Monthly Archives: January 2013

Board Business, January 31st

(posted by chris the cynic)

And then I remembered that this was my job.  Actually I remembered I had to do this today hours ago but you probably know how long it takes me to get to things by now.  (Working on changing that but still not there yet.)

The good news is that either there’s nothing particularly special you’re missing out on by me not posting earlier, or I’ve been too out of it to notice.

Lonespark is still trying to organize a New England Slacktivite meet up in the thread that exists for that topic. The thread Firedrake has set up for anyone in the UK who might be interested in a meetup is still there.  If anyone not in those two small portions of the world is interested in a meet up, the correct course of action is still to start a thread of your own on the forums.

Same old stuff.

Regular Business

Tomorrow is Deconstruction Friday

I guess the submission deadline for the weekend post will be pushed back to 20:00 EST (was GMT) because some people would appreicaite the extra hours and we don’t want to kick the Saturday post off the front of the page too soon anyway.

Anyone who has submissions for the weekend post should send them in.  Some people wonder if they really deserve to be in the post.  The answer to that is always the same: You do.  So try not to be afraid and do try to send in submissions if you have them.

The sections of the post are as follows:

The Blogaround

Any denizen of the Slacktiverse who has posted an article to their own website since they last submitted to a weekend post is invited, enticed, and cajoled to send a short summary of that article along with its permalink to the group email. That summary and link will be included in the next weekend blogaround. This will help to keep members of our community aware of the many excellent websites hosted by other members.

Remember, this is since you last submitted to a weekend post, not since the last weekend post. For example, if the last time you submitted was a month ago, everything you wrote since then is fair game.

In Case You Missed This

Readers of The Slacktiverse can send short summaries of, and permalinks to, articles that they feel might be of interest to other readers.  These should be sent, as you might expect, to the group email.

Things You Can Do

Anyone who knows of a worthy cause or important petition should send a short description of the petition/cause along with its url to the group email.

Deadlines
Please email all submissions to said group email address (SlacktiverseAuthors at gmail dot com). The deadline this week is 20:00 EST.

Urgent or time-sensitive announcements will be posted immediately rather than being held for the next regular Weekend Post.  But you’ll have to tell me they’re urgent or time sensitive because it’s liable to go right over my head if you don’t.

As usual this can be considered a completely open thread if you feel the need for one.

Cute Animal Tuesday #9: Black Animals

To balance out the last Cute Animal Tuesday, which had snowball-like animals, today’s cute animals will be black. Black cats, dogs, rabbits, etc. often have a hard time finding homes due to prejudice. However, they are just as lovely pets as other colours of animals, and just as adorable.

A beautiful, fluffy black cat named Missy, posted by Black Cat Rescue here:

missywindow from Black Cat Rescue

An adorable black kitten from Glendeer Pet Farm in Ireland:

black-kitten from Glendeer Pet Farm

Black lab puppy and her littermates, 12 days old:

Baby bear learns to use a slide:

Baby bunny plays on a bed:

The Anderson-Ericksons at The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee: an adorable litter of black and white kittens.

Open thread: Media you consumed as a child

(By chris the cynic)

Inspired by a tangent over at Ana’s place.

What TV shows, if any, did you watch as a child?
What books did you read?

This week in the Slacktiverse, January 26th

(posted by chris the cynic)

The Blogaround

Coleslaw wrote:

Oh, Joy. I have volunteered to be United Methodist Women secretary at St. Anonymous, only I have a different idea of what we should be doing from the others. A Little Theater production of an Edward Albee play leaves me thinking, “To the Moon, Martha, to the Moon“. (Content note: some brief references to domestic violence.) We also made a trip to see a professional production of Jersey Boys, and some activities on the bus trip down led to a post In Which I Emulate Penn and Teller, and another one about More Fun on the Bus, unless a list of factoids that may or may not be true is not your idea of fun. Yes, yes, I’ll get around to my thoughts on Jersey Boys next week. By then I might have an answer to my email to one of the state legislative candidates I wrote about, too.

Catherine wrote:

Hi all,I have survived a week of voice lessons and limited computer access, and am now absolutely ready for my nap. But I did write a blog post or two, admittedly, all well ahead of time, but since they posted last week, I think they count!

(I also got to bring lots and lots of cake along to share with all my fellow students on the Friday, because I’m incapable of attending anything for any length of time without bringing cake)

On Cate’s Cates, I reviewed high tea at the Jump Inn Cafe in the Yarra Valley, failed to resist the giant zucchini, made some muesli and posted a recipe for my favourite posh meal, a beautiful green salad with peaches through it, topped with slices of steak, home-made mayonnaise, and garlic toasts. I feel happy just thinking about that one, actually. The vegetarian salad challenge is still running, incidentally, and is slowly picking up a nice collection of recipes. It ends on Friday, so now’s your last chance if you want to submit a recipe.

On Cate Sings, I compared three recordings of Scherza Infida, a truly gorgeous aria by Handel, originally written for castrato, and now fought over by tenors, counter-tenors and mezzo sopranos the world over. I’ll leave you to decide which you prefer… Friday’s bit of amusement was Cadenza performing ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ in styles ranging from Gregorian Chant to Jazz, Disco, Rap and beyond. And last night I just had to post Katie Noonan singing Blackbird, because we were shown an excerpt of it at my course, and I was instantly enamoured. I hope you will be, too.

(Content note: Food insecurity, slight Hunger Games spoilers, pregnancy)

Last week, Storiteller wrote about using one of her favorite winter foods, butternut squash. In Build Me Up, Butternut, she talks about why she likes this vegetable so much and provides a recipe for curried butternut squash soup. This week, she contemplates how one of her big issues, sustainable food, is portrayed in culture. In Culture Shock: What I’ve Learned About Sustainable Food from the Hunger Games, she thinks about what we can take in real-life from this dystopic (and great) novel. She also announces her pregnancy on her blog, so that she can talk about what it’s like to bike as a pregnant woman. In Biking with a Baby-to-be on Board, she describes how while she’s still cycling, she’s had to shift her expectations.

That’s it for me! Have a good week!

chris the cynic wrote:

The week started with two very short bits inspired by conversation at Ana Mardoll’s about making vampire bones into baseball bats. As such conversations are wont to do it involved weeping angels and vampire teeth so (Snarky) Bella and the Doctor had a conversation about the whole can’t kill a stone thing and then I wrote about the height of weapons technology.

Then I asked, “What are the best free books?” though by free I really mean not under copyright which isn’t precisely the same thing. Then it was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day so I carried on in my ongoing attempt to get everyone to read the Letter From Birmingham Jail by summarizing bits of it. Then I asked a question about how to get a computer to do something for me (I know almost nothing about programming) and may have since gotten all the answer I’ll ever need but honestly have yet to find the time to check.

On the story front in Skewed Slightly to the left I had Nicolae actually act like a villian, I went back to the start of Twilight and wrote the beginnings of Edith and Ben and Snarky Twilight. I wrote Random Bits of Twilight including a bit of Snarky Twilight apocrypha and also Edward with angel wings. I wrote a second post on the idea for the game I’d make given the rights to Mirror’s Edge and unlimited resources. I continued the band story by skipping around in it getting parts that I thing belong in the early middle and very late middle written down (I wrote them in reverse order though.)

Ok, so, on the subject of my life I summed up my ongoing dealings with buraucracy (short version: I’ve talked to four people and heard five things, yup someone disagreed with herself), I’ve started taking American Sign Language, I’m being bullied by a hypocrite which feels strangle anachronistic as I’m in university and I thought the bullying stopped before I left high school, Blogger is messing up my footnotes but I can fix them so I’m counting on you to tell me if any are still screwed up, Apparently I won for most creative attempt to map the tripartite soul onto the Trinity which is what you’ll find if you follow the link, and Hillary Clinton’s glasses have allowed me not only to identify her as a time lord, but also to tell which one she is.

Finally I wrote a post called “My sister and I have differing ideas of the question of evil“. The short version is that she doesn’t think there are evil people, just people caught up in systems where they’re pushed and pushed and end up doing evil without realizing it. I think that bad systems with perverse incentives do result in a lot of evil things, including evil things done by good people, but I also think that there are people who are identifiably evil. I think that even caught up in systems that push you to do evil things without even realizing it there a moments when people, especially people with power, are faced with both the realization that something bad was done and the decision on what to do about it. What choice they make at that crossroad isn’t due to the system, it’s due to themselves, and since it is a choice between good and evil, a clear cut one at that, I think if they choose evil they’re demonstrating that they’re evil people. (Which is not to say they’re beyond reform.) The long version involves BP, Banks, and someone who tells lies in order to keep profits high for companies that make flame retardants that don’t work but do cause cancer and lower IQs.

Last week TRiG wrote:

I’ve not written any posts for my main blog this week, but on my links blog I’ve continued to post one link a day to a story or article I found interesting. So this week I have some quotes about the religious freedom to pretend that contraception causes abortions, some rather fun posters illustrating the strange things clients say to designers, a lovely photo of a boy and a deer in Japan, a bunch of links to articles about sexism in fantasy, and, finally, the shocking revelation that I’m actually a conservative (at least in programming terms).

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Open thread: Dangerous Terminology

(by chris the cynic)

[Note for unfairly blaming people with mental illness using rude terminology]

So I was going to write this brilliant post about how dismissing certain actions and viewpoints as “crazy” is downright dangerous because often the actions are done or the viewpoints are held by perfectly sane people who happen to do/think evil things.  If you don’t recognize them as sane people who will do harmful things, you underestimate the danger because sane people can generally do a lot more damage than those who are not and furthermore calling it “crazy” shifts the focus onto people with mental illness without ever addressing the root of the problem: mentally healthy people are doing bad things.

As you might have guessed from this being an open thread, I never did write that post.  But it does bring up a topic for an open thread:

What are some things where you think the terminology people use hurts innocents, prevents real problems from being addressed, or otherwise frames things in a bad/dangerous way?

Deconstruction Round Up, January 25th, 2013

(by the Slacktiverse; collected by storiteller and Chris the Cynic)

Amarie: Amarie’s Dreamjournal

50 Shades of Gray (No index page, category, or tag)

Nothing new since last time.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Multiple Deconstructions:

Apocalypse Review: Apocalypsereview’s Blog

Multiple Deconstructions:

Chris the Cynic: Stealing Commas

Multiple Deconstructions:

Clevernamepending: Something Short and Snappy

50 Shades of Grey: First Post

Since last time: Fifty Shades Darker Chapter 5 in which I am so defeated I had to split it into 2 parts, Part I

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

The Left Behind Series: First Post

Since last time: NRA: You know who else was an evil, homicidal tyrant?

 

Froborr: My Little Po-Mo

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: First Post

Since last time: I’m an egghead (Sonic Rainboom)

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Multiple Deconstructions:

InsertAuthorHere: Um… InsertAuthorHere

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:

Season 1 (complete)

Season 2 (complete)

Season 3 (ongoing)
Since last time: Keep Calm and Flutter On

Thoughts on Ponies (ongoing)

Justice_Turtle: ReadAllTheNewberys

Newbery winners / Honor Book: First post

Nothing new since last time.

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Left Behind: The Kids: First Post

Since last time: Jailhouse Rocked

Nathaniel: Politics, Prose and Other Things

Caves of Steel: First Post

Nothing new since last time.

Omskivar: Omskivar Reviews

Eragon: First Post
Since last time: Chapter 3

PersonalFailure: Forever in Hell

Elsie Dinsmore: First Post

Nothing new since last time.

Philip Sandifer: TARDIS Eruditorum: A Psychochronography in Blue

Doctor Who: First Post

Since last time:
If There Are Stars Up There, We Would Be Able See Them, Wouldn’t We? (Unnatural History)
You Were Expecting Someone Else: Grant Morrison’s Doctor Who Comics
Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 52 (The Invisibles)

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

Captain Power: First Post

Nothing new since last time.

Yamikuronue: Raven Wings

Multiple Deconstructions:

Please comment or e-mail us if we’ve forgotten anybody or you have anyone to add. Or if any links are broken, or if we are declared enemies of the Empire, or for more or less any reason really.

Board Business, January 24th

(posted by chris the cynic)

Irregular Business

It is still the case that Lonespark is trying to organize a New England Slacktivite meet up, this time with more advanced notice (so for March), and doing so in the thread that exists for that topic. (If you have a New England Slacktivite meet up you’d like to recommend/try to arrange, that also belongs in that thread.) And Firedrake has set up a thread for anyone in the UK who might be interested in a meetup to try to arrange one.

If anyone not in those two small portions of the world is interested in a meet up, I encourage you to start a thread of your own on the forums.

At some point I’m probably just going to have to move these things to regular business.

Regular Business

Tomorrow is Deconstruction Friday

Submissions for the weekend post have traditionally been due by 20:00 GMT Saturday but some thought it was later and some have expressed that later would be better.  We could set that deadline back by hours (say 20:00 EST for example) and it wouldn’t bother me (the person who usually does the post) in the least because we reserve the entire day Sunday just for the purpose of letting people see the weekend post so I have no problem posting it later rather than sooner and in fact prefer to.  The only reason that there needs to be a deadline at all is so that I can know that all the submissions for the week are in when I get to work compiling them.  So the deadline is more so that you don’t get left out on account of me starting too soon, than anything to help me.

Thus I ask, what deadline would you like?

Anyone who has submissions for the weekend post should send them in.  Some people wonder if they really deserve to be in the post.  The answer to that is always the same: You do.  So try not to be afraid and do try to send in submissions if you have them.

The sections of the post are as follows:

The Blogaround

Any denizen of the Slacktiverse who has posted an article to their own website since they last submitted to a weekend post is invited, enticed, and cajoled to send a short summary of that article along with its permalink to the group email. That summary and link will be included in the next weekend blogaround. This will help to keep members of our community aware of the many excellent websites hosted by other members.

Remember, this is since you last submitted to a weekend post, not since the last weekend post. For example, if the last time you submitted was a month ago, everything you wrote since then is fair game.

In Case You Missed This

Readers of The Slacktiverse can send short summaries of, and permalinks to, articles that they feel might be of interest to other readers.  These should be sent, as you might expect, to the group email.

Things You Can Do

Anyone who knows of a worthy cause or important petition should send a short description of the petition/cause along with its url to the group email.

Deadlines
Please email all submissions to said group email address (SlacktiverseAuthors at gmail dot com). The deadline this week is … uncertain.  Traditionally 2000 GMT on Saturday but if you’ve got a deadline you think is better, please discuss that in the comments to this post.

Urgent or time-sensitive announcements will be posted immediately rather than being held for the next regular Weekend Post.  But you’ll have to tell me they’re urgent or time sensitive because it’s liable to go right over my head if you don’t.

As usual this can be considered a completely open thread if you feel the need for one, except that, you know, deadline conversation (if there is any) would go here too.

Resolve, Resolute, to Keep Daily Resolutions

(by EllieMurasaki)

In 2013, I resolve to write at least a hundred words every day, at least ten thousand every month.

In 2013, I resolve to do twenty minutes of yoga, twenty of aerobics, and twenty of strength training every day.

In 2013, I resolve to actually balance my diet.

In 2013, I resolve to consume a great deal of media that I have acquired and not yet consumed.

In 2013—

Oh, who am I kidding? It’s two weeks into the year and my total word count before I began this essay was 248. (Total as of posting, almost exactly ten times that, but the additional words excluding this essay were all written in the same day.) I did a yoga DVD twice, a seminar on exercise that involved Zumba and an assortment of strength training exercises, and a bunch of stairs; the stairs were all in service of getting something to or to something on a different floor, so they don’t count. I’ve watched two episodes of television, both of them episodes I’d already seen. I have absolutely no idea what I’ve been eating, but it’s probably far too heavy on carbs, far too light on protein, dairy, and vegetables, and a total lack of fruit.

All y’all who made New Year’s resolutions are nodding along, aren’t you?

The problem with resolutions—well, there’s several.

We overreach: my resolutions list covers nine areas in which I’m trying to change my life. Nine.

We set vague goals, such as ‘exercise more’, ‘eat better’, and then we have no yardstick against which to measure our success.

We set specific overly-optimistic goals, like ‘run a marathon’ from a starting point of never exercising, or ‘spend no money eating out’ from a starting point of restaurant food five times a week. Then we look at our yardstick and think it’s more of a lightyearstick.

We set goals that will take months of slow steady progress to attain, and then we get frustrated by how long it takes to show results.

We go for the immediate pleasure or the familiar habit instead of the delayed gratification. We are not, as a species, especially good at delayed gratification. Particularly when we cannot trust that the prize we’re eyeing will be there later.

There’s probably more reasons resolutions don’t work very well that I haven’t thought of. The point is, resolutions don’t work very well.

That doesn’t mean they can’t work.

The key is to think small. I resolved in 2006 to track and calculate my menstrual cycle; the calculating hasn’t happened (my cycle’s far too irregular), but by Juno, the tracking has. It’s a particularly easy resolution to keep: logging in to monthlyinfo.com and adding a cycle-started-today dot takes about thirty seconds, and the recording doesn’t have to happen on the day being recorded. It’s kind of hard to break twenty-minute exercise sessions, forty-minute television episodes, or preparation of much of anything edible into thirty-second bits occurring once a month, so that may be a poor example to compare other resolutions to. But it is proof that it is possible to decide to make a long-lasting change and then to do it.

Not proof to you, necessarily. There is no shortage of people proclaiming from the rooftops (or, you know, the self-help section of Amazon) that they made this dramatic lifestyle change and so can you, here’s how, step one buy my book. But it’s proof to me. I figure y’all need to prove it to yourselves too, though I can’t and wouldn’t tell you how.

The solution may be, or at least the possible solution I plan to attempt is, to take things one day at a time.

Today I resolve to do some exercise. I won’t have the time or energy to do a full hour (hell, yesterday’s twenty minutes Zumba pretty nearly did me in), but I can walk the halls or the stairs for ten or twenty minutes on my lunch break, or I can do some sun salutations when I get home.

Today I resolve to write a hundred words, and I’ll worry about the ten thousand I want to do this month at some later point when the words are flowing. (Oh. Hey. Look. Done.)

Today I resolve to eat some fruit. I have cans of mango and papaya and pear from last time I decided to eat some fruit, as well as bananas and Granny Smith apples. I just need to choose one and call it breakfast.

If I don’t succeed in any one, or any at all, of today’s resolutions, no big deal. Whether I succeed today does not determine whether I succeed tomorrow. Nor is today’s success determined by whether I succeeded yesterday. Yeah, the resolutions I made on the first are all long since broken. That was ages ago. Today’s a new day. Tomorrow’s another.

I don’t plan to walk a marathon this year. 2014 maybe, 2015 likelier, though there are a lot of in-between bits that it depends on. The important bit, though?

I’m never going to do that marathon if I don’t take the first step.

Letter From Birmingham Jail

(by chris the cynic who isn’t sure whether to call this an article or an open thread.)

It may have become apparent to those of you living in the USA that this is some kind of holiday. It is in fact Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. While the holiday was signed into law in 1983 (I disagree with his tax policy and so very many other things, but this is something I think Reagan got right) but was not officially observed by all 50 states until the year 2000.

So I thought today might be reserved for doing something to remember him.  The copyright status of the Letter From Birmingham Jail is complicated at best.  So rather than reproduce it in whole here I’m going to link to someone who has, rightly or wrongly, reproduced it in whole and provide some excerpts.

The link is right there above this line, here are some excerpts:

It begins thus:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

It explains his presence thus:

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. […]

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. […]

It points out the flaw in the idea that those who rock the boat are those who must be admonished:

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

It provides a guide to nonviolent demonstrations:

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. […] On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.

[…]

As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves : “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?”

[…]

and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct-action program could be delayed no longer.

It explains the purpose of direct action:

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.

It mentions Socrates (I’m a classicist, this is important to me):

Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

It talks about how gains are made and the experience of being oppressed:

[…] My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

[…] when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; […] when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” […] when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you go forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

It discusses, in depth, just and unjust laws:

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may want to ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. […] Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. […] Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I-it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful. […] Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

[…]

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

[…] In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

[…]

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.  […]

It discusses the problems of “allies” who hinder more than they help:

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

It discusses victim blaming:

[…] Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

It speaks of time:

Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this ‘hard work’, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. […]

It speaks of nonviolence as an alternative to violence that would otherwise take place and of being labeled an extremist:

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. […] If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. […] If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? […]

It speaks of having optimism dashed when expected allies do not turn out to be so:

[…] Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. […]

[…]

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. […]

[…] I felt we would be supported by the white church felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader era; and too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

[…]

[…] In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, on Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

[…]

[…] In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. […] Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. […]

[…]

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ecclesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom, […] Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. […] They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.

It talks of the ends and the means:

Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. […] they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

And for my last excerpt:

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

And the truth is that every time I didn’t quote a part of that letter it felt like sacrilege to leave it out.  some of those […]s removed paragraphs upon paragraphs and that’s just from the parts I was excerpting.  Seriously, read the whole thing.  It’s well worth the time.

Updated This week in the Slacktiverse, January 19th

(posted by chris the cynic)

The Blogaround

Catherine wrote:

This week has been all about cleaning, and not so much about blogging, but it turns out that I’ve still written a few bits and pieces…

On Cate Sings, I started talking a bit about my Rosina Project, and posted two composers’ interpretations of the same scene from a play (everyone writes operas based on Beaumarchais’s work). Friday’s bit of silliness was Steve Sharp Nelson’s Cello Wars. If you’ve ever wondered whether you could play a cello with a lightsaber, wonder no more! And last night, I celebrated the birth of a new elephant at the Melbourne Zoo in the most obvious way possible.

On Cate’s Cates, I’ve been doing more organisational stuff, including a new page for Nut-Free recipes. I’ve been to the market and got excited about chocolate, and I’ve made the weirdest (but authentic!) middle-eastern dessert ever, after consultation with my local middle-eastern grocer. I’m still looking for awesome vegetarian salad recipes, too (though I have three now), so if you have some, please submit them to my challenge here.

Next week, I’m off at a singing course at the other end of town every day, and won’t have much internet access – I’m desperately trying to pre-write blog posts and organise food for the week this weekend, but hopefully this time next week, I will be a much better singer! Wish me luck!

Coleslaw wrote:

This week, A Knock at the Door introduced me to one of the candidates in an upcoming special election, and a flyer in the mail introduced me to his Opposition. So far, I don’t like either of my choices. And being a small donor to a local philanthropic organization gets me access to Award Night with one of America’s best authors and one of America’s best musicians on the agenda.

chris the cynic wrote:

I started this week with a post called, “Back to school, but crunch time over (for now)” which is part of why last week’s submission was days late, crunch time wasn’t over until after the deadline for submissions had passed (by two days.)

On the fiction front I wrote up an idea I’ve had for a story inspired by the Christmas truce but taking a sharp turn at the part where in real life the truce ended. I wrote a translator’s introduction, to the Zombie Survial Guide I may or may not write, explaining why there is a survival guide for zombies and how it was put into English given that zombies cannot speak human languages. (So you’ve just turned into a Zombie could be seen as the zombie introduction to said guide.) And in my ongoing attempt to get the stories in this post started I wrote “The space thing story maybe in medias res beginning maybe” which if it qualifies as a beginning is the third from that post (one (mermaid), two (band).)

I finally returned to .hack//Sign: with “Boggled Minds” which covers a conversation between Subaru and the Silver Knight on Tsukasa, the reasons Subaru has to be interested, the difference between what should be done and what can be done, and why the system administration can’t fix things.

Reinstalling Mirror’s Edge got me thinking about difficulty settings, and caused me to propose a hypothetical game that I would make given no money or time constraints and the rights to Mirror’s Edge.

In other news, I made an index for September 2012, I talked about my ongoing dealings with bureaucracy, and the utility of paperclips.

TRiG wrote:

I’ve not written any posts for my main blog this week, but on my links blog I’ve continued to post one link a day to a story or article I found interesting. So this week I have some quotes about the religious freedom to pretend that contraception causes abortions, some rather fun posters illustrating the strange things clients say to designers, a lovely photo of a boy and a deer in Japan, a bunch of links to articles about sexism in fantasy, and, finally, the shocking revelation that I’m actually a conservative (at least in programming terms).

Last week Storiteller wrote:

This week was all about biking in the winter. I started with I Am Not an All Weather Cyclist, where I explained why I generally don’t cycle in cold weather and why it’s unfair to place restrictions on who is allowed to call themselves a cyclist, regardless of their seasonal habits. Because I rarely get outside in the winter, I spend a lot of time on stationary bikes of some form or another. I run through some of the options I’ve tried in Racking Up the Mileage Without Going Anywhere. Fortunately, because the temperature was unseasonably high this week, I was able to get out for one ride, as I describe and include a couple photos in Enjoying Winter’s Warmth.

Last week chris the cynic wrote:

So the reason this is being added late is that I was kind of busy this week passed week, if you want to know more about that you can look here, but that more rightly begins in next week’s post.

I had a few things that were things I’d written before or elsewhere that I moved onto the blog to stop it from going dark while I was busy: “A Job To Do” is a completed short story (a rare thing for me) about not letting a thing like death get in the way of saving the world, “The beginning of Something” is the beginning of a novel called Something and “Some more of the beginning of Something” is exactly what it sounds like (posted when I realized the first excerpt really was very short), “A quick summing up of the Odyssey” is quick when you compare it to, you know, any reasonable summing up of the Odyssey, not quick when you compare it to anything that is actually quick (there are 24 books, several with a bunch of stuff happening in them, all in need of summaries), “Summary of beginning of story with evil monsters” is a summary of a story idea with someone who, while good at fighting of the evil monsters that have invaded, refuses to even acknowledge they exist with absolute confirmation for fear of being found to be insane.

I had a few things that were sort of miscellaneous, “Don’t minimize other people’s problems,” was in response to people (family) minimizing mine, “Regarding stamps” was finally getting around to thanking people, deciding it’s not a secret it’s a surprise, assuring everyone I’m not a James Bond villain, and pointing out that since I missed that window I’m still looking to somehow get my hands on excessive numbers of stamps, “Those tips for saving money” was about a deficiency I see in a lot of such tips, and “Ping” was not about a duck but instead asking those who read to identify themselves. (I did once have a duck named Ping.)

Lonespark (I name drop) and I went to see the Hobbit, and talked for a while, and afterwards I wrote,”Massive spoilers for the Hobbit and the new Star Trek movies, and probably anything else that comes into my head,” and if I were to list every topic it touched on it would take longer than my entire entry. Still, it didn’t cover everything because I had to add, “And another thing” which was about the Goblin economy.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community