". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Family Keeps Secrets About Robert E. Lee?

Today's New York Times excellent Disunion column is about Robert E. Lee "The War Comes Home for Lee," and what happens there when Lee breaks his oath of allegience to the United States and defects to the confederacy.

However, viewed according to the dogma of the neverending inglorious lost causers, this is the history of Arlington:

Arlington = Paradise Lost; Lee = God, treacherously deposed ....

There's an additional fascinating and informative column (unusual for that site that seems to have an ongoing contest among its hacks to throw up the most dum and dummer stuff) running today on salondotcom by a writer who usually gets things wrong, but not today (which show what can be done if a writer does some writerly work instead of hacking hairballs), "The Confederate We Still Don't Know."

All of that column is filled with vital information, but it was in a comment by a reader that the most interesting bit pops up, something I should have realized all along, when it comes to endless litney of the inglorious lost causers and how they didn't really lose, were only dishonorably betrayed by you name it.  This is how it started, and why it was perpetuated.

The comment was written by James Levy and tells you what you need to know, and indeed did know, if you / me (and I hadn't, I am ashamed to say) had thought about it for a second:
But Lee granted many interviews after the war and commented on many things, just not on the record in his own words. He was part of the whispering campaign that followed the war, where everybody and his brother Down South tried to fob off the blame for defeat on someone else. There is a huge historiographical literature on how Lee's staff, Hood, McClaws, Jeff Davis, Longstreet (who became a Republican and was vilified by his former mates), Porter Alexander (more honestly than most), Jubal Early et al., waged an incessant battle to excuse their mistakes, glorify the "Lost Cause", and explain away defeat. The idea that Lee was just some private citizen after April 1865 is not credible.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Simon Schama Should Be Ashamed, & So Should the BBC

In his Independence era work, Rough Crossings, Schama repeats The Fiction of Man of Color Samuel Fraunces and His Daughter Phoebe Who Saved Washington From Assassination!" He makes up whole cloth a whole bunch of material about him and the events in New York that took off the slaves emancipated by the English for fighting and aiding the Loyalist side of the war. Whole farkin' cloth fantasy and imagination. There's not an iota of fact for any of it. Tellingly, none of this section has a single citation .... Nobody's called him on it. It's not even that the info is hard to find.

I worked for the Fraunces Tavern Museum, so I know this material. If Samuel Fraunces had been a man of color, if he had a daughter named Phoebe who saved General Washington from assassination, we would have capitalized it like nobody's business. But there is NO documentation for any of this, and all the documentation we do have, including the city's census records, tax records, property records say otherwise -- including the number of slaves and their gender owned by by Fraunces.

Is this what happens to historians who do television history?  You farm out the actual research to your grad students, and it doesn't matter to you and your bosses whether your facts are correct -- you prefer to print the legend rather than the facts because that makes for a better story?  This is acceptable for movies and fiction, perhaps *.  But Rough Crossings was not purported to be either -- though, tellingly again, it was written to be a a television series for the BBC (2005 & 2006) -- the BBC should also be ashamed. It was presenting history, not fiction.


* Preferring fantasy to facts in fiction or movies isn't acceptable either, as far as this historian's concerned. That's one of the major reasons the lies of the inglorious lost cause, including their favorite one, that the Civil War wasn't fought about slavery, continue to hang on.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why New Orleans Matters

How far does the significance of New Orleans reach?

Here is a video of a street parade in Norway. It's a jazz funeral, a second line, complete with le baronne.

These Norwegians reached for their Lutheran traditions to express and process their grief. They also reached for the New Orleans way, an ocean, continents and cultures away from them. That's how far New Orleans reaches now.

I watch this, breathless.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Potter Part I, White Collar, Damages, House of Cards, Naamah's Blessing

This state of enervation is what it was like for so much of the world's places until the historical innovation of air conditioning (i.e. see why human beings love owning slaves). In much of the world it was this hot all the time -- and in those places, now it is even hotter, and the seasons, the weather and climate events are even more extreme than they used to be. Also -- the water -- it's toxic, gone or privatized. One foresees that the very near future there won't be public utilities because with no jobs and all the rest of the ruthless management madness of pillage and cut anything that serves the public good that has been more severe every year, there is no tax base to support public and municiple services of any kind. Thus those who can afford private generators will have electricity and a/c and the rest of us will not. Welcome to the likely future.

In the meantime even here our personal a/c isn't quite up to what we've been experiencing and I'm progressively loggy and stupid. Just sitting and drinking gallons of water (while I still can -- the privatization of municiple water supplies has been proceeding at ever accelerating pace here in the U.S. since the '80s). Watching escape tv, and looking for an escape novel.

The first part of HP and the Deathly Hallows -- which made some sense for me out of the incomprehensible novel that I could not get through. So, if it ever rains and cools down, I will go see the last part in a theater. I liked this movie a lot more than I expected, particularly the Kara Walker art inspired animation of the "Tale of the Three Brothers and the Three Deathly Hallows." Also, winter and ice and snow and cold water.

The first disc of White Collar's second seasonSmart, light, caper-con-adventure that taxes none of our capacities; Fun with friends? enemies? betrayal?  It provides a fairy tale vision of a gorgeous and sophisticated Manhattan that isn't Sex and the City Manhattan. The protagonist is made of charm and brilliant blue eyes. The cast of secondaries and supporting roles are also a pleasure to watch, and possess their own charms. That con-man Neal Caffrey's sidekick, Mozzie, a most important secondary role, is played by Willie Garson, who played Carrie Bradshaw's gay friend Stanford in Sex in the City, allows all this fluff and charm to work. Garson seems to reprise his SatC Stanford role, though this time he's as intelligent and talented as the hyper-smart, talented Neal. This makes Garson's Mozzie more fun -- he can also be hard, and I don't mean catty. This is a series that is mostly about effortless cool and smooth, and that one swallows gratefully in this brutal period of heat and stress.

The third season of Damages: Last week another writer asked what kinds of fictional characters invariably appealed to us. Many readers and writers made many responses and none of them invariably appeal to this reader. Indeed, they tend to put me off any fiction that presents itself to me as any of them. So what does invariably appeal to me, I wondered? after having read so many novels and seen so many movies that almost everything seems an empty formula?

Damages is what will invariably appeal to me: conspiracy twisted upon conspiracy, betrayal reversing itself for mutual benefit, after betrayal for personal benefit, among a cast of smart cookies, some of them at least, hopefully will be women. In Damages both protagonists are women, played by Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. It's their shifting relationships with each other that matters, not their romantic relationships, failed or not, with men.

Stories of friendships and the antagonisms in friendships, particularly if they are female friendships are what I like, even more than the competition and conflicts between antagonists. But these are difficult to write successfully. Conspiracy, betrayal and reversal demand a tight plot to provide form and structure, out of which comes the pacing of successive reveals, otherwise all it is, is one damned thing after another and you don't go anywhere.

The Damages's chronology doesn't run straight ahead, but in two lines, the 'present,' and the future of the events being created in this scene's present. The photography via lighting and location of these future scenes provides an easy clue for the viewer so that works well, as well as keeping the viewer on her toes, to know where / when she is. So, because it doesn't all look alike, it is more lively than most television. It also has one of the greatest theme and most nasty songs, that bumpers the episodes: "There'll won't be anything left when I'm through with you." It is a smart show in every way.

Damages is the kind of television that the 1990's BBC's House of Cards was -- the brilliant, entertaining series featuring a fictional Britain's Conservative political whip, Francis Urquart, played by Ian Richardson, during the reign of terror of someone very like Margaret Thatcher. That's just for starters. Damages is a U.S. kind of House of Cards.

So naturally, Damages being such smart television, the fourth season has gone from cable to satellite.

Fantasy novel Naamah's Blessing: The latest, and seemingly the final volume in the three series Terre d'Ange novels of Jacquelin Carey. I'm already skipping big chunks of it because the narrator's constant and consistent modest praise of herself masked as criticisms of herself, always bring enthusiastic excuses for her from everyone else, as they invoke her 'destiny,' which by now, by golly, she's filled many times, but there is still one more destiny to fulfill. But she must leave Aquitaine Terre d' Ange to do so, inflicting herself upon the innocents of the New World as consequence. It takes nearly 300 pp. for us to arrive to the point of departure, where, presumably, the real tale begins.

I am hoping there will be a redemption to this third series' sending the girl from England Alba to save the Asias and now the New World too. Moirin had come from beyond the edge of Europe to what presumably is the center of, at least, that world, Terre d'Ange and the center of that world, the Blessed City of Elua, a culture of tolerance and racial diversity (though the Terre d'Anges are taller, more charismatic, more beautiful, longer living than anyone else), the motto of which is "Love as thou wilt." From there she travels east to other edges of the known world -- ok, say it: China and India or at least locations that appear modeled up on some parts of Southeast Asia. And now she's traveling to the ends of the world in another direction, to Terra Nova. Maybe Moirine (I can never remember this protag's name!), I am hoping, in her guise as a deity's magical child, will bring tolerance and diversity -- PEACE and JOY to the Whole Planet, as supposedly Jesus was to do.

But why do I think that's not going to happen ... More likely what is going to happen is the reading of this novel to the end will not survive the brutal heat dome's imprisonment here at home. So far it is not striking me as smart, so I cannot suspend myself in the joy of following the path of smart composition.

I did mention that what grabs me invariably is smart, right? But it's got to be authentically smart, not the so-called smart ass. Another way of putting it maybe is the difference between an incision done by a surgeon's scalpel and the work done by an axe. Both are a pleasure to watch in the hands of skillful handlers, both need much patience and practice, but they are very different.

Ah, well, I'm cranky so I'm quitting this now and will take a bath. Eat cold pasta, a salad and fruit. Watch some more Neal in White Collar. While underneath it all keep praying for that fabled thunderstorm that has never yet arrived.

Does This Knock Murdoch Off the Media Hook?

In any case, it seems the motives for the Norwegian bloody bomb-and-shoot attack were the inverse of the immediate usual suspects' howling.

ETA:  Profile of Anders Behring Breivik, as complete as can be at this stage of the investigation.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Former Reddit co-owner arrested for excessive JSTOR downloads

Hacking JSTOR Shut Down MIT:

This happened last fall and winter (recall ... winter?, she pants, having just come inside from 90 + outside, crawling up to 100) ---

"Former Reddit co-owner arrested for excessive JSTOR downloads"

According to the complaint, Swartz purchased a laptop in September 2010 and registered it under the name "Gary Host" (username: "ghost") on the MIT network. He then ran a Python script that rapidly downloaded articles from the JSTOR. JSTOR detected the script and blocked his IP address. The complaint alleges that there followed a game of cat and mouse in which Swartz repeatedly changed his IP and MAC address to evade JSTOR and MIT's efforts to block access. Swartz also bought a second laptop to speed up the downloading process. Finally, on October 9, JSTOR gave up and and blocked the entire MIT campus from using JSTOR.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Will Sinéad Cusack Pretend *Camelot* Was Never A Part of Her Career?

Disclaimer: The following is in no way a review and should not be taken for a review. Reviews are written with gravity and intelligence; they employ language skills enjoyed by the educated litocracy, with objectivity and critical analysis. In contrast, the following is bloody-minded snark on the part of the writer, i.e. me, period. Also, it is 90+ degrees here, out on the streets tourists and others are howling like the brainless zombies they are.  It's staying this way, They Say, here in NYC, for a long time.

Why is this series so bad, and boringly bad to boot?

It's got some talented actors, such as Sinéad Cusack, who plays Sybil, the most risible villanous nun ever, and Joseph Fiennes, an actor often playing roles from Shakespeare -- on the stage -- who, in this, plays Merlin with a perpetual crick in his neck as if, maybe, he thinks he's really in Richard the III.

However, the primary characters are acted by actors who haven't an ounce of talent at all, and look even sillier as characters in the era of Angles and Saxons -- the clothes are gorgeous, right out an illustrated Pyle Middle Ages, or maybe Ivanhoe. No wimples, but loads of flowing velvets and satins and gold embroidery. (Also mirrors, there are a lot of mirrors, which isn't very period-ful, is it? But then, neither is the music. But then, who cares?)

The scripts are dreadful, and not only is that the dialog. Presumably the writers and the director and cinematographer don't speak to each other, or read the script either. At one point the ladies of the weed overgrown shambles that is supposedly Camelot inform poor Guinevere* there are no servants to help put on her wedding to Leontes. Why yes, she's marrying Arthur's Champion -- aren't we in clever story reversal, making the betrayed spouse the Lancelot stand-in, instead of King Arthur? In the very next scene the overgrown, roofless hall is over-run with servants decorating the place for the wedding. And right -- you believe living in this place? -- they even decide to never put a roof back on the hall so they will "never forget the stars." Is that a clever compliment to Starz, streaming this muck on netflix, which explains how/why I have now and again dipped into this well of idocy.

Michael Hirst, who wrote entertaining scripts for the gorgeous to look at, The Tudors, and much else, maybe should give up being a producer, as he's co-producer here, as on The Young Merlin, which he also helps script? He's going from the acceptable -- The Borgias, to the bad -- Young Merlin, and now this -- more stupid than cluck. Argh. He's also supposedly adapting adapt the Bernard Cornwell's novel Azincourt, for the screen. More Argh.

Shots in pretend-historical period television nobody can stand to see without laughing or getting po-ed: close-ups of galloping horses hooves (you got the horses, put their entire gorgeous galloping bodies in the scenes for pete's sake, it won't cost any more, since you've already shown us them before cutting down to hooves beating up clods); meaningless criss-cross of scene of extras in period costume doing meaningless period things or carrying meaningless period items, or just standing about being meaninglessly period. Time for new period establishing shots, new blocking and choreography, don't you think?

The Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes episodes used all the above (well, not the galloping horses' hooves) supremely, brilliantly well, including the theme opening of each episode. It's been all downhill formula ever since.

* Why does every novel, television script and movie that has had a Guinevere in it since Mists of Avalon, hated her? She's now always stupid, cowardly, and incompetent -- or here, all the above -- even though she takes charge as though she is the Queen and Arthur's wife even though she's married to Leontes. On the other hand she doesn't have to be the worst Arthur's sister evah, Ms. Morgan, let-me-show-my-boobs-to-you-wolves again-for-reasons-none-of-us-particularly-the-writers-have-a-reason-for.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Last Night We Had the Moon for an Appetizer

An enormous red and yellow gold fatly full globe hanging behind the roof water tower on the corner of Broome and Mercer.  Behind our backs, in the west, the sky continued to glow with the last of the setting sun.  We went home then, to the main course of our dinner.

Class begins on Monday, from 11 AM to 1:30 PM, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  Those will be long days.  The last class days is 8/18.  So, we're now officially taking a break from everything productive until Monday -- well, almost, anyway.

Perfect summer reading includes books we've had no time to read so far this year or even last spring and summer:

Keef's Life  It is making el V laugh out loud, prolongedly (word?), frequently.  I have season 3 of the marvelously sensational Glenn Close series, Damages, to watch on dvd, some fantasy novels, including Wolfsangel by M.D. Lachlan (2011 - Pyr).  There is a lot of music this weekend here in NYC.  Now I'm looking for which books to stack up for the next month's subway riding escape reading.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Radical History Review #116, "Water" Call for Proposals

Radical History Review #116, "Water"

Call for Proposals

The Radical History Review seeks submissions for an issue on water. As the single most important life-sustaining resource on the planet, water has been one of the most contested terrains of human history. This special issue of the Radical History Review aims to examine how water or the absence of water has shaped the past and seeks to historicize how water has been used, regulated, explored, exploited, protected, wasted, and polluted. Increasingly, states and multinational corporations have attempted to privatize water on a global scale rather than recognize it as common right.

The ongoing "water wars" in Bolivia and India, for example, reveal a contentious struggle over water rights that reflect the economic disparity between the Global North and South. Water usage patterns between the Global North and South further compound the structural inequality surrounding contemporary water issues. On average, Americans consume nearly 25 gallons per day, while in many parts of Africa the average use per person is 1.5 gallons. This inequity underlies one of the most profound challenges to global justice in our world today.

Fresh water, however, accounts for only a tiny percentage (approx. 2.75 percent) of the total water on the planet, with much of this small percentage frozen in polar ice or trapped in underground aquifers. Ocean and seawater, conversely, constitute much of the
planet's water, creating a massive undersea world that humans have yet to fully comprehend. Yet despite its size and scope, these large expanses of water have not been immune to human history. Fishing, transportation, waste disposal, or nuclear testing, for example, have been some of the ways the human world has transformed the ocean world.
Historically, control and regulation of the ocean world has been a deeply complex and contested global issue.

What can radical historians say about water? This issue seeks to examine the historical processes or problems that shape our contemporary water issues. Conflict and power have played an integral role in determining how humans have interacted with, used, exploited, or protected this important natural resource. From floods to tsunamis, nature, too, has been a forceful and, at times, destructive agent of change. Water also becomes a space, of rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans that are central to contact, exploration, and trade. How can historians connect scholarship about riverine and ocean to understandings of water as a deeply contested resource and commodity?

We welcome works that examine the human impacts on individual bodies of water as well as works that address the interconnections between multiple water worlds. Possible submission may also include:
- The impacts of oil and gas production on water systems
- Fishing and aquaculture
- History of waste and water
- The regulation of transnational river systems
- Spatial conceptions of water and water systems
- Water as a global commodity
- The science of water and water safety
- The history of conflict over mineral resources in the oceans and seas

Radical History Review publishes material in a wide variety of forms. The editors will consider scholarly research articles as well as photo essays, film and book review essays, interviews, brief interventions, essays on museum and other public history forums, "conversations" between scholars and/or activists, teaching notes and annotated course
syllabi, and research notes.

Procedures for submission of article abstracts: By September 15, 2011, please submit a 1-2 page abstract summarizing the article you wish to include in this issue as an attachment to

with "Issue 116 abstract submission" in the subject line. By October 15, authors will be notified whether they should submit a full version of their article for peer review. The due date for completed drafts of articles is January 15. Those articles selected for publication after the peer review process will be included in issue 116 of Radical History Review, scheduled to appear in Spring 2013. The issue editors strongly encourage the submission of images or artwork to illustrate textual pieces, as well as photo or other visual essays. Please send any images as low-resolution digital files via email. If chosen for publication, authors will need to send high-resolution images files (jpg or tif files at a minimum of 300 dpi), along with written permission to reprint all images.

Abstract Deadline: September 15, 2011

David Kinkela
Honors Program
Assistant Professor
Department of History
Thompson Hall E314
SUNY Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063


author of DDT and the American Century

Sunday, July 10, 2011

No Safety Anywhere, Danger Everywhere

When run-away Harriet Jacobs looked for refuge in New York City post the Fugitive Slave Act, this kept her in a state of perpetual terror:

*Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860*

By the brilliant Richard Slotkin, of course.

Every page has material we need to know about ourselves.

Has any other country ever done studies of its own historical companionship with violence and how the violence is expressed culturally, politically and economically through its centuries?

What else am I reading right now?

Research Materials:

Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South (2009), by Lacey K. Ford, Oxford;

The Memory of the American Revolution in the Politics of the Civil War (2008) by Jonathan B Crider, B.A. A Thesis In History;

"Horses and Gentlemen: The Cultural Significance of Gambling among the Gentry of Virginia." Author: T. H. Breen. The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Apr., 1977), pp. 239-257. Published by: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.


The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Hemingway -- listening to it, that is, while working out.;

God's War (2011) by Kameron Hurley, a first novel; it's Sf, not Fantasy.

One wonders if the author's read Donald Kingsbury's 1982 Hugo nominated Courtship Rite? She may not have been born in 1982 ... Or Dune, for that matter, and surely she wasn't born in 1965; her parents might not even have been born in 1965. For reasons I cannot pinpoint, the inclusion of 'cantina' in her world context unsettles and throws me out of the world everytime it is used, even though I know it entered Spanish from Italy in the 17th century. It is a most interesting world, despite that.  It doesn't seem to be a YA novel, as the protagonist is in her 30's, and on Umayadan women are old at 40.  The novel is well written. So many books I look at these days I put back because the writing isn't yet  professional quality, even though they are published by a professional publisher, and though it's not trumpeted in the cover text, are YA, not adult novels.

This first novel is as gritty as anything of Mr. Abercrombie's and Mr. Martin's. The reader doesn't feel the author is trying for that effect, but it emerges synergistically out of the world the author created. This "HooRahrahrah teh boyz invent gritty realistic fantasy with blood and guts and suffering and stuphs that ain't purty," is tiresome. Women have been doing gritty a long time, in every damned form there is. It's impossible to be a woman and not be aware of gritty. Give birth.  Prepare the dead for burial. Cleanup a battle field.  Women's work.

What We Are Reading To Each Other (also Research):

Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution (2006) by Charles Rappley.  This book focuses upon a single family of Providence, Rhode Island in the decades running up to the Revolutionary War, the conversion of one of them who captained slave ships to Africa, his conversion as a Quaker, manumitting his personal slaves and his example persuading the rest of the family to give up the slave trade and slavery.  All this against a background of ever increasing hostilities between the British navy and the Rhode Island colonists.  It's filled with vivid detail of time and place and action, beautifully researched and written.  It reads aloud very well.

Many of us don't realize that of the colonial slave trade ships outfitted here in the lower 13 colonies, nearly 90 % were out of Rhode Island. Nevertheless the number sent from the colonies was about 2% of the ships out of Europe participating in the slave trade -- very small in the overall trade. The colonies just didn't have the materials that the Africans would accept in trade for slaves; but Rhode Island's connections to the Caribbean gave them molasses for making rum, and thus they had the distilleries -- rum was a prime trading payment.

Rhode Island was also the colony where fleeing conversos from Spain and Portugal found refuge; they too financed and invested heavily in the African slave trade out of Rhode Island. I am guessing here at the moment --  I don't have primary research on that yet now, but Baruch College and the NY Jewish Historical Society here have quite a bit of related material (including the papers of Aaron Lopez) -- this why or how 'the Jews' have so often been accused of running the colonial slave trade. But I do know their numbers were few.

Friday, July 8, 2011

*Sleeping Beauty* - Catherine Breillat’s Film Retelling of the Fairy Tale

Catherine Breillat opened her projected triology of fairy tale films with "Bluebeard." She plans to conclude the trilogy with "Beauty and the Beast." Her middle filmed fairy tale is "Sleeping Beauty."  The New York Times Movie section review includes two clips from Breillat's "Sleeping Beauty," one of which is exclusive to the Times.

"The story of the adolescent princess cursed to fall into a deep sleep has been told by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm and many others, including of course Walt Disney, who gave her a blond mane and not a single memorable song. Ms. Breillat’s version begins similarly to Perrault’s, with the birth of a princess. A wizened, cackling fairy greets the child by cursing her, declaring that she will die on her 16th birthday after being pricked by a spindle. Fortunately three good fairies flutter in, and with a few waves of their sparkling wands change fate: instead of dying, the princess will sleep. Then Ms. Breillat waves her own magic wand and takes the princess somewhere completely unexpected.

As she did in “Bluebeard” Ms. Breillat puts a child at the center of “The Sleeping Beauty,” almost as if she wanted to get her hands on the girl (who can be seen as a stand-in for all girls) before the fairy tale has its way with her. In her version of “Bluebeard” Ms. Breillat switches back and forth between two young sisters shivering along to the gruesome tale (one is reading it, and the other is listening, sometimes reluctantly) and two young women playing parts in a period version of the story. Here the figure of the girl is more active (or so it initially seems). Instead of reading the fairy tale she plays the central role: On her 6th (rather than 16th) birthday, Anastasia pricks her hand and then, surprisingly, she sets off."
Watching this you cannot but hope this could be part of the antidote to the Pink Princessfying Poisoning of our daughters and grand-daughters that appears to have no end in sight, particularly as women's achievements to be fully integrated equally into all parts of our economic, cultural, legal and political systems keep rolling back at ever more rapid pace (just here in the U.S. more women have lost their jobs in the public and private sectors than men, and have a harder time finding a new job -- as men are now being hired in their place even in the sorts of work that has traditionally been filled by women).  However, I have no hopes for that in this nation, at least, because here  the little girls, under six, who are mass infected with Pink Princess, via Disney, and Disney animations never fall out of favor.  Breillat's "Sleeping Beauty" is in French, with English subtitles and many of the little girls six and under not be able to keep up with the English subtitles.

Ah, well, at least little girls in the U.S. will arrive in the poorhouse wearing rags in that fetching filmy pink.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Murdoch Closing News Of the World Meaningless

He loses nothing, not even financially.  Though the little people who cleaned and did the drudge work will lose their jobs.  They are being thrown under the bus in a gesture that is of no, none, nada, not an iota of significance to Murdoch, his wealth or his power.

The only meaningful action would be to take him to court for several counts of criminal behavior from destroying evidence, interfering in a police investigation into kidnapping and murder, and a few other items, then making him pay huge weregild, forcing him to divest the rest of his papers and media empire, AND put in him prison for the rest of his life.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hysterical Sex in the Time of Cholera - Playing With Books

These are the kind of games that seem made for Our Kind.  From the NY Times Book section, natch.

Here’s what you’ll need to play: slips of paper (index cards work well), a handful of pencils or pens and a pile of paperback books. Any sort of book will do, from a Dostoyevsky to a Jennifer Egan, and from diet guides to the Kama Sutra. But we’ve found it’s especially rewarding to use genre books: mysteries, romance novels, science fiction, pulp thrillers, westerns, the cheesier the better. If you don’t have well-thumbed mass-market paperbacks in your house, you can usually buy a pile from your library, or from a used-book store, for roughly 50 cents a pop. ...

One player, the “picker” for this turn, selects a book from the pile and shows its cover around. Then he or she flips it over and reads aloud the often overwrought publisher-supplied copy on the back cover.

Hearing these descriptions read aloud is among the game’s distinct joys. Here is one example, from the back cover of a paperback titled “Paradise Wild” (1981), by Johanna Lindsey. Try to imagine the following recited in the voice of the fellow who does the husky voice-overs for coming attractions in theaters, or by your slightly tipsy best friend:

“A well-born Boston beauty, Corinne Barrows has traveled halfway around the world in search of Jared Burkett — a dashing rouge and a devil; a honey-tongued charmer who seduced and despoiled her ... and then abandoned the impetuous lady after awakening a need that only he could satisfy. She has found him on the lush and lovely island of Hawaii.” This goes on, but you get the idea.
One reason it’s less fun to play with serious rather than genre novels is that their back covers tend to contain phrases like “sweeping meditation on mortality and loss” rather than “a need that only he could satisfy.” ....
Further directions and game variations are provided in the article. It concludes:

What, by the way, is the actual first sentence of Johanna Lindsey’s “Paradise Wild”? Here goes: “The tall, slender, golden-haired young woman fidgeting by the hall table fastened her startling green eyes on the closed door at the left of the hall.”