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In saliva, scientists have found hints that a “ghost” species of archaic humans may have contributed genetic material to ancestors of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa today. The research adds to a growing body of ... Read more


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[personal profile] al_zorra
          . . . . Even on the ASOIAF forum HBO's announced next project with D&D alternate history in which the southern antebellum slaveocracy successfully seceded has set off a sh*t storm, on the order of "Bad Idea or Worst Idea?" with loads of people weighing in with all the cliched, stereotypical expected responses, which basically say --

Woo! slavery's so haut!

It's just entertainment what's your problem?

How can you condemn something that hasn't even been written yet?

The Civil War wasn't about slavery.

Antebellum slavery couldn't industrialize because it was a feudal system not a capitalist system.

The north didn't care about slavery.

There were very few abolitionists (and evidently, judging by these comments, not a single person of color -- or white woman -- was in favor of abolition or against slavery, and this was wholly a white man's war.

Why not just have let 'em have their part of the country and all would be fine.

Slavery would have just withered away.

Blahblahblahblah.

To be able to combat these idiocies coolly and effectively, one needs to be armed -- and trust me, those thoughtlessly regurgitating these cliches are not.  One must point out particularly what the slavocracy's objectives were (number 1: expansion of slavery) there are a few books one can read to make one competent. One should read them too,  because what most people think they know about antebellum slavery, "the underground railroad," abolition and the roots of the War of Southern Aggression are at best out-dated (such as slavery was a feudal system), and at worst,  just wrong (the north didn't give a damn about slavery).


For example, Eugene Genovese's thesis that slavery was feudal not capitalist, has been dismantled by vast scholarship in the last twenty - thirty years. Enormous amounts of scholarship has gone into the history of antebellum slavery in all its aspects since the Civil Rights Movement, and historians everywhere have been reaping the benefits of this in the last 2 - 3 decades.  The same is true for the war effort itself.


Here is a very short list of books than anyone who wants to speak of the system of antebellum slavery and the War of Southern Aggression should read:


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself;

Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley (Keckley was the US's first African American 

couturier-- right before secession she dressed both Mary Todd Lincoln and Varina Davis. She became Mary Todd Lincoln's confidant in the White House. The book is a mixture of authentic memoir and fiction;

Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee--The War They Fought, the Peace They Forged  by William C. Davis;

General Lee's Army: From Victory to Defeat by Joseph Glatthaar;

This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy by Matt Karp;

The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry by Ned and Constance Sublette -- which runs down in a chronological, fast-reading narrative the latest scholarship about slavery in North America from the earlier colonial era to Emancipation, including the influence and effects the system within the larger European and hemispheric historical context, but the focus is on the economics of the enslaved bodies themselves -- without which the South had no wealth;

Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America's First Civil Rights Movement by Fergus M. Bordewich;

Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey -- an interesting contrast to how the Union State Department was seeing the situation with England in particular through the experiences of the US minister's mission to Saint James;

Mary Chesnut's Civil War; the carefully edited after-the-fact diary of a the wife of the South Carolina senator James Chestnut Jr., until secession, after which he served as an aide to Jeff Davis and a brigadier general in charge of South Carolina's reserves (though not seeing action, of course, being such a slavocracy nabob);

The Free State of Jones by by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer -- Mississippians (the state with largest number of millionaires in the country prior to Emancipation) who were neither segregationists nor secessionist, nor were they nabobs -- they suffered and they resisted and fought back.

The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams.  He writes of his first hand experiences at the highest levels of England's and France's government during the first years of the war, as private secretary to his father, Francis Adams, as minister to Saint James.

Two things we must never forget about antebellum slavery and the War of Southern Aggression: African Americans played an immense role in abolition and emancipation.  Escaped slaves and free people of color founded newspapers, wrote books, spoke at endless meetings, organized a relief and assistance for those who managed to escape.  They labored endlessly to keep the issues of the Fugitive Slave Act and Dred Scott in the forefront of progressive minds.  Here we see the first nexus of authentic cooperative action -- not just words! -- of black and white, male and female. Never underestimate the power of people with god-given mission for moral improvement (look at how the evangelicals etc. have managed to just about disappear not only abortion, but any woman's reproductive health care from so many places in this nation, even though it is all legal).


And we must never forget that while the north for the most part, as well as the Union, when the time came, though deeply white supremacist, was also deeply antagonistic to slave labor, for it undercut wages across the board for everyone (as keeping the wages of Haitians at a few cents an hour is the benchmark for wages throughout the hemisphere currently)-- as well as threatening having work at all.  With this half of the 19th century receiving boatloads of immigrants every day, the competition for jobs was fierce.


Having slavery forced upon free soil states was not in their interests -- just as the Fugitive Slave Act was antithetical to their interests, economically, politically, and socially.  Anyone could point to your daughter and son, declare her, him a runaway slave and there was no legal recourse -- and you were supposed to help them.


Don't forget by now there was a large percentage of legally enslaved who had white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair, thanks to generations of white men raping African American women for both fun and profit -- every slave child born provided the slave owner with at least another $50 of credit, in a culture that didn't have money per se, only credit, vastly based in the bodies of their slaves.


So skin color was not a final defense by any means -- nor was an accused runaway allowed to have or speak a defense!  People in the north did not like this.  This brought more people into the anti-slavery factions than anything else, and did it so fast the south couldn't believe it was happening.


You have to know all this and much more besides, and know it inside and out, viscerally, before you can write successfully about anything to do with the history of the war, slavery, and what happened. And the more one knows -- seeing from the benefit of hindsight-- the more one knows it couldn't have happened any other way.


What cannot be white washed away in any kind of entertainment is that slavery = rape and every kind of violence perpetrated on people who have no legal right to object or fight back. Which is why so many can't seem to let it go (see above -- slavery's haut! How dare you object to what turns us on?).  They want and revel in with all their being, the joy of feeling dominant, doing whatever they wish (or their fantasy surrogates do to women and others whatever they wish), to deliberately make people suffer both physical abuse and emotional abuse.


We see this particularly in the many stories or program that involves artificial intelligence / androids. There is no fun in hurting and degrading a sentience that doesn't feel abused and degraded, that in really has no free will or feeling. Thus all the plot lines is giving the androids a/is actual humanity or having them develop it -- so they can feel humiliated and degraded. (A rare exception to this is Ex Machina, an adroid who does feel outrage, but is also entirely sociopathic, lacking all the human feelings and values -- just like slave owner.  She gets hers, and is now unleashed upon the world of poor unsuspecting male victims. O noes!)


We say, for the sake of the story, so people can have identification with the characters we have to give them human feelings.  I.e. we need that dominance from built in abuse.  Which is why this will not help and will make things worse.  D&D have a track record, and that track record is out there for all to see and read.


Entertainments have civic, ethical, social, political and historical responsibilities too.  To say "it's only for fun," -- just think about what that fun consists of.


Then there's this, that so many of us find the entire concept sickening on so many levels, delights the ilks that are D&D -- it means they won, which is supremely depressing.

[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by Crystal Blanton

I joined with several hundred people to celebrate Black women at the “Ain’t I A Woman” march in Sacramento, California on July 15, 2017. Several hundred Black women and supporters marched at 9:00 AM in 100 degree weather to the State Capital and sat in front of the steps to listen to the amazing Black women speakers at the rally. Among the hundreds of people participating in this first ever event, I was blessed to be present with my daughter, family members, and among other Pagan Black women.

[Crystal Blanton]

Black Women United, a Sacramento based group, organized this march in response to the Women’s march held in January. Adding to the conversation of women’s needs, this march specifically set out to address the often forgotten intersectional needs of Black women throughout history and in today’s current times. Intentionally basing the theme on the infamous Sojourner Truth “Ain’t I a Woman” speech reflected the very necessity that this march attempted to address. While much has changed in America, not much has changed for Black women.

Abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Sojourner Truth was born into slavery and was an example of a strong woman fighting for the rights of Black women. Not only did Truth escape to freedom with her young daughter in 1826, but she also won am 1828 court case to get her son back from the man who owned him.

Truth was one of the first Black women to speak about intersectional issues within feminism and the specific plight of Black women in America. She called out the multiple marginalized positions that Black women carry in a society that has a history of systemic racism and sexism. Her work has become some of the most important within the feminist, especially Black Feminist, movement toward equality.

It was in 1851 that Sojourner Truth made the powerfulAin’t I A Woman Speechat the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio.

Meredith Simon and Beverley Smith [Beverley Smith]

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me!

And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?” It is with that spirit of acknowledgement and need that this march came to manifestation where Black women are taking center stage to declare that they are indeed a woman.

On the Black Women United website it says “The concept of AIAW is a challenge, but also an affirmation. It is not a question, but rather a powerful statement or declaration of our womanhood and demanding all of the respect and acceptance that should come with it.”

Speakers on the stage at the rally spoke one by one about the empowerment needed to survive today’s times and struggles. Some of the esteemed speakers included Dr. Halifu Osumare, Dr. Joy Johnson, Porsche Nicole Kelly, and Elaine Brown. The former leader of the Black Panther Party came onto stage with a powerful message for Black women. She told the crowd “it is time for us to put on our Harriet Tubman hat; it’s time for us to put on our Sojourner Truth hat; our Ida B. Wells Barnett hat; our Mary Jane McLeod Bethune hat; our Rosa Parks hat and our Fannie Lou Hamer hat. It’s time to take the lead. It’s time for our self determination because no one is coming to get us”.

From the moment I heard of this event I knew it was something I needed to attend with my 9 year old girl. Social science research continues to show that instilling a sense of positive racial socialization in our children has proven to be one of the most important elements of healing through the historic racial trauma of our ancestors and our continued challenges in today’s system.

The kind of magic that comes from a intentional, empowering, focused,and energetic event like this was exactly the thing I would want to expose her to, including my own need for Black women empowerment within this hostile world. I purposefully want to combat the messages of euro-centric beauty standards that condition our young Black girls to see themselves as less than beautiful and capable in society by exposing them to the very power of the Black woman.

[Crystal Blanton]

There were other Black Pagan women present at Saturday’s march. There were also other Pagan community members who came to give support as non-black individuals. It was a reaffirming feeling to see other people from the Pagan community being present for such an intimate and much needed moment in the movement of Black liberation.

I reached out to several of the Black Pagan women who also came to the event to discuss their reason for coming and why they felt it was important for them. Here is what they said:

When I heard about the Ain’t I A Woman March, I knew I was going to attend. I was important for me as a Black woman to support other Black women and join them in voicing our concerns. So on July 15th, two other pagan sisters and I made the 100+ trek to Sacramento and it was well worth it.

The speeches and performances were empowering and inspirational. I was glad to be with Black women united together for our upliftment. It was nice to see other races there to support us, but Black Unity was especially gratifying.

I’m was pleased to know the organizers made the march all-inclusive. As a Black pagan I feel were are often invisible. We are invisible to our mostly white pagan counterparts who “don’t see” our color. On the other hand, our spiritual beliefs are not widely accepted by the larger Black community. Many Black pagans have to hide the pagan part of themselves to keep family, friendships, and community ties intact.

I knew some the pagan women who were at the March. It felt good to be there and be our full free selves. I was just thankful to be around other sisters of like mind and spirit. – M.A.

Beverley Smith

Like many others, I watched incredulously as a man that many native New Yorkers know to be an empty, amoral business tycoon and mediocre reality TV star took the White House. It was no surprise when women came out in droves to protest the Sex Offender-in-Chief the day after the Inauguration.

What did surprise me was that no matter how traumatized by the assent of a serial misogynist, the majority of the women did not include Black women in either the formal planning or the actual event. Accounts of this were reported all over the nation, with the most egregious offenses taking place in Seattle and Portland, where Black women were reported as being excluded from both the planning and the protest.

Even while feeling oppressed, those white women didn’t see oppression rife throughout their own behavior and actions. The stories of non-white women being thrown out of planning meetings and having their concerns ignored, their participation controlled and – in some cases – openly rejected made a big impression on me. I was struck by the irony that the majority of the women represented by this march had actually voted FOR this menace and had marginalized and dismissed the very women who tried to sound the alarm BEFORE the election. It was obvious that their only concerns were how they, as white women, were affected by the new regime.

So it made sense to me when a Black women’s march was planned. It’s a unfortunate fact that, in so many cases, we need our own spaces, and I vowed I would be a part of this historic Black Women’s rally. The 7 hour (one way) drive did nothing to deter us. Wild horses could not have kept me and my daughter away.

What an absolute delight to be among people where I, as a Black woman, didn’t feel the need to “small up myself”. There was no need to argue for my humanity because everyone in attendance needed no convincing. I felt beautiful because no one in attendance would hold the white standard of beauty up as a mirror to my face. I didn’t have to carefully calibrate my speech and my “tone” to avoid upsetting/angering/scaring/offending anyone.

To be in a public space where love for my Blackness and the Blackness of everyone else was openly declared, without having to make excuses or debate was a breath of fresh air. To know that I was in a public space where my Black Girl Magic was appreciated and reciprocated was so delicious. To know that there was absolutely no need to plead the case for my humanity allowed me to relax, to enjoy, to commune with my sisters in an utterly safe space, without explanation or apology.

It was a blessing to spend time with my pagan sisters.  As it is, Black witches are rare in my area, and most of my friendships with Black pagans have been cultivated at the annual Pantheacon event. We Black pagans haven’t always found large pagan gatherings to be welcoming, and based on my own experiences at Pantheacon, it was splendid to be in a space where we didn’t have to watch our backs. We could be unapologetically Black.

And nothing could have prepared me for the thrill of meeting an original Black Panther, the esteemed Elaine Brown. I was transfixed by her speech, her beauty, her message, and her legend.

My daughter said it best: it was pure magic to be surrounded by so many beautiful Black women, so many Black people, and the people who love and support us. It was nice that the group was as diverse as it was, but if the truth be told, it could have been entirely Black as far as I’m concerned — that is how such loving and positive energy on a grand scale affected me personally.

It’s my hope that the Black Women’s March becomes an annual event. Because, ain’t I a woman? – Beverley Smith

I also had an opportunity to speak with Jasper James from Activism Articulated about their own motivation to work for the march with Black Women United as a Two-Spirited community member.

As a Black woman, my work as co-owner of Integrated Communications and PR firm, Activism Articulated, with Black Women United struck a deeply personal chord. BWU’s message of inclusivity was what ignited my desire to assist in bringing this idea of celebrating all Black women to fruition. As we strive to create relevant transformation within Black communities, there is often a divide when it comes to amplifying the voices of those who are the most marginalized within our own community, often due to our connection to religion and the White supremacist/colonialist views that accompany social norms. BWU committed to actively making space and creating a platform that allowed for trans and queer Black voices to be heard.

Additionally, it is so rare that we take the time to put aside the anger and the pain that comes with oppression and this march provided a space to do just that. It was essentially a platform for ALL Black women to honor, celebrate and love one another. We can no longer wait for the oppressor to bring the level of healing that we need to the table. We must take on this responsibility ourselves and the “Ain’t I A Woman” march placed healing and advancement of Black women’s issues at the center of every action. I am so honored for my company to have played a role in supporting this incredible uplifting event. We look forward to supporting BWU in their continuous efforts to uplift Black women while addressing the issues that specifically affect them.

Beverley Smith and Crystal Blanton [Beverley Smith]

The intersectional issues of oppression for Black women continue to exist today and continue to exist within our Pagan community as well. More often than not the Pagan community does not speak to the experiences of Black women and we have to seek outside of our community to find understanding and empowerment that specifically addresses our particular brand of need. It is common that we are lost inside of the euro-centric dynamic of Paganism; it is very much the same as within the feminist movement.

Too often conversations, events, or rituals specifically addressing the needs of Black people are dismissed as political, divisive or “social justice warrior” activities. Yet we know that representation matters and there is something very important about the process of being seen.

The impact of events and activities that engage Black women in empowering moments that reaffirm our individual and collective power is a truly magical endeavor. The ripple effects of these moments of togetherness serve as a much needed reminder that we are not alone in society, and we are not alone as Pagan women.

It is easy to feel isolated in our spiritual community when we are the far and in-between face in the crowd but even in small doses we are pretty darn powerful.

As the new political movement of our lifetimes continues to gain momentum and thrive, there needs to be a space for Black women to be honored, celebrated, and acknowledged. And I am grateful that there will be a space at the table for us Black Pagan women there too.

* * *

The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

Clementine

Jul. 21st, 2017 07:48 pm
[syndicated profile] dailykitten_feed

Posted by Tom "The Kittenmaster" Cooper

Please join me in meeting and greeting our newest Star Kit, Clementine. She is a 3 month old British Shorthair from Hong Kong.

Clementine

This is Clementine, we found her at a pet shop here in Hong Kong. She is the first cat of my boyfriend and I. Clementine loves to play football, sleep in the litter, sit in front of the air conditioner, and purring. She has been a very sweet and clever girl, here is wishing that she’ll stay so loving even when she grows up.

Clementine

Clementine

[syndicated profile] icanhascheezburger_feed

Catnip- what does it do exactly? Are cats really getting high because of it? And why are some cats completely into it and others aren't? Enjoy a catnip party with Smoothie & Milkshake, and see how they'll react to it.  
Did you know that only about 50 % of cats respond to catnip? And they all react in different ways: some cats are getting more mellow, others go hunting & some cats will just roll over the floor (like Smoothie does in this video). Usually the response will last 5 to 10 minutes, after which the cat becomes temporarily immune to catnip's effects for roughly 30 minutes. The chemical that gives the reaction is called "nepetalactone". Catnip is considered to be non-addictive and completely harmless to cats, so don't worry, it's not dangerous! Catnip plants are popular in herb gardens and grows widely as a weed.




Submitted by: (via Smoothie the cat on youtube)

Tagged: catnip , Cats , Video
[syndicated profile] icanhascheezburger_feed
a photo of an unborn elephant in the womb - cover for a list of unborn animals still in the womb

Producer Peter Chinn used a combination of dimensional ultrasound scans, tiny cameras and computer graphics to create these truly mesmerizing images. But lets face it… They are still a bit creepy. 

He did this project for a National Geographic documentary that aired several years ago. Now mind that they are not actual photographs, this is digital images in what the unborn baby relatively accurately looks like.







Submitted by:

Tagged: pictures , unborn , newborn , animals
[syndicated profile] science_blog_feed

Posted by ScienceBlog.com

We may be capable of finding microbes in space–but if we did, could we tell what they were, and that they were alive? This month the journal Astrobiology is publishing a special issue dedicated to ... Read more


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Posted by ScienceBlog.com

What is the weight of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan have made an important step toward better understanding this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they were able ... Read more


Native leech preys on invasive slug?

Jul. 21st, 2017 01:51 pm
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Posted by ScienceBlog.com

The giant slug Limax maximus is native to Europe and Asia Minor but has spread widely, being found in North America, South America, North Africa, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other regions. The slug ... Read more


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Posted by ScienceBlog.com

Changes in the brain’s structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study. Alterations were found in parts of the brain known as white matter, which contains fibre ... Read more


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Posted by ScienceBlog.com

A new Yale School of Public Health study found that slot machines, or “one-armed bandits,” may offer a clue to how AIDS programs can better locate persons living with undiagnosed HIV infection. “When you walk ... Read more


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Posted by ScienceBlog.com

A team of UB physicians has published a study that challenges a surgical practice used for decades during arthroscopic knee surgery. When treating meniscal tears — one of the most common orthopaedic surgical procedures — ... Read more


The Skies Perpetually Revolve in Vain

Jul. 21st, 2017 07:06 am
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Out amongst the dense, and yet seemingly empty fabric of space the Plasma starts to accrue, piercing through distant lands and unseen skies.   Building up into supermassive jets that extend beyond galaxies and perpetually ... Read more


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