TNH's Particles
* The Bobblehead Project.
* John Holbo's review of David Frum's Dead Right.
* Mormon Transhumanist Association.
* Howard Rheingold quotes.
* Ignaz Trebitsch-Lincoln.
* How to invest when no one really knows what to do.
* If the Moon were only 1 pixel.
* Ignatius Timothy Trebitsch-Lincoln.
* Make a plan to vote with Biden and Obama.
* Jon Stewart's Twitter war with Donald Trump.
More...
PNH's Sidelights
* Jo Walton: Not my gods.
* Kit Reed, 1932-2017
* Storytelling for Medievalists: A Proposal
* Goodbye, and Good Riddance, to Centrism
* And the sequel: Lee's Reputation Can't Be Redeemed
* The Myth of the Kindly General Lee
* Organizing involves rallying friends more than persuading foes
* This is not a crisis, Republicans say as a large spider slowly devours them
* Winners and Losers of the Recent Nuclear Holocaust
* The Culture of Predatory Harassment Dominating the Conservative Movement
More...
Abi's Parhelia
* History of Ball Bearings [PDF]
* Universal basic income trials being considered in Scotland
* Basic Income - from utopian vision to policy proposition to movement
* How do liberals halt the march of the right? Stand our ground and toughen up
* Opposition in the Age of Gish Gallops
* Schneier on the next four years
* Thomas Merton's letter to a young activist
* EU negotiators will offer Brits an individual opt-in to remain EU citizens, chief negotiator confirms
* Democrats and the idea of a leader of the opposition
* Trump's businesses and potential conflicts: sorting it out
More...
Avram's Phosphenes
We Made a Song Our King
A Guide to Weird Leftist Internet Slang
How did world newspapers handle the translation of Scaramucci’s tirade?
Hayao Miyazaki’s Cosmologics
So a Nazi Walks Into an Iron Bar: the Meyer Lansky Story
Now is the Time to Talk About What we are Actually Talking About
Anil Dash on the work that needs to be done now
Autocracy: Rules for Survival
The gender of Brexit
West Wing Cabinet Battle
More...
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Commonplaces
“We are prophets of a future not our own.” (Oscar Romero)

“Peace means something different from ‘not fighting’. Those aren’t peace advocates, they’re ‘stop fighting’ advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.” (Jo Walton)

“Fascism doesn’t look like jackboots dragging a man off a plane. It looks like people defending it.” (Emily Gorcenski)

“You really think that safety can be plucked from the arms of an evil deed?” (Darla, “Inside Out”)

“Forgiveness requires giving up on the possibility of a better past.” (unknown)

“The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature.” (Arthur D. Hlavaty)

“Terror consists mostly of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.” (Friedrich Engels)

“Any sufficiently advanced neglect is indistinguishable from malice.” (Deb Chachra)

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of believing that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“You don't owe the internet your time. The internet does not know this, and will never learn.” (Quinn Norton)

“Great writing is the world's cheapest special effect.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” (Gertrude Stein)

“Very few people are stupid. It’s just that the world really is that difficult and you can’t continually be careful.” (Quinn Norton)

“Armageddon is not around the corner. This is only what the people of violence want us to believe. The complexity and diversity of the world is the hope for the future.” (Michael Palin)

“Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“The fact that ‘there are only a handful of bad cops’ cuts no ice with me. If ‘only a handful of McDonald’s are spitting in your food,’ you’re not going to McDonald’s.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Young men and women, educated very carefully to be apolitical, to be technicians who thought they disliked politics, making them putty in the hands of their rulers, like always.” (Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars)

“The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.” (G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday)

“When liberty is mentioned, we must observe whether it is not really the assertion of private interests.” (Hegel)

“History is the trade secret of science fiction.” (Ken MacLeod)

“But isn’t all of human history simultaneously a disaster novel and a celebrity gossip column?” (Anonymous LJ commenter)

“I see now that keen interest can illuminate anything, and that anything, moreover, has something worth illuminating in it, and that without that interest gates carved by Benvenuto Cellini from two diamonds would merely look chilly.” (Lord Dunsany)

“I grieve for the spirit of Work, killed by her evil child, Workflow.” (Paul Ford)

“The opposite of ‘serious’ isn't ‘funny.’ The opposite of both ‘serious’ and ‘funny’ is ‘squalid.’” (R. A. Lafferty)

“Ki is, of course, mystical bullshit. That’s why it works so well, both as a teaching idiom and a tool of practice in martial arts. It’s as nonexistent as charm, leadership, or acting. Humans are all about bullshit.” (Andrew Plotkin)

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” (Charles Kingsley)

“Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even when the plan is horrifying.” (The Joker)

“Hope has two daughters, anger and courage. They are both lovely.” (attributed to St. Augustine)

“Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“This movie has way too much plot getting in the way of the story.” (Joe Bob Briggs)

“If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Always side with the truth. It’s much bigger than you are.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” (Tony Kushner)

“I don’t want politicians who are ‘above politics,’ any more then I want a plumber who’s ‘above toilets.’” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.” (Otto von Bismarck)

“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” (Anne Lamott)

“Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical science-fiction cowboy detective novel.” (Alan Moore)

“See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.” (John XXIII)

“You will never love art well, until you love what she mirrors better.” (John Ruskin)

“Having a smallpox vaccine scar is like walking around with the moon landing and the Sistine Chapel on your upper arm.” (Angus Johnston)

“They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.” (Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose)

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” (Jay Gould)

“I’m a leftist. I don't argue with anyone unless they agree with me.” (Steven Brust)

“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” (Mark Twain)

“Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don’t struggle to get them right.” (Stephen Jay Gould)

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” (Gustav Mahler)

“But this kind of deference, this attentive listening to every remark of his, required the words he uttered to be worthy of the attention they excited—a wearing state of affairs for a man accustomed to ordinary human conversation, with its perpetual interruption, contradiction, and plain disregard. Here everything he said was right; and presently his spirits began to sink under the burden.” (Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander)

“Hatred is a banquet until you recognize you are the main course.” (Herbert Benson)

“For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.” (Neal Stephenson)

“‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.” (James Morrow)

“And after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12)

“The man who tries to make the flag an object of a single party is a greater traitor to that flag than any man who fires at it.” (Lloyd George)

“The United States behaves like a salesman with a fantastic product who tries to force people to buy it at gunpoint.” (Emma of Late Night Thoughts)

“I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending—if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism.” (Charles Stross)

“The real test of any claim about freedom, I’ve decided, is how far you’re willing to go in letting people be wrong about it.” (Bruce Baugh)

“As with bad breath, ideology is always what the other person has.” (Terry Eagleton)

“Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.” (Max Weber)

“No, it’s not fair. You’re in the wrong universe for fair.” (John Scalzi)

“I don’t understand death, but I got hot dish down pretty good.” (Marissa Lingen)

“Skepticism is the worst form of gullibility.” (John “adamsj” Adams)

“We have a backstage view of ourselves and a third-row view of everybody else.” (Garrison Keillor)

“The Reign of Sin is more universal, the influence of unconscious error is less, than historians tell us.” (Lord Acton)

“All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them.” (H. L. Mencken)

“Tomorrow never happens. It’s all the same fucking day, man.” (Janis Joplin)

“Words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. It is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.” (W. B. Yeats)

“It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other.” (Aldous Huxley)

“Never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny-looking.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval [...] If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: ‘Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are as gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache.’” (Dorothy L. Sayers)

“Grown ups are what’s left when skool is finished.” (Nigel Molesworth)

“If you don't like the ‘blame game,’ it’s usually because you’re to blame.” (Jon Stewart)

“Slang is for a war of signals.” (Unknown semiotician/palindromist)

“Science fiction is an argument with the world. When it becomes (solely) an argument within science fiction, it breathes recycled air.” (Ken MacLeod)

“All worthy work is open to interpretation the author didn’t intend. Art isn’t your pet—it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back.” (Joss Whedon)

“I really don’t know what you do about the ‘taxes is theft’ crowd, except possibly enter a gambling pool regarding just how long after their no-tax utopia comes true that their generally white, generally entitled, generally soft and pudgy asses are turned into thin strips of Objectivist Jerky by the sort of pitiless sociopath who is actually prepped and ready to live in the world that logically follows these people’s fondest desires.” (John Scalzi)

“So whenever a libertarian says that capitalism is at odds with the state, laugh at him. It’s like saying that the NFL is ‘at war’ with football fields. To be a libertarian is to say that God or the universe marked up that field, squirted out the pigskins from the bowels of the earth, and handed down the playbooks from Mt. Sinai.” (Connor Kilpatrick)

“True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.” (Abdal-Hakim Murad)

“There is a machine. Its program is ‘profit’. This is not a myth.” (Joss Whedon)

“There's always romance at the top of a system.” (Will Shetterly)

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.” (John “Second US President” Adams)

“There is a document that records God’s endless, dispiriting struggle with organized religion, known as the Bible.” (Terry Eagleton)

“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop, And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.” (Mario Savio)

“Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“To live is to war against the trolls.” (Henrik Ibsen)

“There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we are ourselves incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real.” (G. K. Chesterton)

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

“It’s just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” (Bill Hicks)

“I don’t think we have a language, will ever have a language, that can describe transcendence in any useful way and I am aware that that transcendence may be nothing more than the illusory aspiration of a decaying piece of meat on a random rock. The thing is to be humble enough to be content with that while acting to other people as generously as if better things were true, and making art as if it might survive and do good in the world. Because what else are we going to do with the few short years of our life?” (Roz Kaveney)

“I hate living in a satirical dystopia.” (Arthur Hlavaty)

“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)

“Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying.” (Iain Banks)

“If it doesn’t connect with people around you who aren’t like you, it isn’t politics.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

January 22, 2018
Open thread 220
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:58 PM * 17 comments

Overheard: “You think he’s cool because he’s a dwarf? Or because you read about him online?”

Discuss.

October 07, 2017
My grandmother’s clock
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 08:10 AM * 75 comments

I have a chiming clock in the house. It was originally my maternal grandmother’s, and my mother very kindly gave it to me a number of years back. Hearing it tick in the background, I often think about the song “My Grandfather’s Clock”. We used to sing it* in elementary school. That song is a sweet remembrance of someone’s stout, elderly grandfather.

But.

But it’s such a patriarchal clock in the song, isn’t it? A huge investment on the day a baby is born. It won’t fit anywhere convenient, so you have to make an extra space for it. And then everything comes to a stop when Mr Center of Attention leaves the scene. I understand that in the sequel it ends up in a junk shop, broken down for parts and chopped up for kindling.

My grandmother, whom I never met but am told I strongly resemble, was born into a poor immigrant family. She was a smart woman but had very little access to higher education. She was also a gifted crafter; I have one small piece of her weaving. She was not always happy in the space she was allowed to occupy in society, and she didn’t raise a very happy family. Her death in her fifties was all the harder as a result, for her and for everyone who had to carry on.

But she left this clock, which she’d liked and bought as an adult. A little wooden Seth Thomas mantel clock, now with a chipped face after a shipping mishap. It has a soothing tick and a clear chime. It went through a phase of refusing to go for a few years, but has mysteriously resumed working again. Its ticking is the heartbeat of the house, a reminder of someone I wish I’d known.

And this is a great gift because she also left us ourselves: the female line, unnamed the way female lines are in our culture. A daughter, two granddaughters, one great-granddaughter†, all of whom have inherited something of her smile and a lot of her brains. I look at my hands as I bind books and Fiona’s as she draws, and wonder what hers looked like on the loom. I look at the good in my life and wish more of it had been in hers too.

My grandmother’s clock is at home on its shelf
As it was on so many before.
Not a gift at her birth, for she bought it herself
In LA at a secondhand store.

It has sounded its chimes
Through the good and happy times;
Been a comfort on days that I’ve mourned.
For it ticks on, though she herself was gone
Before I was born.

Her heart beating in memory.
(tick, tock, tick, tock)
Her voice singing the hours to me.
(tick, tock, tick, tock)
For it ticks on, though she herself was gone
Before I was born.

(I don’t think today is any kind of anniversary. But since her genes and her clock are ever-present in my life, any day will do to post this.)


* the first verse, anyway. I’ve just looked it up and it does go on a lot longer.
† I have other cousins and nieces, but this is the female line I’m talking about.

September 07, 2017
NYC primary elections 2017
Posted by Avram Grumer at 09:03 PM * 11 comments

NYC primary elections are coming up next Tuesday, and there’s actually some interesting action going on in the normally dull and opaque civil court judge elections. What usually happens is there are five positions available, and the party machine picks five candidates, and those are your choices.

This year, a journalist named Gary Tilzer has decided to shake things up a bit by proposing his own slate of five candidates as rivals to the Democratic machine slate. In addition, an eleventh candidate is running, on neither slate. That link up there has details about all eleven candidates; I’m leaning towards the Tilzer slate (Patrick Hayes, Isiris Isella Isaac, Thomas Kennedy, Sandra Roper, and John O’Hara).

Those are county-wide positions, affecting all of Brooklyn. In addition, there’s a district-level municipal civil court system, and something odd going on here in the 6th Municipal District. The machine seems to be siding with Rupert Barry; I’ve received two different full-color glossy cardstock flyers promoting him. But I see here that he was fired from a previous position for poor evaluations. Also, he’s a former homicide prosecutor, so the heck with him. I’m leaning towards Hemalee Patel for that spot.

I also like Anne Swern for Kings County DA, and will probably vote for the incumbents for Mayor (DeBlasio) and Public Advocate (Letitia James) unless anyone can give me good reasons not to.

NYC voters can check Who’s on the Ballot to find out what choices you’ll see on your ballot.

Update: One of our commenters has drawn my attention to this newsletter by Jen Abrams, who’s done a whole bunch of research that I didn’t bother to do, including sending out her own questionnaires to candidates. She’s changed my mind on a few of the races; I’m gonna vote her recommendations on the wacky county-wide Civil Court race (C Melendez, II Isaac, EE Edwards, F Arriaga, P Frias-Colon), and my district’s City Council member (Ede Fox). And I’m now leaning towards Elena Baron for the 6th District Municipal Civil Court position, though I won’t cry if Barry or Patel get it.

August 26, 2017
“If you feel safe now, it’s an illusion born of your relationship to power.”
Posted by Patrick at 05:53 PM * 156 comments

From a post by Logan Rimel, parish administrator at University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley, Caifornia.

I outsourced the sin of my violence to them. I asked them to get their hands dirty so I could keep mine clean.

In Charlottesville, my “nonviolent” stance was met with heavily armed men. They came with bats, clubs, plywood shields painted with swastikas, brass knuckles, tear gas canisters, and wooden sticks. Not to mention the guns. The heavily armed militia were everywhere. They liked that they made you feel nervous. It was fun for them.

They came to hurt people, and they did.

Let me take a moment to be clear—I do not advocate for violence. I trust, however pig-headedly, that all of creation—including all people—is both capable and worthy of salvation. That there is no such thing as a lost cause with God. I cannot explain this trust; it is a part of me deeper than rational faculty. To commit violence against another human being is to commit violence against the image of God in them. To me, it is a sin. I do not believe God requires us to sin. But it seems apparent to me that the world sometimes does.

I never felt safer than when I was near antifa. They came to defend people, to put their bodies between these armed white supremacists and those of us who could not or would not fight. They protected a lot of people that day, including groups of clergy. My safety (and safety is relative in these situations) was dependent upon their willingness to commit violence. In effect, I outsourced the sin of my violence to them. I asked them to get their hands dirty so I could keep mine clean. Do you understand? They took that up for me, for the clergy they shielded, for those of us in danger. We cannot claim to be pacifists or nonviolent when our safety requires another to commit violence, and we ask for that safety.

And so I come to this—white liberal Christian friends, I’m talking to you. I’ve seen a lot of condemnation of “violent response,” lots of selective quoting Dr. King, lots of disparagement of antifa and the so-called “alt-left,” a moral equivalency from the depths of Hell if I ever saw one. You want to be nonviolent? That is good and noble. I think…I think I do, too. But I want you to understand what you’re asking of the people who take this necessary stance against white supremacy, the people who go to look evil in the face. You’re asking them to be beaten with brass knuckles, with bats, with fists. To be pounded into the ground, stomped on, and smashed. You’re asking them to bleed on the pavement and the grass. Some of them are going to die. And you’re asking them to do that without defending themselves.

Are you willing to do that? Are you going to to go out when the Nazis come here, to the Bay Area, next week? Are you going to offer your body to them? No? Are you willing to take a bat to the head? To be surrounded by angry young men who want nothing more than to beat you unconscious, like they did Deandre Harris? Are you going to rely upon a different type of violence—that imposed by the state—to protect you—even knowing it is a danger to your neighbors? To outsource the violence your safety requires to someone else? Or are you just not going to show up, at the rally or afterward? To choose passivity over pacifism—because let’s be clear, nonviolence is still about showing up.

If you are unwilling to risk your bodily integrity to stand against literal Nazis, but you are willing to criticize the people out there who are taking this grave threat seriously but not in a way of which you approve….I just don’t know what to say to you. Truly. Your moral authority is bankrupt and you’re not helping. You’re a hypocrite.

Everyone wants to feel safe. You are not safe. Your Muslim neighbors are not safe. Your immigrant neighbors are not safe. Your black neighbors are not safe. Your disabled neighbors are not safe. Your indigenous neighbors are not safe. Your Jewish neighbors are not safe. Your transgender neighbors are not safe. If you feel safe now, it’s an illusion born of your relationship to power. But make no mistake—you may not be the canary, but we’re all in the same coal mine. These people have been “community organizing” for DECADES. They are base-building and they have the White House. They have infiltrated law enforcement. They are in every legislative body and on every school board. You are not safe.

August 16, 2017
August 08, 2017
FTL, Y’all
Posted by Avram Grumer at 03:55 AM * 70 comments

Iron Circus Comics (Spike Trotman’s company) has just announced its next anthology project: FTL, Y’all. Imagine what would happen if someone, this year, invented an FTL drive that could be built with $200 in easily-available parts, and put the plans up on the Internet so just about anyone could build one.

The open submission period starts next week (Aug 15), so comickers, start your engines. I don’t know when the Kickstarter launches. You might want to look over Iron Circus’s general submissions page for an idea of what Spike likes and doesn’t.

June 11, 2017
Mosaic face
Posted by Teresa at 05:17 PM * 36 comments

I love the faces in Byzantine mosaics. 28.-St-Georges-Rotunda-Thessaloniki copy.jpeg

I used to make my own Mac icons back in the 1990s, when pixels were bigger and the Finder was user-tweakable. You had 31 x 31 pixels to work with. I learned to respect the art of using jagged little squares of color to imply details when seen from a distance.

Byzantine mosaicists were masters of it. The image at right is from the Rotonda of Galerius aka Agios Georgios aka St. George’s Rotunda in Thessaloniki.* It’s remarkably sophisticated. Seen up close, the heavily underlined jaw, the bright yellow highlights, and the checkered colors on his eyes, throat, and chin, look harsh and unnatural: abstract decoration, not mimetic representation. But the more you blur its edges — squinting through your eyelashes should work — the more realistic it looks to your brain.*

It also has that odd characteristic of recognizably being the face of a real person. I don’t know why people can spot that; I just know they do. The differences must be infinitesimal.

Byzantine mosaics thrived in the midst of physical limitations. Their palette was limited to the natural colors of rocks, plus a few colors of glass. The formal architecture of the time didn’t admit a whole lot of light, many of the best decorative surfaces were located way up toward the ceiling, and eyeglasses hadn’t been invented yet.

They still made them sing.

March 20, 2017
March 14, 2017
Wealth, risk, and power
Posted by Teresa at 01:56 PM * 162 comments

This is a thread I wrote on Twitter, because sometimes it’s easier to write about big subjects on very small pieces of paper. Numbers link to individual tweets. Title swiped from Jonathan Korman.

1. The rich don’t need fed. health insurance. Their up-and-coming competitors, who aren’t rich yet, do: one major illness can wipe them out.

2. The rich donor class hates social policies that make the non-rich braver and more enterprising. For example…

3. Social security, so a lifetime of hard work doesn’t end in misery. Student financial aid, so that talent + hard work can = achievement.

4. Bank regulation, so our careful savings and investments aren’t wrecked by irresponsible games the big-money guys play with each other.

5. Health and safety regulations, because it shouldn’t be okay to maim or poison people who don’t have clout. And so forth.

6. Us little guys shouldn’t have the nerve to start new businesses, develop new products, or go as far as our work and talent will take us.

7. Poor whites are supposed to stay poor, and know in their bones that they’re born to sorrow, and their luck will never last.

8. Blacks should keep quiet, and do first-rate work on jobs that are well below their ability, because things can always get worse, y’hear?

9. There’s no point in women having ambitions, because one little mishap can wreck everything you’ve worked for.

10. Keeping the rest of us in a constant state of low-level fear is the one consistent goal of the policies the donor class supports.

11. Why? Because we have to tolerate some risk in order to successfully compete with them and their less-than-talented offspring.

12. I’m not talking about rational, calculable risks. I mean the unforeseeable: illness, accidents, market crashes, natural disasters.

13. They want us to know in our bones that we have no defense against risk. If *anything* happens, we’ll be stuck paying for it forever.

14. We’re not allowed to build a more level playing field that we all share. They want us out of the game entirely, so they can always win.

15. Meanwhile, they’re always angling to get their own risk reduced. Always. Because winning.

16. One more thing. Who are the Alt Right? They’re guys who think they’re entitled to a place among the wealthy and risk-averse, …

17. …And haven’t figured out yet that few if any of them are going to succeed at that. They’ll get consolation prizes at best.

18. That’s why they harass egalitarians: they think we’re interfering with a game they plan to win, but have already lost.

[end]

19. And one more thing I forgot.

20. The wealthy donor class wants to instill fear in us, so we’ll be unwilling to try to compete with them.

This is grounds for hope.

21. Because if they could have made it impossible for us to fight back & compete, they’d have done it by now. Therefore, we can.

[real end]

March 13, 2017
Making Conversation
Posted by Teresa at 08:50 PM * 9 comments

This is just to say
that my recent essay collection,
Making Conversation,
is eligible for Best Related Work.

Forgive me.
I know this sort of reminder can be done badly;
but it’s my book,
and Hugo nominations close in four days.

March 08, 2017
Dori Smith and Tom Negrino
Posted by Patrick at 03:32 AM * 14 comments

Long ago in Internet time, the well-known tech writer and programmer Dori Smith, a sometime reader hereabouts, did Making Light a very useful kindness.

Now she and her husband Tom Negrino are going through the hardest of times. Whatever the outcome, we wish them solace and ease.

February 01, 2017
January 27, 2017
I know what I’m needin’, and I don’t want to waste more time
Posted by Avram Grumer at 03:34 AM * 13 comments

Hey, New Yorkers (City and State)! Want health care? There’s a bill making its way through our state legislature that would set up a state-wide single-payer health care system! It’s called the New York Health Act, and it’s already been passed by the Democratic-majority State Assembly. Next step is to push it through the Republican-controlled State Senate, so backers of the bill have scheduled a call-in day for Friday, January 27th, 9AM–9PM. Look up your State Senator’s phone number, call ’em up, and ask them to pass it.

This isn’t the first time this bill has been tried. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried has been pushing it since 1999, but it got through the Assembly for the first time in 2015. Maybe this year it’ll get through both houses. And if not, we can try again next year.