Gravity's Rainbow

botany, shoes, books, and justice

December 1, 2016
by sarcozona

Matthew Shepard’s murder kept me in the closet a long time.

Fence me in

Fence me in by Bradley Gordon on Flickr

My family watched a lot of The 700 Club. I read about Matthew Shepard’s murder in its newsletter on the long walk home from school one day. I don’t remember the exact words. I do remember the day. It was cold, overcast, and miserably damp. My feet squelched in the mud.

The newsletter must have been graphic because even now I feel sick and am assaulted with horrific imaginings so vivid they seem to be memories. I stood in the road a long time, watching the primed tobacco stalks slouching with rot in the waterlogged fields.

I didn’t know exactly what a homosexual was, but I understood from the newsletter that this is what would happen if you were one. I understood that it was evil and evil has consequences. My terrified empathy was soothed by the distance between myself and Wyoming, between myself and homosexuality.

But. There was a girl on the softball team at school who waited for me outside homeroom and asked me to the movies with her. I felt something exciting and frightening and wonderful around her.

Not much later, I learned what homosexual meant. But I never connected that word to myself, no matter how I felt about that softball player in middle school or other girls I knew later. I remembered Matthew Shepard and knew that I wasn’t evil – I wasn’t a bad person who could be tortured to death for some secret dirty thing.

Until, one day, I realized that that was exactly what people who watch the 700 Club thought of people who had feelings like mine.

More on Donald Trump and the Justice Department

Perhaps the bureaucrats can save us. Imagine if every time Trump tried to do something terrible, it required infinite paperwork.

The importance of seeing yourself clearly

The Votes By Income Graph Does Not Prove Working Class Whites Didn’t Break For Trump

Stratify your samples folks.

Media: End Reporting on Polls

If the media you consume/pay for devotes time and attention to polls, find something else.

Stunning Highlights from the 2016 International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest

Dystopian Worlds by Michal Karcz

Can’t Wait Forever

employee is trying to force his way into a job that I don’t want to hire him for
Gumption is thinking you deserve someone’s job because they went on maternity leave

Ready or Not

Compliments, “potential” and power

November 15, 2016
by sarcozona

While there is much gnashing of teeth over our own, cartoonish Hitler wannabe, too many political actors seem more than willing to turn their heads away from our own Supermanagerial Reich. Like mid-1930s Germans, too many are quite simply comfortable with the rolling slow-motion horror that has been neoliberalism. They view the Trumps and the Le Pens and the Erdo?ans, and so forth as a new crisis, a sudden shock to the system. Many in the United States fear a Trump election because there might be an explosion of state repression against the vulnerable, particularly against specific racial and ethnic minorities. And yet, the neoliberal state has already created a penal system to rival the world’s most authoritarian dictatorships. The United States imprisons more citizens (total and per capita) than any other country on Earth, and African Americans and Latinos at a vastly over-represented rate. Many fear Trump would bring massive deportations of undocumented immigrants. And yet, the neoliberal state already engages in mass deportations, at the level of millions during the current administration, with countless more waiting in dire conditions in the world’s largest network of immigrant detention camps. Many fear a Trump election would bring mass persecution, surveillance, and restrictions for American Muslims. And yet, the neoliberal state already spies on Muslims, administers religious tests at borders, and polices Muslims for nothing more than their religious practices. Many fear a Trump election might bring economic ruin, and yet, for most Americans, wealth is vanishing, wages stagnant, real unemployment steady.

Source: The Supermanagerial Reich – Los Angeles Review of Books

November 12, 2016
by sarcozona

Subscribe to survive – the best journalism to support


Newspaper by Jason Ralston

I know a lot of Trump voters. I have many in my own family. I talked to some of them about their decision before the election and came away fascinated and upset. Their views were a swirl of rage, confusion, and endless conspiracy theory. They were absolutely obsessed with terrorism and the Middle East.

I think our foreign policy in the Middle East is a disaster, too, so you’d think this would be a space I could have a conversation with Trump supporters. But if I tried to start a conversation about Clinton’s record in Libya or Syria or her support for drone strikes, they didn’t know even the most basic facts about the region, its recent history, or our policies there. Instead they went on long tirades about how Clinton is a secret terrorist supporter hiring powerful terrorists to her campaign.

I don’t think the media or social media is totally at fault for this, but I do think Cathy O’Neil is right that things like Facebook’s fake-news-promoting algorithm and the media’s myopic focus on polling data instead of policy are a part of it.

I deal with this in two ways. 1) By posting long, nuanced articles about political and economic philosophy and policy no more than once a week on Facebook. FB’s algorithm then promptly disappears those posts as they are not exciting clickbait gifs, so maybe that isn’t actually effective. 2) I also try to subscribe to a magazine every year that publishes good journalism or detailed, thoughtful pieces on policy.

I prefer reading these on paper – I like being able to finish them, time not looking at a screen, and their superior performance to phones in a light rain while waiting for the bus. Past subscriptions have included National Geographic, Jacobin, Pacific Standard, and High Country News. ProPublica and the best local paper unfortunately don’t have print products to subscribe to, but I occasionally donate to those excellent organizations. A couple other publications that I think do awesome work are Orion, the Texas Tribune, n+1, the Marshall Project, and Mother Jones Investigations. The Guardian isn’t bad either.

It’s hard to imagine that paying for print journalism in a world with an ad-revenue driven internet could make a difference, but I am ever hopeful! If you subscribe to any newspapers/magazines, I’d love to hear what they are!