roadrunnertwice: Rodney the Second Grade T-Ball Jockey displays helpful infographics. (T-ball / Your Ass (Buttercup Festival))

Bob Altemeyer — The Authoritarians

Nov 16

Free PDF.

I heard about this book back in the '00s and always meant to get to it; the recent election made it a little more urgent.

Bob Altemeyer is a professor of psychology who's spent his career studying authoritarian followers, and this is a layperson's overview of what that career has turned up: how authoritarian-following can be measured, how someone becomes a follower, and what specific behaviors and attitudes are highly correlated with high follower scores. (Spoiler: a bunch of Bad Shit.)

Another spoiler: this isn't a very complete explanation for what the fuck just happened to our country. (I'm pretty positive that the recent election included a lot of average people lining up to do exactly the wrong thing — it wasn't just textbook high-RWA behaviors.) But it's pretty important nonetheless. Most notably, it offers some explanations for that bizarre core population of right wingers who just... don't seem to make sense. And it backs those explanations up with easy-to-understand descriptions of the relevant experiments.

I don't quite know what to do with this information, but I'm glad I have it.

E.K. Weaver — The Less Than Epic Adventures of T.J. and Amal (comics)

Oct 17

Readable online, but I read the all-in-one book version.

An excellent road-trip/romance story. Brilliantly observed art, great dialogue, 👌🏼.

A thing I really liked about this was its embrace of uncertainty: the way it avoids both Happily Ever After and the Camp Sweetheart reset plot. It's taking place in this liminal Camp-like space, on this road trip where both people are separated from their normal support structures, but... the stakes feel very real and more recognizable to me. A modern romance, not an antique one set in the present day.

Meredeth Gran — Octopus Pie, vols. 1-4 (comics, re-read)

Nov. 26

Readable online.

This is my favorite ongoing comic. You should definitely be reading it, and these new editions from Image are the best way to start.

Octopus Pie is one of those comics where, if you just say the premise, it sounds pointlessly generic. "Young people in Brooklyn struggling with life, work, and adulthood." Yeah, I'll clear my calendar immediately. So what I've been telling people lately is that it's a more formally and visually ambitious successor to Dykes to Watch Out For or the classic run of For Better or For Worse — a comfortably slow burn that builds up drama from layer after layer of small events, whose characters grow, backslide, and grow in what feels like real-time. Which is kind of the promise of all ongoing contemporary slice-of-life strips, but god, it's so rare to see it fulfilled in a way that feels at all real or dangerous. I've bailed out of so many strips like this because they wouldn't fucking go anywhere, but OP goes all kinds of places.

Volume 4 ends with "The Witch Lives," which was the arc where OP went from "a favorite" to "my actual favorite." It's one of the best stories I've read about the slow, grinding shittiness of heartbreak and resentment, and the way it uses and abuses the twice-weekly serial comics format is so mercilessly perfect. Best breakup album since Interbabe Concern.

Have I mentioned it's funny? It's also really goddamn funny.

Liz Suburbia — Sacred Heart (comics)

Nov 23

TBH, I can't tell if this story is over or not. The ending was sudden and shocking, and resolved nothing... but that might be thematically on-point?! But the author's website implies this is part one of four... but the website is pretty outdated? Oh wait, no, here we go. Yeah.

ANYWAY. Suburbia's art is DELICIOUS, and the atmosphere is shimmeringly, gruesomely apocalyptic. This book is weird and dark and sad and joyous and cool.

On killing

Oct. 2nd, 2011 11:28 pm
roadrunnertwice: Tyr ransoming his hand to Loki's wolf. (Tyr and Fenrir (John Bauer))

If you support or kinda-sorta-support the death penalty, can I please convince you to stop?

This has been on my mind since the Wednesday before last, when the state of Georgia murdered Troy Davis.* I've been against the death penalty for a long while now, but the -- I dunno, the sheer predictability of this incident, combined with some related reading that found me around the same time, has brought some shit into sharper focus for me.

I've stopped believing that the problem is a mainly institutional one, that executions might be justifiable if the judicial system were somehow infallible. I now think the desire to have the state kill a captive is fundamentally corrupt and corrupting.

Anyway, about that related reading. If it hasn't made the rounds to you already, you've really got to read this piece from back in August, about Dr. Martin Luther King and about terror and dread (via [ profile] nkjemisin). It's very good and very clarifying, and connects some dots that I hadn't seen connected before. It doesn't have anything in particular to do with the penal system. Except then in late September, this research summary about the link between states that lynched and states that execute (via [ profile] yeloson) started making the rounds again, and I went, "oh." And now I seem to have lost the ability to see wrongful executions as a malfunction of an imperfect system, as some non-racialized tragedy. Now they seem like an intended function of a partially-dismantled but still very active system, one designed to impart a "constant low level dread of atavistic violence."

They're not tragic, they're evil.

And that shift has gotten me even more sketched-out about executions in general, even when we're talking about a target who is verifiably, irredeemably vile. (Because sure: monsters are real, I'm not going to dispute that.) Watching in real time the way these men and women pushed and pushed and kept pushing to kill a man who may very well have been innocent -- who, let's be honest, almost certainly was innocent -- has taken away any remaining faith that that will to cut off a life, that death-lust, can be used for good. I think it's poisoned. I think maybe every time we let it out it corrodes our society, makes it worse.

So, now what? I dunno. To start with, maybe I can get a few people to check out and send a form letter on this Reggie Clemons situation, which is maybe going to sound eerily familiar (via [personal profile] delux_vivens). There's also this list of things we can do in general about wrongful convictions (also via [personal profile] delux_vivens). (That's from the Innocence Project, who you might remember from that TAL episode about exonerations from a while back.) Not all of those suggestions are easy, but, well.

And if you're looking for more reading and maybe a small bit of hope, read this piece about Troy Davis's nephew and this article from Friday.

And as for me personally, since I'm kind of a dilettante with a full-time job and a time-consuming avocation to boot and I don't have high hopes about what I can personally do vis-a-vis activism, I reckon it's time I start paying the folk who do fight wickedness full-time, starting with Amnesty and the aforementioned Innocence Project. Maybe a few of you can, too.

* You can probably already guess the rough outline of this one even if you weren't following it: black man accused of killing white cop, no physical evidence, seven of the nine witnesses have since recanted PLUS a different guy has confessed to the crime, very suspicious pattern of abuse and intimidation from cops, and they went and executed him anyway. God dammit.

roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
More on piracy off Somalia, this time from a Somali-Canadian writer and musician. (via [ profile] delux_vivens.)
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (John Bauer - Tyr and Fenrir)
At work yesterday, I was talking with the co-workers about the Somali pirates, and dropping some science I'd heard several months ago about how they started off as basically a freelance coastguard after the government died, and how they didn't get into the more traditional violent hijacking game for a good while after that. [ profile] jwz linked to a cool-looking article about that today, so I thought I'd share with all of you, too.

And as I'm checking my friends page, it looks like is stripping the sales rank info for GLBT books, including totally innocuous stuff. (It sounds like Heather Has Two Mommies got on the too gay for sales-rank list?! WTF!) It looks like someone's collecting links to stories about it over here, and you may have already seen other roundups elsewhere. (It sounds Neil Gaiman's on the job now too?)

I don't have the juice right now to go off on a proper disdain-and-fury tear, but Dear Amazon, THIS IS NOT OKAY. It is, in fact, bullshit, so CUT IT OUT.

EDIT: Oh, I should have just phoned Candy about that one—Smart Bitches is totally doing the googlebomb thing on ye olde Amazon Rank.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (John Bauer - Tyr and Fenrir)
This is how I feel right now:

That's all. That all.

(It's not all at all. I desperately want CA's prop 8 to die in flames, and I would really like to maintain a WA governorship of Not Dino Rossi. It would be nice if the remaining iffy states all fell out in an Obama landslide. I will grin for days if MN can kick that Coleman jackass out of the Senate.

But. We have a future, now. It's not going to all go up in flames. The good guys won. See above for how I feel about that.)


roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
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