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What the world needs now…

Is Serious Media Literacy Skills

And yes, love, etc. And rage. Bread and roses. JUSTICE.

All the things!

I’m skipping a comics class because our apartment building is running on one laundry machine and I just don’t think I can hang out every day after work this week waiting until I get that magic spot. (yeah, world’s smallest violin, I hear it too).

There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, eh? Some truly incredible resistance led by indigenous people and people of colour in North America (yep, let’s problematize NA as a place naming, another time). Look up #IstandwithStandingRock and #BlackLivesMatter and #webelieveyou to get a taste of what I’m talking about.

On my mind, at the moment, though, is our collective need to cut down on spreading crap media (lies, lies, lies) around like peanut butter on warm toast (or nutella, if you prefer).

If we don’t develop critical media literacy, we’re fucked. I know, it’s crass. But it’s true. Just, critical thinking in general. I’ve taken for granted that my folks raised me ask questions and cultivate thoughtful, hopeful doubt. I also got to sit around in classrooms in high school and university and have a think about “how we know what we know, blah blah blah.” Something increasingly rare, it seems, in neoliberal approaches to post-secondary education of late. So, privilege and timing / timing and privilege. But, developing critical thinking skills and media and digital literacy does not require access to the university. I’ll stop here and research this more for another time.

Buzzfeed nails it, discussing Myanmar‘s astoundingly fast conversion to internet access, when less than 1% of residents had internet access two years ago. In the span of a hot minute, the country has moved from near-total state control of the media and telecommunications to a huge percentage of the population getting online. As the article notes, this leap in technological access and lack of media/digital literacy is feeding anti-Muslim rhetoric and misinformation at a terrible rate. You may think it’s just because it’s Myanmar (which would be pretty idiotic). But this is partly what happened with Trump, in the land of so-called free press (have you been paying attention to Trump’s relationship with the media? Ugh. Danger ahead).

And this from the New Yorker’s Adrian Chen on Russia’s concerted misinformation campaigns on behalf of the Kremlin.

Yeah, I should take it easy with citing the New Yorker all the time. Sorry. The New Yorker was my best friend (not an exaggeration), regularly left in the hospital lobby by one of the local doctors with a subscription, where my mum worked reception nights and weekends. A definite step up from Readers Digest. So, I get a little wrapped up in the NY (my security blanket, really). I’ll take it easy.

Some satire brightening my life for moments on the daily: “TODAY’S DEBATE: Should men THEMSELVES be involved in decisions about their reproductive health? Or would that be seen as pandering?”

Have you seen the new Gilmore Girls? Have you noticed how fatphobic it is? Episode three (Summer) is particularly cruel and lazy in this regard. At first I thought it was just the new edition then I went back and watched some old stuff and yep, it’s a constant thread throughout. WTF. GG offends on multiple levels, but this struck me in particular last Saturday. And still I watched it.

A book I’m nearly done reading is Kate Bollick’s Spinster. The review cites one of my favourite lines from the book:

she recalls eating a Big Mac late one drunken night on the sidewalk on her walk home. “I chomped and strolled as slowly as I could, prolonging the delectable realization that waiting for me at home was nothing but an empty bed into which I’d crawl naked and drunk and stinking of fast food, disgusting nobody but myself.”

And with that, I bid you adieu. Till next time.







November 9th, 2016: Pussy Grabs Back

The cat came back the very next day: here, pussy, pussy

This is not a pussy reference, god no. But close. More an acknowledgement of trumpy’s not-so-surprising capacity to reappear, good as new, no matter what shit hits his stupid suit and hair (and that perma-tan face). Anyway, I’m not going to say too much about it because what’s there left to say that hasn’t been said both eloquently and asininely online and in the media? I’m supremely disappointed that white people like me (not going to play the “us good whiteys” and “those poor losers” because that’s shortsighted, self-aggrandizing, and absolutely not true) gotta let humanity (or just the totality of existence?) down again and again. So much respect for those who’ve been fighting white supremacy in its all-encompassing power for generations, and who continue to do so (#standwithstandingrock #blacklivesmatter and so many more).

So, that’s my day after US election dirge.

Also, last night I listened to this on repeat because goddam Nina Simone. Tonight, it’s going to be Hercules and Love Affair (okay, I’ll be honest. as my fb friendz know, I’m always listening to Hercules and Love Affair. like, leave me alone, okay).

Coffee and TV

Last week I binged through Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, yes I did. Then Monday night I watched the first season of Chewing Gum. Both so good. Both definitely getting that feminist-y talk about race and gender and sex and work out there to the front, in different ways. I recommend them both. I don’t know how to write about TV or books critically, except to say I like ’em or I don’t. Should have spent more time in English Lit in my undergrad, I guess? Last night I half-assedly watched The Crown while half-assedly following the election counts online. It’s alright so far: the casual, entitled ignorance Prince Philip displays when they visit sites of empire in Africa are gaggy and real. And the line Elizabeth uses about the country being savage just a generation ago before the Brits cleaned it up. Ugh. And the line from an advisor about how they need that country for the crown, because independence is eating up the rest of the continent. And of course empire is far more sinister and violent behind the polite facade of British Rule. Anyone seen Issa Rae’s Insecure? I can’t wait to watch that. The NYT wrote a profile of Rae a year or so ago and it was exciting!

What I’m reading now

Well, too much soundbite political coverage on social media, I’ll admit that. But also Elizabeth George’s A Banquet of Consequences. This is high-end trash. Sadly, there’s some lazy xenophobia sprinkled throughout the novel, and the class divide in Britain is real and relished (by the rich?). Putting that aside (I know, I know) I’m tearing through it. It’s so interesting go between contemporary literature and trashy reads, and I quite enjoy the bouncing back and forth. Plus George’s description of how Sergeant Havers eats is deeply satisfying – butties and pineapple upside down cake and chips, and anything crap, you name it, it’s going in. I know, sounds gross, but given how much I love food – cooking, eating, sharing, talking about it – it’s no real surprise.

Seriously, though, after reading Andrea Levy’s Never Far from Nowhere, it’s such *bloody* juxtaposition, the two (multitude of, let’s be honest) Englands blow my mind and are made all the realer, for me. Levy is amazing – Small Island is better known – but her early stuff is juicy.





Week four in ephemera.

If you’ve known me for at least a little while, you know I love libraries. I love the concept of literature, art, and community, as well as internet access, being available for free. In rural areas libraries can offer an escape plan, a way to learn more about one’s environs, and a way to gather with others. In urban areas, they provide all of the above as well as a place for adults who may be retired, unemployed, or without an office, to spend some of their time, clean bathrooms, the internet, comfy chairs for naps, sometimes access to video games, etc. I’m missing a lot here, but this is what comes to mind quickly.

I worked in a small town public library for six years and it’s still the best job I’ve ever had, even though I was a sulky, alienated teenager who couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Dodge for my entire tenure. The steady mentoring, community-building, and unlimited access to books, VHS tapes, and CDs without fines were the empowering and enlightening ticket to a kind of freedom that high school was not. Good lord, what a love song! If you’re indifferent to libraries, keep reading – I’ll be talking about other stuff.

A lifelong fantasy of mine, unsurprisingly, has been to live in the library. Public libraries used to have caretakers and their families living behind the stacks. The US Senate has approved the appointment of Carla Hayden, country’s first woman and first African-American Librarian of Congress. Apparently it’s been rare to have an actual Librarian in that position as well.

More awesome library stuff: #BlackLivesMatter reading lists for youth from a librarian for Hennepin County (MN) Library, and everybody from the Oakland, CA public libraries.

Vancouver Public Library has a Residential School reading list, a mix of memoir, anthology, novels, and at least one graphic novel. So much for everyone to learn about North American (a colonial place name) history and why reconciliation is a deep, deep, multi-generational project.

Jenna Wortham complicating queer positivity and acceptance during Pride month.

A good deal of discussion of the changing face of ‘the Left’ has been happening for ages (when hasn’t it, really?). Lately, very real resistance to identity politics by writers, activists, and organizers positioning themselves on the left, while Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and other significant movements led by POC and Indigenous people are naming the structural and personal marginalization of their communities, has been erupting. ‘Social Justice Warrior’ has become a slur against folks advancing certain arguments with certain methodologies online. We Are the Left has issued a rebuttal to these continual attempts to erase identity politics from what could be a vibrant, complex, and sustainable collective of leftist communities.

Technology is never neutral. Algorithms originate from white dudes who build the internet. Of course, I’m being simplistic because I’m not a tech writer, but this is, essentially, what happens.

I used to watch so much TV. And you know what I didn’t see, growing up? Deaf folks who weren’t old or fully embedded in Deaf culture. Sure, I saw different aspects of myself reflected: white, middle class, dorky (cringeworthy, really), English-speaking, and that is a distinct privilege. However, let’s see some different (aka realistic) portrayals of folks with disabilities.

It’s been a tremendous end of term for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) this spring, in part because the more liberal justices were fighting back on abortion, after the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death. So it’s time to demand reproductive justice; it’s time for an abortion renaissance!

The Trudeau government is apparently pro-science and pro-evidence and there’s more hope among harm reduction activists across Canada despite the grossly sluggish response of the BC government to an alarming number of overdose deaths in the past year. This week, the City of Toronto has approved three supervised injection sites and their next step is applying to the federal government. In the US, opioid dependency has skyrocketed over the last decade, due to over-prescription of OxyContin. Big Pharma and the close relationship between between drug companies and medical practitioners have created a dangerous cocktail. Racism, too, has played a part in this epidemic; the idea that opioid dependency in such high rates couldn’t happen in predominantly white communities. It seems that the collective white imagination still thinks of such drug issues as being a “black” thing.