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Latin Grace Prayer

1/03/2015

Latin Grace Prayer

“To those who have hunger
give bread and to those who
have bread give the hunger
for justice.”

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The Fixer’s Manifesto

26/02/2015

The Fixers Manifesto

originally found here

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Could Superman Be Black?

22/02/2015

black superman hqdefault

For Superman as he exists now to be the character that he is, he has to grow up in a relatively sheltered environment. He and the family that has adopted him can not be subject to persecution or victimization; he has to be able to empathize closely enough with dominant culture that he adopts their values & morality as a given, and he must never encounter anything as a child that would challenge that.

The occasional burglar / out of town gangster / dam bursting / forest fire / alien invasion not withstanding, Superman while growing up can not be either subject to or a witness to systematic persecution, much less systematic persecution based on racial or religious discrimination.

And historically, discrimination is what happened to people who fell outside the white Christian camp in North America, particularly rural North America.

Now, it’s entirely logical & plausible that by either the grace of God or miraculous good fortune, Kal-El was adopted by the Kents, who being white Christians in a predominantly white Christian culture did not get persecuted by their neighbors yet who at the same time were good enough as Americans and/or Christians to instill in Clark the importance of liberty, justice, and equality for all people of all beliefs.

When Superman finally makes his presence known to the world at large (we’ll presume that outside the immediate community, his exploits as Superboy were written off as the equivalent of UFO or Bigfoot stories), he has a fully formed set of ethical & moral values that could only come from a person who believes the system is intrinsically fair, that everybody who plays by the rules has a shot of success & happiness, and that discrimination is not the norm nor should it ever be tolerated.

That would not be his POV if he grew up as an African-American child in rural America. To this day African-Americans are discriminated against and treated unjustly on the basis of their skin color; if you don’t believe me, go find some African-Americans on FB and ask them to give you their POV re Ferguson & the shooting of Michael Brown.

An African-American Superman — raised as an infant in rural America — would not see the dominant culture as A Really Swell Thing but rather an obstacle that must be overcome. The fact that Superman as he exists today is lauded and praised by the dominant culture is proof he is no threat to them; if he was black & beating the snot out of racists, the reaction would be far, far different.

Let’s look at the
other side of the
superhero coin:
The Batman

Thanx to progress that has been made in America, today the possibility of the child of an African-American billionaire deciding to avenge his parents — killed in a non-race related crime — is as plausible as a white kid doing the same. Operating in an urban environment, Batman would encounter a variety of people, good and bad, from all races / classes / religious backgrounds.

Batman as a concept is also comfortable with the idea that the system — if not inherently corrupt — has been subjected to corruption that must be addressed through extra-legal means. He is not the cockeyed optimist that Superman is.

Billy Batson, altho white in previous incarnations, has also grown up in a lower class urban environment; his worldview is not as far from a lower class urban kid of any other ethnicity / religion. Captain Marvel (whom Billy exchanges places with; he does not transform into the big red cheese) is a supernatural being from a spiritual realm; he is literally above and beyond ethnic identity as practiced in North America. He could be any color — including green — and still fill his function as Captain Marvel, and Billy could be any color so long as he was from a lower class background and understands what it means to be the underdog.

If Clark Kent was not raised by wise / protective parents in the background of a dominant culture that he was presumed to be part of, he would not be Superman.  An African-American Bruce Wayne or Billy Batson would still produce a Batman or a Captain Marvel.

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The Patriarchy Goes Down Ugly

13/02/2015

If you’re keeping up with current events / pop culture in America[1] you’ll know there’s a men’s rights movement that has been started in counter-point to feminism.

Now, insofar as all people of good will would agree that everyone should be treated with equal respect in the eyes of the law, the idea of treating males as no better or worse than females in legal and governmental proceedings is a fair and just one.

Civil and criminal cases should be decided on the basis of facts, not stereotypes that help or hinder anyone.

That, of course, is what feminism is all about — the recognition that everyone is equal under the law regardless of gender or orientation — and so one would think a separate rights movement for males would be somewhat superfluous.

Not to tar everyone associated with the men’s rights movement with the same brush, but there are an awful lot of people who flock to that banner under false pretenses.

They have no desire to be treated equally under the law, but are seeking excuses for bad behavior that they enjoy at the expense of others — particularly women.

They have, in fact, bought into the same-old / same-old that got us here in the first place, and their attempts at a counter rights movement is just the frustration of the privileged as they realize that privilege is slipping from them.

Would that they were conscious of this.

What makes their torment so frustrating to them and others outside their circle is that they fail to acknowledge the position of privilege they enjoy not because they lack the intellectual capacity or curiosity to uncover such a truth, but that they are culturally incapable of recognizing the truth even when it smacks them repeatedly between the eyes.

Any questioning of the status quo is interpreted as a deliberate personal attack on them as males and as individuals.

And at the same time, they present themselves as helpless victims persecuted by a changing culture.

You can’t have it both ways, guys.

You can’t be a Gulliver tied down by Lilliputians while at the same time bemoaning the awful spell females have cast on you.

jean-goerges-vibert-gulliver-and-the-lilliputians-1340879204_b

 “Gulliver & The Lilliputians” by Jean Goerges Vibert

As with most movements, there is no one single leader at the head but rather a vast undulating can of worms with each separate thread or movement within the movement briefly enjoying its heyday at the top of the can before slithering down again.

However, it would be fair to say that few if any have been more instrumental to the men’s rights movement than Warren Farrell.

Farrell is best known for his books The Myth Of Male Power and Why Men Earn More.

Farrell is not without insight and a brief perusal of his books indicates some creative thinking about the various conundrums facing all genders in today’s society.[2]

The fatal flaw in his logic, indeed the vein of poison running through not only the bulk of the men’s rights movement but also the hearts of far too many critics of the masculine gender as well, is that males have a built in “boys will be boys / get out of jail FREE” card when it comes to their interactions with the opposite sex.

The cover of a recent edition of The Myth Of Male Power is an attractive feminine posterior in semi-silhouette.

Farrell could more accurately refer to it as The Myth About The Myth Of Male Power because:

“’I felt that it was a tasteful message that had not been communicated effectively to women about how powerless men feel around the beautiful woman’s body,’ Farrell told me. Cupping a hand over his crotch, he added, ‘Our upper brains stop working and the lower brain starts working.’”

That’s a pretty pathetic excuse for anyone to make, that somebody else is just so gosh darn alluring that they magically sway one from acting with common sense or common decency.

It’s the excuse used to justify all sorts of denigrating behavior towards females and males outside the preferred alpha group.

The magic of the feminine mystique (to allude to another book on the dynamics of male-female relationships within our culture) overpowers all real males, according to this philosophy, and as such excuses them for bad behavior on their part.

“I couldn’t help myself, she made me do it” is the excuse of the bully, the rapist, the abuser, the old school patriarch.

It dismisses bad behavior because “boys will be boys”[3] and as such are blameless for their reactions to alluring females.

I worked briefly as a pornographer back in the 1990s, but it was long enough to recognize the stereotypical straight male response to highly sexualized surroundings was a fiction deliberately crafted to assuage weak willed males as we picked their pockets.

When you deal with sexualized images on a daily basis, they lose their allure PDQ.[4]

It doesn’t matter what a woman looks like, how she is dressed, or whatever physical activity she is engaged in: If you cannot put aside any visceral sexual reaction to deal with her as an individual in an asexual context, you are surrendering control of your life not to her feminine charms but to your own desire to maintain your status at the expense of others.[5]

For all the good the men’s rights movement does in pointing out inequality under the law that should be addressed, they cause far more harm.

Like all protectors of privilege, they attempt to deny they enjoy such privilege by disguising it as victimhood.

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[1] And if you’re not, WTF is wrong with you?!?!? WAKE UP!!!

[2] One could argue he perhaps doesn’t go far enough to linking the various frustrations most people feel regardless of gender or orientation to the overpowering consumer culture we inhabit, but that’s another book for another day, I guess…

[3] Yes, there are certain general trends commonly — but not exclusively — found in one gender or the other in our culture. While there is doubtlessly a biological root to much of it, it is also shaped by the very culture we inhabit, which for its own utilitarian purposes seeks to have us fit easily codified roles so as to be more easily exploited.

[4] To that subset of the patriarchy found among conservative Christian denominations, the ones that are obsessed with pornography and view it as a terrible addiction that is as bad as actual adultery and as such a destroyer of marriages, I say if you want to keep your young teenage sons from fantasizing about naked women, get them a job with any purveyor of porn for straight males. Like repeating the same word over and over and over until the syllables lose all meaning, so does prolonged exposure to stylized depictions of sexuality. It’s the same reason candy shops encourage new employees to eat their fill on the first day; you soon get sick of it then settle down to the business of moving product.

[5] Not having a same sex orientation, I don’t know if this applies to gays and lesbians in similar situations; I suspect it does but can’t speak authoritatively on that.

 

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The Case Of The Clumsy Art Th– …uh… Appropriator

11/02/2015

So artist Scott Teplin spent the better part of a decade developing a distinctive font.

scott-teplin-jamian-juliano-villani-gavin-brown-3

And love it or hate it or like it or dislike it or just say “meh” to it, you can’t deny it’s a unique expression of an idea and as such is entitled to copyright protection.

jamian-juliano-villani-scott-teplin-gavin-brown-3

Some font developers just love doing that stuff and make their fonts available for free online.  Other sell their fonts for a charge, or develop them for exclusive use by a single client.

Fonts are cool, and I love playing with them,
but when I’ve used them professionally
I’ve either made sure they were free
for commercial use or paid for them.

Enter one Jamian Julian-Villani, another NYC based artist.  Ms Villani saw Teplin’s font, liked it, Instagrammed it without attribution, then in the sincerest form of flattery stole appropriated it for use in her painting, Animal Proverb.

jamian-juliano-villani-scott-teplin-gavin-brown

When Teplin pointed out the theft appropriation, Villani[1] doubled-down:

“Everything is a reference,” Juliano-Villani told artnet News in a phone interview. “Everything is sourced.” Artist copyright seems like a thing of the past.

“It’s a fucking John Lennon lyric,” she said several times. When we pointed out that Teplin, for his part, is claiming ownership of his lettering, not the lyric, Juliano-Villani repeated, “But it’s a fucking John Lennon lyric.”[2]

Basically, Ms Villani is ripping off a live New Yorker in order to rip off a dead New Yorker for her personal profit, and without paying royalties to either.

Ignoring the question of whether she was involved in Christian publishing, I was puzzled by something else in her painting.  To paraphrase Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction:

“You know what’s on my mind right now? It AIN’T the coffee in my kitchen, it’s the [pink elephant] [blue sphinx] in my garage.”

VF ttm03

Yes, the nimble fingered Ms Villani has =ahem= appropriated yet another artist’s work, in this case an illustration by the late great pulp sci-fi artist Virgil Finlay[3] for H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.[4]

Now, fair is fair, and folks would be right to ask:

“Just what’s the #@%&in’ difference between what she did and what you do with your Fictoids or Words Of The Prophets posts?”

For one thing, I’m not making money off the use of another creator’s art or words.  What I post may be freely accessed by anyone.[5]

My Fictoids are typically commentaries on the underlying art, and as such fall under the fair usage provision of copyright law.

I try really hard to use only those images which have entered into the public domain, and / or like Banksy am appropriating advertising art to make a cultural comment.

I strive whenever possible to identify and properly credit the artist, and have gone back and added artist information when I’ve learned it.

Likewise the Words Of The Prophets series of posts are quotes from public persons and as such fall under fair usage, or are otherwise in the public domain.  Any meme I use that I don’t generate, I leave any identifying URL on the image.

Ms Villani is probably in the clear re Virgil Finlay’s art; I haven’t been able to track down a specific date but I’m guessing it’s probably some time in the 1950s or 60s, perhaps even as early as the late 1940s.  Unless the copyright was specifically renewed in the 1970s or early 80s, I’m guessing the image is public domain by now.

The Lennon quote is kinda iffy, but let’s attribute that one to ignorance, not ill will.

I’ll even go so far as to say appropriating Teplin’s font, specifically in the format he used and with the message he painted, might also be a case of plain ol’ vanilla misunderstanding.

But refusing to acknowledge, much less compensate or thank Teplin when it was pointed out to her?

Not cool, Ms Villani.
Not cool at all.

Added later:  
Ms Villani and Mr Teplin
have apparently come to
an understanding and
made peace on the issue

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[1]  With a name like that, it’s almost as if she couldn’t help but be an antagonist in a story.

[2]  We’re going to skip the whole issue of what and how much of a work is considered fair use.  Song lyrics are notoriously tricky items under copyright law, and while one can reference the title of a song with impunity in a literary work, including any quotation of verses, no matter how trivial, invites a letter from a lawyer with ample precedence in her briefcase, so unless you secure permission first, don’t quote a song lyric, even tho people post whole lyrics all the time and make online memes from them.

[3]  Google Image Search the bejeebers outta him; you’ll be glad you did.

[4]  And, yes, Finlay was also an NYC based artist for much of his career, so Ms Villani wins the trifecta!

[5]  You want to use my words for profit, please contact me at the e-mail address below; I lay no claim on any artwork I do not specifically own the rights to.

 

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What To Do About ISIS

4/02/2015

I’ve got a lock on this,
don’t worry.

classics illustrated time machine

First thing we do is build a time machine and go back and tell ourselves not to condone torture and degradation at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, but to treat our prisoners humanely according to the Geneva convention, the Bible, and our own Constitution instead of stripping them naked, smearing their bodies with feces, threatening them with dogs, wiring their genitals with electrodes, and taking pictures of them with our smirking soldiers and thus giving ISIS the most perfect anti-Christian/West/America recruiting tool it could hope to have.

abu ghraib

Then we could take the time machine and go back to 9/12 and tell ourselves not to treat a bunch of loosely affiliated thugs as the second comings of Nazism and the Iron Curtain, but rather consider them to be just what they are:  Criminals who need to be tracked down, arrested, brought to trial, convicted, and imprisoned instead of being elevated to the status of a nation-state by declaring war on them.

Cobra_commander

In fact, we ought to take the time machine back to when we were supplying them in the mountains of Afghanistan because we wanted to give payback to the Rooskis for helping the North Vietnamese, and instead get our spies and arms dealers to stop doing that.

rambo3

While we’re at it, we can go back to the day after the fall of Dien Bein Phu and instead of being all pissy and splitting their country in middle and importing outsiders to run our half, we can be good sports and shake Ho Chi Minh’s hand and congratulate him on winning independence for the united nation of Vietnam.

No, wait!  Better still, we can go back to that moment when we broke our promise to Uncle Ho, who after fighting by our side against the Japanese in WWII was rewarded with betrayal and treachery when we handed French Indo-China — ‘scuse me, Vietnam — back to Charles DeGaulle, and instead tell ol’ Chuck to go oui-oui up a rope; America honors her promises.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to go back to 1918 and not invade Russia in order to support counter-revolutionaries in their civil war; after all, Europe sat back and let us duke it out during our civil war, so maybe we would have been better off saying, “Not our circus, not our monkeys” and just letting them hash it out amongst themselves instead of throwing our lot in with the losers and souring relations with the winners.

And maybe getting involved in WWI wasn’t such a hot idea, either; Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were already collapsing before we joined in.  Yes, we sped things up, but maybe if we hadn’t thrown our weight behind England and France they wouldn’t have been so draconian in negotiating peace, maybe even allowing the Kaiser to stay on the throne and keep Germany stable the way the Emperor kept Japan stable after WWII and then maybe a certain corporal would have ended up going to art school after all.

Jes’ sayin’…

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Jim MacQuarrie On The Subject Of White Privilege

2/02/2015

I volunteer with a food program here in town. It was started by a black man, run by a black church, operates in a mostly black neighborhood.

Funny thing: after I had been helping for a few months, they asked me to join their board (I had to decline due to work). I asked why they wanted me, since I was just a guy volunteering to serve mashed potatoes one night a week, not important or particularly influential in any way, and prone to insulting prominent people. The founder told me plainly that because I’m a middle-aged white dude, I could go places and say things that the other board members couldn’t.

The other board members are pastors and retired businessmen and known in the community, but random white guy me has access that they don’t have. Seriously. As obnoxious, cranky and undiplomatic as I am, I’m more respected than people who have worked and served the city for decades, simply because my ancestors were from Europe.

That’s white privilege. When somebody uses the term, they aren’t calling you a racist, or playing the race card, or making excuses for their own condition. They are stating a fact. A white jerk who never graduated college and can’t behave politely in public is more respectable than a successful retired black businessman.

– Jim MacQuarrie 

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A Quote To Kick Off Black History Month

1/02/2015

“Your crown has been bought and paid for.
All you must do is put it on.” — James Baldwin

 

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Let’s Play “Reverse The Polarities” With Jen Sorensen

27/01/2015

…aw, c’mon — it’ll be FUN!!!

torturereport1

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Losing Our Heads

19/01/2015

So a number of people have been posting links to news reports about the public beheading of a convicted child rapist / murderer in Saudi Arabia.

The woman screamed she was innocent just before being executed.

Many of these people are outraged to one degree or another by this news.

I’m just trying to figure out what their outrage is aimed at.

Are they universally opposed to capital punishment?

Well, then we’re in agreement. I would hope we can convince all people, cultures, and governments to abolish capital punishment.[1]

Are they upset that the woman proclaimed her innocence to the very end?

We execute a lot of people here in the US who proclaim their innocence to the very end. I do not know enough about this case to have an opinion on whether or not the Saudi government adequately proved the woman had indeed sexually abused and murdered her step-daughter. I do know there’s ample precedence of step-parents abusing and murdering step-children here in the US, so barring proof there was a miscarriage of justice, I’m going to assume the Saudis know more about the facts of this case than I do.

Are they upset it was a woman that was executed?

Women are as fully capable of committing heinous acts as men, and we’ve executed women for such acts here in the US.

Does the manner of execution bother them?

Beheading is a pretty gruesome way to go, but it is swift and relatively merciful. Certainly swifter and more merciful than repeatedly jabbing a condemned prisoner for 30 minutes in a futile attempt to find a suitable vein for lethal injection, followed by several minutes gasping for breath, fully aware one is dying.[2]

Does the fact that it was a public execution bother them?

The last public execution[3] in the US was in 1936, the last public guillotining in France was in 1939. Photographic evidence indicates public executions in France and Saudi Arabia are comparatively sparsely attended as opposed to the jam-packed spectacles the US used to conduct. Now, if the argument is that public executions are a shameful thing and shouldn’t be conducted, we need to ask why that is so: Because they are unjust? Because they offend our delicate sensibilities? Or because they force us to face the facts about what we are doing to people in the name of justice?

Does it bother them that the execution was carried out by brown skinned non-Christians who aren’t big fans of the US of A?

Well, we had no problem with the French lopping the heads off people up to 1977, and here in America we had more than one death by hanging turn into death by decapitation. It is their land, their culture, their government; if they feel they are justified in what they are doing, how can we stop them? Put pressure on them to change their behavior?

Okay, fine, let’s say we do that. Exactly what kind of behavior are we attempting to change? Killing people, or killing them in public? Do we want the means of execution shifted to something we feel more comfortable with?[4]

We don’t hear a lot of outrage about Asian nations executing prisoners by hangings or firing squads.[5]

Most of the world has abolished the death penalty for common crimes, and many nations for all crimes. The biggest proponents of the death penalty remain Far East Asia, the Middle East, and the horn of Africa.

capital punishment map

I have to ask, is this what fuels the outrage of some? Not that criminals are being executed, but that they’re being executed by people who are…well, let’s put this delicately by using the phrase coined by the late Peter Bergman…not-us ?

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[1] I think all forms of “punishment” are futile, which, as I have noted elsewhere, is not the same as saying people should not be held responsible and accountable for their actions. By all means, take driving privileges away from drunk and reckless drivers, have people who have committed minor offenses pay some restitution in the form of community service or a fine, imprison dangerous and violent criminals so they will not be able to harm citizens during the time they are behind bars, but never ever “punish” because all punishment amounts to is eye-for-an-eye retribution to try to make the offender feel bad for what they have done. They never feel bad; they feel victimized and refuse to accept responsibility.

[2] And, yes, the vast majority of executed prisoners did far worse to their victims. The state is supposed to be above petty revenge and retribution and more about justice. By all accounts it took at least two blows to sever the head of the woman in Saudi Arabia, but the first blow was fatal and severed her spinal chord, so death was probably as instantaneous as that by guillotine. Not to make light of capital punishment, but if the objective is to kill someone as swiftly and as mercifully as possible, the electric chair is the way to go; it makes an awful mess and stench, but it kills the prisoner pretty much instantaneously. That’s the problem with killing people: The swift and merciful ways are messy, the clean ways are slow and agonizing (either physically and / or psychologically).

[3] Rather the last legal public execution…

[4] That’s pretty presumptive of us, isn’t it? How would we feel if they tried to tell us how to dress?

[5] Rather, we don’t hear a lot of outrage about our trade partners executing people by hangings and firing squads; we’ll red ass North Korea all day long.

 

 

 

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