Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:55 PM * 704 comments
The Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940. Apart from repeated provocation of the Jewish community, the occupiers were friendly. They considered the Dutch nearly as good as Germans, and hoped to win the population over.
On February 23 and 24, 1941, the Nazis occupying Amsterdam rounded up 425 young Jewish men, beat them, and sent them east to the concentration camps. It was the first such move after the occupation, excused by the community’s reaction to a series of incitements and restrictions. The next steps were all planned: close off the Jewish district, appoint a council to liaise with the community, hide the steadily increasing cruelty from the rest of the population. (Basically, Warsaw.)
But on February 25, 1941, Amsterdam went on strike. The Gentiles stood with their Jewish neighbors in the first direct action against anti-Jewish measures in occupied Europe. The trams stopped running and the dockyards stood idle. Businesses shut down as their workers took to the streets; even the venerable Bijenkorf, the quintessential Dutch department store, closed its doors. By the next day, the strike had spread to several outlying cities.
It was brutally suppressed. Nine people were killed and hundreds arrested. By February 27, it was over; three people were executed for leading it on March 13.
With them died any illusion that the Dutch could be won over. And Amsterdammers still commemorate the Februaristaking, the February strike, on the 25th of the month.
ETA: Although I had not intended it to, this post gives the impression that the Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation equalled Dutch support of and protection for the Jews and other targeted people—Dutch and refugee—living in the Netherlands throughout the war. Alas, that was not the case.
There are many reasons that the Netherlands lost a greater proportion of its Jewish population than pretty much anyone else in Europe; certainly, the “pillarization” of society, which meant that everyone’s religion was recorded, was a contributing factor. But it cannot, and should not, be forgotten that not a few Dutch people either turned a blind eye to the Holocaust, or actively supported it and the attitudes that underlay it.
I regret, quite profoundly, my unintentional erasure of people who must not be forgotten. And I’m sorry as well that I’ve hurt members of this community in so doing, and in taking this long to add this note to the entry.
Continued from Open thread 193
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:21 PM * 265 comments
It is a truth insufficiently universally acknowledged that people have superpowers: those weird things we can just do. We call them knacks, or gifts, or being a “natural” at things, but really, they’re superpowers. Others can learn the skills in question, but there are things we’re each born with.
For instance, I have a secret affinity with electrostatic* reproduction machines. Photocopiers and laser printers yield their rumpled and mutilated papers and squeeze out their last grains of toner when I lay hands upon them. I can tickle their sensors in just the right way to clear phantom jams, and when I riffle the paper in the paper tray, it feeds more smoothly than when anyone else has touched the stack.
The implications of this little quirk have always intrigued me. It’s clearly the product of nature, not nurture, since I wasn’t exactly trained in copier-whispering from earliest childhood†. So what if I’d lived a hundred years ago, before laser printers were invented? Would I still have the gift, but nowhere to exercise it?
And then comes the corollary: what superpowers do I have that I will never be able to use? Could I cook the tastiest grubs ever, if I was born into in a community that ate them? Would I have Kaylee’s knack with spaceship engines, if I lived in a society that flew among worlds?
Tell me about your current superpowers. Speculate about your past and future ones. Let’s form a League.
* but not letterpress, hot metal, inkjet, or daisy wheel
† unlike contract law, in which I was so trained
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:25 PM * 566 comments
Remember when we agreed that if I needed to, I could just say, New DF thread, carry on the conversation? I kind of have to say that now, because winter.
But one thing I did want to do is to pull together links to some of the places I go a lot for good advice and that particular kind of comfort that comes from people who know, if you know what I mean. These are the links I forward to people who need them, and the places I go when I need to run some good sense and kindness past my eyeballs.
- Captain Awkward, with good advice on using your words and holding your boundaries.
- Boggle the Owl, consistently kind and with cute owl drawings!
- Hyperbole and a Half, who knows depression (and a bunch of other tough stuff) from the inside
- Weightless, a blog about body image and the relationship with one’s body, with intermittent useful-link roundups (thanks, Anon4Now @15)
Useful explanatory links:
- The Spoon Theory, or why sometimes a person just can’t do everything.
- Red Family, Blue Family, with an interesting perspective on why families differ so very much
- The Missing Stair, on the perpetuation of toxic situations
- The Astrologer and the Psychologist”, on how we use our stories to understand ourselves (thanks, SamChevre @1)
- Closing the Book, a meditation on moving beyond the past (thanks, SamChevre @1)
- here’s that bad advice you were hoping for, with all the really wrong answers to letters to advice columnists
Do feel free to suggest more in the comments, and I’ll add to these lists. And include trigger warnings, please, for sites that need ‘em.
This is part of the sequence of Dysfunctional Families discussions. We have a few special rules, specific to the needs and nature of the conversations we have here.
- If you want to participate but don’t want your posts linked to your contributions to the rest of Making Light, feel free to choose a pseudonym. But please keep it consistent within these threads, because people do care. You can create a separate (view all by) history for your pseudonym by changing your email address. And if you blow it and cross identities, give me a shout and I’ll come along and tidy it up.
- On a related note, please respect the people’s choice to use a pseudonym, unless they make it clear that they are willing to let the identities bleed over in people’s minds.
- If you’re not from a dysfunctional background, be aware that your realities and base expectations are not the default in this conversation. In particular, please don’t do the “they’re the only family you have” thing. Black is white, up is down, and your addressee’s mother may very well be their nemesis.
- Be even more careful, charitable, and gentle than you would elsewhere on Making Light. Try to avoid “helpiness”/”hlepiness” (those comments which look helpful, but don’t take account of the addressee’s situation and agency). Apologize readily and sincerely if you tread on toes, even unintentionally. This kind of conversation only works because people have their defenses down.
- Never underestimate the value of a good witness. If you want to be supportive but don’t have anything specific to say, people do value knowing that they are heard.
Previous posts (note that comments are closed on them to keep the conversation in one place):
- Have a Dysfunctional Families Day
- Dysfunctional Families Day: Inversion Experience
- Dysfunctional Families Day: No Expectations
- Dysfunctional Families Day: Tangled Emotions
- Dysfunctional Families: You Must Be This Unhappy To Ride
- Dysfunctional Families: Circled Strangers
- Dysfunctional Families: Fish Hooks
- Dysfunctional Families: Everybody lined up for the parade?
- Dysfunctional Families: Sitting and Rising
- Dysfunctional Families: Surviving and Thriving
- Dysfunctional Families: Shooting and Shouting
- Dysfunctional Families: Hope
- Dysfunctional Families: Forgiveness
- Dysfunctional Families: Books on Tape
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:28 PM * 969 comments
Via elseweb, a nicely geeky blog: Botanical Accuracy, which corrects botanical errors by people who should know better.
The writer, Dr. Lena Struwe, is an associate professor and herbarium director at Rutgers University. She finds and explains errors on Canadian bankotes, fine Danish porcelain, and Batman villains in comics with equal scholarship and patience.
This is the internet: each of us with our own pixel of the Great Picture to display, our own angle on the multifaceted world to share. This is what we do.
Posted by Patrick at 09:17 AM * 229 comments
Phil Foglio has decided (here, here, and here) that I’m the author of his misfortunes with Tor Books, and that the appropriate thing to do is to urge all his fans to send me angry emails, tweets, and IMs about it.
To address one issue right away: Tor is not going to prevent further Girl Genius volumes from appearing over the next five years. Nothing like that is going to happen.
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 10:45 AM * 154 comments
One of the skills they pay me the
big bucks medium-sized Euro for at work is assessing the risks of changes going into production. To do it, I’ve become pretty good at evaluating the system that is being changed.
I could snow you with talk of checklists, metrics, and charts, but really, my most valuable analytical tools are my pattern-matching wetware and my experience. With those two things, I can usually describe the current state of the system and estimate its chances of going horribly wrong in the near future, just based on gut feel.
Below are my private terms for the various states of computer system health. I use different ones in official reporting. Usually.
- clean: The system runs smoothly, with no visible bugs. I read the logs to calm down after stressful meetings.
- stable: There are the occasional interface bugs, but the thing runs reliably. It feels like a melon you tap in the supermarket and decide to buy.
- scruffy: Most users hit some kind of bug or another, but they can make it work most of the time. Regular users have workarounds the way commuters have rat-runs that avoid traffic blackspots.
- buggy: This is when users begin to see the bugs they encounter as a pattern rather than individual occurrences. They start to wonder if the pattern of bugs indicates a deeper unreliabilty. They’re right to.
- brittle: Bugs aside, it pretty much works…right up to the point where it shatters into little tiny pieces.
- fragile: It falls over a lot. Ops can pretty much always get it back up again in a reasonable time. We spend a lot of time apologizing.
- fucked: It’s broken. Again. Fortunately, we have backups, and we’re fairly sure they’ll work.
- comprehensively fucked: The backups didn’t work. Shark time.
Entropy tells us that, barring intervention, systems tend to move down this sequence. But it’s not a linear progression. For instance, brittle and fragile, are parallel routes to fuckedness. They’re basically two different failure modes: the Big Bad Bang and Death by a Thousand Cuts.
The applicability of these categories to other matters is left as an exercise for the reader.
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 09:03 AM * 150 comments
While the Polar Vortex brought Martian temperatures to Canada, another, slower disaster has been unfolding in my home state of California: drought.
It’s true that drought is almost the default condition in California. We’ve had too many people for the water for decades. I grew up with bricks in toilet tanks, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow”, grey-water gardening, and ♥ to save [water drop] bumper stickers.
But this is different. As of today, 62% of California is in a state of “severe drought” according to the US Drought Monitor. The California Department of Water Resources reports that the snowpack is about 17% of the average for this time of year. Since the state drinks, washes in, and farms with snowmelt through the dry season, this is a disaster, locked and loaded, ready to fire*. No one knows what will be coming out of their faucets this summer.
(Thinking of West Virginia? Hold that thought.)
In response, Governor Jerry Brown has declared a State of Emergency:
In the State of Emergency declaration, Governor Brown directed state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages. The Governor also directed state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters and initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign (details at saveourh2o.org).
In addition, the proclamation gives state water officials more flexibility to manage supply throughout California under drought conditions.
Buried in the language of the declaration, unmentioned at the press event which focused on voluntary conservation programs, is a clause exempting the state’s responses from having to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the backbone of the state’s environmental protection law.
Because ignoring the environmental impacts of our actions has worked out so well thus far, right?
Now, before anyone starts hrrumphing, I’m a test manager. I know that when there’s a production emergency, you skip steps and break rules. But I also know that that’s how you take bad decisions, make mistakes, and create long-running problems. It takes fine judgment to balance the immediate need against long-term consequences. It also requires someone who will not use that immediate need to damage the infrastructure of decision-making, because it worked during the emergency, so let’s keep doing it is both tempting and perilous.
Now, there’s an argument to be made about CEQA reform; like any law, it’s acquired encrustations and redundancies. And maybe its provisions would slow drought relief efforts too much, and emergency managers should focus on its spirit rather than its letter. But Jerry Brown is on the record saying that he has “never seen a CEQA exemption [he] didn’t like.” That makes me…tense about the decisions he’ll make under the parasol† of the State of Emergency.
This bears watching. It could be a disaster that outlasts the drought.
* And fire it will. Indeed, already has, though the usual fire season’s not for months yet. Brace for worse news to come. The state’s going to burn this summer.
† In these circumstances, I can’t call it an umbrella.
Posted by Patrick at 04:10 PM * 36 comments
Bruce Schneier, “Today I Briefed Congress on the NSA”:
This morning I spent an hour in a closed room with six Members of Congress: Rep. Logfren, Rep. Sensenbrenner, Rep. Scott, Rep. Goodlate, Rep Thompson, and Rep. Amash. No staffers, no public: just them. Lofgren asked me to brief her and a few Representatives on the NSA. She said that the NSA wasn’t forthcoming about their activities, and they wanted me—as someone with access to the Snowden documents—to explain to them what the NSA was doing. Of course I’m not going to give details on the meeting, except to say that it was candid and interesting. And that it’s extremely freaky that Congress has such a difficult time getting information out of the NSA that they have to ask me. I really want oversight to work better in this country.
Posted by Patrick at 12:43 AM * 107 comments
What the fuck is wrong with these people. No, wait. Nothing is wrong with them. They want us little people to “accept an inevitable fate with grace and courage”. As elites always do. Works out fine for them.
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:03 PM * 52 comments
I have to say that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress makes much more sense after the carbonite freezer failed and they uploaded Mycroft’s last consciousness into a computer. And it’s interesting how the Doctor’s Wife turned up, but Matt Smith is going to want her back in her blue box form, so Lestrade should really turn his attentions elsewhere.
Hope the squid was CGI. That’s all I’m sayin’.
Given that the Beeb is running such a staggered schedule of the show, let’s put any discussions of the series here in a separate thread. Anyone not wanting spoilers for all three episodes…avoid, yeah?