Your Happening World (July 4th through July 9th)

  • Jack Halberstam’s Flying Circus: on postmodernism and the scapegoating of trans women – The argument turns on the fallacy that trans women are being insufficiently radical, and that our fight for dignity is really just a cynical play for respectability and power. It is a very Foucauldian argument, in that sense. We just need to allow ourselves to be more transgressive (in terms defined hazily by Halberstam), otherwise our personal behaviour is complicit with oppression, and thus wrong. This is how we can make sense of Halberstam’s valedictory prescription to “move on, to confuse the enemy, to become illegible, invisible, anonymous.” His whole point is, ironically, to discipline what he sees as the defective personal behaviour of those he disagrees with.
  • Shaking off the northern bias in temperature reconstructions – Road to Paris – ICSU – These northern-biased reconstructions – which are based on studies of tree rings, coral, ice cores, subfossil pollen, boreholes and lake sediments – have played a decisive role in our ability to separate out natural from human-caused global warming. But what about the other half of the planet?
  • After a Police Dog Bit His Leg, This Protester Was Jailed Thanks to a Cop’s Testilying | VICE United States – The expensive consequences of New York City’s heavy-handed approach to policing protest have been on display lately. In December, the city finally settled most of the lawsuits stemming from its mass arrest of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Earlier this month, falsely arrested Occupy Wall Street protesters announced the largest settlement yet between participants and the powers that be, with the city poised to shell out nearly $600,000 in damages. NYC already paid $350,000 last year to settle a suit over its destruction of media equipment and Occupy’s library during the 2011 eviction of Zuccotti Park, $82,500 this past December to settle an Occupier’s suit claiming that police beat him up across the span of three arrests, and $50,000 the month before to settle a suit by people arrested on suspicion that they might later attend a protest.
  • The 20 most hipster neighbourhoods in the world | Skyscanner – On the ‘other’ side of the IJ, the big bit of water behind Centraal station that no-one notices because they head in the other direction when they arrive, has been growing in coolness for a few years now. Previously a bit of a wasteland, now the disused warehouses host creative start-ups, festivals, restaurants and, once a month, mega flea market IJ Hallen,
  • Octavia Butler Roundtable Index « The Hooded Utilitarian – This is the index for our Octavia Butler Roundtable. Posts are listed in chronological order.

Your Happening World (July 3rd through July 4th)

Your Happening World (July 1st through July 3rd)

Your Happening World (June 27th through July 1st)

Your Happening World (June 27th)

  • The Transformers and the Middle Ages – Having been a boy of a certain age in the 1980s, I was one of the many, many fans of the cartoon show The Transformers (confession – I still watch the show on occasion, and have a collection of the toys in a box in my basement). Now, as the fourth live-action Transformers film hits the screens, I want to take you back to when the Autobots and Decepticons went medieval!
  • Sibilant Fricative: Ian Watson, Mana (Lucky’s Harvest, 1993; The Fallen Moon, 1994) – I’ve been holding back writing about Watson’s two Mana books, for reasons to do with that mode of debilitation called ‘but where to start?’ Given my peculiar academic background, and the topic of my PhD, excuse me if I open with a completely left field comparison to Robert Browning. A critic once described Pauline, Paracelsus and Sordello as like ‘three dragons, guarding the entrance to the gold of Browning’s mid-career poetry’. You see what he means: however much you enjoy ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘Andrea Del Sarto’, you know that you can’t get a proper sense of Browning’s work without tackling the three brontosaur-sized texts with which he commenced his career.
  • Britain’s Nuke-Proof Underground City – The Daily Beast – As the world held its breath during the Cold War, England built a top-secret underground city to save its government in case of nuclear attack. For half a century, "Burlington" lay ready.
  • Is Ann Leckie the Next Big Thing in Science Fiction? | Riverfront Times – The Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke and Hugo awards are the Triple Crown of science-fiction writing. If Ancillary Justice claims the Hugo, it will become the first novel to win all three. After years toiling in obscurity, Leckie's given up trying to wrap her mind around how quickly she and her gun-slinging, galaxy-traversing heroine, Breq, have climbed to critical and popular adoration.
  • Trinity: The Black Fantasy. – But who could blame Harmony? What black woman wouldn’t envy Storm? Storm had no need of relaxers or sunny Saturdays spent beneath the searing metal of her grandmother’s pressing comb. She never sat patiently while a beautician sewed blonde ringlets to her head to hide her tightly woven brown cornrows from view. Her hair was naturally straight. Her hair was naturally light. She was born conforming to the majority of our society’s beauty norms. She was born not looking like all the other little black girls. And because of that, she was lauded as beautiful. Because of how not black she appeared to be.

Your Happening World (June 22nd through June 24th)

Blog fodder for June 22nd through June 24th:

  • The War Nerd: Like it or not, what’s happening in Iraq right now is part of a rational process | PandoDaily – I just wish Americans would stop assuming every place is like us. Let me tell you, for a Sunni Kurd to say, “I have Shia friends, I have Christian friends” is about as brave and radical as it gets, short of suicide, in the Middle East. I never heard any of my Saudi students say anything remotely like it. Well, how could they? By law, Shi’ism and Christianity are banned in the Kingdom. So they didn’t have the opportunity, even if they’d had the mindset (which they didn’t).
  • Genre needs a lot more cruel and nasty reviews | Damien G. Walter – We need writers and reviewers like Priest who have the expertise and willingness to reflect back the problems in modern genre fiction. Because the problems are very real. Violence of the flattened, meaningless kind Priest pinpoints in Barricade is endemic in the genre.
  • Editor’s blog: I am sexist • Eurogamer.net – This is a realisation that has slowly dawned on me over the last few years. Without really meaning to do so, I have been going around saying and doing things that demean women and casually downplay the importance of issues of gender discrimination all my life. It's a horrible thing to recognise about yourself, gradually or not. I try to be a generous and caring person and I am pretty sensitive, so the idea that I have been ignorantly treating half of the people I know and love in this way makes me feel awful.
  • Tony Blair, dread creature of the forbidden swamp | Idiot Joy Showland – Tony Blair rises every couple of months, like a bubble of swamp gas. First there’s an uneasy buried rumbling, then small tremors shake the surface, and then suddenly he bursts through, a gassy eruption stinking of farts and sulphur. It doesn’t matter how many rounds you fire into his shambling frame; he just won’t die. Whenever something unpleasant happens in the Middle East, whenever some huge corporation is discovered to be starving people to death or poisoning them through calculated negligence, whenever the chaos of the international order reaches a starts to wobble into another death-spiral, a damp wind blows through a graveyard somewhere in England and Tony Blair emerges from his tomb.
  • WW2 Drawings

Your Happening World (June 19th through June 22nd)

Blog fodder for June 19th through June 22nd:

  • Arcfinity – We’re reading BARRICADE by Jon Wallace – In case you are thinking otherwise, I was not scouring the text for these solecisms, setting out to set you up, but like all people who are preparing a review I was keeping notes throughout the reading. The protocols around a first novel by a young writer do matter. I kept noting all the bad stuff (much more than reported here), but I was looking for good bits with which to try to encourage you. I found none. It gradually dawned on me that I was wasting my time. Barricade was unyielding in its awfulness. It was a book I did not wish to write about.
  • Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, The Archipelago of Arrogance | TomDispatch – Yes, guys like this pick on other men's books too, and people of both genders pop up at events to hold forth on irrelevant things and conspiracy theories, but the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered. Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they're talking about. Some men.
  • Lesbian Historic Motif Project at The Rose Garden – My goal here — beyond the selfish utilitarian aspect of organizing my research — is much in parallel with that of sites like the Medieval People of Color blog, or Kameron Hurley's award-nominated essay "We Have Always Fought". I want to help change the unexamined assumptions about the place and nature of lesbian-like characters in historic fact, literature, art, and imagination. I want to do it to help other authors find inspiration and support for the stories they want to tell. And I want to do it to affect the reception of my own writing.
  • All Quacked Up: Steve Gerber, Marvel Comics, and Howard the Duck « The Hooded Utilitarian – This article is a history of the editorial and business relationship between Marvel Comics, their representatives, and the late writer Steve Gerber (1947-2008). Its focus is their dealings over Howard the Duck, Gerber’s signature character.
  • Ptak Science Books: Ueber-Spectacular Understatement Department: the Happy Post-Apocalyptic America and the “Awkwardness” of Holocaust, 1962 – How rich we'd all be after the bombs dropped!

Your Happening World (June 17th through June 18th)

Blog fodder for June 17th through June 18th:

  • The Abstinence Method – Modern Farmer – But the Netherlands’ success demonstrates this isn’t true. The country is tiny, but its livestock-raising is intensive and high-tech: 17 million people and about 118 million farm animals share a space only the size of Maryland, yet the Netherlands is Europe’s leading meat exporter. So if the Netherlands can reduce routine antibiotic use without harming its farmers’ survival, maybe other countries can, too.
  • BUTT THEN | Good Dogs
  • Jennifer in paradise: the story of the first Photoshopped image | Art and design | theguardian.com – In this way, Jennifer in Paradise became the first colour image used to demonstrate the software they had started to call Photoshop.
  • Silence is Complicity — The Radish. – I don’t know how we can make this right to the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have been injured by our complicity in these horrors. And yes, I am including myself in this because I have been part of fandom for more than a decade now and I have not spoken loudly enough, if there is even one person still standing who thinks this is okay. Our community must become an unwelcome place for predators.
  • On doing a thing I needed to do – Janni Lee Simner / Desert Dispatches – I read and reread her daughter’s words this week. I read, too, portions of MZB’s own court deposition (from her husband’s trial, also for child abuse) that I hadn’t read before. Then yesterday I took a deep breath, and I added up the advances from my two Darkover sales, my Darkover royalties, and (at his request) my husband Larry Hammer’s payment for his sale to MZB’s magazine.

Your Happening World (June 15th through June 16th)

Blog fodder for June 15th through June 16th:

  • Activists warn of trans suicide risk in England as surgery delayed | Gay Star News – Activists have claimed the time for trans people to get male to female gender reassignment surgery has skyrocketed in England from seven months to three years.
  • David Brothers: Quitting the Big Two – Changing those habits takes effort, which leads me directly to why it isn’t difficult to stay away from the Big Two these days: I succeeded at changing my thinking. Wednesdays aren’t new comics days any more. I don’t read comics news sites when I can help it. I discover new comics via word of mouth or Tumblr. I unplugged in a way that let me maintain my decision instead of waffling and crumbling.
  • BBC News – Study: Deforestation leaves fish undersized and underfed – Deforestation is reducing the amount of leaf litter falling into rivers and lakes, resulting in less food being available to fish, a study suggests.
  • Hauntology: The Past Inside The Present – This postcard haunts and is haunted. In 1989, its utopian promise haunted a reality that was unable to make good on it, and in turn the postcard was haunted by the increasingly dystopian qualities of reality. In 2009 this haunting-problem now haunts the present as an example of the Marxist hauntology Derrida wrote about. The problems of our imagined Utopias and Dystopias haven’t gone away – the postcard is a ghost of the GDR, exploding like a spectre the neat symbolic binaries we put our faith in by being both nice and nasty, wrong and right, innocent and guilty, present and absent. It’s also the ghost of childhood, of innocence personal or ideological, imploring us to know its killer, manifesting to us so as to haunt and correct injustice in the same way that ghosts traditionally do. It’s a poignant lie about reality and reality is a poignant inadequacy compared to it.
  • German tank problem – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – In the statistical theory of estimation, the problem of estimating the maximum of a discrete uniform distribution from sampling without replacement is known in English as the German tank problem, due to its application in World War II to the estimation of the number of German tanks.

Your Happening World (June 12th through June 15th)

Blog fodder for June 12th through June 15th:

  • The Netherlands: Victory for Transgender Rights | Human Rights Watch – The law on transgender rights that the Dutch Senate approved on December 18, 2013, is an important step toward equality, Human Rights Watch said today. The new law will allow transgender people to change the gender marker in their official identity papers to their preferred gender. It does away with previous requirements for taking hormones and surgery, including irreversible sterilization, though it is a step short of complete personal autonomy for the decision.
  • On Telling the Truth – People of Color in European Art History – I’m sick and tired of suffering in silence. I’m sick of “keeping things civil”, and I’m tired of giving the benefit of the doubt to people who mean me nothing but ill. There is real violence happening to myself and other bloggers for more reasons than that people do not like what we have to say…people take exception to who we are, how we speak, what we look like, who we call friend, and who we call family. No one is obligated to justify their existence.
  • Holland’s World Cup win over Spain wasn’t the return of Total Football – Louis van Gaal has created something new – Telegraph – The 3-4-3 that Van Gaal played on Friday night was essentially a reactive formation designed to combat Spain’s dominant midfield. The wing-backs did not venture too far forward, and with midfielders Nigel De Jong and Jonathan de Guzman essentially screening the back three, Holland reverted to a 5-2-3, or even a 7-3, without the ball. And seeing as this was Spain, they were quite often without the ball.
  • Maliki’s most solemn hour — The Arabist – Just days ago, ISIS pushed forward from its safehouses and camps in the Nineveh Governorate, which it had won control over in the past months, to take over the city of Mosul. It has attacked several other cities in northern Iraq as well, and disrupted the siege that federal forces in Iraq brought against it and its allies in Al Anbar Governorate this Spring. Mosul was living under a state of siege with the government resorting to an air bridge due to the danger ISIS ambushes posed to highway traffic. The group has for over a year now been following a strategic campaign it dubbed "Soldier's Harvest": the aim has been to retake the territories lost by al Qaeda-aligned jihadists during the final years of the U.S. Occupation by terrorizing the local authorities into quitting the fight. ISIS would then fill the resulting vacuum caused by their retreat. "This started in rural sections of Iraq such as the desert regions of Anbar and the Hamrin Mountains that stretch across Diyala and Salahadd
  • Portugal indebted to Angola after economic reversal of fortune – "Portugal is in a tricky situation. It needs Angolan money and must also watch out for Portuguese residents in Angola," Filipe explains. About 100,000 Portuguese nationals currently live in the former colony. Much as with Brazil in the past, many young Portuguese, dogged by unemployment at home, see their future in Angola.