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November 14, 2015
Not Paris
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:54 AM * 112 comments

The wise, kind, and much-missed Mike Ford wrote this in the wake of Katrina; I’d urge you to read it if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

If you’re not quite to the “shut down the computer” stage, but want to talk somewhere about good and joyful things, here’s a thread for it. What have you been cooking, making, reading, doing, planning? What was the deepest joy you felt last week, and why?

Remember: joy replenishes our emotional resources. Building one’s own and fostering it in others is also part of the work of making the world a better place.

Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:13 AM * 171 comments

I don’t have anything new and useful to say about this, or about the attacks in Beirut and Baghdad that preceded it.

I note that in Paris they struck at cosmopolitan venues: a concert by an American band, a football game with Germany, places with tourists and people who move easily from culture to culture. They struck not just to kill, but to hurt and terrify, and they did all of those things.

There was also generosity, because people open their doors to strangers; taxi drivers get people home safe and worry about the money another day. More people do this, and do it more consistently, than those who kill and harm.

And now others with no skin in the game are all over the place being awful, furthering the murderers’ cause of dividing us all, blaming this easy target or that. There will be hate crimes, and hate. Because—particularly outside of the moment and venue of the crisis itself—there are many who are afraid and vulnerable, and there are some terrible seed crystals floating around in our culture, looking to grow.

This last point makes me tense on a more immediate level as well. My village (which, even if you know its name, please do not identify in the comments) is hosting about 100 refugees next week. The meeting to discuss whether to do so was divided between the civil majority arguing for their stay and the rather alarming minority arguing against it*. The meeting to coordinate volunteers was full and a little overwhelmed†, but that minority is still among us. What will happen next week? Can we keep these vulnerable, hurt people from being further traumatized?

And on a broader basis, can we, how can we, keep all our vulnerable, hurt selves from being further traumatized? Both the ones who turn to grief and the ones who turn to hate? I don’t know of any answer but solidarity. So if you’re the prayin’ type, pray with me; if you’re the crying sort, I have tissues. If you’re a talker, come here and talk.

I’m afraid that if you’re the hating type, the shouting kind, the angry sort, I’m going to ask you to leave. And I’d urge you to think where the road you’re walking down leads, and whether you want to build your life in the place where it ends. I hope you have the courage and strength to find a better path.

* plus a third set of people who wanted to have a go at the city council.
† Martin went, but I didn’t, because other overwhelm. So I didn’t get any of the prized “actually help out in the shelter” slots. I’ll do laundry and clothing repairs offsite.

November 06, 2015
Visually clueless morning
Posted by Teresa at 12:24 PM * 25 comments

Two news stories this morning were accompanied by photos that made me stop dead and say “No, that’s not it …”

The first story, a series of spectacular weather photos, was headlined ‘Cloud tsunami’ hits Sydney. Apparently either Sydney or the Guardian doesn’t know a storm cell/shelf cloud when it sees one.

I don’t remember the cloud being correctly identified in the opening paragraph when I first saw the story, but I could be wrong. What I’m sure of, then and now, is that the caption writer didn’t recognize that ropy tubular thing hanging down out of the cloud in photo #7.

The other story, John Lewis Christmas advert: who is Moon Hitler?, subtitled Why has the old man been sent into space? Is he a war criminal?, is a rant by Stuart Heritage about the complete incomprehensibility of the 2015 Christmas ad from retailers John Lewis.

The version of the story I’m seeing begins with a photograph of an old man sitting by himself on the surface of the moon, looking up at the sky. Um, sure, Hitler. First thing I thought of when I saw it.

If you click through to the video there’s a story about a little girl with a telescope seeing the man on the moon, and sending him his own telescope so that he can look back at her. It’s cute, but so rivet-free that Bradbury himself couldn’t have handwaved it. The guy who wrote about a man who sold the moon would probably have had them using really big mirrors as semaphores: better science, but hard to fit into a Christmas ad.

Mr. Heritage has seen Total Recall, so he’s concerned about the “hard vacuum in your shirtsleeves” issue. Clearly, he needs to watch A Grand Day Out. The only cure for the evils of a superficial education is more education.

November 02, 2015
Open thread 209
Posted by Patrick at 11:09 AM * 948 comments

From The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester by George Ormerod. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, and Jones, 1819:

“[Sir Hugh de Dutton, b. about 1175] also had the magistracy, or rule and authority, over all the letchers and whores of all Cheshire, granted unto him and his heirs, by John constable of Cheshire and baron of Halton, as freely as the said John held the same of the earl of Chester, saving the right of the said John to him and his heirs; which are the very words of the deed, only rendered by me in English. Lib. C. fol. 154, h. So that he holds it, as it were, under the baron of Halton, who reserves his own right by a special reservation.

“This privilege over such loose persons was granted first under Roger Lacy, constable of Cheshire, under Richard the First, by Randle, surnamed Blundevill, earl of Chester, in memory of his good service done to the earl in raising the siege of the Welsh-men, who had beset the earl in his castle of Rothelent in Flintshire; for the constable having got a promiscuous rabble of such like persons together, and marching towards the said castle, the Welsh, supposing a great army to be coming, raised their siege and fled. So saith the ancient roll of the barons of Halton. Lib. C. fol. 85, b. Monasticon Anglicanum, 2 pars, pag. 187. This roll saith, that rabble consisted of players, fidlers, and shoe-makers. The deed here toucheth letchers and whores. The privilege and custom used at this day by the heirs of Dutton, is over the minstrelsie and common fidlers, none being suffered to play in this county without the licence of the lord of Dutton, who keeps a court at Chester yearly, on Midsomer-day, for the same, where all the licenced minstrels of Cheshire do appear, and renew their licences; so that the custom seems to have been altered to the fidlers, as necessary attendants on revellers in bawdy-houses and taverns.

“And it is to be observed, that those minstrels which are licensed by the heirs of Dutton of Dutton, within the county-palatine of Chester, or the county of the city of Chester, according to their ancient custom, are exempted out of the statute of rogues, 39 Eliz. cap. 4.”

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