From the world pool: August 19, 2018

frog on leaves
Okay, let’s leap into it…

Socio-political commentary

US politics

The Storm Is the New Pizzagate — Only Worse

According to Q, Trump was never really involved with Russia, and isn’t actually under investigation by Mueller & Co. On the contrary, Q insists that it’s actually Clinton and Obama who were corrupted by Putin (and are now actually under investigation by Mueller) because they’re obviously just evil, money-hungry globalists who’ll do anything for the highest bidder. (Oh, yeah, and they’re also apparently into raping and killing children, though the crowd is split over whether this is because they’re satanists or just part of some weird blackmail scheme involving the CIA.) 


An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg: our child died at Sandy Hook – why let Facebook lies hurt us even more?

While terms you use, like “fake news” or “fringe conspiracy groups”, sound relatively innocuous, let me provide you with some insight into the effects of allowing your platform to continue to be used as an instrument to disseminate hate. We have endured online, telephone, and in-person harassment, abuse, and death threats. In fact, one of the abusers was sentenced to jail for credible death threats that she admitted in court she had uttered because she believed in online content created by these “fringe groups”. In order to protect ourselves and our surviving children, we have had to relocate numerous times. These groups use social media, including Facebook, to “hunt” us, posting our home address and videos of our house online. We are currently living in hiding. We are far from alone in our experiences, as many other families who have lost loved ones in mass shootings and other tragedies have reported the same continuing torment.

Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music has finally removed content or terminated the account of Alex Jones, one of the purveyors of this and other conspiracy theories. Twitter finally joined them—sort of.  They gave him a one-week “time out.” (They all have done it on the basis of it breaching policies against hate speech, not because it was false. Lying isn’t enough to get someone’s content removed.)

Feminist issues

Motherhood in the Age of Fear

We now live in a country where it is seen as abnormal, or even criminal, to allow children to be away from direct adult supervision, even for a second.

We read, in the news or on social media, about children who have been kidnapped, raped and killed, about children forgotten for hours in broiling cars. We do not think about the statistical probabilities or compare the likelihood of such events with far more present dangers, like increasing rates of childhood diabetes or depression. Statistically speaking, according to the writer Warwick Cairns, you would have to leave a child alone in a public place for 750,000 years before he would be snatched by a stranger. Statistically speaking, a child is far more likely to be killed in a car on the way to a store than waiting in one that is parked. But we have decided such reasoning is beside the point. We have decided to do whatever we have to do to feel safe from such horrors, no matter how rare they might be.

And so now children do not walk to school or play in a park on their own. They do not wait in cars. They do not take long walks through the woods or ride bikes along paths or build secret forts while we are inside working or cooking or leading our lives.

I was beginning to understand that it didn’t matter if what I’d done was dangerous; it only mattered if other parents felt it was dangerous. When it comes to kids’ safety, feelings are facts.

As one mother put it to me, “I don’t know if I’m afraid for my kids, or if I’m afraid other people will be afraid and will judge me for my lack of fear.” In other words, risk assessment and moral judgment are intertwined.

The Women’s Court of Canada

Harassment and Bullying

Sarah Jeong and the Question of “Context”

But there is also an even greater effort at work, aimed to strip away the moral authority of people belonging to a vulnerable group, in order to make the spurious argument that they’re too compromised to hold anyone outside that group accountable. This is the off-brand cousin of Trump’s method of responding to the Mueller probe: strip away the credibility of those who are making the accusation, and you diminish the weight of the accusations themselves. Thus, in the fitting order of these matters, the conversation in the past week has focussed entirely upon Jeong’s reactions to racist and sexist assaults rather than the fact that she was subjected to them in the first place.

Gaming’s toxic men, explained

Racism and Civil Rights

Traveling While Muslim: The Case of the Exploding Chocolate

I knew this question was coming. I detest this question. I know from experience that if I tell CBP up front that I’m a civil rights lawyer, they’ll let me go in a flash. As a general rule, I don’t—because it’s not fair. I shouldn’t have to be a lawyer to get equal treatment under the law. I travel internationally six to eight times per year, and it doesn’t surprise me to get stopped at least half of those times. Every time I mention I’m a lawyer, they release me immediately. Funny how that works—they know they’re illegally profiling me because of my name, skin color or religion.

As all this flashed through my mind I looked directly at the supervising CBP officer and said, “I’m a civil rights lawyer with expertise on racial and religious discrimination and profiling.”

Womp, womp.

He grew silent. I continued. “I’m asking for the last time. What law have I broken? How was I non-compliant?”

Rather than answer, he responded, “Well, I think everything checks out. You can go.”

I grabbed my Global Entry card and left before they could call me back for a fifth interrogation.


The thing is, this message is not new. I hear it all the time. From angry white trolls and well-meaning white “allies” alike. Lemme say that again: I get this tone policing message from both the angry white conservatives AND the well-meaning white liberals. Don’t talk about WHITE SUPREMACY. Tone down the talk about WHITENESS. It’s divisive and alienating. It hurts feelings. You lose potential “allies” that way.

Well, let me make this clear once and for all: If the terms WHITE SUPREMACY, WHITENESS, RACISM, WHITE PRIVILEGE, or any variation thereof, makes you so uncomfortable that you wish to disengage from this work, then YOU ARE A WHITE SUPREMACIST.

American white people really hate being called “white people” A Twitter poll drama, explained.


There are a lot of “blame the boomers” articles out there these days (tidily balancing the “blame the millennial” ones), and I have a good deal of sympathy with them—after all, post-boomer generations have been royally screwed economically. Though I do keep wanting to say, “Um, guys? Go read some class analysis and make notes on divide and conquer tactics before you blame us for everything.”

But this… this. What The Hell Are We Going To Do About The Boomers? I haven’t read anything as offensive as this in a very long time. And, frankly, scary in its exaggerated “othering” of a whole group of people.

My relatives are losing their minds. Literally. There’s a mother whose strokes in her hippocampus have left her with no short-term memory. Walk out of the room for 5 minutes and upon return she asks “When did you get here?” The knobs have been removed from her stove so she doesn’t burn the house down forgetting there’s soup on it. An aunt sleeps 18 hours a day, like a cat, and occasionally lapses into a waking dream state in which her long-dead mother is still alive. She still insists on driving her car to the grocery store. There’s a father who lives alone in a huge house, drinks half a liter of rum a day, and regularly calls in the early evening, emotional, drunk, lonely, and with nothing to talk about but stories of his past we’ve all heard a hundred times before. There are older relatives needing constant care from daughters and sons, or tended to in homes that cost upwards of 20 thousand dollars a month. All of them refuse to give up their independence, insist on being attended to, and cling to their life’s wealth as if it’s the only thing saving them from drowning.

They go on living, on and on and on and on, as huge, necessary chunks of their lives — mobility, money, memory — flake and break away, leaving them demanding more and more from the young remaining.

I don’t much like opinion pieces that suggest that “something must be done” when the implied answers are so obviously—at the very least—shake off your conditioned feelings of respect, lock them up, and take their money.


The Supreme Court Just Helped Chipotle Boot 2,814 Workers From A Wage Theft Lawsuit

The court ruled 5-4 in May that it’s legal for employers to require workers to sign class-action waivers in order to get a job. By agreeing to these clauses, workers give up their right to sue their employer as a group over wage theft or workplace discrimination, and they instead have to take their claims to arbitration as individuals.

… “Expenses entailed in mounting individual claims will often far outweigh potential recoveries,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her dissent.


Heat: the next big inequality issue

It was the poor and isolated who quietly suffered the most in the heat – a situation echoed in overheated cities across the world. In the US, immigrant workers are three times more likely to die from heat exposure than American citizens. In India, where 24 cities are expected to reach average summertime highs of at least 35C (95F) by 2050, it is the slum dwellers who are most vulnerable. And as the global risk of prolonged exposure to deadly heat steadily rises, so do the associated risks of human catastrophe.

Last year, Hawaiian researchers projected that the share of the world’s population exposed to deadly heat for at least 20 days a year will increase from 30% now to 74% by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to grow. (It will rise to 48% with “drastic reductions”.) They concluded that “an increasing threat to human life from excess heat now seems almost inevitable”.

“Dying in a heatwave is like being slowly cooked,” said lead author Professor Camilo Mora at the time of publication. “It’s pure torture. The young and elderly are at particular risk, but we found that this heat can kill soldiers, athletes, everyone.”

Fighting the vanilla thieves of Madagascar

The robberies are often violent. There have been dozens of murders in Madagascar linked to vanilla. Several communities have tried and failed to get protection from armed police. Some have taken the law into their own hands. Villagers say in a nearby village, a machete-wielding crowd descended on five suspected gangsters – hacking and stabbing them to death. 

The Weight of Numbers: Air Pollution and PM2.5

Science and Technology

Astronomers discover a free-range planet with incredible magnetism  It’s massive, it’s magnetic, and it even produces its own light show.

Art + Design + Writing


Kristen Meyer: Salvage Design

Stone-stacking: cool for Instagram, cruel for the environment

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors


As everyone knows by now, Aretha Franklin died this week. Here’s a beautiful 2016 story on her, Soul Survivor, and a video of an extraordinary performance.

Rising Appalachia: Resilient


 “No Reservations: Narnia,” a Triumph of Anthony Bourdain Fan Fiction

I’m crammed into a burrow so small that my knees are up around my ears and the boom mike keeps slamming into my head, inhaling the potent scent of toffee-apple brandy and trying to drink a talking mouse under the table. But is it really the boom mike that’s making my head pound? I know for sure that my camera man doesn’t usually have two heads. I have to face facts. The mouse is winning.


Joana Choumali: Resilients


Magdalene Odundo. Hand-built and amazing. It’s hard to find a site that shows a lot of her work, but there’s more here and here.

Just cool

Girls’ night out

Just for fun

good boy doesn’t let a fight break out

Snakes – A Review (Don’t stop at  the snakes.)

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