Yup, running late, which may defeat the purpose of this. Oh well!
lferion asked about "Mothers, motherhood, Methos or Aidan's thoughts on mothers, something along those lines." Methos, I suspect, remembers his mother about as well as his first name, i.e., not at all. That said, as a man who admits to 68, 69 wives and has taught school and immortal students, I imagine he has a great deal of respect for mothers. They put up with children, raise them, civilize them (more and less), and (usually) don't kill them in the process. I suspect that's better than he's done with some of his students. I'm thinking Byron and Silas there.
As for Aidan, she didn't have any one mother, but benefited from mothering from any number of people in her home village and seems to have taken to it herself. Since then, she's raised kids, students, a couple of co-wives, and been a source of advice for those who want it. (And, knowing her, a couple who needed it and didn't want it.) ::amused:: She occasionally protests otherwise, but she likes being busy, and likes having people around. She's still on good terms with most of her students and most of her line-kin and happily sends presents here and yon at random intervals if there are kids to spoil. And her opinion on children seems to match her opinion on students. "First I care about them. Caring for them follows after that quite neatly.
An impassioned and unfit-for-purpose first draft of the teaching statement I will eventually produce, in lieu of the December meme for today - the story about dragons I was intending to tell you is a little too sore, after everything else that's happened, but I will share it tomorrow. Instead, this: which I think still understates exactly how deep is my conviction that teaching constitutes a mental health intervention with the potential to be life-saving. I have no idea how to communicate the strength of this belief while being appropriately professional; and I'll leave it for another day.
This is the most important work I will ever do.
I am trans; I am queer; I am autistic; I am disabled; I am mentally ill. I am an abuse survivor; I have PTSD; and teaching is the most important work I will ever do.
The personal is political: through existing, I show my students that they, too, can exist; that they, too, can excel. Survival is, for many of us, exhausting.
It is vital to teach compassionately.
I have been in counselling since 2006, one way or another; I have spent a lot of time learning how peer support and active listening can be employed to help vulnerable people learn about themselves. I have volunteered in health education since 2010; and in open-source development, including mentoring people who had never previously coded, since 2011. Between these roles, I've carried out peer education in subjects ranging from coding via chemistry to sociology and diversity.
Over and over, I have learned how important it is to enable empowerment: to give people the information they need to make their own choices; to support exploration and curiosity; to encourage taking risks. Science is a fundamentally creative endeavour: students who have been told that there are true, unchangeable answers are ill-equipped to trust that their questions aren't ridiculous or trivial; and this is intensified in those who have been subject to trauma, taught that their best chances of – yes – survival lie in not taking up space, not drawing attention, not being visible.
At its core, my teaching rests on the assumption that students – particularly at this level – want to learn; and that the best way to help them is to approach them compassionately, building confidence. In terms of small-group teaching, this is encapsulated in the concept of active listening: reflecting the student's words to determine whether their question, issue or problem has been correctly understood; leading to an answer, rather than handing it over; and establishing what kind of feedback the student desires, where possible. In particular, when demonstrating Introduction to Programming, I have found that students are extremely receptive to being asked what level of feedback they would like: when offered the choice of being congratulated on having written code that works, and of discussing how it might be improved, students who have had their confidence bolstered via (well-deserved!) praise are more likely to feel able to engage with constructive criticism, even at five o'clock on a Thursday afternoon.
Importantly, my focus is not on correct answers but on the acquisition of skills: through listening carefully, including to concerns that remain implicit, I work to help students towards confidence in their ability to learn, to problem-solve, and to acquire and apply new knowledge and tools. I emphasise that making mistakes is part of learning – that real programmers mess up, read error messages, and step through a sequence of actions designed to help them diagnose and fix the fault. Thus any student who writes buggy code, and fixes it, rather than demonstrating that they are incompetent, has demonstrated that they are a real programmer. This reframing – through acknowledgment that experts are not infallible, and thus demystification – is absolutely necessary to developing the belief that, though themselves infallible, my students can also attain expertise and competence.
The quality of confidence is, of course, difficult to measure: self-reports are readily skewed, via internal mechanisms (e.g. the Dunning-Kruger effect) and external pressures (e.g. stereotype threat). Nonetheless it is predicted that increased confidence fostered by compassionate teaching will result in increased (testable) competence: and thus a research project is born.
Author sign-ups close Jan 1, so hurry on over if you want to sign up.
Today has been a very busy day. Because of the closing yesterday, I had to deliver the abstract and closing docs to the abstract company for close-up and recording, and I also had to deliver the abstract and proposed docs to the attorney for the other transaction (my mom just bought a new, smaller home, and is selling the farm). Except Pip called me last night after we’d gotten out of the closing to tell me that he’d be running late as well because his compressor had died, and then called later to tell me that I’d be going to pick up a motor for him this morning.
Which meant my own schedule had just been screwed all to hell. He was originally sending me to Albany (which additionally meant that I’d be making two back-to-back trips to Albany if I still wanted to go Christmas shopping tomorrow as previously planned), so I was trying to figure out when/how I was going to get the docs to the abstract company without my whole week’s schedule being shot.
In the end, he sent me to another place, in another direction, which was actually close to where I had to take my docs, so I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off this morning getting everything ready to go, and then headed out. I got the motor and new pulley after about an hour of futzing around because the new motor was larger than the old, but I needed to go someplace else to get a hub for the pulley. Luckily, that place was just a few miles past where I needed to drop off my docs. And on the way home I dropped off the docs for the other closing. Whew!
So after much confusion, everything got done and I’m not much further behind than I would’ve been, but it sure has been a long day. And after I got home I did three loads of laundry, a load of dishes, vacuumed the living room rug, cleaned the bathroom, and prepared supper (pork loin with stuffing and mashed potatoes and baby carrots and cranberry sauce).
And now it’s snowing pretty heavily, though we’re only supposed to get an inch, Pip tells me.
Mom was over for supper tonight and she told me some Ireland-Papa stories. (I think I’ve mentioned that it’s Ian and Ireland talking about/reacting to my dad’s death that gets me crying.)
Story #1: Ireland went shopping at the mall with my other niece Tiara. At one point she turned around and asked Tiara, “Did you just touch me?” Tiara said, “No,” and Ireland said, “It must’ve been Papa. He does that all the time.”
That story filled me with wonder at what children will believe when they’re not taught that something’s impossible. I kind of like the fact that she believes that Papa is right there beside her, looking out for her and able to touch her.
Story #2: Ireland asked my mom, “Do you think god will let Papa come down for Christmas?”
That’s the story when the tears began to fall.
Story #3: Ireland asked my mom, “Can Papa see us?” My mom said, “Yes,” and Ireland said, “That’s what Tiara said.”
It doesn’t surprise me that they miss him, but it does surprise me, in a good way, that they think of him so often. That they ~remember him because even so young, he had a huge impact on their lives.
Apologies for cross-posting all over the place but if you've ever dipped a toe into Due South, please read on:
Due South Seekrit Santa needs your help! We need pinch hitters to volunteer to make fic, art, or vids featuring supporting characters and/or one-off guest star characters. If you can offer "ANY" character, that would be great! If you can offer "ALMOST ANY" character, that is still great! We can work with that.
via_ostiense asked me about my favorite flavor of ice cream. If I had to choose one I'd probably say coffee, but I also appreciate strawberry, cookies and cream, and some other flavors. I used to go to Dairy Queen and get mud pie Blizzards, or peanut butter cup ones, those are awesome. But there aren't a lot of Dairy Queens near where I live now and I guess I haven't missed it much. Frozen yogurt is bigger around here and I've always thought fro-yo tasted kind of weird.
I'm not really into ice cream in general these days. I used to buy cartons and then it would stay in the freezer for months and months and get gross. B buys it and I'll have a little dish from time to time. I also used to really like gelato from certain fancy gelato places, but on the other hand never really got excited about the fancy local ice cream places that B and other friends of mine love. One of the flavors my friends get excited about is salted caramel and I can't stand that stuff, ugh.
And since it's a Wednesday let's do a quick reading meme. I finished Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, continued to like but not love it. I read a pretty good chunk of Purple Hibiscus this week and just a little bit of Claire of the Sea Light, still haven't really gotten into that one. Then last night the ebook of Gillian Flynn's Dark Places became available through my library, so I expect to be reading that and nothing else for the next few days. Right now I'm about a quarter of the way through and pretty well engrossed, though so far I'm not enjoying it nearly as much as I did Gone Girl, which kinda ate up my life when I read it last year.
Oh, and I skimmed a library book called 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget which I'm pretty sure is just a compilation of blog posts from Wise Bread. It's pretty repetitive and silly but, you know, nice for glancing through, lots of lists of little tips for saving money on groceries, gifts, etc.
There are two pieces of personal heritage in this outfit, one more legit than the other.
My great grandmother’s maiden name was Stewart, so my mom and I always assumed we had some Scottish blood and I made sure to nab a few items in the Stewart tartan while in Scotland, including this gorgeous wool scarf. My grandma recently told us she doesn’t think that’s right … but Mom and I are sticking to our story. We like the idea of being somewhat Scottish.
Coach has been sending me coupons for years and never really tempted me, but I got a whopper in the mail a few weeks back and decided to wander in. I had some money from eBaying and consigning some of my stuff burning a hole in my pocket, and figured I’d see if anything caught my eye. I probably spent an hour with the truly fabulous ladies at the Southdale store hemming and hawing, and eventually settled on this classic Duffle. My mom – my questionably Scottish mom from earlier in this post – carried this very bag for the majority of my childhood. (Well, her version lacked the tassels.) And after doing my best to find a bag with silver hardware – my long-time preference for bags – I caved on this one, brass and all, because I knew it would make me think of my mom every time I saw it, much less carried it. And I was right.
Love you, Mom. Even if neither of us is legitimately Scottish.
All ASOIAF characters today, because 1) I like themes, 2) Morgana and Regina already got their own posts, and 3) this a series crammed full of characters I love, who terrible things happen to, and then I cry.
I've been enjoying this December meme. I feel like have talked more to people in the last week and a half than I have in the rest of 2013. I still have pretty much the last third of the month free, if anyone has ideas for things they might like me to talk about.
I have been somewhat delayed in posting this because dog!sadness and also abdominal pain of doom, but. I would like to send you a winter card! Given that I am somewhat delayed in starting, it may be after the Solstice/Christmas/New Year, but I will attempt to have them all sent sometime actually in winter. And who knows, it could be a fun surprise when you receive it!
If you are interested in receiving a winter card, please either send me a private message with your preferred envelope name and mailing address OR leave a screened comment here. Please do not assume I know where your address is if you've given it to me before; I'm a bit scattered at the moment so yes, sending it again would be most excellent.
Also, I have a lot of Christmas-specific cards because they're everywhere (not overly religious, just Santas and stuff). If that bothers/triggers you, please let me know when you send me your address and I will avoid sending you one of those cards.
P.S. Even if you are very new around here/only lurk/just dropped by via network, the above applies! I will totally send you a fun!times card in the mail. :)
Ok, so I'm a wee bit behind, and this is actually meant to be the Kalinda post for quarter_to_five, (and probably a little bit for a few other people too :D) which I will do tomorrow, and then I will be back on track! I, uh, got a little knocked for six by some sort of flu-y virus. So lovely. The worst of it seems to be over now though and at least it only lasted a few days? The important thing is I'm feeling better and will meme and other things over the next couple of weeks! \o/
I have to admit, this is a bit of a weird one for me, and I shall explain why. (ETA: This really turned into Cleo's fandom origin story, so if you're not interested, that's totally cool and skip the next few paragraphs. I'll make it clear when I actually start talking about the SHOW. ;))
The point I was trying to make with that GIANT digression is that for me Gargoyles is really about the fandom, rather than the show, and there is a LOT more I could say on that topic but THIS ENTRY IS HUGE.
So, yeah. I started watching Hart of Dixie. I blame Tumblr for this. I saw some photosets and then saw that it was streaming on Netflix and decided to check it out. Less than a week and 24 episodes later, I'm still watching it. I may be hooked.
It's really not my usual show at all but it makes a great background for working on an art quilt. I'm doing hand embroidery and hand beading on and art quilt I'm making for a holiday gift and it takes a lot of time and I like to watch shows while I do it. Usually stuff I've seen before or fluff shows that I don't have to pay 100% attention to mostly.
So, I decided to babble about one of my universes because of thatyourefuse was talking about lesbian dystopia and well, I’m trying to get myself to scribble out just that at some point.
( ”in ) And that’s book one. If I have my way, it will be a duology. I don’t see it stretching into a trilogy and I maaaay be wrong about it even being two books but we will see when I get to start writing it.
So yes, that’s one of the things that goes through my brain. Maybe I will do a feature on this journal on each of the universes that I want to actually turn into books/stories/whatnot. Would anyone be interested in that if I did? I may do it anyway, even if no one is, for my own benefit as it felt kind of helpful to get this written out and seen properly.
The Doubleclicks have written a song about something every older sibling whose family celebrates a big gift giving holiday has gone through at one point. Youngest siblings and only children, you might want to sit this one out. This is for the big kids.
Here is an entirely different Icarus poem than the ones we've just had in previous posts (there are so many to choose from!). Written by leading Swedish modernist Erik Lindegren in 1954.
Now subside his memories of the labyrinth. the only memory: how the shouts and the confusion rose until at last they swung themselves up from the earth.
And how all the canyons that always clamoured for their bridges in his chest slowly closed, like eyelids, how birds streaked by, like shuttles or shooting arrows, and at last the final lark, brushing his hand, hurtling like song.
Then followed the labyrinth of winds, with its blind bulls, light-calls and precipices, with its staggering breath, which he long and arduously learnt to parry, until it rose again, his gaze and his flight.
Now he climbs alone, in a heaven without clouds, in a birdless space among the jet planes' roar... climbs towards an ever clearer sun, becoming ever cooler, ever colder, Upwards towards his own surging blood and the souls' vanishing waterfall, a shut-in in a howling lift, an air bubble's journey in the ocean towards the magnetic mirage of the surface: the amnion's bursting, transparently near, the whirlwind of signs, spring tide borne, plummeting azure, tumbling walls, and drunkenly the cry from the other side: Reality crashed but reality born!
I was listening to Ben Folds Five's Kate on my bike ride last night and something in the lyrics really struck me:
Everyday she wears the same thing I think she smokes pot She's everything I want She's everything I'm not
And the choruses are just a reiteration:
And you can see daisies In her footsteps Dandelions (dandelions) Butterflies (butterflies) I wanna be Kate! Kate! Kate! Kate!
She never gets wet She smiles and it's a rainbow You can see I wanna wanna wanna wanna be Kate! Kate! Kate! Kate!
I've read a fair number of Magical Pixie Dream Girl* deconstructions, but never have they touched on what, I really believe, is the true heart of this yearning guys have for these girls, these untouchable, impossible girls they write about, create and splash up on the screen or in song: they don't just want them, they want to be them.
I think you can extrapolate this to men's other desired women objects: many men in general are jealous of women, of their perceived "freedoms," of the choices they think women have over the sexual aspects of relationships, or the power position in the relationship. So often men (who have, what, 80% of the writing power in media?) depict het men as the helpless ones in the relationship dynamic. It's utterly ridiculous.
So many guys want to be us. And many women just want to be equal.
Well, dressed as ninjas. Can you imagine flagging down an actual ninja to bring your your check? Kotaku has more information on the Toyko eatery.
Horror flick Oculus has a release date: April 18, 2014. To refresh your memory, this is the one starring Katee Sackhoff and Karen Gillan. We’re pretty excited. (Deadline)
An piece in today’s Variety on the absence of female directors during this year’s awards season has a lot of great quotes the difficulty women in Hollywood face at all times of the year. My favorite is this one from critic Manohla Dargis: “The great irony is that women are accused of making romantic comedies, as if it’s a bad thing, but Marc Webb makes a romantic comedy and he gets Spider-Man. Are you kidding me? You cannot win.”
New editions of the Harry Potter will have brand new, full-color illustrations by Jim Kay. Here’s his Hogwarts. It’s on trees! Visit Nerd Approved to see the new Harry.
We told you earlier today that NBC is producing more live musicals following the rating success of The Sound of Music. Now Andrew Lloyd Webber is saying Cats and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat are getting (not made-for-TV, unrelated to NBC) movies as well. You get a movie musical! And you get a movie musical! Everybody gets a movie musicalllll! (/Film, The Guardian)
Potential good news for fans of the recently cancelled Ripper Street: An Amazon-owned VOD company called LoveFilm is reportedly considering funding a third season, with the plan that episodes would premiere on LoveFilM and air later on the BBC. (Variety)
About a year ago Disney acquired Lucasfilm and stomped on the anthill that is the nerd world, sending us scrambling to figure out where we were in a world where Star Wars sequels could be made with minimal influence from George Lucas, and where one company owned the Disney Princesses, Pixar, the Muppets, Star Wars, and the film rights for the lion’s share of Marvel superhero characters. In comparison the Disney/Marvel acquisition seemed perfectly normal: Warner Bros. has owned DC Comics for years now, after all.
Disney’s chief financial officer told reporters at a conference yesterday that Disney isn’t necessarily done acquiring franchise properties, though they don’t have any in mind at the moment. They’re just, you know, leaving room in case they want dessert.
If you’ll forgive me for continuing the metaphor, Disney did have a bit of a snack this weekend when it worked out a deal with Paramount Pictures, who still hold the distribution rights for the Indiana Jones franchise. The end result of that was that Disney can now, if it so chooses, continue the franchise, reboot it, craft prequels, or whatever. And if the company does acquire more of the franchises you grew up loving, according to Jay Rasulo, the deals will be more of that size. From The Wrap:
“It’s safe to say you’ll continue to see us doing acquisitions in the future,” Rasulo told the Wall Street heavy crowd, advising them to not read too much into the buyback plans. He did say, however, that any deals would probably be smaller in size, noting that the company did not have “anything on the scale of LucasFilm or Marvel” in its sights.
As for how Indy and Star Wars will be integrated in with the rest of Disney’s holdings, Rasulo said we can look to Marvel for an example. So, I guess we’re getting an Indiana Jones team up movie? That’s a bit of a vague answer, but Disney is gearing itself up to have a Star Wars movie out every year, with a new trilogy supported by one-off movies. That’s not too dissimilar to Marvel, if you consider the Avengers films to be the trilogy and Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man to be the one-offs. It’ll be interesting to see how Indiana Jones, a much less robust (though no less compelling) setting for expanded universe stories, fits into this model.
I got back up to Cornell today -- as on Friday, I took a bus because climbing East Hill in the cold is not my idea of a fun time, and climbing East Hill in the cold on icy sidewalks is even less appealing -- and am now the happy owner of a Cornell University library card.
It only lasts one month, because it costs $250 per year for a non-affiliated person to get library privileges beyond, you know, being in the building and other basic things like that, and I am neither made of money nor in need of university borrowing privileges as a general rule. But I only need the books for a month anyway, so eh, who cares. And I am quite willing to shell out $25 for a one-month card, because aside from wanting to write an awesome and historically accurate Yuletide fic, I want to read these books for general knowledge purposes. It is always good to learn more about the world!
I have five single-volume books, one double-volume book, and one pamphlet-ish thing. I foresee a LOT of reading in my future.
Once again, the boring meme. The meme with content is coming in a bit.
What I Just Finished Reading
What I'm Reading Now
What I'm Reading Next
I keep looking longingly at my Kindle. I just have to finish Yuletide. Then I can read whatever I want and not feel guilty. I think I will read the new Nicola Griffith novel next, the one about the Anglo-Saxon saint. I am looking forward to that, because it means I will be done with my Yuletide story.
(On the plus side, my Yuletide story is now 1000 words, so at least I am above the minimum. However, nothing has happened in it and it's not looking too good. Dear recipient: I am really sorry that I am failing at writing this. Sigh.)
I've been adding to my Amazon wish list by trying CDs from the library. I'm rather scatter shot, though. I have no idea what to try. Most of what I get ends up with an eh response. The library has a decent CD collection, so there's a lot to try.
I'm looking for recommendations. I lean toward folk, bluegrass and what the library labels 'world music.' I also have a weakness for top 40 songs from the early 1980s just because I heard them so often. I like Kate Wolf, Stan Rogers, Heather Dale, early Judy Collins, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Gordon Lightfoot, John Prine, John Denver, Leslie Fish (particularly the Kipling adaptations), Simon & Garfunkel, Sally Rogers, Mustard's Retreat and Peter, Paul & Mary. I have no idea if anyone but anderyn will have any ideas, but I thought it was worth asking.
Most of what I know is older stuff, so I'm particularly interested in newer artists.
hey guys, so, i'm working on a unit plan for the final project in my most beloved class, and i've got it worked out and most of it drafted, but i need a few data points from people who read and/or remember more short stories than me. our units have to be built around a single short story; i'm using "The Building" by Ursula K. LeGuin (or possibly "The Nna Mmoy Language"--easier for a HS class, fits the theme of the lesson a little better, but omg my love for "The Building" you guys I can't even--anyway, one of those). the main content focus of this unit is about structure and style--different ways to tell/write a story, why and how and what's the effect, etc. etc. so like, the stories in Changing Planes are in the form of reports from a traveler, describing and explaining the other worlds to people back home. and it's pretty complex, it creates a persona for the reader as well, it offers a certain lens that's especially useful/interesting in writing SF/F, it gives the stories and the whole book a distinct flavor.
and so on and on, anyway, the point is: as one v. important lesson in this unit (which i have to describe day by day and is 2-3 weeks long), i want the class to read and discuss other stories, or more likely short excerpts from such stories, that are written in non-traditional narrative formats, so they have real patterns to compare to, not just the Le Guin story and the anthropologist-report format. like--well, epistolary and journal-form stories are p much traditional at this point, but they're the kind of thing i'm talking about, a frame other than "direct" experience of time (obviously never direct, mediated by the narrator, etc. etc. this is not a college class i'm pretending to teach). and then there's document fic, the kind of stuff that locates the reader in an alternate universe and the reader has to puzzle out what's different based on indirect evidence.
and just, anything, anything that could be described as a short story and uses some kind of frame, format, something like all that blather up there. Because, my brain being what it is, and given how little short fiction i read, i can remember exactly one (1) example that isn't fanfic and would be appropriate for a high school class. (it's comp.basilisk FAQ by David Langford, which is not ideal--how many 17 year olds in 2013 would have ever encountered a newsgroup FAQ or even heard of usenet at all--but i can remember that it exists.)
so please, just any short story like this you can remember, throw it at me. don't worry about the approrpirate-for-HS thing, i'll sort that out, just anything professional/published, at any time in history (as long as they're written in more or less modern english obv). if you know the name of the collection where i can find it that's extra magical but if not, w/e, i have google and two university libraries and two public library systems to work with, i'll be okay.
* I might have posted some/all of these in years past? I can’t remember, and my computer ate my iTunes so I can’t check my library. Oh, well, they’re such great songs that they bear repeating either way.
Alarming information about just how frequently law enforcement officials across the country (not to mention the NSA) are trying to get cell phone data, including your location, seem to be published in the news media every day. With these privacy concerns in mind, last week we filed an amicus brief in the Connecticut Appellate Court in State v. Smith, urging it to find the state police violated the Fourth Amendment when it obtained cell tower records without a search warrant.
In this case, police were investigating a bank robbery and wanted to get cell phone records to tie the defendant to the crime. Officers obtained an ex parte order from the court that allowed them to obtain six months worth of Smith's cell phone records, including subscriber information and cell tower connection records. Even though the government went to a judge to get authorization to get the records, they didn't get a search warrant. Instead, both federal and Connecticut state law authorize police to obtain cell phone location records with a showing less than the probable cause required to obtain a warrant. The trial court found the records were obtained properly and Smith was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison.
On appeal, Smith argues that the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures means the police must obtain a search warrant supported by probable cause to get cell site records. Our brief agrees, explaining how cell site records can reveal a person's location with increasing precision, triggering an expectation of privacy and requiring police to obtain a probable cause search warrant in order to access this information. The warrant requirement is a minimal additional burden, since police have to go to a judge anyway to get the records under current law. Our new amicus brief follows on the heels of other briefs we've filed on the topic in state and federalcourts across the country, arguing that police must obtain a search warrant to get access to a cell phone company's records about which towers a cell phone connects to.
This is a pervasive problem, with warrantless searches going on across the country. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) recently published responses he received to a number of questions he sent to seven different cell phone providers about their interactions with law enforcement. The responses detailed how many law enforcement requests they obtained in 2012, what type of judicial or administrative orders they require before they produce records, and how much money they were reimbursed by the government. We hope to have more about these responses soon, but the quick takeaway is that there are lots of government requests being made by law enforcement to the police, including over 9,000 requests for "tower dumps," a 21st century general warrant that asks a cell phone provider to disclose the records of all the phones that connect to a cell phone tower at a particular time.
Senator Markey has indicated he hopes to introduce a bill to require police obtain a search warrant before accessing these records, a legislative fix that has been proposed in Congress before but gone nowhere. But this time, with growing concern over the government's surveillance capabilities and the lead of states like Maine, Montana and New Jersey, who have all adopted a warrant requirement for cell tracking by legislation or court decision, we're hopeful that lawmakers will understand the privacy interests at stake and safeguard our locations with a search warrant.
Thanks to Glenn Falk of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association for serving as our local counsel.
I was right to be wrong, while you and your kind were wrong to be right.
I have the misfortune of being near the end of Tony Judt's Postwar at a moment when of the great figures of our history, Nelson Mandela, has passed. Judt's gaze is relentless. He rejects all grand narratives, skewers Utopianism (mostly in the form of Communism), and eschews the notion that history has definite shape and form. States are mostly amoral. In one breath he will write admiringly of the Nordic countries. In the next he will detail their descent into eugenics in the mid-20th century.
This is what I mean when I say that Judt has atheist view of history. God does not care about history, and history does not care about humans. There is no triumphalism, in Postwar, about Western values and democracy. What you see is a continent at war with itself. The upholding of democratic values is a constant struggle, often lost—in the colonies, in the Eastern bloc, in Greece, in Portugal, in Spain. Even among the great Western powers there is the sense that no one is immune to the virus of authoritarianism.
There is great humility in Judt's portrait of Europe, a humility that is largely absent from the portrait of the West foisted upon the darker peoples of the world. Non-African writers love to congratulate Nelson Mandela on not becoming another "Mugabe," as though despotism is something Africans are uniquely tempted toward; as though colonialism was not, itself, a form of kleptocratic despotism. I too am happy that Mandela did not become another Mugabe. I am happier still that he did not become—as far as these analogical games go—another Leopold.
This Western arrogance is as broad as it is insidious. There was a well-reported piece in the Times a few days ago on the disappointment that's followed Mandela's presidency. A similar note has been sounded in seemingly every obit and article concerning Mandela's death. It's not so much that these stories shouldn't be written, it's that they shouldn't treated the subject as though a man were biting a dog. That people are shocked that South Africa, almost 30 years out of apartheid, is struggling with fairness and democracy, reflects a particular ignorance, a particular blindness, and a peculiar lack of humility, about our own struggles.
On the great issue of the day, the generations that followed George Washington offered not just disappointment but betrayal. "The unfortunate condition of the people whose labors I in part employed," Washington wrote, "has been the only unavoidable subject of regret." Americans did not simply tolerate this "unfortunate condition," they turned into the cornerstone of the American economic system. By 1860, 60 percent of all American exports came from cotton produced by slave labor. "Property in man" was, according to Yale historian David Blight, worth some $3.5 billion more than "all of America's manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together."
In short order, Washington's slaveholding descendants went from evincing skepticism about slavery to calling it "a positive good" and "agreat physical, philosophical, and moral truth." And they did this while plundering and raiding this continent's aboriginal population. For at least its first 100 years, or perhaps longer, this country was a disappointment, an experiment which—by its own standards of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness—failed miserably. America is not unique. It is the product of imperfect humans. As is South Africa. That people turn to the country of Nelson Mandela and wonder why it hasn't magically transformed itself into a perpetual font of milk and honey is a symptom of our blindness to our common humanity.
Nowhere is that blindness more apparent then in the constant, puerile need to critique Mandela's turn toward violence. The impulse is old. "Why Won't Mandela Renounce Violence?" asked a New York Times column in 1990. But our own invocations of nonviolence have always been selective
Malcolm X understood:
If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us, and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.
As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems ... But, they asked, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government.
As did Mandela. Offered the chance to be free by the avowed white supremacist P.W. Botha if he would renounce violence, Mandela replied, “Let him renounce violence.” Americans should understand this. Violent resistance to tyranny, violent defense of one's body, is not simply a political strategy in our country, it is taken as a basic human right. Our own revolution was purchased with the blood of 22,000 nascent American dead. Dissenters were tarred and feathered. American independence and American power has never rested on nonviolence, but on the willingness to do great—at times existential—violence.
Perhaps we would argue that Malcolm X, Mandela, and King were wrong, and that states should be immune to ethics of nonviolence. But even our rhetoric toward freedom movements which employ violence is inconsistent. Mandela and the ANC were "terrorists." The Hungarian revolutionaries of 1956, the Northern Alliance opposing the Taliban, the Libyans opposing Gaddafi were "freedom fighters." Thomas Friedman hopes for an "Arab Mandela" one moment, while the next telling those same Arabs to "suck on this." The point here is not that nonviolence is bunk, but that it is is bunk when invoked by those who rule by the gun.
In the shadow of our conversation, one sees a constant, indefatigable specter which has dogged us from birth. For the most of American history, very few of our institutions believed that black people were entitled to the rights of other Americans. Included in this is the right of self-defense. Nonviolence worked because it conceded that right in the pursuit of other rights. But one should never lose sight of the precise reasons why America preaches nonviolence to some people while urging other people to arms.
Jimmy Baldwin knew:
The real reason that nonviolence is considered to be a virtue in Negroes—I am not speaking now of its racial value, another matter altogether—is that white men do not want their lives, their self-image, or their property threatened. One wishes they would say so more often.
The questions which dog us about Mandela's legacy, his relationship to other African autocrats, the great imperfections which remain in his country, and his insistence on the right of self-defense ultimately say more about us than they do about Mandela. "I cannot sell my birthright," Mandela responded to calls for him to renounce violence. "Nor am I prepared to sell the birthright of the people to be free."
This is a universal appeal, and our inability to see such universality in those who are black, or in those who oppose our stated interests, reveal the borders of all our grand talk about democratic values. That is the next frontier. A serious embrace of universality. A rejection of selective morality.