From the world pool: July 22, 2017

yawning cat

This cat is bored with your concerns.

Socio-political commentary

US politics

Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump. Um. Wow.

The Conservative Dark-Money Groups Infiltrating Campus Politics

Australian journalist Chris Uhlmann’s ‘searing assessment’ of Trump goes viral

How Much More Absurdity Can You Handle? The United States government is a shambles.

When I went to bed Monday night, the hot revelation from The New York Times in which it was revealed that, back last summer, Junior had been told via email that the Russian government was trying actively to assist his father’s presidential campaign and to ratfck the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton. This was prior to the meeting arranged by Russian power-lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, which Junior attended with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, the revelation of which had been Sunday’s hot story. By the time I awoke on Tuesday morning, the Times had the text of the email itself. Wow, I thought. Junior’s going to have trouble slithering out from under this now. I sat down and prepared to write about this latest absurdity. Little did I know that Junior himself had sent the absurdity zooming into the bizarre and beyond.

The Book That Predicted Trump’s Rise Offers the Left a Roadmap for Defeating Him Twenty years ago, Richard Rorty warned that “a spectatorial, disgusted, mocking Left” would give rise to a populist demagogue. Is it ready now to take his advice?

Labor unions and unskilled workers will sooner or later realize that “their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported,” he posited. And they will further realize that “suburban white-collar workers, themselves desperately afraid of being downsized, are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.” At that point, “something will crack,”  he warned. “The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots.”

Canadian politics

This is why many Canadian veterans are troubled over the Khadr settlement

At the core of the issue is benefits — specifically, the grueling adventure race veterans have to endure to plead for their parsimonious assistance. Certainly Khadr had to fight for years for justice. Veterans, likewise, often have to fight years — and often decades — to receive their benefits.

Khadr sued the Canadian government for mistreatment and violations of his rights. Veterans are barred from suing government for mistreatment when seeking benefits. What’s more, veterans are limited to using the military’s rotten veterans tribunal system, one that provides “free” lawyers employed by the very department from which veterans are trying to seek benefits.

Legal settlements in Canada do not fall under taxable income, therefore Khadr will pay no tax on his $10.5 million. But ever since Ottawa replaced lifetime pensions for wounded veterans with one-time lump sums, 95 per cent of the benefits received by severely injured veterans and their survivors is now taxable. 

Economics and Capitalism

Naomi Klein: how power profits from disaster

This strategy has been a silent partner to the imposition of neoliberalism for more than 40 years. Shock tactics follow a clear pattern: wait for a crisis (or even, in some instances, as in Chile or Russia, help foment one), declare a moment of what is sometimes called “extraordinary politics”, suspend some or all democratic norms – and then ram the corporate wishlist through as quickly as possible. The research showed that virtually any tumultuous situation, if framed with sufficient hysteria by political leaders, could serve this softening-up function. It could be an event as radical as a military coup, but the economic shock of a market or budget crisis would also do the trick. Amid hyperinflation or a banking collapse, for instance, the country’s governing elites were frequently able to sell a panicked population on the necessity for attacks on social protections, or enormous bailouts to prop up the financial private sector – because the alternative, they claimed, was outright economic apocalypse.

Can Baby Bonds Help Shrink the Wealth Gap? 

A white family in Greater Boston has a net worth of $247,500, according to a recent report. The wealth of a black, U.S.-born household in Boston? $8.

JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon Wants to Mansplain Banking to Elizabeth Warren In case you were uncertain about how they think.

‘So hit me with a fine. We can afford it.’

Health Care

Let’s Talk About the Future 

When I went to pick up my latest round of meds and the pharmacy tech asked if I knew the bill ($500) I said “Oh yes. But I’ll die without them. So they kind of have me over a barrel.” 

And she said, “I guess I would die, then. That’s more than I make in a week.”


Facebook, for the first time, acknowledges election manipulation

No One Cares About Russia in the World Breitbart Made

One reason that an alternative view of reality has taken such deep root among Republicans is that they seem to be focusing more on the broader culture. Last week a new Pew Research Center poll showed that a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now believes that colleges and universities — the flash point of our current culture wars — have a negative effect on the country. This number is up sharply from the 45 percent who agreed with this same statement last year.



“This is the most well-worded and well-rounded argument against @DLoesch‘s NRA ad I’ve seen. A must-read.”

More Guns, More Crime

Examining four decades of crime data, a team of Stanford researchers found that states that have enacted so-called ‘right to carry’ (RTC) concealed handgun laws experience higher rates of violent crime than states where these laws have not been adopted. The findings are among the most powerful evidence in a growing line of research refuting the claim that arming more citizens enhances public safety.

Feminist issues

‘I was sold seven times’: the Yazidi women welcomed back into the faith

Now that she had won the battle to survive, she faced the looming question of whether she would ever really be able to go home; under Yazidi religious law, the women seized and raped by Isis should be evicted from their faith and permanently ostracised from their communities.

The Yazidi faith is theologically diverse, with strands of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. It is strictly closed, so a child must be born a Yazidi to worship as one, and adults must marry a Yazidi to build a family in the faith. Any sexual contact with a nonbeliever means banishment, a strict bar that treats rape no differently from a consensual relationship. The faith is thought to date back as early as 1200, though some argue its roots go even further back. Violence against Yazidis has been so frequent over the centuries that their word for attempted extermination – ferman – long predates the coining of its English equivalent, genocide.

But while women abducted in these waves of violence have been grieved over, they have never been allowed to return to the faith. In some cases, they might even be murdered by their fathers and brothers, in so-called honour killings. There was no reason for Isis’s victims to expect the response this time would be any different.

But it was. Harrowing reading, but there is something magnificent about a religion changing to accommodate women’s reality.

Will I Get a Ticket? A Conversation About Life After Vogue With Lucinda Chambers
A fascinating look behind the scenes in the world of fashion.

Fashion moves like a shoal of fish; it’s cyclical and reactionary. Nobody can stay relevant for a lifetime – you always have peaks and troughs. The problem is that people are greedy. They think, ‘It worked then, we’ve got to make it work now.’ But fashion is an alchemy: it’s the right person at the right company at the right time. Creativity is a really hard thing to quantify and harness. The rise of the high street has put new expectations on big companies like LVMH. Businessmen are trying to get their creatives to behave in a businesslike way; everyone wants more and more, faster and faster. Big companies demand so much more from their designers – we’ve seen the casualties. 

Memes to an End: Thots, ‘White Sharia,’ and the Misogynistic Heart of White Nationalism

Of course, while the War Room crew state openly that the concepts of “white sharia” and “white rape gangs” are satirical in nature, the stated purpose is no less misogynistic. The point, as they claimed in that same podcast, is to move the Overton Window, making the restoration of the patriarchy — from the nuclear family to the highest echelons of government — appear reasonable by championing something even more brutal.

Bullying and Harassment

On VidCon, Harassment & Garbage Humans

The companion of his who made that apology video I referenced earlier also tweeted that women are “powerful” enough to “deal with things like workplace harassment to rape.” As if power is in accepting a culture in which women are second-class citizens, in which misogyny and workplace harassment and rape are the norm. Fuck that. 


What it’s like to be that fat person sitting next to you on the plane

I practice how I will sit on the plane, pushing my body against the cabin wall, one arm holding the other firmly over my chest, so that I will make no physical contact with the person sitting next to me. I bring mints, so I won’t need anything to drink, so that the flight attendant won’t have to reach across the row for the fat person. I research whether the airports I’ll pass through have a history of confiscating seat belt extenders. If I bring my own, I’ll be spared the white hot spotlight of asking the flight attendant for one.

LGBTQIA issues

Facebook Listening to Lesbians

Racism and Civil Rights

Tressie McMillan Cottom: Racism With No Racists: The President Trump Conundrum

I said over two years ago that media style guides precluded major newspapers from calling something racist.

Then I asked around and professional media people told me that there isn’t a style convention on this matter so much as an informal culture. The general rule, I was told, is to never call anything racist and certainly to never call anyone racist. At best, they might quote someone calling something or someone racist.

The implication is that there is no such thing as objectively racist. Racism, according to many mainstream media producers and gatekeepers, can only be subjective.

The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes

315 years. 20,528 voyages. Millions of lives.

Dear Women of Color Who Are Told to Be Nicer to White “Allies”

This is a love letter to every Black and Brown woman who has expressed anger or even rage, and has been told by another Black or Brown woman that we should be building bridges. This is addressed to every woman of color who has ever been told, you need to be less angry, less “bitter,” that “hate isn’t the answer,” that we should “talk to the other side,” that we should in some way change who we are, change how we behave, so that white people might actually want to help us.

Fuck that.

10 Tips for Showing Solidarity

My gender is black

Switzerland puzzles over citizenship test after lifelong resident fails Funda Yilmaz, 25, was turned down for Swiss citizenship despite living all her life in the country and being fluent in her local dialect

Should foreign residents have to know how to recycle waste oil before they can apply for citizenship? Are people who shop at local corner shops more deserving citizens than those who frequent supermarkets? And what kind of sport is “hornussing”?

Fran Lebowitz On Race and Racism

It is now common—and I use the word “common” in its every sense—to see interviews with up-and-coming young movie stars whose parents or even grandparents were themselves movie stars. And when the interviewer asks, “Did you find it an advantage to be the child of a major motion-picture star?” the answer is invariably “Well, it gets you in the door, but after that you’ve got to perform, you’re on your own.” This is ludicrous. Getting in the door is pretty much the entire game, especially in movie acting, which is, after all, hardly a profession notable for its rigor. That’s how advantageous it is to be white. It’s as though all white people were the children of movie stars. Everyone gets in the door and then all you have to do is perform at this relatively minimal level.

Indigenous issues

Beyond territorial acknowledgments

I believe territorial acknowledgments can have numerous purposes, and in fact can be repurposed, so merely examining the stated intentions of these invocations is insufficient. What may start out as radical push-back against the denial of Indigenous priority and continued presence, may end up repurposed as “box-ticking” inclusion without commitment to any sort of real change. In fact, I believe this is the inevitable progression, a situation of familiarity breeding contempt (or at least apathy).

“We are on Duwamish land”: if you’re non-Native & opening events by saying this, I hope you’re actively committed to decolonization.

There’s a Canada Worth Celebrating, But We’re Not There Yet

Forces members who disrupted Indigenous rally face ‘severe consequences’

Eldridge said in his Facebook message that the group had thought the event was an anti-Canada protest and left after learning that wasn’t the case.  

Not only far-right white supremacist assholes, but incompetent ones. What a surprise.

How Canada turned a blind eye to the suicide crises in First Nations 

‘These are our children’: Sexual abuse and suicide rate among Indigenous youth


A Matter of Time: The Causes and Consequences of Rising Time Served in America’s Prisons

Poverty and Labour

A firefighter who was called to Grenfell wrote this after his shift, and even as an ex Fire Control Op I found it extremely difficult to read.

When you see big incidents like this on the news, stop… take a moment think about the thousands of incidents that are attended every year by blue light services that don’t make the mainstream media either because they don’t sell papers or give the right message for the current political agenda of a particular party. 

Maybe it is because they are only small or maybe because they are not considered news worthy enough. Maybe they do make the news its because something went wrong and then it is reported so someone can be blamed. Reported on so some MP can say public services are in meltdown so they can sell off part or all of that public service to one of their multimillionaire friends or a private company they are on the board of, all so they can introduce privatisation and make cuts to try and make a profit out of saving lives.

Regardless of what they do, regardless of what the job is, regardless how big or small it is. We as first responders are still going to be there, we are sill going to go out day after day helping the people who’s lives are at the lowest point imaginable. We are going to be there for you!

Why a $15 minimum wage is good for business

Boost the minimum wage and you boost the economy from the bottom up, writes economist Armine Yalnizyan. That means more demand for what businesses have to sell.

A Field Guide to ‘jobs that don’t exist yet’ 

Thanks to the Shift Happens videos (2007), you will likely be familiar with this statistic about the future of work:

“The top 10 in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

People repeat the claim again and again, but in slightly different forms. Sometimes they remove the dates and change the numbers; 65% is now in fashion. Respected academics who study education, such as Linda Darling-Hammond (1:30), have picked up and continue to repeat a mutated form of the factoid, as has the World Economic Forum and the OECD.1It takes some work to find out that the claim is not true. 

Rent Is Affordable to Low-Wage Workers in Exactly 12 U.S. Counties

These are some mindblowing infographics.

In only 12 counties in Washington, Arizona, and Oregon (all states with minimum wages above the federal standard) can that worker afford a modest one-bedroom unit. Almost all of these are in sparsely populated rural areas, far from job centers. More than 76 percent of renter households reside in a county or metro area where it takes more than 60 hours per week of full-time, minimum-wage work to reasonably afford even a one-bedroom unit. In California, the nation’s most populous state, it would take 92 hours. In Virginia, it would take 109.

When to Say Jump: On Managerial Boundaries and Weekend Texting

Another question the interview raises is how and when it’s appropriate to contact your staff after hours. I don’t think there’s a black and white answer to this, but if you have any respect for your staff’s time and personal lives (and even people who don’t “believe” in work/life balance generally have something resembling the latter), the answer to that should not be “whenever I feel like it.” If you need that desperately to make sure your staff jumps when you say jump, the issue isn’t their competency, it’s your insecurity.


Species at Risk Act failing to protect critical habitat, study says

Insecticide found in same B.C. hummingbirds that are in decline

Earth’s sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn

Researchers talk of ‘biological annihilation’ as study reveals billions of populations of animals have been lost in recent decades

Forget Smokey the Bear: How First Nation fire wisdom is key to megafire prevention


The lost art of play: No resilience without risk, says researcher Parents are too cautious, experts say, and it’s harming children

“Parents’ fears get transmitted to kids. Are you, as a parent, pushing those fears on your child and that’s what is making them afraid to try and engage in things?”


Take Back the Power

Many people misunderstand what “the power of the people” means. First, “the people” are not unified, and the phrase doesn’t refer to physical power. It doesn’t mean the power to withstand bullets or drone strikes. That power of the people can be stopped, easily. Rather, it is the power of memory and resistance; the power of caring and responsibility.

The Great Battlefield podcasts

The world’s most illegal game of volleyball was played over the US-Mexico border

Art + Design + Writing

Dimas Ilaw: After a Revolution

I thought I would have something more to say about revolution. About how it is ignited; about how to surge along its awful force and somehow remain unshattered; about how to survive it—or not, because revolutions are never bloodless no matter what you’re told. They will always demand something from you, something unspeakable, something that cannot be peacefully borne, something that can only be passed to the next generation in blood and tears and the sweat of palms pressed tight, holding on.

And film. Tough.

Some things can only be understood with maturity. New light is shed on childhood cultural misunderstandings when a Chinese mother and her British born daughter speak as adults for the first time.

Seditious Types: The Legacy of the Printers of 1916

Embroidered Minds

My old friend Leslie was one of the collaborators in this project, until her untimely death last year. I’m so glad the project continues.

Embroidered Minds is a collaboration between award-winning authors, artists, doctors and historians to explore the effects, both negative and positive, that epilepsy may have had on William Morris’s family – effects still relevant to families today.

Central to Embroidered Minds is the ‘conspiracy of silence’ around Jane and William Morris’s eldest daughter Jenny, who suffered from epilepsy, an enormous stigma during Victorian times. Following an elusive paper trail through libraries, medical archives, patients’ files, private letters and diaries, we have uncovered previously hidden aspects of the Morris family, their Pre-Raphaelite circle, and the ground-breaking Bloomsbury neurologists close to that circle.

Science and Technology

Formed by Megafloods, This Place Fooled Scientists for Decades

Geologists couldn’t account for the strange landforms of eastern Washington State. Then a high school teacher dared to question the scientific dogma of his day.

My Electric Bike is Not ‘Cheating.’ And It Could Replace Cars for Millions of People



Just Publics@365 Toolkit: A Social Media Guide for Academics


Quote(s) of the week

“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”

Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents


It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining things. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away.

—Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist

Just cool

Some Canadians used to speak with a quasi-British accent called Canadian Dainty

The feuding, feral cats of HMC Dockyard — and the ex-sailor who nurtures them

Hummingbirds Ultra Slow Motion

3D mural of wood turtle made from recycled trash

Ravens Are So Smart, One Hacked This Researcher’s Experiment Researchers had to remove the bird because they were worried it’d teach the others.

Just weird

Hotel chain offers human bed warmers

Just for fun

Truck full of eels overturns on U.S. 101 OMG HAGFISH

Top Secret Drum Corps

Nope, you are fake horse.

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