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February 25, 2014
Open thread 194
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:55 PM * 944 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 . Continued in Open thread 195.

February 11, 2014
Superpowers
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

February 03, 2014
Dysfunctional Families: Toolbox
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:25 PM *

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.

Comfort food:

  • 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:

Healing snark:

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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):

February 02, 2014
Open thread 193
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:28 PM *

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.

Continued from Open thread 192. Continued in Open thread 194.

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