Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pretzel syntax

New York magazine carries a piece about management turmoil at the world's most dishonest newspaper, the New York Times. I'm not sure why I bothered to read it, except maybe Schadenfreude -- accounts of any problems, especially financial ones, at the Times and I'm over the moon. 

It's fun to read about Sulzberger Junior, the Times Company's old-money retard publisher, his new Mexican cookie and his firing of a long-time sycophant named Janet Robinson. That, however, is not what we're on about today. 

New York is only slightly less politically Marxist/feminist than the Times itself. The story includes this sentence:
It raises the question of what the next CEO of the Times will be running when he or she shows up, and how much authority and power he or she will have under the thumb of the family, led by Sulzberger, who, in the pretzel logic of the Times’ management structure, will be both his or her boss, as chairman, and his or her underling, as publisher—a situation that denies a leader any real authority. 
This is not simply bad writing, a sentence that stitches together too many thoughts with too many transitions. It is self-mockery of the kind that only insane political correctness is capable of.

When he or she shows up. How much power he or she will have. His or her boss. His or her underling. God (he or she) help us!

Leftism and feminism, in their crusade against the good, the true, and the beautiful, cannot even leave language un-battered. The feminista death squads' reign of terror in the universities has now descended -- if it was possible to descend further -- to the popular press.

Earlier generations, who actually had a warm feeling for language, understood that in English (unlike French, Italian, German, or Spanish) possessive pronouns do not change gender depending on the noun they modify -- nouns themselves have no gender in English. They went along with the commonsense use of "his" to mean "his or her." It wasn't "sexist"; it was simply a way of avoiding the awkwardness that the New York quote displays.

The article also says, with no sign of irony:
That has led to speculation, and not for the first time, that Mayor Bloomberg, a long-fabled white knight for beleaguered Times staffers, could swoop in and save the paper from itself, a kind of best worst-case scenario for the Ochs-Sulzberger family. Here, after all, would be the decisive leader the paper yearned for, a ­powerful and wealthy businessman who has shown ample commitment to the city that gives its name to the greatest newspaper in the world. In theory, this benevolent dictator could afford to lose money for the greater good of journalism in America.
New York and California should secede and form their own country. The states in between should sell gas to people heading from one to the other and tax all goods moving between East Crackpotia and West Crackpotia.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Classical beauty revisited

More than four years ago I published a photo essay on beautiful women who play classical music. I'm doing another today to cheer myself up on this Memorial Day weekend, because I'm feeling glum about the Third World dumping ground that the country our soldiers died for has become.

Beauty and high-culture musicianship ... I'll take that combination over movie stars.

Right, let's go:

Jennifer Koh

I saw her in concert a few years ago. She is ever so cute and has a charming stage presence.

Arabella Steinbacher

Those eyes, those lips, those tone colors. A celebrated younger artist. I have an SACD with her playing Dvořák and Szymanowski.

Simone Dinnerstein

Eyes like Alpine lakes. Plays the piano a bit too.

Sara Alice Ott

She is a pianist and Japanese-German hybrid. If we had lost World War II (God forbid!) there might be a few more like her.

Yuja Wang

Do not ask her to play "Chinatown, My Chinatown." Rachmaninoff is more up her street.

Ragnhild Hemsing

Norwegian, plays a Francesco Ruggeri Violin built in Cremona in 1694. She herself is of recent vintage, born in 1988. Oh, am I feeling old.

Well that's the lot, friends. I posted two shots of Hilary Hahn last time, so I can't include her again. ... Wait a minute. This is my damn blog. If I want to, and I do ...


Well, that's the lot, friends ... wait a minute.


Well, that's the lot, friends. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rescuing pollution and toxins from white middle class scorn


You superficial dolt. Stop thoughtlessly bashing garbage. Your intellectual superiors at the University of Nebraska Press have a book that will make you see "pollutions" (plural, you note: nice touch that) and "toxins" in a new light. The publisher was thoughtful enough to email me a PDF of their latest catalog, perhaps because I am a noted specialist in literary toxicology.


Like virtually all university presses, Nebraska's operates an assembly line of books about ethnicity. Nebraska seems to have a corner on the market for studies about Natives (American Indians to you). Positive Pollutions and Cultural Toxins: Waste and Contamination in Contemporary U.S. Ethnic Literatures, by John Blair Gamber, promises further advances in the waste dump, sorry, I mean to say field -- what the U. Nebraska Press calls its "Postwestern Horizons Series."


To further your understanding of this important subject, let us quote from the publisher's Web site:
John Blair Gamber examines urbanity and the results of urban living—traffic, garbage, sewage, waste, and pollution—arguing for a new recognition of all forms of human detritus as part of the natural world and thus for a broadening of our understanding of environmental literature.
Train yourself, if you have to, to recognize traffic, garbage, sewage, waste, and pollution. Or pollutions.
While much of the discourse surrounding the United States’ idealistic and nostalgic views of itself privileges “clean” living (primarily in rural, small-town, and suburban settings), representations of rurality and urbanity by Chicanas/Chicanos, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, on the other hand, complicate such generalization.  
The omission of LGBTs is blatantly heterosexist. Mr. Gamber will issue an abject apology at once or risk an invasion of his classroom.


That outrage aside, he's got your number. If you harbor idealistic and nostalgic views of rurality and urbanity as favoring cleanliness (see also: Godliness), have you even the shadow of an idea how insensitive you are to the Other who will shortly take your place?
Gamber widens our understanding of current ecocritical debates by examining texts by such authors as Octavia Butler, Louise Erdrich, Alejandro Morales, Gerald Vizenor, and Karen Tei Yamashita that draw on the physical signs of human corporeality to refigure cities and urbanity as natural.
Whew! As I read the list, I feared he would commit another faux pas by forgetting Karen Tei Yamashita. You simply can't talk about the physical signs of human corporeality without citing Karen Tei Yamashita.
He demonstrates how ethnic American literature reclaims waste objects and waste spaces—likening pollution to miscegenation—as a method to revalue cast-off and marginalized individuals and communities. Positive Pollutions and Cultural Toxins explores the conjunction of, and the frictions between, twentieth-century U.S. postcolonial studies, race studies, urban studies, and ecocriticism, and works to refigure this portrayal of urban spaces. 
How fortunate we are in the this great miscege-nation to have ethnic literature to reclaim waste objects and spaces, cast-off and marginalized individuals, and cast-off and marginalized communities. Even if it involves some friction amid the conjunction. What do we want? Refigured portrayals of urban spaces! When do we want it? Now!
John Blair Gamber is an assistant professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University and the coeditor of Transnational Asian American Literature: Sites and Transits
And how fortunate as well that in this cusp between one super-recession and the next, when so many hard-working people have lost their livelihoods, at least Mr. Gamber is still in place at Columbia to carry forward the torch of scholarship.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Leslie Flint spirit communication recordings upgraded

Leslie Flint (1911-1994) was a direct voice medium. Direct voice is the strangest, rarest, and most controversial form of mediumship. I know of no practitioner of it today, although it is likely that they exist but prefer to avoid publicity and work privately in a circle of friends.

Most mediums, who convey messages from spirits who have passed through death to the Other Side, speak -- either consciously or in a trance -- in their own voice, sometimes altered by the personality of the spirit. (This posting will avoid the tedium of qualifying every statement with words like "alleged," "claimed," etc.; your blogger is fully aware that mediumship arouses no end of skepticism and objections, which will be touched on briefly later.)


In contrast, a direct voice medium such as Flint enables the spirit to speak in his or her own voice, which seems to issue from somewhere outside the medium. That sounds impossible. We cannot say it is possible, only that it appears to happen. I hesitate to mention a suggested explanation, that a medium such as Flint creates a secondary voice box out of ectoplasm, because many fraudulent extrusions of ectoplasm have been exposed over the years. The word understandably has become a joke, but until a better explanation comes along we have to admit that ectoplasm may not always be a trick.

Leslie Flint, photo from the cover of his autobiography

The spirits who were called up by Leslie Flint over many years were recorded. Here is a partial list of those who spoke in his presence, with links to the recordings. These come close to the Holy Grail of psychical research -- a "permanent paranormal object" that can be studied continually, as opposed to most paranormal phenomena that happen spontaneously in a particular time and place and are then unrecoverable, so that all that is left is personal testimony (sneeringly dismissed by the Materialist Scientific Establishment as "anecdotal").

There has still been one problem with the Flint recordings: the sound quality is godawful. He used a home tape recorder and what seems to have been a primitive microphone. As if that wasn't enough, the voices came from mid-air, which means that lots of ambient noise was also captured.


Fascinated with the possibility of hearing the actual voices of spirits -- some of whom were famous during their Earth lives -- I have listened to a number of the recordings. Most have tried my patience. Not that the voices can't (in most cases) be heard and understood, but it's hard work making them out through the sonic grunge. Ever since the recordings first appeared on the Web many years ago, I wished that modern computer noise reduction techniques would be used to clean them up. I doubted it would happen in my lifetime, and possibly not ever.

But such a project apparently has started.


The Leslie Flint Educational Trust now offers a few of the recordings in vastly improved audibility on its own YouTube channel. Some examples follow.

Ellen Terry, image by the brilliant Victorian
photographer Julia Cameron

Ellen Terry (1847-1928) was the leading stage actress of her day, admired by almost all its leading artistic figures, even the sour George Bernard Shaw (with whom she carried on an extensive correspondence). Here is a brief recording of her spirit from the Flint tapes; here, a longer one.

I find these recordings convincing; aside from the elevation of the thoughts she expresses, the voice is what I would expect a leading actress of her time to sound like -- actors in the 19th and early 20th century were supposed to speak the "Queen's English," very posh. (I once saw a funny film clip of Laurence Olivier parodying the elocutionary style of stage dialogue he remembered from his youth.) You almost never hear an accent like this in England today, even in Oxford or Cambridge.

Arthur Conan Doyle devoted most of his last years to psychical research and wrote several books on the subject. Here he is in a Flint recording (if you're already familiar with his biography, you might want to skip the introduction):

Frédéric Chopin gives an eloquent description of his death and awakening in the afterlife:

The other recordings upgraded by the Leslie Flint Educational Trust can be accessed here.

Let us turn briefly to the skeptical objections to the authenticity of Leslie Flint's direct voice mediumship. A lot of them might as well be phrased, "The dead disappear, or they never return, therefore this carry-on is impossible, therefore it's phony." He produced his phenomena in the dark -- very common among mediums, which arouses much derision and has been used by fake mediums to hide their sins. Why spirits need darkness to appear has been the subject of elaborate discussion, and I don't fully understand the explanations given, but it is not prima facie evidence of fraud.


According to the Wikipedia article about Flint:
The Society for Psychical Research investigated Flint and concluded that the voices heard at his séances were auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis. Another experiment conducted by Dr. Louis Young involved roping Flint to a chair and putting colored water to hold in his mouth during the séance. After the ceremony, the researchers found that the water that was stored in Flint’s mouth was only fractionally less, which implies that his throat did not open in an attempt to speak. Other studies conducted by The Society for Psychical Research as well as other researchers of Flint involved conducting séances with plaster-sealed lips, microphones wired to amplifiers placed over his larynx to magnify noises, and the fixation of an infrared telescope on Flint to focus on his every movement in the dark. Flint was also investigated by Professor William Bennett of Columbia University, who after extensive testing concluded that Flint was genuine. Despite these studies failing to disprove that Flint was producing the noises through his throat, it is believed that he may have produced voices from his stomach. He has also been accused of using prerecorded tapes to produce voices, as well as live accomplices providing a two-way voice channels.
Being able to hypnotize a tape recorder time after time is perhaps more bizarre than enabling spirits to speak in their own voices. So is the idea that Flint was a ventriloquist who could speak with his lips sealed and holding water in his mouth. If he produced the voices with his virtuoso stomach, then I can sing "Celeste Aida" by wiggling my ears.

It is theoretically possible that the speakers might have been living accomplices, though most of his sessions were attended by witnesses who probably would have sensed the presence of an extra person even in the dark. Besides, it would take an actress of Royal Shakespeare Company or National Theatre caliber to convincingly emulate the Ellen Terry we hear, and it's hard to imagine a reputable actress being willing to participate in any such dodgy enterprise.


Some commenters I've read claim the voices all sound suspiciously alike, or like Leslie Flint. That is so wide of the mark that I can only assume they are from Americans, who are clueless about British accents -- reviewers on the American Netflix site gripe that British films should have subtitles.

Consider the recording of the spirit of John Brown, Queen Victoria's companion in her later years at her estate in Scotland. It's not one of the cleaned-up recordings, but it's fairly clear. That's Scottish speech if I ever heard it. (There has been much speculation about the reason for the close relationship between Victoria and Brown; based on the Flint tapes of them both, Brown was a medium and Victoria a secret spiritualist -- the monarch obviously could hardly make her belief public.)


Or Thomas Jefferson.  This one, unfortunately, was recorded at too low a level, but if you boost the volume to the max or your computer is connected to an amplifier, you can make him out. To my ear, he talks in a combination of the speech of England and the lovely traditional Virginia drawl. I live in Virginia and recognize it. The hybrid accent is exactly what you would expect of a man born in the British colony of Virginia.

And hark to Jeremiah, who was killed serving in the army of Oliver Cromwell whose forces de-throned and eventually de-headed King Charles I. I've never heard an accent like this. We may be listening to the voice of a man of the 1640s, as if we traveled back in time.


None of this means there can be no reasonable objections to the phenomena. Although I have little doubt that Flint was able to bring spirits into his environment, not all were necessarily the persons they claimed they were. Many childish spirits take great amusement in conning the living and impersonating famous deceased. I have read they can be quite convincing.

Like everything else in psychical research, the meaningful question is not whether we have strict proof. The verdict rests on a more commonsense consideration: what seems most likely based on the evidence, taken as a whole?


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cicero on moral ends


Marcus Tullius Cicero's On Moral Ends is probably among the least read of his works, limited to a scholarly audience. (His "best seller" remains the collection of letters to his friend Atticus.) I happened on this book by chance, rescuing it from a batch about to be tossed out. It was the original 1914 Loeb Classical Library edition, with the Latin and English translation on facing pages. After a century it was in delicate shape, and eventually the pages started coming loose from the binding as I turned them; although I was able to read it through, it was beyond my attempts to repair it. I will be the last person to read this copy.


Obscure it may be, but only because Cicero's other literary creations outshine it, as the sun dims the stars by day. I found it thoroughly absorbing and finished reading it with an even greater respect for its author.

Cicero wrote this at a bad time in his life, although nothing in the text suggests that. In 45 B.C. his beloved daughter Tullia had recently died; the storm clouds of the Civil War that would end the Roman Republic were gathering, and Cicero the lawyer and politician was out to pasture. Perhaps to divert his mind, he turned his attention to moral philosophy, his subject here.

The form is a fantasy debate among spokesmen for three philosophical schools (and some derivatives) that vied for acceptance in his day: the Epicurean, the Stoic, and the Academic -- in the sense of the then-current version of Plato's Academy at Athens. (In fact, part of the book is "set" in Athens.)


This is far more profound than a mere "he said, then he said" kind of debate. Each advocate is given the opportunity for an extended argument. Then the narrator, "Cicero" (it's not clear to me whether the character actually represents the historical Cicero's views) answers each point. If this sounds dry and academic in the modern sense, it seemed to me anything but. It's a fabulous intellectual showpiece. 

"Cicero's" criticisms of each school of thought aren't so much an attempt to arrive at Truth as to counter arguments by either showing the weaknesses of the premises or accepting the premises but trying to show that they lead to false conclusions or unacceptable consequences.


Reading De Finibus one gets a vivid impression of why Cicero was a much admired (and feared) courtroom advocate. Rome had no state prosecution office for criminal accusations; individuals accused and prosecuted (with the representation of their attorneys) other individuals. A Roman lawyer worked as both accuser and defender, depending on his client. You can observe in the book how cleverly Cicero could argue either side of a case. In character for the advocate of a philosophical position, he makes a detailed, organic pitch for that view. I found myself thinking each time, in effect: this is devastating. Then he argues against it just as cogently.

It's impossible to convey the spirit of the book through quotation, because of this extended combat of ideas. But for a taste, here is the Epicurean, arguing that pleasure (in its most refined sense) is the ultimate good:
We are inquiring, then, what is the final and ultimate Good, which as all philosophers are agreed must be of such a nature as to be the End to which all other things are means, while it is not in itself a means to anything else. This Epicurus finds in pleasure; pleasure he holds to be the Chief Good, pain the Chief Evil. 

This he sets out to prove as follows: Every animal, as soon as it is born, seeks for pleasure, and delights in it as the Chief Good, while it recoils from pain as the Chief Evil, and so far as possible avoids it. This it does as long as it remains unperverted, at the prompting of Nature's own unbiased and honest verdict. Hence Epicurus refuses refuses to admit any necessity for argument or discussion to prove that pleasure is desirable and pain to be avoided.
Anticipating the reply that people do choose painful things at times for various reasons, he adds:
No one rejects, dislikes or avoids pleasure itself, because it is a pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? ...

In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. 

The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or he endures pains to avoid worse pains.
There is much more sophisticated argument about the Epicurean system, pro and con, as there is about the other concepts of the most important ends to seek in life.


Cicero was obviously an extraordinary figure in his time, and he probably invented most of the dialogue as a mental exercise. I doubt that he could have found such eloquent real-life champions of the philosophies considered. Still, Romans who had any ambitions to be known as learned did emulate the Greeks whose culture was so admired, including their philosophical systems. Say this for them: important men, among the most powerful in the world, took seriously the ultimate question, what is life's highest goal?

But ... even they seemed to have no spiritual life. The gods are scarcely mentioned, and then casually, as a figure of speech (like atheists today say, "Oh my God!"). Lucretius, who lived not long before Cicero, wrote a celebrated poem whose theme was not to worry about imaginary gods, just enjoy the lovely play of matter.

It was one of many ways in which Roman culture was similar to the dominant outlook in the West now.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A tour of the Dreamliner


I was invited on a guest tour of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, parked at Reagan National Airport as part of a multiple-stop promotional tour. They didn't have to ask me twice. 

This particular 787, the third to come off the assembly line, was built for certification testing and demonstration. (Deliveries were delayed by several years, but began last year; I think Japan's All Nippon Airways is the only airline currently using it in commercial service. Another 800-some orders are booked.)

It's by no means the biggest airliner, but impressive from the outside -- possibly because those of us in the tour group entered by walking outdoors on a fenced-in path to airstairs, rather than going through the usual jetbridge. As a result we had a full view rather than the tiny glimpse you get entering an airplane cabin from the jetbridge.

I paused to look, much closer than a passenger normally can view it, at the left engine. Again, not the world's largest, but quite the monster. A Rolls-Royce Trent 1000, 70,000 pounds thrust and 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the 767's engines. The nacelle (the engine's outer covering) ends in a pleasingly scalloped edge, which is said to reduce noise.

Normally I am irritatingly immune to being dazzled by technical marvels, but the sight did penetrate my defenses. The engine, and its twin on the right wing, can carry a giant aircraft and 250 people from (for example) Washington to Honolulu nonstop. A secular miracle.


Our tour group was led through the length of the plane's interior. We were not, understandably, allowed to enter the cockpit but could peek into it. It was a typical modern "glass" cockpit with the usual computer monitor displays, but I was interested to see a pink "window" between the captain's seat and the airplane windshield. (I'm sure one is available to the first officer when the FO is the pilot flying a segment.) This is a "head-up display," which conveys the critical flight information to the pilot in a see-through view, allowing an instrument scan without having to look down and away from the outside.

Another display I hadn't seen before: one screen had a "moving map" of the airport, the position of the ship shown on a diagram of the taxiways and runways. When the airplane is moving through the airport before takeoff or after landing, the map changes like a GPS monitor (which I guess it is) to show its location.

We were allowed into the crew rest quarters, something I'd never visited. On long-haul trips, a relief crew accompanies the original crew and flight crewmembers can use the space for sleep or rest. It is not luxurious. You couldn't stand up in it. Not for those with an allergy to confined spaces. (There's another, for cabin crewmembers, aft of the passenger cabin.)


You've probably read about the trippy lighting effects in the cabin. The overhead lights are LEDs in multiple colors, capable of producing individually or in combination various "mood" effects. This is a welcome development: more atmospheric and softer than the harsh white glare of traditional airliner cabins.

The windows are terrific. They're quite a bit larger than on other planes, which offers a better view and I imagine reduces the feeling of confinement during flight. The electronic "window shades" are operated by pushing a button. You can select between clear and "closed" as the window modulates through gradations of green -- it can go dark but is never entirely opaque. About one minute is needed to go from one extreme of translucence to the other. Maybe it's no big deal once the novelty wears off, but the plus-size windows are definitely an asset.

The demo 787 had sample seats in the business class cabin (no first class) and the economy class cabin. In-flight entertainment systems are constantly getting fancier, but don't expect more room if you fly economy in the Dreamliner. The same economics will apply. Seating configurations (determined by the airline, not Boeing) will be designed to put as many bodies as possible in the space allotted. Wider aisles? Don't be ridiculous.

I've never flown in business class on a long-haul flight. I spent a few moments in a Dreamliner business class seat, or maybe chair is a better word, savoring the experience. I may not have it again.


Saturday, May 05, 2012

Was there ever a United States of America?


Emphasis on United? No, not really.

It was doomed before it even existed, in the 17th century, the moment a black slave set foot on soil that would eventually become part of the USA. Importing slaves from Africa was the Original Sin. 

In a thinly populated country, the plantation owners believed they had no choice if they wanted labor to work in their fields. White indentured servants wouldn't do it. You couldn't hire freeborn people for that kind of work. All that. Jut the same, they were spiking the country that had yet to be born. 

As to the morality of the slave trade: it was understandable; it was immoral. But more to our point today, it set in motion the situation that led to where we are now. The Not-United States.


History, right up to the current news, shows that an African tribal culture cannot be grafted onto a European-derived republic. It has never worked; it does not work.

What about the great experiment in self-government created by Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Hamilton, and all the rest of the founders? It was as brilliant a start as any nation has ever had. But there was no United States even after Independence. The states could barely be persuaded to join in a federal union. The tensions between North and South were always there; sometimes subdued, sometimes sharp. Only a series of compromises (most notably the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and that of 1850) held the union precariously together, until finally it snapped.

The War Between the States "settled" the matter only by brute force, culminating in something close to terrorism by the North. For 20 years after the war the South was occupied territory, its governance turned over to northern carpetbaggers and blacks. This was not a United States.


I'll own that there was a relatively brief stretch when we were something like a cohesive country. For an arbitrary start date, I'll say 1900, when the War generation was mostly gone and personal memories of Reconstruction, so-called, were fading. The great immigration tide, which transformed the demography of the North, yet consisted largely of Europeans who came here to become Americans.

World War II probably postponed the dissolution. Americans believed they were fighting for civilization itself. Despite a few race riots and zoot suit riots, they overwhelmingly pulled together.

The era of a Something-Like-United States ended -- again, to choose an arbitrary date -- about 1960.

Unlike the majority of our population now, I remember the pre-1960 America. I was a child, but some childhood memories remain vivid. It was nothing like the super-Balkanized mess we live in today. 


In my view, it cannot be put back together again. I sympathize with people who consider themselves patriots and want to believe in a restoration of the old America, but they are far outnumbered by others who not only don't know what the old America was like, but think of it as a model of everything that was racist and sexist and imperialist.

It's time to let go of warm fantasies. 

Original Sin has caught up with us. Cultural Marxism rules the national institutions. The federal system is dead, Washington, D.C. the sun around which we all revolve.

Many people don't accept these things, but they are powerless. The national political class may yet discover what people are capable of when they feel they have no other option. We are heading for either civil war or repression on a near-totalitarian scale. The only alternative is an agreed-on set of rules whereby states or other jurisdictions can peacefully and legally detach themselves from what they deem intolerable.


Secession. Peaceful, legal secession. We have to make it possible ... not easily or at a whim, but when certain criteria are met.

We don't have much time left.


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Queer theory

A queer thing happened at a recent May Day protest. But the queerest bit was how it was reported.

The Dissociated Press produced its annual tear-stained "news" story about how few immivasion activists showed up for the Gimme Citizenship Festival. However, a rival Victim Group™ swelled the protester numbers by at least one.
ATLANTA (AP) — While a black preacher told about 100 immigration protesters that incarcerated blacks and detained immigrants faced similar challenges, Jesse Morgan stood to one side of the May Day demonstrators, holding a large sign that read "Radical Queers Resist."

Although the rally was geared toward illegal immigrants, the 24-year-old Georgia State sociology major said gays can relate, too, because they often face discrimination.

"And besides," he said. "There are queers who are undocumented."
Undocumented queers! If a county fair offered a blue ribbon to the first prize politically correct identity, that would be a strong contender.

Incidentally, the Dissociated Press does not discriminate against reporters who can't write very well. Take the first sentence: "While a black preacher told about 100 immigration protesters that incarcerated blacks and detained immigrants ... " The syntax had me wondering at first why the immigration protesters had incarcerated blacks and detained others of their persuasion. 

But there was yet more queerness.

At the news aggregation (or aggravation) site Lucianne.com, the story's opening was quoted:
ATLANTA — While a black preacher told 100 immigration protesters that incarcerated blacks and detained immigrants faced similar challenges, Jesse Morgan stood to one side of the May Day demonstrators, holding a large sign that read "Radical Q****s Resist." Although the rally was geared toward illegal immigrants, the 24-year-old Georgia State sociology major said gays can relate, too, because they often face discrimination. "And besides," he said. "There are q****s who are undocumented." 
So the original story apparently deemed "queer" too insensitive to print, like n****r ... even though it was a self-described q****r who used the word. The story is now slugged "Updated 09:32 p.m., Wednesday, May 2, 2012."

But in the interim, either the Dissociated Press or Chron.com -- the latter a derivative of the San Francisco Chronicle -- must have changed its proto-mind about whether the Q word was derogatory. After all, a lot of the Chronicle readers are proud to bear the title of queer, or undocumented queer.

One hopes the non-queer undocumented invaders, in Jesse Morgan's phrase, "could relate."