Linkdump for March 31st through April 2nd

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between March 31st and April 2nd.

Sometime between March 31st and April 2nd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Rosie’s Phenomenal Precision Insult Machine!: Don't reach for those old, tired gendered, ableist, or otherwise lazy and harmful insults. Trust the machine to help you find the perfect, targeted insult for your specific needs! (Does not contain gendered- genital-based insults, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, dis-ableism, body-shaming, slut-shaming. May contain peanuts.)
  • Joss Whedon’s obsession is not feminism: The problem is that at some point in his career, Joss became so intent on the masochistic fantasy of being hated by strong women for being a nerd that he spent a decade writing stories about violating those women to ensure they would hate him.
  • Of dwarves and gender: So one day a dwarf is talking to a human and finally realizes that when humans say woman, they generally mean “person who is theoretically capable of childbirth” because for whatever reason, humans assign social expectations based genital differences.
  • On Wm. Golding’s Lord of the Flies: Basically all the good Golding scholars agree that Lord of the Flies is intended as a condemnation specifically of western positivism and superiority, not a condemnation of human nature.  Golding believed that good societies were possible, but that he was not living in one.
  • What’s Wrong With Using The Word “Gypsy?”: TL;DR: It's racist. Here is a list of myths and realities about the Romani/Roma people.

Linkdump for March 30th from 13:25 to 16:32

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between 13:25 and 16:32 on March 30th.

Sometime between 13:25 and 16:32 on March 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Male Power Fantasy (and why Mad Max and Captain Kirk don’t fit): This relates to a theory I have, which is that the archetypal Western Male Hero is James Bond, to the degree that people (Mainly straight white men) start to see every Western Male Hero as James Bond. Which is to say an aggressively masculine, quip-spitting, hyper violent womanizer. The ultimate Male Power Fantasy. A new supermodel love interest (or two) every film, a gun in his hand, and no consequences for his actions.
  • So many biological genders: If anyone tells you that there are 2-3 sexes in the world I want you to just go ahead and slap them.
  • Fight Club and toxic masculinity (with a side of Mad Max: Fury Road): Hold up – you mean there are people who watch Fight Club and don’t realise that Tyler Durden is meant to be full of shit?
  • Geisha FAQ: Please do not spread misconceptions about these hard-working women artists. They deserve respect and have persevered for centuries with women at the forefront of these professions.
  • Earth is dangerous: I really want a science fiction story where aliens come to invade earth and effortlessly wipe out humanity, only to be fought off by the wildlife.
  • Of privilege and nostalgia: The reality is, there was never a time when everyone could just enjoy things. To be able to say you had that time is to admit the privilege you had at not having to think about problematic behavior because it didn’t negatively affect your life.
  • To everyone else in the galaxy, all humans are basically Doc Brown.: Random Headcanon: That Federation vessels in Star Trek seem to experience bizarre malfunctions with such overwhelming frequency isn’t just an artefact of the television serial format. Rather, it’s because the Federation as a culture are a bunch of deranged hyper-neophiles, tooling around in ships packed full of beyond-cutting-edge tech they don’t really understand.
  • Snarky but amusing and thorough Romeo and Juliet analysis: SUMMARY: Romeo and Juliet is a stunningly rich play that is mostly about how feuds fuck people over badly and how if you have to wait until YOUR KIDS OFF THEMSELVES to figure that out you deserve to lose your children. Romeo and Juliet are victims of the feud and its mindless death-lust, not perpetrators of death on others. They’re not supposed to be figures of ridicule OR representatives of True Love: they’re supposed to make the audience go “oh BABIES, no, you’re going to end so badly” and then be sad when they do.
  • The singular “they”: Next time someone complains about singular “they” I’ll point them to this 17th century rant against singular “you”.

Ashley’s Sack (and A Small Rant on Bad Word Choices)

Neat historical work, but to the author of this PR piece: please stop using ‘females’ instead of ‘women’.

CWU Professor Mark Auslander has researched and proposed likely identities for the names on Ashley’s Sack, a piece of embroidery from 1921 tracing one family’s lineage through slavery. Really neat work digging into American history.

For almost a decade, a slavery-era artifact known as “Ashley’s Sack” has intrigued historians unable to identify Ashley—the girl’s name preserved in needlework. The Smithsonian, where the sack is on display, may now attribute the recent discovery of Ashley’s identity to Central Washington University Professor Mark Auslander.

Auslander, who teaches in the department of Anthropology and Museum Studies and is director for the Museum of Culture and Environment spent the last year researching the lineage of the three women whose names were needle worked into the cloth. Research led him to North Carolina and Philadelphia where he searched slave, court and estate records, as well as early bank and census data.

“The object has become a kind of obsession for me during this past year,” said Auslander.

His findings were recently published in the article “Slavery’s Traces: In Search of Ashley’s Sack,” in the noted academic journal Southern Spaces.

Ashley’s Sack, on loan from Middleton Place in South Carolina, is currently on exhibit in the newly opened Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. 

However, reading CWU’s writeup of the news has one unfortunate bit that really stood out to me (emphasis mine):

The original object was found in 2007 at a flea market in the small town of Springfield, Tennessee. Little was known of its history, but it gained great attention by historians and academics. Even less was known about the females listed on the sack.

This really, really should have read, “Even less was known about the women listed on the sack.”

Using “females” instead of “women” is rude and dehumanizing, and to do so within the context of a historical artifact of the slavery era makes it even worse. Just don’t do it (especially if you’re writing for an institute of higher learning, and again especially if your writing about an artifact of an era where the dehumanization of an entire race, let alone gender, was the norm).

Fighting Authoritarianism

Important lessons from history to keep in mind over the upcoming years.

Yale history professor Timothy Snyder posted this list of twenty lessons to consider when fighting authoritarianism. These are just the bullet points, I highly recommend reading the full thing (either the original post, or this mirror by Jason Kottke).

  1. Do not obey in advance.
  2. Defend an institution.
  3. Recall professional ethics.
  4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.
  5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
  6. Be kind to our language.
  7. Stand out.
  8. Believe in truth.
  9. Investigate.
  10. Practice corporeal politics.
  11. Make eye contact and small talk.
  12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
  13. Hinder the one-party state.
  14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.
  15. Establish a private life.
  16. Learn from others in other countries.
  17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.
  18. Be reflective if you must be armed.
  19. Be as courageous as you can.
  20. Be a patriot.

Condition of Sale

This record is sold upon the express condition that it shall not be copied or duplicated and that the full right of property or possession reverts to the Columbia Phonograph Co. upon violation of this condition.

In the midst of recording and digitally archiving some old 78s (and I do mean old, dating back to the early 1900s), I noticed the following language on a disc from the Columbia Phonograph Co. (catalog #3045, “Mamma’s Boy (Marching Song)”, tenor solo with orchestra accompaniment, sung by Byron G. Harlan):

CONDITION OF SALE

This record is sold upon the express condition that it shall not be copied or duplicated and that the full right of property or possession reverts to the Columbia Phonograph Co. upon violation of this condition.

Two things popped into my head:

  1. Wow, copyright lawyers have been rabid for at least a full century!

  2. How in the world would the common consumer have copied or duplicated records in the early 1900’s? For reference, while there’s no definite pressing date on the disc, “Grand Prize Paris 1900”, “Grand Prize St. Louis 1904”, and “Patented December 10, 1901” are printed on the label, and “Patented Nov 25 1902” is pressed into the surface of the inner ring, so it’s reasonable to assume that the disc was pressed sometime after but reasonably close to 1904.

I love being able to listen to this old stuff.

Pop Culture Disconnect

The professor spent a few minutes talking about the Mongol’s invasion techniques, which were simple but could be fairly ruthless. After summarizing this, he commented, ‘really, they were pretty close to the Borg.’

This week in my History 101 class (covering everything up to 1500), we’re looking at Ghengis Khan, Kublai Khan, and the Mongols. The professor spent a few minutes talking about the Mongol’s invasion techniques, which were simple but could be fairly ruthless: if armies surrendered they’d be treated fairly well; if they fought, they’d often be razed to the ground and completely destroyed. After summarizing this, he commented, “really, they were pretty close to the Borg.”

I chuckled, and there was a moment of quiet while he took a sip of his tea. Then one of the girls in the class slightly timidly asked, “…what’s ‘the borg’?”

Sigh. I’m getting old.

Northgate Theatre and Medical Office Building

Word came out this week that Seattle’s Northgate Mall was finally going to be getting an upgrade, part of which is going to involve demolishing the Medical Office Building and the Northgate Theatre that have long stood empty and unused. Since I had some time to kill yesterday, I wandered down to the Northgate Mall and spent some time wandering around the old buildings.

Word came out this week that Seattle’s Northgate Mall was [finally going to be getting an upgrade][1], part of which is going to involve [demolishing the Medical Office Building and the Northgate Theatre][2] that have long stood empty and unused.

[1]: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002511710_northgate22.html?syndication=rss&source=businesstechnology.xml&items=10 “Seattle Times: Northgate mall to get open-air addition”

[2]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/241762_northgate22.html?source=rss “Seattle PI: Northgate Mall digs in to attract young set”

Northgate Medical Office Building and Theatre, Seattle, WA

Since I had some time to kill yesterday, I wandered down to the Northgate Mall and spent some time wandering around the old buildings. I was able to shoot my way around about three quarters of the soon-to-be-demolished buildings before mall security took noticed and asked me to stop. To their credit, the guy that spoke to me was very polite, just letting me know that the mall didn’t allow photography on mall property, and told me that I’d be welcome to take photographs from the street if I wished.

Continue reading “Northgate Theatre and Medical Office Building”

Neri di Bicci, ‘Virgin and Child With Six Saints’

As it turns out, we’d stumbled into the celebrations surrounding the return of a 15th century altar painting by Renaissance artist Neri di Bicci to St. James Cathedral after restoration work. This peaked our interest, so we followed along up to the cathedral to watch the pageant and blessing service.

[Procession from Town Hall to St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA][1]As we were on our way back up the hill after running an errand downtown today, Prairie and I noticed a procession leaving Town Hall. There was a large icon-type puppet figure towards the back, an angel figure towards the front, and quite a few children in acolyte’s robes, so we figured that it was religious in nature, but didn’t know much more than that. Prairie noticed a gentleman standing near us wearing a priest’s collar and asked him what was going on.

[1]: http://www.flickr.com/photos/djwudi/9716637/ “Procession from Town Hall to St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA”

As it turns out, we’d stumbled into the celebrations surrounding the return of a 15th century altar painting by Renaissance artist [Neri di Bicci][2] to St. James Cathedral after restoration work. This piqued our interest, so we followed along up to the cathedral to watch the pageant and blessing service.

[2]: http://www.oberlin.edu/allenart/collection/neri_di_bicci.html “Allen Memorial Art Museum: Neri di Bicci”

[Neri di Bicci's 'Virgin and Child With Six Saints' at St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA][3]While there, we found out that there’s something of a mystery surrounding this work of art — namely, [how it got to St. James Cathedral in the first place][4].

[3]: http://www.flickr.com/photos/djwudi/9717413/ “Neri di Bicci’s ‘Virgin and Child With Six Saints’ at St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA”
[4]: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002244034_art17m.html “Seattle Times: Mystery masterpiece returns to St. James”

> But the big question surrounding the Renaissance work remains unanswered: How did this 15th-century altar painting by Florentine artist Neri di Bicci end up in St. James’ basement? Did a parishioner buy it? Was it an anonymous gift?
>
> Art historians, church administrators and amateur sleuths have all taken their shots at solving the puzzle, but none has succeeded.
>
> […]
>
> Church officials didn’t know they had a museum-quality piece until 1991. Then, an architect weighing a bid for work at the church asked a friend, Elizabeth Darrow, to take a look at it.
>
> Darrow, then a UW art graduate student who had studied Renaissance art in Florence, was stunned when she saw the regal young Virgin sitting on a monumental throne.
>
> “This is the most important Renaissance artwork in the Northwest — and the largest,” said Darrow, now a guest scholar at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
>
> Darrow believes it is among the most exquisite and detailed works of the Virgin Mary by the prolific di Bicci.
>
> “The colors are very intense and vibrant,” she said.
>
> “Her face is round, with rosy, translucent skin and refined features: straight nose, delicately arched eyebrows,” she said. “It’s very beautiful.”
>
> […]
>
> Art scholars suspect the painting hung in an Italian church for most of its existence and was probably sold in the 19th century when the market for Renaissance artwork began. When it was found at St. James, it was in a 19th-century frame, Dorman said.
>
> How it ended up at a Seattle church is less clear.
>
> “It’s a great mystery,” said Darrow, who has gone so far as to track down wealthy local Catholic families for clues. She still has not given up hope of solving the puzzle; she’s even enlisted the help of art scholars in Florence.
>
> St. James administrators have searched all their archives at the cathedral and the archdiocese, “and there is no record, no bill of sale, no letter,” Ryan said.
>
> Church officials heard there was an art dealer or collector who moved a few di Bicci paintings to the United States — mostly to the Midwest — during the 1920s and 1930s, but it is unknown whether the St. James Madonna was among them.
>
> Church administrators have tracked down congregation members and workers from the 1950s. The best they can tell is that someone, perhaps an architect, found the painting in a crate in the lower level of the cathedral during a major renovation in 1950.

Really a fascinating little piece of local art history to stumble across on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon. The painting was still partially under wraps for today’s ceremonies, but it will be hung this week and formally dedicated during next Sunday’s 4pm vespers service.

More photos can, as usual, [be found in a Flickr photoset][5].

[5]: http://www.flickr.com/photos/djwudi/sets/240311/ “Neri di Bicci, Virgin and Child With Six Saints”

Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika

Very cool: an early 1950’s pictoral map of the United States of America, apparently issued by the US Government to introduce our country to the people of Germany, most of whom knew little of us outside of what they’d picked up from GIs in their country during World War II.

Washington StateVery cool: an early 1950’s pictoral map of the United States of America, apparently issued by the US Government to introduce our country to the people of Germany, most of whom knew little of us outside of what they’d picked up from GIs in their country during World War II.

Relevant commentary from [the MetaFilter thread][1] where I found this:

[1]: http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/37822 “Map of the USA”

> So the State Dept. handed out these maps to give Germans some idea of what the US looked like? I’m interested in their intentions, and the history behind this map give-away.

— [thirdparty][2]

[2]: http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/37822#796753 “thirdparty’s comment”

> well, smackfu suggests that the map is from around 1951. There was only a vague image of the United States in Germany then.
>
> For many Germans Americans were huge, well-fed guys handing out chewing gums to German post-war kids. And some of these guys even were black. (I remember my grandmother telling me how amazed she was when she saw the first black G.I., the first black person she ever saw.) Now imagine what people must have thought of the United States then. Of course they knew about cowboys, the Liberty Statue and so on but that was about it.
>
> I think the map was supposed to give a somewhat more detailed look an the United States, but then again not too sophisticated. The Secretary of State probably imagined that Germans would be overwhelmed otherwise. Maybe they really would have been. I assume that’s why it’s designed like a children’s map.
>
> Then again, in the early fifties Germans started to go on holiday again. So it might be a promotional map for the American tourist industry.
>
> That’s what I can think of.

— [heimchen][3]

[3]: http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/37822#796840 “heimchen’s comment”

Check out the full-size (7 Mb) map [here][4].

[4]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/graphics/2004/12/graphics/karte_7mb.jpg “Map of the United States (7Mb)”

The Pig War of San Juan Island

How the death of a pig on San Juan Island nearly drove America and Britain to war in 1859.

In the early 1800’s, as settlers moved westward across America, a dispute arose between the Americans and the British over ownership of the Oregon Country, land covering much of today’s Pacific Northwest, stretching from Oregon through Washington and up into British Columbia and parts of Idaho and Wyoming. While the territory had been declared to be in joint possession of the two governments, as more and more settlers moved in, the British claimed that land ceded to them in previous treaties and through the work of the Hudson’s Bay Company was being encroached upon.

After a few years of slightly strained tensions, in 1846 the Oregon Treaty peacefully resolved the dispute, setting the 49th parallel as the upper boundary of the United States. As the 49th parallel cuts directly through Vancouver Island when extended westward, it was determined that the boundary line would extend “to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver’s Island; and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca’s straits to the Pacific Ocean.” Unfortunately, that wording proved to be unclear enough to set the stage for another conflict.

[Map of the disputed boundary][1]The difficulty lay in that there were _two_ straits running southward through the islands — Haro Strait and Rosario Strait. As each country wanted the most advantageous boundary line, each claimed that the boundary ran through whichever strait would grant them the islands, with the British running the boundary line through Rosario Strait and the Americans, Haro Strait.

[1]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/graphics/2004/03/graphics/boundarymap.gif “Map of the disputed boundary”

Over the next few years, both the British and the Americans started utilizing San Juan Island, with each group assuming that the other group was there illegally. By 1859, the British Hudson’s Bay Company had both a salmon-curing station and a sheep ranch operating on the island, and the Americans had about eighteen settlers living there also. Tempers were short, but things didn’t come to a head until June of 1859.

On June 15 of that year, American settler Lyman Cutlar discovered a pig rutting through his garden. He shot and killed the pig — which belonged to his neighbor, an Irishman employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company. When Cutlar offered to pay for the pig, his neighbor claimed that the pig was a champion breeder and demanded $100 for the loss. Considering this high price to be unreasonable, Cutlar refused to pay. British authorities, already considering Cutlar and the rest of the settlers to be illegal squatters, threatened to arrest him. The American settlers, none to happy about these British who refused to leave their island, petitioned for U.S. military protection. On July 27th, a 66-man company of the 9th U.S. infantry, commanded by Cpt. George E. Pickett, landed on the southern tip of the island and set up camp.

The British governor of British Columbia’s Crown Colony, angered by the arrival of U.S. troops. answered by sending in his own forces — three British warships commanded by Cpt. Geoffrey Hornby — with instructions to remove Pickett from San Juan Island, but to avoid any actual hostilities if at all possible.

Over the next few months, each side continued to send in reinforcements, until by the end of August, “461 Americans, protected by 14 cannons and an earthen redoubt, were opposed by three British warships mounting 70 guns and carrying 2,140 men, including bluejackets (sailors), Royal Marines, artillerymen and sappers.”

Henry Martyn RobertIncidentally, the construction of the redoubt at the top of a hill in the American camp to let the cannon oversee the water approaches to the island was supervised by engineer Henry Martyn Robert. Later in his military career, Robert discovered a fascination with parliamentary procedure, and went on to author [Robert’s Rules of Order][2].

[2]: http://www.robertsrules.com/ “The Official Robert’s Rules of Order Web Site”

Thankfully, throughout all of this territorial saber-rattling, saner heads prevailed, refusing to “involve two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig,” in the words of British Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes. Eventually, U.S. President James Buchanan dispatched General Winfield Scott to resolve the affair. Scott was able to broker a treaty, with each country reducing their forces — a single company of U.S. troops, and a single British warship — allowing the island to continue under joint occupation until a more formal resolution could be reached.

This situation continued for the next twelve years, making the Pig War the longest single military conflict on U.S. soil — even if the only casualty was a hungry pig. Eventually, during the signing of the Treaty of Washington between Britain and the United States, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany was asked to arbitrate in the matter of the San Juan Islands. He referred the matter to a commission, and after a year of deliberation, the commission ruled in favor of the United States on October 21st, 1872. British troops withdrew from San Juan Island within the month, and the last of the U.S. troops left by mid-1874.

Sources:

* National Park Service: [The Pig War][3]
* Todd Matthews: [The Pig War of San Juan Island][4]
* Rocky Mountain Books: [Pig War on San Juan][5]
* Discovery Inn: [The famous Pig War and Other Adventures][6]
* John Stang, Tri-City Herald: [San Juan Islands overflow with adventure][7]

[3]: http://www.nps.gov/sajh/Pig_War_new.htm “New Pig War Page”
[4]: http://www.wahmee.com/pigwar.html “Todd Matthews + + Freelance Journalist”
[5]: http://www.rmbooks.com/books/pig.htm “Pig War on San Juan”
[6]: http://www.discovery-inn.com/ihistory.cfm “History and Stories of Friday Harbor and San Juan Island in Washington State”
[7]: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/oldnews/1997/0818.html#anchor596559 “Top Mid-Columbia stories for Aug. 18, 1997”