Best of FB [Bottom of May]

I’m doing a lot of Facebook writing these days on My Public FB Profile, and added up it is hours of work, so I’ve decided to repost a compilation of some of the most shared posts here. It’s a public account, so you can read it even if we’re not friends or even if you don’t have a FB account. (Gotta read the rules, agree to play nice, and send a friend request with a PM saying you did so if you want to comment though.) 

The U.S. has justified the absolute “necessity” of being in an official armed conflict for 222 out of 239 years of its history as a country, was founded on the genocide of the natives living here and built with brutality and violent slavery, actively brutalizes its non-ruling ethnic groups (BIPOC), and has enshrined the right of every single citizen to own a lethal, long-range, semi-automatic weapon, but its ruling ethnic group (white people) will absolutely stand there with a straight face and tell marginalized folks that violence never solves anything.
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Cops are kettling even peaceful protesters and bystanders so they can brutalize them more effectively during a protest of….police brutality, but sure, let’s talk about how violence never works, makes you squeamish, and you’re really opposed to it.
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This one is a slew of pictures so you’ll just have to go check it out.
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Reminder that the ACLU has an app called “Mobile Justice” for recording police interactions. Bystanders have power. If you record directly from that app, it streams your video to the ACLU for safekeeping, just in case your phone is taken from you at the scene. It can be accessed in the future if it becomes important. In California the app is called “CA Justice,” and it streams directly to an ACLU chapter in California. You never know when you might need it.

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Hi, fellow white people,
It’s going to be very, very important for us to stifle the urge to inform Black folks that we “agree with ‘the cause’ but this isn’t helping” or some variation. Or to say that to each other.
Or at all.
Because 99% of us don’t have the first goddamn clue what actually helps and doesn’t. We’re actually WRONG when we say shit like this. Demonstrably inaccurate.
The way we envision perfect protests hasn’t changed anything in over half a century. Our teddy bear MLK who we love to use as a cudgel to silence justifiably angry people who are hurting our feelings had some pretty choice things to say about riots and how they are the language of the unheard, and he could NOT condemn them.
The vast majority of us haven’t been doing this all our lives. We do not have extensive expertise in activism and “what is effective.” Hell, most of us don’t ever show up to the peaceful marches. For the vast majority of us, our “agreement” with the cause is absolutely conditional on our fragility never ever ever being challenged and our feelings never being hurt.
We certainly, most of us, aren’t aware of how civil unrest puts pressure on the local D.A.s to not sweep things under the rug as is their wont. [June 4th edit: and while we will never know what would have happened without civil unrest, the charges have been upgraded and the other officers charged––which is pretty unusual.] We don’t have a peek behind the curtain to know that the officers who gave Freddie Gray a lethal nickel ride were only indicted after Baltimore was subjected to days of violent civil unrest, and that every cop around the same time who killed a Black person in cities that didn’t have civil uprisings rarely even faced charges, and sometimes didn’t have a gap in their employment.
So it’s really rich of us to suddenly be armchair experts on how best to go about achieving desired outcomes in a criminal justice system that has never been dismantled from the days when it was ABSOLUTELY DESIGNED to uphold white supremacy and has, as a matter of record and fact, been infiltrated at every level BY white supremacists.
In fact, our judgemental arbitration of rioters’ “credibility” is so absolutely north-star predictable as a script in upholding white supremacy that white (and often law enforcement) provocateurs will often kick off the violence just to get us to start harrumphing and being ten times louder about some burning trash and broken windows than the LIVES lost in the first place.
If we care about the cause, let’s just give time, money, and energy to the cause without caveat and addendum, and certainly without using our declaration of milquetoast support as our “free pass” for getting to dictate to people how they ought to struggle against their own oppression.
And you do you, but it’s probably worth unpacking the assumption that the “best” way to fight a multi-generational struggle for equality happens to align perfectly with what makes us the most comfortable and is the easiest to ignore.
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Usually my most shared things are political.
Please remember:

Even those places that are being super careful (states, cities, etc…) are STILL not reopening because it is “safe.”

They are reopening because there are enough beds in the ICU and PPE to handle the size of the spike they predict will happen.
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Source :       
I think about teachers a lot right now. I know a lot of teachers. And most reopening plans are trying to get them back into their classrooms in some capacity in the fall.
I’m really worried about teachers.
I think people should be absolutely clear and blunt with the language they use around schools reopening. We should pull no punches about what we’re talking about when we demand teachers go back to work despite no vaccine, and a sort of half-ass commitment to try to spread kids out in classrooms and wear masks and sanitize more. (This from district after district that assured their people there was simply no money to reduce class sizes or increase janitorial budgets.)
There are 3.7 million teachers in the U.S.
I can’t really “run the numbers” because we don’t have reliable enough statistics. This isn’t official. I’m no epidemiologist. Someone could even check these numbers and if I’m blowing them up, I’d be relieved. But even conservative estimates paint a grisly picture. A lot of teachers are going to get sick. A WHOLE lot. Teachers deal with dozens of students, and the chances that at least one of those students will be spreading Covid at SOME point is outrageously high.
And from what we know just from our own numbers in the U.S so far, roughly about 35,000-40,000 are going to die for every million who get sick. Getting THAT number down would require health care reforms. So I don’t know exactly how many teachers are going to get sick, but it will be hundreds of thousands and possibly millions. And that means the cold, unforgiving math we’re looking at is that tens of thousands of teachers are about to die.
Tens. Of Thousands. Of Teachers. Are. About. To Die.
This is what we’re talking about. This is why mincing words and skirting bluntness is so dangerous. Euphemisms about sacrifice or jingoist catchphrases about the bravery of essential workers don’t bring this into focus. That’s why I worry so much about all my teacher friends.
And why? Because we couldn’t wait another semester or two or keep trucking with a better investment in online learning. Because kids at home need supervision and parents are less productive when they have to do it themselves. We wanted things “back to normal” so bad that we dismissed the consequences.
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Yes, it’s no good for kids’ long term mental health to keep sheltering in place. If there were a good solution, I’m pretty sure we’d just pick that one. But let’s not dance around what we’ve chosen here. 

And if I could keep being a Debbie Downer, that’s just the ones who die. Covid-19 isn’t a dead/okay light switch. There are a lot of outcomes in between the two. At any point, you might have thousands of teachers in the hospital for weeks who will live but will be hospitalized (unable to teach and requiring substitutes). And you will have tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands out sick for a couple of weeks or even a month. (Would YOU want them coming back as soon as they felt up to it with YOUR kids at risk? Or would you want an extra week padded on there for good measure?) And they will be getting their own families sick during this process and adding even more horror to the show.
Even if you don’t think that’s a humanitarian horror for a choice we could have simply NOT MADE, from a purely pragmatic point of view, it’s going to cause a runaway teaching crisis. And then you get people who haven’t been properly trained doing the teaching. And then the quality of education suffers. And then privatized education makes inroads. And then the student achievement gap by income grows further. And then……
This, of course, does not account for how many kids will get each other sick (from their teachers or each other) and bring Covid-19 home to their parents from the added übervector of schools. And the number of teachers “lost” also doesn’t count a lot of teachers who would rather retire, retire early, or just plain quit than literally risk their lives to provide the daytime child care that this is really about.
Every single proposed adaptation for social distancing in school has made me think, “Wait, have these people ever actually BEEN in a classroom?” If you put the kids six feet apart in a typical class, you’re going to have about seven or eight kids. And you’re telling me that suddenly there will be money in the budget to go from teachers cleaning their own rooms because the district can only afford janitors once a week to proper and full sanitization?
We’re about to shove teachers into a meat grinder, and mincing words about it isn’t doing anyone any favors. Least of all the teachers.
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They can be easy to mix up when you’ve only ever experienced one.
This mask thing is SO fucking emblematic of the United States where our cultural values mean that we will never succeed at any variant of the prisoner’s dilemma.
People: I’m not wearing a mask because it doesn’t help me.
CDC: Actually it does, but you’re right that it’s not much. You’re wearing it to protect everyone ELSE. It really reduces the droplets you SPREAD. So if everyone is wearing masks, you’ll be safer. But the social contract means you have to wear one too.
People: It doesn’t help ME.
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Republicans sometimes try to act shocked that Trump is SO bad, but I can’t think of a single odious thing he does that isn’t really just a Power Move Caliber Version™ of exactly their own general behaviors.
• Racism. Usually mostly with some plausible denial focusing on a more mainstream acceptable racism-adjacent issue, but not really fooling anyone, and stick around long enough and the quiet parts will be said out loud.
• Sexism. Oh, patently offended if you suggest it, of course, but hard to deny. And with a strange problem about anyone who might point out any kind of misogyny. Ever. In any context.
• Religious. But mostly only when it’s being used as a cudgel to achieve political gains and justify bigotry. Pragmatically movement through the world is with a healthy disrespect for every single spiritual and conceptual precept of the religion itself.
• Lies, cheats, steals, and then accuses the other side of doing those things in a breathtaking display of macro-abuse dynamics (in this case DARVO).
• Claims to love groups (like LGBT+ groups) while signing legislation or executive orders that obliterate their support, options, and even rights.
• Talks a good game about democracy, but will undermine it in a heartbeat if not winning.
• Tries to rewrite everything so that they were unimpeachable (sometimes literally unimpeachable)
• Wants to rule more than actually govern. Would rather be a minority authoritarian ruler than actually deal with a democratic pluralistic society.
• States rights when passing the buck or trying not to take a stand on civil rights but “respect federal authoritah” when it comes to environmental protections or making voting easier.
• Takes victory laps even when the democracy has been rigged for decades (gerrymandering, voter suppresion)
• Drums up the support of whites.
• Is never––NEVER––at fault, even if with a rubber-stamp majority and an opposition that can’t do more than voice objection and leak stories.
• Hypocritical in that brazen, breathtaking way like all those tweets from four years ago somehow don’t exist.
• Has a real problem with truth being objectively reported. And facts.
• Utterly disrespects all forms of earned expertise and instead values showmanship.
• Obsessed with Obama and undoing his legacy to “pwn the libs” even if it means there’s no pandemic response team, for example.
• Claims to be a culture of life for grandma’s sake when trying to keep insurance companies flush in cash, but gets pretty darn “sacrifice the weak” when it’s time to actually protect her from a pandemic.
• Nothing really matters more than the economy. No, not that. Not that either. Definitely not that.
• Fuck your feelings. Cruelty is the point.
This isn’t some anomaly. This isn’t a weird “how did that ever happen moment.” The Republicans scratching their head are either hoping you’ll buy it, go away, and stop holding them accountable for the people they hand power to, or have been paying absolutely no attention to the culture of their own party for, oh, about fifteen years. This is the paragon of the modern GOP. He is their avatar. If they all stepped into a chamber, Trump would step out saying “The merging is complete.”
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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.