dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 02:07am on 2015-05-06

"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light." -- Gregory, in The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (2004, Candlewick Press)

[Gut yontiff to everyone celebrating Lag BaOmer tonight/tomorrow!]

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 04:37pm on 2015-05-05
[I think I might have pissed off some pro-police folks on Facebook lately with things I've said about Freddie Gray, Baltimore, and problems with the way the rest of society relates to the police and vice versa. Some of what I've said, I've said in haste, or only looking at one piece of the puzzle at a time, or when I've been upset. So I'd like to make my opinions and perceptions a little clearer, so that if other friends and relatives of police officers are still pissed off at me, at least it'll be for something I meant to say.]

First off, yes, I truly do believe (a) that police culture in many places, and the relationship between the police and the communities in which they operate, are badly broken (I'll come back to that in part 2); and (b) that an injustice was done in the case of Freddie Gray and those involved must be held accountable.

It was important that those six officers be investigated and charged. A man whom they were responsible for (having taken him into their custody against his will) died under suspicious circumstances. I want to see them investigated (check), charged once the investigation determined which ones to charge (check), and tried (looks likely). I'm sure many people add, "and convicted, and punished," to that. As I see it, that is what the trial is for. Right now, I cannot imagine any combination of circumstances consistent with what is already known, that would exonerate all six officers ... but that is what the trial is for. Just in case I, on the sidelines reading about all this in the paper, don't know something important. Perhaps it'll turn out that only four or five officers are truly culpable, or that some of what they did wrong wasn't what we thought they did. If we, the non-police citizenry, want to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law (and rightly complain when we're treated otherwise), then we must demand a fair trial for these six. Neither a half-assed ritual to let them off nor a pretense of civility over a pre-ordained political scapegoating. A real trial unless they take plea bargains first. With proper counsel for them and a chance to air any relevant facts not already known to us, and a jury neither afraid to convict cops nor out for revenge. I expect that a fair trial will convict them. But just in case, we do need to have that trial first.

We know that there is sufficient evidence to warrant charging and trying them. Many of us feel that the evidence we already have is enough to be certain of their guilt. (To be frank, I am in that camp.) Here's the thing: no matter how certain we are of that at this stage, we're not allowed to proceed to the punishment phase without giving them an opportunity for a proper trial, where they and their attorneys get to present their side of things and raise any evidence they have that we're not aware of yet. That is how our system works, and since I don't like it when a judge in traffic court says, "I don't need to hear what you have to say, I already know you're guilty because this cop wrote you a ticket," I cannot deny these officers their chance to have their say when the stakes are a whole lot higher. Our system doesn't always work this way, but this is how it is supposed to work.

(I know many doubt that a fair trial is possible here -- either because they've seen too many police let off when the facts looked damningly clear, or because they're convinced that the fear of rioting in the case of a not-guilty verdict will make a finding of guilt inevitable. Distrust of the courts is a whole 'nuther (related) problem, and one that I'm not sure how to fix.)

If they are properly convicted, especially if they're convicted of what most of us think they're guilty of, they must be given reasonable, proportionate punishment. No mere slap on the wrist ... but at the same time, not some over-the-top scapegoating that attempts to make these six pay for all the sins of police everywhere. These six officers are not the larger problem; they are a symptom. Let them be punished to much the same degree as any of the rest of us would be if we were guilty of similar acts. Maybe a little less because their jobs expose them to many more opportunities to make catastrophic mistakes, maybe a little more because of the aspect of betrayal in that these are the very people we depend upon to protect us from wrongdoers -- but still: proportionate. Similar to what any of the rest of us would get.

Does that make me anti-cop? Because I believe, in light of what we do know, that these officers are guilty of causing the death of Freddie Gray after first violating his civil rights by arresting him without cause? We keep hearing, again and again, that most officers are good cops, that the examples popping up in media across the country are a few conspicuous bad apples. But here is an opportunity to take some of those bad apples that have been spoiling the whole barrel of police/community relations, and remove them to where they can't ruin things for the good cops any more, after following due process of law (and if they are convicted thereby). Shouldn't the good cops be in favour of this?

[to be continued]
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 02:02am on 2015-05-05

Fatima Cortez-Todd: "We were very naive back in the sixties [...]"

(host) Anna Maria Tremonti: "So you say you were naive; are you saying essentially because you didn't fight for systemic or infrastructure change?"

Fatima Cortez-Todd: "Exactly. We thought changing a few laws, and making things accessible, that that was going to really have a major impact, and it did not have the systemic or the institutional change that needed to be made. We didn't address it that time, because we didn't really get it. And the issue of internalized oppression is that those policemen working as policemen have the same institutional values and attitudes as the power-brokers do. Because we have all been indoctrinated to believe that there is a hierarchy of value of people in this country, [...]"

-- from the CBC radio program The Current, 2015-05-04 (talking about the US)

[A couple of thoughts: (1) I guess this is part of the reason we still have so much left to do with regard to the civil rights struggles people like to think of as belonging to past decades, though I'm pretty sure that there'd still be work left to do there considering the folks trying to undo what did get done ... and (2) all y'all LGBT activists better not stop and declare your jobs done once same-sex marriage is in the bag -- there's a lot else to be done there.]

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:07am on 2015-05-04

Son of Baldwin, on Facebook, 2015-04-29 (quoting entire post, which I'm also seeing passed around in the form of a screencap):

During protest training at the Brooklyn Movement Center, I learned that there is a strategy to organizing and arranging a crowd during a political protest in the United States.

One of the most successful strategies is arranging the crowd in layers: white people in front, then Asian people, then Latin@ people, then Native peoples, then any other non-black people of color, then black people--so that the black people are surrounded, in the middle of the other demographics.

All of the protester-training folk, most of whom were non-black, said that after hundreds of protests between them, all over the United States, they learned that black protestors were always, specifically, the targets of police violence, and so they had learned to use their varying color privileges as a way to protect those without it.

They didn't say that only black people experienced police violence, but they did say they all had this exact same experience over and over again: "Police officers would push past us all of us aggressively and only pull out their billy clubs and guns once they reached the black members of the protest. They seemed to specifically want to be physically violent against the black people in our gatherings. There seems to be a need in American police to get to the black people, attack them, and do them harm in order to feel like they were doing their jobs as police officers. It was as if, consciously or unconsciously, they were carrying out a kind of programming to treat the rest of us like human beings, relatively, but treat black people like a scourge to be stamped out, stomped on, and ultimately destroyed."

How terrifying is that?

(Relatedly, I've read things elsewhere describing how the race of the police officers doesn't seem to alter the racial differences in how groups are policed by them. Also: it is important here to remember that we're talking about patterns of behaviour in police forces, not what every individual cop does. There are problems with systems and culture regardless of whether particular individual cops are bad, or how many are/aren't racist as individuals. So "not all cops" isn't relevant here -- this is about large patterns, not individual officers. Patterns that decent cops ought to want to see changed.)

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:19am on 2015-05-03

From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2014-06-01:

"The experience of France in the Belle Epoque proves, if proof were needed, that no hypocrisy is too great when economic and financial elites are obliged to defend their interest." -- Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics, in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

(submitted to the mailing list by Mike Krawchuk)

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:23am on 2015-05-02

"It occurred to me today while debugging that software development is essentially tragicomedy. Assuming a coherent and rational universe invariably leads to trouble. Only by imagining the most absurd and impossible circumstances will you arrive at something that actually works." -- Craig Lennox, 2015-04-30

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:06am on 2015-05-01

"Strong, responsible unions are essential to industrial fair play. Without them the labor bargain is wholly one-sided. The parties to the labor contract must be nearly equal in strength if justice is to be worked out, and this means that the workers must be organized and that their organizations must be recognized by employers as a condition precedent to industrial peace." -- US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (b. 1856-11-13, d. 1941-10-05)

[A blessed Beltane to all who celebrate it, and happy Labour Day to most folks outside of the US and Canada -- or good International Workers' Day / May Day wherever you are!]

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 04:50am on 2015-04-30

"The black community is a community, not a cult: we don't all feel the same way about everything, and I don't think we all are required to feel the same way about it." -- Kim Milan, executive director of The People Project, on the CBC radio program The Current, 2015-04-20 (quoted speech occurs at 0:16:26 in the segment podcast)

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 09:49am on 2015-04-29

"New words, even awkward or silly-sounding ones, make the most sense when you need to discuss something that isn't supposed to exist (or at least , not be visible) in common society." -- aggiesez, 2012-09-29

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:14am on 2015-04-28

"[...] it cannot be discounted that when there is a larger national outcry in defense of plate-glass windows and car doors than for Black young people, a point is being made; When there is more concern for white sports fans in the vicinity of a riot than the Black people facing off with police, there is mounting justification for the rage and pain of Black communities in this country." -- rad fag, 2015-04-26

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 04:59am on 2015-04-27

"if 'a few violent protesters' means you have to disperse/arrest an entire protest, what does 'a few violent cops' mean for a department" -- sarah jeongr, 2015-04-25

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:22am on 2015-04-26

From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2014-05-28:

"And this is the forbidden truth, the unspeakable taboo--that evil is not always repellent but frequently attractive; that it has the power to make of us not simply victims, as nature and accident do, but active accomplices." -- Joyce Carol Oates, from "Reflections on the Grotesque".

(submitted to the mailing list by Mike Krawchuk)

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:10am on 2015-04-25

"Let me explain something about guitar playing. Everyone's got their own character, and that's the thing that's amazed me about guitar playing since the day I first picked it up. Everyone's approach to what can come out of six strings is different from another person, but it's all valid." -- Jimmy Page (b. 1944-01-09)

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:04am on 2015-04-24

"Boy, am I tired of 'Christians' whose entire Bible consists of selected bits of Deuteronomy and the whole of Revelations." -- littlebrowndog, 2012-10-05

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 03:15pm on 2015-04-23

Names omitted to protect the innocent[*] (no sense trying to disguise the guilty, as y'all would just guess anyhow), and because the quotes-from-memory are probably not remembered quite right:

"If I have to resort to linoleum flooring, it'd be cool to have something other than a solid colour or geometric patterns or woodgrain. A custom image covering the floor instead."

"Oh yeah, I've seen something like that."

"So when a guest steps into the living room, suddenly they're standing on the edge of that pit on Tattooine with the monster in the bottom." [looked up later: the Great Pit of Carkoon, housing a Sarlacc]

"What?! No! Wrong! Bad! NO! Why would you DO that to your FRIENDS??"

"Or maybe molten lava with the most frequent path through the room done as stepping stones? Or a lake and stepping stones."

"Okay, that's better..."


I can describe and thus spoil this next idea, 'cause I'm never going to have the resources to pull it off ...

I'd like to build/remodel and decorate a house such that two rooms are exact mirror images of each other, down to replacing the outside windows with high-resolution video displays so the views from each room's windows match. And cut a hole in the wall between the rooms and frame it like you would a wall mirror. So that I could stand near the "mirror" and wait for guests to move to where they would be able to see my reflection if it were really a mirror, and see who notices that I don't have a reflection, and how they react.  Or maybe just wait to see who notices that they don't have a reflection.

(If I frame this as a psychology experiment instead of a practical joke, could I get grant money to build the rooms?)

[*] Never mind the gestured toward anonymity -- [info] realinterrobang says I got the conversation close enough.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 12:44pm on 2015-04-23
What's going on with me, after last night's excitement:

The urgently-scary things have been ruled out. Not asthma, not pneumonia, not a heart attack, not a clot. The enlarged mediastinum on the x-ray was proved by the CAT scan to be an artifact of imaging angle or something. So it's not any of a whole bunch of things I didn't want it to be.

I still feel like I can't draw a really deep breath, like what breathing I can do requires an awful lot of effort. Still dizzy. Still falling asleep unexpectedly at odd times. 

The discharge instructions say costochondritis -- inflammation of the cartilage joining ribs to breastbone (cause unknown but sometimes associated with stress?) ... leading to my not breathing right because each breath has to fight against the pain from the motion of breathing, I guess? Implying that the "muscles sore from working so hard to breathe" sensation there is really inflamed cartilage, cause instead of effect. (OT1H I don't remember the pain starting until the second day. OTOH fibromyalgia means I have such a steady diet of both background pains and up front distracting pains that maybe I could lose track of the timing of that. I dunno -- the diagnosis sounds plausible to me, but the ER doctor did not seem the least bit certain of it, and he'd said a few minutes earlier that (a) he was mystified but (b) I wasn't currently in the process of dying, and (c) I should follow up with a cardiologist and a pulmonologist in the next few weeks.

They sent me home with prescriptions for 800 mg ibuprofen 3x/day (but a verbal "no, don't take more" from the nurse when I pointed out that I already take 1g 2x/day) and 100 mg tramadol 1x/day (but I'm already taking 100 mg 2x/day, so I'll be asking my primary doctor whether taking it 3x/day is okay or I should just stick to 2x).

And then after Sheepie brought me home, I fell asleep before I could finish writing this followup post.

Anyhow, not immediately dying. I have more appointments to schedule (in addition to the house-repair estimates I need to schedule), I still feel crappy and insufficiently oxygenated, and I'm still not completely sure why. I'm currently feeling better than yesterday but worse than Monday.
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 08:27am on 2015-04-23

"The child vaccination programme is safe and necessary. Having worked in healthcare for 10+ years, the last five at the front lines in the ER, I've /never/ seen a child admitted with side effects from vaccinations. I have seen children with bilateral amputations, mental and physical disabilities, hearing loss, and blindness from diseases that vaccines would have protected them against. I'd vaccinate as early as possible, as much as possible, any day." -- Cecilie Larsen, 2015-02-12

[Yeah, I know, most of y'all don't need to hear this and a tired of hearing it.  But it turns out there are a few anti-vax folks close enough to see this.]

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:14am on 2015-04-22

"[...] I do think that the prevalent ... that is actually the only art, the primary kind of art that white people make about black people, is about slavery, is about supporting slave-based narratives depicting the crimes of slavery. And that has been happening in so many different ways -- I've actually never seen a movie that talks about black people in the context of royalty, or anything that's pre-colonial at all, but rather just continual representation of us in this way. And it has not been effective: it has not sparked these amazing dialogues between our communities of actually changing the way that race is functioning -- or racism is functioning -- in our world. And that, for me again, feels ... all of those narratives don't really feel like they're about me [...]" -- Kim Milan, executive director of The People Project, on the CBC radio program The Current, 2015-04-20, "Exhibit B 'human zoo' sparks art and censorship controversy" (quoted response is at 0:16:38 in the segment podcast, probably around 0:38:00 in the whole episode)

[Errors in transcription are all mine, along with any errors in judgement as to exactly how to punctuate it and how much to clean up extemporanous speech to make it sound as polished as written text or not. I've chosen to hew very close to the words as I heard them.]

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:08am on 2015-04-21

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." -- Thich Nhat Hanh

[Happy birthday to [info] patches023!]

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:44am on 2015-04-20

"Federal programs have made it easy for police departments to buy military grade weapons and armored vehicles. Initially, it was to fight the war on drugs and more recently for homeland security. I'm all for preparedness, but a police force most crucially needs to be prepared to do the job of policing its community, not to operate as a quasi-military unit. Militaries fight wars. They don't calm tensions, rather they identify an enemy and engage it in armed conflict. Who exactly is the enemy here? Our citizens? Are we fighting us? Nobody wins that fight. We just get more Fergusons. We need to stop before we go any further to ask whether we want our militarized police forces fighting a war against our citizens.

"If you really want to curb crime in your community, rather than buying a military assault vehicle or beefing up your riot squad, try placing a neighborhood substation in an at-risk community. Build some parks and playgrounds, plant some trees, make sure every department in the city (not just the police) is responsive to the needs of every section of the city. Respect and engagement should be our first line of response to communities that have been marginalized. We also take a proactive stance with people suffering from addiction or mental illness, giving them assistance in order to prevent them from turning to crime. Our police are out on our streets looking for people who need help, not for people to arrest."

-- Joseph Curtatone, mayor of Somerville, MA, 2015-04-14 [thanks to [info] noire for linking to this earlier]

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