Sunday, March 9, 2014
This has been a depressing development, but necessary.
The Occupy the Microphone crew is currently regrouping and trying to figure out what to do next. We are thinking about a group-oriented show (modeled on some of our very successful shows with Traci Fant) ... or maybe just concentrate on delivering a regular podcast? Over the past two and a half years, our show has been broadcast at three different time-slots on three different local radio stations. We need to step back and figure out what we want to do and the most economical way to get it done.
It's great to broadcast the news that no one else here in South Carolina will cover. We pride ourselves on having done that, but we also know that talk-radio tends to be a right-wing medium. We knew that our nationally-oriented shows were downloaded most often on the internet (as podcasts), and were far more popular than our local broadcasts. By contrast, our regionally-oriented shows got us a lot of local attention but didn't get the internet downloads that the big national-stories did. After awhile, we didn't know if we were (basically) a national or local show? Should we lead with one or the other type of story first? We dithered, argued, worried ... and unlike rich Republicans, we don't have marketing analysts and suchlike, to definitively tell us what to do. (sigh)
If we go back on local radio, it is likely we will need a flurry of advertising to keep us afloat this time.
Our hiatus is also due to a variety of other factors, in addition to our ongoing collective dithering over radio-show goals. These factors include my untimely and unnerving car accident, as well as the loss of a major advertiser ... but most important: Our producer, Gregg Jocoy, is dealing with his mother-in-law's extended illness. She is near death and is dying at home, not in a hospital. Gregg's family has the help of professional caregivers and hospice care, but caring for a terminally-ill person is still an enormous, overwhelming task. (Our last show talked about how most people die in hospitals now and not at home, and asked: Has this been good or bad for our culture as a whole?) Such work is emotionally draining as well as physically trying. Our best wishes are with Gregg and his family.
Meetings are scheduled, things are being cussed and discussed (as my grandmother used to say), and I will surely keep you updated.
Stay tuned, sports fans.
Monday, March 3, 2014
George Stinney was executed by the state of South Carolina at the age of... 14. He is the youngest person ever executed by the USA.
And they found him guilty in 10 minutes. His family was not permitted to attend his trial. (yes, you read that right)
From Huffington Post:
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Supporters of a 14-year-old black boy executed in 1944 for killing two white girls are asking a South Carolina judge to take the unheard-of move of granting him a new trial in hopes he will be cleared of the charges.Arguments for a retrial were finally heard on Feb. 21st. Several radio shows besides ours spotlighted the case, as did CNN. Various local news reports have said today that these hearings have so far been "inconclusive"--so still more hearings seem to be on the schedule. (About what? Is there any question that this verdict should be overturned?)
George Stinney was convicted on a shaky confession in a segregated society that wanted revenge for the beating deaths of two girls, ages 11 and 7, according to the lawsuit filed last month on Stinney's behalf in Clarendon County.
The request for a new trial has an uphill climb. The judge may refuse to hear it at all, since the punishment was already carried out. Also, South Carolina has strict rules for introducing new evidence after a trial is complete, requiring the information to have been impossible to discover before the trial and likely to change the results, said Kenneth Gaines, a professor at the University of South Carolina's law school.
Many have wondered: what good will this do? George is gone and won't be brought back. But clearing his name is very important to his family, especially his sister Aimee Ruffner.
And a 14-year-old? Should never be executed. Never.
Unaccountably, there are still those diehards who believe the execution was just.
I will be reporting on this as it unfolds. Let's hope South Carolina does the right thing, for once.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Getting ready to watch the Academy Awards... and wondering whether Matthew McConaughey will win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in "Dallas Buyers Club"? In any event, I thought of this clip from Family Guy and decided to share it here. It's Seth Green's voice, but I initially believed it was McConaughey!
If he wins, maybe it will sound something like this:
Thursday, February 27, 2014
When I read Glenn Greenwald's latest leak of the Snowden files, titled How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations--I found it some pretty sobering stuff. (all graphics here are from the article; you can click to enlarge.) Greenwald wrote:
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the [NSA whistleblower Edward] Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.And now it's time to tell another chunk of the story, focusing on my little corner of the net.
On the radio, I had been talking about online-provocateurs (and their carefully-targeted disruptions) only a few days prior to reading the Greenwald piece. I suddenly knew I had to write this. Typically, very few over on Tumblr seem to have read the leaked documents. On Social-Justice Tumblr, despite the okey-doke posturing, politics is basically secondary to self, self, self and the self's many facets of wonderfulness. (sigh)
I knew I might have to name names. And naming names has a tiresome and predictable outcome: The named-persons' friends stream forth to defend them and call me evil names. In this case, the provocateur is a successful and much-enjoyed troll, with literally thousands of followers. In December, after this individual "gave the order"--I was basically Tumblr-blacklisted ... which means it is highly unlikely that this person and their legions of fans will ever read this. Thus, I feel a certain freedom in that I don't have to please anyone and I have already been labeled an enemy (although I am not sure why--it was never fully explained to me). I might as well go ahead and speak my mind.
I am talking about THIS AWFUL PERSON (quoted therein), who shall henceforth be known as TAP for short. She is probably the most well-known leader of the trans women faction at Tumblr. In many ways, she directs the posse and calls the shots; if she was not in a leadership-position, I wouldn't take note of her zealousness in destroying others, she'd be just another meanie. But as a leader who draws a lot of attention, it is pertinent than she is divisive and gives advice to others, that they should be as divisive as she is. TAP is an entertaining writer, fairly outrageous and very good at reducing her detractors to tears; she excels at the personal insult, the creative cussing and take-downs. It is useless to attempt to argue "facts" with her. I know this, because she told me.
In the above link, TAP pointedly called herself an ex-troll, and yet, she is obviously trolling more than ever before. I wrote that piece in 2009, and it was only last year that I learned she was considered the biggest, nastiest and most vicious hell-raiser on Tumblr.
So what happened?
Check out the list of stuff I quoted from TAP in the link, the different types and techniques of trolls... and then check out THIS list:
It's the same, only not as colorful. Same. In fact, I am wondering if TAP is the one who wrote it. (Or maybe she just excelled at the correspondence course?) "Divorce behavior from outcome" = pretty much defines emotionally-manipulative trolling.
And here is where we cut to the chase:
We are not talking about a simple troll, folks. We are talking about someone who is masterful at driving people away from social justice movements; someone tremendously skilled in purposely painting social justice activists in the worst possible light. TAP is excellent in creating and exaggerating discord between two or more factions (as G Gordon Liddy said was necessary for the destabilization of a popular movement). In short, TAP may be a paid provocateur or federal agent. She might be working for the government, the NSA, The Dept of Homeland Security (etc etc) or she might be working for right-wing operations like Americans For Prosperity. She may be part of a "dirty tricks campaign" run by a particular sectarian group or politician. She may be getting nickel-and-dimed; regularly slipped some PayPal contributions in exchange for picking a fight with first this activist, then that one... and she may not know WHO she is actually working for.
Since TAP endlessly talks about being mentally ill and having been manipulated by opportunistic people in the past, it is also reasonable to assume this could still be happening. Certainly, she is far worse than she was in 2009, when I wrote that post.
Who is making her so much worse, and who benefits?
Ask yourself: who benefits?
We see that TAP's last attack was on Ellen Page, a likable and popular young actress who just came out as gay. TAP attacked her, claiming that she was transphobic (since all cis lesbians are transphobic). However, in her coming-out speech, Page pointedly mentioned trans actress Laverne Cox as an inspiration, so TAP's statement instantly blew up into a feud within the LGBT community on Tumblr, not surprisingly. TRANSLATION: A great public-relations moment for the movement, gets the immediate take-down from TAP.
This is a seasoned provocateur-move, and this is what made my antenna go up: Take the last morale-building WIN from a movement, and turn it into a morale-killing LOSS. TAP did this admirably. Although I do find it odd she is changing her name so many times; like a half-dozen times in the last few months. She changed her name again, right before this attack on Page.
And now, since the Greenwald leak, I have suddenly become aware of TAP's habits. Mostly, she tears feminists apart. She is devoted to keeping trans and cis women divided and spends hours and hours online exacerbating the divisions, keeping everybody angry and stirred-up. When things start to die down, she gets them stirred up again in short order, by making pronouncements like the one about Ellen Page. For instance, she tells all cis women that we are ugly, stupid and totally inferior to trans women. (She emphatically says "Ewwww!" about the bodies of cis women.) This kind of thing is calculated to get a response. And although she claims she has a job, she appears to spend ALL of her time insulting people on Tumblr. She deliberately tries to upset and hurt people and proudly succeeds. Usually, after one of her bloody verbal attacks, she invariably tries to milk pity, and suddenly reminds her readers that she is suicidal, mentally ill and popping pills. (Apparently, she doesn't realize that being a constantly-vicious, cruel person makes you feel bad about yourself. As you should, of course.) She then throws in some politically-correct stories, reblogs some crowd-pleasers. Next day, she is right back at it without missing a beat. Dedicated and determined. She is single-minded and relentless.
After all, she has a job to do.
To those of you who follow this person, stop. You are being used and exploited. She is spreading her poisonous hate to you, and you ingest it willingly.
But even more than garden-variety hate: you are being manipulated. It is doubtful she believes most of what she says. SHE IS TROLLING AS A COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY, deliberately trying to bust up several movements at once. And she does it demolition style: accuse cis feminists of raping thousands of trans women (she has actually claimed that, for example) and then scream like a maniac when anyone asks for evidence of such a thing. There is no "evidence" that will satisfy a provocateur, there is only emotional manipulation and extremism. These are their DESIRED GOALS: to make you mistrust feminists and trans women, to make people more likely to avoid face-to-face collectives and/or group-activism, and in fact, likely to drive you away from all political involvement.
Or maybe more likely to come to the conclusion of the right wing: THESE PEOPLE ARE ALL CRAZY.
That is the real goal, since there is no olive branch offered, no dialogue, no efforts to come together or to understand each other. After all, that would STRENGTHEN our movements, not weaken them.
And that is not what she is being paid for.
When she stops this behavior, I will change my mind. Not before. Until she stops, she is dangerous. She is working for reactionaries and effectively doing the work of the right wing. I regard her as the online equivalent of a grenade.
And so should you.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Greenville, S.C. (February 25, 2014) – Bob Jones University today announced that it has reached agreement with GRACE to complete the independent review of the University’s response to sexual and other abuse. The independent review was initiated by the University in response to a series of national news stories about abuse at other institutions. The purpose of the review was to assess past responses by the University in support of victims and identify policies and procedures that could be enhanced.I like to think I had a small part in that decision.
Bob Jones University suspended the review on January 27, 2014. Bob Jones University met with GRACE on February 18-19, 2014, to discuss any issues that might stand in the way of GRACE’s completion of thorough, transparent and objective review. GRACE satisfactorily addressed the University’s concerns and Bob Jones University is confident the review can be completed in a timely and professional manner. To be clear, GRACE and BJU are united in their commitment to a review that is thorough, transparent and objective. As the process moves forward, regular updates will be provided.
More here, here, here and here (full disclosure/beware the source: that last link is to WORLD, an evangelical website).
Question: Have they ever caved before? On ANYthing? This may be a first!
Stay tuned, sports fans.
As Matt Drudge would say, developing...
Monday, February 24, 2014
I can't stop thinking about that fact. It seems so... arbitrary.
Suddenly, life seems quite tenuous and so very precious.
On Friday, a 15-year-old driving an enormous Dodge Ram pickup and sporting a Ferris Bueller t-shirt (you can't make this stuff up), ran a red light and totally sheared the front end off my car. KABOOM - it sounded like a fucking locomotive. And there I was, turned at an angle in the intersection during perilous rush-hour traffic (I did manage to hit my brakes) and all these people loooooooking at me like, is she alive? I managed to chug my smashed-up little car into a nearby parking lot. Somebody dragged my flimsy Saturn-bumper out of the road and brought it over to me. Automobile-detritus and various pieces of metal and glass were all over Haywood Road, and people kept running over them, crunchcrunch... eventually both Mr Daisy and my radio producer/Carolina consigliere came to my aid, so that was good. (Needless to say, I missed Friday's radio show.)
After local police pronounced him the officially-guilty party, Ferris drove away, his bad-ass redneck vehicle unharmed and ready to shear off more bumpers. Mine is a total shambles, one of those words you hardly ever hear anymore, but was popular in 60s comic books. Let's bring back the word: SHAMBLES. (One of those great words that sounds like exactly what it is.) However, the engine sounds okay, and I think it could well be salvaged, so we shall see. The car has already been totaled once. (In fact, that was the subject of my second-ever blog post.)
If I had not hit my brakes. If I had accelerated a few seconds faster into the intersection. Just a few seconds. He sheared the front end of my car clean off... and if *I* had been sitting in the exact spot where he sheared off my car?
Three feet. Just three.
As I said, I can't stop thinking about it.
THREE FEET has become a very intense thing for me, the subject of major meditations throughout the weekend. Our life can end at any time. We know this intellectually, but somehow, coming so close, brings the fact home in a very real way.
And you know, some things just don't seem as important as they did a few days ago. They just aren't. And other things are somehow, suddenly, far more important.
My vision has been sharpened, and I hope to keep this new, acute vision as long as I can. I want to see clearly. And I don't want to waste time. I don't want to spend the time I have on nonsense, on arguing, on unhappiness.
I am reminded of a quote by Thomas Carlyle that Harlan Ellison once taped onto a mirror in his home:
Produce! Produce! Were it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fraction of a Product, produce it in God's name! 'Tis the utmost thou hast in thee; out with it then. Up, up! Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy whole might. Work while it is called To-day, for the Night cometh wherein no man can work.(The last part of that quote is from the Gospel of John.)
Yes. That is exactly how I feel.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
At left: The Open Book, the first place I ever worked here in South Carolina, closed its doors permanently four years ago.
Mega-successful author James Patterson is on a mission to save the beleaguered, independent bookstore. Good luck, James!
As I have written here before, I looove bookstores. And so many bookstores are closing; Amazon and e-books and the net have threatened the book industry. (In fact, my photo in that last link, Carolina Book Rack? Like the Open Book, it is now long gone.)
Patterson is giving away $1 million to bookstores, in what he calls a "bookstore bailout":
The best-selling author James Patterson has started a program to give away $1 million of his personal fortune to dozens of bookstores, allowing them to invest in improvements, dole out bonuses to employees and expand literacy outreach programs.Patterson began complaining last year, that the book industry needed a bailout from the feds, just like Wall Street got a bailout. Not surprisingly, nobody paid any attention, so he took matters into his own hands:
More than 50 stores across the country will begin receiving cash grants this week, from Percy’s Burrow in Topsham, Me., to Page & Palette in Fairhope, Ala., to A Whale of a Tale in Irvine, Calif.
“I just want to get people more aware and involved in what’s going on here, which is that, with the advent of e-books, we either have a great opportunity or a great problem,” he said. “Our bookstores in America are at risk. Publishing and publishers as we’ve known them are at stake. To some extent the future of American literature is at stake.”
The current health of independent bookstores is mixed. While some have benefited from the disappearance of the Borders chain in 2011 and a shrinking Barnes & Noble, the stores have been hit especially hard with consumers switching from paper copies to e-books.
And though many communities remain loyal to their shops, and the American Booksellers Association says its membership has recently grown, the online discounters have wreaked havoc on the independent bookseller’s business model.
Last year, Mr. Patterson placed full-page ads in The New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly arguing that the federal government’s financial support of troubled industries like Wall Street and the automobile sector should extend to the bookstore business. Since that appears to be a pipe dream, Mr. Patterson decided to create his own bailout fund as part of his mission to promote literature, especially for children.And I love seeing the name of MALAPROPS, one of my favorite places in the world, in the New York Times. I am SO PLEASED they are getting some of the bailout money... and believe me, their carpet sorely needs replacing!
“I’m rich; I don’t need to sell more books,” Mr. Patterson said. “But I do think it’s essential for kids to read more broadly. And people just need to go into bookstores more. It’s not top of mind as much as it used to be.”
He began his project last year by getting the word to store owners that he was willing to begin writing them checks, which will range from $2,000 to $15,000, according to a spokeswoman for Mr. Patterson.
Bookstores responded with informal mini-proposals, explaining what they might do with some extra money. Bank Street Bookstore in Manhattan said it would use the funds to post and stream online video of in-store events. Hicklebee’s in San Jose, Calif., said it wanted to buy a new computer system, replacing its “small, ancient screens with green print” and perhaps bestow a bonus on its hardworking manager, Ann Seaton.
“I think it’s going to have a huge impact,” said Linda Marie Barrett, the general manager of Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, N.C., which successfully applied for a grant to replace badly worn carpeting and a damaged parquet floor. “He seems to be keenly aware that bookstores operate on small budgets.”
I am wishing all the best to James Patterson and the bookstores... and wouldn't it be nice if other rich people took this kind of initiative, to help others in their field? Millionaire musicians should be helping music stores; millionaire athletes ought to be helping small-town teams; millionaire chefs should be teaching young folks to cook, etc etc etc. Let's see some civic responsibility, rich peeps!
As it is, it makes international news whenever Bill and Melinda Gates or James Patterson or Bruce Springsteen or Dolly Parton or Oprah or someone like that, spends money altruistically and helps regular people.
That should be the norm, not the exception.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
We saw Arlo Guthrie on Sunday and he did this song. I love it so much.
Whenever there is a news story about immigrants/undocumented workers, and their names are omitted, I always think of this song.
I found this version of the song by Arlo and Emmylou Harris. So beautiful! (Unfortunately, the audio-synchronization seems a bit OFF in this video, and their mouths don't quite match up to the lyrics, but that's quibbling.)
Happy 100th birthday, Woody Guthrie.
Arlo's tour started two years ago, to celebrate his father's centennial celebration.
Deportees - Arlo Guthrie and Emmylou Harris
EDIT: And yes, this is "Tuesday Tunes" because I wrote it on Tuesday and did not post it until today. THANK YOU FOR NOTICING! :P
I have removed the "Tuesday Tunes" designation for those readers who are uncompromising sticklers for accuracy. Truthfully, I didn't even notice. I DID manage to say "Wednesday edition" on the radio today, so I am NOT a total loss.
Thanks yall! :) Its so nice to know you care.
Monday, February 17, 2014
A photo of the 2012 Election-Day celebration at Bob Jones University. This photo was belatedly discovered on BJU-owned WBJU's website and has been making the rounds on Facebook today. The photo was not hidden or private at all.
They don't even care if people see them acting like ... well, like what they are.
In the photo (below), as we see, a dark monkey-appearing doll (?) has been elected president, wearing a red, white and blue lei (after all, he IS from Hawaii) and overalls. Not sure I get the overalls reference, but I'm sure they had a reason.
This is what we've been talking about. This was 2012, not back in the 20s.
They have no shame at all.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
NOTE: I originally posted this in February of 2011, when the memorial was placed. It has now been 67 years; the memorial is now a mainstay of Greenville County Civil Rights/genealogical tourism.
65 years ago, the last lynching in South Carolina took place about 10-15 miles from where I live. And last year, after a very long 64 years, a memorial was finally erected on the rural back road where it happened.
[Caution: disturbing and violent content]
On February 16, 1947, Thomas Watson Brown, a white cab driver, picked up a black man on Markley Street in Greenville, South Carolina. Brown was later found half-dead, his taxi driven off the road in rural Pickens County. He had been beaten, robbed, and stabbed three times.
The Pickens County sheriff reported that muddy footprints at the crime scene led to the house of Willie Earle, about a mile away, where officers reportedly found cash, a blood-covered knife and bloody clothing. (Many of these facts have always been in dispute, but this is what was presented at trial.) Willie Earle, age 24, wasn't at his residence; he was in another cab, driven by a man who would later become one of the 31 defendants.
Earle was arrested and put in the Pickens County second-floor lock-up.
The news of Brown's stabbing traveled like wildfire, as did the news of Willie Earle's arrest. The nexus of unrest was the Yellow Cab office on West Court Street, where Greenville's taxi drivers had congregated in an angry pack, and started passing around a bottle of whiskey.
The Greenville News, recently granted access to some of the trial records and police reports, offers some chilling accounts:
The attitudes of the time are reflected in the casual manner in which one of the defendants, Hubert Carter, explained in his statement to police how he joined the mob.And so, in a tableau reminiscent of the famous scene in To Kill A Mockingbird (and perhaps it was an inspiration for it), the taxis all lined up in the early morning hours and drove in formation out to the Pickens County jail, maybe 20 miles away. It was February 17th.
The 33-year-old driver and father of four called for a ride home from the Cleveland Street taxi stand at 1 a.m. on the 17th, according to the Greenville Police Department file. He was picked up by another defendant, Paul Griggs, who "asked me if I wanted to go with the others to get the Negro being held for stabbing Mr. Brown.
"I told him I'd go along with the crowd," Carter said in his statement.
I have often re-imagined the striking sight of the line of yellow cabs driving down the old rural road I have traveled down so many times myself. Did other people see them? They must have. Did the onlookers know where they were going? Did they tell their wives or girlfriends first?
And there was, sadly, no Atticus Finch to stand by the door. Instead, there was a jailer named Gilstrap, who suddenly had two shotguns pointed in his face. He didn't argue.
The mob took Willie Earle from the jail.
A call to Greenville's black funeral home, notified authorities of where the body was.
Thomas Brown died six hours later.
The first lynching since 1912, the murder of Willie Earle became big news. The trial was biggest lynching trial the state had ever seen. Most lynchings had never even been investigated, while this one had then-Governor Strom Thurmond threatening to put the perpetrators away (yes, you read that right). Time magazine sent reporters, and The New Yorker sent no less than Dame Rebecca West to cover the event.
From Time magazine:
Somebody "pulled the Negro out of the car by his belt." The drivers ''hit him several times with their fists and knocked him to the ground." One of the drivers pulled out a knife. "Before you kill him," he said, "I want to put the same scars on him that he put on Brown." Said Jessie Lee Sammons: "I could hear the tearing of clothing and flesh." Of course, it was an all-white jury. Of course, they offered no defense at all. And of course, they were acquitted.
Then the drivers "beat the side of his head with a shotgun." Said Marvin H. Flemming's statement: "I could hear some licks like they were pounding on him with the butt end of a gun. I heard the Negro say, 'Lord, you done killed me.' " Finally, said Charlie Covington, he heard Roosevelt Carlos Hurd Sr., a Blue Bird cab driver, cry out: "Give me the gun and let's get this over with." Just then, "a tall, slender boy with bushy hair hit the Negro in the mouth and knocked him down. The Negro started to get up when Mr. Hurd took the shotgun. He shot the Negro in the head. He unloaded the gun and called for more shells. . . . Mr. Hurd shot the Negro two more times." The tissue of Willie Earle's brain was left hanging on the bushes. The lynchers went back to Greenville and drank coffee.
Of the acquittal, Dame Rebecca West wrote:
There could be no more pathetic scene than these taxi-drivers and their wives, the deprived children of difficult history, who were rejoicing at a salvation that was actually a deliverance to danger. For an hour or two, the trial had built up in them that sense of law which is as necessary to man as bread and water and a roof. They had known killing for what it is: a hideousness that begets hideousness. They had seen that the most generous impulse, not subjected to the law, may engender a shameful deed. For indeed they were sick at heart when what had happened at the slaughter-pen was described in open court. But they had been saved from the electric chair and from prison by men who had conducted their defense without taking a minute off to state or imply that even if a man is a murderer one must not murder him and that murder is foul. These people had been plunged back into chaos.Chaos is the word. Chaos was the state of race relations in the south until the Civil Rights movement, when the chaos was at last addressed.
Next week, after many long decades, the spot where Willie Earle was murdered will be officially and historically marked. Future generations will not be like me, driving by a rural place in the road without knowing whose blood was shed there. We will see, and we will know.
Tessie Robinson, Willie's mama, died 8 years ago. I am so sad she will never see the memorial to her son.
For black people, a memorial and a reminder of what they already know and do not have to be told. For us white people, a souvenir of our savagery, and the cover-up of that savagery. Which is why the memorial has taken 64 years.
Rest in Peace, Willie Earle.