Remembering Chaucer

Coming up this week at the Tate Modern:

a major performance-art event conceived and curated by US artist Suzanne Lacy. Silver Action will see 400 women aged 60 and over – who have taken part in some of the last century’s major political protests, from the 1968 Ford sewing machinists’ strike to Greenham Common – converge on the gallery’s subterranean performance space, the Tanks, for a live, unscripted performance about ageing and activism.

Why? Well one reason is…

One evening a couple of years ago, 82-year-old Barbara Robson was crammed in a rush-hour London tube train. Politely, she asked a young man near her, smart in his suit and tie, if he might move along a little. “He turned to me,” she says, “and told me that, as an old woman, I was a total waste of space. [Read more…]

Always a horrible waste

What a waste. What a horrible waste.

Less than two weeks ago, Hadiya Pendleton was leading her classmates in the King College Prep School Marching Band down Pennsylvania Avenue on the afternoon of President Obama’s second inauguration. It would be an opportunity of a lifetime for any 15 year old, but for Pendleton, it was her last. On Tuesday, she was gunned down in a park a few blocks from school on the South Side of Chicago, less than a mile from the first family’s home.

It’s always a horrible waste and it happens way too much. As I said at the time, the children at Newtown are no more (or less) of a waste because there was a larger than usual number of them for a single event. There are way too many Hadiya Pendletons in Chicago.

And there’s the school bus driver in Alabama who did his best to prevent a guy with a gun from causing harm to the children on the bus and was shot and killed.

Charles Albert Poland Jr., was driving a school bus for the Dale County Board of Education on Tuesday afternoon, a job he had done full-time since 2009.

At about 3:40 p.m. a gun-wielding man boarded the bus carrying 22 students near Destiny Church on Highway 231.

The suspect, identified to NBC News by a source close to the investigation as area resident Jimmy Lee Dykes, tried to take children off the bus — but the 66-year-old Poland was determined to not let that happen.

For his heroism, the driver was shot and killed.


Rushdie the radfem

Salman Rushdie’s in India and he talked to the BBC there. I transcribed most of it.

The bigger question India needs to ask itself is about gender relations, is about how men think about women, and actually to an extent how women think about women because again there’s a lot of oppression inside families by matriarchs of daughters-in-law.

And many women bring up these boys, you know? And don’t teach them proper ways to behave.

Rajini Vaidyanathan: What appals you the most about the way women are treated here?

Well just the brutality of it, the easy brutality of it, and the fact that mostly people get away with it.

It’s nothing to do with what clothes they wear, with whether they go out in the evening – it’s to do with the way men behave towards them.

He cited the disppointing reaction from politicians, gurus, the police.

Unless these attitudes change – and I think young people have to demand that they change –

Vaidyanathan: What would your recommendation be?

Well first you’ve got to start talking about it the right way. You’ve got to stop criminalizing women in this situation and shift the focus to how men think about women.

You’ve got to start changing the terms of the conversation.

He’s talking about culture, ideas, discourse – what confused people label “radical” feminism. It’s not radical. It’s core feminism.


Grievance 1: your face bruising my fist

Lee Moore is hoping for a cease fire.

I think a cease fire could be possible, since I haven’t been firing except when attacked. That makes it easy to agree to a cease fire. Do I want to write about Reap Paden and Atheist Asshole all the time? Fuck no. Of course not. If they would leave me the hell alone I would be delighted to forget all about them.

But Lee wants more than just a cease fire.

I am going to do something about it.  In order to facilitate this I am calling for representatives from both camps in these blog wars to sit down with me in what may be the first of many live and public google hangouts to discuss grievances and come back to the world of civil discussion and cooperation. [Read more…]

And with one bound she was free

More harassment. More complications. More failure to disclose. More clumsy attempts at setups. More provocation followed by noisy media blitz to express outrage at the response to the provocation.

The A-news people, who do that podcast I was invited to do, posted a podcast on Monday, the day I was invited.

Lee Moore, the guy who invited me, never mentioned the podcast, not when he invited me and not yesterday when I told him about  the tweet from the impersonation account (one of them) and Paden’s blog post. He never said a word about it. He should have, since half of it is about me (and my incomparable awfulness). [Read more…]

Still eating cat food

How cute.

Yesterday a guy invited me to do a podcast on Women in Secularism and “problems with online discussion (cyber bullying).” I said sure. Later he told me that he has a couple of partners on the podcast, one of whom is…Reap Paden. Oh. Not doing that then.

So what do we have here? Why it’s a blog post by Reap Paden wondering why I could possibly not want to chat with him.

Ophelia Benson was offered a guest spot on the A-News podcast today. She accepted too.  Then when she learned  the details ( I am a co-host on the show) She pulled out (so to speak) Ophelia has done public speaking before right? So it isn’t that she is unable to speak in public. What is it with these people who gleefully libel and slander people left and right showing no ability to grasp the concept of responsible behavior in even its basic form? They can spout off constantly claiming they want the world to be a better place but can’t be bothered to actually talk about it with anyone who doesn’t already subscribe to their thinking. What is Ophelia Benson worried about? Does she think I am  going to come through her computer monitor and steal all her cat food from her or somethin? [Read more…]

Anything to take away their humanity

One thing in that interview with Nick Turse

On how the military trained U.S. troops to dehumanize the Vietnamese

“The idea was that the Vietnamese, they weren’t really people. They were subhuman, mere ‘gooks’ who could be killed or abused at will and, you know, veterans I talked to told me that from the moment they got into basic training they were told, ‘Never call them Vietnamese. Call them gooks or dinks, slopes, slants, rice-eaters.’ Anything to take away their humanity, to dehumanize them and make it easy to see any Vietnamese — all Vietnamese — as the enemy.”

Oh really? That’s very interesting. [Read more…]

Anything that moves

There was an interview on Fresh Air yesterday with a guy who’s written a book about civilian massacres and other atrocities in the Vietnam War, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. Apparently the received wisdom is that My Lai was an aberration. I actually didn’t know that – I thought My Lai was just the one that got a lot of publicity but that there were plenty of others. It’s the nature of that kind of war, and of that particular war. I even thought I remembered reporting on it from the time (yes I’m that ancient!), but the author, Nick Turse, says there wasn’t much in the US. (But there was in the foreign press, he says. Hmm. In that case surely at least lefty outlets picked up on it, in which case I probably would have seen some of it, in which case maybe I am remembering correctly. Ramparts, In These Times, Mother Jones – I remember them as paying attention.)

There was a huge archive, and Turse grabbed it, just in time. [Read more…]