Check out the Burka Avenger:
...a mild-mannered teacher with secret martial arts skills who uses a flowing black burka to hide her identity as she fights local thugs seeking to shut down the girls' school where she works.
And, not unlike our own Urban Yogini, the Burka Avenger shuns hardcore violence. Says the show's creator, Pakistani pop star Aaron Haroon Rashid:
"She doesn't punch. She doesn't hit, she doesn't kick, she doesn't shoot anybody. All she does is clonk people on the heads with books or throw pens, so there's an underlying message with that - the importance of education — and the pen is mightier than the sword."
Harood says of the Burka 'It's not a sign of oppression. She is using the burka to hide her identity like other superheroes... Since she is a woman, we could have dressed her up like Catwoman or Wonder Woman, but that probably wouldn't have worked in Pakistan.'
Enrico Bossan, head of photography at Fabrica, worked with 15 young Iranian photographers to capture images of people's living rooms in the country. At one point, the book had problems with PayPal because of its title, only proving how important it is for prejudices around Iran and its people to be challenged."
You can see some photos from the book here.
And "money or not money" debate aside - I can't imagine them having this kind of problem with a Bitcoin payment processor. What the experience actually demonstrates is the importance of divorcing money from the state. In any case, it looks like a fascinating project.
An exhibition at the Bodleian Library, 23 May - 27 October 2013
From the Bodleian's website:
The lion, Aslan; the dragon Smaug on his pile of treasure; a girl and her daemon; a boy with a scar on his forehead, and a world where animals can talk and strange words have the power to create and destroy – these are the familiar tropes of children’s fantasy literature.
The Bodleian’s summer exhibition takes as its theme the work of some of the foremost modern exponents of the genre, members of the group of writers informally known as the ‘Oxford School’: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner and Philip Pullman.
From its unique holdings of these authors’ papers, the Library is displaying a selection of Tolkien’s original artwork for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; C.S. Lewis’s ‘Lefay notebook’ and his map of Narnia, and manuscripts of novels and poems by Alan Garner, Philip Pullman and Susan Cooper, many of which are exhibited here for the first time.
Also featured in the exhibition are some of the books and manuscripts that contain the myths, legends and magical practices on which these Oxford-educated authors freely drew for inspiration. This historic material is housed in the Bodleian, which as a source of sorcery and arcane learning can be re-imagined as an enchanted location in itself, where the very act of reading is imbued with magical, transformative properties.
The Harry Potter films were shot in the Divinity School and in Duke Humfrey’s Library, the reading room in which both Lewis and Tolkien as Oxford dons researched manuscripts and rare books, and where Alan Garner consulted the demonic spellbooks in the Ashmole and Rawlinson collections.
Witches are represented in the exhibition by the First Folio Macbeth, and alchemists by the extraordinary ‘Ripley Rolls’ which illustrate the quest for the life-prolonging philosophers’ stone. Grimoires and richly-illuminated mediaeval bestiaries are on display, as are a variety of magical objects, including a 17th -century marble copy of the ‘Holy Table’ with which John Dee used to converse with angels; Philip Pullman’s alethiometer, and one of Alan Garner’s original ‘owl service’ plates.
This is kind of how I felt this weekend, when I asked a CA senator's policy consultant whether getting government to stop interfering with people trying to do business here might be a solution to some of the problems special-needs families have getting the services they want.
Of course it's not. That's not part of the game they play, and I was told it's a "non-issue." (Even the LA Times knows that's not true.) If you want to work with politicians to create "solutions", make sure those solutions involve forcing other people to do things and taking more of their money.
I'm writing an article about this now, but for now just enjoy the video.
Oh and yes, I'm sure that passing legislation to "get money out of politics" will fix everything. We all know politicians never break laws, and we all know that the entities enforcing the laws are totally totally removed and separate from the politicians.
This was my garden last year:
...and here it is this year:
OK, that was after I pulled out all the carrots, etc. But still. Pretty crappy. Last year we had tons and tons of fabulous tomatoes all summer long. This year, hardly any. I thought I did all the right things, but I guess not. So lots of learning about soil amendment for me. Beginning with our winter garden, the bulk of which I got in the ground yesterday and today:
...if a little hard to say.
Yesterday I found myself in the not unfamiliar position of wanting a word and not having it. This was one of those words that I really, really thought existed somewhere but I just couldn't put my finger on it. And I've come to loathe online thesauruses (I also refuse to type out the probably more accurate plural of thesaurus.) So I put a question out there to my Twitter world, and here's what happened:
Thank you Victor!
For those who may not know Victor Koman, he is the author of Kings of the High Frontier, The Jehovah Contract, and a bunch of other stuff. He is one of the big libertarian sci-fi heroes. But more importantly, when Guy and I got married, Victor and his family (including the wonderful Vanessa Koman, who starred in my student film) gave us what has turned out to be THE most useful wedding present we received. We got lots of wonderful wedding presents, but theirs has turned out to be, hands down, the most useful: A set of kitchen knives.
Likewise, I'm sure Victor's latest gift will prove to be extremely useful. I intend to start using it right away...
I'm very excited about this. It's a day-and-a-half conference on "floortime" therapy - a more child-centered kind of developmental therapy than, say, ABA. I'll be doing it this Friday and Saturday and will report back here with what I've learned.
...and pretty much everyone else too. Thankfully, Nathan Goodman gives her a good smackdown in his C4SS piece "The Authoritarianism of Elizabeth Warren":
Misconceptions run rampant in Senator Warren’s speech. She conflates cooperation and government, stating “In our democracy, government is just how we describe the things that we the people have already decided to do together.” Nonsense. Government decisions are in practice not made democratically, but rather by a privileged class of politicians, bureaucrats and corporate cronies. Real community and cooperation happen outside the state. ... Government is not community, cooperation or togetherness. Government is centralization and coercion that all too often crushes vibrant social cooperation.
“The boogeyman government is like the boogeyman under the bed; it’s not real,” proclaims Senator Warren. But the harm done by government is real and concrete. For example, U.S. sanctions against Iran are causing poverty, food insecurity, and medical shortages. Senator Warren supports those sanctions. Closer to home, recent research shows that nearly 200,000 inmates were sexually abused in American prisons, jails, and detention centers in 2011. This same research finds that prison guards, employed and empowered by government, perpetrated these rapes more often than inmates did.
The violence of government continues during the “shutdown.” Last week, Capitol Police shot and killed an unarmed woman in front of her child. The FBI shut down the website Silk Road, making the public less safe in the process. A NATO air strike in Afghanistan killed at least five civilians, three of them children. Violence and coercion are constant features of government, even during a “shutdown.”
Senator Warren derisively refers to the House Republicans as “the anarchy gang.” The “shutdown” was not engineered by “anarchists,” and it is insulting to anarchists to compare us to the House Republicans...
Read the rest here.
...it's awesome! I'm sure it's not as big a deal as it seems, but Steven makes his cello sound like a gu zheng. Check it out:
...and if you ever need to get your grand piano up on the Great Wall, here's how:
NOTE: A few of the guys helping move the piano look like they might be old enough to remember what was done to western musical instruments only 45 years ago. There is something moving about seeing it carried with such care up onto the Great Wall today. And it reminds me that, while the Chinese government remains a brutal, criminal organization like any other state, those who were and are responsible for implementing the truly profound reforms that have transformed the country deserve a great deal of credit. I don't know of many other governments that have willingly let go of so much power. (The Vietnamese government is one. I don't think I'd count the governments of Eastern European countries as the government that was ruling them collapsed.) I certainly can't imagine our own doing anything like it.
It's from the History Channel, so I'm sure Hitler is involved somehow:
...there's even a little bit about our local open-all-year Halloween store, "Halloween Town" - although no mention of its just as cool NYC equivalent.
I had a chance to meet Elenor Webb. I was invited to last year’s annual All-Day-Christmas-Party she and her husband Gary Chartier hosted every year in their home. I had planned to go, but then someone in our family got sick - myself, my husband, one of our kids, I don’t even remember who - so I decided not to go. I regret that decision now. Elenor died early in the morning of September 24th at the age of 34, and this past Saturday I attended the memorial service held in her honor.
So often, funerals and memorial services are formal affairs, where people come, pay their respects and listen to a few words about the person who has passed away, to “eulogies.” What happened at Elenor’s service was not eulogizing, but something else. It was the speaking of little memories, little pieces of who Elenor was, by the people who knew her. By themselves, any of these memories might have seemed trivial - like a friend’s account of a conversation he had with her about the virtues of canned clam chowder - but none of these memories were trivial. Each one was a critically important piece of the image of Elenor that was being formed, and they all came together to create a picture of a person I now feel as if I have known a little.
Of course I have only been given a glimpse of her, and almost certainly some of what I think she was is just wrong, all of it incomplete. But I feel that I came away from the ceremony with a snapshot that contains a great deal of truth about who she was.
Elenor was super smart. She was a very good chess player and poker player and apparently once wiped the floor with Gary over the solution to a famous mathematical problem. But being smart isn’t enough to make someone wonderful. We all know really smart people who use their smarts in really stupid ways. Or who never really “get” what matters in life. Elenor, it seems, really “got” life and really lived it well - in the sense of being fully present, deeply connected to the people in her life, and just naturally doing things to make life better for those around her.
It seems that she was magical. That she saw magic and wonder where others might only see the mundane. When Gary was on his way home from work, one friend told us, she would get so excited. Every day. Each time he came home was cause for celebration.
She loved learning and reading. She loved animals, loved children (though not so much the mean ones), and loved the elderly people she took care of. She said that even if there was no such thing as free will, she would still want to help people.
She had super smarts and super talent, but she didn’t seem to crave fame or accomplishment. She was just happy to be. To live her own life fully and to be really connected to the people around her, to really be there for them and to really enjoy them. It is this contentedness with what is there, with the life right in front of her, not seeking something else from outside to make herself complete, that makes me think she was a “celestial being,” an “enlightened being,” a Boddhisattva. It is probably why - says a small, superstitious part of my mind - she was taken so young.
Throughout the service, it was easy to forget that the person we were hearing about was no longer with us. I found myself wondering dimly “so when am I going to meet this woman?” And then a little shock. I wasn’t. I’m not going to meet her. I had my chance and I blew it. And it leaves me wondering: How many other magical people am I missing out on because I am “too busy” or someone gets sick, or it’s just too much trouble to go out?
The work of memorializing someone we loved is critically important. Not only to honor them, but to keep a memory of them alive so that they haven’t just disappeared from this world. When a loved one dies, people tell you to “take it easy”, and “be gentle with yourself”, but there is important work to be done: memorializing the person as they really were, before the memories fade or turn to fantasy. Gary and Elenor’s family and friends did this beautifully for Elenor, but they did more: They spread her memory out beyond those who had known her to people like myself who never did. This is exactly how a memorial service should be: Bringing to life an image and a feeling of who the person was - so much so that people who never even met her find themselves missing her.
Just this morning, I was over at my parents' house, essentially showing my dad how to plug a USB cable into his computer so he could retrieve the photos they took on their recent trip to Turkey. I mention this not only to make fun of my dad, but also to provide some context for the article he has up on LRC today. In it, he writes:
"I blogged, awhile back, on the comment made by a top federal official who, in responding to Edward Snowden’s Internet release of top-secret NSA documents, said that the government would be able to secure the return of such information. The implication was that the government could order Internet providers to reverse the processes by which such documents were distributed to millions of Internet users. Underlying this claim is the apparent belief that Internet providers function as a kind of storehouse of various kinds of information, to which users apply for access. It is not an exaggeration, in their world, to analogize a provider – such as Google – as a public library, making stored information available to users, and being able to demand its return to the “library.”
"This bit of nonsensical thinking is currently being promoted by another faction that seeks legislation allowing teenagers to “erase” or “retract” e-mails or blogs they had earlier put out into the Internet. The California legislature has already been suckered into participating in such delusional thinking by enacting a statute providing such a “right,” and efforts are underway to get Congress to do the same. At the request of a teenager, prior messages that might later prove embarrassing to him or her could be erased from the Internet.
"Foolishness of this sort is a reminder of just how far out of touch with reality are those who continue to insist upon the idea that society can be effectively managed by the pyramidal structuring of people’s lives. Desperate to reinforce the top-down weltanschauung from which they invariably think and act, these people are not inclined to allow reality to interfere with their fantasies. If they had any basic understanding of the nature of the Internet, they would at once see the absurdity of their proposals. The Internet is not a place, but a system in which words and other images can be freely communicated to any who desire to receive them and, in turn, to respond to and/or pass them on to others. Like the old common law proposition that no longer protected a copyright once a written work had been “published” (i.e., made public), releasing information, ideas, or other material into the Internet is to place them beyond the control of their author or of anyone else. Those who believe that Google controls, directs, possesses, or otherwise manages the substance of what is put into the Internet haven’t the slightest idea of the anarchistic nature of this system that allows men and women to directly communicate with one another without the intercession of authorities. Like the early-morning warblings of a meadowlark, or the evening release of jasmine scents, words put into the Internet are no longer subject to the control of, or the return to, their authors."
For anyone who knows my dad, it is simply astonishing that there are people out there who are less computer literate than he is. It is somewhat less astonishing that they are to be found within the halls of government and the legislature.
You can read the rest of his article here.
My dad writes this morning:
"I just received a frantic e-mail from the MoveOn organization, informing me that “The Tea Party and the GOP actually took us over the cliff – and shut down the federal government.” Such a calamity must be analogous to parents running away from home and leaving the children behind. But it doesn’t tell us what the consequences of this “shutdown” will be; what we helpless souls are to do. Do federal regulations no longer need to be obeyed? Are we no longer required to pay federal taxes? Have all of America’s current wars ended? Will drone bombers no longer function and simply fall from the skies? Will the likes of Nancy Pelosi, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Charles Schumer, Diane Feinstein, et al. now have to return to their home states and seek honest employment? Do these sociopaths have any marketable skills, or shall we see them on street corners with styrofoam cups begging for coins? Will the mail no longer be delivered, and will my “happy birthday” card to aunt Lucy get through to her?"
Sadly, no, the government is not actually shutting down. Here's what Wikipedia says about the "shutdown":
During the shutdown, most "non-essential" government employees are furloughed. This has resulted in approximately 800,000 public servants being put on indefinite unpaid leave beginning October 1. ... "A shutdown," President Barack Obama stated, "will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away."[10
And I think that's kind of the point. Make "real" people (as opposed to, say, those creatures sitting in Congress or the White House) suffer. Make the people who are living week to week on government paychecks feel like their worlds are about to implode and then they'll quickly get in touch with their Congress-creatures and demand that the government not be "shut down". Demand that they do "whatever they need to" to keep the money flowing.
Only the funny thing is, the money IS still flowing. It's still flowing to the prisons holding hundreds of thousands of non-violent "offenders"; it is still flowing to the parts of the military that are needed to invade and occupy the next foreign country that has never harmed us; it is still flowing to the NSA so it can spy on us; it is still flowing out to local police departments in the form of increasingly miltiarized equipment and vehicles that surely aren't intended to combat burglaries, theft or assaults; it is still flowing into the pockets of everyone in Congress, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, and I'm sure the heads of all of the government agencies that employ so many "non-essential" people. I'm sure it will be flowing just fine for the Obama family's next multi-million-dollar trip to Hawaii.
Here are some of the things that WILL be cut:
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC may be seriously curtailed.
The Centers For Disease Control will not be able to conduct "in-depth investigations to identify and link outbreaks that may be occurring simultaneously in multiple states" or provide flu surveillance due to the furloughing of 68% of its employees.
The Environmental Protection Agency will furlough over 93% of its 16,205 employees. The Agency will almost entirely cease issuing licenses and permits, which may cause delays for companies seeking to build or expand facilities.
The Internal Revenue Service will not provide assistance to taxpayers during the shutdown. Tax refunds are likely to be delayed...
The Small Business Administration will stop processing new loans to small businesses with the exception of loans to businesses affected by natural disasters.
...and of course the salaries of many many of those "real people". Rest assured though that "Airport screeners at theTransportation Security Administration will not be affected." Thank God, because even though there is absolutely no evidence that they have helped to prevent acts of terrorism, and even though everyone in this country is still more likely to be killed by their own furniture than by an act of terrorism, we need these people to molest and humiliate us if only so that we all remember we live in the freest country on earth.
Anyone who knows me knows that it is my fervent wish that the Federal Government shut down completely and forever. We would ALL be much better off. (OK, maybe the Obama family and some of those Congress Creatures wouldn't be.) But that, of course, is not what this is. This is bullshit. This is blackmail against the smallest and least powerful people who are dependent upon government in some way. And it is my probably vain and naive hope that this "shutdown" will help many of these people to wake up and realize that this is not "their" government, it is not "our" government, and it never was and never can be. That this government - that ANY government - acts not in the interests of the people it governs, but in its own interests. That it is a dangerous and costly blight upon society, not a solution to its problems, and that we need to come up with something else.
This disgusts me. I can't even imagine having to leave my child alone with another family while I go off to another country to work. Maybe they should put this in those idiotic "Be All You Can Be" ads.
"...Nikki Dudley was days away from returning from her Air Force deployment when she found out her 21-month-old son Evan was in critical care. Nikki rushed home to find thatEvan was in a coma and was not expected to live. The doctors told herEvan’s condition was so severe that he would have had to fall from an 8-story building, straight down to sustain such injuries. Evan died in Nikki’s arms two days later."