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Archive for the ‘stuff’ Category

tips on keeping a journal

I have kept a journal on and off since I was 13. I also like reading other people’s journals. Here are my tips as both a writer and reader:

  1. Keep it in a notebook – with acid-free paper. Not a loose-leaf notebook or on a computer. I have tried all three ways and a notebook is by far the best. It is the easiest to read, to write in and to carry with you. True, it is easier to edit your writing on a computer, but in a journal the aim is to get stuff down on paper, not perfect it. Besides, on a computer the Internet is a huge distraction.
  2. Keep it with you as much as you can – or at least at a place you will visit every day. That will allow you to write in it more (and read it more).
  3. Try to write every day – or as much as you can. The more often the better. I look at a journal like a time machine, one where you can turn the knob back to any day. The more days the better, but any days are better than no days at all. Therefore:
  4. Make it part of your daily routine. To help make it a habit, set aside a half hour each day for at least three weeks.
  5. Write the date and location for each entry. And put the date at the top of each page to make it easier to find a given day.
  6. Number each page. This will make it easier to refer to something you wrote on another page and to keep an index (see #12).
  7. Rant! Get things off your chest. Journals are known for their patience.
  8. Do not worry about length. But get something down. Anything is better than nothing. Likewise, do not worry about droning on and on and “wasting paper” either. Whatever you feel the need to write down will probably be worth way more to you in the future than the cost in paper and pens.
  9. Do not worry about grammar and spelling. It is way more important to get stuff down on paper than to put it into perfect English. As long as it is understandable when you reread it.
  10. Use legible handwriting. It does not have to be pretty, but it has to be readable.
  11. Use a pen. It is permanent. If you need to cross something out, do it. You are not writing an invitation to the Queen. I prefer ballpoint pens with a fine point. The writing is more readable.
  12. Keep an index. This will make it easier to find things. If you want to be able to find something later, add it to the index. If you are searching for something and then find it, add that too. Do not worry about keeping it in alphabetical order – it will probably not be that long.
  13. Read other people’s journals – like the journal of Virginia Woolf or Charlotte Forten Grimké.
  14. Read your own journal – the best part of all.

– Abagond, 2020.

See also:

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plague

Plague (Yersinia pestis), also known as pestilence, is an actual disease, an actual bacterial germ. Because the word is often used to mean any pandemic disease, it is sometimes called the bubonic plague. It became known as the plague because it was the common one in the English-speaking world before the rise of modern medicine in the 1800s and its love of naming things.

From the 500s to the 1800s it repeatedly wracked Eurasia.

For example:

  • 540s: The Plague of Justinian, 25m-100m dead.
  • 1331-53: The Black Death, 75m-200m dead.
  • 1665: The Plague of 1665 in London, 100,000 dead.
  • 1890s: China, India and port cities like Cape Town, San Francisco, Rio, etc.

It had more or less vanished from Europe by 1800. No one is sure why. It might have to do with the replacement of black rats by brown rats.

The plague gave us:

  • those creepy masks (pictured above).
  • quarantines, the invention of Italian city governments, keeping infected goods and people in lockdown for a period of days (originally 40) to slow the spread of the disease.
  • those post-apocalyptic scenes of empty cities. They come from science fiction films, which got it in turn, directly or indirectly, from H.G. Wells’s “The War of the Worlds” (1898), who in turn seems to have got it from Daniel Defoe’s “A Journal of the Plague Year” (1722) – the two books are too much alike – which in turn is based on eyewitness accounts of the Plague of 1665. That plague emptied the streets of London – through death, quarantine and people fleeing the city.

Not the bubonic plague:

  • The plagues in the Bible may or may not have been bubonic. We do not know enough about them.
  • The plague of Athens, that hit the city in -430 after the first year of the Peloponnesian War. According to the account of Thucydides, it sounds most like a viral haemorrhagic fever, like Ebola, though some argue it was typhus or typhoid fever.

Origins: It first appeared in written records at a mouth of the Nile in Pelusium, Egypt in 541, spreading round the Mediterranean in two years, arriving in Britain in 664 along with Western civilization. According to one genetic study, the present-day strains of the plague seem to go back 2,600 years ago to China.

The black rat (Rattus rattus) helped to spread the Black Death. Via Vebi Export.

Transmission: Mainly by way of fleas fleeing dead rats, gerbils, marmots or other rodents. Nomads, like Arabs, Turks and Mongols, helped to spread it across Eurasia – but it was big cities, with their countless rats, that were hit hardest. Many blamed not rats and their fleas but the gods and their wrath.

Signs and symptoms: Flu-like symptoms. Later buboes appear on the neck, armpits, groin and thighs. They are swellings filled with pus. They can turn black and become painful. Thus all the shrieking.

Cure: antibiotics. At least a 30% chance of death in a matter of days otherwise.

Frank To dressed as a plague doctor while promoting his exhibition, “The Human Condition,” in Edinburgh, Scotland. Via HowStuffWorks. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Where are they now: Plague is still out there. As of 2015 it was most common in Peru, D.R. Congo and Madagascar, killing maybe 100 people a year worldwide.

– Abagond, 2020.

Sources: mainly Google Images, the WHO, “A Journal of the Plague Year” (1722) by Daniel Defoe; “Plague: A Very Short Introduction” (2012) by Paul Slack.

See also:

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Elijah McClain

Elijah McClain (1996-2019) was an unarmed Black American man killed by police on August 24th 2019 in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. It is only making news now in the wake of the George Floyd protests.

The Aurora police department is the very one that took James Holmes, the Batman shooter, alive in 2012. Holmes, far from being unarmed, had a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle, having just shot 70 people, killing 12. Holmes is White. Still alive.

McClain, far from being the Black Brute the police apparently stereotyped him as, played his violin for lost kittens at a shelter (pictured above) so that they would not be lonely. By all accounts he was a really sweet guy, a light in a dark world.

On August 24th 2019, McClain was walking home after buying iced tea for his brother at a convenience store, listening to music and waving his hands. Because he had anaemia he was wearing a ski mask (and a jacket) for warmth.

Call to police: Someone driving down the road called the police saying that he saw a “suspicious person” who looked “sketchy” – but also said he was unarmed, committing no crime and was a danger to no one.

When police arrived, they said they had the right to stop him because he looked “suspicious”. They tried to search him for a gun. In The Struggle That Ensued, one of the police officers said, “he is going for your gun”. They wrestled McClain to the ground.

McClain:

“I was just going home. I don’t have a gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t even kill flies. I don’t even eat meat.”

As he lay vomiting, one of the officers threatened to sic a police dog on him. They put him in a chokehold for several minutes.

A medic injected McClain with 500 mg of ketamine to calm him down, but then later noticed his chest “was not rising on its own, and he did not have a pulse”.

Three days later McClain was declared brain dead. He was covered in bruises.

The medical examiner could not determine the cause of death – maybe it was due to natural causes.

The police, after investigating themselves, concluded that the officers acted “within policy and consistent with training” – all except for the threat about the police dog.

The county prosector brought no charges:

“Based on the investigation presented and the applicable Colorado law, there is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any state crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial”

By November the three killer cops were back at work:

  • Nathan Woodyard,
  • Jason Rosenblatt,
  • Randy Roedema.

In June, though, all three were quietly assigned to “non-enforcement duties”.

By June 25th, 2.7 million people had signed a petition to open up a new investigation. The county prosecutor was unmoved. But the governor was and ordered an investigation by state Attorney General Phil Weiser.

On June 27th the police attended a peaceful violin vigil for McClain – in riot gear. Feeling threatened, the police used clubs and pepper spray.

Saturday June 27th 2020: Aurora’s finest (thugs).

– Abagond, 2020.

See also:

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Prince: Gett Off

Remarks:

In 1991 this went to #6 on the US R&B chart, the first single off of “Diamonds & Pearls” (1991). It is kind of strange to watch it now because Pearl, one of the two White dancers (the one who later appears in a red dress) went on to play Jenny Calendar, the computer teacher in the first two seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1998-2003). Well, they did say she had a secret past.

See also:

Lyrics:

[Spoken Intro]
Club Mix
Club Mix

[Verse 1]
How can I put this in a way so as not to offend or unnerve
There’s a rumor goin’ all round that you ain’t been gettin’ served
They say that you ain’t you know what
In baby who knows how long
It’s hard for me to say what’s right
When all I wanna do is wrong

[Chorus]
Gett off – 23 positions in a one night stand
Gett off – I’ll only call you after if you say I can
Gett off – let a woman be a woman and a man be a man
Gett off – If you want to baby here I am (Here I am)

[Verse 2]
I clocked the jizz from a friend
Of yours named Vanessa Bet (Bet)
She said you told her a fantasy
That got her all wet (Wet)
Something about a little box with a
Mirror and a tongue inside
What she told me then got me so hot
I knew that we could slide

[Chorus]
Gett off – 23 positions in a one night stand
Gett off – I’ll only call you after if you say I can
Gett off – let a woman be a woman and a man be a man
Gett off – If you want to baby here I am (Here I am)

[Verse 3]
1 2 3 – Nah, little cutie, I ain’t drinkin’ (Gett off)
Scope this, I was just thinkin’
You and me, what a ride
If u was thinkin’ the same
We could continue outside (Gett off)
Lay your pretty body against a parkin’ meter
Strip your dress down
Like I was strippin’ a Peter Paul’s Almond Joy
Let me show you baby I’m a talented boy

[Refrain]
(Everybody grab a body
Pump it like you want somebody
Gett off (gett off))

[Verse 4]
So here we-so here we-so here we are, here we are (G-G-Gett off)
In my paisley crib
Whatcha want to eat? “Ribs”
Ha, toy, I don’t serve ribs…
You better be happy that dress is still on
I heard the rip when You sat down
Honey them hips is gone
But that’s alright, I clock ’em that way
Remind me of something James used to say…
“I like ’em fat”
“I like ’em proud”
“Ya gotta have a mother for me”
Now move your big ass ’round this way
So I can work on that zipper, baby
Tonight you’re a star
And I’m the big dipper
(Kick it)
(Gett off)
(Gett off)
(Gett off)

[Verse 5]
Ooh, I think I like it with the dress half on
I’ll zip it far enough to see the crack’o’dawn
Don’t worry about the bust, I’m gonna lock up every door
Then we can do it in the kitchen on the floor
Or in the bathroom standing on the tub and holding on the rod
You’re in the closet underneath the clothes and…oh my God!
In the bedroom on the dresser with your feet on the drawers
In the pantry on the shelf, I guaranteed You won’t be bored
The pool table, yeah, move the sticks
And put the 8-ball where it’s sure to stick
Dudley do no wrong tonight if Nell just let him kick it
(Kick it)
(Kick it)
(Kick it)

[Bridge]
How can I put this in a way so as not to offend or unnerve (gett off)
There’s a rumor going all round that you ain’t been getting served (gett off)
They say that you ain’t you know what
In baby who knows how long (gett off)
It’s hard for me to say what’s right
When all I wanna do is wrong

[Outro]
Gett off – 23 positions in a one night stand
Gett off – I’ll only call you after if you say I can
Gett off – let a woman be a woman and a man be a man
Gett off – I you want to baby here I am
Come on
Gett off
Gett off
Gett off
Gett off
Gett off
Gett off
Gett off
Gett off

Source: Genius Lyrics.

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HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS (1900- ), often just called AIDS, is an incurable disease from central Africa which has infected 75 million and killed 32 million. It is easily one of the worst pandemics in history. In 2018 alone it killed 770,000 people. Covid-19 has killed 480,000 so far in 2020.

  • HIV = human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS.
  • AIDS = acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, the disease itself that kills you.

It attacks the body’s immune system, destroying T cells and macrophages, CD4 white blood cells the body needs to fight disease.

Stages:

  1. CD4 cell count drops below 1,000 per cubic millimetre of blood. Test positive for HIV but no symptoms yet.
  2. CD4 count drops below 500. Weight loss, maybe fungal infecions.
  3. CD4 count drops below 350. Weakened immune system. Opportunistic infections.
  4. CD4 count drops below 200. Full-blown AIDS. Your immune system is shot. Death likely in three years if untreated.

Transmission: You get it through the bodily fluids (semen, blood) of someone who already has it, mainly through unprotected sex, used needles or the womb (mother to child). Coughing or sneezing does not spread it.

Cures: None so far. Not even a vaccine to prevent you from getting it. But there is medicine that, if taken regularly, can keep it under control.

The numbers: About 70% of those who are HIV positive live in Africa. Even within the US, 75% are Black. The stereotype of AIDS being a gay White man’s disease comes from the Whitecentrism of US media.

The horrifying history: Patient Zero is believed to be a hunter in central Africa who, in about the year 1900, came in contact with the blood of a chimpanzee. Sooty mangabeys also spread the disease. By the 1920s it had made its way to the big city of Leopoldville (now called Kinshasa), capital of the Belgian Congo. In the 1940s a cure for syphilis was discovered. In the 1950s doctors treated sex workers in Kinshasa for syphilis with reused needles – which, unknown to them, was spreading HIV!

In the 1980s it had spread to the US. President Reagan did not care, but the World Health Organization (WHO) spearheaded the fight against it with the help of Jonathan Mann, a legend in AIDS circles.

In the 1990s doctors came up with antiretroviral drugs to fight AIDS. It was no longer a death sentence. But Mann and the WHO fell out and the fight against AIDS worldwide fell by default to – the World Bank. It spoke of DALYs – disability-adjusted life years. It concluded that money spent on saving Africans from AIDS was a waste. The drugs were too expensive. And Bill Clinton, the US president, defended the property rights of the big drug companies charging those high prices. The Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa and others protested.

In the 2000s, US President Bush, of all people, pushed PEPFAR: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which helped to lower drug prices and provide billions of dollars to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. In 2005 almost 2 miilion died of AIDS. Now it is less than half that.

– Abagond, 2020.

Source: mainly “Pandemic: A Very Short Introduction” (2016) by Christian W. McMillan.

See also:

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racist statues

June 19th 2020: Statue of Junipero Serra toppled in San Francisco.

Racist statues (fl. 1895-2015) are statues that White people in the US and UK and elsewhere have put up to honour their racist heroes: Christopher Columbus, Robert E. Lee, Winston Churchill, Cecil Rhodes, White Jesus, etc. One of the glorious things about the George Floyd protests of 2020 is that some of these statues are coming down! Or at least being defaced. Honouring racist heroes is honouring racism.

June 7th 2020: Statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader, being thrown into the harbour of Bristol, England.

Meanwhile in London…

None of this is new. The Charlottesville riot of “very fine people” in 2017 was about taking down a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general. There have long been petitions to bring down some of these statues and all it has led to in most cases is hemming and hawing by the (mostly White) authorities.

The Confederacy, a crash course: Many of these statues are of Confederate generals. These generals fought against the USA as part of the CSA (Confederate States of America) from 1861 to 1865 – to defend slavery! And not just any old slavery, but the racialized slavery of Black people. On top of that, they were traitors to the US and lost the war. To defend these statues as “heritage”, as President Trump does, is to wink at the hate they stood for.

Ditto the heroes of the British Empire. Also built on White racism.

This stuff should not even be “controversial”. But it is. Even in 2020.  Because the racism that these statues represent in bronze lives on in hearts made of stone.

Know your history: Some argue that tearing down these statues erases history, that the answer is to put them in museums or to add an Informative Plaque. I am a huge fan of knowing your history – and so is the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, but you do not see them putting up statues of Adolf Hitler or Adolf Eichmann. Why is that?

As Padma Lakshmi, Salman Rushdie’s ex-wife, noted;

“Germany doesn’t have Nazi monuments to ‘remind’ citizens of their history. Instead, they have memorials for the 6 million Jews and others who were murdered.

“The U.S. doesn’t need statues of confederate generals to ‘remind’ us. We need monuments for Nat Turner & Harriet Tubman.”

Both the US and the UK teach a very Whitewashed view of history – a racist fairy tale. And that is a bigger and deeper issue than these statues. The statues are the tip of that iceberg.

“It was the times!” Who are we, some say, to judge men in the past by our Modern Standards? But most of these statues were set up long after these men lived.

On the practical side, I would not go after George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or White Jesus. The right-wing will just bash that as being against God or country while Completely Missing The Point. Mount Rushmore, though, needs to go. Or rather, be given back to the Lakota Sioux Indians.

Hint: There are certain household chemicals that can damage bronze in a hard-to-undo way.

– Abagond, 2020.

See also:

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Jorja Smith: Rose Rouge

Remarks:

My favourite song of hers thus far, and the first song of the 2020s posted here. That will make her the musical poster child for this decade, joining the ranks of the Supremes (1960s), Marvin Gaye (1970s), Sade (1980s), Lauryn Hill (1990s), Alicia Keys (2000s) and Janelle Monae (2010s).

See also:

Lyrics:

Oh, Lord you don’t need to bless him no more
You know that he’s a sinner, oh Lord
Help me pray

I want you to get together
Put your hands together one time

I want you to get together
Put your hands together one time

I want you to get together
Put your hands together one time
And help me pray for a sinner from the ghetto, oh Lord

I want you to get together
Put your hands together one time

I want you to get together
Put your hands together one time

I want you to get together
Put your hands together one time
I want you to get together
Put your hands together one time

Oh Lord, help me please
Oh Lord, oh Lord
Oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord…

Source: AZ Lyrics.

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blog masthead museum, part 2

This post covers 2014 to 2020. For 2007 to 2014, see part 1.

Today on Juneteenth 2020, the top of my homepage looked like this on my computer (click to enlarge all images in this post):

Some masthead pictures from 2014 to 2020 (external links are in italics, subject to link rot):

November 25th 2014: Ferguson protests in November 2014. Via KTLA.

December 16th 2014: I put up my Christmas tree for the first time.

January 19th 2015, for Martin Luther King Day: Looks like the March on Washington, but it might be too cool to be real: notice the 48-star flag!

April 4th 2015: Part of the world map of Ptolemy, from the year 150.

March 7th 2015: The 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma.

May 1st 2015: Detail of an old Japanese map (10 Mb) showing the US and the part of Asia where most Asian Americans come from. For Asian American History Month.

June 27th 2015: Bree Newsome taking down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina capitol.

July 14th 2015: The last picture New Horizons took of Pluto before it went radio silent for its fly-by.

July 20th 2015: Detail from Lawrence Beitler’s photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, the picture that gave us Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit”.

August 28th 2015: Books from the libraries of Timbuktu. From a photo by Brent Stirton, National Geographic, September 2009.

September 11th 2015: Detail from a Black Lives Matter T-shirt that Fatimah Bouderdaben was sent home from school for wearing. Of those listed, I have done posts on Rekia Boyd, Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell and Aiyana Jones. My Twitter masthead ever since.

October 6th 2015: Detail of the display from the time machine showing Back to the Future Day.

October 22nd 2015: Detail from “the scents of past journeys down from the shelves” (2013). Many posts started out in notebooks like those in the picture.

February 12th 2016: A still from Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance of “Formation”.

June 7th 2016: The phase of the moon updated for every day of Ramadan, something I have done every year since.

September 11th 2016: Colin Kaepernick kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

January 31st 2017: Detail of Mark Bryan’s “The Nightmare” (2017), soon after Donald Trump became president of the US.

March 14th 2017: The number π to 898 places for Pi Day.

August 1st 2017: From the picture of a radio used by the (now defunct) YouTube channel where I listened to “Amos and Andy” for my 1949 media diet.

March 7th 2018: For Lent 2018, the Calçadão of Rio de Janeiro. Image from Mundo em Viagem.

March 16th 2018: Picture of Marielle Franco. From Racismo Ambiental.

April 4th 2019: Detail of Ortelius’s 1570 map of Africa. In honour of the Black American Quadricentennial (1619-2019).

May 29th 2020: The third precinct police station in Minneapolis being burned down during the George Floyd protests. Detail of a photo from Linda Ikeji’s Blog.

June 19th 2020: Detail from “They Killed The Dreamer But Not His Dream” (1968) by James L. Amos, from a protest in Atlanta in April 1968 after the The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Common themes: old maps, flags, holidays, Black history, astronomy.

– Abagond, 2020.

See also:

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On June 18th 2020, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and the weeks of nationwide protests in the US that followed,  I saw something I have never seen before: most of Amazon’s “Top 20 Most Sold & Most Read Books of the Week” in non-fiction had to do with racism! Even if the top book was by a White person:

1. Robin J. DiAngelo: White Fragility (2018) – White people get upset when talking about racism because of White fragility, which comes from what they mislearned from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. No doubt after the Riots of 2081 there will be a book about what White people mislearned about (their own) racism in the 2020s, maybe some of it from these very books. Maybe even from this one.

2. Ibram X. Kendi: How to Be an Antiracist (2019) – or at least how he became one. For those who do not have a racist bone in their body. His follow-up to “Stamped” (2016), which tells how the US became pro-racist (see #5 below).

3. Ijeoma Oluo: So You Want to Talk About Race (2018) – Everything you always wanted to know about racism but were afraid to ask. It answers questions like “Why can’t I touch your hair?” and “What if I hate Al Sharpton?”

4. Layla F. Saad: Me and White Supremacy (2020) – a 28-day workbook for clueless White people by a White anti-racist educator. Topics: White supremacy, anti-Blackness, racial stereotypes, cultural appropriation, allyship, etc.

5. Ibram X. Kendi: Stamped from the Beginning (2016) – the US is still racist. A history of its racist ideas, as shown by Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois and Angela Davis. Racism is largely a rationalization of the status quo.

6. Chris Wallace: Countdown 1945 (2020) – the dropping of the first atom bomb and the 116 days that led up to it. By Chris Wallace, son of Mike Wallace and one of the last journalists at Fox News.

7. Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow (2010) – the mass incarceration of Black people and the weakening of their constitutional rights that grew out of the War on Drugs. Excellent.

8. Alex Berenson: Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns (2020) – yes, the US is still in a pandemic! The Wikipedia says Berenson’s past books have earned him “denunciations from many in the scientific and medical communities”.

9. Ta-Nehisi Coates: Between the World and Me (2015) – an open letter to his son by the nation’s foremost Negro whisperer. James Baldwiny but with less rage. Beloved by White Liberals.

10. Glennon Doyle: Untamed (2020) – a White, Oprah-endorsed author finds herself after falling in love with a woman.

Honourable mentions:

12. Michelle Obama: Becoming

13. Bryan Stevenson: Just Mercy

14. Trevor Noah: Born a Crime

15. Richard Rothstein: The Color of Law

16. Beverly Tatum: Why Are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria

18. Austin Channing Brown: I’m Still Here

I highly recommend Michelle Alexander (#7) and Beverly Tatum (#16). They helped me to understand the US as it is. “Stamped” (#5) sounds good too but I have not yet read it.

I disrecommend Michelle Obama (#12). Well-written but Whitewashed.

– Abagond, 2020.

Sources: Amazon, Goodreads.

See also:

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Rayshard Brooks

June 12th 2020: Rayshard Brooks talking to police during his last hour on earth.

Rayshard Brooks (1993-2020) was a Black man in the US shot in the back by a White police officer in a Wendy’s restaurant parking lot in Atlanta – while the nationwide protests set off by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by a White police officer, were still going on!

June 13th: the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was gunned down burns.

The mayor cried, the (White) police chief resigned, and a White woman burned down the Wendy’s. Garrett Rolfe, the killer cop, was fired, but was not charged with murder till after five days of protest.

On the night of June 12th 2020, Wendy’s, a fast-food restaurant, called the police saying that a car was “parked dead in the middle of the drive-thru” lane. Brooks was asleep at the wheel. Unable to wake him up, a Wendy’s employee told police, “I don’t know what’s wrong with him.” The police were able to wake him and get him to park to the side.

But that was only the beginning.

For over 40 minutes the police talked to him, gathering evidence for a DUI (drunk driving) arrest. Brooks was friendly, did not want to cause any trouble, offered to lock his car and walk to his sister’s house nearby. But once he blew into the breathalyzer machine and scored 108, the police arrested him for drunk driving.

Then all hell broke lose. Brooks tried to run, the police wrestle him to the ground. Brooks breaks free and runs for it, with one of the officer’s Taser (stun gun) in his hand. He runs across the parking lot, turns to shoot the Taser, then Rolfe, instead of using his own Taser, guns him down: BANG BANG BANG! Brooks falls with two bullets in his back.

Brooks was not a deadly threat to anyone. There was no reason to take his life.

Brooks was a husband and the father of three daughters, ages 1, 2, and 8, and a 13-year-old stepson. He was killed on the eve of his 8-year-old daughter’s birthday party. She was waiting for him in her party dress.

Officer Garrett Rolfe, 27, the same age as Brooks, has been with the Atlanta police department for over seven years. He has 13 complaints filed against him. The police depatment exonerated him of nine of them, sent him a written reprimand and an oral admonishment for two others, and for the other remaining one, use of force with a firearm in 2015, there is no conclusion recorded in his file. So here we are.

Devin Brosnan, the other officer at the scene, has no known disciplinary history. He was put on paid leave and charged with assault for standing on Brooks’ shoulder as he lay dying. He has turned state’s evidence, breaking the Blue Wall of Silence.

Black faces in high places: The Rev. James Woodall, head ot the Georgia chapter of the NAACP, said:

“while Atlanta is often called ‘the Black Mecca’, the Atlanta Police Department has a continued history of antagonising our communities.”

The mayor, the acting police chief, and the county prosecutor are all Black.

– Abagond, 2020.

See also:

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Remarks:

I love this song, but probably mainly because it reminds me of “My Brilliant Career” (1979) starring Judy Davis, my favourite Australian film. The song is the first of 13 pieces of “Kinderszenen” (Scenes from Childhood) that Schumann wrote in 1838, his 15th opus.

See also:

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The George Floyd protests

May 28th 2020.

The George Floyd protests (since May 26th 2020) are still going on two weeks after George Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a White police officer in Minneapolis. It has led to the worst wave of civil unrest the US has seen since 1968, when Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated and over a hundred cities burned.

On May 25th 2020 the US was in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 100,000 were dead because they could no longer breathe. The pandemic lockdown had thrown 40 million out of work. And then the teenage son of the owner of Cup Foods at 38th and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis called the police on George Floyd, a Black man who stood nearly two metres tall. He said Floyd had tried to use a fake $20.

The police arrested Floyd, put him in handcuffs – and then Officer Derek Chauvin, who is White, put his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd called out to his dead mother and said “I can’t breathe!” Chauvin was unmoved, looking straight into the camera of a bystander who would show the world the wrong that had been done.

Officer Derek Chauvin did not “fear for his life”. This was no “split-second decision”. Even most White people could see that a crime had been committed – but not the county prosecutor. So Chauvin walked free.

Protest quickly turned to riot. The nearby police station was burned down (pictured above). The protests and riots spread to other cities and then other countries. Pearls were clutched.

The protests against police brutality led to – police brutality. In living colour, coast to coast. And it was directed not just against Scary Black People or looters even, but against Real People themselves – peaceful middle-class Whites and White reporters. Everything Black people had been saying about the police since forever was shown to be – shockingly true.

President Trump, instead of speaking to the nation to bring calm, hid in a bunker when the protests reached the White House fence. Later he cleared the nearby streets of peaceful protesters and journalists with tear gas and rubber bullets – so he could walk to a nearby burned-out church that he did not attend to hold up a Bible he did not own.

June 1st 2020.

Metal barriers went up round the White House like he was the dictator of a banana republic. And the beginnings of a presidential guard could be seen forming in the streets nearby. He showed himself to be the fascist thug he truly is.

June 9th 2020.

The standing army, remembering its oath to the constitution, distanced themselves from the president.

Statues of White racist heroes of the US and UK came down or were vandalized. Merriam-Webster dictionary looked at its definition of “racism” and found it wanting. Even NASCAR banned the Confederate flag.

“Defund the police” is the main slogan to come out of the protests. But the Republican Bubble, informed by pro-police reporting and racist fearmongering, remained unmoved.

– Abagond, 2020.

Source: Living through the last 17 days.

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564

 

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In memoriam: Bonnie Pointer

Bonnie Pointer (1950-2020), one of the Pointer Sisters, has just passed away. One of the first records I ever bought was her 1979 Purple Album.

Requiescat in pace.

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Lipps Inc: Funkytown

This was the #1 pop song in the US 40 years ago today. Despite being a huge hit, it pretty much marked the end of the Disco Era (1975-80). Even then it sounded dated, sounding so last year. That it was recorded in 1979 might have something to do with that.

The song is about New York City written in Minneapolis, sung by Miss Black Minnesota 1976, Cynthia Johnson.

One-hit-wonder band: Lipps Inc

See also:

Lyrics:

Gotta make a move
To a town that’s right for me
Town to get me movin’
Keep me groovin’ with some energy

Well, I talk about it, talk about it
Talk about it, talk about it
Talk about, talk about
Talk about movin’

Gotta move on
Gotta move on
Gotta move on

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Gotta make a move
To a town that’s right for me
Town to get me movin’
Keep me groovin’ with some energy

Well, I talk about it, talk about it
Talk about it, talk about it
Talk about, talk about
Talk about movin’

Gotta move on
Gotta move on
Gotta move on

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?
Won’t you take me to
Funkytown?

Take me, won’t you take me?
Take me, won’t you take me?
Take me, won’t you take me?
Take me, won’t you take me?

I wanna go to Funkytown
I wanna go to Funkytown
I wanna go to Funkytown
I wanna go to Funkytown

Source: Songfacts.

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Reichstag Fire

The Reichstag Fire (February 27th 1933) was when the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building in Berlin, was on fire. The new chancellor (prime minister), Adolf Hitler, blamed the fire on the communists. Whipping up fear and panic of a communist revolution, he was able to push through “temporary” emergency powers, which he then used to become dictator.

It has become not just a terrible event in German history, but a cautionary tale.

The fire began about 9.30pm. The Reichstag’s glass ceiling crashed to the floor.

Hitler was at a party when he saw the red glow in the sky. He shouted, “It’s the Communists!” and then went off with Joseph Goebbels (head of propaganda) to see the fire. Hermann Goering, one of Hitler’s top men, was already there – there was an underground tunnel between his palace and the Reichstag. Hmm.

At the fire, Hitler told Sefton Delmer, a reporter for the Daily Express (and presumed British spy):

“God grant that this be the work of Communists. You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in German history, Herr Delmer. This fire is the beginning.”

The police had a somewhat different take. They caught Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutch man, at the scene of the crime. He was a communist, but said he was acting alone. He said he burned down the Reichstag “as a protest”. But Goering got the police to change their report to make it sound like a communist plot. Soon the police were rounding up communists and shutting down their newspapers.

The next morning Hitler pushed through a “special measure to safeguard all the cultural documents of the German people”. First, it allowed the interior minister to take over any state government that could not maintain order. Second, it suspended rights of free speech, free press, free assembly and association, the sanctity of the home and private property, secrecy of mail and telephone conversations, etc. The rights, in other words, needed to make democracy function properly – just days before federal elections due on March 5th.

Victor Klemperer in his diary on March 10th 1933:

“Eight days before the election the clumsy business of the Reichstag fire – I cannot imagine that anyone really believes in Communist perpetrators instead of paid work. … On the Sunday I voted for the Democrats … Then the tremendous victory of the National Socialists [Nazis]. Their vote doubled in Bavaria. The Horst Wessel Song between the announcements [on the radio] – An indignant denial, no harm will come to loyal Jews. Directly afterward the Central Association of Jewish Citizens in Thuringia is banned … Since then day after day commissioners appointed, provincial governments trampled underfoot, flags raised, buildings taken over, people shot, newspapers banned, etc., etc.”

First they came…: Few minded when Hitler banned the communists. But then he came for the labour unions, then the Social Democrats, then the conservatives, then, in 1934, even his own thugs, the Brownshirts. Then all that was left was the Nazi Party, backed by big business and the military.

– Abagond, 2020.

Sources: “Adolf Hitler” (1976) by John Toland; Victor Klemperer’s diary of 1933; “Chronicle of the 20th Century” (1987).

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538

 

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