erinptah: (space)
People killed by police in the US, 2017. Currently at 759.

Charlottesville-based organizations that can take your money. (The Twitter thread have been going around; this is a blog post that rounds up the links.)

"'I was expecting him to come home, not to be buried,' [the 16-year-old's grandmother] told the station. 'I was telling him, give yourself a little while and you’ll be home with me.'" Justice for Aries Clark.

"We are among the vast majority of Americans who believe that we must take sensible steps to prevent massacres like the one that took my daughter’s life. We will continue to speak up. We will not go away."

2014 FBI study: "There were, on average, 16.4 [mass] shootings a year from 2007 to 2013, compared with an average of 6.4 shootings annually from 2000 to 2006. In the past 13 years, 486 people have been killed in such shootings, with 366 of the deaths in the past seven years." This was commissioned by Obama post-Sandy Hook, and was the first FBI study of its kind.

"...two officers who encountered the armed off-duty officer ordered him to the ground. He complied. When they recognized the off-duty officer, they told him he could stand up and walk toward them. Another officer just arriving at the scene saw the off-duty officer get up and, not knowing he was an officer, fired his weapon once at the man."

"Southaven officers went to the wrong house to serve a warrant on Monday, which resulted in the shooting death of a man who did not have any active warrants out for his arrest." Worse, they shot Ismael Lopez through his front door.
erinptah: (daily show)
You can send a set of ITMFA pins to your Congressperson. Proceeds go to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the International Refugee Assistance Project.

"'The refugee agencies didn’t really feel comfortable sending their kids anywhere,' Adams says. 'We needed to be that place for them.” It’s no coincidence that as Sullivan has established itself as the go-to school for refugees in the last couple of years, its academic standing has also risen."

"Airwars researchers estimate that at least 2,300 civilians likely died from Coalition strikes overseen by the Obama White House—roughly 80 each month in Iraq and Syria. As of July 13, more than 2,200 additional civilians appear to have been killed by Coalition raids since Trump was inaugurated—upwards of 360 per month, or 12 or more civilians killed for every single day of his administration."

"I was having lunch with Shonda Rhimes last week and a woman stopped at the table — well-dressed, probably in her 40s or 50s — and she said, ‘I just can’t leave this restaurant without telling you I’m just so devastated,’ and she just started to cry. I was on the other side of the table, or I would have done what I have done countless times since the election, which is just put my arms around her. Because people are so profoundly hurt." The surreal post-election life of Hillary Clinton.

"Not only were the Hartes upstanding citizens with clean records, they were also both former Central Intelligence Agency officers. And they were not weed growers. Rather, the quick-trigger suspicion of law enforcement had snagged on — it would later turn out — tea leaves and a struggling tomato plant."

"Initially, the city would impose property and sales taxes, but the property tax would ratchet down to zero over time. The business-friendly environment would draw new economic activity to Von Ormy, and eventually the town would cruise along on sales taxes alone." Spoiler alert: it did not cruise. It crashed and burned.

"A Facebook group for Norwegians opposed to immigration was widely mocked after members apparently could not tell the difference between empty bus seats and burka-clad women."
erinptah: (Default)
People killed by police, 2017. Currently at 460.

This one's not a shooting, it's a hit-and-run: "The evidence was overwhelming. The [white] driver's identity was known. Her extensive criminal history was known. A witness was actually in the car when the crash happened. But this is America." Justice for Quason Turner.

Shannon Hurd was sentenced to life without parole for stealing $14. Ten years later he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, though the prison had ignored his symptoms and complaints for so long that they didn't catch it until the tumors had spread to his brain.

Women suffer domestic abuse in at least 40% of police-officer families, way higher than the overall US rate of 25%. (Appears to only deal with the rate of male cops abusing their female wives/girlfriends, no stats for non-male police and/or their non-male partners.)

"Ms Grice was then charged with “having caused wasteful employment of police by making a false report” because she failed to disclose that Lane was her on-off boyfriend, and was issued with a fixed-penalty notice." That was February 2016. In August, the boyfriend murdered her.

No charges for the prison officers who scalded Darren Rainey to death. Apparently in Florida it's a totally understandable accident for a responsible employee to "accidentally" boil a human being alive.

"In addition to attempted manslaughter in the third degree, North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda was also charged with culpable negligence, a first-degree misdemeanor, for the shooting of behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey in July." At least someone's getting charged for something.
erinptah: (pyramid)
People killed by police, 2017. Currently at 399.

Federal immigration officials knock on the door of a family of legal US residents, then shoot one of the unarmed homeowners.

Off-duty cop Kevin Ferguson harasses some kids, grabs a 13-year-old, ends up firing his gun at the group. It's all on video. And yet the middle-schooler gets charged with battery, while the grown adult member of law enforcement is allowed to keep walking around armed with no charges.

"The video shows Rosen stomping on the head of Demarco Anderson while Anderson is already handcuffed and under control. Anderson is visibly restrained and does not appear to be agitated or resisting when Rosen charges from the left side of the frame and pounds his foot into the back of the suspect’s head." Justice for Demarco Anderson.

"He was not trying to harm anybody. He was asking them for help and they shot him down." And the whole thing was streamed on Facebook Live. Justice for Rodney Hess.

"Soon after, Wade — fully restrained and surrounded by officers — would be writhing in pain and screaming “I can’t breathe” after enduring two blasts of pepper-spray at point-blank range." Justice for Charles Wade and Amber Swink.

"The mailman suffered injuries to his neck, face, back and arm and underwent two surgeries and physical therapy." And the cops who beat him up were completely acquitted. Justice for Karim Baker.

"Aware that the call was in response to a possible drug abuser, instead of proceeding calmly as to not alarm the person- when officer Stumler shouted: 'raise your hands' she automatically shot him in the stomach with no chance to respond." Justice for Bruce Warrick.
erinptah: (lighthouse)
Everything this week is horrible and heartbreaking, and I hate it. Trying to make it stop feels like trying to hold back a runaway train with a rope.

This weekend is the Tax March. Find one near you.

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first Muslim woman to serve as a US judge, found dead in a river. Whoever did this should be strung up by the thumbs.

Trump can't remember whether he just bombed Iraq or Syria. To everyone who ~*couldn't trust Hillary*~ to run our military responsibly, I wish I could personally slap all of you in the face.

Democrats are consistent in how much we approve of missile strikes. Republicans swing from 22% in favor of a Democrat doing it, to 86% in favor of a Republican. That comes out to 64% of Republicans who have no principles whatsoever, just slavish loyalty to anyone who puts an R after their name.

Trump's policies are hurting poor majority-black Democratic-voting communities as hard as any poor white Trump-voting district. The only difference is that they saw it coming.

"Tom Price acted to help kill a rule that would hurt drug company profits shortly after his broker bought him up to $90,000 worth of pharmaceutical stock." And now he's running the Department of Health and Human Services.

Chechnya is rounding up gay men in what Amnesty International calls "secret detention sites." Reports are coming out about horrific physical abuses. Straight people of Chechnya, what is wrong with you?

(Amnesty International could use your donations, and so could RUSA LGBT, a group that supports LGBTQ Russian-speakers -- including asylum-seekers.)

A bridge collapses in Atlanta, causing millions of dollars in damage. You could blame the companies that stored flammable materials there, or you could pin the whole thing on a homeless black guy who slept there. Guess which one the city is doing.

Chicago detective Reynaldo Guevara: "accused by at least 51 people of framing them for murders from the 1980s through the early 2000s in the rough-and-tumble Humboldt Park section of Chicago. His alleged misdeeds led 48 men and one woman to be sentenced to a total of more than 2,300 years in prison. Three were acquitted. Five received life sentences. Three were sentenced to death but spared when in 2003 Gov. George Ryan, disturbed by a rash of wrongful convictions, commuted all death sentences to life or less. Two men died behind bars, including Daniel Peña, an illiterate man who testified Guevara beat him into signing a confession he couldn’t read." Lock this guy up. Also, strive to be George Ryan.
erinptah: (lighthouse)
Leaving Westboro Baptist: "When Brittany Murphy died, Phelps-Roper had seen the disparity between her reaction and that of the rest of the church as a sign that something was wrong with her. Now the contradiction of her mother’s glee and her own sadness made her wonder if something was wrong with the church."

Leaving Stormfront: "But the unstated truth was that Derek was becoming more and more confused about exactly what he believed. Sometimes he looked through posts on Stormfront, hoping to reaffirm his ideology, but now the message threads about Obama’s birth certificate or DNA tests for citizenship just seemed bizarre and conspiratorial. He stopped posting on Stormfront. He began inventing excuses to get out of his radio show, leaving his father alone on the air each morning to explain why Derek wouldn’t be calling in."

"Justin Bainbridge is 27 and works two jobs, but he wasn't allowed to start saving money for his future until a few months ago. Bainbridge has Down syndrome, and like other people with disabilities who receive government benefits, he can't have more than $2,000 in savings. If he does, he would start to lose those much-needed benefits. But a new type of savings vehicle is giving Bainbridge, and others, a chance to save more cash."

"I moved my whole company to a five-hour workday where everyone works from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Over a year later, we're sticking with it."

"As of [February 7], all images of public-domain works in The Met collection are available under Creative Commons Zero (CC0). So whether you're an artist or a designer, an educator or a student, a professional or a hobbyist, you now have more than 375,000 images of artworks from our collection to use, share, and remix—without restriction."
erinptah: (Default)
"Good people devoted to and focused on a single good cause come to see — precisely because of that devotion — the connections and intersections of that cause and of other good and worthy causes. They recognize the truth of the holy scripture that says 'We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.'"

"The CEO of a popular fast food chain said this week that he was “stunned” to see profits soar each time California passed minimum wage increases." Your customers have more money, they buy more of your product! Shocking.

"Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016." A lot of it would be easy to duplicate in the US (more afterschool programs!), although I don't think "nationwide curfew on teenagers" would fly.

"My oldest sister is dead (2013), from colon cancer. No Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, no screening. My youngest sister lives despite ovarian cancer. Her Obamacare meant screening, surgery, treatment."

Leaked audio from Republicans who have no idea WTF to do after repealing the ACA. And are scared of the political consequences of the clusterf@#k.

No wonder Republicans are the only ones to complain about in-person voter fraud: they're the only ones anybody can find committing it.

"Official FBI guidelines acknowledge that white supremacists and right-wing extremists have infiltrated U.S. law enforcement agencies."

"At least 13 Jewish Community Centers were evacuated [January 31], after the third wave of bomb threats this month was made against the religious centers. This latest spate of threats, which came in between 10 a.m. and noon, targeted JCCs in at least 11 states and is being investigated by the FBI. "

Sharpie swastikas in the NYC subway, versus a car's worth of people with Purell. There are lots of ways to fight Nazis besides punching.
erinptah: (Default)
People killed by police, 2017. The final total for 2016 was 1,153. This year, we're already up to 124. It's February.

White people shooting cops, to pointed silence from the #BlueLivesMatter crowd:

"Bill Jones, 35, allegedly shot two police officers after a standoff on Wednesday. Unlike the number of black men who’ve been shot at when police mistook cell phones for guns, Jones survived his tense standoff with police." (He's white. But you knew that.)

Two police officers were shot and killed, and I'm guessing you didn't hear about it: "There was no massive national freak-out over these killings as there has been whenever the suspect is a person of color or has an Arabic-sounding name. The man accused of these killings is a white guy. Scott Michael Greene — whose home reportedly features a Trump/Pence sign in the front lawn — was allegedly upset with police after he was forced to leave a high school football game because he was waving a Confederate flag and threatening black students."

Police brutality:

"The Detroit man charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and weapons felony firearm for killing a 19-year-old woman on his porch was found guilty on all counts [on August 4]." Justice for Renisha McBride.

"Officer Marco Proano faces two federal civil rights charges for the 2013 shooting [at a car full of teenagers; they survived], which was caught on a dash cam."

"They sit next to Mr. Crutcher's daughter in class. They are her friends. Nearly every student has a tissue as we read the article together."

"He gives the officers his ID, which lists the address as his residence, and he suggests the officers ask a neighbor to verify that he lives there. " Dejuan Yourse, thankfully still alive, beaten by police for sitting on his own front porch.

Police brutality through the looking glass:

"Give the Weirton, W.Va., police chief some credit. He’s come up with a new spin on the the same problem. He just fired a cop for not killing someone."
erinptah: (Default)

"Immediately after the reports, BLM was blamed because Black people are violent threats who hate police, right? But that entire narrative was wrong—it turned out that the perpetrators were two white men who were far from affiliated with BLM. At that point, the Blue/All Lives Matter crew dropped the subject, not because it suddenly didn’t matter that the cops had died, but because the people who had killed them were no longer part of the threat group."

"British police used a Taser on a black man they thought was a robber. He was their race-relations adviser."

"Police officers responding to a burglar alarm fatally shot a homeowner, who had grabbed a gun when he spotted an intruder, after shots were fired in their direction as they arrived at his house."

(Although most news stories about cops shooting homeowners involve a black victim, you can also read about the occasional white guy getting shot in his own house. Along with his dog.)

"Dozens of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. were evacuated [January 18], including in Manhattan and California's Bay Area, after receiving near-simultaneous bomb threats, according to various local reports."

Millions of Shia Muslims made the pilgrimage of Arbaeen this fall, in defiance of Daesh's threats and deadly attacks against the pilgrims.

"Here's a list of things white friends have done/can do which actually make me feel safer."

Practical advice for white allies on how to talk to white non-allies.

erinptah: A map. (writing)

From the Cook Political Report's numbers as of November 22: HRC is up to 64,500,489 while Donald is only at 62,371,681.

Obama in 2012 clocked in at 65,446,032 -- and there are still enough uncounted ballots in California that Hillary has a good shot at matching him.

So there's that.

***

I knew about HRC making it easier for trans people to get passports, but I just now learned that she did a whole truckload of other things for LGBT people at the State Department. Making the passport office recognize the name you were married and/or civil-unioned under! Extending spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of American diplomats!

So many of us faffed around arguing over whether she was quick enough to make a public statement in support of legal same-sex marriage. When it was a symbolic move anyway, given that the decision had nothing to do with her. We should've been looking at her actions where she did have the power to change the lives of same-sex couples, because, guess what, she had our backs.

***

...and now I have a lot of terrible Trump headlines to unload.

Headlines that you wish were a joke: "Sane, Competent Official Uncovered on Trump Transition Team and Is Immediately Fired."

The Trump Foundation's self-admitted law-breaking [video].

Megyn Kelly opens up about the potentially-fatal level of harassment the Trump campaign sent her way. "We had security guards the whole year. I mean the threat level got so high that it was impossible not to take that seriously."

A cohesive and source-link-filled history of rape allegations against Trump, up to and including the case that would have gone to trial next month if Jane Doe hadn't dropped it because of, again, an unbearable level of death threats.

Law & Order: SVU keeps pushing back the airing of a Trump-inspired episode. "The first air date would have been just after the notorious Access Hollywood recording, in which Trump spoke of using his fame to make sexual advances on women, and just before the third and finale debate. The second back-pedaling for the episode came after numerous sexual assault allegations against Trump surfaced."

"Starting when I was 15, my life was not my own. For years, I had no control over what happened to me. Being in the spotlight makes me wary and self-conscious again. I am overwhelmed with fear that an overzealous Trump supporter might take matters into his or her hands."

"Rightfully, the kids in York who chanted "white power" were suspended. But Bauman feels any anti-bullying initiatives in schools will be easily undermined, considering the biggest bully of them all is leading our nation."

"What may seem like a dramatic rise in the number of hate harassment and hate incidents happening across the country in the wake of Tuesday's general election is not in anyone's imagination...A representative for one group, in fact, said the rise appears to be even worse that what was took place immediately after the terror attacks in 2001."

***

The Stein campaign has officially filed for the recount in Wisconsin. (Incidentally, so did the Rocky Roque De La Fuente campaign. Maybe they can split the filing fees.)

The WI Election Commission currently lists Trump as having 22,177 more votes than Clinton. For perspective, Jill Stein got 31,006 WI votes. "Unregistered write-in candidates" -- there's no breakdown, but some portion of this is Bernie write-ins -- got 26,002.

Deadlines in Pennsylvania and Michigan are next week, and the Greens are still fundraising to cover the Michigan costs. If you're in the US, consider slinging a few dollars their way.

erinptah: (Default)

Only two Oz books left in the reread.  I'm dragging it out with some of Baum's other works.

...so I had this mostly geared up last Monday, and then, uh, some stuff happened that took precedence. And there will be more election-handling signal-boosting posts to come. But for now, let's take a trip back to the beginning of the 20th century...in the fun children's-fantasy way, not the way the Republican Party wants to take the country for real.

---

Dot and Tot in Merryland

From general osmosis I thought Dot and Tot were magical children, but no, Dot is a normal American kid! In contrast to Dorothy's poverty, Dot (full name Evangeline Josephine Freeland) is the daughter of a banker. Grew up with servants, they own multiple residences, her mom does a health-improving tour of Europe without any detriment to her finances. Tot is the gardener's boy, a little younger, reminiscent (preminiscent?) of Button-Bright's first appearance.

Looks like this is the first book Baum published after Oz became a runaway hit? He's not very creative with names yet, is he. Dorothy and Toto; Dot and Tot.

The kids are in a boat that comes loose, and drift through a cave and into the valleys of Merryland. There's a clown valley, a candy valley...the Queen is a doll, and lives in the Valley of the Dolls. Kitty valley, toy-animal valley, and eerie Valley of Lost Things.

It's...remarkably boring. The valleys are themed based on Stuff Kids Like, which feels like pandering without a whole lot of thought put into it -- and it falls flat, because "I like watching clowns" doesn't necessarily mean "I like reading about fictional characters observing that they like watching clowns."

We only get tiny blips of conflict, like when Tot eats a Candy Man's thumb. (Dorothy notices the missing thumb in Road to Oz. Continuity!)

I do like the running gag of never getting an answer about the Queen's name until the very end.

***

So I'm listening to a charmingly bland passage about the valley of the candy people, when OH SNAP suddenly I can tell you why this book hasn't stood the test of time.

A man made of marshmallows abruptly throws out this gem:

"One of our greatest troubles is that we cannot depend upon our colored servants, who are chocolate. Chocolates can seldom be depended on, you know."

Aaaand not long afterward: chocolate "serving maids, with complexions so dark brown in color that Dot was almost afraid of them." WOW.

The illustrations, too -- I looked it up on Gutenberg -- aren't shy about things like golliwog dolls. (The cooks are black dolls and the chambermaids are china dolls. Good lord.)

...It occurs to me that, since this is from 1901, the whole "comparing black people to chocolate" trope might actually have seemed like a clever innovation at the time? But whoo boy has that not aged well.

(Things that don't age well even though they weren't a problem to start with: the valley of cats features liberal description of "pussies.")

Verdict: Technically better-crafted than Mo, not as good as the Trot books, maybe on a par with the worse Oz books...but holy cow, that overt racism. Skippable.

***

Zixi of Ix (or, The Magic Cloak)

This one was originally written as a serial for a magazine (and it shows). The plot flips between Ix and Noland, both countries whose royalty also showed up at Ozma's party.

King Bud and his sister Princess Fluff sounded older at the party, but here the country of Noland seems almost unmagical, and they start off as normal kids. The king dies; some obscure statute says the 47th person to come in the capitol city's gate the next morning is the new king; and, whoops, it's the recently-orphaned Bud.

(Real names: Margaret and two-years-younger Timothy. Baum sure does love writing kids with weird nicknames.)

Meanwhile, the faeries have made a magic cloak because they were bored, and gave it to Fluff. It grants wishes, and she cheerfully lends it out to people indiscriminately, so accidental havoc-wreaking wishes ensue. Things like "I wish I could fly" or "I wish I was ten feet tall."

The palace has lightning rods! Modern!

Shameless references to children getting whipped. Un-modern.

The sentence-by-sentence writing in this one is really solid. Good scene-setting. Good dry wit. When the councilors are initially debating what to base their decisions on:

"This book of laws was written years ago and was meant to be used when the king was absent or ill or asleep."

And this is from when Bud first takes office:

"Just now it is your duty to hear the grievances of your people," answered Tallydab gently.

"What's the matter with 'em?" asked Bud crossly. "Why don't they keep out of trouble?"

"I do not know, your Majesty, but there are always disputes among the people."

"But that isn't the king's fault, is it?" said Bud.

Enjoyable, thoughtful scenes about what it's actually like for a kid to suddenly have absolute power. Like, there's an unusually subtle mix of "from the mouths of babes" and "you just got conned, because you have no idea how to do this."

***

We're almost halfway through the book (chapter 10 of 23) when we actually pay a visit to Ix, which appears to be another mostly-mundane country, except that Queen Zixi is a witch of 683 years old who still looks 16. (The rest of the populace ages normally. Reference to old men whose grandfathers remembered how Zixi was just as pretty when they were kids.)

Ouch:

"...for newsmongers, as everyone knows, were ever unable to stick to facts since the world began."

Sudden body horror, yikes. "To mortal eyes Zixi was charming and attractive, yet her reflection in a mirror showed to her an ugly old hag, bald of head, wrinkled, with toothless gums and withered, sunken cheeks."

And that's why Zixi vows to steal Fluff's cloak.

Geez, from her presentation at Ozma's party (...and, let's face it, her name alone), I was expecting her to be generally Ozma-esque, much the way Betsy is Trot-esque. Not so!

Her first scheme is downright Pratchettian:

Then Zixi had printed on green paper a lot of handbills which read as follows:

"MISS TRUST, a pupil of the celebrated Professor Hatrack of
Hooktown-on-the-Creek, is now located at Woodbine Villa (North Gateway of
Nole) and is prepared to teach the young ladies of this city the
Arts of Witchcraft according to the most modern and approved methods. Terms
moderate. References required."

Even more so when she says "all right kids, come in tomorrow wearing your best cloaks!" -- and Fluff's immediate response is to think "huh, that sounds really suspiciously specific."

I'm really sad that Ixi only keeps this up for like a chapter before deciding "screw it, I'm just gonna declare war on Noland."

***

"Yet I can never resist admiring a fine soldier, whether he fights for or against me. For instance, just look at that handsome officer riding beside Queen Zixi—her chief general, I think. Isn't he sweet? He looks just like an apple, he is so round and wears such a tight-fitting jacket. Can't you pick him for me, friend Tellydeb?"

(That's from Tollydob, one of the councilors. I could ship it.)

The war is also won by Nol pretty fast. You can tell Baum is constantly working in a mindset of "better wrap things up, the next chapter might be my last -- oh, it won't? -- okay, better make up a whole new conflict, and fast." Like a TV writer, only more so.

Zixi finally gets ahold of the cloak by getting herself hired as a maid, making an imitation cloak, and swapping it for Fluff's in a game of Duck Season/Wabbit Season. So technically it's not stolen, and the magic works.

Although she still screws up her wish. Sigh.

By the way, this book is blissfully racism-free, but it does give us this bit of unnecessary meanness:

"Why do you sob?" questioned the queen.

"Because I want to be a man," replied the child, trying to stifle her sobs.

"Why do you want to be a man?" asked Zixi curiously.

"Because I'm a little girl," was the reply.

This made Zixi angry. "You're a little fool!" she exclaimed loudly.

I'm just going to pretend that was a trans girl wishing she was a cis man. Makes it all the better when, in a chapter or so, she's decided to love and accept herself for who she is.

***

Two-thirds of the way through, Zixi wanders out of the narrative completely, and in bounce a civilization of rubber people living up in the mountains. Baum sure loves his bouncy people, huh?

They decide to take over Nol, and do a much better job of it than Ix did. Especially since the kids don't have the real cloak to use in self-defense anymore. So they decide:

"Well, there's no one else we can trust, so we may as well try Zixi."

Seems like a fast turnaround for an Enemy Mine situation, but okay.

What finally ends the story is that the fairy queen Lulea comes to get her cloak back. She's sick of it being used for silly things. Bud complains that it's not fair: he didn't get a wish, because he's been holding off until he had a really good idea.

And Lulea lets him have one! So instead of being a clunky Aesop about not putting things off, it becomes a story about how taking your time and thinking about your decisions is valuable, and wise queenly types appreciate it.

"I wish," announced Bud gravely, "that I shall become the best king that Noland has ever had!"

Epilogue says that it works! Plus, Fluff later marries the unnamed prince of an unspecified kingdom, and is also a good queen.

***

John Dough and the Cherub

This one's all plot.

A Mysterious Arab(TM) named Ali Dubh has been hoarding the Water of Life for years now, the latest in a long line of hoarders, but since he's being chased by people who want to steal it, he gives it to someone else to keep safe...and makes the mistake of choosing a French-American baker couple, who promptly accidentally use it to bring a five-foot-tall gingerbread man to life.

John Dough is another animated-artificial-humanoid in the vein of the Scarecrow or Jack Pumpkinhead, whose main goal in life is not to be destroyed (in his case, eaten). He starts off in the mundane US, but a Fourth-of-July firework takes him to the unsubtly-named Isle of Phreex, and from there he journeys through a series of weird islands trying to stay one step ahead of Ali Dubh.

For the record: while the whole "sinister Arab antagonist" thing is awfully sketchy, at least this time Baum doesn't put in anything about how all Arabs are [insert stereotype here].

On Phreex, John meets Chick the Cherub, who immediately decides to be his best friend. Chick's whole backstory is so trippy. Apparently "putting a baby in an incubator" is the 1910s equivalent of the 1960s "accidental dose of gamma radiation" -- a plausible-sounding excuse for all kinds of bizarre physical traits. No parents! Incredibly intelligent! Needs a special exotic diet! (Conveniently, it excludes gingerbread, so John has no fear Chick will eat him.)

And this is fun: Chick is canon nonbinary. And/or intersex. It's not clear how much Baum knew about either issue, but we do know is that the writing plays a strong game of pronoun-dodging, and when a pronoun is unavoidable Chick uses "it."

Para Bruin the rubber bear is also from this story! (Baum's thing for rubber strikes again.)

Is this the only Baumian book with a language barrier? John Dough is magically enabled to speak to anyone, but Para Bruin speaks one language, Chick and the other humans speak another, and the Mifkins speak a third.

Unexpectedly serious body horror when John's fingers get eaten off.

The story wraps up in a typical Baumian way: John stumbles into a country (well, two countries; this is the book that Hiland and Loland are from) that needs a new ruler, and the people immediately decide he's a great choice.

Apparently the publishers wanted Baum to firmly establish Chick as male or female by the end. He refused. The last few lines of the book:

"The Records of the Kingdom say very little of Chick's later history, merely mentioning the fact that the King's most valuable assistant was the Head Booleywag, who grew up to be the especial favorite of all the inhabitants of the island. But, curiously enough, the Records fail to state whether the Head Booleywag was a man or a woman."

erinptah: (Default)
Because after that debate I think we're all thirsty for some substance.

"If you can distinctly recall the excitement of walking into your weekly computer lab session and seeing a room full of Apple 2Es displaying the start screen of Oregon Trail, you’re a member of this nameless generation, my friend." (Calling myself a millennial is usually not a bad fit, but yeah, this is my subcategory.)

"Five months in, I can’t remember the last time a stranger read me as a woman, and my mask of manliness is melding into my being, becoming part of me. It’s becoming comfortable. I don’t have the same sudden clarity that came with top surgery, but every new difference – smaller hips, bigger shoulders, a thicker neck – removes another layer of noise. Changing my physical self and my social self didn’t have to change my identity, but I think it might have. I still call myself genderless, but I also lump myself in with trans guys without thinking. "

"At first, I didn’t believe I had anything wrong with me. But after meeting my current therapist, Dr. Samoon Ahmad, I began to understand and accept my diagnosis — I was bipolar, and my nude jaunt was part of a manic episode. It wasn’t until I got out of Bellevue three weeks later that I saw the front page of The Post with the headline 'Ball Drop in Times Square.'"

"I am dark enough to not live within the tent of whiteness, but I am light enough that many people experience significant confusion when trying to class what level of 'not-white, maybe heading toward-Black, deficient' I am. Depending on the year and location, I am a 'dirty Arab/Muslim,' a fellow Latina, a Mulatto, a Mizrahi Jew, a half-white person who suspiciously may not be down with Black folks."

"I didn’t want some American sales clerk knowing I couldn’t understand simple, elementary-school English. We’d look for that Ziploc bag in another store. I wasn’t about to let anyone think we were Middle Eastern immigrants coming here to steal jobs from honest Americans. I would not be responsible for a surge in Islamophobia over a Ziploc bag."
erinptah: Hiding in a box (depression)
My computer has a working keyboard again! Which is good, because now that I can type "a href" instead of " hre", I can get back to sharing...links like these.

"The 15-year-old girl was struck by a car on Sunday while riding her bike, after which she hit her head and passed out for half a minute. [...] Police officers grabbed her off her bike as she tried to ride away and slammed her face into a nearby windowsill, eventually cuffing her hands." Then they lock her in the car and pepper-spray her. A mixed-race teenage accident victim.

"Dash cam video released by the Tulsa Police Department on Monday showed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher with his hands above his head moments before he was shot and killed by one of the officers at the scene."

"Grand Rapids Officer Sean McCamman grabbed the 15-year-old and slammed him to the ground. Then he beat him over and over with a flashlight until he was eventually physically and mentally disabled." Austin Braswell, a different teenager brutalized by cops. Warning for graphic photos.

"A young man was arrested by Portsmouth, Virginia police over a mere $5 in groceries that he stole because he was hungry. [...] But now, Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, has been found dead in his jail cell, after spending four months behind bars with no conviction and no bail."

"Scott’s brother told reporters that Scott was waiting for his son to get home from school when an officer jumped out of his vehicle without a uniform."

"Video released by police in Oklahoma shows an officer pepper-spraying an 84-year-old woman after authorities entered her home to search for her son."

"Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has recommended firing seven officers accused of covering up the police shooting of Laquan McDonald in October 2014."

"Police still don't know what the nine-year Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department veteran said, if anything, to an armed east-side homeowner before shooting him once in the stomach early Tuesday." Responsible, legal gun owner gets shot because the cops assume he's burglarizing his own house! Where's the NRA when this happens?

Look, can we all agree that if you're such an unarguable neo-Nazi that you've gone and gotten tattoos about it, you're not fit to be a police officer? Is that bar set low enough that we can get over it?
erinptah: Hiding in a box (depression)
People killed by police, 2016. 728 and counting.

Now including a 73-year-old librarian who was roleplaying for a training exercise. And yet we will continue to trust that department with guns.

"During the course of the standoff Caldwell police officers broke numerous windows to gain entry, crashed through ceilings while they were maneuvering through the home, and punctured holes in the house by shooting canisters of tear gas that released noxious chemicals into the home." Even though nobody was in the house...and the owner had given them the front door key.

Heartwarming: "Charles Kinsey, who was released from the hospital late last week, is now walking with a cane and a noticeable limp, but he still wanted to see Arnaldo Rios. Kinsey told reporters that Rios jumped from his hospital bed and hugged him when he entered the room for their private meeting."

"Grass-roots organizations in black communities lead the efforts to make their streets safe. We need to get rid of the offensive falsehood that black people don’t care about crime, and help create the reforms they’ve long demanded."

"The federal government investigated the Baltimore police's activities between January 2010 and June 2015, and concluded that officers routinely violated black people's rights, intruded upon their lives, and racial bias pervaded 'every stage' of BPD's enforcement activities."

And finally: "The US Department of Justice, for the first time, will keep a comprehensive database of fatal officer-involved incidents, amid rising skepticism around police accountability." A long-overdue first step.
erinptah: A map. (books)
People killed by police, 2016. 703 and counting.

"A Virginia jury convicted a white police officer for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, William Chapman, who was accused of shoplifting." Not the first person Stephen Rankin has killed, either. ("This is my second one.")

"[Officer James Burns] had no idea who was in the vehicle. He had no idea if that was the vehicle he should be concerned with. He just discharged his weapon." Deravis Rogers died. At least, for once, the officer was charged with murder.

"Raja then tried to stage a crime. He called 911 using his personal cell phone over 30 seconds after firing his last shot. During the call, Raja yells, “Drop the f—— gun right now!” Raja then falsely claimed on the call that he identified himself as a police officer and gave Jones orders. Raja later admitted to investigators that he kept shooting despite seeing Jones throw his firearm out of reach." Charged with manslaughter and attempted murder. It's a start.

"At one point, an officer tells other police, 'Make sure these are all off,' in an apparent reference to their body cameras." And yet there's video of Paul O'Neal, and it's terrible.

"It's almost incomprehensible that a young naked man would be considered dangerous such that a police officer would kill him." David Joseph, 17.

"On Sept. 4, 2005, days after the levees failed and water swamped the city, police murdered 17-year-old James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison, who were both unarmed, and wounded four others on the Danziger Bridge. [...] After hearing from five dozen witnesses and examining 400 pieces of evidence during a monthlong trial, a federal jury convicted the officers for opening fire and trying to cover up wrongdoing."

"The only reason this situation did not get worse is because I am a recognizable elected official and fortunately at that moment two other officers recognized who I was. I was incensed. I shouldn't have to use my title to get justice.”
erinptah: A map. (books)
People killed by police, 2016. 690 and counting.

"Data released by the FBI on Monday shows that 2015 was one of the safest years for U.S. law enforcement in recorded history, following a sustained trend of low numbers of on-duty deaths in recent decades."

"Officer Cariol Horne did what any good person would do, when she saw a fellow cop choking a handcuffed suspect. She stepped in, and stopped the attack on the defenseless citizen. In a story that garnered national attention, Horne was fire, then dismissed from the Buffalo Police Department after 19 years of service." Or, "but what about all the good cops?!?...oh."

"This study estimates the impact of Missouri's 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase (PTP) handgun law on states' homicide rates and controls for changes in poverty, unemployment, crime, incarceration, policing levels, and other policies that could potentially affect homicides." (Surprise: gun homicides went up by 23%, and murders specifically by 16%.)

"Criminal histories and documented mental health problems did not prevent at least eight of the gunmen in 14 recent mass shootings from obtaining their weapons, after federal background checks led to approval of the purchases of the guns used."

"Alva Braziel was shot 10 times by the police near a gas station in what the police say was a justified shooting because the man had a firearm and was pointing it at them. [...] However, the time frame of the video does not seem to match the police’s claim, as their arrival and the subsequent fatal shooting takes less than 10 seconds."

"Even if the white guy happens to be pointing his gun directly at an officer, his interaction with the police is unlikely to end in the exchange of gunfire." Eight incidents that illustrate the point.

Affiliates of Showing Up for Racial Justice: a good way to find good groups in your area.
erinptah: (Default)

People killed by police, 2016. 648 and counting.

"The list of young people burdened by these tumultuous times includes Tamir Rice’s teenage sister, who lost 50 pounds after watching the police shoot him in 2014; the daughter of Oscar Grant III, killed by a transit officer while lying down on a California train platform in 2009, who as a 5-year-old would ask playmates to duck when she saw the police; and the 9-year-old nephew of Sandra Bland, who began sleeping in his mother’s room after Ms. Bland’s death last year in a jail cell."

"He smiles and says that a few citizens in Janeville called the police because of a suspicious black man in a white car was parked at the Wharf for a couple hours. My response, ‘Really? I was just reading a book.’"

"After two previous mistrials, a federal judge has acquitted former police officer Eric Parker, who was charged with violating a Indian citizen's civil rights after throwing him to the ground and partially paralyzing him during a sidewalk stop last year." Sureshbhai Patel was a 57-year-old grandfather who spoke almost no English, and had just moved in to help care for his new grandchild.

"When [Danny] Sanchez saw the incident, and the SWAT team converge, he began recording from his garage. He assumed there wouldn’t be any problem, since he was so far away from the incident, on his own property and even out on the edge of the garage."

"After firing 107 bullets at the innocent women, the LAPD cops ordered them out of the vehicle and immediately realized their mistake. Instead of a 33-year-old black man, two Hispanic women exited the pickup truck and demanded to know, 'Why did you shoot at us?'" Margie Carranza and Emma Hernandez.

“He was crying. He kept saying, ‘Mom! Mom!,’ trying to tell me what happened. ‘Shoot, shoot. Police, police. Blood.’” Arnaldo Eliud Rios Soto, the autistic man whose caregiver Charles Kinsey was shot while lying on his back with his hands up.

"In fact, in reviewing nearly every publicly available video of a police shooting over the past year or so, it is close to impossible to find footage of an officer aiding the person who has been shot."

erinptah: Hiding in a box (depression)

People killed by police, 2016. 389 and counting.

Compare it with this time last year: "In May, the Washington Post analyzed the 385 fatal police shootings in the United States that had occurred so far in 2015. The Post noted its number, which came out to two officer-involved shooting deaths per day, was more than twice the rate that the government had recorded over the past decade."

[Video] Putting a fake cover on a Bible and reading verses, claiming they're from the Quran. People react pretty much exactly as badly as you'd expect them to.

30% of GOP voters (and a full 19% of Democrats) are in favor of bombing. They don't need to know anything about the people they're proposing to bomb. As evidenced by the fact that you can give them the name of a made-up country, and they won't notice or care.

"So [on March 7] the president killed roughly 150 people in a country where the U.S. is not at war. The Pentagon issued a five-sentence boilerplate statement declaring them all “terrorists.” And that’s pretty much the end of that." GDI.

"The weary F.B.I. agent replied: 'Toby….Seriously. Get some sleep.'" An American amateur tries to investigate a (fake) ISIS agent on Twitter, and ends up getting more than a year in prison for his enthusiasm.

"Garza testified that Santellana never threatened him nor did he feel that Santellana was a dangerous person. Yet that did not stop him from recklessly approaching the vehicle with a loaded weapon and firing when Santellana did not obey orders from this large man in gym shorts, who did not initially identify himself as an officer or show a badge." No justice for Jonathen Santellana.

"Mr. Pean had expected an apology after the shooting. Instead, during four days in intensive care, prosecutors charged him with two counts of felony assault on a police officer. They accused him of attacking with four “deadly weapons” — an unspecified piece of furniture, a wall fixture, a tray table and his hands."

"Scott Collins, a spokesman for the Inglewood Police Department said that the couple refused to obey the officers’ commands to exit the vehicle. The officers then feared for their safety and opened fire on the car — killing the couple." Here's the kicker: the people in question were asleep. No justice for Kisha Michael or Marquintan Sandlin (or their now-orphaned children). Black people can be literally unconscious and cops will still profess to being too terrified to do anything but gun them down.

Well, here's at least one case of the police being in legitimate danger...from each other. Cops raid wrong house, shoot and kill the dog, shoot the man who owns the house, then one of them shoots and kills another of the cops.
erinptah: Girlycard (hellsing)

People killed by police, 2015. 1204 total.

"In May, the Washington Post analyzed the 385 fatal police shootings in the United States that had occurred so far in 2015. The Post noted its number, which came out to two officer-involved shooting deaths per day, was more than twice the rate that the government had recorded over the past decade."

"While some have blamed violent crime for being responsible for police violence in some communities, data shows that high levels of violent crime in cities did not appear to make it any more or less likely for police departments to kill people."

MLK's hatemail sounds eerily familiar: "These messages could have been written yesterday in the comments of a Facebook post as easily as they were on stationery or in a telegram 50 years ago."

"The college student had been enjoying a long weekend at the lake with friends when the trooper pulled him over for boating while intoxicated. The trooper then, according to Ellingson’s friends who watched the arrest, placed an already buckled life vest over the handcuffed man’s head and didn’t properly secure it. [...] Divers recovered the college student’s body the next day from the lake bottom, about 70 feet below the surface."

"The officers were randomly assigned to be told that the children in the photographs were accused of either a misdemeanor or felony charge. The officers overestimate the age of black felony-suspected children by close to five years, but they actually underestimated the age of white felony-suspected children by nearly a year."

Recently in "if this happened in a book, you'd think the writer was being way too anvilicious about the moral": Black teenager stopped and thrown in a police car while he was taking a holiday turkey to the neighbors.

erinptah: Vintage screensaver (computing)

People killed by police, 2015. 901 and counting.

"Historically, we are living in an era of police safety. Yet fatal encounters with law enforcement have become commonplace. The past month alone saw 103 people killed by law enforcement. In the first week of September, police killed more civilians than the total number of police officers killed so far this year."

"Take a look at the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters. Alabama, thanks to its budgetary insanity and inanity, just opted to close driver license bureaus in eight of them. In a state in which driver licenses or special photo IDs are a requirement for voting."

"The footage shows a group of officers trying to apprehend several teenagers at the scene. A random white civilian is pictured pushing up against a black teen in handcuffs. One teen girl is crying on the ground after being pepper sprayed. Another girl is crying as a cop grabs the back of her neck and pushes her into a squad car."

Officers shoot two parents in the front of a car while their four-month-old is in the back seat. What is wrong with people.

"Yvette Smith called 911 for help. She opened the front door of her home and was almost instantly shot twice by police with an AR-15 assault rifle. The officers on the scene lied and said she was armed. The supervising officer doubled down on the lie and spread it in a press release."

"A Long Island, N.Y., woman claims she spent eight days at a mental hospital, where she was injected with powerful drugs, after New York Police Department officers refused to believe a young black woman owned a BMW."

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