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WesRecs

Vol. #46 - September 18, 2020

Greetings from Massachusetts! Yes indeed, I left NYC for the first time in 6.5 months in order to see some family and experience a quick change of pace. It has so far been exciting and delightful. In order to facilitate this (and not wreak virological havoc on my kinfolk) I went and got my first COVID test in Brooklyn before departing. It was quick and simple walk-in, I felt safe, and the results arrived quickly. I was surprised at how relatively shallow the nasal Q-tip insertion was as I'd heard tales that made me fear getting swabbed all the way back to my eyeballs. Happy to say that that was a needless fear. HOWEVER, what I was not prepared for was the length of the swabbing and that it was in both nostrils. I swear the nurse did like 10 full rotations in my right blowhole and I would rather have gotten blood drawn 3x than having that immediately followed by another 10 in my left. Oh well. It's got to be about a million times better than being on a ventilator so no complaints over here. Negative on COVID and antibodies for now, and as I plan to soon begin background acting again I believe that it will be the first of many tests. I did not forget how to drive after half a year and I have eaten seafood 2x since being back in New England so things are solid on the homefront.

As for the national scene: I had been finding myself ever more negatively impacted by our nation's relentless slide into fascism and autocracy to the point where sleep and mood are affected daily and that was helped none at all by this evening's news about RBG (Rest In Power). It has been work as of late to keep "I will not fall into despair" elevated as an operating principle vs. a mere platitude but I'm holding out...so far. Despondency helps exactly no one, least of all me, but damn if every day isn't trying me. In a perverse way the mantra "we'll look back upon these as the 'good old days'" has been somewhat helpful. Somewhat.

Overall we have a slightly trimmed down WesRecs here as I've been happily meeting some family obligations during my current travels but still plenty to include below.

Finally: what is the point of visiting your childhood home if you can't post a picture of yourself wearing knee socks & a bow tie in the 80s??? As such I close this preamble with this Wes Hazard classic.
WesRecs is the weekly newsletter where I (comedian/storyteller/TV Host) Wes Hazard recommend a bunch of cool content (recs) to YOU (the person reading this). There's no particular reason for this other than the fact that I love curating stuff and I'm always excited to share items that I personally have found worthwhile, exciting, or necessary. If you like what you see please be sure to subscribe to get each week's edition delivered straight to your inbox and if you know someone else who might be into it definitely share with them. You can check out all past issues HERE.

THE BEE'S KNEES

As this newsletter's title would indicate, I recommend everything you'll find below. It's all stuff which I've personally found rewarding this week and I think you will too! But for the benefit of all you skimmers out there here are links to a few items that I'm happy to briefly highlight for you. You can find more detailed commentary/context below:

An Interesting perspective on the iconic "Tank Man" image from the photographer who took it.
From Vice

Until Black Women Are Free, None Of Us Will Be Free
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor


 

WES Around the WEB

F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M
VISIT my WEBSITE VISIT my WEBSITE

COVID Corner

Findings in Plagueland

Six Deadly Months Late, Bob Woodward Warns Us Trump Is Lying About COVID - Truthout

The guy who helped bring down Nixon dropped some Trump Quotes (confirmed via audiotape) that would bring down Trump if we lived in a country with any semblance of justice. That they will likely have no effect on his electoral chances does not make them any less damning, nor does it mean Woodward deserves any reprieve for holding on to this for 6 months and 200K deaths in order to boost his book sales.

P.S. I liked the writing in the second quote below so bad I followed this guy on twitter. Check out this paragraph from another recent piece about a Trump rally in Nevada: "A thousand of Trump’s most avid devotees came from miles around to stuff themselves into an enclosed indoor space, where they stood packed like cattle in a high-density field, maskless almost to a person, screaming and sweating all over each other in an orgiastic celebration of the death of reason." Gold.
 
"Reaction from the scientific community to Trump’s comments, which appear in Woodward’s new book Rage, was swift and horrified. “If accurate, this reporting suggests that the decision to avoid a serious response was deliberate,” Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipstitch told The Boston Globe. “We have lost 150,000 Americans and counting, and it increasingly looks as if others will have long-term health consequences of this infection. As a scientist, those are the facts. As a citizen, it is hard to know which is worse — that this was done out of ignorance, when there was so much clear information, or that, as this reporting suggests, it was done deliberately.”"

...

"If history is any guide, there will almost certainly be no immediate consequences for Trump due to the revelations in Woodward’s book, because of course there won’t.

We have reached the point in U.S. politics where the Lord God of Hosts could descend from heaven on a pillar of fire, denounce Trump from atop Mt. Everest in a voice audible throughout the universe, and Trump’s fiercest defenders would wave it off as “fake news” even as Mitch McConnell gavels God out of order.

The House may do investigations and the media’s editorial rooms will shake their collective fists, but consequences are not on Trump’s menu until November. This is a filthy truth, a hard-earned understanding after all these long years, another throatful of bile to be swallowed."
America Is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral - The Atlantic

Our national response to the plague has been reprehensible where it has not been outright absent. It has killed people and it is not done killing people. We have schizophrenic and conflicting priorities and if we stay on this track (which we certainly will if things break bad in November) we are doomed to continue this until 1K+ deaths per day from Covid is normalized beyond return.
 
"Meanwhile, as businesses closed and stay-at-home orders rolled out, “we presumed a trade-off between saving lives and saving the economy,” says Danielle Allen, a political scientist at Harvard. “That was foolishness of the most profound degree.” The two goals were actually aligned: Epidemiologists and economists largely agree that the economy cannot rebound while the pandemic is still raging. By treating the two as opposites, state leaders rushed to reopen, leading a barely contained virus to surge anew." 

...

"But tattered social safety nets are less visible than crowded bars. Pushing for universal health care is harder than shaming an unmasked stranger. Fixing systemic problems is more difficult than spewing moralism, and Americans gravitated toward the latter. News outlets illustrated pandemic articles with (often distorted) photos of beaches, even though open-air spaces offer low-risk ways for people to enjoy themselves. Marcus attributes this tendency to America’s puritanical roots, which conflate pleasure with irresponsibility, and which prize shame over support. “The shaming gets codified into bad policy,” she says. Chicago fenced off a beach, and Honolulu closed beaches, parks, and hiking trails, while leaving riskier indoor businesses open."

...

"The U.S. might stop treating the pandemic as the emergency that it is. Daily tragedy might become ambient noise. The desire for normality might render the unthinkable normal. Like poverty and racism, school shootings and police brutality, mass incarceration and sexual harassment, widespread extinctions and changing climate, COVID-19 might become yet another unacceptable thing that America comes to accept."
The loneliness of long-haul COVID: My son and I have battled the coronavirus for six months - The Inquirer

There is so much arduous terrain between recovering from COVID and dying from COVID and even now, half a year in, it is not getting enough mainstream acknowledgement. Here's just one family's story.
 
"On all the charts we see on the news, each case of COVID-19 is marked as having one of two final results: recovered or dead. The reality is that there are likely hundreds of thousands of people in this country who are neither. We call ourselves the “long haulers.”
Long-haul COVID-19 is very real. CNN anchor Chris Cuomo described having it. Ed Yong at the Atlantic has written extensively about it. Mount Sinai Hospital in New York created a center to treat patients for it. But it’s a story that’s largely been drowned out by the very tragic stories of the dying and the inane shouting about when to reopen restaurants, whether to wear a mask, and whom to trust when it comes to vaccines and treatments."

...

"Here’s what it feels like. My cough and fever disappeared after two weeks. But I was left unable to participate in my normal life. I woke up most days with severe pain in my limbs, like broken bones. I was so short of breath I could not make it up the two flights of stairs in the house without gasping. Severe headaches would come and go. Complex mental tasks were impossible. I’d find myself reading and re-reading the same email, unable to make sense of it."
COVID-19 Has Nearly Destroyed the Childcare Industry—and It Might Be Too Late to Save It - Time

So many industries (fashion, travel, nightlife, etc) have been decimated by COVID but childcare is experiencing perhaps the most devastation in both the immediate impact and the ripple effect it will create for years to come in ways that are both obvious and obscure. Childcare providers were paid so little before this (despite childcare being an absolutely gargantuan cost for most families) and now they are pushed to the very brink. Addressing this issue is one of the greatest post-COVID challenges we have.
 
"The slow death of childcare centers nationwide may have a domino effect across the economy, experts say. Entrepreneurs like Antico or Gladstone will face financial hardship, but so will the roughly 1.1 million people, 96% of whom are women and 40% of whom are people of color, who tend to make very low wages caring for other people’s kids. Mass closures will also have a ripple effect on communities and parents, who depend on daycare centers to go to work and support their families. Without access to affordable and convenient childcare, many parents—mostly mothers—will find it increasingly untenable, financially and logistically, to work outside the home. It’s an eventuality that could cripple women’s advancement in the workplace, exacerbate inequality, and put a drag on the U.S. economic recovery.

This catch-22 is somewhat unique to the childcare industry. While public school administrators have also had to grapple with new safety protocols and increased expenses as a result of the pandemic, they are government funded. Daycares aren’t. Society decided long ago that children have a right to a grade-school education to which even non-parents are required to contribute, but there is no similar consensus for sharing the cost of caring for smaller kids. Marcy Whitebook, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, says there’s no good reason for that societal failure. But the result is clear: “because we’re asking parents to foot the bill and it’s so expensive,” she says, “it means that the only way to really make that happen is to essentially exploit the people who are doing it.”"

Make A Plan Now

On Getting Your Mind Right For November

“I Have Blood on My Hands”: A Whistleblower Says Facebook Ignored Global Political Manipulation - Buzzfeed News

Facebook has always been "evil" in the way that any multinational global corporation is. A "friendly" even borne of elevating profit over all else (as dictated by the basic principles of Capitalism) while providing a relatively useful and enjoyable product. But it has become undeniably clear that Facebook is now straight up supervillain evil, perhaps not by strictly by intention but definitely by outcome and abdication of duty. Zuckerberg & Co. have created an immensely powerful tool for the recruitment and organization and manipulation of the vulnerable, the angry, the impressionable, the aggrieved, the flat out insane. That plus the fact that governments and organizations with hefty budgets can stock warehouses full of people with 9-5 jobs manning bots, doling out likes, and creating groups and ads means that we are witnessing the greatest common-sense-reducing & democracy-sabotaging entity that humanity has ever know.

I highly encourage you to read this former employee's confession re: the immense power that she wielded in global politics as a mid-level FB employee whose warnings to bosses were routinely ignored as long as they did not represent an immediate PR nightmare in the Western world.
 
“I’ve found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions. I have personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight, and taken action to enforce against so many prominent politicians globally that I’ve lost count.” “I Have Blood on My Hands”

...

“There was so much violating behavior worldwide that it was left to my personal assessment of which cases to further investigate, to file tasks, and escalate for prioritization afterwards,” she wrote.

That power contrasted with what she said seemed to be a lack of desire from senior leadership to protect democratic processes in smaller countries. Facebook, Zhang said, prioritized regions including the US and Western Europe, and often only acted when she repeatedly pressed the issue publicly in comments on Workplace, the company’s internal, employee-only message board.

“With no oversight whatsoever, I was left in a situation where I was trusted with immense influence in my spare time,” she wrote. “A manager on Strategic Response mused to myself that most of the world outside the West was effectively the Wild West with myself as the part-time dictator – he meant the statement as a compliment, but it illustrated the immense pressures upon me.”
'The difference is QAnon': how a conspiratorial hate campaign upended California politics - The Guardian

I have lamented about QAnon multiple times in previous editions of WesRecs. Suffice it to say that it only grows scarier and more consequential by the day and we are getting closer and closer to a return of the Dark Ages. It will matter more in the upcoming election than most mainstream outlets are prepared to admit or combat.
 
“I didn’t know what QAnon was a month ago, and it’s totally changed my life,” Stewart said in an interview.

...

QAnon followers believe, without evidence, that that the world is run by a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats and Hollywood celebrities who are engaged in wide-scale child trafficking, pedophilia and cannibalism. A national politics infected by QAnon is wholly incompatible with the evidence-based debate and compromises required to govern any society. Within QAnon there is no room for nuance or rationality; there is only good vs evil, and any disagreement with QAnon dogma is evidence of abject depravity in the form of child murder.

...

The #SaveOurChildren version of QAnon has been particularly popular among a new coalition of anti-public-health activists who have been galvanized by the coronavirus pandemic. As the Guardian reported in June, Facebook’s recommendation algorithm helped facilitate cross-pollination between Facebook groups dedicated to anti-vaccine activism, anti-coronavirus lockdowns, and QAnon. (In Europe, it appears that a similar synergy occurred among anti-5G activists.) Membership in QAnon Facebook groups exploded throughout the summer, and QAnon infiltrated many online subcultures, including those formed around evangelical Christianity, New Age spiritualism, and alternative medicine or “wellness”.

...

“In 2017, when we passed the major restructuring of the sex offender registry, something like a third of Republican senators voted for it,” Wiener recalled. “This time we got zero … The difference between now and 2017 is the existence of QAnon. This sort of semi-organized structure on social media that just pumps out massive, orchestrated misinformation. It just flies across the internet, and if people see it on their timeline, they think it’s true.”

Race & Policing

Towards The Reduction Of Harm

Should you still, at this point, be in doubt that we're sliding into fascism here's an account (supported with audio & video) from reporter Josie Huang detailing her assault and arrest by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in the midst of her doing her job covering protests in Lynwood, CA. She clearly identifies herself as a reporter, she did nothing to interfere with their police activity, she broke no laws, and this was done in full view of multiple bystanders and other news organizations. These cops showed no hesitation in their conduct nor fear of any consequences. The evidence is indisputable and sickening. I recommend checking out the whole thread but you can view the clearest video of it HERE. Disgusting and infuriating. I don't know what you think fascist suppression of the media looks like but if you're confused just watch this.
Cover of the Combahee river collective statement
The Combahee River Collective Statement

The Combahee River Collective  was vital and they have so much to teach us today. I only became aware of them 2 years ago, decades after they formed and disbanded and if I'd known of thhem sooner my political development would be further along than it is now so with that it mind I'm happy to simply share their words and say: this is the path.
 
"The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking. The synthesis of these oppressions creates the conditions of our lives. As Black women we see Black feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face."

...

"It was our experience and disillusionment within these liberation movements, as well as experience on the periphery of the white male left, that led to the need to develop a politics that was anti-racist, unlike those of white women, and anti-sexist, unlike those of Black and white men."


...

"We might use our position at the bottom, however, to make a clear leap into revolutionary action. If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression."
Until Black Women Are Free, None of Us Will Be Free - The New Yorker

I was partly motivated to include the CRC statement this week by reading this wonderful recent piece about them and their impact. Read their statement, read this essay, find joy and conviction and inspiration in both.
 
"When, in the early eighties, my mother got burned out from haggling with less qualified white male administrators and a fancy career that was going nowhere fast, she started a house-cleaning business. She didn’t know about the Volcker Shock and the recession that would follow. My mother’s advanced degrees could not protect her from bankruptcy in 1982. They could not stop our lights from being periodically turned off, or a steady stream of bill collectors from coming to our front door. They could not help her relax, work less, or be more present. My mother died at fifty-two, fifteen years after she filed for bankruptcy; the chronic exhaustion she felt from work was masking the symptoms of an untreated and ultimately deadly case of lupus. Doris Jeanne Taylor’s life was unceremoniously extinguished two weeks after she entered the hospital.

It was years before I pulled those different strands of my mother’s life together. I was still annoyed by her absence and neglect when I was younger. It was not until long after her death that I saw the composite portrait of a single Black mother, raising two kids with a bankruptcy scuttling her credit, a perpetually faulty car draining her bank account, and a broad network of family members to care for. Racism alone could not explain what killed my mother. Gender was also an incomplete answer. It was the overlap of race, gender, and the aspirations to the comfort of a class that she poked around the edges of but could not ultimately break into. Black feminism made sense of my mother’s life of work, her compulsory caretaking and debt. It made sense of her senseless death, just shy of the twenty-first century. Malcolm X made it plain: “The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”"

...

"The overwhelming majority of Black women were working-class and were forced to labor both outside and inside their homes. But Black women who tried to utilize public welfare so that they could spend more time caring for their children were demonized as freeloaders, even as white women who chose to work at home were celebrated for prioritizing their families over personal ambition. In the reality of organizing, these tensions manifested themselves in white women’s desire to focus their organizing on abortion rights, while Black feminists argued for the broader framework of reproductive justice, which included the struggle against forced sterilizations of Black and brown women. These were hardly doctrinaire disputes. The eugenics programs of the early twentieth century continued into the nineteen-seventies, as tens of thousands of women in the United States were subjected to sterilization procedures without their informed consent."

...

"Instead, I read it as a powerful intervention for the left as a whole. In a political moment when futile arguments claimed to pit race against class, and identity politics against mass movements, the C.R.C. showed how to understand the relationship between race, class, and gender through the actual experiences of Black women."
Resources to think of before you reach your hand to call thee police. Admittedly, many of these are specific to Portland, OR but many of these resources have national or local analogues regardless of where you happen to be so please, definitely keep these sorts of things in mind before you potentially end someone's life for no reason.

🎵To The Left! To The Left!🎵

On That Commie Pinko Tip

New york post story with the headline: Business leaders urge de Blasio to drop the politics and save NYC
I am no fan of Bill de Blasio and even less of one of the NY Post but I'm including this article here for the clarity it provides re: the mentality of the business/owner class in a place that's considered as "progressive" as NYC. I'll spare you having to read and just say that everything in here can be boiled down to:

"Our white rich customers and our white white-collar workers are getting antsy about living and shopping here because the riff raff have smashed some store windows, so Mr. Mayor please unleash police violence on them aggressively and without delay so that we can get back to feeling safe as wildly underpaid essential workers cater to our every need.
Angry Upper West Siders Wanted Homeless "Scum" Out Of Their Neighborhood. De Blasio Took Their Side - Gothamist

COVID led to a segment of the NYC homeless shelter population being relocated to vacant hotels on the Upper West Side. This caused a lot of well-off liberal New Yorkers to take a break from blacking out their Instagram feed and instead work on best practices for assaulting the indigent with various products easily obtained from the hardware store.
 
"In a neighborhood Facebook group with 14,000 members, local residents had openly fantasized about an armed uprising against their homeless neighbors, counseled each other to use wasp spray and dog feces to make them feel unwelcome, and referred to people perceived as homeless as “trash,” “scum,” and “thugs.”

At the end of last month, a noose was found outside the Lucerne Hotel, a message of intimidation aimed at homeless residents, according to some who saw it."

...

"“Here we go again. I’m like a nomad. Where the wind goes, you gotta go,” said Mr. Smith, who has a one-year-old daughter he’s supporting through minimum wage custodial work. “Money always gonna talk. Our opinion don’t even matter, our living arrangements don’t even matter. Nothing for nothing. We don’t have no say so. Remember, money rules the world.”"

...

"“Forget pepper spray or mace,” wrote 60-year-old Clodette Mardini Sabatelle, who identifies herself on Instagram as a trustee with Community In Crisis, a federally-funded organization that aims to stop overdoses. “Use Hornet Spray and shoot in the eyes.”"
The Ugly Side of New York’s Outdoor Dining Renaissance - NYT

Again, the purpose of the police is to protect capital. Any "crime" they solve or prevent is pure gravy.
 
"Last month, feeling desperate, he organized a petition of local business owners asking the city to do something that would make his stretch of Ninth Avenue, around 37th Street, more appealing to people who find themselves put off by the notion of eating outside while people who might not be wearing masks touch them and ask for money (or use tree beds as lavatories).

Mr. Accardi often calls the police — the Midtown South Precinct, in which the crime rate itself remained flat last month, is just around the corner — whenever he sees disruption at the restaurant. But by the time the police arrive, he said, some number of customers will have fled."

...

"The problems that have arisen there since the pandemic ultimately reveal how lost the city seems to be when it comes to dealing with quality-of-life issues. After the profound and devastating failures of broken windows policing, the city seemed to opt for resignation over a system of empathic solutions. Suddenly, that has become all too visible."
America’s Exceptional Housing Crisis - Foreign Affairs

In America homes are designed as and conceived of as investment vehicles. This is a problem because homes should be designed as an conceived of as...places for people to live. Add to that the enormously violent/repressive/enduring racial history of this country and throw in a lil pandemic and you get a colossally messed up situation.
 
"Nationwide, the median rent payment increased 61 percent in real terms between 1960 and 2016—a period in which the median renter’s income grew by just five percent. Today, one in four American renters spends more than half of his or her income on housing. And even before the pandemic, some 200,000 Americans were sleeping in parks, abandoned buildings, or cars every night. That number is surely higher now."

...

"The housing crisis in the United States is partly a product of the country’s vexed racial history. Communities have long wielded land-use regulation to maintain racial segregation, often with the active backing of the federal government. Nowhere was this truer than in the suburbs that sprang up around American cities after World War II. Locally sanctioned residential racial segregation, coupled with discrimination by mortgage lenders and real estate agents, kept these communities almost exclusively white—a legacy that lingers to this day."

...

"Unfortunately, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has moved the United States in the wrong direction. In the early years of his administration, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson echoed the previous administration’s criticisms of regulatory barriers to housing construction and suggested withholding federal funds from suburbs that failed to reform their land-use regulations to permit more development. But Trump has since changed tack—promising to “protect America’s suburbs” and telling residents “living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream” that “you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.” Should Trump win reelection in November, the prospects for sensible land-use reform are bleak."

Things Read

Worthwhile Words

Life in the Forever Fires: Toward Serenity in an Apocalypse - LitHub

How do you keep your head on straight if the sky is red and the air is poison and those things just happen to be like the 2nd or 3rd most pressing problems being faced at the moment? If you're like this author (and me) you respond in the ways you've always responded to conundrums and then wonder if that is even remotely adequate for the issues at hand.

The writer here incorporates the widely known story about the experiment where a frog that is placed in room-temperature water that is slowly heated will not notice the incrementally-increased heat and will eventually boil alive without having moved. That has been debunked and you can read about it here.
 
"We adapt so quickly. By fractional adjustments we arrive at a completely new understanding of ourselves, and by the stepwise process manage to do so without ever having realized any departure in the first place. Like the frog in water, temperature rising all the time, we repeat this phrase (of a pandemic, of climate events) new normal, as by its repetition we can will it into being, as if, by insisting we are already adjusted, we will be able to forget whatever normal once was, ignore whatever long distance we’ve come from that place."

...

"Here is what they don’t tell you about the frogs: prior to the experiment, each specimen was lobotomized. The parts of their brains that would sense distress, or danger, that would trigger their reflex to jump to the glinting edge of the pot and, if they were lucky, escape to the cool safety of the countertop: these were gone. And so 2020 came to California, and the sky filled with ash, and I was left wondering whether I still had the parts necessary for survival."

...

"I track lists through the years, these lists ordered by structure-loss or death count or acres burned. The top of almost every one of these lists, now, is a fire from the last five years. For nearly 30 years before that, the top of many if not most was 1991."

...

"The end of the Didion quote: “Information was control.” It that true? I’ve had my share of twelve step meetings. I’ve thought a lot about control, about attachment, about what it means to love with no guarantees. I am coming to understand that, no matter how diligently I try to acclimatize, no matter how meticulously I follow every kernel of information back to its source, I will never be comfortable with what is happening. This is my home; these are the people I love best in the world, and not a single thing I know about normalcy, or narrative, applies to us now."

 

Things Seen

Watched Recently By Wes

I'm glad to have watched this quick conversation with Stuart Franklin, the photographer behind the iconic "Tank Man" photo from Beijing's Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. I remember spending almost an entire class period of 10th grade Social Studies looking at the photo, watching the video clip, and discussing the uprising, its brutal suppression by the Chinese government and this single man's inspiring bravery in the face of immense state power. Billions of people (outside of Communist China) have seen this photo and ascribed all kinds of meaning to it and while the Tank Man was undeniably brave and inspiring the photographer offers some perspective that I'd never before considered.

He talks about smuggling the film out of China in a box of tea where it was soon received by The New York Times and then popularized by President George H.W. Bush who commented on Tank Man's bravery. The image was used by the West as a symbol of resistance to dictatorial Communist rule and was used by the Chinese state abroad as an example of their restraint "hey look, we didn't just shoot this guy who was openly defying us!". It became THE image of Tiananmen Square protests and remains so to this day. BUT Franklin notes that this in effect tossed all of the other and more brutal images of beatings/shootings/dead bodies in the street & morgues/etc to the side. In a weird way this image, inspiring as it is, actually softens the abject brutality that China unleashed on the protests (which were brutally crushed and which China heavily censors information about inside the country).

Just an angle I never thought of before and a great cautionary story about what we elevate as "iconic".
I have seen not a one of these films but...damn.

Interesting that it's always green for the man and red for the woman. I would love to read what I'm sure is the 40-page marketing/psychology dossier on why that it is. In another life perhaps...

In lieu of having not watched any of these I'll over an off-the-cuff non-comprehensive list of some of my holiday faves.
  • Home Alone & Home Alone II
  • Jingle All The Way
  • It's A Wonderful Life
  • Miracle on 34th St. (original)
  • Bad Santa
  • Scrooged
Random Viewing:

Word of The Week

Up That Vocab Game

myrmidon, n
[ MUR - mih - don ]

rare.
Meaning:
1. Usually in form Myrmidon. In translations of Homer ( Iliad 2. 684) or with reference to the Homeric story: a member of a warlike people inhabiting ancient Thessaly, whom Achilles led to the siege of Troy.

2. A member of a bodyguard or retinue; a faithful follower; one of a group or team of attendants, servants, or assistants.

3. A member of a gang or army adhering to a particular leader; a hired ruffian or mercenary.

4. Chiefly derogatory. A police officer, bailiff, or other law enforcement officer. More fully myrmidon of the law, myrmidon of justice. Now archaic and rare.

Origin: classical Latin Myrmidon < ancient Greek Μυρμιδον-, Μυρμιδών. Compare Middle French, French Mirmidon, Myrmidon (early 16th cent.; c1165 in Old French as Myrmidoneis, plural), Italian mirmidone (14th cent. as mirmidoni, plural).
In Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and English the word appears first in the plural; the singular, when it appears, remains rare. Sense 3 does not appear in French (or in ancient Greek); however, French has a transferred use ‘insignificant fellow’ (1586), an allusion to the playful etymology from ancient Greek μύρμηξ ant (found first in Hesiod and recounted in Ovid Metamorphoses 7. 614–60), which is the origin also of myrmidonian adj.

Somebody Said This

Words To Admire

Just like last week this quote is coming at you straight from Octavia Butler in Parable of the Sower

Fun Facts

Trivia To Bend Your Brain

  • Rat poison (which is basically a blood thinner that causes rodents to bleed out internally) has no effect on slugs and snails who in fact consider it a treat and frequently disrupt rodent traps by eating it before its intended targets do.
  • Russia has a bigger surface area than the dwarf-planet Pluto.
  • Dolphins can be some of the most violent & sadistic creatures around and their intelligence and natural abilities assist them with this. They will use echolocation in order to home in on the vital organs of their targets in order to facilitate maximum damage when attacking.
  • Polar Bears are practically invisible on a thermal (infrared) camera.
  • With just a group of 70 randomly selected people you attain a 99.9% probability that at least 2 people share the same birthday. You achieve a 50% probability with just 23 people.
Copyright © 2020 Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer., All rights reserved.


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