kindkit: Old poster image of woman leading rally, captioned: my Marxist-feminist dialectic brings all the boy to the yard (Fandomless: Marxist-feminist dialectic)
I didn't particularly follow the royal wedding; I'm not that kind of Anglophile. But it was impossible not to hear about it. The parts of Twitter that I frequent were full of honorable British leftists saying true things: the monarchy is regressive and involves a massive transfer of wealth from ordinary people to a tiny aristocracy, the royal wedding is a distraction from more important issues, the whole purpose of the royal family is to foster a sentimental attachment to inequality, the cost of Meghan Markle's wedding dress could have housed or fed people who have nothing, etc. etc.

And yet I can't help thinking, "This is why leftists have a reputation as puritanical killjoys." It reminded me, to some extent, of fandom purity culture, in which legitimate criticisms get dulled down into the very blunt instrument of "That thing you are enjoying is Bad and Wrong." Which is an accusation that people, unsurprisingly, often react badly to.

I kept wanting the honorable leftists saying true things to shut the hell up.

Plus, I have noticed a tendency for the honorable leftists not to notice, or to gloss quickly over, the fact that a black woman marrying into the British royal family is not meaningless. Its meaning may be mostly symbolic, but symbols are important, as witness the angry British racists who hated the whole business. Anything that makes the typical Daily Mail reader fume that much can't be all bad, can it?
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I am fighting the urge to reply to Katie Hinde's article about how she struck a blow for feminism by moving some shirts from the boys' section to the girls' section. Apparently people on Twitter have already said everything I would say.

So . . . I'll say it here, I guess, if only to vent.

Moving stuff around in a store is not activism. It doesn't change anyone's mind about anything, and it has no effect whatsoever on corporate policies. What it does is make life harder for retail workers, whose work lives are already hard enough due to low wages, corporate policies that ensure there are few full-time retail jobs, overwork due to low staffing, and customer behavior ranging from the careless (drop something on the floor and leave it there) to the outright abusive.

During 2016 I worked in a store that sold books (among other things) and I can't tell you how often I had to find books by or about Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump that some fucking retail activist had hidden and return them to their correct places. How often I had to turn books face out that had been deliberately turned face in. How often I had to write off books that had been deliberately damaged, costing the company money and resulting ultimately in fewer hours and lower wages, because the first thing retail corporations do when profits go down is to cut labor.

Eventually I put up a sign asking people to knock it off. It might have helped a little; I don't know. But I do know that if any of the folks moving or destroying books For Great Justice had contacted corporate about some perceived bias (and there probably was a bias--we stocked many, many more conservative books than liberal ones*), it would have had more impact than what they actually did, which was make my job harder and more frustrating, full stop. Their actions affected no one but me and other workers. Certainly the CEO never knew it was happening.

(*And I tried to subvert that bias, in a small way, by facing out a lot more left-liberal books than conservative ones, making them more noticeable. But I didn't move anything to the wrong fucking place.)

I mean, seriously, the behavior of Hinde and others like her is not even armchair activism. It's just being a self-congratulatory bourgeois ass while directly contributing to the shitty situation--the oppression--of working class people.

/I work retail, hear me rage
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
Oliver provides a great explanation of what's at stake, and a handy way to take action. After watching this I commented on the FCC website, which is the kind of thing I rarely do because I seem to prefer to quietly fume and worry.

Net neutrality may not seem important compared to the many human rights the Trump regime is trying to eliminate, but imagine if, say, Comcast partnered with Fox News and started slowing or blocking access to any other news source.

kindkit: Second Doctor looking throughtful. (Doctor Who: Second Doctor thoughtful)
In May there will be a vote in my city on a proposed tax on soda and sugary drinks; the tax amount will be $.02 per fluid ounce, raising the price of a 12 oz can by 24 cents and a 2-liter bottle by about $1.28. The money raised is supposed to go to improve access to pre-kindergarten education.

I'm not often on the fence, politically, but I am about this.

Pro: Pre-K education is a good thing and poor children should receive it.

Con: All sales taxes are regressive, because poor people spend more of their income on goods than rich people do. Therefore it will hit poor people harder. It might have an extra dose of regressiveness, too, because I suspect (although I have no numbers) that poor and working class people are more likely to drink soda than middle-class people, and so the people most in favor of the tax (i.e. middle class people) are likely to pay a lot less of it.

Pro: Soda and other sugared drinks are not a necessity. If people drink fewer sugared drink because of the tax, that could even be a good thing.

Con: The "pro" point above has a strong element of food policing, which I hate. And it's a highly class-inflected food policing, too; nobody has proposed a special tax on expensive triple-cream cheeses or foie gras. This tax is, in part, about making poor people behave in the way middle class people think they should.

Pro: The main force behind opposition to the tax is the beverage industry, which is trying to create panic over (probably spurious) job losses and so on. This makes me want to vote for the tax just to hurt the corporations.

Con: On the other hand, I want to vote against it to spite the sanctimonious hippies, food police, and obesity panic-mongerers. I recognize that this isn't the moral equivalent of voting against corporate interests, but I feel it nevertheless.

Unanswered questions: How much money will the tax actually raise (the city projects $7 million per year)? How much will that amount of money actually improve pre-K access? Why has nobody proposed, say, a property tax increase on houses worth over $300,000 as an alternative that would shift the financial burden to the well off?

Anybody have thoughts?

N.B.: Given the nature of the post, I will accept reasoned comments about potential health impacts. My definition of "reasoned" includes, "You have given some thought to why it's problematic to try to dictate what other people eat." I will delete the hell out of concern trolling, fat-shaming, etc.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I didn't cry about the election.

Well, not until I watched this. From Saturday Night Live, of all places.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
Has anybody seen hard data on whether, and to what degree, low-income white voters went for Trump? I've found lots of statistics broken down by race, education, income, etc., and some combined data (race + education or race + sex), but I haven't seen race + income anywhere.

The stereotype is that Trump's base was poor and working class whites, but other statistics do not seem to bear this out: a significant majority of people with incomes under $50,000 voted for Clinton. But I'd like to see those numbers broken down by race. (There's also a weird demographic twist where the less education a voter--especially a white voter--had, the more like s/he was to vote Trump. But the income figures are basically the opposite, and I'm wondering who all these less-educated rich people are.)
kindkit: John Constantine dreaming of the end of the world (Hellblazer: Constantine dreams the apoca)
President Trump.

President Trump.

How the fuck did this even happen? How could half the country be willing to vote for a megalomaniacal racist, misogynist, and avowed sexual assaulter of women?

I mean, I know that a disturbingly large number of people voted for him because of that stuff. See also: basket of deplorables.

But I can't imagine what was in the minds of the people who voted for him despite it.


Nov. 11th, 2013 07:37 pm
kindkit: Two British officers sitting by a river; one rests his head on the other's shoulder. (Fandomless: officers by a river)
I was stumped for something to say about Veterans Day/Remembrance Day/Armistice Day. It's strange, I spend a lot of my time learning about the world wars and normally I can hardly be made to shut up about them. But today brings me in mind of the dead, as it should, and in the face of so much death it's hard to say anything.

About 17 million people were killed in the First World War, a total that includes civilians, and also those soldiers who died in the influenza pandemic before the war ended. About 60 million people were killed in the Second World War, including the roughly 10 million murdered in the Holocaust.

With that on my mind, I went to Google to look up something unrelated and I was confronted by this graphic: under the cut )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
(This post will be kept locked until the movie opens, then made public.)

On Tuesday, thanks to a pass I was given at work, I attended the press screening of the new Lone Ranger film. (I didn't realize at first that it was a press screening. I thought it was just a test screening like the one I went to for Serenity some years ago--then I arrived with my friend J. and saw that many people were dressed nicely, which almost never happens around here, and there were tough-looking Disney security guards in black suits, and then the movie was introduced by Jerry Bruckheimer in person.)

Now, this is a movie I had specifically decided not to see due to the casting of Johnny Depp, a white actor, as Tonto. But since I had a chance to see it without giving the studio my money, and then to review it, I went.

Reactions below the cut. I've kept this as unspoilery as possible since the movie's not out yet. )
kindkit: A riverside bench with fireworks in background (Fandomless: Fireworks)
Possibly the best photo in the history of everything ever. Related to the recent US election, and awesome and adorable. Saying more would spoil it for you, so just go and look at it here.


Nov. 6th, 2012 09:33 pm
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
Several media sources have called the election for Obama.
kindkit: Paul McDermott and Tim Ferguson almost kissing (DAAS: Kiss me you fool)
I've started watching QI again. I didn't watch it for a long time, because I got seriously disillusioned with Stephen Fry after he said/tweeted several failtastic things, and with the show after the epically awful "Girls and Boys" episode, which repeated a lot of stupid crap about gender rather than questioning "common knowledge" as QI is supposed to do. But I've returned; I do enjoy the format and the guests (especially permanent guest Alan Davies, plus folks like David Mitchell, Rich Hall, and Jo Brand, although she hasn't been on for a while). And I like Fry when he's not so far up himself that he goes stupid from lack of oxygen.

Returning to QI led me to other Brit panel shows, which led me to discover the truly delicious Liam Fox/Adam Werritty scandal (slash mark used advisedly). Here's a summary that's as short as I can make it )

On the subject of comedy news, I've finally brought myself to watch an episode of Good News World, the successor to the much-lamented Good News Week (an Australian news quiz show starring Paul McDermott). thoughts )

It probably says something (bad) about me that I'm more informed about Australian politics, and maybe UK politics as well, than US politics. I think that's because when it's happening in my own country, it's too depressing to bear. My country has slid so far to the right that (according to something I read in the New Yorker) people at Republican rallies have cheered for the idea of letting people without health insurance die. A good old graft-and-sex scandal would be light relief. (Unfortunately, the last sex scandal we had ended the career of a liberal who'd been awfully valuable on a lot of issues despite apparently being creepy in his personal life.)

A second factor is that UK and Australian comedy-news shows are funnier and include more gay. I'll bet Jon Stewart has never sung about his desire for Mitt Romney's manly bod.


Sep. 11th, 2011 10:58 am
kindkit: Sailing ship at sea. (Fandomless: Blue ship)
Out of the mirror they stare
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong
--W. H. Auden

Noam Chomsky on the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
As you may know, I've been reading some books about the Holocaust.

Well, today at work we happened to get in copies of Axis Powers Hetalia, which I had to put price tags on. The cover image of the first volume (link goes to shows Germany as a pretty young man in his stylish uniform greatcoat, which doesn't seem to have insignia but is the kind of coat worn by both the Army and the SS. So cute! Such a fun, friendly cover!

My god, was I squicked.

Depicting Hitler-era Germany as a desirable young man is disgusting.

Sorry if you're a Hetalia fan--I know at least one person who is--but I think the whole cutesy concept is, to put it in the mildest possible terms, dodgy.
kindkit: Picture of the TARDIS, captioned "This funny little box that carries me away . . ." (Doctor Who--TARDIS)
This is all over LJ and DW already, but, well, the BBC means a lot to me. I'm US-ian, but I've been enamored of BBC programming (and envious of Brits) since The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy aired on my local PBS station when I was a young teenager. (PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service, is sort of the US equivalent of the BBC, but brutally underfunded and slowly dying, i.e., it's what the coalition government wants the BBC to become.) I hate the thought of losing the BBC.

kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Frost and Pegg: BFFs)
The Good: I finally got to do a bit of touristy "seeing Santa Fe" stuff, after several days of feeling cruddy. That was partly general crud/exhaustion, I think, and partly adjustment to the altitude (Santa Fe is at 7260 feet, or 2134 meters, and oxygen is fairly significantly diminished at that height). Anyway, today I went into downtown, the older part of the city, which has a lot of galleries and arty/touristy shops (including one nice independent bookstore where I nobly resisted temptation). Quite unexpectedly I found there was an arts-and-crafts fair going on, so I wandered around a bit. A lot of it was the usual stuff (pottery, silver and semiprecious-stone jewelry), as well as a rather problematic contingent of (apparently) white artists copying Native American artistic traditions, but there was also quite a lot to like.

I became rather enamored of some paintings and prints by Kevin Eslinger, especially his darkly funny portrait of Bert and Ernie. It's a wonderfully fannish thing and I thought some of you might get a kick out of it (not to mention the fabulous octopus adorning his homepage).

The Pretty Good: I've seen Inception. I liked it, although not as much as many others seem to have. (I don't have any problems with it--it was a fun and reasonably clever movie--but I don't quite understand why so many others are so wildly enthusiastic. But at least now I don't have to avoid posts about it.)

The Bad: I've chosen to leave the Hot Fuzz fan community [ profile] sandfordpolice after the mod instituted an English-only policy in order to preempt possible Russian spammers. I'm all for banning spammers, but English-only has an ugly resonance, especially for someone living in the United States, where there is an active English-only movement inspired primarily by anti-immigrant sentiment. The mod is from the US too and is surely aware of this. I complained about the new policy, and so did several others, but the mod hasn't said anything about changing it, so I left. I hate the thought of missing out on new Hot Fuzz fics, but I can't support an English-only rule, even passively.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Time machine)
I'm temporarily suspending my rule about focusing on happy stuff to link you to this post by Ta-Nehisi Coates about a ca. 1865 photograph of freed slaves from New Orleans. The photograph was taken and distributed to raise money for the education of former slaves, and it was accompanied by a letter giving information about the lives of all the people depicted in it.

It's a powerful image, encapsulating the brutality of slavery (Wilson Chinn was branded on the forehead with the initials of the sugar planter who bought him; Mary Johnson suffered 50 lashes for being half an hour late with the morning coffee) and illustrating, with extraordinary vividness, the one-drop rule in action. Any child of a slave mother was a slave; any person with "one drop" of "Negro blood" was considered black. Because of the systematic sexual abuse of enslaved women by white men, a lot of black slaves looked indistinguishable from the white slave-owners who were, in many cases, their close blood relatives. This sentence from the letter accompanying the photograph says it all, really: "[Augusta Boujey's] mother, who is almost white, was owned by her half-brother, named Solamon, who still retains two of her children."

Just to be clear, I don't mean that slavery is somehow worse if the enslaved people happen to look white. My point is about the sickness of slavery culture that enabled people to, apparently without a pang of conscience, own their children and their half-siblings as slaves; it's also about the arbitrariness of racial definitions.

The post is one of a series by Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, in "honor" of Virginia's recently-declared Confederate History Month; I'm going to look at the others now.
kindkit: Text: im in ur history emphasizin ur queerz (Fandomless: Queer history)
The New York Times discusses a new poll about repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". When the poll was worded as asking whether "gay men and lesbians" should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, support for repeal was over 10% higher than when the wording was whether "homosexuals" should be allowed to serve.

"Homosexual" has long been a problematic word due to its association with medical discourse that categorized same-sex desire as deviance and sickness.1 At this point, I think it's become something very like a slur. Anti-gay folks make a point of using the term "homosexual" instead of "lesbian and gay." Some of you may remember a story in which a news service associated with the American Family Association renamed athlete Tyson Gay as "Tyson Homosexual" because the site's filtering software automatically changed the word "gay."

My own least favorite use of "homosexual" has long been as what I've nicknamed the pejorative of specification. As in, "Mary then began a homosexual relationship with Lisa." There's no need for the adjective "homosexual" (it's obvious that the relationship is between two people of the same sex) except to imply that it's not quite the same thing as a real relationship. Just like, say, a "woman doctor" isn't quite a proper doctor.

1In the first draft of this post I said the word originated in medical discourse, but I had the nagging feeling that was wrong. Double-checking on Wikipedia reminded me that the first known use of "homosexuality" occurred in an 1869 German pamphlet protesting an anti-sodomy law. So it began as a term some LGB people picked for themselves, but was appropriated by medicine and psychiatry for purposes that were often virulently homophobic.


kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)

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