precisely the kind of bad "definition" he'd dismiss in the early sections of a Platonic dialogue. That may describe a date, but it hardly defines one. Particularly as Sherlock's precisely right: here, what he was suggesting does meet that definition. He later throws in another criteria: that part of a date was trying to get off with Sarah. But if the only difference between friends' night out and a date is the possibility of sex? That seems cold, somehow.

I wanted to stay away from this scene because I'm trying to experience the show as something other than a slowburn John/Sherlock romance. And this scene, following so closely on the heels of Sherlock's firting with Molly to get access to those corpses (which means he does at least understand romantic code), is pretty damningly TJLC. , That, or queerbaiting, at least at first glance. So I'm not sure how comfortable or fun this particular conversation will be for a lot of people, or helpful to my project of "seeing a story other than TJLC.

But I think there's something important going on here.Because I think canonically (as in, Doyle stories), John and Sherlock love each other even if they don't love romantically or want to have sex. (Which to be clear, I'm also quite open to as a way of understanding these characters.) I think that would have worked reasonably well in Victorian times, when men and women operated in such different spheres; but today, it is harder to make space for a close friendship, even one where there's no romantic competition - a girl friend for a gay married mane, or a male friend fo a hterosexual, for instnce. I mean, we all need friendships and I wish it wasn't this way, but a really close friendship can seem to intrude on the emotional territory of a marriage, because we expect more of that within the marriage than we did 150 years ago.

What this means is the most straightforward answer to the problem raised by Doyle!Mary -- have her and Watson have their own world off-screen, and Holmes and Watson's adventure pose no more a threat to that than regular nights with the men at the club -- doesn't work in the modern times. I'm sure I'll be talking quite a bit about this as we get to S3 & 4.

But for now, what fascinates me is that John and Sherlock don't even have the framework for a close friendship that's distinct from a date. Doubly complicated by the fact that I really and truly think Holmes is meant to be gay or at least not-straight. The problem here is grammatical, they don't even have the words. And if that's not frustrating in the most beautiful of ways!

(Also a bit "persistent," to put it politely, because if Sherlock doesn't pop up like a game of wackamole, time and again throughout the evening. Yes, a big part of that is Sherlock not being great with social boundaries and being as stubborn as kudzu; but I think there's also a big element of neither of them knowing how to make space for the realistic, necessary friendship that seems to be growing between them, that's important and matters at least as much as John's romantic love with Sara but isn't really being validated at that moment.)

Final Reminders

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:13 pm
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[personal profile] independence1776 posting in [community profile] b2mem
1. The LiveJournal community will be closed to new fanworks on August 1.

2. B2MeM has been imported onto Dreamwidth. If you have not already commented and you have posted one or more fanworks on the LiveJournal B2MeM community between 2012 and now, please comment here or on the linked post to acknowledge you have read the linked post and know that your fanworks are now hosted on Dreamwidth. If your DW username is different from your LJ name, please tell us. You only need to comment on one post.

After August 1, we will be privately contacting everyone who has not commented in order to inform them of the import. Please help us by letting us know you know.

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Thank you to everyone who has commented so far or who will comment in the future.

Bell's Table - fanfic

Jul. 24th, 2017 04:18 pm
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[personal profile] elwendell
I've reposted three chapters of Bell's Table and added one (13) new one.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/11474607/chapters/26069034
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Posted by Matthew Wills

Summer jobs for teenagers are becoming a thing of the past. In the 1970s, about half of American teens had summer jobs; today, less than a third do. The numbers for non-white teens are even lower. One thing seems certain: summer jobs are less and less rites of passage for teenagers.

Jim Norris delves into a historical iteration of summer work that many may find surprising, less a rite of passage than a harrowing passage. He examines the situation in the sugar beet country of the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota from the late 1950s to early 1970s.

At the time, there was great anxiety over juvenile delinquency. Norris and others call this anxiety “hysteria,” the subject of dozens of movies in the 1950s and much-hang-wringing from the halls of the FBI down to local school boards. Putting young (white) males to work seemed like a solution to this anxiety.

Juvenile delinquency and racial paranoia brought about Minnesota and North Dakota’s Youth Beet Program.

In addition to juvenile delinquency, regional authorities were worried about the presence of Mexican and Mexican-American farm workers and their families. These folks had moved north to work in the beet fields. Some of them were settling through the winter and putting down their own roots in the region. Crime committed by migrant works and their family members received lurid coverage in the local media, paralleling the hysteria over juvenile delinquency.

The authorities’ solution was the Youth Beet Program, intended to address both the social panic over juvenile delinquency and the racial panic over a growing (but still comparatively tiny) Mexican and Mexican-American populations.

Sugar beet farming had come to the region at the end of World War I. Today, some 20% of the world’s sugar production comes from beets, not sugar cane. The industry in the U.S. received a great boost from the severing of trade with Cuba in 1961.

But sugar beet farming, “as difficult as any agricultural labor,” writes Norris, was hard work in harsh conditions. Local kids were put to the test. “There was never enough drinking water, field toilet facilities, and other ‘youth conveniences'” for teens who complained about “blisters, heat, mosquitoes, sunburn, and the monotony of cultivation.”

“Weather, wages, and high turnover rates,” sometimes reaching 50%, affected the Youth Beet Program. Wages were lower than the minimum wage and teens who toughed out a season rarely returned the next season, meaning their experience was lost. They averaged 4.1 acres per worker. In comparison, experienced “betabeleros,” as the Mexican migrant workers called themselves, averaged 25 acres per worker.

The Youth Beet Program faded out by 1974, nearly a decade after the last outbreak of the juvenile delinquency panic. It had plainly failed to prevent the influx of experienced migrant labor. Of course, migrant workers were particularly vulnerable and had few places to complain about “youth conveniences,” or other aspects of basic human dignity. Some hellish “summer jobs,” it seems, last a lifetime.

The post Did Youth Farming Programs Really Fight Juvenile Delinquency? appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

What’s a Kilogram?

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:12 pm
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Posted by James MacDonald

With the exception of the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia, the entire world uses the metric system to measure length, weight, and temperature. The metric system is based on units of 100, with the meter (length) and kilogram (weight) at its center. It is much more logical than the base-12 imperial system, and it is the primary system used in science and commerce across the globe. But above all, it is a system based on standards: a kilogram or a meter is always exactly the same. Or is it?

At the end of the nineteenth century, the kilogram was conceived as the mass of one liter of water at 4°C, the temperature at which water was densest. This was a tough standard to follow, and it was also not always consistent. For example, density may vary slightly with changes in altitude. This definition is also dependent on a stable definition of the meter, which at the time was very imprecisely defined as a particular measurement of Earth’s surface.

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris built an actual reference meter and kilogram made of platinum iridium.

In 1889, in response to the impractical nature of these standards, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris built an actual reference meter and kilogram. Each was a made of platinum iridium, the most inert material available at the time. The distance between two engraved lines on the meter bar became the official meter, and the mass of the kilogram cylinder (called the prototype) was the official reference for the kilogram. Both were kept under climate controlled conditions and regularly cleaned. Several copies were made and kept in other locations.

This is a great system if the prototypes are truly inert. However, evidence suggests that the prototypes do change. Despite cleaning, contaminants stick to their surface, and the kilogram is slowly losing mass.

Accordingly, the push was on to change from standards based on physical objects to standards based on immutable physical properties, leading to the International System of Units (SI) in 1960. This system standardized units for length, time, electrical power, temperature, and light intensity. The meter was redefined according to the wavelength of radiation from an atom of the isotope krypton 86; this was later changed to a specific distance traveled by light in a vacuum over a specified time interval. Of course, this only works if that time can be precisely measured. The SI second is now based on properties of the Cesium Atom.

The kilogram, however, remained stubbornly difficult to define; no good immutable physical standard unit of mass was readily available. The kilogram prototype remains in its Parisian vault to this day. The new proposal is to base the kilogram off of Planck’s constant, a physical constant taken from quantum mechanics. Planck’s constant has now been measured precisely enough that it can be used as a reference, and in 2018 the plan is in fact to define the kilogram by this method.

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Summer Pictures, 2017

Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:22 pm
moetushie: Beaton cartoon - a sexy revolution. (Default)
[personal profile] moetushie
I know, I know, summer still has a bit of life on in it yet. But I thought y'all might enjoy a few pictures of how my summer is going! It's pretty busy here and I haven't been able to really leave the city, save for some weekend day trips, however, it's still been fun! (And also a reminder of this country's nightmarish history.)

Anyway, play on!

Sorry for the length ... )

Anyway, that's my summer so far. Hope you enjoyed this picspam! Have a good night!

Indian Food is Not a Monolith

Jul. 23rd, 2017 11:00 am
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Posted by Lynn Brown

In the West, when we think of Indian food, we often think of dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala and kedgeree, both of which were originally created to appease the palates of the British during the Raj. Britain’s late Foreign Secretary Robin Cook once proclaimed that Chicken Tikka Masala was “a true British national dish,” because it was a perfect example of the way Britain absorbed and adapted external influences.

Indian restaurants themselves tell a complicated story of cultural combinations. As scholar Elizabeth Buettner points out, racism kept many Britons from trying curry and other Indian foods until the 1960s when white countercultural youths adopted “going out for curries” as a way to break with their parents’ mores. She also notes that most British Indian food restaurants are “run and staffed by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis; their dishes normally differ markedly from what is consumed in the subcontinent and, for that matter, by most people of South Asian origin in Britain.”

Just as there is no one India, there is no one Indian food.

In reality, “Indian food,” much like the country itself, is extremely diverse and dynamic. The various cultures, traditions, and other influences, along with the variable array of ingredients available in different regions, have combined in many ways over the centuries. This has left India with several distinct food cultures that change from one region to the next.

Calcutta

Calcutta, in the Western Bengal region of the country, for instance, has its own cuisine. Because much of the Bengali region is on the coast, recipes tend to use more seafood. The region’s food is also strongly connected to the distinct culture of the area, with certain dishes being associated with particular festivals and times of the year. Gota sheddho, for instance, is a boiled vegetable curry that is often served during prayer rituals called pujas. Puja is the ritual act of showing reverence to a particular deity, and one of the major components of this Hindu tradition is the offering of food (along with prayers, flowers, and other items) to representations of the God in question. Once blessed, devotees also consume a portion of the food.

Gujarat

The northwestern part of India, however, is the region where Gujarati food is most common. Heavily influenced by the Jain religion of the region, Gujarati food is often entirely vegetarian. The sacredness of all life is a major tenant of the Jain religion and so food in this region is often prepared with exquisite care, assuring that no animals, not even insects, are harmed in the harvest or preparation process.

Kashmiri

Kashmiri has its own food traditions. This area of India, which shares a border with Pakistan, is a center for Muslim culture in the country. It is known for the wide variety of lamb dishes that are native to the region, as well as the liberal use of saffron. One major food tradition here is that of the Wazwan, an epic thirty-six course meal that’s used to celebrate religious festivals, weddings, and other important cultural events.

Just as there is no one India, there is no one Indian food. The Indian food you’re likely to encounter in a Western restaurant is a combination of food and culture from across India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, with a bit of something extra thrown in (or taken out) to appease the Western palate. But maybe even just the fact that Westerners eat at Indian restaurants is small step toward true multiculturalism. After all, as Buettner writes, Indian food’s “current cultural prominence within national identity followed a history that saw most Britons either ignore or vigorously reject food understood as ‘Indian,’ just as many objected to the arrival and settlement of peoples from the subcontinent.”

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Marta Rewatches: The Blind Banker

Jul. 22nd, 2017 04:32 pm
[personal profile] marta_bee
 It's the weekend, which means I get to rewatch another Sherlock episode. This week: The Blind Banker.

Before we get started: I know a lot of people aren't big fans of this episode because of the racial elements. And I can see where they're coming from here, the treatment of Soo-lin leaves a lot to be desired. I suspect a bit of that was trying to translate "The Dancing Men" (we can all agree that's the canon inspiration here, yeah?) which relies on a focus on honor and secrecy I don't think translates all that well into modern Western culture. Maybe they felt a need to make that seem "exotic"? (Which is still problematic.) Also there's the ending, where Sherlock lets the pretty white receptionist keep a very valuable, historically noteworthy piece of Chinese jewellery. It's played up as a sweet moment, but I wonder how people would react if we were talking about the Elgin marbles or some such. Which we are, it's just not recognized as such.

So, yes. I get why some folks would be more than a bit turned off by all that. I'm choosing to focus on other things, just because I don't feel all that qualified to talk about those other problems. I did want to at least highlight them, though.

Last week I talked about how in ASIP, John and Sherlock are actually very comfortable in their skins but a bit blind to how they might improve. This episode, the focus is much more on how incomplete they are. How they need to move forward.

Read more... )
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Posted by Livia Gershon

An Arizona court is now hearing a case that could roll back a 2010 law that banned Mexican-American studies in the state. In a 2013 paper, Brandy Jensen explained how the law came about to begin with. Jensen begins her story about multiculturalism, race, and education with NAFTA. The trade agreement eliminated protections for Mexican industries, including corn subsidies, leading many farmworkers to leave the countryside and illegally cross the U.S. border to seek work. In their new country, these workers’ legal status (or lack thereof) left them vulnerable to economic exploitation.

“Widespread anti-immigration discourse in Arizona designates those oppressed by this historical system of commodification, Mexican people, as perpetrators who take what is not theirs to have,” Jensen writes.

Foreshadowing Donald Trump’s rhetoric, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and other state officials fueled public hostility toward immigrants with rhetoric contrasting “illegal aliens” with innocent, vulnerable Americans. That hostility extended to Latinos generally, not just those without documents.

Chicano studies courses teaching the history of U.S.-Mexican relations offer context for understanding contemporary issues in Arizona.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne authored the ban on ethnic studies, HB 2281, following a controversy over the Chicano, or Mexican-American, studies program in the Tuscon public schools. Speaking at Tuscon High in 2007, legendary activist Dolores Huerta said that Republicans hate Latinos. When Horne brought his Latina deputy, Margaret Garcia Dugan, to offer a rebuttal at the school, students turned their backs to her and put their fists in the air.

Horne, who had previously been part of a push to eliminate bilingual education, posted an open letter on the Department of Education website charging that ethnic studies programs “teach kids that they are oppressed, that the United States is dominated by a white, racist, imperialist power structure that wants to oppress them.”

Advocates for the programs countered that, in the face of a standard curriculum focused on European and white American history and culture, ethnic studies programs “are designed to be culturally relevant—to help students see themselves in the curriculum and make them see why education is important for them.”

Jensen notes that Horne’s rhetoric focused on treating children as individuals rather than “dividing” them by race—language that falls into a tradition of assuming a post-racial society. Of course, many Mexican-American students, facing the racialized political conversation about “illegal aliens” happening around them, didn’t share that assumption.

Jensen explains that Chicano studies courses teaching the history of U.S.-Mexican relations can offer useful context for understanding contemporary issues in Arizona. “Unfortunately,” she writes, “the occlusions of historical and contemporary racial realities are viewed as neither racist nor violent in America, but teaching about them is.”

The legislature passed the law in May of 2010, and Brewer signed it immediately. Today, as the Arizona court case unfolds in the context of a Trump presidency, the issues it raises may be even more pressing than they were in 2010.

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Title: A Queen for the Fourth Age

Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel

Summary: Elessar’s great-great-granddaughter is set to become the Two Kingdoms’ first queen. After all, she was firstborn, before her twin brother – the Princess’ Champion.

A/N: For “A Woman’s Sceptre”. Eldacar Telcontar first appeared in my ficlet “Two Princes” as a very young prince – I’ve never written him as King or with children before.

 

Read more... )

 

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B2MeM Prompt: “On silver necklaces they strung The flowering stars, On crowns they hung The dragon-fire, in twisted wire They meshed the light of moon and sun.” JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit

Format: Short story/chapter

Genre: Family

Rating: PG

Characters: Galadriel, Idril, Elwing, Nimloth, Faniel Finwiel, OCs

Creator’s Notes (optional): The Lindarin OCs are Fiondil’s, used with permission.

Summary: Some time (but not too long) after Idril welcomed Galadriel to Alqualonde, the two ellith – and two others – go to a favoured tavern for a drink, and fall in with…surprising company.

 

 

 

 

 

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B2MeM Prompt: The Darkening of Valinor (Purple)

Creator’s Notes (optional): Inspired by Fiondil’s “Nightfall in Aman”, this is a reworking of my own “Silence Falls” written for B2MEM previously, and includes it.

Summary:  Idril remembers, as she walks on the shore of Alqualondë.

 

 

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Title: Morning Hath Broken 2/3, Doriath

Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel

Summary: Oropher remembers.

A/N: Emma and I place Oropher’s birth during YT 1499, at what would be 14,364 solar years – six “years” and less than one Valian year before the rising of the Moon and Sun. This would make him a little more than two and a half in human maturity.

 

 

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Title: Morning Hath Broken

Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel

Summary: One fair morning in Harlindon, Oropher tells the story of the Iathrim's first sunrise to the most precious light of his life - his only remaining son.
A/N: For the prompt “'Boys, sound the bells, the sun rose from the west today. I doubt we'll see it set.' -Dessa, 'Sound the Bells'” given randomly by the Silmfic Prompt Generator, and the February Challenge “Revolution”. Also for Keiliss, for her birthday. An alternate POV of Fiondil’s “Arin Etarácië”, at least within the frame story. My atto indonyo told us how the Exilic Noldor in Fingolfin’s train saw the first Sunrise, as they stepped onto Ennorath’s shores. What of the Iathrim?

 

 

 

***

Vocabulary: All are Sindarin unless otherwise noted.
Iathrim – “(All The) People of the Fenced Land”, i.e. folk of Doriath
Cyrnanor – “Sun-rounds”, years. Singular would be coranor

Helvui – “Fluffy”, Thranduil’s toy rabbit

Laes-nin “my baby”, Oropher’s most common endearment for Thranduil

Anor – Sun

Ada – “Papa/Daddy”

Arin Etarácië”, (Quenya) “Morning Hath Broken”

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Title: What Uncle Glorfi Says…

Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel

Summary: …should stay with Uncle Glorfi. And when it doesn’t…

A/N: Inspired by Fiondil’s “Blades of Destiny” and also his Glorfindel in general.

 

 

 

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Posted by Matthew Wills

When Tales Calculated to Drive You MAD—Humor in a Jugular Vein first appeared in 1952, it was like nothing ever seen before. The comic book parodied comic books, which were then under assault as purveyors of violence and degeneracy that contributed to delinquency, homosexuality, and, of course, the spread of communism. Mad made fun of all that, too.

Within three years, the publication became Mad Magazine, a name change that allowed it to flaunt the prohibitions of the Comics Code Authority. The CCA was an industry effort to tone down comics and hold state censorship at bay. Soon television, movies, advertising, and politics all joined comics as fodder for Mad’s mordant humor. Indeed, the takeaway of Mad was that all of the above were forms of advertising.

Nathan Abrams argues that Mad’s non-partisan critique of Cold War America had more effect than the more famous New York intellectuals working for Dissent, Commentary, and Partisan Review, even as they shared a similar Jewish New Yorker sensibility. (Woody Allen in Annie Hall: “I heard that Commentary and Dissent had merged and formed Dysentery.”) No icon was safe: Mickey Mouse, Khrushchev, Joe McCarthy, Superman, George Washington, Norman Rockwell, Madison Avenue, and psychoanalysis all become grist for the writers and artists working in the gap-toothed Alfred E. Neuman’s mill.

Mad spoofed advertising and American’s reigning hucksterism.

The magazine’s “refusal to conform led to attacks from its rivals in the New York Intellectual family,” writes Abrams. It was called tasteless, puerile, teenage, cynical, formulaic. One Dissent writer said that Mad “expressed a savage acquiescence” to “the oppressiveness of official culture.”

But what an acquiescence! Ad-free, the magazine spoofed advertising (“Crust” toothpaste, for instance, supposedly helped prevent both tooth decay and juvenile delinquency) and American’s reigning hucksterism. Mimicking and cannibalizing popular culture, the magazine “anticipated pop art’s privileging of product commodification as the central focus of reproduction” and worked to erase the divide between high and low culture.

Abrams notes, “Mad certainly pre-empted or paved the way for the satires of the 1960s that are usually credited with helping to undermine the conformity of the Eisenhower years.” Catch-22, Dr. Strangelove, M*A*S*H, underground comics, sick/gross/black humor, can all claim some Mad in their DNA. The magazine “helped to change the nature of comedy by redrawing the boundaries of orthodoxies of taste,” as Abrams puts it.

Here was a publication, after all, whose name echoed the strategic MAD doctrine, which stood for mutually assured destruction, the notion that nuclear war would be devastating for all parties involvedso more and more weapons had to be stockpiled in an arms race to keep the terror balanced.

Within that atmosphere of insanity, Mad “fulfilled a pivotal role, giving teenagers a political education over their breakfast cornflakes.”

The post How Mad Magazine Informed America’s Cultural Critique appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

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