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via advice on how to deal with "racist mouthy twats" has gone viral because it's good advice:





Good advice on what to do when you find yourself near a racist mouthy twat who is spouting out their crap at some unfortunate person.

NEVER engage the perpetrator. He (and it is usually he) is looking for confrontation. Instead speak to the person he is abusing. Say hello. Introduce yourself. Shake his or her hand. And just stand with them. Keep talking. About anything. Weather. Bus schedules. Football. This kind of bullying never works against a group of people having a conversation. Usually a single person travelling or a mom with a kid or maximum, two women are targeted.

Form a group of people with and around them if you can. Don’t tell them they are not alone. Just don’t let them be alone. I speak from experience. Once, I encountered a young girl wearing a hijab being abused as a terrorist by a drunk man on a train. I just went and sat beside her and started a conversation with her. After a while, the dude lost interest. I had a lovely chat with a young student from Qatar. She wanted to study literature while her dad was only prepared to pay for engineering or commerce as he wanted her to join the family business. It helped her feel safe and it expanded my horizons.

This is known in behavioral psychology as “non-complimentary behavior”; by not fueling the aggression of another person and you can flip the whole script of all their expectations, and without any footholds for their aggression (like direct provocation and confrontation/conflict) to launch into further tirades against, the aggressor can’t continue their angry scene-building. The more people who participate in script-flipping, the more successful it gets, as in this post you see with the advice to form a protective group between the bigot and their target for that very purpose.

There’s an NPR podcast called Invisibilia which goes into detail about how it works and what sort of people rely on it everyday professionally and for survival alike, in their Flipping the Script episode.


In light of the many posts I’ve already seen about people being attacked with racial and xenophobic slurs in our (ugh) president-elect’s name, it seems like a good time to reblog this post. 

If you see someone being abused or attacked, and you feel you can SAFELY do so, ignore the perpetrator and speak to the person they’re abusing. Just go stand by them, say hello, tell them you like their shirt, ask what they have planned for the day, anything to let them know they’re not alone. Even better if you can get other people to do this with you. 

Remember: talk to the person being abused; do NOT engage the bully. And stay safe, everyone.

Very good advice.

Hey, what a coincidence seeing this post again… because I just had the opportunity to put this advice into practice. It works. Middle-aged white dude screaming at a little old hispanic grandpa on the subway in NYC. I was pretty frightened and I just got home and I’m still shaking a little, but I made myself do it because clearly no one else around me would.

Again: it’s scary, but it works. IT WORKS. PROTECT YOUR NEIGHBORS.
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When Obama won, the right threatened violence and uprisings. They spewed vitriol and simmered in their own hatred and this is what we got.

Today, I’ve had so many conversations with people who are considering and embarking on new paths of public service. People who are talking about law school, public policy, teaching, international engagement, volunteering, even just giving radical amounts of kindness to the people around us who need it. I’m not seeing violent rhetoric or talk of violent uprisings. I’m just seeing a lot of good people saying “It’s going to be hard work, and we’ll do that hard work because we need each other.”

We can take our country back. When they go low, we go high.
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Ms. Marvel #5, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

[Good is not a thing you are.  It’s a thing you do.]

#this is the most important panel in the history of comics
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“In Life’s name, and for Life’s sake, I say that I will use the Art for nothing but the service of that Life. I will guard growth and ease pain. I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way; and I will change no object or creature unless its growth and life, or that of the system of which it is part, are threatened. To these ends, in the practice of my Art, I will put aside fear for courage, and death for life, when it is right to do so - ‘til the Universe’s end.”
- The Wizard’s Oath
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Elie Wiesel once stated that the children of murderers are children. I say that the descendants of killers do not own the crimes of their ancestors, unless they willingly shield those crimes today. I have noticed that some modern Euro-Americans feel backed into a corner, as though by mere virtue of being Euro-descended they must defend the mythology of conquest over its very brutal reality; as if they would be race traitors should they concede the depths of it. This is recidivist racism, but the backsliding is emotional, and emotion cannot be reasoned away.

I have found out the hard way the visceral nature of this emotional resistance, so to forestall it, I now prepare my Euro-American students to hear difficult information. Here is what I tell them: “You are about to learn some very unsettling facts, mournful things that may even contradict what you heard in the fifth grade. You will want to turn away from these awful facts, but do not turn away from them. Instead, remember: You did not do this.”

Then, I repeat, “YOU did not do this.”

After that sinks in, I continue, “There is no reason for you to assume that you must defend misdeeds, simply because Europeans once committed them. You are not responsible for what happened.”

I conclude with: “All that you are responsible for is what you do, once you walk out the door, knowing that these things did happen.”

The stories that follow reflect no glory on the European invaders of North America. However, I am told that racism is happily passé, so let me say to my Euro-American readers: You do not have to feel like a race traitor should you pause to wipe your eyes or shake your head over what was done. You did not do this. You are not responsible. The only thing that you are responsible for is what you do after you close this book, knowing that these things were done to Native America.


Barbara A. Mann, in the introduction to The Tainted Gift: The Disease Method of Frontier Expansion

“All that you are responsible for is what you do, once you walk out the door, knowing that these things did happen.”

(Part 1)

“I say that the descendants of killers do not own the crimes of their ancestors, unless they willingly shield those crimes today.“

(via trashquisitor-shirozora)
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There are six people living in space right now. There are people printing prototypes of human organs, and people printing nanowire tissue that will bond with human flesh and the human electrical system.

We’ve photographed the shadow of a single atom. We’ve got robot legs controlled by brainwaves. Explorers have just stood in the deepest unsubmerged place in the world, a cave more than two kilometres under Abkhazia. NASA are getting ready to launch three satellites the size of coffee mugs, that will be controllable by mobile phone apps.

Here’s another angle on vintage space: Voyager 1 is more than 11 billion miles away, and it’s run off 64K of computing power and an eight-track tape deck.

In the last ten years, we’ve discovered two previously unknown species of human. We can film eruptions on the surface of the sun, landings on Mars and even landings on Titan. Is all of this very boring to you? Because all this is happening right now, in this moment. Check the time on your phone, because this is the present time and these things are happening. The most basic mobile phone is in fact a communications devices that shames all of science fiction, all the wrist radios and handheld communicators. Captain Kirk had to tune his fucking communicator and it couldn’t text or take a photo that he could stick a nice Polaroid filter on. Science fiction didn’t see the mobile phone coming. It certainly didn’t see the glowing glass windows many of us carry now, where we make amazing things happen by pointing at it with our fingers like goddamn wizards.

That, by the way, is what Steve Jobs meant when he said that iPads were magical. The central metaphor is magic. And perhaps magic seems an odd thing to bring up here, but magic and fiction are deeply entangled, and you are all now present at a séance for the future. We are summoning it into the present. It’s here right now. It’s in the room with us. We live in the future. We live in the Science Fiction Condition, where we can see under atoms and across the world and across the methane lakes of Titan.

Use the rear view mirror for its true purpose. If I were sitting next to you twenty-five years ago, and you heard a phone ring, and I took out a bar of glass and said, sorry, my phone just told me it’s got new video of a solar flare, you’d have me sectioned in a flash. Use the rear view mirror to imagine telling someone just twenty five years ago about GPS. This is the last generation in the Western world that will ever be lost. LifeStraws. Synthetic biology. Genetic sequencing. SARS was genetically sequenced within 48 hours of its identification. I’m not even touching the web, wifi, mobile broadband, cloud computing, electronic cigarettes…

Understand that our present time is the furthest thing from banality. Reality as we know it is exploding with novelty every day. Not all of it’s good. It’s a strange and not entirely comfortable time to be alive. But I want you to feel the future as present in the room. I want you to understand, before you start the day here, that the invisible thing in the room is the felt presence of living in future time, not in the years behind us.

To be a futurist, in pursuit of improving reality, is not to have your face continually turned upstream, waiting for the future to come. To improve reality is to clearly see where you are, and then wonder how to make that better.

Act like you live in the Science Fiction Condition. Act like you can do magic and hold séances for the future and build a brightness control for the sky.

Act like you live in a place where you could walk into space if you wanted. Think big. And then make it better.

- Warren Ellis - How To See The Future (via mindlessmunkey)
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I don’t agree.  The line between entertainment and education can get thin here, and education about these places is important.  I’d rather people go to a Spooooky Haunted Asylum and learn something about the historical treatment of mentally ill people, than have them learn nothing at all.  Even if you go for shallow reasons, even if history isn’t your focus, just being in that space makes you reflect on “what would it have been like to be locked in here?”

I worry that getting rid of sensationalized tours wouldn’t lead to them being replaced with socially conscious education (”Hey kids! We’re going to go learn about the harms of obselete penological theories!  Don’t worry, it will be very serious.”), it would just let these places fall off the map forever.

Plus, I think some ghoulishness is just a part of human nature, and not necessarily an evil part.  Being fascinated by suffering isn’t the same as cheering for it.
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say what you want about woobifying villains, but i think tragic backstories and redemption via love are staples for good reason. we want to believe that people are fundamentally good, just hardened by a harsh world. that suffering earns you a happy ending. because then it means something, then pain isn’t just senseless and futile.

people don’t ‘excuse’ the actions of villains because they just don’t take those actions seriously. i think it’s a kind of projection - we forgive them because we want to forgive ourselves, and we look for the good in them because we want to see that in the world, even in people who have wronged and hurt us. because earth is a goddamn terrifying place if other humans really are evil, if they’re really monsters.

and idk, i just think it’s kind of beautiful that we all want to believe that the scariest mass-murdering motherfucker alive can be brought down by something as pure and innocent as love. that love is the answer, not violence. i don’t think that’s cheap or ‘problematic’ or a bad influence. i think it’s human, and profoundly optimistic in a way that few people are brave enough to be.

If I didn’t hold the hope that love could make a difference, my world would be cold and bleak.

People who ONLY ever like “pure, cinnamon roll” characters and try to buff away every flaw and every morally grey dimension and reduce stories to pure heroes and pure villains give me the creeps, because it seems to me like those are people who refuse to acknowledge their own capability to do terrible things, the inevitable fact that they have done things that hurt others in the past and will do so again (because that IS inevitable if you interact with other humans), who never question themselves, who think incredibly harsh standards of judgment are just fine because of course THEY would never need forgiveness or mercy.

THOSE are the people who are most likely to stomp on your face with a boot while being utterly convinced they’re doing the right thing and you deserve it. And they will never admit they were wrong and they’ll never apologize, because only bad people do bad things, and of course they’re not a bad person, so if they did it, it must have been good.

Give me friends who are honest about their own capacity to harm, who know where their own darkness lies, and can see it played out in characters good, bad, and - best of all, somewhere in between. Who understand when to rage, when to forgive, and when to just walk away. Who understand that other people, just like them, are ever-changing bundles of contradictions. Those are people I feel I can trust.

^This last comment. I’ve been thinking about this, and it’s not just that “every villain is a hero in their own mind.” I think it’s that act of making oneself into a hero in one’s own mind, of giving up self-criticism and clinging to an identity that’s based being Good, that opens the door for a person to do truly horrible things to other people. I honestly wonder whether philosophies or faiths where good is a thing you ARE rather than a thing you DO are more prone toward instigating violence in the name of said philosophy.
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(via Saturday Morning Cartoons: Baopu #15) by Yao Xiao

words to remember
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I learned something new and horrifying today which is… that… no submarine is ever considered “lost” … there is apparently a tradition in the U.S. Navy that no submarine is ever lost. Those that go to sea and do not return are considered to be “still on patrol.”


There is a monument about this along a canal near here its… the worst thing I have ever seen. it says “STILL ON PATROL” in huge letters and then goes on to specify exactly how many WWII submarine ghosts are STILL OUT THERE, ON PATROL (it is almost 2000 WWII submarine ghosts, ftr). Here is the text from it:

“U.S. Navy Submarines paid heavily for their success in WWII. A total of 374 officers and 3131 men are still on board these 52 U.S. submarines still on patrol.”


anyway now my mother and I cannot stop saying STILL ON PATROL to each other in ominous tones of voice

There’s definitely something ominous about that—the implication that, one day, they will return from patrol.

Actually, it’s rather sweet. I don’t know if this is common across the board, but my dad’s friend is a radio op for subs launched off the east coast, and he always is excited for Christmas, because they go through the list of SoP subs and hail them, wishing them a merry Christmas and telling them they’re remembered.

Imagine a country whose seamen never die, and whose submarines can’t be destroyed…because no ones sure if they exist or not.

No but imagine. It’s Christmas. A black, rotting corridor in a forgotten submarine. The sound of dripping water echoes coldly through the hull. You can’t see very far down the corridor but then, a man appears, he’s running, in a panic, but his footsteps make no noise. The spectral seaman dashes around the corner and slips through a rusty wall. He finds himself at the back of a crowd of his cadaverous crew-mates. They part to let him through. He feels the weight of their hollow gaze as he reaches the coms station. Even after all these years a sickly green light glistens in the dark. The captain’s skeleton lays a sharp hand on his shoulder and nods at him encouragingly, the light sliding over the bones of his skull. The ghost of the seaman steadies himself and slips his fingers into the dials of the radio, possessing it. It wails and screeches. A bombardment of static. And then silence. The deathly crew mates look at each other with worry, with sadness; could this be the year where there is no voice in the dark? No memory of home? The phantasm of the sailor pushes his hand deeper into the workings of the radio, the signal clears, and then a strong voice, distant with the static but warm and kind, echoes from the darkness; “Merry Christmas boys, we’re all thinking of you here at home, have a good one.”
A sepulchral tear wafts it’s way down the seaman’s face. The bony captain embraces him. The crew grin through rotten jaws, laughing silently in their joy. They haven’t forgotten us. They haven’t forgotten.

I am completely on board with this. It’s not horrifying, it’s heartwarming.

Personal story time: whenever I go to Field Museum’s Egypt exhibit, I stop by the plaque at the entrance to the underground rooms. It has an English translation of a prayer to feed the dead, and a list of all the names they know of the mummies on display there. I always recite the prayer and read aloud the list of names. They wanted to live forever, to always have their souls fed and their names spoken. How would they feel about being behind glass, among strangers? Every little thing you can do to give respect for the dead is warranted.

I love the idea of lost subs still being on patrol. Though if you really want something ominous, let me say that the superstitious part of me wonders: why are they still on patrol? If they haven’t been found, do they not consider their mission completed? What is it out there that they are protecting us from?



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strix alba

February 2017

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